The Infamous Art Heist at the Musée Marmottan Monet

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The Infamous Art Heist at the Musée Marmottan Monet
On a quiet Sunday morning in the leafy suburbs on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, the first visitors to the Musée Marmottan Monet were followed inside by other fee-paying visitors who had not come to admire the paintings but to steal them by force. It was October 27th, 1985, and with the museum open to the public, and consequently all the museum’s security systems switched off, the thieves swiftly donned masks and threatened both the 40 visitors and nine guards at gunpoint. courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet The guards and visitors were forced to either lie face down on the floor or locked in the clothes closet under the control of two of the masked thieves. The three remaining robbers proceeded to remove nine paintings, smashing the glass off one of them to facilitate its removal. It was a breathtakingly audacious robbery which from start to finish took barely five minutes from 10:15 to 10:20 a.m. In those few minutes, the thieves loaded the nine fragile art works into the trunk of a grey sedan which was blatantly double parked in front of the museum, and fled the scene. This was no random smash and grab. The paintings stolen were the very best the museum possessed, including the priceless 1872 painting, “Impression, Sunrise” by Claude Monet. (Although “priceless,” it was estimated to be worth at least $4.75 million.) The other paintings by Monet included “Camille Monet and Her Cousin on the Beach at Trouville,” “Portrait of Jean Monet,” “Portrait of Poly,” “Fisherman of Belle-Isle” and “Field of Tulips in Holland.” Auguste Renoir’s “Portrait of Monet” and “Bathers”, and Fukuko Naruse’s “Portrait of Monet” along with “Young Girl at the Ball” by Berthe Morisot –  all were unceremoniously loaded into the trunk of the sedan. Monet – Impression, Sunrise (C) Claude Monet, Public Domain It was obvious to all that these paintings had been stolen to order. The haul would have been even more devastating had six Impressionist paintings not been sent to New York for an exhibition several days earlier. The question was who had them… and where? For almost two years it seemed that the paintings had disappeared into thin air, and at a conservative estimate of $12.5 million for the nine paintings, answers were imperative. Musée Marmottan Monet. Credit: Visit Paris Region

Lead photo credit : courtesy of Musée Marmottan Monet

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After some dreary years in the Civil Service, Marilyn realized her dream of living in Paris. She arrived in Paris in December 1967 and left in July 1969. From there she lived in Mallorca, London, Oman, and Dubai, where she moved with her husband and young son and worked for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and freelanced for Emirates Woman magazine. During this time she was also a ground stewardess for Middle East Airlines. For the past 18 years they've lived on the Isle of Wight.


  • Louise Stevens
    2021-10-25 05:05:03
    Louise Stevens
    Thank you for this intriguing article Marilyn. It would make a thrilling film indeed, whether feature or documentary. It could also become a 'page turner' of a novel.


    • Marilyn Brouwer
      2021-10-25 09:05:57
      Marilyn Brouwer
      Thanks Louise, It is always appreciated when someone takes the time to respond to an article. If one of the thieves was a female I shall sign myself up for the role! Many thanks again Marilyn


  • Blair Jackson
    2021-10-22 11:52:18
    Blair Jackson
    What a wonderful and fascinating article! I think that story would be ripe for a dramatic feature film...


    •  Marilyn Brouwer
      2021-10-23 12:40:53
      Marilyn Brouwer
      Thanks Blair, really kind of you to comment. I do love an art mystery! Kind regards Marilyn