Six men sentenced in Chinese art theft
But stolen works from Norwegian museum’s collection remain missing
By Hanne Cecilie Gulstad. Web only
Published online: 15 January 2014
Six men have been convicted in the theft of around 25 works of Chinese art worth 2.5m krone ($400,000) from the collection of Kode, Art Museums of Bergen, Norway. Although the men were sentenced at the end of December to serve one to three years in prison, the collection is still missing and the galleries that housed the works remain closed.
Last January, two men broke into the China Collection at Kode, smashed display cases and stole a number of important art objects, while four men set two cars on fire elsewhere in the city to distract the police. The museum was previously robbed in December 2010, and 56 objects were taken from the China Collection.
Because the 2013 theft took only two minutes, there are reasons to believe the thieves knew what they were looking for, the museum’s director, Erlend Høyersten, told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. According to the art theft expert Noah Charney, interviewed in the newspaper Bergens Tidende, there is a market for stolen Chinese art among the newly rich in China.
The China Collection was given to the museum by General Johan Wilhelm Normann Munthe, who lived in China from 1886 to 1935. With more than over 25,000 objects, it is one of the largest collections of Chinese art in Europe, with items ranging from Stone Age artefacts to contemporary works.
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