Feb 02, 2017

Did the ‘Spider-Man’ Art Thieves Destroy $100m Worth of Paintings?

Yonathan Birn, part of the ‘Spider-Man’ art heist, claims to have destroyed 5 modern masterpieces
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Yonathan Birn, one of three men involved in the ‘Spider-Man’ art theft has claimed during the trial that the 5 paintings stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in 2010 have been destroyed.

The missing paintings in question are Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1906), Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919), Olive Tree near l’Estaque by Georges Braque (1906), Dove with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (1911) and Still Life With Candlestick by Fernand Leger (1922). The trial started on Monday.

“I threw them into the trash” Birn told the court three times. “I made the worst mistake of my existence.”

According to the Guardian, neither the investigating judge nor other defendants at the trial believe Birn’s claims and believe that the paintings have been taken out of France.

The original robbery was carried out by the man now labelled ‘Spider-Man’, Vjeran Tomic. Tomic testified that at about 3am on 20 May 2010, he removed the glass from a bay window and climbed into the Museum with the aim of stealing a painting by Fernand Leger. After coming across Picasso, Matisse. Modigliani and Braque paintings, he decided to take them as well.

His plan was to sell the paintings to Jean-Michel Corvez, an antiques dealer. But Corvez only agreed to pay for the Leger, as he was unsure he could secure buyers for the other paintings. After becoming concerned about keeping the paintings in his shop Corvez showed them to Birn, a luxury watch dealer, who bought the Modligliani for €80,000 and agreed to store the other paintings in his studio.

Birn claims to have panicked after police started investigating and threw them all in the trash.

Corvez and Birn could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, while Tomic, as a repeat offender may face up to a 20-year sentence. The trial resumes later this week.