Works by Pablo Picasso and post-impressionist Henry Rousseau have been stolen from a private villa in the south of France. The haul was worth about 1 million euros.
The theft was discovered on December 31, by a caretaker at the house in the Provencal village of La Cadiere d'Azur.
It was the second big art robbery in the country in less than a week. There’s no indication right now that the two crimes are linked.
A 19th century pastel "Les Choristes" by impressionist Edgar Degas was stolen from the Cantini Museum in Marseilles a week before. The drawing was worth an estimated 800,000 euros.
(Note to video editor, I cut the quote shorter)
[Damien Leclere, Marseilles Auctioneer]: (French)
"There is many ways to estimate the price of an artwork. Mainly we compare similar artwork which went on sale recently, art of work from the same artist. But also art work based on the same technique, same topic, same size, same period, portraying the same topic, the same size.”
The item was on loan from the Musee D'Orsay, in Paris, as part of an exhibition of Degas' work which was due to come to an end on January 3 and then travel to Italy and Canada.
[Daniel Hermann, Marseilles Deputy Mayor of Culture]: (French)
"The ways they have been operating was very different. For us (the museum) there was no break in. I think they were real professionals. For the private house they cut out the paintings; that is very harmful for the paintings. That tells they were not real professionals. I cannot link the two robberies.”
These incidents come only a month after a scandal at a prestigious auction house. There is deep concern now in France over illegal trade in works of art.
An auctioneer and eight commission agents have been placed under investigation for organized theft. Police discovered a painting at an employee's home last December by the French realist Gustav Courbet which was stolen in 2004.