The Art Loss Register says the paintings stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunstal on Tuesday could be worth as much as 100 million euros.
However, the organisation’s director says the estimate is purely hypothetical as it would be impossible to sell the artworks. According to Chris Marinello, “the paintings are now registered with us and it would be almost impossible to sell them though an auction house. If one of the paintings is offered for sale, the auction house will check our register and see that it was stolen.”
The Art Loss Register (ALR) is the world’s largest private database of stolen and lost artworks; they provide a range of services including registration, search and recovery. ALR provides support and advice to law enforcement agencies across the world. At present, there are some 300,000 items in their database.
Marinello says “the thieves will quickly discover that the artworks are impossible to sell,” adding, “perhaps they’ll try to ransom the paintings back to the museum.”
Dutch police contacted ALR shortly after the theft was discovered. A police spokesperson says they received four useful tips about the heist after details of the raid were broadcast on a Dutch crime-spotters TV show. Police are still appealing to anyone who may have seen something to come forward.
Some museum experts have criticised the security arrangements at the Kunsthal; according to security expert Ton Cremers, “the Kunsthal is a jewel of a museum for visitors but it’s a real horror when it comes to security. The works should be hung as far away from the outside walls as possible, this clearly wasn’t the case here. Cremers’ says Tuesday morning’s haul was one of the biggest in recent Dutch history.
At a press conference late on Tuesday, Kunsthal director Emily Ansink rejected the claim that security measures at the museum were below par, “the Kunsthal has state-of-the-art security,” adding, “the arrangements complied with agreements made with the insurers and the Triton Foundation.” According to Ansink, “the theft hit the museum world like a bomb, it’s every directors’ worst nightmare.”
Museum board member Willem van Hassel told journalists the museum had chosen a purely electronic surveillance system and confirmed that there were no security personnel on-site at the time of the robbery.
Several artworks belonging to the Triton Foundation were stolen in the early hours of Tuesday morning from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal. The works had been loaned to the museum for celebrations marking the Kunsthal’s 20th anniversary. Thieves made off with at least seven paintings, including a Picasso, a Matisse, two Monet’s and a Gauguin. They also stole works by Meyer de Haan and Lucien Freud.