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The Golden Age of Russian Impressionism


 

Stolen Art Found in Parked Car
January 3, 2006

 

Art Fortune | Art Discoveries


  

Found ... Poppies near Vetheuil by Claude Monet. Photograph: AFP

 

Four Impressionist paintings stolen in one of the world's largest art robberies this month were discovered last night in the car park of a psychiatric hospital in Zurich, Swiss media reported.

 

Three armed men burst into the Emile Bührle foundation, a private collection housed on the shore of Lake Zurich, and forced visitors and staff to lie down before driving off with £84m worth of paintings by Cézanne, Degas, Monet and Van Gogh sticking out of the boot.

 

Last night the grounds of Zurich's Psychiatric University clinic, which is near the museum, were closed off as police examined and then towed away a white car, found unlocked.

 

The local TV station TeleZuri quoted a witness who said the car contained three paintings bearing the name of the museum. He said the pictures included Claude Monet's Poppy field at Vetheuil (above) - which was one of the missing works. Swiss police declined to confirm a link with the audacious art theft, but confirmed investigators were examining the scene.

 

The gang, in dark clothes and ski masks, carried out their raid in broad daylight just before closing time. The paintings were behind glass and an alarm went off, but the men removed four from the wall before speeding off with the car boot open and the pictures visible. Swiss police offered a cash reward for information, saying only that one of the men spoke German with a Slav accent.

 

Investigators believed the paintings were not stolen "to order" because they were hanging in a row and the thieves seemed to have simply removed what they could as fast as possible, including the museum's most valuable work: The Boy In The Red Vest, by Cézanne.

 

The others taken were Vincent van Gogh's Blossoming Chestnut Branches, and Edgar Degas's family portrait Count Lepic And His Daughters. Although they are valuable, the thieves left more coveted paintings which were hanging in the same room.

 

At the time of the robbery, the Art Loss Register said the paintings were impossible to sell on the open market as all auction houses were on alert. A spokeswoman said that according to a pattern in big art thefts, the works would either be recovered very quickly by police or remain missing for years.















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