Art theft: Most Famous Cases in History

Art theft is an ancient and complicated crime. If you look at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations, art dealers, art forgers, gangsters, ransom, and to involve millions of dollars. Here you can read about some of the most famous cases of art theft in the history.

The first theft:
The first documented case of art theft was in 1473, when two panels were stolen from altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling. While the triptych was transported by ship from the Netherlands to Florence, the ship of pirates who took it to the Gdansk cathedral in Poland was attacked. Today the piece in the National Museum in Gdansk where it shown recently moved from the Basilica of the Assumption.

The most famous theft:
The most famous story of art theft involves one of the most famous paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. On the night of 21 August 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. Soon after, Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned by police, but was released quickly.

It took about two years until the mystery was solved by the Parisian police. It turned out that the 30 21 inch painting was one of the museum employees by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who simply carried it hidden under his coat made. Nevertheless, Peruggia did not work alone. The crime was carefully conducted by a notorious impostor, Eduardo de Valfierno, which was sent by an art faker determined that to make copies and sell them as if they were the original painting.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy creating copies for the famous masterpiece, Mona Lisa was still hidden in Peruggias apartment. After two years in which Peruggia not hear from Chaudron, he tried to make the best out of his stolen goods. Eventually Peruggia was caught by the police while trying to sell the painting to an art dealer in Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre in 1913.

The Biggest Theft in the USA:
The biggest art theft in United States took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990 a group of thieves broke wearing police uniforms in the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was estimated at around 300 million dollars. The thieves took two paintings and one print by Rembrandt, and works of Vermeer, Manet, Degas, Govaert Flinck, as well as a French and a Chinese artifact.

Until now, none of the paintings have been found and the case is still unsolved. According to recent rumors, the FBI are investigating the possibility that the Boston Mob along with French art dealers are connected to the crime.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream, is probably the most sought after painting by art thieves in history. It has been stolen twice and was only recently gained. Thanks for the poor security: In 1994, during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was triggered by an Oslo gallery by two thieves who broke through an open window, the alarm and left a note, stolen.

Three months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The Government turned down the offer, but the Norwegian police collaborated with the British Police and the Getty Museum, a covert operation to the painting, where it belonged returned to organize.

Ten years later, The Scream was stolen again from the Munch Museum. This time, the robbers used a gun and took another Munchs painting with them. While Museum officials waiting for the thieves request ransom money, rumors circulated that both paintings were burned to conceal evidence. Eventually, the Norwegian police discovered the two paintings on August 31, 2006 but the facts on how they were recovered are not known yet.

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