The trial of the 2010 ‘Spider-Man’ Paris art theft at the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris has concluded securing an eight year sentence for 49-year-old Serbian mastermind Vjeran Tomic.
The thief was arrested a year after the robbery. He confessed to the police that he had broken into the museum cutting through a locked gate, removing a window while smashing the security cameras in the line of fire in order to take one ’steal to order’ work by Ferdinand Léger. The 1922 Still Life with Candlestick was first on the list and as the museum’s alarms were disabled an at least three security guards failed to notice the intrusion the “art loving,” thief surveyed the museum for other treasures. Realising he couldn’t get the frames out the way he came in he cut the works from the frames with a box knife. Tomic then made off with Dove with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (1911), Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1906), Olive Tree near l’Estaque by Georges Braque (1906), and Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919). Police arrested Tomic after receiving an anonymous tip and tracking his mobile phone.
There have been several high profile art thefts in Europe in recent years
Subsequently his two accomplishes received sentences of seven and six years. Jean-Michel Corvez, a 61-year-old antique dealer who admitted to ordering the theft of the Leger on behalf of an unnamed client, was also banned from dealing for five years. The third man in the plot, Yonathan Birn, a 40-year-old watchmaker admitted to hiding the paintings and handling stolen goods. On top of their collective fine, the three men were given individual fines of between 150,000 and 200,000 euros each.
The paintings have never been recovered and it is feared that the works of art were burned. The Leger was offered to a Paris dealer but turned down when it was recognised. After a lengthy investigation, three suspects were apprehended. A man described as Jonathan B, a small time watch dealer told detectives that he ‘panicked and destroyed the canvasses before throwing them into a rubbish bin’. They ended up in a crusher rubbish collection van and were destroyed. Whether or not this is true is unclear.
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