November 25, 2017

Theft: Musée des Beaux-arts de Béziers


A self-portrait by Giorgio de Chirico, founder of the scuola metafisica art movement, titled "Composizione con autoritratto (Composition with self-portrait)" has been stolen. The artwork was cut from its frame in the top floor  Salle Jean Moulin sometime during museum opening hours during the afternoon of November 16, 2017.

"Composition with Self-Portrait" - 1926
60.8 cm by 50.2 cm
By: Giorgio di Chirico
Created in 1926 by de Chirico, the painting was originally part of the collection of French Resistance hero Jean Moulin and had been donated to the museum by Moulin's sister, along with other artworks.  It had been on display at the Hôtel Fabregat in Beziers as part of the Musée des Beaux Arts collection in Southern France.

Law enforcement authorities in Montpellier have advised that one of the two guards on duty noticed the empty frame while making closing rounds before setting the museum's alarms for the evening.  The artwork had been sliced from its frame and likely rolled up and hidden under a coat or other clothing by the thief.  The museum reported that there were only two guards on duty and that the gallery is not equipped with CCTV surveillance cameras.  

Stealing masterpieces is a terrible business, especially a painting as famous as a de Chirico. Well-documented paintings such as this would be easy to identify and absolutely impossible to fence.  This means the theft was either a naïf, who stole the painting with few plans beyond the theft itself, or a pro "theft to order" with a buyer already in mind. 



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