In a brazen robbery on September 24, 2009, two armed men stormed into a small Magritte museum in Brussels and after rounding up the staff and visitors, made off with Magritte’s painting Olympia that he painted in 1948 depicting his wife Georgette reclining nude with a shell on her stomach. The museum was Magritte’s home for 20 years and had been converted into a small museum that was by appointment only.
After the theft in an article written written in the Guardian, the words of Maja Pertot Bernard of the Art Loss Register were quite prescient as she commented that due to their distinct style, paintings by Magritte were rarely stolen as they are difficult to unload. She said,
This painting, which is highly recognisable, is very unlikely to be attempted to be sold on the open market. In thefts like these, the paintings either tend to turn up very quickly when the thieves realise it’s a lost cause, or if they do go missing for a long time, they often change hands so many times that the final seller doesn’t realise there is a problem with the painting.
Last week after presumably being unable to offload the painting during the past two years, the theives contacted art expert Janpiet Callens and arranged to the safe return of the painting so that it can once again grace the walls of Magritte’s former home. All’s well that ends well.