Picasso, Monet Paintings Stolen From Rotterdam Museum

'Tete d’Arlequin'
"Tete d’Arlequin" by Picasso. Source: Police Rotterdam/AP via Bloomberg

Thieves stole seven paintings, including works by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, from the Kunsthal museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam earlier today, police said.

“Preliminary findings show the burglary was well-prepared,” the Rotterdam-Rijnmond police district said in a statement on its website. It said the theft took place at about 3 a.m. local time. Detectives are talking to possible witnesses and scrutinizing camera images, the police said.

The paintings were part of an exhibition called “Avant-Gardes,” which opened on Oct. 7 and comprised more than 150 pieces from the private Triton Foundation collection. The stolen works include Picasso’s “Tete d’Arlequin,” Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London” and “Charing Cross Bridge, London,” and Lucian Freud’s “Woman with Eyes Closed.”

“An alarm had gone off, after which a security company hired by the Kunsthal went to the museum and concluded that a burglary had taken place and works had been stolen,” Roland Ekkers, a spokesman for the Rotterdam-Rijnmond police district, said by telephone. Ekkers declined to comment on the value of the stolen paintings.

Matisse, Gauguin

The Kunsthal museum, founded in 1992 in a building designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, doesn’t have its own collection. The stolen paintings also included Henri Matisse’s “la Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune,” Paul Gauguin’s “Femme devant une fenetre ouverte, dite la Fiancee,” and Meyer de Haan’s “Autoportrait.”

The theft in Rotterdam follows an incident in Paris in May 2010, when five paintings together worth about 100 million euros ($130 million), also including works by Picasso and Matisse, were stolen from the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris.

The Kunsthal will be closed to the public today and won’t comment until further notice because of the investigation, according to a website statement. Mariette Maaskant, a spokeswoman for the museum, didn’t immediately return a call to her mobile phone.

Artists whose works are also currently on display at the Kunsthal include Vincent van Gogh and Salvador Dali, according to its website.

The Triton Foundation collection was started by Willem Cordia and consists of about 250 paintings, drawings and sculptures by artists from the period 1860 to 1970, according to Dutch news agency ANP. Cordia, a former supervisory board chairman at Smit Internationale NV, died in 2011.

“This act has struck people in the world of art like a bomb,” Emily Ansenk, the museum director, said at a news conference. The museum uses state-of-the-art cameras without security guards, Ansenk was cited as saying on the RTV Rijnmond website.

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