Holiday Art Theft in Southern France

Two high-profile art thefts occurred in Southern France in and around the New Year. 

The first was the theft of this work, Les Choristes by Edgar Degas which was reported missing from the Cantini Museum in Marseilles.  The theft was discovered when the museum reopened after the holiday, and was on loan from the Musée d’Orsay which was set to end on January 3rd.  The painting was unscrewed from the wall, and there was no evidence of forced entry.  Mark Durney points out that 2009 began much the same way, with thefts from a Berlin art gallery, and Southern France is no stranger to art crime.  The easy access the thief had to the work has led to the arrest of a night watchman at the museum. 

The second theft occurred in in La Cadière d’Azur, a village in Provence.  As many as thirty paintings were taken from a private home, including works by Picasso and Rousseau.  The owner was on holiday in Sweden. 

Big holidays are a difficult time for security.  Police, owners and the public all have different priorities during these festive days, which makes art particularly vulnerable. 

  1. Picasso, Rousseau works stolen in France days after Degas drawing taken, Telegraph.
  2. AFP: Picasso, Rousseau paintings stolen in France, January 2, 2010.
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