Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Norwegians Strike Back At Art Thieves With Locked Doors, Insurance

Drastic measures may include security guard, warn officials

The Scream: Uninsured 60 million dollar piece
stolen from the Olso Museum in August. Second heist
now has Norwegian authorities considering the use of
"implements that may discourage theft," like locks, and
velvet rope.

Oslo--A chink in the thought-to-be impregnable Norwegian security measures was highlighted again this week, as a second heist of priceless Edward Munch pieces was successfully executed--this time from a hotel restaurant.

Norwegian officials are examining exactly what may have gone wrong in am art-protection system that inspires awe from around the world. Many were stunned in August of 2004, when Munch's Madonna, and a version of the famous Scream painting, were snipped free of their speaker-wire tethers, carried through unlocked doors, and straight out of the security-guard free Oslo Museum.

The Scream alone is believed to be worth nearly 60 million dollars, and was uninsured as a precaution against insurance.

"We have seen our share of ruthless thieves with cat-like reflexes," said a representative of the museum, "but the sheer, hyper-intelligent, razor edged stamina required to pull this off was like nothing we'd ever seen before. These people have ice water in their veins."

Officials are now having to contend with a second heist--this time--from the virtually impenetrable restaurant lobby at the Refnes hotel, in moss. Hotel owner Vidar Salbuvik said that two of the works were lithographic portraits, including one of the artist himself, and that the third was a water-colour titled the The Blue Dress, from 1915.

Salbuvik admits that locking doors is now "on the table" as an approach, and will not rule out putting velvet rope around the works to create a buffer zone.

Norwegian authorities are quick to amend this even further.

"We are dealing with a contingent that may even be privy to technology allowing them to circumvent measures as secure as the legendary Master padlock," said one authority. "So we must be careful not to assume the thefts stop there. We may have to go so far as to have an intermittent security detail drive through the parking lot once a night in a Chevy Cavalier to drive the message home: we will not accept this behavior from you."

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