Picasso, Matisse Among Stolen Masterpieces

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Five paintings worth over $600m — including masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse — have been stolen from a Paris museum.

According to police reports, the theft took place overnight Wednesday at the Museum of Modern Art. The five missing paintings are said to be Le pigeon aux petits pois by Pablo Picasso, La pastorale by Henri Matisse, L’olivier pres de l’Estaque by Georges Braque, La femme a l’eventail by Amedeo Modigliani and Nature morte aux chandeliers by Fernand Leger.

A window at the museum had been broken and the padlock of a grill giving access was smashed. CCTV footage showed an individual climbing in through a window. Police  have cordoned off the museum, which is in the 16th arrondisement, just across the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower.

But the motivation behind the crime — presumably the making of money — could be hard to achieve. French newspaper Le Monde reported that these paintings are so well-known that it will be difficult to sell them on the open market. Nevertheless, the police did describe the raid as one of the most daring in many years. The museum itself was taking a slightly more subtle approach: A notice on the door simply said, “Closed today for technical reasons.”