• gerard van weyenbergh

Thief's mother throws 200+ artworks in river.

In Eschentzwiller, a village located between Mulhouse and Basel, an art enthusiast wishing to build up his museum, committed 172 thefts of artwork and paintings by masters in many museums galleries in Europe. This record would give many curators a cold sweat.

The daring thief, who has always acted in broad daylight, amassed loot estimated at nearly twenty million euros until his arrest in Switzerland in November 2001. His mother, horrified by the consequences of his thefts, has in a crazy gesture, destroyed all the paintings and drawings stored at her home and threw all the other stolen objects into the Rhine river.

A distant cousin of the Mulhouse painter Robert Breitwieser (1899-?) Whose works appear in Mulhouse and Strasbourg's museums, Stéphane Breitwieser, 31, had visited many museums, galleries, antique fairs, castles, and auction rooms since 1995.

Kleptomaniac, he never resold the objects and paintings he stole, satisfied with researching libraries to list his "collection" amassed at the home of his mother, a rather cantankerous woman who had badly endured her divorce occurred ten years ago.

Following the arrest, his mother, in a fit of rage, destroyed the paintings stored at her home and got rid of the objects, cups, figurines, boxes, and others, in the Rhine with the help from her son's companion.

Sixty paintings and drawings, including works by Watteau, Brueghel, Pieter Gysels, Jan Davidsz de Heem or Boucher, were destroyed forever by Mireille Breitwieser, 51, and Anne-Catherine Kleinklauss, 31, which passed full confessions to investigators from the Strasbourg Police and the Central Office for the Fight against Trafficking in Cultural Goods.

© Adrian Darmon - Artcult.com