Picasso double take

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ZURICH - Seven paintings by Pablo Picasso, worth about pounds 28m and uninsured, have been stolen from a private Zurich art gallery. They include two taken from the same gallery three years ago.

The thieves forced their way into the Modern Art Centre at the weekend from the cellar of a neighbouring house. The works were from the painter's 'blue' and 'rose' periods, among about 80 given to the gallery owner Max Bollag's father by the artist during the First World War.

A painting by the Bulgarian-born painter Jules Pascin, who was closely associated with Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani in a circle of artists based in Paris early this century, is also missing.

Mr Bollag said in June 1991 after the two most valuable works, Seated Woman and El Cristo de Montmartre, were first stolen, that he no longer insured the pictures because premiums were prohibitive. The paintings were recovered in February 1992. Three men were jailed for 18 months to three years.

Mr Bollag, 81, said the works would be of little use to the thieves. 'They would not be so easy to sell; they (the thieves) can let them disappear, they can try blackmail,' he said. 'I don't know what goes on in the heads of such idiots.'