ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands (CBS) - Police in The Netherlands are looking for suspects in one of the largest art heists in recent history. Those suspects got away with paintings by some of the world's most revered artists.
With a level of precision only Hollywood could duplicate, thieves broke into Rotterdam's Kruntshal Museum at around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning and walked off with seven pieces of artwork.
The list of stolen work leads like a textbook in art history. They include a Picasso, a Matisse, a Gaugin, and two Monets that are part of the impressionist painter's famous London series.
No guards were on duty at the time of the robbery, but police arrived at the museum just five minutes after the alarm system was triggered. Rotterdam Police Dept. spokesman Roland Ekkers says, "The alarm system in the Kunsthal was supposed to be state of the art so we have got no reason to believe that it is not. But somehow the people responsible for this found a way in and a way out and they found time to take seven paintings."
Chris Marinello, director of the Art Loss Register, an organization that tracks stolen artwork, says the high level of sophistication with which the crime was pulled off suggests the thieves had inside information. Marinello says, "The police will be looking at friends and relatives of various museum personnel, looking into their backgrounds to see if they can find some kind of a connection, it just went too smoothly this theft."
Together, the paintings have an estimated value in the tens of millions of dollars which would make this one of the biggest art heists in recent history. But Marinello says despite the high-value carried by the art, the people who took it will have a hard time selling it. Marinello says, "You take these to Vancouver, or Doha, you are not going to be able to sell them. No respectable dealer or auction house is going to touch them."
Officials remain optimistic that the stolen artwork will soon be recovered.