Swiss Art Theft

Paul Cezanne’s “Boy in the Red Waistcoat”Armed thieves entered the E.G. Buehrle Collection, a private museum for Impressionist art, in Zurich on Sunday and made off with approximately $163 million worth of art. The four men, clad in ski masks, are said to have pulled up in front of the small museum in a white van, entered through the main entrance and the single gunmen held the staff on the floor with his gun while two men took the four paintings from the wall. The four works stolen in the heist include Vincent Van Gogh’s “Blooming Chestnut Branches”, Claude Monet’s “Poppy Field at Vetheuil”, Edgar Degas’ “Ludovic Lepic and His Daughter” and Paul Cezanne’s “Boy in the Red Waistcoat”.

E.G. Buehrle was a German industrialist who amassed a fortune selling arms to the Third Reich during World War Two. Many of the works in the Buehrle Collection have been the subject of looted artwork claims or claims that they were sold in desperation at very low prices by their Jewish owners to avoid Nazi seizure.

Just last Wednesday two Picasso paintings valued at $4.5 million were stolen as well, this time from a cultural center in Pfaeffikon, Switzerland. The works, “Horse Head” and “Glass and Pitcher,” owned by the Sprengel Museum in Germany, were on loan for a Picasso exhibition at the Swiss cultural center.

Given the high profile nature of the two thefts, the publicity of the images of the stolen works and the fact that these works are so widely identifiable as works by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh Degas and Cezanne the paintings will be very difficult to sell. Rewards are offered for information leading to the recovery of these works.

Photo: Keystone/Stadtpolizei Zuerich via Foundation E.G. Buehrle Collection/AP