Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse Paintings French police say several Picasso and Matisse paintings were among works stolen from a Paris museum. The total value of the haul is estimated at more than $130 million. The paintings were reported missing from the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday.
NPR logo

Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse Paintings

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127018733/127019039" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse Paintings

Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse Paintings

Thieves Steal Picasso, Matisse Paintings

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/127018733/127019039" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

French police say several Picasso and Matisse paintings were among works stolen from a Paris museum. The total value of the haul is estimated at more than $130 million. The paintings were reported missing from the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley has the report from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Christophe Girard is deputy mayor of the city of Paris, which runs the museum.

CHRISTOPHE GIRARD: (Through translator) There were guards making rounds. There was a security perimeter, and there were three people inside the museum all night. But the thief was able to outsmart the system, and no one noticed a thing.

BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

BEARDSLEY: And the heist has been the top story on the news in France. There have been varying reports about the value of the stolen art. Estimates range from $130 million to as high as $600 million. But art critics, like Didier Rykner, say that question is moot because the paintings can never be sold.

DIDIER RYKNER: What is a thief going to do with these paintings because it's not possible to sell them on the art market? Is it blackmail for the insurances, or is it some people who want to keep it for themselves?

BEARDSLEY: Rykner says the real tragedy of the theft is that art lovers will no longer be able to view the paintings. That's a view shared by Ellen McBreen, who teaches modern art at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and runs a tour business in Paris.

ELLEN MCBREEN: I could teach an abbreviated history of art in France - 1905, 1922 - with just these five paintings because they are, you know, that rich in ideas and innovations. And one of the great losses, of course, is that, you know, collections are arranged to tell stories, and now five chapters of that story are gone.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.