Who stole Picasso’s Weeping Woman?
A two part series first published Wednesday 31 August 2016 by Crikey
Picasso’s Weeping Woman was mounted on the wall of the National Gallery of Victoria when its doors closed at 5pm on Saturday, August 2, 1986. When the doors opened again the next morning, it was gone.
The thieves left a calling card in its place. It looked like the regular “location cards” used by the gallery, so, at first, staff thought the painting had simply been moved. The theft went unnoticed until the press received a tip-off on Monday, August 4.
“My jaw dropped,” says Race Mathews. At the time of the theft, Mathews was both minister for the arts and police in Victoria.
The tip-off came in the form of a ransom letter, addressed to Mathews — unkindly titled “Rank Mathews” — from a group calling itself the “Australian Cultural Terrorists” (ACT).
The letter stated, “We have stolen the Picasso from the National Gallery as a protest against the niggardly funding of the fine arts in this hick State and against the clumsy, unimaginative stupidity of the administration and distribution of that funding.”