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22 May 2010 - Media release

France requests INTERPOL global alert for Paris art heist treasures

LYON, France – INTERPOL has issued a global alert featuring photos of the five paintings stolen from the Modern Art Museum in Paris as part of its ongoing assistance to French authorities to locate and recover the masterpieces worth an estimated EUR 100 million.

Images of each of the oil paintings stolen in the early hours of Thursday 20 May have been circulated to all 188 INTERPOL member countries and also added to INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art database, which can be accessed online not only by law enforcement but also by cultural and professional bodies, such as Ministries of Culture, museums, auction houses, art galleries, foundations and collectors who may have vital information relating to the theft.

"Through issuing a global alert via INTERPOL, the French authorities have made sure that police around the world now have the information they need to assist in locating and eventually recovering these stolen works of art, and that the public are aware of the international network involved in supporting the French investigation,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services.

“These extraordinary paintings by these great masters are so recognizable that they will be difficult to sell in any market.

“Their inclusion in INTERPOL’s publicly accessible works of art database will allow any legitimate buyer of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Leger and Modigliani to determine whether their purchase would be legal and for the public to remain alert as to what has been reported stolen,” added Mr Louboutin.

"INTERPOL encourages any person with information about this theft or attempted sales of any of these pieces to contact INTERPOL immediately."

In addition to close contact with its National Central Bureau in Paris, officers from INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon are liaising with investigators from the l’Unité Spécialisée de la Police Judiciaire de la Prefecture de Police de Paris and the Office Central de lutte contre le trafic des Biens Culturels.

As part of this ongoing co-operation, as well as treating all messages relating to this theft from any of its 188 member countries as a high priority, the INTERPOL General Secretariat will also ensure any information provided by members of the public via its website www.interpol.int is immediately transferred to the investigating authorities.

The five stolen paintings are Pigeon with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (1911), Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1906), Olive Tree near l'Estaque by Georges Braque (1906), Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919) and Still Life with Candlestick by Fernand Leger (1922).