Art Theft: The Most Interesting and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an ancient and complicated crime. When you look at the a few of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly prepared operations that include art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and countless dollars. Here you can read about some of the most famous cases of art theft in the history.

The First Theft:
The very first documented case of art theft remained in 1473, when two panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were stolen. While the triptych was being transported 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 recently moved from the Basilica of the Presumption.

One Of The Most Famous Theft:
The most famous story of art theft includes one of the most well-known paintings in the world and one of 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 apprehended and questioned by the cops, but was released quickly.

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

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy creating copies for the well-known work of art, Mona Lisa was still concealed at Peruggias apartment. Eventually, Peruggia was captured by the police while trying to offer the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy.

The Biggest Theft in the USA:
The most significant art theft in United States happened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, a group of burglars using authorities uniforms got into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective 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, along with a French and a Chinese artifact.

Since yet, none of the paintings have been discovered and the case is still unsolved. Inning accordance with recent reports, the FBI are examining 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 most likely the most searched for painting by art burglars in history. It has been stolen two times and was just recently recuperated. In 1994, throughout the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was stolen from an Oslo gallery by 2 thieves who broke through an open window, triggered the alarm and left a note stating: thanks for the poor security.

Three months later on, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Federal government with https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/kurt-criter an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Federal government denied the offer, however the Norwegian police teamed up with the British Police and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that restored the painting to where it belongs.

While Museum officials waiting for the thieves to demand ransom money, rumors claimed that both paintings were burned to conceal evidence. Eventually, the Norwegian cops found the 2 paintings on August 31, 2006 however the facts on how they were recovered are not known.


When you look at the some of the most popular cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that involve 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 well-known artists in history as a suspect. The criminal activity was thoroughly conducted by a notorious con male, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent out by an art faker who intended to make copies and offer them as if they were the original painting.

Ultimately, Peruggia was captured by the police while attempting to sell the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy. The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is most likely the most sought after painting by art thieves in history.

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