Deputy Minister of Culture Mohsen Shaalan and four security officials have been placed under arrest for “”negligence and failing to carry out their employment duties,” while Egypt conducts investigations over the theft of “Poppy Flowers,” a Van Gogh painting, from Cairo’s Mahmoud Khalil Museum.
The museum’s director was released on bail, and she along with eight other culture ministry employees have been banned from travelling outside Egypt for the time being, and airport security has been increased in attempts to recover the painting.
Only seven of the 47 surveillance cameras in the museum were functional. The museum usually maintains a high security presence considering the minimal number of visitors, which was a mere 11 on the day of the theft.
Egyptian intellectuals have expressed their anger at the ease with which the famous work, painted three years before Van Gogh’s death, was stolen. The thief reportedly cut the picture from its frame using a blade readily available at any stationery store without activating the alarm system.
“Poppy Flowers,” valued at over $50 million, is the only Van Gogh painting in the Middle East, and had been stolen once before 1970, to be recovered a year after