October 10, 2007 / 12:04 PM / 11 years ago

Five held for questioning over attack on Monet canvas

PARIS (Reuters) - Four men and one woman are being held for questioning over the weekend attack on a painting by Impressionist master Claude Monet at a French museum, the Paris public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.

Five people forced their way into the capital’s Musee d’Orsay in the early hours of Sunday morning and attacked “Le Pont d’Argenteuil”, tearing a 10 cm (4 inches) hole in a canvas that was painted in 1874.

One of the five held for questioning gave himself up on Monday and told police the names of his companions after taking fright at the intense media coverage of a break-in that was captured on a security camera, the prosecutor’s office said.

All five are aged between 18 and 19 years old.

The attack happened during Paris’s so-called “Nuit Blanche”, an all-night arts festival that coincided with France’s unexpected victory against the All Blacks in the rugby World Cup.

Police sources said statements made so far suggested the intruders had been drunk and did not premeditate the attack on the painting.

The attack followed a spate of other recent incidents that have rocked the art world in France.

These include that of a self-professed art lover who went on trial on Tuesday accused of kissing a $2-million painting while wearing red lipstick and damaging the canvas.

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