Sunday, August 22, 2004A scene straight out of a Hollywood action thriller:
OSLO (Reuters) - Armed robbers have stolen "The Scream" and another masterpiece by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch in a bold daytime raid on an Oslo museum in front of dozens of terrified tourists.Another version of Edvard Munch's The Scream was stolen about 10 years ago, and was found months later, after authorities refused to pay the thieves' ransom.
Two masked robbers ran into the Munch Museum, threatened staff with a handgun and forced people to lie down before grabbing "The Scream", an icon of existential angst showing a waif-like figure against a blood-red sky, and "Madonna".
Some stunned visitors said they feared they were victims of a terror attack. The men simply walked out the front door -- with one painting bumping on the ground -- and escaped in a stolen black Audi car driven by a third man, police said.
Worth millions of dollars, the pictures are among Munch's best-known, even though he produced several versions of both 1893 works. "Madonna" shows a mysterious bare-breasted woman with flowing black hair.
"We're following all possible leads ... but we don't know who did this," police detective chief inspector Kjell Pedersen told a news conference. One of the thieves spoke during the robbery -- in Norwegian.
The wooden frames of the paintings were found smashed and scattered along an Oslo street and the car was separately found abandoned a few km (miles) away with no trace of the paintings.