Mar 10, 2009, 17:16 GMT
Cairo – Nine paintings were stolen from Mohammed Ali Pasha’s palace, a museum that lies on the Nile banks in northern Cairo, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture said on Tuesday.
‘Officials at the palace say the paintings were last seen Monday afternoon just before the palace was closed,’ Egypt’s Minister of Culture Farouq Hosni said when he went to inspect the crime scene on Tuesday along with head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Zahi Hawas.
Hosni expressed his sorrow and deep concern at the theft, which had happened at a time when ‘Egypt is implementing several projects to restore its museums and protect its legacy.’
The paintings, which the thieves removed from their frames, date back to Mohammed Ali Pasha’s era and were transferred from the SCA to the palace, also known as the ‘Egyptian Versailles’, after it was recently restored and opened to visitors.
The palace, which had been subjected to comprehensive restoration over the past five years, was built between 1808 and 1821 in an area of 11,000 feddans (acres).