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Most Famous Art Theft

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Below is a list of the most famous and valuable thefts of Art..

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, stolen - 1911.

The Mona Lisa, valued at approximately US $713 million in 2010, was stolen August 21st 1911 from the Louvre museum in Paris. The next day, Louis Beroud, a painter, walked into the Louvre and went to where the Mona Lisa had been on display for five years. However, where the Mona Lisa should have stood, he found four iron pegs.

Louvre employee, Vincenzo Peruggia, stole the painting by entering the building during regular hours, hiding in a broom closet, then walking out with it hidden under his coat after the museum had closed. Peruggia was an Italian patriot, who believed Leonardo's painting should be returned to Italy for display in an Italian museum.

Peruggia was caught when he attempted to sell the Mona Lisa to directors of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It was exhibited all over Italy before being returned to the Louvre in 1913.


Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt,
stolen - 1990.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, and 12 other works, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston on the morning of March 18th 1990. The thieves were disguised as police officers. This is considered the largest art theft in US history, remaining unsolved.

The estimated worth of all the paintings was as high as $500 million. Included in the lot were Vermeer's The Concert; Rembrandt's A Lady and Gentleman in Black, and Self-Portrait; Govaert Flinck's Landscape with Obelisk; and Manet's Chez Tortoni.

Despite the great efforts of the local police and the FBI, A reward is still being offered today for any information leading to the return of the 13 missing paintings.

The paintings' empty frames are still displayed in their original locations in the museum.


The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt

Poppies Near Vetheuil by Monet, stolen - 2008

Poppies near Vetheuil was one of four paintings stolen from Zurich's, Emil Buehrle Collection, by an armed gang in February 2008, valued at about $160 million..

A week after the theft, Monet's Poppies near Vetheuil (1879) and Van Gogh's Chestnut in Bloom (1890) were recovered in an abandoned car parked outside a psychiatric hospital in the city.

Degas' Count Lepic and his Daughters (1871) and Cezanne's Boy in a Red Jacket (1888) have yet to be recovered.


Poppies Near Vetheuil by Monet

Maya With Doll by Pablo Picasso, stolen 2007.

Maya With Doll was one of two oil paintings by Pablo Picasso, estimated by the police to be worth $66 million, that were stolen February 28th 2007. The other painting was Portrait of Jacqueline.

The paintings were robbed in Paris from the home of Diana Widmaier-Picasso, Picasso's granddaughter, while she and her mother were asleep. Both paintings were recovered August 7th 2007.


Maya With Doll

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci, stolen - 2003.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, valued by Christie's in 2008 at £15m-£20m, was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle near Dumfries in southwest Scotland in 2003.

Two thieves, posing as visitors, overpowered a woman guide at the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle then snatched the masterpiece.

Three lawyers, and two clients of a firm of private investigators in Liverpool, are accused of conspiring to extort £4.25m from the Duke. Also, threatening to damage or destroy the painting.


The Madonna of the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci

View of the Sea at Scheveningen by Van Gogh, stolen 2002.

View of the Sea at Scheveningen was one of two paintings by Van Gogh, valued at 30 million dollars, that were robbed from the Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, December 7th 2002. The other painting was Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen.

Thieves used a ladder to enter through a high window, taking just a few minutes to steal the two pictures from the main exhibition hall. Two robbers were captured soon after, but the paintings still haven't been recovered.


View of the Sea at Scheveningen by Van Gogh

The Scream by Edward Munch, stolen 2004.

The Scream was one of two paintings by the Norwegian artist Edward Munch, stolen in 2004 from the Oslo Munch Museum by two men in masks, valued at over 30 million dollars. The other painting was Madonna.

The thiefs entered the museum through the cafe. While one threatened visitors and museum personnel with a pistol, the other ripped the paintings from the walls.

Both men escaped in a black Audi driven by an accomplice. Both masterpieces were recovered in 2006. They had been damaged, but after restoration, the pictures went back on display at the Oslo Museum May 21st 2008.


The Scream by Edward Munch

The Flagellation of Christ by Piero della Francesco, stolen - February 1975.

Two paintings by Piero della Francesco, "The Flagellation of Christ" and "The Madonna of Senigallia" and a Raphael, "The Mute," were cut from their frames and stolen from the Ducal Palace, Urbino / Italy. This was described as "the art crime of the century."

The crime was wholly driven by profit. It was committed by local criminals who planned to sell the work on the international market.

The paintings were recovered undamaged in Locarno, Switzerland, in March 1976.

The Flagellation of Christ can be viewed at the National Gallery of the Marche, housed in the Ducal Palace, a Renaissance building in the Italian city of Urbino, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated about 40 miles south of Rimini on the east coast of Italy.


The Flagellation of Christ

The Duke of Wellington by Goya, stolen - 1965.

In 1961, the oil-rich American collector, Charles Wrightsman,, bought Goya's "Portrait of the Duke of Wellington" for $392,000, planning to take it to the United States. There was such a public outrage, the British government raised the necessary matching sum.

Less than three weeks after its triumphal hanging in the National Gallery, it was stolen. The thief demanded a ransom of the same amount, stating he was going to devote the money to charity.

In 1965, the thief sent a claim ticket to London's Daily Mirror, leading to the painting being picked up by police in a railway baggage office. The thief, an unemployed bus driver named Kempton Bunton, gave himself up six weeks later. He had planned to use the money to buy TV licenses for the poor. Bunton served three months in jail for his offense.

The painting can be viewed at the The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London.


The Duke of Wellington by Goya

Impression Sunrise by Claude Monet, stolen - 1985.

Monet’s “Impression Sunrise", was the most famous of nine paintings stolen in 1985 from the Paris Marmottan Museum in October 1985.

Several paintings stolen from a provincial French museum in early 1984 were recovered in Japan after a tip-off from a fence. This gave police a lead to investigate art theft syndicates with connections in Japan.

The police arrested seven people after the paintings were traced to an apartment in the town of Porto-Vecchio / southern Corsica in 1990. The police declined to say whether the paintings had actually been taken to Japan, or how they arrived in Corsica.

The paintings were stolen by Philippe Jamin and Youssef Khimoun. Since 1991, they have been back on display in the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris.


Impression Sunrise by Claude Monet

List of the most expensive paintings.

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