Art Theft: The Most Fascinating and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an complex and ancient crime. When you take a look at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that involve art dealers, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. Here you can read about some of the most popular cases of art theft in the history.

The First Theft:
The very first documented case of art theft was in 1473, when 2 panels of altarpiece of the Last Judgment by the Dutch painter Hans Memling were taken. 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 well-known story of art theft involves among the most popular paintings worldwide and one of the most popular artists in history as a suspect. In the night of August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen out of the Louver. Quickly after, Pablo Picasso was arrested and questioned by the authorities, however was launched rapidly.

It turned out that the 30 × 21 inch painting was taken by one of the museum employees by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who merely carried it hidden under his coat. The crime was thoroughly conducted by a infamous con man, 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.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was busy developing copies for the popular masterpiece, Mona Lisa was still concealed at Peruggias house. After two years in which Peruggia did not speak with Chaudron, he aimed to make the very best from his stolen good. Ultimately, Peruggia was caught by the cops while aiming to offer the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was gone back to the Louver in 1913.

The Biggest Theft in the U.S.A:
The greatest art theft in United States happened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of Kurt Criter March 18, 1990, a group of burglars using police uniforms burglarized the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was approximated 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 discovered and the case is still unsolved. Inning accordance with recent rumors, the FBI are investigating the possibility that the Boston Mob together with French art dealers are connected to the criminal activity.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is most likely the most looked for after painting by art burglars in history. It has been stolen twice and was just just recently recovered. In 1994, during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was taken from an Oslo gallery by two burglars who broke through an open window, set off the alarm and left a note stating: thanks for the poor security.

Three months later on, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government turned down the offer, but the Norwegian police worked together with the British Authorities and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that restored the painting to where it belongs.

Ten years later on, The Scream was taken again from the Munch Museum. This time, the burglars used a weapon and took another of Munchs painting with them. While Museum officials awaiting the thieves to demand ransom money, rumors declared that both paintings were burned to conceal proof. Eventually, the Norwegian cops discovered the two paintings on August 31, 2006 but the truths on how they were recovered are not known yet.


When you look at the some of the most popular cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly prepared operations that involve art dealerships, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. The most famous 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 conducted by a well-known con man, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent out by an art faker who intended to make copies and sell them as if they were the initial painting.

Eventually, Peruggia was captured by the cops while trying to offer the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy. The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is most likely the most looked for after painting by art burglars in history.

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