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  • Museum resigned to art loss

    ONE year after the spectacular theft of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's world-famous paintings "The Scream" and "Madonna", the Munch Museum has resigned itself to the fact that it may have lost the masterpieces forever.

    Yet the Oslo museum can seek small comfort in the accrued interest for Munch's work since it reopened in June after a security overhaul.
    "We're still hopeful, but we are no longer that confident. The chances of finding the paintings diminish with time and already a lot of time has passed," museum spokeswoman Jorunn Christoffersen said.

    In a dramatic robbery on August 22, 2004, two armed and hooded thieves burst into the museum and threatened a member of staff with a gun as stunned tourists looked on.

    Grabbing the paintings off the walls, the robbers fled the scene in a stolen car driven by an accomplice.

    Norwegian police, who have made the investigation their top priority, have arrested five men and placed them in preventive custody over the past year. Three remain in custody, while two others have been released.

    The latter are still considered suspects, but are believed to have only played minor roles in the heist.
    Meanwhile, the paintings are still missing.

    According to the media, investigators have no new leads and are at a dead end.

    But the head of the investigation, inspector Iver Stensrud, says that is not the case.

    "We're planning new arrests," he sid.

    "We are still as mobilised ... but it is true that we would like to have more information to be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together," he said.

    The city of Oslo has offered a two-million-kroner reward for anyone who helps recover the paintings, but to no avail.

    "We assume that very few people know where the paintings are and that we're talking about a very tight group for whom loyalty means everything," Stensrud said.

    According to unconfirmed reports in the Norwegian tabloids, the thieves may have destroyed the artworks in order to cover their tracks.

    The motive behind the theft is still not known either. "The Scream" and "Madonna" could together be worth as much as 100 million dollars, and are too well known to be sold on the art scene, according to experts.

    And no ransom demand has been made.

    The Munch Museum was heavily criticised after the robbery for its lax security. It reopened in June, 10 months later, after a total security overhaul which has effectively turned the building into a bunker.

    Unable to put the originals on display, the museum has resorted to hanging less spectacular versions of the stolen paintings: a pastel of "The Scream" and a lithography of "Madonna".

    Edvard Munch (1863-1944) made several versions of the two works.

    "The Scream", one of the world's most famous paintings, has become an iconic symbol of Expressionist angst, showing an individual on a bridge, hands clasped around the head, and mouth wide open in an apparent yell of despair.

    "Madonna" depicts the torso of a nude woman with long dark hair.

    Despite the losses, visitors are thronging the museum. Last month, attendance was up by 20 percent from July 2004 when the two masterpieces were still hanging on the walls.

    "Attendance is between 800 and 1,000 visitors a day, which is higher than the level in recent years. It's not the Tate Gallery but for us it's very good," said Christoffersen.

    The rise is attributed to the extensive collection -- the museum still has more than 1,000 of the artist's paintings -- as well as the gloomy summer weather and the publicity surrounding the heist, Christoffersen said.



    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117...-38200,00.html
    When a man's heart is full of deceit, it burns up and dies, and a dark shadow falls over his soul. From the ashes of a once great man has risen a curse. A wrong that must be righted

  • #2
    damn that sucks for them.

    As they said when it was stolen, you cant sell that on the black market. It's worth too much. So whoever jacked it is either dumb or likes art I spose.

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    • #3
      i picked up the Scream at a garage sale
      it's not very good so now i use it as an ironing board

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      • #4
        That sucks.

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