Where art thou?

By Carlos Granados Martínez

Seven paintings by renowned artists such as Picasso and Matisse were gracefully stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam on 16 October, thrusting the open and flexible architectural design of this temple of art to another level.

The absence of the museum interns at the time, combined with their weak alibi – “we were working on our thesis proposal”- initially sparked suspicion, but it was the security staff that soon came into the spotlight. The three beings – the blurriness of the security tape can only be explained through cubist lenses – accessed the installation with remarkable easiness. They managed by simply opening the back door and consequently jeopardized the professionalism of the security personnel, then accused of being involved.  However, the Kunsthal Museum defends the innocence of its personnel and draws on past events in emphasizing how easily fingers are pointed in the aftermath of art crimes.

On another note, the Tate Museum, previous host to some of the stolen paintings, has very successfully used the crisis to present itself as a better place for exhibitions by openly stating its ‘sympathy for the Kunsthal’.

Illustration by author

Creativity surrounds art, even when the latter is stolen. We can easily corroborate this by analyzing the vast range of potential explanations for this crime. There are stories of every color – from my personal favorite, an eccentric millionaire who plans the devious scheme in order to put the masterpieces in a crypt inside his mansion, to the official, dull one given by the Politie featuring the thieves hiding somewhere and waiting for the museum to close. Besides the cultivated manners of the Dutch department, this latter interpretation shows us how the current investigations are ignoring the fact that the security tape shows the thieves entering the museum from the outside.

Owner of the artworks, the Triton Foundation, showed their discontent when the news arrived at their rowing borrel. Jokes aside, information on this foundation is very scarce and how the members effectively avoid any public appearance adds to the Hollywood flare behind the story. Similar cases indicate how the paintings might be successfully traced within a span of three years; the only thing left is to hope the artworks aren’t ruined.

The story at least illuminates a different career prospect for the Museum Studies crew.


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