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Picasso, Mondrian paintings stolen from Athens National Gallery

Paintings by Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian were stolen from the Athens National Gallery.

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Police investigators search for evidence at the Athens' National Gallery on January 9, 2012, after two artworks were stolen from the gallery overnight, police said. They did not identify the missing works, but the theft occurred on the final day of an exhibition titled 'Unknown Treasures' that included prints and etchings by Duerer and Rembrandt. (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A painting by Pablo Picasso, given to the Athens National Gallery by the artist himself, was stolen on Monday, along with a painting by Piet Mondrian and a sketch by Guglielmo Caccia, the BBC reported.

According to a police statement, the thieves entered the Gallery, in central Athens, through a balcony door around 5 a.m., local time, and the heist took only about seven minutes, the Associated Press reported. The burglars triggered a sensor in the exhibition area, but a guard arrived in time only to see a man running from the scene.

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The burglars had set off alarms on several occasions since Sunday evening, leading the guards to disable at least one of them, the AP reported.

Museum officials couldn’t estimate the worth of the stolen paintings immediately, the Daily Telegraph reported.

"I am very sorry because an artwork of huge value was stolen," Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis told reporters, referring to the Picasso, the AFP reported.

Picasso gave his “Woman’s Head,” a 1939 oil on canvas, to Greece in 1949 in recognition of the country’s resistance to Nazi Germany, the AFP reported. The back of the painting reads, "for the Greek people, a tribute by Picasso.”

Also stolen was the Dutch artist Mondrian’s 1905 oil painting “Mill,” and a sketch of St. Diego de Alcala by the Italian artist Caccia, better known as il Moncalvo.

The gallery was closed on Monday as a result of the heist.

Read more at GlobalPost: Stolen Picasso recovered and NJ man arrested (VIDEO)
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120109/picasso-mondrain-stolen-athens-national-gallery