Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Manhunt launched in dramatic Greek museum robbery

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 19, 2012 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
A security guard at the museum at Olympia was tied up as raiders stole 65 statuettes on Friday.
A security guard at the museum at Olympia was tied up as raiders stole 65 statuettes on Friday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two suspects are sought in the smash-and-grab robbery
  • They tied up a guard before storming the museum
  • They took 65 to 68 clay and brass statues, and a gold ring
  • It's the second big theft of this kind in Greece this year

(CNN) -- A manhunt was under way Saturday in Greece for two suspects who tied up a guard, stormed the Archeological Museum of Olympia, smashed glass casings and stole dozens of small statues, state media reported.

The robbers took 65 to 68 clay and brass statues, and a gold ring, police spokesman Athanassios Kokkalakis said Friday, the day of the theft.

Closed-circuit video footage showed the suspects as they seized about 65 statuettes, Greece's official AMNA news agency reported.

It's the second big theft of this kind in Greece this year.

Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos submitted his resignation after the robbery, the prime minister's office said Friday.

In January, three art works -- including a painting by Pablo Picasso and another by Piet Mondrian -- were stolen from the National Gallery in Athens.

Dimitra Koutsoumba, president of the Greek Archaeologists' Association, said Friday that the latest attack was sad and worrying.

"It is the first time that we have an armed robbery at a museum during operating hours. It shows that the cuts the Culture Ministry has made since the crisis hit in 2009 make it easier for such incidents to take place," she said. "The minister himself had told us that the cuts were ranging between 30% and 35%, and they include cuts in personnel."

She called for more importance to be placed on cultural heritage and said greater steps should be taken to protect irreplaceable items that belong to the nation.

"Such incidents are an issue of national security," she said. "The artifacts that were taken were mainly figurines related to the Olympics, so many were depicting athletes."

The museum, built on an ancient site in the Peloponnese peninsula, is considered among the most important in Greece.

The ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic flame for the 2012 London Olympics is scheduled to take place on May 10 at the Ancient Olympia site, where the museum is located.

The first Olympic Games were held in Olympia in 776 B.C. to celebrate the deity Zeus. A sanctuary at the site was dedicated to him.

CNN's Helena DeMoura contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Viewing Bruegel's The Way to Calvary, director Lech Majewski says, is like watching a film unfold -- so he's brought the work to the big screen.
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
Detail from
A study for Paul Cezanne's master work "The Card Players," missing for decades, has been rediscovered in a Texas art collection.
March 23, 2012 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
A painting dismissed for years as the work of an unknown artist has been identified as a piece by Vincent Van Gogh, after x-ray tests.
March 14, 2012 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
A Leonardo da Vinci mural unseen since the 16th century may have been found hidden behind a Florentine fresco painted by another artist.
March 12, 2012 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
The American wing at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art re-opens to the public following a decade-long renovation program.
March 2, 2012 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
The world-famous Ghent Altarpiece, completed in 1432, can now be viewed on a specially-designed, open source website.
February 24, 2012 -- Updated 0141 GMT (0941 HKT)
With its palaces, sculpted parks, concert halls and museums, Vienna is a city steeped in culture. Take a tour with CNN World's Treasures.
February 23, 2012 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
Edvard Munch's The Scream (1895), which is to be sold at Sotheby's in New York on May 2, 2012.
One of the world's most iconic works of art will go under the hammer in May, and could sell for tens of millions of dollars at auction in New York.
February 16, 2012 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Heavy snow has already wreaked havoc across Europe, now it is damaging some of its most recognized historic monuments.
February 13, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Join World's Treasures for a tour through Charles Dickens' London to celebrate the bicentenary of the celebrated British author's birth.
ADVERTISEMENT