When Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal,” he probably wasn’t literally advocating theft, but nevertheless, this was the fate to befall one of his best-loved paintings, Le pigeon aux petits pois (Dove with green peas).
In 2010, the Paris Museum of Modern Art suffered an overnight burglary of five paintings in the collection, including a Matisse, which were valued at $123 million, perpetrated by just one man.
Although mysteriously no alarms sounded in the museum when a window was broken, CCTV shows the solitary high culture bandit was masked, scampering around the museum, removing the artworks of his choice, in what was labeled by police as the “art heist of the century.”
Still under investigation by a special unit of the French Police, it is thought that Le pigeon aux petits pois and its fellow beleaguered paintings have been lost forever, as the thief panicked and threw the painting in a trash container, ruining any chance of making money from the heist.
Perhaps he had no choice, as Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr, the director of a museum nearby, remarked at the time: “These five paintings are un-sellable, so thieves, sirs, you are imbeciles, now return them.”
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