A lone thief stole 90 million euros ($112 million) worth of paintings — including masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse — in the biggest known raid on a Paris museum, officials said on Thursday.
The canvases were found to be missing just before the Musee d’Art Moderne, near the Eiffel Tower, was to open. Investigators found a broken window and a sheared off padlock. Video surveillance recorded only one person entering through a window.
The museum’s alarm system had been broken since March 30 in some rooms, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said in a statement.
Besides the Matisse and Picasso, works by Georges Braque, Ferdinand Leger and Amedeo Modigliani were plucked from the walls of the city-run museum. The stolen art included Picasso’s Dove with Green Peas, Matisse’s Pastoral, Braque’s Olive Tree near Estaque, Modigliani’s Woman with a Fan and Leger’s Still Life with Candlestick.
France has seen a growing number of art thefts in recent months. In January, 30 paintings with a total estimated value of around one million euros were stolen from a private villa.
Robert Read, head of art and private clients at specialist insurer Hiscox in London, said that more often than not stolen paintings are recovered. Edvard Munch’s The Scream was returned in 2006 two years after gunmen stole it from the Munch Museum in Norway.
The Musee d’Art Moderne is home to more than 8,000 20th Century works of art.