Farcical Return of Magritte Olympia
Thieves hand back £2.75 million Magritte painting stolen at gunpoint two years ago... after it fails to sell on black market
A valuable painting that was stolen at gunpoint from a Brussels museum two years ago has been handed back - after the thieves failed to sell it on the black market.
A daring daylight raid on Belgian surrealist René Magritte's former terraced house saw armed robbers put a gun to the concierge's head in September 2009.
They threatened staff and visitors, before making off with the £2.75 million nude portrait Olympia.
But this week they contacted art expert Janpiet Callens to hand back the piece, which depicts the artist's wife Georgette, which no-one would buy.
It means the 1948 painting can now be returned to the tiny gallery, in the north-east suburb of Jette, which is open as a museum by appointment only.
On the day of the theft, the venue had only been open for 10 minutes when a man rang the doorbell asking if visiting hours had started.
He put a gun to the concierge's temple and ushered his accomplice inside.
The two men, who were not masked, rounded up the museum staff and visitors - including a Japanese couple - and made them kneel in the courtyard.
No one was hurt and the pair left carrying the 60cm by 80cm painting and got into a car.
An alarm sounded when they smashed the glass, but by the time the police arrived, the thieves, who spoke English and French, had made their getaway.
Magritte lived with his wife for more than 20 years in the house and painted some of his most famous works there.The house, which is distinct from the Magritte museum, also became a meeting point for other surrealists in the Belgian capital.
Art Hostage Comments:
Surreal Recovery of Surreal Magritte Olympia.
Word on the street, The 1948 painting "Olympia" by René Magritte was handed back in excellent condition after, a $100,000 ransom was paid by the picture's insurer.