The armchair detective

According to brusselnieuws André Garitte, curator of the Magritte museum in Jette, said in De Standaard newspaper the Brussels and Federal government are co-responsable for the theft of Olympia, stolen on Thursday. He repeatedly pleaded for support for his museum but his requests fell on deaf ears.
Although the picture was kept behind a glass door and guarded by a double alarm system, the thieves got hold of the painting and were out of the museum in just two minutes. How? Apparently, the alarm system is always switched off during the daytime and no security camera's were fitted.
The museum did receive subsidies but not enough to provide for an adequate security system according to Garitte. Is he fending off critics by pointing the finger at someone else? I get the impression he is trying to waver his responsability. I'm not entirely sure the people from the insurance company will agree with him. The Magritte museum in Jette is still a private initiative, thus the main sources of income depend on donations from patrons.

Yet again the long felt dismay about the new Magritte museum that opened in June of this year resurfaces after the high profile art theft.
The new museum dedicated to René Magritte attracted over 100.000 visitors in only two months time. Estimates in 2005, when there was talk of a new museum, were around 200.000 a year. The Jette museum only hails about 10.000 visitors a year.
In 2006 Garitte declared in an interview with Agenda the museum didn't plan on getting squashed by the new museum:
We krijgen nu al telefoons van toeristen die verward zijn door de identieke naam. De naam van ons museum is beschermd, we gaan ons niet laten platdrukken”.

Well, the small museum will almost certainly get a piece of the publicity cake now. A robbery is the best thing that could have happened to it to get some extra press.
Hmm, I wonder if staging a robbery was the best way to go about it... In press reports Garitte was the first to insinuate it was a commissioned theft and not a ransom theft as the police and everyone else seem to think.
If I go by the Morse-rule that a crime is usually commited by a family member or someone closely associated with the murder victim then it makes him a a prime suspect in my uninformed fantasy world.
Ok, ok, I know I've been watching too many detective series on the telly, but I like playing the armchair detective.

The alleged mutual antagonism between the René Magritte Museum (the one that got robbed) and the Musée Magritte Museum (the one with the 200+ works) was insinuated by Jean-Marie Binst in Brussel deze week. The Royal Fine Arts Museum issued a press release stating that the theft had nothing to do with them to avoid confusion. But Binst applies some of his infallible logic and came up with this: "Komt daarbij de onbegrijpelijke arrogantie van de Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, die volgend kort perscommuniqué rondstuurden:
“Wij betreuren het ten zeerste dat er bij de opening van het Magrittehuis op 24 september een werk van René Magritte op gewelddadige wijze werd ontvreemd. Dit museum, dat gesitueerd is in een Brusselse randgemeente, maakt geen deel uit van de Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België die het Musée Magritte Museum huisvesten.”
Voor alle duidelijkheid: met het Magrittehuis bedoelen ze het René Magritte Museum, dat zo niet genoemd mag worden; met een Brusselse randgemeente bedoelen ze Jette, en ‘geen diefstal bij ons’ insinueert dat een miljoenenschade door vochtontregeling in de reserves minder erg is dan een diefstal die nog kan worden opgelost."

What a strange conclusion Mr Binst has drawn from the press release. And the humidity thing he is referring to is the entirely unrelated Dalkia incident from Januari this year.
In light of his little profile blurb on the Prix des musées' site it is even more ridiculous: "...quelque chose que je ne considère pas comme une activité professionnelle mais comme un passe-temps passionnant. Cette passion me permet de rester objectivement attentif à l’attention portée ou non au patrimoine culturel à Bruxelles." Objectiveness? Hmmm. I fail to detect any in his 'objective' piece on the press release.

How much more surreal can this get? I'm sure Magritte would have looked upon this bickering with impish glee.

If it is a question of ransom theft, we'll probably never hear about it. Negotiations between thieves and owner are usually kept from the police, up until the picture magically resurfaces after a year or so. Which reminds me of a similar Magritte theft in London a couple of years ago when ‘Les Reflets du temps’ turned up.

Janpiet Callens, a former police art detective, who now runs his own consultancy firm, has been put in charge of the investigation for the insurance company.

Oh, and the police released the photo fits of the two robbers.

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