A sketchbook containing drawings by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso valued at between 7 million and 10 million euros ($9.8 million and $14 million) was stolen from the Picasso Museum
in Paris, police told Efe Tuesday.
The sketchbook contains about 30 drawings and was stolen either on Monday or Tuesday, during which time the museum was closed to the general public, without any break-in being registered at the museum, which is located in a 17th century baroque palace, police said.
Museum workers discovered the theft when they were making an inventory.
The sketchbook was seen Monday in the glass case in which it is displayed but on Tuesday it was not there, police said.
The glass display case was locked but no specific tool was required to open it, the Culture Ministry said.
Beside the case where the sketchbook was are drawings done in lead pencil on paper by Picasso in two phases, between 1917 and 1918 and between 1923 and 1924, the Culture Ministry said.
The sketchbook contained 33 drawings collected in a 16x24 centimeter (6.3x9.5 inches) format and its cover has the inscription "Album" in gilded letters, the ministry said.
The museum was open on Tuesday in a special arrangement for residents of District 3 in Paris invited to the facility by its mayor.
The Picasso Museum is being remodeled and so the most important works housed there have been loaned to other institutions with the twofold aim of facilitating the refurbishing work and financing it.
This is the latest robbery of works by the Malaga-born painter and follows one in February 2007 when thieves removed from the Paris home of Diana Widmaier-Picasso, a granddaughter of the artist, two of his works valued at some 50 million euros ($70 million).
The paintings, "Maya and the Doll" and "Portrait of Jacqueline," were of a Picasso daughter and of his second and last wife, police said.
The painting of his daughter, Maya, was done in 1938 and shows the 3-year-old girl in a blue dress holding a doll. The only information released about the portrait of Jacqueline was the dimensions.
The paintings were stolen from the home of Picasso's granddaughter in the exclusive 7th arrondissement of Paris.
Marina Picasso, another of the painter's granddaughters, had 15 pictures stolen from her house at Cannes on Nov. 5, 1989, but the works were found four days later.
In January 2004, a Picasso still life was taken from the Georges Pompidou Museum in Paris, only to be found three months later.
But the most important theft in France goes back to 1976, when 118 Picasso works were stolen from the Avignon Museum.
Other robberies of Picasso artworks have occurred in Zurich, London and Rio de Janeiro in 1994, 1997 and 2006, respectively.
In the first, almost 20 canvases disappeared from an art gallery; in the second, a man made off with a "Head of a Woman" sculpture, which was later recovered; and in the third, four paintings were stolen. EFE