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Stolen paintings found in Zurich

19 February 08 16:06 GMT

Two paintings stolen in one of the world's largest art thefts have been recovered in an abandoned car, Swiss police have confirmed.

The pictures, by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, were among four paintings worth $160m (£82m) that were stolen from Zurich's Emil Buehrle Collection.

They were discovered on the back seat of a white sedan parked outside a psychiatric hospital in the city.

Three masked, armed men took the artworks from the museum last week.

'Good condition'

The two recovered paintings are Monet's Poppies near Vetheuil (1879) and van Gogh's Chestnut in Bloom (1890).

They were in good condition and still under the glass behind which they were displayed in the museum, Zurich police commandant Philipp Hotzenkoecherle said.

The two other stolen paintings, Degas's Count Lepic and his Daughters (1871) and Cezanne's Boy in a Red Jacket (1888), are still missing.

Police closed the area around the Psychiatric University Clinic, about 500m from the gallery, on Monday after a suspicious car was found.

The impressionist artworks were identified by museum director Lukas Gloor after a thorough inspection.

After the 10 February robbery, Mr Gloor said the works were so well known that it would be impossible to try and sell them on the open market.

The three thieves who stole the paintings are still at large.

"The severe wound which was inflicted on our house on 10 February has been closed somewhat," said Lukas Gloor, curator of the collection at the museum.

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