Two art thieves made off with a bust sculpted by French artist Auguste Rodin on July 16th in what is being described as one of the biggest Danish art thefts in years, Politiken newspaper reported on Thursday.
The bust, ‘The Man with the Broken Nose’ from 1863, was stolen from the Ny Carlsberg Glypotek during the museum’s opening hours.
According to Politiken, the two thieves came dressed as tourists, made their way directly to the Rodin Room, removed the sculpture and walked away with it in a bag. The whole thing took just 12 minutes and they were undetected by both security guards and other museum guests.
Museum officials declined to put an exact value on the piece, but Politiken said it has been valued as high as $300,000 at the international art houses of London.
“It’s terrible. We lost an important work in the collection,” Flemming Friborg, the director at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, told Politiken.
Although the theft happened over one month ago, it was first made public on Thursday. Copenhagen Police told Politiken that they are collaborating with Interpol and Europol on the assumption that the theft was a well though-out and perhaps internationally-organized operation.
“The perpetrators visited the museum to explore the premises about a week before the theft, and they must have known what they were stealing,” police spokesman Ove Randrup said.
Police have surveillance video of the two men ad describe them as being between 30 and 40 years old, of average build and between 170-175cm tall. They are possibly eastern Europeans, police said. On Thursday afternoon, police released surveillance photos of the two men:
Photos: Copenhagen Police
The two men are believed to have visited the museum twice – once to prepare for the heist by loosening the sculpture from the base and disabling its alarm and a second time to actually take it.
Friborg told Politiken that he “takes full responsibility” for the “inexcusable” theft but maintained that “in general, security is not flawed at the museum”.
The Glyptotek describes its Rodin collection as “unique outside of France”. It includes casts of some of his most well-known works, including ‘The Thinker’ and the first cast of ‘The Burghers of Calais’ outside of France.
Rodin's 'The Man with the Broken Nose'. Photo: Scanpix