The Mahmoud Khalil Museum of Art in Cairo’s cameras and alarm system were out of order, a security official has said, when the same Dutch master’s painting that was stolen in the 1970s went missing on Saturday.
The Van Gogh that the culture ministry called “Poppy Flower” was worth an estimated 43 million euros.
The Egyptian state news agency said security had tracked down an Italian couple who were spotted visiting a museum bathroom then leaving in a hurry, but they were found to be empty-handed.
A passer-by interviewed in the vicinity said: “The culture ministry should have taken more precautions. This is the second time this Van Gogh has gone missing from this museum. The people responsible should have paid more attention.”
The museum is home to one of the finest collections of 19th- and 20th-century European art in the Middle East. The authorities were not sure how the thieves got away with it.