There were no security guards in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam in the early hours of Tuesday morning when seven priceless works of art were stolen, local television station RTV Rijnmond reports based on police information.
‘There was no one in the building and an external security firm went to the Kunsthal when the alarm went off. They discovered the break in and warned us,’ a police spokesman told RTV Rijnmond.
The paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse, are from the prestigious Triton Foundation collection and were on display as part of the gallery’s 20th anniversary celebrations.
Kunsthal director Emily Ansenk told a press conference the building has technological security, installed in consultation with its insurers. ‘This means we use cameras and an alarm system but no people,’ she said. ‘We have state-of-the-art security.’
However, security experts say the internal design of the building could have been more secure. Its open-plan layout means once inside there are no further barriers to limit access to just one area of the gallery.
The police have put 25 detectives on the case, Nos television reports, the same number they use for a murder investigation. So far, it is still unclear how the thieves got into the building.
The theft of the paintings is worldwide news with the German newspaper Bilt calling it a Mega Kunst-raub (mega art theft) and the New York Post headlining its story Picture perfect heist.
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