Thieves who stole three Picassos worth £35 million from the artist's grand-daughter were spotted by French police this week because they resembled "anything but art students" with the priceless canvases rolled up into tubes on their backs, it emerged yesterday.
Art detectives who arrested the burglars in Paris on Tuesday, less than a mile from the flat where they stole the works five months ago, said they had never come across such clueless philistines acting with "such carelessness and negligence".
Two of the three men were well-known to police for similar offences.
...."We saw them pop up with black plastic tubes strapped to their backs. As they looked like anything but Beaux-Arts students, we nabbed them straight away," said Loïc Garnier, head of the anti-theft squad, BRB.
"The two paintings were indeed in the tubes, but the dimwits had rolled them so tightly that they had made the painted surface crack," said commander Bernard Darties of the OCBC, the police unit specialising in stolen art.
"It's proof of ignorance and stupidity to damage such artworks by traipsing them like that through the streets of Paris," he said.