Probe of Picasso theft will take time

1st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 1, 2007 (AFP) - French investigators on Thursday held out little hope of quickly recovering two paintings by Pablo Picasso stolen from the Paris apartment of the artist's granddaughter.

PARIS, March 1, 2007 (AFP) - French investigators on Thursday held out little hope of quickly recovering two paintings by Pablo Picasso stolen from the Paris apartment of the artist's granddaughter.

The paintings by the Spanish master worth a total of 50 million euros (66 million dollars) were taken from the flat of Diana Widmaier Picasso as she was sleeping, and without a break-in, in the night of Monday to Tuesday.

"It will be a long and difficult investigation," said a source close to the case.

Investigators were not ruling out any motive for the crime, saying it may have been the work of thieves acting at the behest of an art collector or small-time robbers wanting to get their hands on some valuable loot.

The thieves made off with a 1961 portrait of Picasso's second wife Jacqueline Roque and "Maya with Doll," a painting of Picasso's daughter done in 1938.  A drawing was also taken.

A detailed description of the art works was sent out to all police in France and in neighbouring countries through Interpol, said Bernard Darties, the deputy director of the office overseeing trafficking in cultural goods.

Art dealers and gallery owners have also been notified of the theft, he said.

Darties said that 80 percent of cases involving thefts of major artworks, the perpetrators are "thieves who saw an opportunity", believing that they will cash in on the stolen works "but find themselves unable to sell them."

Many stolen paintings by Picasso have been recovered over the years after police notified the art market of the theft.

The risk however is that the perpetrators may decide to destroy the paintings if they find themselves unable to sell them, said Darties.

The paintings were on display in the apartment located in the chic Left Bank area of Paris, but security precautions had been taken to protect the works, according to Paul Lombard, a lawyer representing the Picasso family.

"Maya With Doll" is one of Picasso's classic oil paintings done in bright shades of green, blue and red and depicting young Maya in pigtails holding a doll and a small wooden horse.

Maya was Widmaier Picasso's mother, born to Marie-Therese Walter, who was one of Picasso's many female companions.

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.

Picasso died on April 8, 1973 at his home in the southern French town of Mougins. He was 91.

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Subject: French news

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