Police hunting the three gunmen who stole 119 Picasso paintings in one of the world's greatest art thefts, from Avignon, France at the weekend, are working on the clue that the trio spoke Spanish.
GV Papal palace in Avignon (2 shots)
SV Notice advertising Picasso exhibition at palace
SV Posters of Picasso painting (2 shots)
SV Security guard at entrance of exhibition with paintings overhead
CU Blood on floor
SV Painting ZOOM IN TO empty space on wall (2 shots)
CU PAN Empty numbered spaces on wall where paintings were
GV Empty hall
Initials BB/2340 MW/PN/BB/0000
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Background: Police hunting the three gunmen who stole 119 Picasso paintings in one of the world's greatest art thefts, from Avignon, France at the weekend, are working on the clue that the trio spoke Spanish.
A night watchman, beaten up during the raid on the exhibition, in the 15th century Palais des Papes (Papal Palace) said he heard the men, who left no fingerprints, speaking the language.
Police said the men seemed to know little of the works.
The gunmen who ripped the paintings from the stone walls of the chapel hall left 82 works -- mainly those placed too high to be taken down easily. They also left very large canvasses.
A police spokesman said the men knew what they were doing as far as the robbery was concerned, but left police puzzled about their haphazard choice of paintings.
The paintings were done between 1970 and 1972 and were the last done by Picasso, who donated them to the town.
The stolen paintings were unsigned by the artist, and included Picasso's favourite, "The Young Painter".
The pictures were insured for a total of 10,897,000 francs (GBP1,210,700 sterling) -- well below their market value, estimated at about 19 million france (GBP2 million sterling).
The paintings had been on display since 1973.
Police are also following up the sighting of a small white van near the palace at the time of the theft.
The robbery was carried out with military precision, timed to coincide with the changing of keepers at 9 p.m.
The two keepers on duty at the time were attacked and seriously injured. One is being treated for multiple fractures and the other for head and stomach injuries.
SYNOPSIS: One of the world's biggest art hauls, the theft of one hundred and nineteen paintings by Pablo Picasso from the Palace of Popes in Avignon, France, on Saturday night was carried out by "real professionals" say police.
But authorities looking for the three hooded gunmen who carried out the raid on the fifteenth century palace where the works were on display, are puzzled at the haphazard choice of paintings.
Two keepers on duty were badly beaten and Bound. A third who arrived late was also tied up. The gunmen left eighty two works, mainly those place dot high to be taken down easily.
Police are working on a clue that the gunmen spoke Spanish. They are also trying to trace a white van seen parked outside the palace at the time of the robbery. The pictures on display We??? Picasso's last works and were insured for nearly eleven million france, well below market value.