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The thieves had it easy in Cairo art heist

The thieves who made off with van Gogh's 'Poppy Flowers' in a daytime Cairo art heist weren't met with alarms or guards. The head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said Egypt would create a central security office.

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When the Vincent van Gogh still life “Poppy Flowers” was stolen from Egypt’s Mahmoud Khalil museum Saturday, no one noticed at first.

None of the alarms meant to protect the artwork in the museum sounded. Only seven of 43 security cameras were working. Just 10 people visited the museum that day and guards were scarce enough that the thieves were able to drag a couch underneath the painting to stand on while cutting the $55 million painting from its frame in broad daylight.

Those are some of the security failures that Egyptian officials have pledged to address as they react with outrage to the daring heist.

The blame quickly fell on the deputy culture minister, who, as the head of the fine arts department with an office in the museum, has been charged with negligence. Four museum employees were also detained.

“I can’t work with these incompetent employees,” Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, saying he cannot sleep at night because of concerns over Egypt’s art and antiquities.


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