Some people just have a knack for taking things that don’t belong to them. In this case, it comes in the form of some of the world’s most expensive art.
Art thieves have a reputation of doing whatever it takes to illegally possess the world’s finest art in order to earn an undeserved profit for themselves.
There is a saying that hard work pays off, I don’t think this is exactly what they meant when they said it, but nevertheless, it definitely did take a lot of hard work in order to pull off some off the most notorious art heists.
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For today, we will be talking about the TOP 5 ART THEFTS OF ALL TIME.
#5 SCOTLAND, 2003, MADONNA WITH THE YARWINDER
Starting off at #5 is a unique story.
Scotland’s Drumlanrig Castle was once the home off Leonardo Da Vinci’s Madonna With the Yarnwinder.
But in August of 2003, two unidentified thieves were able to steal Da Vinci’s classic, and it’s not as complicated as you think.
They decided that their best course of action was to simply, blend in. They subdued a guard in the process and they were able to walk away with Madonna With The Yarnwinder.
No alarms were set off, and the thieves dissuaded the tourists from intervening by stating they were the police. And that they were going through a practice routine. The tourists believed them and let them go on their way, eventually escaping in a Volkswagen Golf.
To this day, the two thieves have never been caught and let alone identified. They were able to walk away with a prized painting that was worth $65 million.
#4 OSLO, 1994, THE SCREAM
Here at #4 we have Edward Munch’s The Scream.
One of the most famous paintings of all time, The Scream is definitely not a stranger to the common person. You can ask someone who doesn’t know much about art at all, and chances are even they know what The Scream is.
Of the four versions created by Edward Munch, one of them was located in Norway in a museum in Oslo. The Scream being a target to many thieves, four men were able to devise a plan that would secure Munch’s work of art.
It would happen on the day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The thieves broke through a window, cut the wires holding up the painting, and they left through the same window they broke in. It was done in a mere 50 seconds.
The thieves were a bit cheeky, as they even left a note at the location of the paining that said “Thousand thanks for the bad security!”.
They eventually attempted to ransom the painting to the Norwegian government, to no avail as the government did not see it as a genuine attempt.
Eventually, police found several pieces of the painting’s frame a bus stop, clues that helped authorities recover the painting within a few months.
In January 1996, the four men were convicted of the crime, one of them being Paul Enger, who had served a prior sentence for stealing “The Vampire” also made by Edward Munch.
The Scream is worth over $75 million and it’s a good thing that it was never illegally monetized as the Norwegian police were able to crack down the criminals responsible for its theft.
Maybe they should have left a note saying “Thousand thanks for leaving a sloppy trail.”
# 3 PARIS, 1911, THE MONA LISA
At #3 we have arguably the most iconic painting of all time. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been a worldwide phenomenon ever since the famous artist completed his work with the final stroke of his brush.
It’s no surprise that given the Mona Lisa’s rich history, that there have been numerous attempts to steal the famous painting. What most people don’t know is that for the longest time, The Mona Lisa was just moderately popular.
Yes, it belonged to one of the most famous artists of all time, but people didn’t exactly consider The Mona Lisa as his finest work, it only grew in popularity when the Mona Lisa was stolen, in 1911.
Vincenzo Peruggia, an employee of the Louvre, stole Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa from the storied museum in the heart of Paris.
Peruggia simply hid in a closet, took a hold of the painting once he was alone in the room, hid it under his long smock, and walked out of the Louvre after it had closed.
This theft turned the Mona Lisa into the best-known painting in the world. French authorities questioned poet Guilllaume Apollinaire, and even painter Pablo Picasso as they were apparently seen as suspects at the time.
Two years later, they found Peruggia and the Mona Lisa, when Peruggia tried to sell it to an art dealer in Florence.
One man’s crime ended up elevating the work of art’s status to immortality as we all know that it is the most famous painting of all time, with its value being over $100 million.
Only can wonder what would have happened, if there was no attempted robbery at Da Vinci’s now known masterpiece.
#2 OSLO, 2004, THE SCREAM AND THE MADONNA
After 10 years when one of Munch’s versions of The Scream was stolen during the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics, it was stolen yet again along with another one of Munch’s masterpieces called The Madonna.
Two armed thieves equipped with masks, threatened workers at the Munch Museum during a daylight robbery. They eventually left the museum with The Scream and The Madonna.
The combined value of the two paintings was at an estimated $120 million at the time, and the two robbers were looking to cash in on its enormous value.
Authorities would search all over the world for the stolen works of art, and it would take them 2 years to bring the paintings back home to the Munch Museum.
In May 2006, authorities convicted the two men responsible for stealing the paintings, and were sentenced to eight years in prison. Three months later, the paintings were recovered.
#1 BOSTON, 1990
Capping off our list at #1 is not just one, not two, not three, but several paintings that were stolen from The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
Two men dressed as police officers made their way into the museum in the wee hours of the morning. They would overpower the security guards, and even grabbed the CCTV footage from the security system, and they escaped the museum with as much worth as a pot of gold.
They had with them Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee, as well as Vermeer’s The Concert, Manet’s Chez Tortoni, along with several other works.
That day in 1990, over $300 million worth of art was stolen. Making it the biggest art theft in human history. To this very day, authorities have not yet captured the criminals responsible for the crime.
Not for a lack of trying, as they have investigated everyone from the Irish Republican Army to a local Mob Boss, and no trace of the robbery has yet to be linked.
We can only assume that to whoever stole those paintings, have made a huge profit off of it.
Which was your favorite moment? Do you know of any other notorious art thefts? Feel free to drop a comment below letting us know of your favorite part of the video, or of any notorious art theft that you feel could have made the list.
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