Vjeran Tomic Photo: Thibault Camus

Paris Museum Burglar Receives Eight-Year Prison Sentence for $110 Million Heist

Dubbed the Spider-Man burglar, Vjeran Tomic has been sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay a $212,000 fine by a French criminal court for stealing five paintings worth more than $110 million from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in 2010, Benoît Morenne of the New York Times reports.

Notorious for scaling buildings in order to commit robberies, Tomic made off with Georges Braque’s Olive Tree near l’Estaque, 1906, Fernand Léger’s Still Life with Candlestick, 1922, Henri Matisse’s Pastoral, 1906, Amedeo Modigliani’s Woman with Fan, 1919, and Pablo Picasso’s Dove with Green Peas, 1911, in one of the biggest art heists. Whether the works have been sold has still not been determined.

According to The Telegraph, Peimane Ghalez-Marzban, the presiding judge, said that Tomic, who was able to enter the museum by cutting through a padlocked gate and breaking a window, gained access to the building and evaded the security guards with “disconcerting ease.”

While in court, Tomic confessed that he was originally only commissioned to steal Léger’s still life and swiped the other four after he discovered that the museum’s alarm system didn’t go off. Tomic apparently took his time, wandering around the institution for an hour before making his escape.

Two accomplices, Jean-Michel Corvez, an antiques dealer who allegedly orchestrated the heist, and Yonathan Birn, a clockmaker who stored the works, will also serve jail time. They were given seven- and six-year sentences, respectively, and were fined around $159,000. All three men were also ordered to pay the city of Paris $110 million in compensation for the missing paintings.

The French police arrested Tomic in May 2011 after receiving an anonymous tip about a man hanging around the museum during the days leading up to the theft. Once detained, Birn claimed he had thrown the paintings in the trash. “I thought I was being followed by the police, convinced I was being filmed or spied on. I told myself that I couldn't get out of the building with the paintings and committed the irreparable,” he said.

Yet, both Corvez and prosecutor Anaïs Trubuilt remain unconvinced. In court, Corvez said Birn was “far too crafty” and that he would never “degrade himself by destroying the works.” Trubuilt said that the men “know very well that the day they leave prison, the paintings won’t have lost their value and that they can resell them.”