A man stole €100 million worth of art nearly a decade ago… and then… supposedly… the guy on the receiving end binned them.
In the early hours of a May morning almost seven years ago, Vjeran Tomic meticulously cut a glass panel out of a window at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville in Paris. He then made it through a padlocked grate, slipped inside the storied museum located in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and proceeded to steal five paintings by modern masters worth more than €100 million. The police have since apprehended Tomic, but the paintings he took— a Picasso, a Matisse, a Modigliani, a Braque and a Léger—have yet to be recovered.
Now, new testimony suggests that these artworks may be lost forever. On Monday, as Philippe Sotto reports for the Associated Press, one of Tomic’s alleged accomplices said in a Paris court that in a panic, he disposed of the paintings.
“I threw them into the trash,” Yonathan Birn repeated three times. “I made the worst mistake of my existence.”
Birn and a second co-defendant, antiques dealer Jean-Michel Corvez, are charged with receiving the stolen goods from Tomic.
Henry Samuel at The Independent reports that Corvez told investigators that he ordered Tomic to steal the Léger. But Tomic lifted all five pieces after no alarm sounded when he broke into the museum.
Corvez claims he initially stored the paintings in his shop, but fearing he’d get caught, he eventually passed the works off to his friend, Birn. Birn, too, claims he worried about being apprehended by the police, and so in May 2011, he testified that he broke the stretcher bars on all five canvases and tossed the art into a trash bin.
“I’m crying because it’s monstrous what I’ve done,” Birn told the judge on Monday. “I was overcome with panic.”
But investigators are skeptical of Birn’s claims. They believe that the works were sold to a collector, perhaps during a trip that Birn took to Israel.
Yeah okay… okay there… we all know this bullsquirt is going in the art history books and if we’re unlucky it’ll even be a movie.
- Man steals incredibly valuable works
- Give to two other fellows
- One fellow flits off to Israel
- Probably sold them to a wealthy man from the general region
- Claims he broke and then binned the paintings when caught
- Did somebody say movie rights?
Picasso: A Spanish general artist (painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet, and playwright). Read more here. Henri Matisse: French and mainly known as a painter, lived around same period as Picasso. Read more here. Modigliani: Italian fella known for his portraiture. Read more here. Braque: A French general artist similar to Picasso in style, sadly eclipsed by Picasso :( Read more here. Léger: A French painter and filmmaker. Read more here.