ZURICH, Feb 19, 2008 (AFP) — Swiss police said on Tuesday they had found two stolen paintings -- one Monet and a van Gogh -- of the four that were stolen last week from a gallery in Zurich. The two paintings, estimated to be worth 70 million Swiss francs (64 million dollars, 44 million euros), were recovered Monday in the back seat of a car parked at a psychiatric hospital in the city, Zurich police said in a statement. "Poppies near Vetheuil" (1879) by Claude Monet, and "Blossoming Chestnut Branch" (1890) by van Gogh, were formally identified by the director of the Buehrle Museum from where they were stolen last Sunday, the police said.I wonder if we have a better class of thieving bastard these days, compared to the maniacs who would cut the thing out of its frame with a penknife, like this one from 1971:
They are in a good condition with their glass covering still intact.
It was only the latest in a series of art thefts that have run through Europe like a plague in the past several weeks. But in some ways it was the most painful for art lovers. Vermeer was among the greatest of all painters, but he painted few pictures, and fewer still survive—no more than 36. Three weeks ago, a thief cut one of those precious 36 out of its frame in Brussels' Palais des Beaux-Arts, where it was on loan from Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. The place was closed for the night, four guards were on duty, but the burglar managed to roll up the painting and scramble down over a balcony. Roll up a Vermeer? Those surfaces cracked? The very thought is agonizing.Indeed, my skin is crawling at the thought. we pick up the story with the little savage trying to pull a fast one:
Till arranged to meet Schwilden after midnight in front of a church in a remote village. At the rendezvous, Schwilden found a scared young man wearing a plastic mask who blindfolded him, then drove him for miles around the countryside. "I am not a thief," he insisted. "I am an idealist who stole to do something about the refugees and the hunger." Deep in a forest, he produced the picture, which he held up before the car's headlights while Schwilden photographed it.Now he's on the lam:
The thief tried to cut across fields, but was finally caught cowering behind a heap of manure.MANURE?
The boy identified himself as Mario Roymans, 21. In his small apartment above a restaurant where he worked as a waiter, the lost Vermeer was found under his bed. Roymans' knife had sliced an inch or so of canvas around the edge of the painting, and areas of paint had flaked away. Rijksmuseum Director Arthur van Schendel reported sadly: "I think it can be restored, but it will never again be as it was before."
Meanwhile, the Degas and the Cezanne are still missing.