Recovered $50M Van Gogh Actually ... Still Missing

'Poppy Flowers' was taken from museum in Egypt
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2010 3:57 PM CDT
Recovered $50M Van Gogh Actually ... Still Missing
An Egyptian Security officer walks behind the main gate of the Mahmud Khalil Modern Art Museum, main building is seen at the background, in Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Aug. 22.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Despite reports of a quick recovery, a $50 million Vincent van Gogh painting is still missing from Egypt's Mahmoud Khalil Museum. The minister of culture said police confiscated the artwork, known as Poppy Flowers or Vase With Flowers, at an airport in Cairo from an Italian couple just hours after it was stolen, but he has now backtracked and says that announcement was based on "false and incorrect" information. Faulty surveillance cameras (only 7 of 43 were working), lax security, and a busted alarm system helped enable the theft, the AP reports.

The thieves used box cutters to remove the painting from its frame, says Egypt's prosecutor general, who called the museum's security measures "for the most part feeble and superficial." Authorities are still searching for the painting, and 15 Egyptian officials, including the director of the museum, are barred from leaving Egypt until the investigation is complete. The same painting was stolen from the same museum once before in 1978, and that time it didn't turn up for another two years. (More Vincent Van Gogh stories.)

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