Singaporean artist in Paris dies from 'brutal violence'

Singaporean artist in Paris dies from 'brutal violence'

He was found lying on the first floor of his Paris home early Saturday morning.

Pieces of scotch tape were stuck on the back of his head and he looked like he had been brutally assaulted, with wounds all over his body.

Despite attempts to revive him, Singaporean artist Teo Peng Seng, 69, was pronounced dead at 6.40am local time.

Mr Teo, who had been living in France for over 30 years, had settled in the bungalow at La Courneuve, in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, French newspaper Le Parisien reported.

He worked in the popular tourist district of Montmartre, painting portraits for tourists.

A neighbour of Mr Teo's had alerted the police after hearing some noise.

French newspaper Le Républicain Lorrain reported that a neighbour had heard "loud thuds coming from the house next door".

A source close to the investigation told the French newspaper that firefighters were alerted at about 6am.

They found Mr Teo unconscious and said that he had suffered "extreme violence".

When the police arrived at about 6.30am, Mr Teo was still alive, but barely.

Police also found signs of tampering on the windows, reported Le Parisien.

BURGLARIES

Mr Teo had installed grilles on all but one of his windows after being the victim of multiple burglaries two years ago, said an acquaintance in France.

It is believed that the killers entered the house through the only window without grilles.

The friend also told Le Parisien that a few people had advised him to sell his La Courneuve home and buy a studio apartment in Paris.

"He lived alone and didn't need such a big place," the friend said, "but he found Paris too expensive."

Neighbours said Mr Teo often returned home late, sometimes around midnight.

Friends of the artist that Le Parisien spoke to are convinced that the motive was money.

"He made a lot of money and did not hide it," said a painter at Montmartre, who recalled that Mr Teo took little care to conceal the money from customers.

"At 69, he could have retired and enjoyed life but he refused to," a person who was close to him said.

Mr Teo's friends in Singapore were shocked by his death, Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao reported.

He was an alumnus of Chung Cheng High School and studied art at the famous Ecole National Superieure des Beaux Arts.

He earned a double degree in oil painting and sculpture, and had remained in France, working as a portrait artist.

Mr Lin Long Cheng, a good friend of Mr Teo, told Wanbao that Mr Teo could earn up to 300 euros (S$520) for a portrait. He said Mr Teo was earning a steady income in Paris.

An ex-classmate and friend of Mr Teo's, Mr Ang Hiong Chiok, 66, told The New Paper that Mr Teo had considered moving back to Singapore.

"He had gotten used to living and working in Paris and he was not sure of what he could do here," said the retired painter.

"He felt free when he was living there," he added. "He could still paint for a few more years even if he retired."

French police have not revealed how they will classify the case.

yufengk@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 30 in The New Paper.

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