3 Sentenced in Munch Theft

OSLO, Norway -- Three men who worked together to steal Edvard Munch's masterpieces "The Scream" and "Madonna" were sentenced Monday to prison for their roles in the brazen daylight heist carried out by masked gunmen. Both paintings were recovered, but were damaged.

One of the gunmen, the getaway driver and the mastermind of the 2004 theft at Oslo's Munch Museum were convicted in late March. The second suspected gunman died in November before charges could be filed.

Two years after the theft, police recovered the paintings, which were scraped and punctured, their paint dislodged. The museum is considering using an eye-surgeon to remove glass shards embedded in the canvas after the frames were broken.

There are four versions of "The Scream," probably Munch's best-known work, depicting a waif-like figure apparently screaming or hearing a scream. The image has become an icon of modern human anxiety.

Petter Tharaldsen, 35, was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison for driving the getaway car that spirited off the paintings and robbers. His term also included a sentence for an unrelated robbery.

Bjoern Hoen, 39, convicted of masterminding the theft, was sentenced to nine years for grand theft. Tharaldsen and Hoen were also convicted of being part of an organized crime group. Stian Skjold, 31, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years as one of the two gunmen who raided the Munch Museum.

The three defendants were also ordered to pay a total of $262,000 in compensation to the city of Oslo, which owns the paintings.

"There has to be a sharp reaction to such a serious crime," the judge said during sentencing, describing the paintings as "two of the cornerstones of Munch's production." Police also suspect that the robbery was organized to draw police resources away from a 2004 bank robbery in which a police officer was killed.

A lawyer for Skjold said he would appeal the sentence.

Munch's emotionally charged painting style became a major influence in the birth of the 20th-century expressionist movement. Munch died in 1944 at the age of 80.

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On the Net:

http://www.munch.museum.no


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