Interpol alerted about stolen Van Gogh painting

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 13:35

Cairo: Intensifying its efforts to
recover a Van Gogh masterpiece stolen from a museum here,
Egypt has notified the Interpol and alerted police to look out
for the painting at the country`s entry and exit points.

The painting, known by the titles of "Poppy Flowers"
and "Vase With Flowers" stolen from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum,
is said to be worth USD 50 million, but security officials now
say that the canvas cannot be sold since the Interpol has been
informed of its theft.

Another factor that could affect attempts to sell the
painting is that it was cut out of its frame with a knife.

In its attempt to find the perpetrators, police has
arrested the head of the culture ministry`s fine arts section,
Mohsen Shaalan, three museum security guards and another
official on charges of negligence.

The museum`s female director has been released on
bail.

Hours after the theft, the Egyptian Minister of
Culture announced that the painting had been recovered but he
later backtracked, blaming a subordinate, Shaalan, for having
passed on "inaccurate" information.

Egypt`s Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmud
acknowledged that security measures at the museum were
"inadequate", branding them as "a facade".

"There are 43 security cameras but only seven are
working. Each painting is protected by an alarm but again,
none are working," Mahmud told reporters.

He said the state prosecution had put out a call to
increase security after nine paintings were stolen in March
2009 from Mohammed Ali Pasha`s palace, a museum here on the
banks of the Nile.

The painting of the yellow and red flowers in a vase
was also stolen earlier, in 1977, but was recovered the
following year.

A Van Gogh expert said the painting was one of 30
floral works produced by the Dutch master in the summer of
1886, mainly in Paris, where he used to live.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 13:35

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