Art Thieves in France Take Monet, Other Paintings
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Eleanor Beardsley reports.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: The five robbers wearing masks and jumpsuits waltzed in the front door of Nice's Musee des Beaux-Arts Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and made off with two works by Flemish artist Jan Breugel and two paintings by the impressionists Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet. Museum staff were ordered to lie on the floor at gunpoint while the canvasses were removed from the wall. The museum Sunday visitors like Nice resident Jan Rabet(ph) just looked on in mild surprise.
JAN HABET: (Through Translator) I didn't think it was a robbery. It just seemed they were taking the paintings away to restore them or something. But it was a little strange how they were wearing motorcycle helmets and masks.
BEARDSLEY: Bizarrely enough, the Sisley and Monet were stolen from the same museum 10 years ago, but were found a week later stashed in a boat moored in the Mediterranean Port. The museum's curator was later convicted of staging the heist where he even had himself taken hostage. The museum, which is housed in a former mansion and was opened to the public in 1928, has a collection of art spanning the past four centuries. French news outlets reporting on Sunday's incident have been quick to note than no security improvements have been undertaken since the first theft. No cameras, no alarms, no armed guards. Patricia Grimaud is the museum's vice curator.
PATRICIA GRIMAUD: (Through Translator) There was a physical, human surveillance, like every Sunday. And the paintings were hung on their wall hooks like every other painting in the museum. That's all I have to say about the matter.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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