Swiss police find paintings stolen in Zurich art heist

ZURICH, Switzerland: Swiss media reported Monday that paintings stolen in one of Europe’s largest art thefts have been discovered in a parking lot in front of a Zurich mental hospital.

The area around the Psychiatric University Clinic was closed off Monday evening, and Zurich police spokeswoman Judith Hoedl said that a suspicious vehicle had been found.

She declined to say whether it was connected with the Feb. 10 robbery from a Zurich museum. The stolen works by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet from the private E.G. Buehrle Collection are worth 180 million Swiss francs (US$163.2 million; €112.4 million).

But the local TV station TeleZuri quoted a witness as saying that the car contained three paintings bearing the name of the museum. Among the pictures was Claude Monet’s “Poppy field at Vetheuil,” the witness was quoted as saying.

Local radio station Radio 24 reported that the building supervisor at the hospital found the paintings in an unlocked car.

The clinic is only a few hundred meters (yards) from the museum.

The area was cordoned off by police, and a switchboard operator confirmed to The Associated Press that the police were there, but that she was not allowed to say what was happening.

Police took the suspicious car — a white midsize sedan — away after dark on a tow truck.

The other pictures stolen were Edgar Degas’ “Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter,” Vincent van Gogh’s “Blooming Chestnut Branches” and Paul Cezanne’s “Boy in the Red Waistcoat.”

Hoedl said police refused to give out any more information before Tuesday so that they could examine everything carefully.