Picasso Paintings Stolen in Paris

March 2, 2007

At least two Picasso paintings, worth a total of €50 million ($66 million), have been stolen from the artist’s granddaughter’s home in Paris, police said Wednesday.

The paintings, “Maya and the Doll” and “Portrait of Jacqueline,” disappeared overnight between Monday and Tuesday from the chic 7th arrondissement, or district, a Paris police official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said they were worth €50 million, and that there were signs of breaking and entering at her home.

Though police only mentioned the two paintings, the director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, Anne Baldassari, said several paintings and drawings were stolen from the home of Diana Widmaier-Picasso.
“It was a very large theft,” she said, without giving details.

“Maya and the Doll” is a colorful portrait of a young blonde girl in pigtails, eyes askew in a Cubist perspective. Another version of the painting hangs in the Picasso Museum. It portrays Maya Widmaier, the daughter of Picasso and Marie-Therese Walter, his companion from 1924-1944.

Maya married Pierre Widmaier and had three children, Olivier, Richard and Diana Widmaier-Picasso, an art historian and author of a book called “Art Can Only be Erotic.”

No other details of the theft were immediately available.

The Art Loss Register, which maintains the world’s largest database on stolen, missing and looted art, currently lists 444 missing Picasso pieces, including paintings, lithographs, drawings and ceramics. Among recent missing Picassos reported to the register was the theft of an abstract watercolor stolen in Mexico, said staff member Antonia Kimbell.

The number of missing Picassos is so high simply because Picasso was so prolific, Kimbell said. She said the Paris theft was “definitely quite significant.”

“Anything of particularly good quality, with the provenance of his granddaughter, would reach considerable value on the open market,” Kimbell said. But major pieces, when stolen, usually sell for a pittance, if at all, on the black market because potential buyers are afraid to touch them.

“It’s unlikely a legitimate dealer would purchase or acquire any of these pieces,” Kimbell said.

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