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Munch pictures not insured

Munch’s world famous pictures «Madonna» and «The Scream», which were stolen from the art gallery in Oslo Sunday, were neither particularly well secured nor insured against robbery.

While «Mona Lisa» hangs behind armored glass at the Louvre in Paris, the thieves in Oslo could just walk into the museum in bright daylight and walk off with two of the world’s most famous paintings.

«I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have armored glass, or that we can not afford it, but this is something we have to evaluate,» said Jorun Christoffersen to the Norwegian paper VG.

Gunnar Sørensen, head of the Munch museum, said Sunday, that it would be difficult to secure the pictures better.

Not insured
Sørensen also commented the fact that the paintings are not insured against robbery. The entire collection of 1,100 paintings, 3,000 drawings and sketches, and 18,000 graphic prints are insured for a total of NOK 500 million (USD 74.3 million). The artworks are only insured against fire and water damage.

«The pictures are insured against fire and water damage which occur inside the building,» said John Øyaas, at Oslo Forsikring AS, to the paper Dagbladet. «They are not insured against robbery, theft, or break-ins.»

The entire Munch collection is estimated to a value of NOK 20 billion (USD 2.97 billion). The two stolen pictures alone are estimated to between NOK 500 and 700 million (USD 74.3 and 104 million).

Sunday’s art robbery falls into the line of many others, but this one is different because of the brutality. «Madonna» was picked off the wall at Kunsthuset in Oslo, March 1990, while «The Scream» was stolen from the National Gallery in 1994. Pål Enger was sentenced for robbery. He was also sentenced for the theft of «Vampire» from the Munch Museum in 1988.

Leif A. Lier, private investigator, characterizes the robbery Sunday as an amateur job, and claim these robbers were not at the same level as the people who pulled off Stavanger robbery in April of this year, or the robbers that hit Postens brevsenter in Oslo in October of last year.

«There are tons of technical leads and eyewitnesses,» Lie said. «This is not people from the same group as the people we saw in action in Stavanger.»

Many leads
Between 50 and 70 people were at the Munch museum when the robbers hit just after 11 a.m. Sunday.

The robbers took off in an about 10 year old Audi S4 Avant. As they drove along, the robbers threw out pieces of the pictures’ frames. These frames may contain important leads.

The museum administration said Sunday that they were particularly worried that «The Scream» may be destroyed when the frame was removed because the picture is painted on carton.

At approximately 3 p.m. the get-away car was located north of the museum. Lie stated that the fact that the robbers had not lit the car on fire indicates that this is a job done by amateurs.

The police have collected a number of leads, and historically, there are good chances that the pictures will be located. They are very difficult to sell, and experts said Sunday that the robbers will probably demand a ransom for the priceless pictures.

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