“While the museum was open and a number of visitors were there, a man walked into one of the exhibition rooms and ripped the painting off the wall with a lot of force,” museum director Katarina Ek-Nilsson said.
“He then ran out past the receptionist, who quickly alerted police,” she said, adding that the heist had taken place at around 1:00 pm.
The painting, titled “Night of Jealousy”, was painted by the celebrated author of such plays as “Miss Julie” and “The Ghost Sonata” in Berlin in 1893, and was one of only three paintings on display at the small Stockholm museum.
Estimates of the value of the dark, stormy canvas in blacks and greys vary wildly, but experts say it could be worth between 10 and 25 million kronor, depending on the market.
“It was definitely the most interesting of the paintings,” Ek-Nilsson said.
“It is really sad that one of Strindberg’s valuable paintings has been stolen, but we’re glad no one was hurt and that no violence was used.”
Swedish media reported on Wednesday that the thief appeared to have two accomplices who distracted museum staff while he stole the artwork, but Ek-Nilsson said she could not confirm that more than one person had taken part in the heist.
“A museum receptionist is, in effect, always being distracted by visitors, but it is possible that it was intentional,” she said, adding that police were currently at the museum interrogating witnesses and searching for clues.
Thirteen police units and a helicopter were also reportedly being used in the hunt for the perpetrator.