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Thieves make quick work of Picasso in Brazilian heist

Thieves made off with works by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari in a brazen daylight heist in Brazil on Thursday.

Thieves made off with works by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari in a brazen daylight heist in Brazil on Thursday.

Thieves broke into the Sao Paulo Museum of Art on Thursday and made off with Candido Portinari's O Lavrador de Cafe, seen here, and Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Suzanne Bloch. ((Sao Paulo Museum of Art/Associated Press))

The group jacked up a metal security door at the Sao Paulo Museum of Art and were in and out of the museum with the two paintings in less than three minutes, police said.

They have not said how many were involved in the heist, but said security cameras showed the thieves at work.

Picasso's Portrait of Suzanne Bloch, painted in 1904 in his Blue Period, one of the museum's most valuable works, was stolen, according to museum spokesman Eduardo Cosomano.

The thieves also took O Lavrador de Cafe by Portinari, a major Brazilian artist. Painted in 1939,it shows a coffee picker at work.

Local media estimated the value of the works at $100 million US, but curators say the price is difficult to establish.

"The prices paid for such works would be incalculable, enough to give you vertigo," said curator Miriam Alzuri of the Bellas Artes Museum of Bilbao, Spain.

The Sao Paulo Museum of Art’s collection is considered the largest and more comprehensive collection of Western art in Latin America.

With files from the Association Press