Munch Masterpiece Stolen – Again

August 23, 2004

Art thieves seem to be unable to keep their hands off Edvard Munch’s iconic masterpiece, The Scream, despite the fact that it’s one of the world’s most recognizable paintings. The Scream, along with a lesser known Munch work, was stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo on Sunday.

Ten years ago thieves stole another version of the famous painting from the Oslo National Gallery. It was recovered some three months later. The latest heist values the art work at around $55 million. According to news reports the painting was uninsured.

The theft again raises questions about security. It shouldn’t have been that easy for two thieves, reportedly wearing balaclavas, to pull a gun on a security guard, and remove the painting without setting off any alarms.

Tony Russell, an art theft expert, who, as the head of the New Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Squad, played an important role in recovering the last stolen Munch, offered his services in the recovery of this one. After the special unit was disbanded, Russell became the head of the London office of Art Recovery Ltd., a private investigative agency. He also heads the London office of James Mintz & Associates, the UK arm of The Mintz Group, an international investigative services firm. The two companies, based in New York and London, combine their respective and complementary areas of expertise in identifying, investigating, and recovering stolen art and antique items on behalf of victims of theft and their insurance companies.

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