11 September 2006

Sie sind zurück! (Sorry, closest I had to Norwegian)

They're back!

Munch paintings recovered

Both of the paintings by famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch that were stolen two years ago have been found and are now in the possession of the police in Oslo.

Oslo police could finally report the recovery of two Munch masterpieces stolen on August 22, 2004.


"The Scream"




The theft of the two Munch masterpieces shocked the nation in 2004.


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Both The Scream and Madonna were found Thursday afternoon in what police described as a "successful action" by the Oslo Police District.

Police wouldn't say where the famed artworks were found, but said they think the paintings have been in Norway all along.

The paintings are, according to police, in much better shape than they had feared.

Iver Stensrud, who heads the Oslo Police District's organized crime division, claimed no ransom had been paid, nor had any reward been paid out to tipsters.

Expert examinations of the paintings must still be carried out, but police were confident they had recovered the masterpieces that were spirited out of the Munch Museum in Oslo's Tøyen District on August 22, 2004.

No arrests had been made as of Thursday evening, and none of the men convicted of the theft of the paintings is said to have contributed to the recovery of the paintings.

The theft of the Munch paintings has long been thought to have been part of efforts to divert police attention from their investigation of another armed robbery earlier that year, in which a police officer was killed.

"The Scream" has been valued at NOK 500 million (USD 81 million) and "Madonna" at NOK 100 million, but both artworks were also considered priceless in many ways and difficult if not impossible to sell.

The paintings Madonna and The Scream were torn off their walls at the Munch Museum on a quiet Sunday morning in August 2004. The armed robbery shocked the art world and the country, and meant the loss of two national treasures.

City and museum officials were jubilant that the paintings are back in safe hands.

"I am, on behalf of Oslo's entire population, both relieved and happy," said Gro Balas, director of culture for the city of Oslo, which owns the paintings through the will drawn up by Edvard Munch himself.

Balas said the paintings are owned "by everyone," and that "the whole world has an option on these paintings."

She said she'd experienced being in Germany and having people "come up and offer their condolences after the paintings were stolen."

Ingebjørg Ydstie, acting leader of the Munch Museum in Oslo, told news bureau NTB that experts will now make a comprehensive examination of the paintings, to determine whether they've been damaged. She stressed that the experts so far have no doubt that the paintings found are genuine.

"I feel a great sense of joy on behalf of the museum and a whole world of art lovers," she said. "This is a big day."

Ydstie said she expected the examination to be completed relatively quickly, so the paintings could be put back on exhibit again.

Aftenposten's reporters
Nicolai Heyerdahl
Trond Eide

Aftenposten English Web Desk
Nina Berglund

This is an article from www.aftenposten.no.
Updated: 01. september 2006 kl.12:23
It can be found at this address: http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article1441444.ece

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