Monday, August 23, 2010

Newsy: Van Gogh Painting Worth $50 Million Vanishes

“Oh no not again. Flower power. The Mahmoud Kalil Museum of Art in Cairo camera’s and alarm system were out of order.” (Euronews)
A multi-million dollar Van Gogh - vanished. But front-page headlines throughout the Middle East indicated that the painting was recovered – and Real Estate Radio USA thought so too: “The beautiful painting by Vincent Van Gogh ‘Poppy Flowers’ has been finally recovered on Saturday. This work of art is worth over 50 million dollars. ... The thieves were caught red handed trying to leave Cairo.”
Euronews has the latest report of what really happened with the suspected thieves: “The Egyptian state news agency says security had tracked down an Italian couple who was spotted visiting a museum and then leaving in a hurry but they turned out to be empty handed.”
Now, the search is back on. This is the second time the painting has been stolen. An independent Egyptian Publication, Al-Masry Al-Youm, reports the museum lacked operational efficiency: “… [The] Public Prosecutor … toured the museum grounds Sunday and issued a harsh assessment of the security set-up, calling it ‘a facade.’ Only seven of the 43 security cameras were operational, ‘and even those seven were not functioning perfectly,’
‘Each painting in the museum has an alarm. Not a single alarm for any painting is working.’"
And according to Bloomberg, another disaster at the museum the very next day: "A crowd of news photographers and cameramen attempting to take pictures of the prosecutor today stumbled over a statue of Cupid, which shattered on the marble floor of the entrance courtyard, raising cries of despair from museum staff.”
Security was so lax that the suspects were able to stand on a couch and simply cut out the painting. But what do you do with a Van Gogh? The reports the market for stolen art is a significant portion of the illicit global economy… roughly 4 to 6 billion a year. 
What do you think? Mastermind thieves? Or was it just too easy?

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