French Language Blog

Une “Casse à-la-Cassel” ! (Grand “Théft” à-la-Menthe) Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary


We keep you au courant of tous les événements majeurs qui se passent sur la scène française (all major events that happen on the French scene.) Alors, que s’est-il récemment passé? (So, what happened recently?)

It seems that just this past jeudi (Thursday), May 20th, someone was able to enter overnight into the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris(The “Paris MOMA”), right by La Seine, and across from La Tour Eiffel, not too far from la Maison de Balzac and the Roland Garros stadium, in the 16th arrondissement – and simply walk away with five tableaux.

Oui, et quels tableaux (Yes, and what paintings.)

It’s already been touted as la casse du siècle” (the “heist of the century”), and the biggest in the history of French art so far. The Thursday robbery comes after the 2008 Zurich theft of chef d’œuvres (masterpieces) by Van Gogh, Degas, Cézanne, and Monnet, roughly estimated altogether at $160 million.

The œuvres d’art (artworks) that were stolen fom the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris are reportedly:

* “La Pastorale” by Henri Matisse (1905/1906), an especially praised painting in which the influence of the artist’s chief inspiration, Cézanne, is very perceptible.

* “Le pigeon aux petits pois (“Dove with Green Peas”), painted by Picasso in 1911.

* “L’olivier près de l’Estaque” (“Olive Tree near l’Estaque”) by Georges Braque (1906.)

* “Nature Morte aux Chandeliers” (“Still Life with Candlestick”) by Fernand Léger.

* Modigliani‘s 1906 “La Femme à l’Éventail” (“Woman with Fan”.)

The fact that the masked thief, who was later caught on télévision en circuit fermé (CCTV), could achieve this feat without triggering the Museum’s state-of-the-art surveillance system has of course raised some serious points d’interrogations (questions marks.)

Could it have been the work of some “Vincent Cassel-esquevoleur, who somehow had to perform a sort of “laser dance” in order to bypass the security system, as famously featured in the movie “Ocean Twelve” (see the above video)? A “Casse à-la-Cassel” ? Of course, Vincent Cassel is French (Remember him in “La Haine“?), and was also portrayed as a French character in that movie: Pay close attention to his accent when he talks to George Clooney.  As to the “laser dance” music, it comes from the song “Thé à la Menthe” (“Mint Tea”, hence the title “Grand “Théft” à-la-Menthe”) by the French group La Caution, who happen to be best buddies with Vincent Cassel—and TTC.

Is there a possible connection (or, in this context, a “French Connection“)?

We don’t know that yet, but that is only being said as a “caution to the wise.”

Or that could just be un indice (a clue) to the Inspecteur Clouseau, who is most likely in charge of retrieving those tableaux inestimables !

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  1. Sarah:

    plus Inspecteur Clouseau…et meme plus drole!

  2. Cynthia:

    And the paintings weren’t insured – last I heard – or has that information changed in the past few days?