Art Theft: The Most Intriguing and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an ancient and complicated criminal activity. When you take a look at the a few of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly prepared operations that involve art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and countless dollars. Here you can check out some of the most popular cases of art theft in the history.

The First Theft:
The first documented case of art theft remained in 1473, when 2 panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were taken. While the triptych was being carried by ship from the Netherlands to Florence, the ship was attacked by pirates who took it to the Gdansk cathedral in Poland. Nowadays, the piece is shown at the National Museum in Gdansk where it was just recently moved from the Basilica of the Presumption.

One Of The Most Famous Theft:
The most famous story of art theft involves among the most popular paintings worldwide and among the most well-known artists in history as a suspect. In the night of August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen out of the Louver. Right after, Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned by the police, but was released rapidly.

It turned out that the 30 × 21 inch painting was taken by one of the museum staff members by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who simply carried it concealed under his coat. The criminal activity was carefully performed by a notorious con guy, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent out by an art faker who meant to make copies and sell them as if they were the initial painting.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was hectic producing copies for the famous work of art, Mona Lisa was still hidden at Peruggias home. Eventually, Peruggia was caught by the police while trying to offer the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy.

The Greatest Theft in the USA:
The greatest art theft in United States took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, a group of burglars using police uniforms broke into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was estimated at around 300 million dollars. The burglars took 2 paintings and one print by Rembrandt, and works of Vermeer, Manet, Degas, Govaert Flinck, along with a French and a Chinese artifact.

As of yet, none of the paintings have actually been discovered and the case is still unsolved. According to current reports, the FBI are examining the possibility that the Boston Mob along with French art dealers are connected to the criminal activity.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most searched for painting by art thieves in history. It has been taken twice and was only just recently recuperated. In 1994, throughout the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was stolen from an Oslo gallery by two thieves who broke through an open window, set off the alarm and left a note stating: thanks for the bad security.

Three months later on, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Federal government with an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government declined the offer, however the Norwegian authorities worked together with the British Authorities and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that brought back the painting to where it belongs.

While Museum officials waiting for the burglars to request ransom loan, rumors declared that both paintings were burned to conceal proof. Ultimately, the Norwegian authorities discovered the two paintings on August 31, 2006 however the truths on how they were recovered are not understood.


When you look at the some of the most popular cases of art thefts in history, you see completely planned operations that involve art dealerships, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. The most famous story of art theft involves one of the most popular paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. The crime was thoroughly carried out by a well-known con male, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent by an art faker who intended to make copies and offer them as if they were the original painting.

Ultimately, Peruggia was caught by the police while attempting to sell https://www.quora.com/profile/Kurt-Criter the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy. The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most sought after painting by art burglars in history.

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