Museum art heist
THIEVES have broken into a Dutch museum and walked off with works by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Matisse, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Police haven’t said how they pulled off the early-hours heist in Rotterdam on Tuesday, but an expert who tracks stolen art said the robbers clearly knew what they were after.
‘‘Those thieves got one hell of a haul,’’ said Chris Marinello, who directs the Art Loss Register.
The heist at the Kunsthal museum is one of the largest in years in The Netherlands, and is a stunning blow for the private Triton Foundation collection, which was being exhibited publicly as a group for the first time.
‘‘It’s every museum director’s worst nightmare,’’ said Kunsthal director Emily Ansenk, who had been in Istanbul on business but returned immediately.
News of the theft ‘‘struck like a bomb’’, she said at a press conference in the museum’s cafe.
She declined to reveal details of how the thieves got in and out with the paintings, or how the museum is protected, other than describing its security as ‘‘state of the art’’ and ‘‘functional’’.
Willem van Hassel, the museum’s chairman, said its security systems were automated, and did not use guards on site.
Police arrived at the scene five minutes after an alarm was triggered, he said. He described the museum’s insurance as adequate for the exhibition.
The collection was on display as part of celebrations marking the museum’s 20th anniversary.
Paul Gauguin’s 1898 Girl in Front of Open Window.