Given its scale and brazenness, the major art theft in 2012 clearly resembles a movie. But which one? So many genres were crossed — the robbers come off as bold but also bumbling, and museum personnel don’t fare much better, given how easy it seems to have been to stymie the building’s security system.
Luckily, this is a mystery we don’t need Police to solve. Here are the facts: In the early hours of Tuesday morning, one or more persons strategically looted Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum of seven of its priciest works, on display in the “Avant Garde” exhibit. Among those stolen were paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gaugin, Freud, two by Monet, and, confusingly, a self-portrait by a far more “minor” figure, the Dutch painter Meyer de Haan.
As for what our sinister, only slightly clumsy thieves are doing this moment, it’s unlikely they’re selling their spoils, which Interpol hasred flagged with its stolen art registry, or delivering it to a collector (with poor taste…that de Haan!).
We’d like to suggest a third option: toasting architectural superstar Rem Koolhaas, who designed the Kunsthal, apparently in a way thieves would appreciate. “As a gallery it is a gem, but it is an awful building to have to protect. If you hold your face up to the window at the back you have a good view of the paintings, which makes it all too easy for thieves to plot taking them from the walls.”