Two students from the southern German town of Erlangen will appear before a court on Tuesday to face charges that they broke into the Germanischen Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg and attempted to steal a painting by German expressionist Emil Nolde, reports the news agency DPA. The pair of unsuccessful art thieves have since been held in pre-trial detention after the theft in July of this year.
But, according to the news agency, the 23 and 24 year old suspects were certainly not professional art thieves. Quite the contrary in fact. The theft followed a rather heavy bout of drinking at a party for the World Cup finale, after the German national team won. The excitement left both of our perpetrators with a blood alcohol content of approximately 0.1 percent at the time of their arrest some hours later after their attempted art theft went a little wrong.
Following the celebrations, the pair allegedly went to the Germanischen Nationalmuseum and entered it through a skylight after climbing onto the roof using scaffolding and a ladder that they had found at the premises. They then reportedly used their mobile phones as a light source to navigate the building’s halls and eventually found their way to Emil Nolde’s ‘Herr und Dame’ 1910, without being detected.
But the fledgling art thieves luck soon failed them. Due to the painting’s estimated value of one million euros, the work was equipped with a silent alarm, which the drunken masters of crime tripped upon pulling the work from the wall. Police responded to the alarm and were waiting for the two students as they exited the museum, with the painting in hand.
The criminal duo’s foray into art crime could land them with some very serious jail time; having already been detained since July for their escapade; It’s unclear if either suspect had any idea of the value of the particular work they had chosen to steal. However, the state prosecutor has suggested that the painting’s importance could land the pair with a maximum sentence of ten years behind bars.