AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Wednesday 17 October 2012
Last update 17 October 2012 7:25 am
THE HAGUE: Seven masterpieces, including priceless works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Gauguin, were stolen in a night heist at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, police said yesterday.
“On Tuesday morning seven artworks were stolen from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam. In consultation with the owners the police can now release their photos,” police said in a statement after initially declining to identify the works.
The paintings are Pablo Picasso’s “Tete d’Arlequin,” Henri Matisse’s “La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune,” Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London” and “Charing Cross Bridge, London,” Paul Gauguin’s “Femme Devant une Fenetre Ouverte, dite La Fiancee,” Meyer de Haan’s “Autoportrait” and Lucian Freud’s “Woman with Eyes Closed.”
“A major investigation is under way and forensics are at the scene,” Rotterdam police spokeswoman Patricia Wessels told AFP. “We’re investigating how they got access, what time it happened and who did it.”
The robbery took place at around 3:00 a.m. (0100 GMT), police said, denying reports that a Van Gogh had also been stolen.
“Police are interviewing possible witnesses and examining closed-circuit video footage,” the statement said. “An initial investigation suggests that the robbery was well prepared.”
She said that police were alerted during the night when an alarm went off but the thief or thieves had made off by the time police arrived at the scene.
The museum is showing works from the Triton Foundation as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, including paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Marcel Duchamp and Piet Mondriaan, according to its website.
A statement on the museum’s website quoted director Willem van Hassel as saying that the museum would be closed to the public yesterday.