Wednesday, May 19, 2010: a lone, masked thief scaled the wall of the Paris Museum of Modern Art and entered through a window. Though he initially only took one painting, when the alarm did not go off, he decided to take four more. Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois by Picasso, La Pastorale by Matisse, L’Olivier Pres de l’Estaque by Braque, La Femme a l’Eventail by Modigliani, and Nature Morte aux Chandeliers by Leger were all taken. All together the heist was worth hundreds of millions of euro. The theft is considered one of the biggest art heists in history.
The theft was not discovered until early the next morning, when security guards noticed a shattered window and a broken padlock. Upon reviewing the security camera footage, the intruder was visible, but none of the three on duty security guards had noticed him on the video the night before. The skill of the thief was impressive, as he managed to dupe a top notch security system and three guards.
Paintings as famous as these are essentially unsellable, considering no art collector wants high profile stolen paintings in his public collection. It is believed that the paintings were sold on the black market or are being used and traded as currency between gangs.
Three suspects were arrested in September of 2010 in connection with the heist. One suspect, a 34 year old watch repairman, claimed that after the police caught up with him, he panicked and put the paintings in a dumpster, implying that they were now ruined by trash. The other suspects were a middle-aged antique shop owner and a Serbian man nicknamed Spiderman for his wall scaling skills. These two were found after being connected to another theft, and after questioning, were arrested by the police. Despite the low recovery rate for stolen paintings, authorities remain hopeful that some, if not all of the paintings are safe and can be recovered.
Back to Crime Library