The head of Egypt's Department of Fine Arts under the Ministry of Culture has been detained in connection with the theft of Van Gogh's Poppy Flowers from a museum in Cairo, Egypt's MENA news agency reported on Monday.
The painting, worth about $55 million, was stolen from the private Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil Museum on Saturday. The theft of the masterpiece was discovered at around 1:00 p.m. local time [GMT 11:00] by the museum staff, RIA Novosti reported.
Soon after the theft, Mohsen Shaalan circulated unverified and essentially false information about the location and detainment of "the Van Gogh" thieves with the painting at the Cairo International Airport. Shaalan's announcement misled Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, who had already made an official statement on the theft to world media.
According to a source in the prosecutor's office, four more suspects have been detained in connection to the case. All of them are security personnel at the museum.
Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud said that the museum staff and minister officials were suspected of negligence in their duties, citing that only 7 of 47 security cameras in the museum were operable, the security system was poor and that none of the alarms sounded during the theft.
The search for the missing painting continues.