Art Theft: Most Famous Cases in History


 Art Theft: Most Famous Cases in History

Theft has been around since the beginning of time. The lawless, chaotic and chaotic times were supposedly filled with thieves, robbers and bandits. However, collecting art became an international phenomenon in the 19th century after many influential artists created a boom across Europe and America. The art that would be collected for centuries would be valued at billions of dollars today!

Some of these cases are the aforementioned Monet painting that disappeared from its frame which is suspected to have been stolen by a Japanese soldier during World War II or an infamous robbery of Rembrandt's first self-portrait. In the 1800s, a white slave owner wanted to recreate the masterpiece but didn't have enough money to buy it.

Money was sent from many places including Belgium and Germany, leading many experts to believe that Rembrandt was Monet's first and possibly his most famous victim. In the end, it is believed that Rembrandt took a vow of poverty when he painted this masterpiece as he was not able to pay for it and neither could his patron. While this is not confirmed, it is still a strong possibility.

Another famous art theft was the theft of the Ghent altarpiece or "Ghent Altarpiece" by Michelangelo, a painting depicting scenes from the New Testament. It is made up of twelve separate panels which would be assembled to form an altarpiece when needed. It was stolen on Christmas Eve in 1876 and another piece, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, was vandalized as well. It has never been recovered but some people believe that it may have been destroyed. Also stolen during this time was Vermeer's The Guitar Player which would be worth $200 million today.

In 2008, three paintings were stolen for $750 each. This could be done through the internet since this type of theft happened in the past. The paintings were Michaelangelo's The Madonna of the Pinks, Caravaggio's Death of the Virgin and Rubens' Supper at Emmaus. These three paintings are valued at $7 million combined today.

Another famous painting that was stolen in 2008 was a famous work by Rembrandt titled "Portrait of a Mannequin with Two Baskets" or "Young Man with a Basket of Fruit". It is part of his "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp". It was taken a few days after the robbery in March 2008. Its estimated value is around $100 million. In 2014, a painting of a woman believed to be worth $200 million was stolen from the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. This mystery artwork is known as "Staring at the Sea". The painting was authenticated by experts and a ransom note was found with it.


Art Theft: Most Famous Cases in History  by Marcia A. Haller & Edward H. Knapp. Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. ASIN: B000TUH546.

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Conclusion: This is an interesting book that I came across via Twitter, @ArtBlogger. The title was very intriguing and it peaked my interest. It is a non-fiction book about famous art thefts and when I started reading, I found it to be very interesting. There are some art theft cases featured in this book that are obscure and unknown to many people so it makes them more memorable.

My favorite part of this book, as you can probably tell from the summary above, was the last chapter "Art Theft: Most Famous Cases in History". It included all the art thefts from the past which are quite interesting actually; especially because 90% of the people whose paintings were stolen were not famous at all.

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