Pablo Picasso's "Maya with Doll," one of two paintings stolen from the Paris home of the artist's granddaughter.
According to the authorities, thieves entered Diana Widmaier-Picasso's home in the smart seventh arrondissement of the French capital at some time between Monday night and Tuesday morning and made off with some very precious booty. Police say there was no obvious sign of a break-in.
The director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, Anne Baldassari, said that several paintings and drawings were stolen. "It was a very large theft," she told Associated Press.
However, the police have only confirmed the theft of two paintings: the small "Maya and the Doll" which depicts Picasso's daughter Maya -- Widmaier-Picasso's mother -- and a 170-by-150-centimeter portrait of Picasso's second wife Jacqueline.
The paintings are thought to be worth up to 50 million but the very fact that they are so well known would make it impossible to sell them on the international art market. Experts are now speculating that this could be a case of "theft to order." The case is being investigated by the police's organized crime division.
Paintings by Picasso, one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, normally fetch huge prices at auctions, and works by the Spanish artist appear three times on the list of the top ten most expensive paintings of all time. His most expensive painting to date has been "Boy With a Pipe," which was sold for $104 million in 2004.
Picasso was an incredibly prolific artist. When he died at the age of 91 in 1973, he left behind 1,900 paintings, 3,200 ceramic works, 7,000 drawings, 1,200 sculptures and 30,000 sketches.