Art Theft: The Most Interesting and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an ancient and complex criminal activity. When you take a look at the a few of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that include 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 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 stolen. While the triptych was being transported 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 revealed 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 well-known story of art theft involves among the most popular paintings worldwide 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 from the Louver. Quickly after, Pablo Picasso was detained and questioned by the police, however was launched quickly.

It turned out that the 30 × 21 inch painting was taken by one of the museum staff members by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who just brought it hidden under his coat. The crime was thoroughly conducted by a infamous 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 developing copies for the famous work of art, Mona Lisa was still hidden at Peruggias apartment or condo. Eventually, Peruggia was caught by the cops while trying to sell the painting to an art dealership from Florence, Italy.

The Biggest Theft in the U.S.A:
The biggest art theft in United States happened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, a group of burglars using police uniforms got into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose cumulative worth was approximated at around 300 million dollars. The burglars took 2 paintings and one print by Rembrandt, and works of Vermeer, Manet, Degas, Govaert Flinck, in addition to a French and a Chinese artifact.

Since yet, none of the paintings have actually been discovered and the case is still unsolved. According to recent rumors, the FBI are examining the possibility that the Boston Mob in addition to 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 thieves in history. It has actually been taken two times and was only recently recovered. In 1994, during the Winter Season Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was taken from an Oslo gallery by 2 burglars who Kurt Criter Denver broke through an open window, triggered the alarm and left a note stating: thanks for the bad security.

Three months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an offer: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government refused the deal, however the Norwegian authorities worked together with the British Police and the Getty Museum to organize a sting operation that revived the painting to where it belongs.

While Museum officials waiting for the burglars to demand ransom loan, rumors declared that both paintings were burned to conceal proof. Eventually, the Norwegian police found the 2 paintings on August 31, 2006 however the truths on how they were recovered are not known.


When you look at the some of the most famous cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly prepared operations that include art dealerships, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. The most well-known story of art theft involves one of the most famous paintings in the world and one of the most popular artists in history as a suspect. The crime was thoroughly performed by a infamous 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.

Ultimately, Peruggia was caught by the police while trying to sell the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy. The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is most likely the most looked for after painting by art thieves in history.

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