Picasso and Mondrian works stolen from Athens art gallery

9 January 2012

Four works taken in pre-dawn heist at Greece's biggest public art museum but one was dropped as thieves fled.

Thieves have carried out a well organised, pre-dawn heist at Greece's biggest state art museum, taking two oil paintings by 20th century masters Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, police said.

A police statement said the burglars, who entered the museum on Monday morning through a balcony door, also took a drawing by the Italian 16th-century painter Guglielmo Caccia. Another work by Mondrian was removed from the gallery in one of the best-guarded areas of central Athensbut the thieves abandoned it as they fled. Museum officials were unable to estimate how much the stolen works were worth.

Police said the heist took about seven minutes. The thieves had intentionally set off alarms on several occasions since Sunday evening without actually entering the building, prompting guards to disable at least one.

The burglars still triggered a sensor in the exhibition area, but a guard only got there in time to see a man running off.

Photo: The 1939 female bust by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso is one of three works stolen from the Athens museum early on Monday. Photograph: AP

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