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 19
1934—Arrest Made in Lindbergh Baby Case
Bruno Hauptmann is arrested for the kidnap and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., son of the famous American aviator. The infant child had been abducted from the Lindbergh home in March 1932, and found decomposed two months later in the woods nearby. He had suffered a fatal skull fracture. Hauptmann was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and finally executed by electric chair in April 1936. He proclaimed his innocence to the end
September 18
1919—Pollard Breaks the Color Barrier
Fritz Pollard becomes the first African-American to play professional football for a major team, the Akron Pros. Though Pollard is forgotten today, famed sportswriter Walter Camp ranked him as "one of the greatest runners these eyes have ever seen." In another barrier-breaking historical achievement, Pollard later became the co-head coach of the Pros, while still maintaining his roster position as running back.
1932—Entwistle Leaps from Hollywood Sign
Actress Peg Entwistle commits suicide by jumping from the letter "H" in the Hollywood sign. Her body lay in the ravine below for two days, until it was found by a detective and two radio car officers. She remained unidentified until her uncle connected the description and the initials "P.E." on the suicide note in the newspapers with his niece's two-day absence.
September 17
1908—First Airplane Fatality Occurs
The plane built by Wilbur and Orville Wright, The Wright Flyer, crashes with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge aboard as a passenger. The accident kills Selfridge, and he becomes the first airplane fatality in history.
1983—First Black Miss America Crowned
Vanessa Williams becomes the first African American Miss America. She later loses her crown when lesbian-themed nude photographs of her are published by Penthouse magazine.
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