In recent art world news, a cat burglar was sentenced to eight years in prison by a criminal court in Paris for stealing five masterpieces from the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The burglar admitted that he had stolen five paintings worth over 104 million euros (about $110 million) during a predawn break-in at the museum back in May 2010. The stolen works include paintings by Modigliani, Léger, Braque, Matisse (“Pastoral”) and Picasso (“Dove With Green Peas”).
Also given prison sentences were two accomplices, including an antiques dealer for commissioning the heist and for storing the stolen paintings and a clock maker for storing the stolen paintings later. The cat burglar was fined 200,000 euros (about $212,000) and both accomplices were fined 150,000 euros (about $159,000). In addition, all three individuals were ordered to collectively pay a 104 million euro indemnification (about $110 million), which represents the paintings’ estimated value at the time they were stolen, to the City of Paris.
It has been reported that there remains some mystery “as to whether the paintings were sold, hidden somewhere safe or, in a worst-case scenario, destroyed, as one defendant claimed during the trial.”
The City of Paris has increased its security measures at its 14 museums, including the Petit Palais, since the burglary. Other museums, such as the Louvre, are managed by the French national government.
Among other high profile burglaries in recent years include “the theft of Munch’s ‘Scream’ in 2004 in Oslo by armed robbers, and that of Francis Bacon paintings from a private residence in Madrid in 2015.”