10 of the Most Famous Art Heists in History

Leah Bourne
10 of the Most Famous Art Heists in History
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Capping off one of the most bizarre art thefts in history, the former head of Moncler’s international media relations was arrested for stealing a $150,000 Salvador Dali painting from an Upper East Side art gallery last year. Phivos Lampros Istavrioglou, the accused, admitted to the theft claiming that he did it to show a lapse in the gallery’s security. He returned the painting a week after stealing it via mail.
Stealing expensive art is nothing new. From Picassos to Monets, thieves have long had an eye towards the art world. Here, some of the most expensive and famous art heists in history.

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Paris' Marmottan Museum, 1985

In 1985 thieves stole nine paintings including Renoir's "Bathers" and Monet's "impressionism, Soleil Levant" from the Marmottan Museum. The rumor at the time was the crime was perpetrated by the Japanese mob, but the paintings were recovered in 1991 in Corsica.

Zurich's Buehrle Musuem, 2008

Armed robbers stole over $160 million in art from  Zurich's Buehrle Museum in 2008 including Claude Monet's "Poppy Field At Vetheuil," Edgar Degas' "Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter," Vincent van Gogh's "Blooming Chestnut Branches," and Paul Cezanne's "Boy in the Red Waistcoat."

Oslo's Much Museum, 2004

Edvard Much's "The Scream" and "Madonna" were stolen from the Munch Museum in 2004 in broad daylight. They were recovered two years later.

Holland's Kroller-Muller Museum, 1988

Three of Van Goghs most prized works including "Dried Sunflowers" were stolen from the Kroller-Muller Museum in 1988. The thieves asked for ransom for the works of art, but the police eventually retrieved the works in 1989 without paying. 

Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 1990

Two men in police uniforms pulled off one of the greatest art heists of all time robbing the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of an estimated $300 million in art including the "The Concert" by Vermeer. None of the works were ever recovered.

Paris' Museum of Modern Art, 2010

A thief entered through a window in the middle of the night and stole roughly $120 million in art including Henri Matisse's Pastoral.

Sao Paulo Museum of Art, 2007

Three thieves armed with nothing more than a crow bar and a car jack stole Picasso's "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch," and Portinari's "O Lavrador de Cafe." Police eventually found the paintings, which were then escorted back to the museum by 100 police officers.

Paris' The Louvre, 1911

In 1911, one of the most famous paintings in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre. The Louvre was closed for an entire week to aid the investigation and when it was reopened, a line of people had come to solemnly stare at the empty space on the wall, where the "Mona Lisa" had once hung. An anonymous visitor left a bouquet of flowers. The painting was recovered two years later in Italy.

New York's Colnaghi, 1988

The break-in happened at the Manhattan branch of London dealer Colnaghi in the East Village. The robbers, very much like in the movies, entered the gallery through a skylight via rope. The robbers walked away with 18 paintings and 10 drawings including "Rayfish With Basket of Onions" by Chardin. At the time the loot was estimated to be worth between $6 million to $10 million and only 14 of the works have been recovered to date.

National Museum of Stockholm, 2000

Rembrandt’s 1632 oil painting, "Jacob de Gheyn III" has been stolen four times and each time it has pop up anonymously. This “takeaway Rembrandt” has been found under a graveyard bench, in a bicycle basket and in a luggage rack of a train station. The last time it was stolen was from the National Museum of Stockholm in 2000.

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