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2 Picassos stolen from Paris apartment

The paintings were at the residence of the artist's granddaughter when burglars struck.

March 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

PARIS — Two Picasso paintings worth a total of nearly $66 million were stolen from the apartment of the artist's granddaughter here, French police said Wednesday.

The paintings, "Maya With Doll" and "Portrait of Jacqueline," disappeared Monday night or early Tuesday from the 7th arrondissement, or district, a police official said.

The thieves were so quiet that the two people in the apartment of Diana Widmaier-Picasso didn't hear them, police said. The burglars left few clues, and police said they were not sure how the intruders gained entry.

Police said they were examining a lock to see if it was broken and were unsure whether the alarm system had been set.

Art experts say that if the burglars hope to sell the paintings, they are in for a surprise.

"Maya With Doll" is a colorful Cubist portrait of Widmaier-Picasso's mother as a young blond girl in pigtails. Maya is the daughter of Picasso and Marie-Therese Walter, a longtime mistress.

"Portrait of Jacqueline" is one of many paintings that depict Picasso's last wife.

Any work by Picasso is "very hard to fence because it's so well known -- stealing a Picasso is like stealing a sign that says, 'I'm a thief,' " said Jonathan Sazonoff, who runs a leading website on stolen art.

Katie Dugdale of the Art Loss Register, the world's largest private database on stolen, missing and looted art, said that although it's difficult, famous artworks can be sold on the black market.

"Even though they can't get full value, there's still some value, unfortunately," she said.

"Usually with things like this, they're recovered right away," Dugdale said, noting that the paintings, already recognizable, will become nearly universally so after they appear in the media.

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