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Egypt to Try 11 People in Van Gogh Painting Theft

Egypt’s public prosecutor said 11 people will be tried in connection with the theft of a $55 million Vincent Van Gogh painting in a Cairo museum, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

If convicted, the people, who include museum officials and security guards, could face sentences of as much as three years for dereliction of duty and negligence, the Cairo-based agency reported, without saying where it got the information.

The Van Gogh work, which was declared missing on Aug. 21, was one of 304 oil paintings and 50 sculptures in the three-story Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum. Only seven out of 43 security cameras were functioning and none of the alarms attached to the museum’s paintings was working, the public prosecutor told reporters the following day after the theft had been discovered.

The robbers climbed on a sofa and cut the picture, titled “Poppy Flowers” or “Vase of Flowers,” out of its frame, the state-run news agency reported at the time, saying security agents at Egypt’s airports and borders had been put on alert.

The museum was built on the Nile in 1920 as the residence of Egyptian art collector Khalil. The most conservative estimate of the value of the collection is 7 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.2 billion), according to a government website. The museum features a number of pieces by European artists including Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin and Claude Monet.

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