Picasso paintings stolen from heir's home

28th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 28, 2007 (AFP) - Two paintings by Pablo Picasso worth a total of 50 million euros and a drawing were stolen from the Paris apartment of the artist's granddaughter as she was sleeping, a lawyer and police said Wednesday.

PARIS, Feb 28, 2007 (AFP) - Two paintings by Pablo Picasso worth a total of 50 million euros and a drawing were stolen from the Paris apartment of the artist's granddaughter as she was sleeping, a lawyer and police said Wednesday.

"Maya with Doll", a painting of Picasso's daughter, and a portrait of his second wife Jacqueline were taken in the night of Monday to Tuesday from the flat of Diana Widmaier Picasso in an upmarket district of central Paris.

"The family is shocked by this theft," said lawyer Paul Lombard, representing the Picasso family.

"They were especially attached to 'Maya with Doll'. It was of huge sentimental value to them."

Completed in 1938, the painting is one of Picasso's classic oil paintings done in bright shades of green, blue and red and depicting young Maya in pigtails cradling a doll dressed in a sailor suit. 

Maya was Widmaier Picasso's mother, born to Marie-Therese Walter, who was Picasso's companion during the late 20s and 30s. He was then married to Olga Khokhlova.

According to Lombard, the paintings were on display in the apartment, in full view, but security precautions had been taken to protect the works.

The thieves removed "Maya with Doll" from a wall while the Jacqueline portrait was cut out of its frame, said the lawyer.

Windmaier Picasso and another person were asleep in the flat when the robbery took place.

There was no sign of forced entry, according to police, who said the investigation had been handed over to the Paris police's organised crime division.

The Spanish-born artist who adopted France as his home painted scores of  portraits of Jacqueline Roque, whom he met in 1954 and with whom he spent more than 20 years.

The stolen work of Jacqueline is from 1961, the year that the couple were married, and rates among the "most beautiful portraits" of Picasso's second wife, said Lombard.

The two paintings are thought to have a combined value of 50 million euros (65 million dollars), police said.

Picasso's works, among the world's most valuable, have frequently been targeted by thieves over the years.

In 1976, in one of the largest ever art robberies on French soil, 118 Picasso works were stolen from a museum in the southern french city of Avignon.

Twelve Picasso paintings, valued at the time at some 17 million dollars, were stolen from the Riviera villa of another of his grandchildren, Marina Picasso, in 1989. Two local restaurant owners were arrested for the crime days later, and the works were recovered in full.

In 1994, seven works painted during the Spanish master's so-called blue and rose periods and valued at some 44 million dollars, were stolen from a Zurich art gallery.

A gunman walked into a central London art gallery in 1997, ripped Picasso's "Tete de Femme" painting from a wall and fled in a taxi, but the work was later recovered.

A Picasso still life was stolen from the Georges Pompidou modern art museum in Paris in January 2004, to be found three months later.

Picasso's "The Dance" was damaged during a daring robbery at a Rio de Janeiro museum in February 2006, in which robbers made off with four Picasso works and other 20th-century masterpieces worth up to 50 million dollars.

Born in Malaga in 1881, the Cubist maestro first traveled to Paris in 1901, attracted by the innovation of the avant-garde movement, and ended up spending most of his life in France.

Picasso started painting at the age of seven under the influence of his father, an art teacher.

His early blue period was triggered by a close friend's suicide and depicts isolation and urban squalor. The rose period that followed in 1904-1905 was inspired by colourful circus performers in Paris and characterised by the use of rose, yellow ochre and gray.

Picasso's 1905 masterpiece "Boy with a Pipe" remains the most expensive painting ever sold since it went under the hammer at a New York auction for 104.2 million dollars in May 2004.

He later digressed toward Cubism, the experimentation with geometrical form, that generated his anti-war masterpiece Guernica in 1937.

Picasso died on April 8, 1973 at his home in the small southern town of Mougins.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article