Monday, February 11, 2008


Vincent Van Gogh: "Chestnut in Bloom"

Claude Monet: "Poppie Field Near Vetheuil"

Edgar Degas: "Count Lepic and His Daughters"

Paul Cezanne: "Boy in a Red Jacket"

Feb. 11: The museum holding the collection of E. G. Buehrle, in Zurich, Switzerland was robbed by an armed gang Sunday. (AP/Keystone)

1: Zurich police say the three robbers entered the museum just before it shut on Sunday
2: Officers say one of the men used a gun to force 15 visitors and several staff to the floor
3: Police say his two accomplices then seized the four paintings from a ground-floor display hall - according to the museum website, the Music Room
4: Eyewitnesses say the robbers loaded the art into a white vehicle in front of the museum and
drove off. It was all over in three minutes, police say

Armed Robbers Steal $163 Million Worth of Art From Zurich Museum

Monday, February 11, 2008
Associated Press

ZURICH, Switzerland — It was one of the biggest art robberies in European history, police said Monday.

Armed and masked, three men entered a private Zurich museum just before closing Sunday and made off with paintings by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet worth 180 million Swiss francs (US$163.2 million; euro112.4 million).

Calling it a "spectacular art robbery," police asked witnesses to help reconstruct the robbers' getaway from the E.G. Buehrle Collection, a private museum for Impressionism that has had its own troubled history with stolen art.

"This is an entirely new dimension in criminal culture," Zurich police spokesman Marco Cortesi said, calling it the largest art robbery in Switzerland's history and one of the biggest ever in Europe.

The three men, wearing ski masks and dark clothing, entered the Buehrle museum a half-hour before closing Sunday. While one used a pistol to force museum personnel to the floor, the two others went and collected the four paintings from the exhibition hall, police said.

One of the men spoke German with a Slavic accent, police said. They loaded the paintings into a white vehicle parked out front. Police, asking for witness to come forward, said the paintings may have been sticking out of the trunk as the robbers made their getaway.

A reward of 100,000 francs (about US$90,000 or euro62,500) was offered for information leading to the recovery of the paintings — Claude Monet's "Poppy field at Vetheuil," Edgar Degas' "Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter," Vincent van Gogh's "Blooming Chestnut Branches," and Paul Cezanne's "Boy in the Red Waistcoat."

The FBI estimates the stolen art market at US$6 billion (euro4.1 billion) annually, and Interpol has about 30,000 stolen works listed in its database.


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