Seven masterpieces, including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Gauguin, were stolen from a Dutch museum in a pre-dawn heist Tuesday, police said, with an expert adding the haul could be worth up to 200 million euro ($260 million).
Alerted by an alarm but arriving at the museum in Rotterdam after the thief or thieves had fled, police said they had launched a major investigation that includes interviewing possible witnesses and examining closed-circuit television.
They are Pablo Picasso's "Tete d'Arlequin", Henri Matisse's "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune", Claude Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London", Paul Gauguin's "Femme Devant une Fenetre Ouverte, dite La Fiancee", Meyer de Haan's "Autoportrait" and Lucian Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed".
After having initially declined to name the stolen paintings, the police said that after consulting with the owners, they can now release photographs of the works.
The chairman of the museum's board, Willem van Hassel, told journalists that "technical security had been chosen deliberately which meant that nobody was at the museum but there was video".
Dutch state television showed a police forensic team dusting one of the Kunsthal's outer doors for fingerprints.
Museum director Ansenk said police arrived just five minutes after the alarm went off in Rotterdam's museum park where few people go at night.
The collection "has developed into one with an international reputation and which comprises representative works by the most important and influential artists of the late 19th century to the present day", it said.
The exhibition "comprises works from almost every significant art movement", it added.
The Kunsthal, which means "art hall", has no permanent collection of its own. It will reopen on Wednesday, the museum said.