Picasso, Monets stolen in Dutch heist

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Associated Press

Posted on October 16, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 16 at 9:34 AM

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — The thieves who broke into a Dutch art museum today have made off with paintings that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The works were by artists including Picasso, Monet (moh-NAY'), Gauguin (goh-GAN') and Matisse (muh-TEES').

An expert says the robbers clearly knew what they were after.

The heist at the Kunsthal museum is one of the biggest in years in the Netherlands. The private collection was being shown publicly as a group for the first time.

The head of the museum says, "It's every museum director's worst nightmare." She isn't giving any details on how the thieves struck, or how the museum is protected -- other than saying the security is "state of the art" and "functional."

Police say investigators are reviewing videotapes of the theft, which took place around 3 a.m., and they're calling for any witnesses to come forward.

Experts say it would be impossible for the thieves to get the full value of the paintings because they've been registered internationally as stolen. They could instead try to collect a ransom.

%@AP Links

152-a-11-(Christopher Marinello (mehr-ih-NEHL'-oh), executive director and general counsel, Art Loss Register, in AP interview)-"it for decades"-Christopher Marinello of the Art Loss Register if the art thieves fail to work out a deal to get money in exchange for returning the paintings, those masterpieces won't be seen by anyone for a very long time. (16 Oct 2012)

<<CUT *152 (10/16/12)>> 00:11 "it for decades"

154-a-18-(Christopher Marinello (mehr-ih-NEHL'-oh), executive director and general counsel, Art Loss Register, in AP interview)-"a lesser crime"-Christopher Marinello of the Art Loss Register says thieves who steal masterpieces sometimes hang onto them as a bargaining chip. ((note cut length)) (16 Oct 2012)

<<CUT *154 (10/16/12)>> 00:18 "a lesser crime"

APPHOTO PDJ120: The empty space where Henri Matisse' painting "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune" was hanging, right, is seen at Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. Seven paintings by artists including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were stolen from a museum in Rotterdam in an early-hours heist, Dutch police said Tuesday. The theft at the Kunsthal museum is one of the largest in years in the Netherlands, and is a stunning blow for the private Triton Foundation collection, which was being exhibited publicly as a group for the first time. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (16 Oct 2012)

<<APPHOTO PDJ120 (10/16/12)>>

APPHOTO PDJ127: Kunsthal museum director Emily Ansenk listens to questions during a press conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. Seven paintings by artists including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were stolen from a museum in Rotterdam in an early-hours heist, Dutch police said Tuesday. The theft at the Kunsthal museum is one of the largest in years in the Netherlands, and is a stunning blow for the private Triton Foundation collection, which was being exhibited publicly as a group for the first time. The collection was on display as part of celebrations surrounding Kunsthal's 20th anniversary. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) (16 Oct 2012)

<<APPHOTO PDJ127 (10/16/12)>>

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