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Museum staff banned from travel after Cairo art heist

The Egyptian government has prohibited nine Culture Ministry officials from leaving the country after a $50 million dollar Van Gogh painting was stolen on Saturday from a Cairo museum, an Egyptian state-owned newspaper said on Monday.

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REUTERS - Egypt’s general prosecutor has blocked nine Culture Ministry officials from travel as part of an inquiry into the theft of a Van Gogh painting worth an estimated $55 million, a state-owned newspaper said on Monday.

The painting, known as “Poppy Flower” according to an Arabic statement, was stolen on Saturday from Cairo’s Mahmoud Khalil Museum, home to one of the Middle East’s finest collections of 19th- and 20th-century art.

Fine arts specialist Ezz el-Din Naguib, speaking in a programme on state television, said the painting had also been stolen in the late 1970s but was recovered 10 years later.

An early investigation at the museum showed “flagrant shortcomings” in security with only 7 of 43 security cameras functioning properly, the state daily al-Ahram reported, without giving further details.

Officials were not immediately available to comment.

The museum houses works assembled by Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil, a politician who died in 1953, including paintings by Gauguin, Monet, Manet and Renoir, as well as the Dutch post-Impressionist master Van Gogh.
 

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