FRANCE: The Historical Castle Mob

In the cool, early hours one morning last week, two cars pulled up to a little-used gate at the Duc de Luynes's 8,000-acre estate near Paris. A few blows of a hammer knocked away the rusty padlock; shadowy figures slipped inside, made a beeline for a cellar window in the 17th century ch√Ęteau, got it open, and climbed through.

Upstairs, they opened more windows as escape hatches behind them, passed by portraits by Van Dyck, paintings by Poussin, frescoes by Ingres. Into the tiny chapel they went, and headed directly for the altar,...

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