Still Life with Candlestick

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Still Life with Candlestick
French: Nature morte aux chandeliers
Fernand Léger, 1922, Still Life with Candlestick, oil on canvas, 116 x 80 cm, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.jpg
ArtistFernand Léger
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions116 cm × 80 cm (45.6 in × 31.5 in)
LocationStolen from Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2010

Still Life with Candlestick (French: Nature morte aux chandeliers, Nature morte, chandeliers, Nature morte au chandelier, Le chandelier) is an oil painting created in 1922 by the French artist Fernand Léger.

This painting was stolen on 20 May 2010 from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. The museum reported the overnight theft of five paintings from its collection, valued at €100 million ($123 million USD), though this figure may be conservative.[1][2][3]

The principal suspect, Vjeran Tomic (nicknamed "Spider-Man" for his ability to scale buildings),[4] was commissioned by antiques dealer Jean-Michel Corvez to steal this painting by Léger. In the process, he stole paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, and Braque.[5][6]

The paintings taken, in addition to Still Life with Chandeliers, were Le pigeon aux petits pois (Dove with Green Peas, or Pigeon with Peas, 1911) by Pablo Picasso, La Pastorale (1906) by Henri Matisse, L'Olivier Près de l'Estaque (Olive Tree near L'Estaque, 1906) by Georges Braque, La Femme à l'Éventail [fr] (Woman with a Fan, 1919) by Amedeo Modigliani.[2][3] A window had been smashed and CCTV footage showed a masked man taking the paintings.[2] Authorities believe the thief acted alone.[7] The man carefully removed the paintings from their frames, which he left behind.[8]

The theft, executed with an extreme level of sophistication,[9] is being investigated by the Brigade de Répression du Banditisme specialist unit of the French Police.[3] It is unclear why the alarm systems in the museum failed to detect the robbery. Staff only noticing when they arrived at the museum just before 7:00 am.[3][10] The museum closed on 20 May 2010, citing "technical reasons".[8] The theft follows the $162 million heist of masterpieces by Cézanne, Degas, Van Gogh and Monet from Foundation E.G. Bührle in Zurich in February 2008 and could be one of the biggest art thefts in history (by value). It has been described as the "heist of the century".[7][11][12] The French auctioneer and president of the Association du Palais de Tokyo [fr], Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr [fr], commented, "These five paintings are unsellable, so thieves, sirs, you are imbeciles, now return them."

The thief and his sponsor were found one year after the heist, and the latter declared that he was seized by panic after a police raid and a phone call by the police. For fear that investigators were closing in, accomplices apparently destroyed the paintings.[5] "I threw them into the trash," cried Yonathan Birn, one of three people on trial in the case, "I made the worst mistake of my existence." However, neither the judge or other defendants believe Birn is telling the truth. Authorities believe all of the paintings were removed from France. Birn's co-defendants testified he was "too smart" to destroy €100 million worth of artwork.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jennifer Mundy, Lost Art: Theft of Five Paintings, Tate, 22 October 2012
  2. ^ a b c Hewage, Tim (20 May 2010). "Thief Steals Paintings In Paris Art Heist". Sky News. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Jones, Sam (20 May 2010). "Picasso and Matisse masterpieces stolen from Paris museum". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  4. ^ Sarah Cascone, Defendant Claims He Threw Out Modern and Impressionist Masterpieces After ‘Spider-Man’ Heist, Artnet News, 31 January 2017
  5. ^ a b Derek Fincham, Five paintings stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris feared destroyed, 1 February 2017
  6. ^ a b I threw away $100m of Picasso and Matisse art, says dealer in Paris theft trial, Associated Press,, 30 January 2017
  7. ^ a b "Matisse, Picasso and other masterpieces stolen from Paris museum". France 24. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  8. ^ a b Bremner, Charles (20 May 2010). "Masked thief steals masterpieces worth €500 million from Paris museum". The Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  9. ^ Vol de cinq tableaux, dont un Picasso et un Matisse, dans un musée à Paris, France-Amérique, 20 May 2010
  10. ^ "Five masterpieces stolen from Paris modern art museum". BBC News. BBC. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Thieves steal works by Picasso, others in Paris". The Hindu. 20 May 2010. Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  12. ^ "£430 million art stolen from Paris museum in 'heist of the century'". London Evening Standard. 20 May 2010. Archived from the original on 22 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.

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