Showing posts with label Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Show all posts

January 18, 2014

Unsolved Museum Thefts: The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

PARIS - My visit to the Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris yesterday reminded me of another museum with not one but two unsolved thefts.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was robbed in 1972 and had 18 paintings stolen by three thieves who have never been convicted and the paintings have not been seen since the thieves failed to show up to collect a ransom for the kidnapped paintings (you can read about Canada's largest theft here).

In October 2011, a man walked out of the museum in Montreal with two objects from antiquity.

Can you think of other unsolved museum thefts?

How about the 1990 theft of Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum?

Those are the mysteries that bother me the most -- what are your most problematic museum thefts?

January 17, 2014

Postcard from Paris: Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris -- galleries restructured and permanent collection displayed away from open windows

Museum view of Eiffel Tower & Siene
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCAblog Editor-in-Chief

PARIS - Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris has undergone a restructuring of its galleries since a thief stole five paintings -- never recovered -- in May 2010. The biggest visible change to visitors today is that the long downstairs gallery facing windows overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower is now a big open space with large, immobile paintings too big to be carried away by one person.
Open gallery with large paintings

Four years ago, portable works by modern paintings hung in the lower level that had access to an outdoor terrace and down steps to the street that runs south along the Seine. Admission to the museum, then and now is free, so it would not have cost a prospecting thief any money to scope out the small works that were be easily removed in the early morning hours while security personnel waited weeks for a part required to fix the security
Shiny lock, sharp shutters
alarm.
Entrance to the permanent collection

Today the museum appeared to have installed large outworks in the area that had been violated, tore down the wall dividers, and opened up the space. The inside metal shutters vulnerable in the break-in appeared well-maintained and locks nickel sharp.

The permanent collection is now displayed away from the large floor to ceiling windows into small rooms carved out of the middle of the building. More paintings, including some by the artists Picasso and Matisse who's works were stolen, appeared to be on display than even two years ago. This afternoon, with the bookstore full of customers and visitors eating and drinking at the cafe, this museum appeared to have no visible scars of the theft. However, I still can't bear to believe that those paintings, including the one by Braque that I so admired, were really thrown in the trash


May 20, 2012

Theft Anniversary: Two years ago five paintings stolen from Museé d'art moderne de la ville de Paris

Braque's beautiful Olive Tree Near Estaque
 on display in the museum in January 2009/Photo by C. Sezgin
Detail from Braque's painting
 Olive Tree Near Estaque/Photo by C. Sezgin
By Catherine Sezgin,
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Two years ago this painting was one of five masterpieces stolen from the Museé d'art moderne de la ville de Paris within view of the Tour Eiffel.

Last October, newspapers and bloggers reported police rumors that the paintings had been thrown away by an accomplice when two suspects had been arrested one year after the theft.

You can read about the theft and the condition of the museum on the ARCA blog as previously reported here, here, here, and here.




March 13, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's "The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army" and Denon's erotic novel "No Tomorrow"

In the Fall 2011 Issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Diane Joy Charney reviews Terence M. Russell's The Discovery of Egypt: Vivant Denon's Travels with Napoleon's Army (Sutton Publishing Limited, 2005) and Viviant Denon's No Tomorrow (Translated from the French Point de Lendemain by Lydia Davis with an introduction by Peter Brooks, New York Review Books, 2009):
Does the name “Denon” ring a bell? Perhaps it would if you are the sort of Louvre visitor who has gazed up at the inscription “Pavillon Denon” on the Louvre’s façade, or who notices, en route to the “Mona Lisa,” to “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” and to Michelangelo’s Slave sculptures, that you are walking in the museum’s “Denon Wing”. Or maybe you are a connaisseur of erotic literature who knows about the new dual-language edition of “No Tomorrow,” a work attributed to Denon that has recently garnered attention in literary circles. Just who could this chameleon-like Denon fellow be? 
Known as “Napoleon’s Eye,” as well as a lover of the Empress Josephine and eventual director of the Louvre, Denon was a man of many talents. Writer, artist, collector, adventurer, archeologist, tastemaker, and charming courtier, he could metamorphose into whatever role was required of him. 
Readers of Terence Russell’s scholarly, authoritative text will get to know the colorful Denon as an intrepid artist able to sketch rapidly under fire who was selected to accompany the French troops on their Egyptian campaign. In addition to his drawing skills, however, Denon paints with his words keen observations about the land and culture he encounters. Denon’s illustrated record of what he saw in Egypt is here made available to the non-speaker of French, through Russell’s well-chosen quotes and drawings. Russell’s paraphrasing and commentary, although sometimes more dry than Denon’s own words, add a necessary framework to the story. 
It is thanks to Denon that so many Egyptian artifacts made it safely to Paris, where as a result of his efforts, the wonders of Ancient Egypt began to be known and appreciated. Without Denon, today’s Louvre would not be the treasure house that it is. To those interested in art crime, however, there is another facet to Denon’s far-reaching influence and collecting style. 
As an immensely likeable master courtier, Denon was able to put a positive spin on what amounted to Napoleon’s looting of the art of countries where he waged war. Under Bonaparte, the appropriation of art became standard policy. In praising Napoleon for his heroic efforts to “conserve” great art in the face of “the torment of war,” Denon lauds a policy that would later be copied by Hitler, whose wholesale confiscation of art was touted as an effort to “protect” it. 
Now how does the reader put together the Denon who drew for sixteen hours straight through eyelids bleeding from the windblown sand, with the author of the 30-page erotic classic, “No Tomorrow,” which according to one reader, should be next to “titillating” in the dictionary? Although Denon was known to have talent for pornographic art, it may be quite a leap from that to authoring what Good Reads calls “one of the masterpieces of eighteenth-century literature, a book to set beside Laclos’ ‘Les Liasons Dangereuses.’”
Diane Joy Charney teaches French Literature at Yale University, where she is also Tutor-in-Writing and the Mellon Forum Fellow of Timothy Dwight College.

You may read the entire review by purchasing a subscription to The Journal of Art Crime.

November 4, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Portrait of Église Saint Roch patron

Saint Roch (ParisDailyPhoto)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Eric Tenin, who describes himself as a 'friendly Parisian', publishes online ParisDailyPhoto. Subscribers (such as myself) receive an email containing a photo and a few comments from Mr. Tenin -- a bit like receiving a postcard from a friend from the City of Lights. One of this week's photos was from the 1st arrondissement's rue Saint Honoré of the front façade of the Church of Saint Roch (Église Saint Roch), a 17th century church vandalized during the French Revolution. A portrait of the founder of the original chapel on the site is now at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

According to Wikipedia (my-at-home-encyclopedia), when tradesman Jacques Dinocheau built a chapel in 1521 honoring Saint Susanna on this site, it was on the outskirts of Paris. Fifty years later, his nephew built a small church and eighty years later Louis XIV laid the first stone of the existing church. During the French Revolution, fighting surrounded it and the façade still has battle scares. Inside the church, many artworks were either damaged or stolen. One of the missing paintings is allegedly of Dinocheau (either Jean or his nephew Etienne described as a 'generous donor' which hung in a side chapel at Saint Roch but is now at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore and classified as a painting by Paul Feminis.

I tried to track down the painting at the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome but a colleague found a reference to the painting at a parish church in Santa Maria Maggiore in northern Italy (http://www.eau-de-cologne.com/fr/Femminis-tableaux.html).  Dr. Karl Kempkes writes that the painting of Paul Feminis in the sacristy of the parish church at Santa Maria Maggiore is likely that of Monsieur Dinocheau, a member of the family that founded the church of Saint Roch on the rue Saint Honoré in Paris. Feminis is known as the main benefactor of the parish church Santa Maria Maggiore. Dr. Kempkes concludes that the 'original' paintings (of which there are three known copies) has likely been reworked in restoration. Dr. Kempkes conducted a thorough analysis of the paintings, including an x-ray that analysis that showed the inscription on the lower right hand corner of the painting was added later onto the canvas.  Dr. Kempkes traces this painting in the sacristy of the parish church Santa Maria Maggiore to Jean Marie Joseph Farina of Paris who supplied eau de Cologne to Napoleon.  Farina lived on rue Saint Honoré near the church of Saint Roch.  He may have not been responsible for the 'theft' of the painting which may have been removed when repairs were made to the church of Saint Roch after the French Revolution, but he likely had either the original or a copy of the original reworked and transformed into the image of Paul Feminis.

It's a complicated and fascinating story of art displacement, probably quite representative of many of the paintings reported 'stolen' that have been hiding under restorations for hundreds of years.

October 8, 2011

Lessons from Sandy Nairne's book, "Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners": Anti-gang police arrest 3 in Paris museum theft and stolen Picasso paintings from Zurich recovered in Serbia

Interior view of Paris museum (photo by Catherine Sezgin)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

Here's a link to ArtInfo's summary of the arrest of three people arrested for the theft at Paris' Modern Art Museum. The story reminds me of Sandy Nairne's depiction of an art theft in his book, Art Theft and The Case of the Stolen Turners. Organized crime was involved and the presence of a specialized police group in Paris seems to indicate professional criminals planned the robbery of the Paris museum. In the case of the stolen Turner paintings, the thieves gave the paintings to a 'handler' who passed the artwork on. Years passed before the Tate was able to negotiate a reward for the return of the paintings.

Nairne, now director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, himself writes in his introduction: "... the loss of the two late Turner paintings in Frankfurt in 1994 appears as part of a sequence that includes the attack on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, the thefts of versions of The Scream in Oslo in 1994 and 2004, the loss of Cellini's Saliera in Vienna in 2003 and the theft of of works by Matisse, Picasso and others from the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in May 2010."

As Nairne outlines in his book, the Tate in London loans two paintings by J. M. W. Turner (then valued at 24 million pounds and insured to travel) to a public gallery in Frankfurt in 1994 on July 28.  The front entrance door of the Kunsthalle had been locked by the night security guard at 10.10 p.m. the previous night after the last of the evening visitors had departed'.  The guard was attacked and then tied up in a cleaning cupboard. Nairne explains how it happened:

"The thieves had entered the gallery toward the end of the day, staying behind after hours and overcoming the night guard.  But how did they get out again? It seemed by using the guard's keys, unlocking the back entrance area and opening the big doors, so gaining access to the goods lift and from there to the loading bay.  This might have been fairly straightforward, but crucially, it was possible only with knowledge of the security system and the internal layout to execute the operation swiftly.  While removing the paintings, the three men (two thieves and the waiting driver as it later emerged) would have been listening to the guard's radio, connection to Eufinger's [a Frankfurt security firm] headquarters.  This was their way of knowing whether any suspicions had been aroused."

In both the museum thefts in 1972 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and in 2010 at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the thief or thieves had knowledge of the security systems' vulnerabilities -- in Montreal the repair of a skylight had disabled the alarm and in Paris the security system was awaiting the delivery of a part. Three security guards were alleged to have been on duty the night of the theft in Paris but nothing in the press has explained the whereabouts of these guardians while the small gallery was being robbed.

The initial investigation in Frankfurt, Nairne writes, was conducted by the Franfurt-am--Main Organized Crime Squad.  "After setting up a reconstruction, collecting evidence from the Schirn Kunsthalle staff and from witnesses that evening, the Squad eventually got to the point of being able to make arrests," Nairne writes (page 53).  "Over a period of time they arrested nine suspects, only some of whom they could actually connect with the emerging evidence."

Nairne quotes Jurek "Rocky" Rokosynski, a (London) Metropolitan Police undercover officer's recollections:
"The thieves and the handler were arrested soon afterwards.... Apparently they had an alibi for the actual time of the robbery.... But the clock was hours out of time, and only years afterwards, when the clock was checked against the actual time of the theft, did the truth emerge.... The police had their thumb prints or partial prints right from the start, because they had left them at the Schirn.  There was also a third person, a 'handler'. He was the one that the BKA put an undercover agent onto, to try and obtain the paintings, but each time he was arrested he would keep his mouth shut and would have to be released again."
The partial prints led police to the red light district of Frankfurt and into the criminal underworld.  Rocky recalls: "The van that was used linked to a driving license itself linked to one of the red light district establishments, run by Serbs. But in a police interview, if they don't have to say anything, they just don't say a thing."

It took the Tate over a decade to negotiate the return of the paintings.  You can read the rest of Sandy Nairne's fascinating book to find out how the paintings came home.

In other news, "Swiss Locate 2 Stolen Picassos" from Zurich? Where? Serbia.  In the 1960s it was the Corsican mob stealing paintings in the South of France.  Are we now seeing evidence of Serbian organized crime either commissioning or purchasing stolen art?

May 24, 2011

Images of the Paintings Stolen in 2010 from Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Found in Museum Catalogue

Possibly how the thief entered the museum
 from the balcony overlooking the Seine
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Last March when I visited the Musée de'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, I found a copy of the museum catalogue in the gift shop and with my iPhone photographed the images of the stolen paintings. This book can also be found in libraries around the world, such as the copy I found in the Getty Center's library. If the paintings were selected by someone who hired the thief, and of course this is pure speculation as the police have released no current information about the theft, a visit to the museum is not mandatory.

Again, in the event you may come across one of these paintings, here's the list of the five stolen artworks and their full-page images as shown in the museum catalogue:


Amdedeo Modigliani, La Femme à l'éventail
(Lunia Czechowska)
,  1919,
 oil on canvas, 100 x 65 cm

Pablo Picasso, Le Pigeon aux petits pois,
1911,  oil on canvas, 64 x 53 cm


Georges Braque, L'Olivier près de l'Estaque,
1906, oil on canvas, 50 x 61 cm


Fernand Léger, Nature morte au chandelier,
 1922, oil on canvas, 116 x 80 cm.

Henri Matisse, Le Pastorale, 1905,
 oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm.

May 22, 2011

City of Paris Spends 8 million Euros to Revamp Museum Security One Year After the Theft at Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

The walls to the left held the stolen paintings  from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris./Photo by CR Sezgin.
This morning the Museum Security Network sent an email alert about the 8 million euro revamping of the security for the 14 museums under the jurisdiction of the city of Paris.  The article in le Parisian is in French but with my new language crutch, Google Translate, I learned that since the theft from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, when a thief, or thieves, cut the lock and opened a not so secure window to steal five paintings valued at about 100 million euros, that the city has undertaken to reexamine the security at its museums.  The three security guards on duty at the time of the break-in apparently hadn't heard any alarms because the warning system had been offline, waiting many weeks for an apparently crucial part.  On my three visits to the museum I never considered the building so vast that this explanation made sense to me and as now no one has published an account that explains clearly how someone entered the building without any guard on patrol seeing them.  I have a nice photo here showing that if you stand on the stairs you have a clear view of the access to the walls that had supported the stolen paintings.

Le Parisien reports that the city of Paris began a reorganization program this year to strengthen supervision of security staff and to continue improvements in securing the museums through next year, including better communication about malfunctioning alarm systems.  It appears that the museum theft did strengthen the will to fund better security at the museums.

Fixed barred windows at Petit Palais
This past March, before I revisited the 'scene of the crime,' I did visit the Petit Palais, another city museum, where I found beautiful paintings by Cézanne, Gustave Courbet, and even a lower floor of vases from antiquity.  On a Sunday morning the museum was quiet with few visible security guards.  However, I noted that the permanent barred windows likely discouraged theft.  The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris has accordion wrought iron shutters securing its long windows.  In addition, the Petit Palais, instead of backing up against the Seine, is around the corner from a police station.

We'll follow this week with more information about the stolen paintings.  Meanwhile, you can read my fanciful guess about how the theft was committed here on the ARCA Blog.

April 8, 2011

Revisiting the musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris: site of the theft in May 2010 of more than $100 million in paintings

Neighbor's graffiti
Interior view of windows


Last month in Paris, I revisited the musée d'art moderne de la ville de paris for the second time since the robbery of five paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Léger, and Modigliani on May 20. Last July the museum was humid and bolts on the interior metal shutters seem to have been replaced in at least one window. I speculated on the theft on the ARCA blog here. This March, the amount of graffiti surprised me. The apartment building next to the museum sported new graffiti unusual for this location.  Skateboarders outside the collection played amongst graffiti-marked statutes.  More prominent museums in Paris visited the same week did not exhibit signs of graffiti. Behind the museum, along the Seine and in view of the Eiffel Tower, graffiti covered the doors of basement entrances underneath the balcony the thief may have used to gain entrance before smashing the windows, cutting the paintings out of their frames and disappearing without notifying any security guards. Nothing has been published about the progress of the investigation and the paintings are still missing. -- Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Graffiti marks statues outside the museum
Rear windows and balcony along the Seine
Graffiti marks basement doors of museum

February 15, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime: Essayist Catherine Schofield Sezgin Speculates on Paris Theft, May 2010

In an essay entitled “The Paris Art Theft, May 2010,” Catherine Schofield Sezgin relates the events of the theft of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in the 16th arrondissement in Paris and speculates about how the thief may have stolen five paintings.

Christophe Girard, deputy culture secretary in Paris, estimated the value of the stolen paintings at 100 Euros ($123 million). The five missing paintings are reported as: “Le pigeon aux petits-pois” (The Pidgeon with the Peas), an ochre and brown Cubist oil painting by Pablo Picasso worth an estimated 23 million euros; “La Pastorale” (Pastoral), an oil painting of nudes on a hillside by Henri Matisse about 15 million euros; “L’olivier prés de l’Estaque” (Olive Tree Near Estaque)by Georges Braque; “La femme a l’eventail” (Woman with a Fan) by Amedeo Modigliani; and “Nature-more aux chandeliers” (Still Life with Candlesticks) by Fernand Leger.

According to Paris’ mayor, Betrand Delanoe, the museum’s security system, including some of the surveillance cameras, has not worked since March 30 and has not been fixed since the security company is waiting for parts from a supplier.
"In 2009, early January, I was ending a two-week holiday in Paris. We had been staying next door to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris but had not been inside it. On Saturday evening, the night before leaving, I left my children in the apartment and walked next door to check out the permanent collection which was free. The museum would be closing in a few minutes. I headed downstairs and started looking at paintings, somewhat sure that after days and days in Paris at the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre and the Musée National d'Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou that there wasn't much more for me to see in such short time. And then I saw this painting of trees that amazed me, and discovered that it was by Braque, titled, in English, Olive Tree Near Estaque. I just loved it and am happy to share these photos now." -- Catherine Schofield Sezgin.
To seek out this piece, and many others, consider a subscription to the Journal of Art Crime—the first peer-reviewed academic journal covering art and heritage crime. ARCA publishes two volumes annually in the Spring and Fall. Individual, Institutional, electronic and printed versions are all available, with subscriptions as low as 30 Euros. All proceeds go to ARCA's nonprofit research and education initiatives. Please see the publications page for more information.

June 3, 2010

ARCA's Colette Marvin at the Scene of the Crime at musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris

Recently, ARCA's Colette Marvin, Director of Public and Institutional Relations, visited the scene of the crime while on business in Paris. Colette spent the past fall and winter organizing and curating a special exhibit on art crime at the National Museum of Crime and Punishment. Currently, she is engaged in a documentary project focused on the career of the infamous forger, Elmyr de Hory.

May 21, 2010

Time Magazine on the Paris Heist

ARCA commentary was featured in a variety of publications and news programs on the recent Paris art theft. These include the following:

ARCA Trustee Dick Ellis was interviewed for the BBC:

ARCA President Noah Charney was interviewed for TIME Magazine:


May 20, 2010

Musée d'art modern de la ville de Paris robbed of five paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani, and Leger estimated at 100 million euros

Rear entrance to musée d'art modern de la ville de Paris
By Catherine Sezgin ARCA MA '09


Correction: The original version assumed that the window's metal accordion shutters were exterior; a visit to the museum in July 2010 showed that the metal shutters were on the inside of the windows. 

For six weeks, the Musée d’Art Modern de la Ville de Paris has waited for parts to fix their security system. Last night, five paintings valued at 100 million euros were stolen between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning from the building in one of the most fashionable districts in Paris, just blocks from the Pont de l’Alma where Princess Diana died in 1997 and north of the Eiffel Tour.

Time Magazine reported in "The French Art Heist: Who Would Steal Unsaleable Picassos?":
According to officials, the thief cut through a gate padlock and broke a window to gain access to the museum, all without alerting the security guards or triggering the museum's alarm system. A security camera filmed the intruder making off with five paintings, but the works were only discovered missing during morning rounds just before 7 a.m. on May 20.
The thief accessed the collection though a rear window of the east wing of the Palais de Tokyo.

No further details have been submitted by museum or law enforcement officials.  One likely scenario is that the thief may have driven a scooter along the Avenue du New York that runs parallel to the Seine where the street has signs posted forbidding parking and heavy black gates that separate the road from the wide sidewalk as is common in central Paris.

Underneath the balcony terrace of the rear portion of the ground floor of the museum, a recessed doorway marked #14 may have provided excellent cover for a parked scooter. The doorway is located about eight to ten feet from the road. Although a barrier exists between the street and the sidewalk,  the openings are wide enough for a scooter to exit onto the sidewalk and then re-enter the traffic later.

After hopping up to the balcony, the thief may have taken out – probably from a bag slung over his shoulder – a tool that would have broken the window and then sawed-off the padlock (Time Magazine) that secured the window’s metal accordion shutters inside the full-story windows. Opening these metal shutters would have created a loud and persistent screeching sound as the metal rubbed against the sliders in the window casements.

Once the glass window was exposed, the intruder may have used the handle of the cutter to smash open the middle panel of the window and to climb into the building. The thief may have known that the security alarm would not alert the security guards, the police, or even notify anyone that the building had been broken into. He would also have known that no security guard would have been patrolling nearby the area of the stolen paintings.

A security video camera caught a masked man entering through the window. The thief may have decided it was too difficult to turn off the security camera and just wore a covering to obscure his identity.

Inside, the intruder selected five paintings from the same period that were most likely located in either the same room or close to one another, removed the works from their frames, and left without disturbing the three night security guards.

The thief broke open a gate, smashed the glass in a window, and had time to remove five paintings from their frames? Why did not one of the guards hear or see any of this activity, especially since the security patrol was aware that the alarm was disabled?

The thief may have removed the paintings from their frames so that they would be easier to carry while he drove away on his scooter. All the paintings, without frames, were of small to mid-size and could easily be carried.

A thief with an automobile and a second driver – who would be waiting in the car since there was no place to park legally – would have saved time by taking the paintings with their frames down from the walls and just thrown the paintings into the back seat of the car. 

The empty frames were finally discovered Thursday morning by 6 or 6.30 a.m. by the one of the three security museum guards.

The Brigade de Répression du Banditsme, the elite police unit that fights organized crime and art theft, was in charge of the investigation.

The day of the theft, the police had littered the terrace with yellow evidence markers around the frames leaning against the balcony. The police officers were measuring the frames and various locations on the patio. 

Chritophe Girard, deputy culture secretary in Paris, estimated the value of the stolen paintings at 100 Euros ($123 million). The five missing paintings are reported as:

“Le pigeon aux petits-pois” (The Pidgeon with the Peas), an ochre and brown Cubist oil painting by Pablo Picasso worth an estimated 23 million euros;

“La Pastorale”, an oil painting of nudes on a hillside by Henri Matisse about 15 million euros. Matisse, the leader, of Fauvism, was a rival and friend of Pablo Picasso. Matisse painted this oil on a 46 x 55 centimeter canvas in 1905.

“L’olivier prés de l’Estaque” by Georges Braque;

“La femme a l’eventail” (Woman with a Fan) by Amedeo Modigliani;

and “Nature-more aux chandeliers” (Still Life with Chandeliers) by Fernand Leger.

According to Paris’ mayor Betrand Delanoe, the museum’s security system, including some of the surveillance cameras, has not worked since March 30 and has not been fixed since the security company is waiting for parts from a supplier (Bloomberg.com, “Picasso, Matisse Paintings Stolen From Paris Museum”, May 20, 2010).

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is located at 11, avenue du Président Wilson in the 16th arrondisement in Paris, just three blocks west of the Alma Metro station and one block east of the Place d’Iéna and another metro station. The museum, closed on Mondays, is free to visitors for the permanent collection. All five paintings belonged to the permanent collection gathered from private collectors’ generous gifts to Paris’ city museum of modern art.

The 1911 Picasso still life was a gift from Dr. Girardin in 1953. It was featured in the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life in 1937.

The building for the museum was constructed in 1937 and officially opened in 1961 with a collection built from donations from private collectors, especially that from Dr. Girardin. The stolen works were from the oldest part of the collection.