The trial of the art thief known as ‘Spider-Man’ has begun in Paris. The 2010 burglary at the Musee d’Art Moderne included masterpieces by Modigliani, Picasso, Braque and Matisse. The value of the paintings have been assessed at $107 Million, but it is thought ‘Woman with a Fan’ (1919) by Modigliani would fetch this amount at auction on its own
French police arrested Tomic after receiving an anonymous tip. Alarms on the night of the heist were switched off
49-year-old Serbian Vjeran Tomic was arrested a year after the theft. 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).
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. The suspects face 14 charges, while two accomplices were charged with the handling of stolen goods.