Art Heist

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Cliffs Near Dieppe

In less than five minutes, five armed and masked thieves stole four paintings from the Jules-Cheret Fine Arts Museum in Nice.

The two Impressionist paintings — 1897 Cliffs Near Dieppe by Monet and the 1890 Lane of Poplars by Alfred Sisley — and two by Jan Bruegel the Elder — Allegory of Earth and Allegory of Water– are worth about $1.4 million.

The art museum is housed in an Italianate mansion that once belonged to a Ukrainian princess.

Because of all the publicity and the works that were taken, it’s not like these paintings will go up on the auction block at Christie’s or Sotheby’s anytime soon.  Someone is spiriting them away to some private vault somewhere for their viewing pleasure. Why these paintings? And why not visit the museum and admire them like everyone else? Why do people covet these works?

And — if by some stroke of ingenuity and lapse of morality — you could take a very public painting and bring it home, what would you choose?

I would be torn between de Kooning’s portrait of JFK and Susanna and the Elders by Artemisia Gentileschi. Not that I ever would.

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