Munch robbery may be a commissioned theft

One of the police’s main theories is that the robbery of Munch’s world famous paintings «The Scream» and «Madonna» from the Munch museum in Oslo was commissioned.

According to a source in the Oslo’s criminal community, a man living in Oslo was allegedly willing to pay NOK 1 million (USD 145,500) for the two paintings, and this has allegedly been known in the community for three, four weeks.

The Norwegian paper Dagbladet, quoted a source stating that the employer indicated that the pictures were going to Dubai.

Police inspector Iver Stensrud confirms that the same information has been obtained by the police, but stressed that the police still do not have any named suspects.

Used as cash
Julian Radcliffe, head of the Art Loss Register, said he thinks Munch may end up in the hands of the mob.

«It’s becoming more and more common that valuable paintings and jewels are used as cash between organized criminals and mafia groups,» Radcliffe said to the Norwegian paper Dagsavisen. «Money is not as easy to move across the boarders and from account to account because of the anti terror investigation.»

The Art Loss Register is a database that contains more than 150,000 stolen and missing art objects, and its personnel often aids insurance companies and police in the hunt for stolen art. Radcliffe said that it is particularly Serbian, Albanian, and Italian mafia that use jewels and paintings as cash.

Not from the mafia
Radcliffe said that he did not think the robbers in Oslo are from the mafia because the pictures were handled so poorly during the robbery. He said he thinks the robbers can sell the pictures for a small percentage of the estimated value of NOK 500 to 700 million (USD 72.7 to 101.9 million).

«I would characterize the Munch robbery as an opportunity robbery,» Radcliffe said to the paper. «Some independent criminals, maybe with connections to a larger criminal environment, saw the opportunity to steal the pictures and did it.»

Several thefts this summer
There have been several thefts of valuable art this summer.

A total of 31 paintings valued at NOK 30 million (USD 4.4 million) were stolen from a collection in Rome in July of this year.

In May, four painting were stolen from a private home in Stockholm, including a Picasso and a Juan Gri.

Picasso’s «Nature Morte à la Charlotte» was stolen this summer from the conservatory at Centres Georges Pompidou in Paris.

A piece by Pieter Brueghel was stolen in Holland in April.

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