The Naked City May 20 2010
ART APPRECIATION
Five old masters disappear without a trace.

There’s so much priceless art in Paris it’s a virtual smorgasbord for art lovers—and it’s all you can eat for art thieves, as well. Last night a group of sophisticated robbers proved that when they broke into the Paris Museum of Modern Art, helped themselves to a Picasso, a Matisse, and a Légere, had a side of Braque and topped the heap off with a Modigliani and some bleu cheese dressing before disappearing without a trace. The stolen art was initially said to be worth a whopping €500m, or about 600 million dollars, which would have made the heist the largest in history. Later, museum authorities revised their figure to 150 million dollars, which is quite a write-down. We can hear the conversation: “Oh, we thought they stole the other Braque. That one’s priceless. The one they actually took is the one we use for darts.”

Of course, the fascinating bit about these art thefts is that they are strictly pre-order—which is to say, they are financed by wealthy individuals who have the capacity to pay for the pieces, store them indefinitely, or perhaps even display them in their homes with no fear of exposure to 
authorities. The black market for stolen art is robust, to say the least, and for thieves the jobs are irresistible because it’s physically impossible to steal 500 (or 150) million in actual cash. At least not without the starting offensive line of the Philadelphia Eagles to help you carry it. Even if the sale value for stolen art is a fraction of its estimated value, it’s still probably impossible to physically steal, say, 60 million dollars—or even 10 million.
 
Enticed by such rewards, and outfitted by rich backers who can finance purchases of the latest in security-thwarting gear, it’s very possible no protective technology can prevent these kinds of thefts. French police made a statement earlier today in which they revealed that they have a security recording of one thief entering the museum through a window, but otherwise they seem to be sans indices—i.e. clueless.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 22
1910—Duke of York's Cinema Opens
The Duke of York's Cinema opens in Brighton, England, on the site of an old brewery. It is still operating today, mainly as a venue for art films, and is the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.
1975—Gerald Ford Assassination Attempt
Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informant who had been evaluated and deemed harmless by the U.S. Secret Service, tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. Moore fires one shot at Ford that misses, then is wrestled to the ground by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.
September 21
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
September 20
1946—Cannes Launches Film Festival
The first Cannes Film Festival is held in 1946, in the old Casino of Cannes, financed by the French Foreign Affairs Ministry and the City of Cannes.
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