Dutch police have announced that seven paintings by artists including Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin and Monet have been stolen from the art museum Kunsthal Rotterdam on Tuesday at around 3am. It is one of the biggest heists in recent history.

The works were on display in an exhibition, ‘Avant-Gardes: the Collection of the Triton Foundation’, and the stolen canvases were among the most eye-catching and valuable in the Triton Foundation collection. They include Pablo Picasso’s ‘Harlequin Head’ (1971), Claude Monet’s ‘Waterloo Bridge, London’, Henri Matisse’s ‘Reading Girl in White and Yellow’ (1919) and Lucian Freud’s ‘Woman with Eyes Closed’ (2002).

The police have said that an initial investigation suggests the robbery was well prepared. Although the museum’s alarm sounded, it took audacious thieves a matter of moments to rip the seven canvases from the art gallery walls, and they had got away by the time the police arrived. Experts have said that the raid is the latest reversal to a trend which had seen a decline in daring raids on the world’s museums. Improved security has seen the percentage loss recorded by insurers on art work premiums fall dramatically in the last decade.

Image Credit: The Art Newspaper Photo, AFP/ANP Robin Utrecht