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Four Picasso Paintings Stolen From National Gallery

May 6, 1991

PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) _ Four Picasso paintings valued at $30 million were stolen from the national art gallery today.

The thieves broke into the building through a glass door from an adjacent garden sometime before 4 a.m., an official of the museum said.

Museum Director Lubomir Slavicek told the official CTK news agency that police arrived 17 minutes after an alarm was sounded but failed to capture the thieves.

The four paintings were identified by CTK as ″Absinth and Card,″ ″Mandolin and a Glass of Pernod,″ ″Table with a Chalice″ and ″The Port in Cadaques.″ Slavicek estimated their value at $30 million.

He blamed inadequate outside protection of the building for easy access to the gallery, which was equipped inside with state-of-the-art alarms. The garden has not been patrolled by police for a long time, he said.

The gallery is next to Hradcany Castle, the presidential residence and the city’s prime tourist attraction.

The museum houses one of the largest art collections in Europe, with about 13,500 paintings, 6,000 sculptures and 400,000 drawings and prints. Its ″French Collection,″ which includes works by Chagall and Picasso, is the museum’s most valued collection.

The last large theft of works by Picasso was on Nov. 5, 1989, when seven of his paintings and pieces by other artists were taken from the home of Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, in Cannes, France. Police valued the stolen works at $17 million.

On Sept. 6, also in Cannes, thieves broke into an apartment and hauled away what they thought was a museum-quality collection of eight paintings by Picasso and other major artists. Police originally valued the stolen works in the millions of dollars, but the owner revealed they were only copies.

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