Monday, 11 February 2008

Thefts in Switzerland

On February 8th, two Picassos were stolen from the Seedamm-Kulturzentrum in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland, not far from Zurich. See the story here.

Now today, four major Impressionist and post-Impressionist works were stolen from the Emile B├╝hrle Foundation in Zurich itself, including Monet's dazzling Poppies near Vetheuil. The story is here.

The Times says police don't think the two robberies were related, probably because of the different styles used. The Picassos were taken quietly at night while today's disaster involved ski masks and guns in broad daylight, conjuring memories of the thefts at the Munch Museum in 2004.

Anyone else disappointed in the way that the gravity of this situation is conveyed by talking about the monetary value of the artworks in question? Paintings are treated as liquid assets, while the value stated is unattainable for stolen goods. I suppose it's inevitable that newspapers write to the lowest common denominator like this.

The small museums of Switzerland had better learn from these incidents and step up their security. It's not as though they weren't warned. The bold thefts at the Musee des Beaux Arts, Nice in 2007 should have been sufficient lesson. The museum had little security and no cameras in place at the time and the paintings have not been recovered. One can only hope the Swiss thefts turn out better.

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