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Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

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Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Old 10-15-11, 02:48 AM
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Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Why do museums make it so easy to steal valuable art? It's harder to steal $50 from a convenience store than it is to steal $135 million of art from a museum.

And in this case, the thief tossed it all into the trash!


http://www.thelocal.fr/1426/20111010/

Stolen art works 'crushed by rubbish truck'

Five paintings worth €100 million ($135 million) including works by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliano, could have been tossed into a rubbish bin and crushed according to one of the suspects.

The theft in May 2010 from the Museum of Modern Art opposite the Eiffel Tower stunned the art world with its audacity. If true, news of the paintings' demise will cause dismay.

The five works stolen were Dove with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso, Pastoral by Henri Matisse, Olive Tree near l'Estaque by Georges Braque, Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani and Still Life with Candlestick by Fernand Léger.

The paintings were stolen after an ingenious thief managed to climb through a window, avoiding thirty security cameras and ineffectual guards.

After a year long search, the Serious Crime Brigade has now placed three men under official investigation, the alleged thief and two accomplices.

The alleged thief, a 43-year-old Serb known as Vrejan T, allegedly planned to steal a painting by Fernand Léger.

Three days before the theft the Serb, nicknamed "Spiderman", planned his entrance by loosening screws in a window. He then returned in the early hours of May 19th and climbed in.

Surprised that no burglar alarm sounded he then spent an hour wandering around the museum, helping himself to some of his favourite pieces. "He thought the Modigliani was the most beautiful of all," said one source close to the inquiry, according to Sunday newspaper the Journal du Dimanche.

When police caught up with the alleged thief one of the accomplices, a 34-year-old watch repairer called Jonathan B, said he "panicked and destroyed the canvasses before throwing them into a rubbish bin."

Police cannot confirm that the paintings have really been destroyed.

"This theft was nonsensical," said one investigator. "There was never any chance that paintings this well-known could have been sold on."
Old 10-15-11, 06:27 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

The Louvre museum used to hang paintings in Paris subway stations, and people treated them with respect. The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum had a desk guard, and patrons could look at the paintings without someone hovering at their shoulders.

Why do people today treat great art like something to be stolen, like $50 from a convenience store?
Old 10-15-11, 10:34 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

...including works by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliano...
At least the works were from minor artists.

Valueable art keeps getting stolen (or attempted to be stolen)... who's buying this stuff from them? I guess you can find some very wealthy people who would buy this stuff for their own personal/private collection - but this seems to happen often enough that I can't believe there are THAT many buyers.
Old 10-15-11, 01:27 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

no, but there are that many stupid thieves.

Million dollar artwork is only worth that if you have a buyer lined up ahead of time. It's not stuff you can sell on eBay or at the flea market.
Old 10-15-11, 02:37 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

I was at a Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute (Chicago) when I was in college, and was writing a paper about the composition of his Golconda. I pretty much had my nose to the canvas for about 15 minutes, and was taking notes on a pad directly adjacent to it with a ballpoint pen. It occurred to me at the time that there was no way I should be able to get that close to the thing. One muscle spasm, or malicious swing, and I would have written all over it, or stabbed the canvas. It's kind of amazing both how accessible the great works are, and how little they've been damaged over the centuries.
Old 10-16-11, 11:45 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by Coral View Post

Valueable art keeps getting stolen (or attempted to be stolen)... who's buying this stuff from them? I guess you can find some very wealthy people who would buy this stuff for their own personal/private collection - but this seems to happen often enough that I can't believe there are THAT many buyers.
It's not just private art collectors. Drug lords, arms dealers, terrorists and the like buy them and use the art as collateral and/or payment. It is a lot easier to move a $10 million Monet than $10 million in cash (either physically or electronically.) Plus they buy the art from the thieves at a fraction of it's value getting an instanct return on investment.
Old 10-16-11, 11:58 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Read this book, "Priceless" by Robert Wittman if you want to know more about how these things work.
Old 10-17-11, 01:09 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

I like how the title states everything as fact then says "could" have been thrown in the trash. The investigator who says they could not be sold is an idiot. Someone has them.
Old 10-17-11, 02:15 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Reminds of the story about the guy who had mental problems and lived with his mother. He stole art and just brought it home, he was a compulsive theif and didn't care about selling it. When the heat was on his mother destroyed all the paintings because she thought it might protect him. It was hundreds of millions of $ in art. Crazy.
Old 10-17-11, 03:34 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by grundle View Post
Why do museums make it so easy to steal valuable art?
So that people can enjoy it.

Anyway, the thief had good taste if his favorite was Modigliani.
Old 10-17-11, 04:33 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by Numanoid View Post
I was at a Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute (Chicago) when I was in college, and was writing a paper about the composition of his Golconda. I pretty much had my nose to the canvas for about 15 minutes, and was taking notes on a pad directly adjacent to it with a ballpoint pen. It occurred to me at the time that there was no way I should be able to get that close to the thing. One muscle spasm, or malicious swing, and I would have written all over it, or stabbed the canvas. It's kind of amazing both how accessible the great works are, and how little they've been damaged over the centuries.
I was at the Getty a few years back and I accidentally tripped and my hands went into a monet painting. When I peeled my hands off, little flecks of paint came off with it. Luckily, it was just a duplicate. They rarely if ever display the real paintings; they're usually in a very exclusive room that's hidden from the public. The originals have degraded so much that they're usually not very presentable, and they don't want to put priceless works of art out where little children can set them on fire. By having the paintings on the premises, they're allowed to state that they have it on display.
Old 10-17-11, 05:03 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by d2cheer View Post
I like how the title states everything as fact then says "could" have been thrown in the trash. The investigator who says they could not be sold is an idiot. Someone has them.
I get a nagging feeling that the investigator is not an idiot. He's in on the theft, and will get a share of the proceeds from the sale to some wealthy private collector.

Doesn't anyone ever watch movies where this happens???

To find the paintings, assign another investigator ... and have them investigate the first investigator.
Old 10-17-11, 07:01 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by Superboy View Post
I was at the Getty a few years back and I accidentally tripped and my hands went into a monet painting. When I peeled my hands off, little flecks of paint came off with it. Luckily, it was just a duplicate. They rarely if ever display the real paintings; they're usually in a very exclusive room that's hidden from the public. The originals have degraded so much that they're usually not very presentable, and they don't want to put priceless works of art out where little children can set them on fire. By having the paintings on the premises, they're allowed to state that they have it on display.
Do you really believe this urban legand weirdness?

I was at the Getty once (the old Getty when the main collection was in Pacific Palisades) and a companion was asked to not get so close to a painting. If it was a duplicate why would they care? All part of keeping up the appearance of the paintings being real I suppose. Wait, how about this one? The guards don't know the paintings are duplicates! I like that.

Also when you say "The originals have degraded so much that they're usually not very presentable" what do you mean? Picaso's works are only 100 years old, have his paintings degraded? Monet's paintings are 125 years old whereas the Mona Lisa is 500 years old. Have all of these degraded? When will the Thomas Kinkade's degrade? Next week?

Why would the Getty (and every other modern museum) spend so much money on building gallery space that preserves the paintings (air conditioning, humidfiers, special lighting, special windows, etc). Why not just hang the paintings up in an old gymnasium?
Old 10-17-11, 07:12 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

The Getty ONLY displays original paintings. They do have duplicates but they are for training purposes only for practicing fix-ups to original paintings (when Steve Wynn or someone pokes a hole in them) - they are not displayed. Fortunately one one of my employees is married to a curator at the Getty here in Los Angeles so getting this scoop was pretty easy.
Old 10-17-11, 10:11 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by General Zod View Post
The Getty ONLY displays original paintings. They do have duplicates but they are for training purposes only for practicing fix-ups to original paintings (when Steve Wynn or someone pokes a hole in them) - they are not displayed. Fortunately one one of my employees is married to a curator at the Getty here in Los Angeles so getting this scoop was pretty easy.


Anyone who believes that museums knowingly display copies of their artworks is either naive or ignorant. They don't have enough space to display 10% of their collections and would NEVER waste their wall space to exhibit duplicates. I think Superboy was being humorous and not serious. Occasionally they mount exhibitions that include contemporaneous copies of masterworks, usually because the curators find that it furthers appreciation of the original.
That's not to say that everything on display is as the wall label states. Scholarship evolves and authorship can be upgraded and downgraded depending on the latest research.

The record for still unrecovered masterpiece is a Caravaggio stolen from a small Oratory in Palermo, Italy on Oct. 1969. If you want to read more, here is a link.
Old 10-17-11, 11:20 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

When I went to the Louvre a few years back, the Mona Lisa was behind glass, roped off, and had it's own guard. Pretty annoying.
Old 10-18-11, 12:58 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Here is why the Mona Lisa (like other paintings) is behind bulletproof glass.
Old 10-18-11, 01:25 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

People who damage and destroy master art work are pathetic.

I can’t imagine how devoid of meaning one’s life would have to be where destroying artwork would be considered the right thing to do.
Old 10-18-11, 02:31 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

I wish I had an appreciation for art. I'd like to. But when I see most famous art I get the feeling that arbitrary people decided in an arbitrary way what was good and what wasn't. I'm sure that isn't how it actually works, but to a guy who would like to appreciate it but doesn't seem to have the art appreciation gene, that is how it appears.
Old 10-18-11, 04:37 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I wish I had an appreciation for art. I'd like to. But when I see most famous art I get the feeling that arbitrary people decided in an arbitrary way what was good and what wasn't. I'm sure that isn't how it actually works, but to a guy who would like to appreciate it but doesn't seem to have the art appreciation gene, that is how it appears.
The greatness of art is all in the eye of the beholder. I look at something by Jackson Pollock and it makes me laugh that he's considered a "master artist." His stuff looks like something a 2 year old made. Andy Warhol, what a joke. His most famous painting is a Campbell's soup can. And DaVinci, the Mona Lisa is just plain ugly. His sketches are FAR more interesting. Whoever decided these people were masters, well... I certainly don't understand it.

Then I look at Michaelangelo, Bosch, Dali or Goya, and they are some of the most fascinating images I've ever seen. And the artists that can paint pictures so lifelike they almost look like photographs. I saw one at the Getty by a Spanish artist whose name I can't recall, but his people were so realistic that he had even painted the light blue of the veins beneath their skin. It really blew me away.

That's the beauty of art. You only have to appreciate what you want, not what others tell you to. Unless you're in an art history class.
Old 10-18-11, 09:09 AM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by Mabuse View Post
Do you really believe this urban legand weirdness?

I was at the Getty once (the old Getty when the main collection was in Pacific Palisades) and a companion was asked to not get so close to a painting. If it was a duplicate why would they care? All part of keeping up the appearance of the paintings being real I suppose. Wait, how about this one? The guards don't know the paintings are duplicates! I like that.

Also when you say "The originals have degraded so much that they're usually not very presentable" what do you mean? Picaso's works are only 100 years old, have his paintings degraded? Monet's paintings are 125 years old whereas the Mona Lisa is 500 years old. Have all of these degraded? When will the Thomas Kinkade's degrade? Next week?

Why would the Getty (and every other modern museum) spend so much money on building gallery space that preserves the paintings (air conditioning, humidfiers, special lighting, special windows, etc). Why not just hang the paintings up in an old gymnasium?
Well then, I hope the ghost of Monet doesn't come back to haunt me.
Old 10-18-11, 12:59 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Picasso's works are not 100 years old.

I don't like going to the local art museum any more, except for specific traveling exhibits. Their "new acquisitions" section pisses me off every time I see it.

I recently went there with a friend to see an exhibition of Tiffany glass. It was quite nice, although poorly presented. Then, the friend wanted to go see the rest of the museum. I tagged along.

We got to the new purchases, and she stopped dead in front of a charcoal figure study. She pointed at it and said, indignantly. "Why is that here? Your figure studies are much better!"

I could only shrug and guess that somebody knew somebody.
Old 10-18-11, 01:10 PM
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Re: Thief steals $135 million of art, and throws it in the trash.

Originally Posted by WCChiCubsFan View Post
People who damage and destroy master art work are pathetic.

I can’t imagine how devoid of meaning one’s life would have to be where destroying artwork would be considered the right thing to do.

Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?
Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

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