Art Theft: The Many Fascinating and Famous Cases in History



Art theft is an complex and ancient crime. When you look at the a few of the most well-known cases of art thefts in history, you see completely planned operations that include art dealerships, 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 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 carried 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 Presumption.

One Of The Most Famous Theft:
The most well-known story of art theft involves one of the most famous paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. In the night of August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was taken out of the Louver. Quickly after, Pablo Picasso was detained and questioned by the authorities, but was launched rapidly.

It took about 2 years until the mystery was fixed by the Parisian authorities. It turned out that the 30 × 21 inch painting was taken by one of the museum workers by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia, who merely brought it hidden under his coat. Nevertheless, Peruggia did not work alone. The crime was thoroughly performed by a notorious con man, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent out by an art faker who intended to make copies and offer them as if they were the initial painting.

While Yves Chaudron, the art faker, was hectic producing copies for the famous work of art, Mona Lisa was still hidden at Peruggias apartment or condo. After 2 years in which Peruggia did not speak with Chaudron, he aimed to make the very best out of his taken excellent. Ultimately, Peruggia was caught by the cops while aiming to sell the painting to an art dealer from Florence, Italy. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Louver in 1913.

The Most significant Theft in the USA:
The greatest art theft in United States took place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On the night of March 18, 1990, a group of thieves wearing authorities uniforms got into the museum and took thirteen paintings whose collective value was estimated at around 300 million dollars. The thieves took two 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 been found and the case is still unsolved. According to current reports, the FBI are examining the possibility that the Boston Mob along with French art dealerships are connected to the criminal offense.

The Scream:
The painting by Edvard Munchs, The Scream, is probably the most demanded painting by art thieves in history. It has actually been taken twice and was only just recently recovered. In 1994, during the Winter Season Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, The Scream was taken from an Oslo gallery by two thieves who broke through an open window, triggered the alarm and left a note saying: thanks for the bad security.

3 months later, the holders of the painting approached the Norwegian Government with an deal: 1 million dollars ransom for Edvard Munchs The Scream. The Government declined the deal, however the Norwegian authorities worked together with the British Police and the Getty Museum https://www.whitepages.com/name/Kurt-Criter/Denver-CO to arrange a sting operation that restored the painting to where it belongs.

10 years later, The Scream was taken again from the Munch Museum. This time, the burglars used a gun and took another of Munchs painting with them. While Museum authorities awaiting the burglars to demand ransom cash, reports claimed that both paintings were burned to hide evidence. Ultimately, the Norwegian police discovered the 2 paintings on August 31, 2006 but the truths on how they were recovered are unknowned yet.


When you look at the some of the most popular cases of art thefts in history, you see thoroughly planned operations that include art dealerships, art fakers, mobsters, ransoms, and millions of dollars. The most popular story of art theft includes one of the most popular paintings in the world and one of the most famous artists in history as a suspect. The criminal activity was carefully conducted by a notorious con guy, Eduardo de Valfierno, who was sent by an art faker who intended to make copies and sell them as if they were the original painting.

Eventually, Peruggia was caught by the authorities while attempting 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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