Friday, May 21, 2010

Picasso nabbed in $123M Paris museum heist

PARIS - An alarm system was broken as easy as 1-2-3: A masked intruder cut a lock, broke a window and stole a Picasso, Matisse and three other masterpieces in a museum in Paris Friday - a distance of 123 million U.S. dollars which is one of the world's largest theft of art.

Downloading the artwork can be a difficult task, however, with Interpol and collectors around the world now on alert.

In what seemed like fantasy art thief, the alarm system had been broken since March in parts of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, said the mayor, Bertrand Delanoe.

The museum, in a tony neighborhood across the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower, reopened in 2006 after spending $ 18 million (euro15 million) and two years to upgrade its security system. Spare parts had been ordered to set the alarm, but had not yet arrived, the mayor said in a statement.

So with no alarm to worry about, a lone masked intruder entered the museum at about 3:50 am, said Christophe Girard, deputy secretary of the culture city of Paris. The thief cut a padlock on a door, then broke a side window and climbed inside - their movements caught in an operating chamber of the museum, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

The intruder then fell back, carrying the fabric and leaving behind empty frames. Each lasted 15 minutes, a police official said.

Three security guards were on duty during the night, but "did not see anything," said Girard. A night watchman discovered the theft from 7 am

The works stolen were "Picasso, Le Pigeon aux petits pois" (The pigeon peas), a cubist oil painting ocher sung by an estimated $ 28 million (euro23 million), and "Pastoral" (Pastoral ), a pastel oil painting of nudes in a slope of Henri Matisse valued at approximately $ 17,500,000 (euro15 billion), said Girard


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