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Big art heist at Dutch museum

AMSTERDAM – Several paintings have been stolen from a museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam that was exhibiting works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Vincent van Gogh.

State news agency NOS said a Matisse painting called “The Reading Girl” was taken during the heist, which according to the police took place late Monday, or in the early hours this morning.

Mariette Maaskant of the Kunsthal museum said on national radio that the paintings taken were of “considerable value,” but she didn’t specify what had been stolen. She said the paintings taken belonged to the private Triton Foundation.

The bulk of the foundation’s collection went on display for the first time as a single exhibition last week, one of two exhibitions arranged in honor of the Kunsthal’s 20th anniversary. The museum is a display space that has no permanent collection of its own – the name means “art gallery” in Dutch.

The Triton Foundation is a collection of avant-garde art, and the Kunsthal exhibition was showing its works by more than 150 famed artists, including Alexander Calder, Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Edgar Degas, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Rene Magritte, Claude Monet, August Rodin, and Andy Warhol, among others.

Its curators aim to have the works on display for the public, and pieces have been shown in the past. However, the current presentation was the first time the entire collection had been exhibited together.

In a statement, the museum’s chairman Willem van Hassel said the museum will be closed today, and he referred all questions to the police.

Police spokesman Roland Ekkers declined to give more details as the investigation was getting under way.

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