Stolen Masterpieces 'Crushed by Garbage Truck'

Paris cops reveal fruits of art heist probe

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 9, 2011 4:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Paris watchmaker says he threw out several priceless works of art before being arrested last year, the Telegraph reports. Revealing a 17-month investigation today, police say a Serb nicknamed "Spiderman" stole works by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and others from a poorly guarded Paris museum in May 2010. An antiques dealer then allegedly passed the works to a watchmaker with expertise in auctions, who "panicked and destroyed the canvasses before throwing them into a rubbish bin."

Detectives are dubious, they say, but can't "totally rule out" his story. In another delicious detail, police say "Spiderman" sought only a Fernand Léger work when he broke into the Musée d'Art Moderne opposite the Eiffel Tower—but the alarm didn't sound, so the "veritable art lover" strolled around for an hour while eluding cameras. Eventually he walked off with five works worth an estimated $100 million. Police say he snitched on the antique dealer after failing to receive his promised $40,000 payment.

Le pigeon aux petits poids by Picasso was one of the stolen works.
"Le pigeon aux petits poids" by Picasso was one of the stolen works.   (Wikipedia)
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