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Swiss police recover stolen masterpieces

  • Story Highlights
  • Police in Switzerland have recovered artworks stolen earlier this month
  • Masterpieces stolen in Zurich art heist were worth $163M
  • Haul included pieces by Cezanne, Van Gogh, Degas and Monet
  • Heist follows recent thefts in Switzerland of artworks by Picasso
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(CNN) -- Police in Switzerland have recovered artworks stolen earlier this month in a daring heist at a Zurich museum, Geneva police said Tuesday.

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Claude Monet's "Poppies near Vetheuil" was one of the famous paintings stolen by the armed robbers.

The police could not say whether some or all of the four Impressionist masterpieces were recovered. A news conference was planned later in the day with more details.

The four paintings are worth a total of about $163 million (180 million Swiss francs).

Police said three masked men stole the paintings in a "spectacular" heist February 11 at the E.G Buhrle Collection -- among the finest collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art in the world.

One of the men threatened personnel at the museum's front door with a pistol and forced them to the ground, police said, while the other two men went into an exhibition room and stole four oil paintings by Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.

Afterward, the three men loaded the paintings -- Monet's "Poppies near Vetheuil," Degas' "Count Lepic and his Daughters," van Gogh's "Blossoming Chestnut Branches" and Cezanne's "Boy in a Red Vest" -- into a white car parked in front of the museum and then drove off, police said.

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A reward of $91,000 (100,00 Swiss francs) was posted for information leading to the return of the paintings, police said.

The Swiss art heist followed the recent theft in Switzerland of two paintings by Pablo Picasso, said Bjoern Quellenberg, a spokesman for the Kunsthaus, a major art museum in Zurich.

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The director of the Kunsthaus serves on the E.G. Buhrle private art foundation's council, Quellenberg said.

In that theft, thieves stole the 1962 "Tete de Cheval" ("Horse's Head") and the 1944 "Verre et Pichet" ("Glass and Pitcher") by Picasso. They were on loan from a German museum and valued at $4.5 million when they were stolen February 6, according to news reports. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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