Two armed bandits inexplicably abandoned 20 carefully chosen van Gogh paintings worth "hundreds of millions" after penetrating one of the Netherlands' most secure museums, police say.
The paintings - some of them torn and scratched - were found at a train station about 1 1/2 miles from the Van Gogh Museum at 5 a.m. Sunday, about 30 minutes after robbers left the museum in a car belonging to a guard.Police were baffled as to why the paintings were abandoned and said Monday they have made no arrests in the case.
"If you look at the way it was done, you would presume it was well planned, but if you look at the outcome, it looks like pure amateurism," police spokesman Foeko Wagenaar said.
A source close to the investigation said the robbers may have panicked, thinking police were on their trail.
The stolen paintings included the final version of "The Potato Eaters," the 19th century impressionist's famed portrayal of rural poverty, and "Still Life With Irises" and "Still Life With Sunflowers." Versions of the latter two paintings have commanded record prices in recent years.
Museum Director Ronald van Leeuwen said the robbers ripped three paintings seriously, most likely as they were being stacked and packed into expandable garment bags. Most of the others had minor tears and scratches, he said.
Van Leeuwen said it would take several months to repair the badly torn works.
Police spokesman Klaas Wilting valued the paintings at "hundreds of millions of dollars."
One of the bandits is believed to have hidden inside the museum after it closed at 5 p.m. Saturday.