If you’ve ever been to Zurich, Switzerland you may have made a visit to the Emile Bürhle Foundation, whose collection is considered to be the biggest privately owned collection of French impressionists worldwide. On Sunday three thieves made that same visit and took off with four important paintings by van Gogh, Degas, Monet and Cézanne. Their total value is estimated at $163 million, making it one of the biggest art robberies in Europe.
Entering just before the museum was about to close, one robber held the staff and visitors at gunpoint while the two other men removed the four paintings. The authorities are speculating that the thieves stopped after four paintings because they were covered in glass casings and therefore incredibly heavy. Trying to make your way out of a museum with four very large and heavy paintings seems like an awkward task to me.
Gone are apparently the days of mysterious art heists which entailed detailed planning and spy-like maneuvers; the fact that the robbers held people at gunpoint worries the authorities as it may indicate a new precedent in art robberies. Hopefully the four pieces will be returned, like Edvard Munch’s The Scream in 2006.
Read more about the stolen pieces and other recent art robberies in the New York Times article here.