S T O C K H O L M, Sweden, Dec. 22 -- Gunmen snatched Rembrandt and Renoirpaintings worth about $30 million from Stockholm’s NationalMuseum today, police said.
Three raiders entered the museum on Stockholm’s waterfrontat about 5:15 p.m. local time, while it was still open, andseized the pictures, a police spokesman said.
The stolen works are a self-portrait by the Dutch masterRembrandt and two works by the French impressionistPierre-Auguste Renoir — A Young Parisian Woman andConversation.
While one of the robbers, armed with a submachine gun,threatened people in the museum lobby, the other two, one orboth also armed, ran upstairs to grab the paintings fromdifferent rooms.
An unarmed museum guard alerted the police, but the raiderswere able to escape in a small boat. The boat was later foundnear one of Stockholm’s ports, TT news agency said.
Cars Explode in FlamesMeanwhile, two cars parked nearby exploded in flames in whatappeared to be a diversion to cover their getaway.
The spokesman said it would be virtually impossible to sellsuch well-known masterpieces, which together are worth about$31.46 million, on the open market.
“Maybe they are going to blackmail the museum, or sell themabroad to a private collector,” he said.
Forensic experts are studying the museum for clues, andpolice are combing the city, but so far have no idea who thesuspects are.
The art theft is the biggest in Sweden since robbers cutthrough the roof of Stockholm’s Modern Museum in 1993 and stoleeight works of art by cubist masters Pablo Picasso and GeorgesBraque worth about $60 million. Most of the works were laterrecovered.
The former head of Sweden’s criminal police, TommyLindstrom, told TT that he believed the pictures were alreadyon their way out of Sweden, probably to Eastern Europe wheremany newly rich businessmen were eager to invest in art.
The robbers had known exactly what they were after in theirwell-planned theft, choosing works that were not too big tocarry, said Lindstrom.