10 notorious art thefts in world history

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  • 7/27/2019 10 Notorious Art Thefts in World History


    10 Notorious Art Thefts in World History

    by jiaon 21. Oct, 2011inArt

    Art comes in all forms but when we talk about masterpieces the first names that

    come to mind are Da Vinci, Van Gough, and Picasso etc. The artists put their mind and

    soul into their creations to gain recognition. However, some people just cant see these

    wonderful displays as a national treasure they want it in their personal collections.

    These collectors would go beyond morals and take the loot from museum, private

    residences and even places of worship!

    Apart from all that, these crooks are so refined in their methods and cultured that

    nothing else sounds more appealing than the famous paintings, well maybe with an

    exception of drug dealing, money laundering but thats hard-core. It is estimated that

    the worldwide trade in stolen and forged art is worth upwards of $6 billion annually.

    Here are the 10 most high profile art thefts by these crafty thieves.

    1. The Last Judgment 1473

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    Now this was a medieval case of art theft. A three panel altar piece by Flemish painter

    Hans Memling, The Last Judgment, is stolen by pirates en route from Flanders to

    Flourence, in what is known to be the first documented art theft. However, a pious

    pirate gave the painting to a church. Today it is in the National Museum in Gdansk.

    2. Duchess of Devonshire 1876

    Con man Adam Worth, the man who inspired the villainous character of Moriarty in

    Arthur Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes, known for his criminalmastermind for robbing

    several banks and forging documents steals an art treasure in 1876. The Georgiana

    Duchess of Devonshire is hoisted up to the window of a London gallery on the

    shoulders of his 213-centimetre assistant. The portrait by Gainsboroughs is valued at

    the then world-record price of 10,000 guineas ($1 million today), and was stolen by

    Worth to get the bail money for his brothers release from prison, but the brother was

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    released without bail. Selling the portrait for ransom, Worth was never caught and died

    a year later. The portrait was recovered and now hangs in her ancestral home.

    3. Mona Lisa 1911

    One of the greatest art thefts that will always be remembered. Stolen from the Louvre

    in 1911, the greatest work of art by Leonardo Da Vinci the Mona Lisa costs over$100 million. When the portrait was stolen, a lot of people working in and out of the

    Louvre came under suspicion and one of the now famous people to be questioned was

    Spanish painter Pablo Picasso.

    However, the thief turned out to be an employee, named Vincenzo Perugia, of the

    Louvre who stole the portrait at the behest of an art forger who wanted to make copies

    of the famous lady. The thief was caught trying to sell the Mona Lisa to Uffizi Gallery

    in Florence and was sent to prison.

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    4. Nativity 1969

    Caravaggios Nativitywas stolen off from a church of San Lorenzo in Sicily on Oct 18,

    1969, where the painting. The painting was cut out from its frame and was seen in the

    possession of a mafia kingpin, who stole the masterpiece for his mother, who grew too

    ill to go to church to see it. The painting which is now worth $20 million has since never

    been found.

    5. The Gardner Museum Theft 1990

    The largest art theft in the history took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner

    Museum in Boston. Two thieves entered the museum wearing police uniforms, after

    taking down two guards and taking the security surveillance tapes. The thieves leave

    with 13 works by different artists. The 13 paintings had three paintings by Rembrandt

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    including his only seascape Storm on the Sea of Galilee, The Concertby Vermeer,

    one by Manet, five paintings by Degas, and others valued at around $300 million.

    The case still remains open and the authorities still are trying to find the criminals

    despite investigating everyone from the Irish Republican Army to a Boston mob boss!

    6. The Scream


    A popular target amongst art thieves in Norway, The Scream was stolen on the

    opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The stolen painting was

    one of the four different versions of Munchs famous work.Th ieves took the painting

    from Oslos National Art Museum. A perfectly planned crime the crooks took less

    than one minute, coming in through a window and cutting the wires that held up the

    painting, and leaving through the same window.

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    The reason for the crime was to ransom the painting to the Norwegian government.

    Although the crime was well planned the thieves blundered as they left a piece of theframe at a bus stop, which led the authorities straight to them. The painting was

    recovered a few months later. The four men involved in the crime were convicted in

    January 1996.

    7. Stockholm Museum Theft 2000

    A crime that sent the whole Sweden in mourning when three crooks barged into the

    National Museum, wearing ski masks and carrying pistols and machine guns. The

    criminals knew exactly what they wanted, having studied the flooring plans for months,they went straight for the RembrandtSelf Portraitand two works by Renoir,Jeune

    Parisienne and La Conversation.

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    Finally the Swedish government with an aid of the FBI caught eight criminals. Each

    crook was sentenced up to six and a half years in prison for being involved in the theft

    of the three paintings. All of the three paintings were recovered separately and are now

    restored at the National Museum Stockholm. The Rembrandt now rests in a bulletproof

    glass case with security cameras to help ensure that it never leaves the museum again.

    8. The Collection by Stephane Breitwieser


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    Can anyone imagine a waiter being involved in as many as 200 art thefts? Everyone will

    have their doubts but then there is the French waiter Stephane Breitwieser, a man

    who is collected artifacts worth $1.4 billion from various European museums. In 2001,

    Breitwieser was caught red-handed, trying to steal a bugle in Switzerland. Caught by

    authorities, Breitwieser confesses to all his crimes. But when his mother learned of his

    arrest, she does what any good mother would do: She chops up the paintings and

    throws the artifacts into a canal.

    9. Madonna of the Yarnwinder 2003

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    A good disguise always works, apparently even for criminals. Take the crooks who stole

    the Madonna of the Yarnwinderby Leonardo Da Vinci. The two crooks entered theScotlands Drumlanrig Castle with a group of tourists, overpowered a guard, and took

    off with the famous painting. Since alarms around the art do not set off during the day,

    the thieves managed to convince the other tourists from intervening, telling them:

    Dont worry . . . were the police. This is just practice. Although the thieves were

    never caught the painting was recovered in 2007.

    10. The Scream and Madonna 2004

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    In 2004, two masked and armed men barged into the Munch Museum and threatened

    its workers at a daring daylight theft. The thieves got away with a pair of Munchs

    famous paintings, The Scream and The Madonna. The ballpark figure of both

    paintings was a 100 million Euros, combined. In May 2006, authorities arrested and

    sentenced three men who were said to have played a part in the crime. The accused

    received 4-8 years in jail, and the two paintings were recovered three months later.

    Read more:10 Notorious Art Thefts in World History | Top Weird,Odd and Cool lists - Weirdly Odd

    Prepare by :Ganesh Parajuli