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Thieves steal paintings worth £250m


Audacious thieves stole seven paintings worth a total of £250m from a Rotterdam museum in one of the biggest art raids in recent history.

The paintings by artists from Picasso to Lucian Freud were ripped from the walls of an art gallery holding the collection of shipping-to-textiles mogul Willem Cordia shortly after 3am on Tuesday.

The theft took place just days after the first large-scale exhibition of works from the late Mr Cordia's private collection had opened at Rotterdam's Kunsthal Museum.

Dutch police were last night trying to piece together how the thieves had entered the gallery, beating a top-of-the-range security system and leaving behind no obvious trace of a forced entry before swiping the works.

The stolen paintings include Pablo Picasso's 1971 Harlequin Head, Claude Monet's 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Paul Gaugin's 1898 Girl in Front of Open Window, and Henri Matisse's 1919 Reading Girl in White and Yellow.