Paintings by some of the world’s most famous artists have been stolen by an armed gang from a museum in Zurich.

Cezanne's Boy in a Red Waistcoat

Cezanne’s Boy in a Red Waistcoat

Four oil paintings worth more than £80m by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet were taken in the weekend robbery from the E.G. Buehrle museum.

A police statement said three robbers wearing ski masks and dark clothing entered the museum half-an-hour before closing on Sunday.

While one of the men used a pistol to force museum personnel to the floor, the other two robbers went into the exhibition hall and collected the four masterpieces.

Cezanne’s The Boy in the Red Vest (1890), Degas’ Viscount Lepic and His Daughters (1871), Monet’s Poppies Near Vetheuil (1880) and Van Gogh’s Blossoming Chestnut Branches (1890) were taken.

Officials described it as a “spectacular art robbery”.

Van Gogh’s Blossoming Chestnut Branches from 1890.The E.G. Buehrle museum contains one of the finest collections of 19th and 20th Century European art.

The FBI estimates the market for stolen art at £3bn annually and Interpol has about 30,000 pieces of stolen art in its database.

Last week, Swiss police reported that two Pablo Picasso paintings were stolen from a Swiss exhibition near Zurich.

The two oil paintings, Tete de cheval (Head of horse) and Verre et pichet (Glass and pitcher), were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.