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The Lane of Poplars at Moret

Thomas B. Cole, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2012;307(22):2350. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3029.
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The Lane of Poplars at Moret (cover) has been stolen three times, most recently from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in the French city of Nice on a Sunday afternoon in August 2007. Two thieves held the museum's guards and visitors at gunpoint while the other three snatched The Lane of Poplars at Moret and three other paintings. The theft was obviously well planned; the museum had no surveillance cameras or alarms, the thieves went directly to the paintings they were looking for, and they made a clean getaway. However, as these thieves would learn, the trickiest part of art crime is not stealing fine art but selling it. The more famous the painting, the harder it is to sell, and years may pass before a well-known painting can be unloaded—usually for only a fraction of its value. Sellers of stolen art must be on their guard, because police agencies often make it a priority to recover paintings of cultural or national significance. In this case, the prospective buyer of the stolen paintings was Robert K. Wittman, an undercover detective with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's art crime team (Wittman RK, Shiffman J. Priceless. New York, NY: Crown Publishing Group, Random House; 2010).

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Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), The Lane of Poplars at Moret, 1890, French. Oil on canvas. 65 × 81 cm. Courtesy of the Réunion de Musées Nationaux (http://www.rmn.fr/), Paris, France/Art Resource, New York, New York.



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