Stolen $60m art collection 'wasn't insured'

The details, even the major ones, have dribbled out slowly.

On Friday, art dealer Angelo Amadio and retired Harvard medical professor Dr. Ralph Kennaugh discovered that a window to their house had been forced, and a number of extremely valuable paintings stolen.

They reported the theft - including a Van Gogh, two Rembrants and a Jackson Pollock, together worth an estimated £27m.

While only one window was forced, the owners suspect that it was an inside job. The paintings were being held temporarily in the house, having only recently been moved, and only a few people knew about them.

However, the story has become increasingly strange since then.

On Monday, a typed ransom note was discovered by police. It included a death threat if the owners involved the authorities.

The owners also claim to have done a complete inventory of their collection, and they now believe that more paintings were taken: 30, rather than 13, worth $60m including a Mattisse and a Miro.

This would make it the second greatest art theft of all time after the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist, in which $300m worth was taken.

Dutch Woman by Van Gogh

However, the strangest revelation was yet to come: the majority of the works were not insured. Apparently, the owners found the insurance rates prohibitive.

Insuring valuable art is expensive; though not compared to the actual value of the works.

The idea that a collection worth so many millions would be held in an unsecured building, with no insurance, has provoked scepticism from some quarters.

Nevertheless, the authorities are still investigating the crime as a straightforward burglary.

Other art works have been stolen recently, including a €3m Magritte.

Famous pieces are usually very difficult to sell on, as the art world and global press always hear of major thefts.

A burglar sitting on $60m worth of paintings will find that getting the paintings was the easy part. Getting the $60m for them, however, will prove the real challenge.


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