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News Flash: Bührle Collection Lost-and-(Possibly) Found

It’s a good thing the art pundits had a week to expound on all the possible reasons why thieves might target art museums. And it now looks like Randy Kennedy was more on target than he knew when he quipped in yesterday’s NY Times that “many art thieves are simply not the sharpest grappling hooks in the toolbag.”
The Associated Press reports:
Swiss media reported Monday that paintings stolen in one of Europe’s largest art thefts may have been discovered in a parking lot in front of a Zurich mental hospital….The local TV station TeleZuri quoted an unidentified witness as saying that the car [found in front of the Psychiatric University Clinic] contained three paintings bearing the name of the museum. Among the pictures was Claude Monet’s “Poppy Field at Vétheuil,” the witness was quoted as saying….Local radio station Radio 24, also citing an unidentified witness, reported that the building supervisor at the hospital found paintings in an unlocked car. The clinic is only a few hundred yards from the museum.
No official word from the police at this writing. But only three paintings? That’s not good. Four were stolen.
Meanwhile, art insurance specialists AXA Art responded to the artworld’s anxiety over what the Swiss miss by announcing that “effective immediately, the company is offering to conduct security protocol assessments of museums in its key markets. The goal is to identify weaknesses and to provide feedback on measures that can be quickly implemented to deter theft….The service is free to AXA Art clients internationally. A moderate flat fee will be charged for non-AXA Art clients.”
I suppose this can be seen as self interest, rightly understood—a cost-effective way to drum up some business and head off possible future ransom demands.

an ArtsJournal blog