Pickpocket gangs cause closure of Louvre gallery

The world famous Louvre art gallery in Paris had to close on Wednesday when employees reportedly staged a walk-out in protest against pickpockets at the museum.

Pickpocket gangs cause closure of Louvre gallery

According to a story on France Television the staff went on strike after becoming fed up dealing with the thieves, who were "becoming more numerous and more aggressive".

Museum staff claimed the pickpockets had targeted the employees as well as the million of visitors who visit the gallery each year.

Management at the museum said it had already lodged a complaint with prosecutors in December 2012 and demanded a greater police presence at one of the most visited museums in the world.

Sorting out the problem of the thieves will be one of the first jobs for Jean-Luc Martinez, who was announced as the new head of the museum last week.

According to the museum’s management “200 officers exercised their right to stop work on Wednesday.”

“The services of justice and the police have been mobilised,” said a spokesman, who said “business meetings” will take place to try to find a solution.

Hundreds of Louvre staff gathered outside the Ministry of Culture in Paris, which received a delegation from the museum at midday.

According to Christelle Guyader from the SUD union “are sometimes scared to work because they are confronted with organized gangs of pickpockets who are becoming more and more aggressive.

"They come with minors that get into the museum for free and even if they arrested by police return a few days later," Guyader told AFP.

The pickpockets are believed to be mostly from eastern Europe.

Staff have reported they have been victims of “spittings, insults, threats and physical assaults” and despite lodging several complaints to museum managers “they had not been followed by action”. Directors said they had noted 150 individual complaints in a file passed on to prosecutors in Paris.

“There have always been pickpockets at the Louvre and in tourist locations in Paris, but for the last year and a half the gangs have become increasingly violent and their modus operandi has become more complex. Nothing can stop them,” Sophie Aguirre, a supervisor in the museum said.

The staff appear to have won support from members of the public and businesses in the city.

Via The Local France's Facebook page the Hotel de la Trémoille wrote: "It's a great pity the Musée du Louvre was closed today but we admire the staff for standing up against pickpocketing in such an wonderful Parisian site. We hope the message is delivered and the Museum can again welcome tourists safely through its halls."

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?