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Bührle Update: Two Found, Two to Go

BurhCar.jpg
Photo of the give-away car, an Opel, released today by Zurich police
We now have police-confirmed details on yesterday’s recovery, from the above abandoned white car, of paintings stolen Feb. 10 from the Bührle Collection, Zurich.
Why did the thieves release only two of the four paintings stolen? Is this their calling card for a ransom demand? It’s not likely that the masked men decided that their taste ran more to Cézanne and Degas than van Gogh and Monet. In fact, the two works still at large are the most valuable of the four, according to this account from Swissinfo, the website of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
Swissinfo also quoted Lukas Gloor, director of the Bührle Collection, saying: “Both paintings are still in perfect condition, and still look the way they were painted.”
That’s a relief, but what about the other two? In a CNN report the day after the theft, Robert Reid, a fine arts underwriter for Hiscox, postulated that owning a museum work gives criminals “some credibility” with their peers. When the reporter asked what he meant by that, Reid replied:
If you were a drug dealer and you wanted something that would prove your credibility and you turned up with one of these Picassos, it would certainly have an effect.
Maybe a comic effect. How might that conversation go?
—Come on, Louie, how do I know your heroin is pure?
—Hey, I’ve got this genuine Picasso, don’t I?
Unmentioned in the talk between CNN and the insurer was the very real possibility of a ransom demand. Maybe these crooks, still at large, ain’t so dumb after all.

an ArtsJournal blog