Art Theft: The Most Interesting and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an ancient and complicated criminal offense. When you look at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see completely prepared operations that involve art dealerships, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and countless dollars. Here you can check out a few of the most well-known cases of art theft in the history.

The First Theft:
The very first documented case of art theft was in 1473, when two panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were taken. While the triptych was being transferred by ship from the Netherlands to Florence, the ship was assaulted 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 Assumption.

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

It took about 2 years until the secret was fixed by the Parisian police. It turned out that the 30 × 21 inch painting was taken by among the museum workers by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who simply brought it hidden under his coat. Peruggia did not work alone. The criminal offense was carefully performed by a well-known con guy, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent by an art faker who meant to make copies and offer them as if they were the initial painting.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy creating copies for the famous work of art, Mona Lisa was still hidden at Peruggias apartment. After 2 years in which Peruggia did not speak with Chaudron, he aimed to make the finest out of his stolen excellent. Eventually, Peruggia was captured by the authorities while aiming to offer the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louver in 1913.

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

Since yet, none of the paintings have actually been found and the case is still unsolved. According to current reports, the FBI are investigating the possibility that the Boston Mob together with French art dealerships are linked to the crime.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most demanded painting by Kurt Criter art burglars in history. It has actually been taken two times and was just recently recovered. In 1994, throughout the Winter Season Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was taken from an Oslo gallery by 2 thieves who broke through an open window, set off the alarm and left a note stating: thanks for the poor security.

Three months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Federal government with an deal: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government turned down the offer, however the Norwegian cops collaborated with the British Authorities and the Getty Museum to arrange a sting operation that restored the painting to where it belongs.

10 years later on, The Scream was taken once again from the Munch Museum. This time, the burglars utilized a weapon and took another of Munchs painting with them. While Museum authorities waiting for the thieves to request ransom cash, rumors claimed that both paintings were burned to conceal proof. Eventually, the Norwegian police 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 prepared operations that include art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. The most well-known story of art theft includes one of the most famous paintings in the world and one of the most popular artists in history as a suspect. The criminal activity was carefully performed by a notorious con guy, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent by an art faker who planned to make copies and sell them as if they were the initial painting.

Eventually, Peruggia was captured by the police while trying to offer the painting to an art dealership 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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