A Look at Some Major Art Thefts in Recent Years

March 22, 2013

A look at some of the biggest art thefts in recent times:

_October 2012: Thieves broke into the Kunsthal art gallery in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and stole seven works by artists, including Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Matisse, potentially worth hundreds of millions of euros if sold legally.

_May 2010: A lone thief stole five paintings estimated to be worth $123 million, including works by Picasso and Matisse, in a brazen overnight heist at a Paris modern art museum.

_February 2008: Armed robbers stole four paintings by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet worth $163.2 million from the E.G. Buehrle Collection, a private museum in Zurich, Switzerland. The paintings were recovered.

_December 2007: A painting by Pablo Picasso valued at about $50 million and a work by Brazilian artist Candido Portinari valued at $5 million to $6 million were stolen from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in Brazil, by three burglars using a crowbar and a car jack. The paintings were later found.

_February 2007: Two Picasso paintings, worth nearly $66 million, and a drawing were stolen from the Paris, France, home of the artist’s granddaughter in an overnight robbery. Police later recovered the art when the thieves tried to sell it.

_February 2006: Around 300 museum-grade artifacts worth an estimated $142 million, including paintings, clocks and silver, were stolen from a 17th century manor house at Ramsbury in southern England, the largest property theft in British history, according to reports.

_February 2006: Four works of art and other objects, including paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Monet and Salvador Dali, were stolen from the Museu Chacara do Ceu, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by four armed men during a Carnival parade. Local media estimated the paintings’ worth at around $50 million.

_August 2004: Two paintings by Edvard Munch, “The Scream” and “Madonna,” insured for $141 million, were stolen from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, by three men in a daylight raid. The paintings were recovered nearly two years later.

_August 2003: A $65 million Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in southern Scotland after two men joined a public tour and overpowered a guide. It was recovered four years later.

_May 2003: A 16th century gold-plated “Saliera,” or salt cellar, by Florentine master Benvenuto Cellini, valued at $69.3 million, was stolen from Vienna’s Art History Museum by a single thief when guards discounted a burglar alarm. The figurine was later recovered.

_December 2002: Two thieves broke in through the roof of the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and stole two paintings by van Gogh valued at $30 million. Dutch police convicted two men in December 2003, but did not recover the paintings.

_December 2000: Hooded thieves stole a self-portrait by Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings worth an estimated $36 million from Stockholm’s waterfront National Museum, using a motorboat in their escape. All paintings were recovered.

_October 1994: Seven Picasso paintings worth an estimated $44 million were stolen from a gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. They were recovered in 2000.

_April 1991: Two masked armed men took 20 paintings – worth at least $10 million each at the time – from Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum. The paintings were found in the getaway car less than an hour later.

_March 1990: In the biggest art theft in U.S. history, $300 million in art, including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Manet, was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Mass., by two men in police uniforms.

_December 1988: Thieves stole three paintings by van Gogh, with an estimated value of $72 million to $90 million, from the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in a remote section of the Netherlands. Police later recovered all three paintings.

_May 1986: A Vermeer painting, “Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid,” is among 18 paintings worth $40 million stolen from Russborough House in Blessington, Ireland. Some of the paintings were later recovered.

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