February 24, 2006

Thieves steal artworks, disappear into Rio Carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Four armed men stole
several famous paintings on Friday, including a Picasso and a
Monet, from a Rio de Janeiro museum and then slipped away in a
crowd of Carnival revelers.

Officials of the Chacara do Ceu museum in downtown Rio de
Janeiro said among the stolen paintings were Pablo Picasso's
"Dance," Claude Monet's "Marine," Henri Matisse's "Luxemburg
Garden," and Salvador Dali's "Two Balconies."

The men, who were suspected of carrying a grenade, forced
the guards to turn off the internal television circuit. One of
the guards was manhandled.

"They took advantage of a Carnival parade passing by the
museum and disappeared into the crowd," said Vera de Alencar,
director of the museum, which is administered by the federal

Museum officials did not say how many paintings were stolen
or place a value on them.

The thieves also walked away with the belongings of several
visitors, including three foreign tourists.

The Federal Police are investigating the case and taking
measures to prevent the paintings from leaving the country.