More Munch art disappears

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Another valuable lithograph by famed Norwegian artist Edvard Munch has been reported stolen in Oslo, but police kept their investigation into the theft secret. Reporters for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) spotted the loss from well-known Oslo gallery Kaare Berntsen on an international list of stolen artwork.

The gallery moved from its longtime location in downtown Oslo to an historic house near the waterfront at Vika last summer. Gallery leader Thomas Berntsen told NRK Wednesday morning that the Munch lithograph Løsrivelsen II (Breaking Away II) was discovered missing on June 25.

The gallery’s move itself took place from June 12-25. Employees of both the gallery and the moving company involved have been questioned by police, reported NRK.

Munch’s works have recently attained record high prices at auction and have been the target of several spectacular thefts. Just last weekanother Munch lithograph, Historien, was stolen in a bold nighttime break-in at another gallery in Oslo, not far from Kaare Berntsen, that attracted immediate attention.Since no dramatic break-in or robbery was involved, it was easier for the police to keep their investigation of the Munch lithograph missing from Kaare Berntsen under wraps.

“We always try to work in peace, as long as possible,” a police spokesman told NRK, when asked why the theft of Munch art valued at NOK 2.5 million wasn’t made public. He claimed the parties involved also were keen to avoid media attention.

Berntsen said he merely followed the advice of both the police and insurers in staying mum about the missing lithograph.

Oslo police immediately launched a search for the artwork, putting the notification on Interpol’s list of stolen artwork. Investigators said formal notification will now also be made in Norway, since the theft has become public.

The lithograph features a well-known Munch motif of a man and woman parting, with a coastal landscape in the background. The Kaare Berntsen gallery had been holding the lithograph on behalf of a client.

Interpol described the lithograph as “Berlin Blue” in colour, printed on “handmade, cream-coloured paper.” It measures about 48 x 66 centimeters and is in a “unique” wooden frame with the artist’s signature in pencil in the lower right-hand corner.

Police, meanwhile, continue to also search for the Munch lithograph stolen last week. No arrests have been made.