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(Credit: Andrea Maschio)

Art

Seven people in Paris found guilty of stealing paintings while owner was asleep

Seven people have been imprisoned for stealing several paintings with a total worth of €2 million. The haul included two paintings by French artist Pierre Soulages, which were taken from an apartment in Paris while their owner slept.

The sentences vary from six months to four years imprisonment. However, the criminal being given the largest sentence for prior convictions of robbery and underground criminal activity is still in hiding from the police.

The robbery took place on the evening of July 28th, 2020, when the thieves got into the apartment through an open window. French paper Le Figaro reported that the thieves learned from an art gallery dealer that the fifth-district Paris apartment was home to a selection of fine and expensive paintings, including Soulages, Gerhard Richter and Jean Fautrier.

Soulages is a key figure in the contemporary art scene in France. Recently celebrating his 102nd birthday, he has defined his work through an iconic black-and-white abstract style that went against the work of his contemporaries in the mid-century.

Thanks to CCTV and witness footage, the group of robbers were caught before they managed to sell the paintings. The group returned six of the eight stolen items under police pressure and the final two were found during a search of one of the suspects’ homes.

Amongst those found guilty were a 35-year-old man named Tarik H., who was given the thus far heaviest sentence of four and a half year. Tarik H.’s 74-year-old mother was also found guilty of receiving stolen goods and has been ordered to undertake at least 12 months of house arrest whilst wearing an electronic tracking bracelet.

The defendants have been ordered to be €8,800 to the victim in damages as well as €4,500 in legal fees.