Picasso Stolen From Erotic Museum

Gretchen Gallen
HOLLYWOOD – In a scene straight out of the "Thomas Crown Affair," the Erotic Museum was victim to a crime that police say had all the markings of a professional art heist.

Museum spokesperson Lisa Strouss told XBiz that the thief struck during business hours on Tuesday and made away with an original Picasso etching titled "Block 1664.”

The piece was part of Picasso's Suite 347 series that he created during the last years of his life. It had been given to the museum as a gift by a private collector.

The Picasso was stolen from the museum gallery at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening. All other art work has since been bolted to the walls, Strouss told XBiz, including the two other Picassos in the museum's possession, an etching and a wooden figurative piece that is on loan from an art collector.

Despite the presence of security cameras throughout the museum, the thief's face was not captured on film, although detectives were able to ascertain that it was a man dressed entirely in black. Each time the man encountered security cameras, he turned his body in such a way that his identifying features would not be seen, Strouss said.

"After looking at the tape, it didn't seem spontaneous at all," Strouss told XBiz. "It seemed instead like a very well thought out and a well-executed robbery."

Strouss added that the thief escaped through the museum's back door. It is not yet known if he was assisted by a second person.

According to the museum, the subject of the stolen etching was a 15th century tale of La Celestina that depicted courtesans, elaborate orgies and wanton encounters.

Information on the value of the etching was not made public by the museum for insurance purposes.

In the meantime, the museum is open for business, but with an "empty spot on the wall," Strouss said.

The Erotic Museum is offering a reward for the return of the etching. Museum directors have issued a plea to the thief to return the piece so they can continue to share Picasso’s art with the public.

"I don't know what the patterns are with these types of people," Strouss said. "Whether they come back or not. We certainly hope not."