Brazen Art Thieves Make off with Seven Paintings Including Monet, Matisse, Gauguin and Picasso

A privately-owned art collection, on public display for the first time, was plundered on Tuesday in Rotterdam. Seven paintings were stolen from the Dutch Kunsthal museum in the latest instance of art theft in Europe. The works stolen were  Matisse's "Reading Girl in White and Yellow," Monet's "Charing Cross Bridge, London" and "Waterloo Bridge, London," Gauguin's "Girl in Front of Open Window," Meyer de Haan’s "Self-Portrait," Picasso’s "Harlequin Head," and Freud’s "Woman With Eyes Closed." 

Monet's "Charing Cross Bridge, London"
Image courtesy of Police Rotterdam, the Netherlands

With stolen art notoriously difficult -- if not impossible -- to fence, speculation abounds that the works were stolen-to-order. The New York Times reported: "Marc Masurovsky, a historian and an expert on plundered art in Washington, noted the possibility that the theft was 'contract job,' adding: 'These works were picked out. Could it be they had been targeted well before the theft, and the exhibit was the opportunity to strike?'" 

Gauguin's  "Girl in Front of Open Window"
Image courtesy of Police Rotterdam, the Netherlands

And according the International Herald Tribue, "If previous art heists are any example, the cast of characters in the next chapter could range from shady lawyers, Serbian criminals and assorted drug traffickers." It is also suspected that the burglary was an inside job, as the thieves must have been aware of the lapses in the gallery's security, according to The Daily Beast.

Meijer de Haan's "Self-Portrait" 
Image courtesy of Police Rotterdam, the Netherlands

The Daily Mirror is valuing the works at  £70million and calling it "one of the biggest art heists of all time." According to Kunsthal's director Emily Ansenk, "This act has struck people in the world of art like a bomb."

Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London"
Image courtesy of Police Rotterdam, the Netherlands

More details about this case and other issues in the world of art theft can be found on the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art website.

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