Museum raiders steal £7m masterpieces

'The heart of our collection is gone, including top artworks of national importance'

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The Independent Online

Thieves broke into a museum in the northern Netherlands and took 17th-century Dutch paintings worth an estimated €10m (£7m).

They stole between 15 and 20 paintings and a substantial portion of the 125-year-old Westfries Museum's silver collection on Sunday night without setting off the alarm.

Among the stolen works were paintings by Jan van Goyen, Jacob Waben, Matthias Withoos, Jan Rietschoof, Jan Linsen and Herman Henstenburg. "The heart of our collection is gone, including top artworks of national importance. They were mostly unique pieces which are irreplaceable," a spokesman for the museum said.

Officials said that its advanced security system had been checked on Thursday and could not explain how the break-in had been possible. Employees discovered the theft yesterday morning when they found smashed display cases, broken doors and empty frames.

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