Famous Art Heists
Some of the world's most famous paintings have been stolen at one point or another. Here's the low down on some of the biggest art heists on record and the art-loving criminals who were involved!
The Scream :: Edvard Munch
Since it's valued at between $60 million and $75 million, you'd think The Scream would be harder to steal. Thieves walked into Oslo's Munch Museum on August 22, 2004 with guns blazing and walked off with this Edvard Munch masterpiece, as well as another of his paintings, Madonna. The Scream was one of four versions painted by Munch in 1893. Both paintings were recovered in 2006 and were only slightly damaged. They are expected to go back on display in the same museum they were stolen from.
Madonna with the Yarnwinder :: Leonardo da Vinci
This painting, valued at between $45 million and $50 million, was stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's home in Scotland in August of 2003. Two men joined a public tour of the house and overpowered the guide to steal the painting. The remained missing until 2007 when it was discovered in a Scottish law office. Several people were arrested including two lawyers.
Duke of Wellington :: Francisco de Goya
In 1961, a retired bus driver, Kempton Bunton, admitted going into the National Gallery London, England through an open window leaving with this painting. He was was said to be angry that the British government had paid $390,000 of tax-payer money to secure the portrait. Bunton demanded a ransom for the painting but turned himself in three weeks later. He later said he wanted to use the ransom money to buy TV licenses (that's right, you need a license to own a TV in the UK) for the poor and he served three months in jail.
Mona Lisa :: Leonardo da Vinci
In 1911, an Italian workman named Vincenzo Peruggia stole this Leonardo da Vinci's portrait, helping to make it the most famous painting in the world. Peruggia took the Mona Lisa from the wall of the Louvre while he was working there, allegedlybecause he was angry about how many Italian paintings were on display in France. The French public spent two years lining up to look at the blank spot where it once hung before the painting was finally recovered.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum :: Boston
The biggest heist in US history was the $300 million score from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It included works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Manet, all of which are still missing. The paintings were taken by two men in police uniforms who claimed to be responding to a disturbance in the grounds. When they handcuffed the security guards to railings it dawned on the museum staff that these guys weren't really cops. Woops, too bad they didn't figure that out sooner.
Whitworth Gallery :: Manchester, UK
Three paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin worth $8 million were stolen from the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, England. The thieves managed to avoid all the security cameras, alarms and security guards. A note was attached to the paintings saying that the thieves stole the paintings to point out how bad the security was. Huh? The paintings were found the next day, stuffed behind a toilet at a subway station.
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