Brazil Keeps Watch on Airports to Prevent Stolen Picassos from Flying Away

Picasso's The Painter and His Model The Brazilian Federal Police are keeping an eye on Brazil's ports and airports to prevent that two engravings by Pablo Picasso as well as two paintings from Brazilian painters stolen from the Pinacoteca museum of São Paulo on Thursday, June 12, leave the country. Authorities are afraid that the thieves might have some overseas connection.

"We have warned authorities in ports and airports. We still don't know what they intend to do with these works," said police chief Youssef Abou Chahin.

According to him, the police have enough material to identify the thieves: TV images from the museum's surveillance camera and fingerprints. "They had a clean face and their faces can be seen," added Chahin. 

He revealed that the criminals paid the entry fee and got ticket to get into the museum and once inside they subdued the place's security. The police chief called the action "an extreme daring act". The theft apparently didn't last more than 10 minutes.

Since there were more valuable works close to the ones that were taken police suspect that the service was paid by someone interested in the four pieces stolen. Museum workers are also been investigated.

The Picassos were Minotaur, Drinking Fountain and Women (1933) and The Painter And His Model (1963). The Brazilian artists' works were Women At The Window (1926) by Di Cavalcanti, and Couple (1919) by Lasar Segall.

Brazilian authorities say the thieves were three heavily-armed men. The four pieces have a combined value of US$ 612,000.

This is the second time in recent months that thieves have targeted a Brazilian art museum. Last December, Picasso's Portrait of Suzanne Bloch was stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art.

Additionally, the art work The Coffee Worker, by Brazilian painter Cândido Portinari, was also stolen. Both works, worth a combined $50 million, were later recovered and returned to the museum under heavy guard.

Two suspects were arrested. Museum officials say the two paintings were recovered in perfect condition.

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