Poland's only Monet Stolen & Returned by Art Fanatic




Last month it was reported that the only Monet in Poland's National collection was recovered having been stolen in 2000. In 2000 Robert Zwolinski was granted permission to sketch the painting, Beach at Pourville 1882, at the National Museum under poor surveillance. Seizing the opportunity, Zwolinski cut the painting from its frame and replaced it with a copy. He was eventually caught when his fingerprints, which were taken for an unrelated issue, matched those found on the frame.

Art thief extraordinaire Zwolinski was not part of a criminal gang or hired by a millionaire mad man to steal the Monet. He was a fan. An art fanatic who acted on impulse and lost control in the presence of the object of his affection. This kind of behavior is common, if not expected, in the celebrity world but rarely seen in the art world. Zwolinski developed a passion for impressionism after spending time in Paris. His interest grew after the break down of his marriage and he said that his life was "empty and meaningless... I escaped into books. In one of them I read about the Monet" He had hid the painting behind a wardrobe in his parent's apartment, a hiding place it never left for ten years.

If art is supposed to give meaning and enrich life, if it is supposed to open up new possibilities then we could call this story a success for the arts.

1) The Art Newspaper.

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