A Cairo court has jailed up to eleven local Government officials, including Mohsen Shaalan the head of the culture ministry’s fine arts department over the theft of a priceless Van Gogh painting worth at least $50m (£32m). It was stolen from a Cairo museum last summer. The painting titled “Vase with Viscaria” was stolen in August from Cairo’s Mahmoud Khalil museum after being cut from its frame. The collection is home to one of the Middle East’s finest 19th and 20th-century art collections. The same painting was previously taken from the museum in 1978, but recovered a decade later in Kuwait. Fears of thefts from Egyptian Museums have been highlighted throughout the latest period of government unrest which swept Egypt a few months ago. It has been speculated that throughout the instability museums have suffered breeches of security which has allowed several works of art to have gone missing.
The Post Impressionist painting , measuring 30cm by 30cm(1ft by 1ft), depicts yellow and red flowers in a ceramic vase. It is believed to have been painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887, three years before his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Mahmoud Khalil Museum was built by an Egyptian politician of the same name in the 1930s, and also holds works by Monet, Renoir and Degas.The state run MENA news agency revealed to court officials that the five had been found guilty of “causing the theft of the painting,” Four other employees at the museum were given six month prison terms. No further details have been released and the painting is still missing.