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A ‘priceless’ Giorgio de Chirico self-portrait was stolen from a museum in France

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A 1926 oil painting by Giorgio de Chirico has been stolen from the Musée des beaux-arts de Béziers in the south of France. The painting was catalogued in 2015. Local prosecutors call this self-portrait as "priceless."
The canvas entitled "Composition with Self-Portrait" belonged to the collection of Jean Moulin, the French Resistance hero who was a Béziers native and an avid fan of Modern art.


The theft, in which the work was cut and taken from its frame, was discovered by museum guards closing the galleries on November 16, in the afternoon. The painting was on view at the Hôtel Fabrégat, which houses some of the museum’s collection, including Jean Moulin’s private holdings, which also includes works by Soutine, Raoul Dufy, and Suzanne Valadon. The collection was gifted to the city by Moulin’s sister in 1975.

The art museum does not have any security cameras. The empty frame was noticed shortly after the theft by museum guards, according to the local city council. An official complaint was filed by the city that same evening, although the news of the theft was not publicly revealed for several days.

Left: Giorgio de Chirico’s Composition with Self-Portrait (1926)

According to the council, the stolen painting, "because of its prominence, is not tradable on the art market in France or internationally."
Greek-born de Chirico (1888−1978) founded the ‘Scuola Metafisica' art movement before WWI, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. After 1919, he became interested in traditional painting techniques, and worked in a neoclassical or neo-Baroque style, while frequently revisiting the metaphysical themes of his earlier work.
Giorgio de Chirico. Il Ritornante
Il Ritornante
1918, 94×77.9 cm
The Surrealist painter’s work has been auctioned for millions in the past. Il Ritornante (1918) was sold at Christie’s Paris in 2009 for over €11 million—a record for the artist.

The work was intended to be exhibited in the future museum of the birthplace of Jean Moulin, which the council said was a much more secure location.


An investigation into the theft is being carried out by the Montpellier regional police.
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