When it comes to stolen art, there have been many famous capers. Even the legendary Mona Lisa was stolen and it took authorities over two years to track down and recover. However, there have been other priceless works that have been stolen and whose whereabouts shockingly still remain unknown.
Perhaps the most famous unsolved art theft is the 1990 raid on the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston. The thieves made off with over $300 million in art. They took thirteen pieces in all including a Vermeer, five Degas’ and three Rembrandt’s. The thieves made their way inside disguised as cops and then proceeded to vanish without a trace.
Coming in at an estimated cool $45 million, is the 2006 Rio de Janeiro heist at the Museu da Chacara do Ceu. Well-armed bandits escaped undetected with four masterpieces including Salvador Dali’s The Two Balconies, Picasso’s The Dance, Henri Matisse’s Luxembourg Gardens, and Monet’s classic Marine.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was hit late in 2002 and the robbers got away with two of Van Gogh’s greatest creation: Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen. The paintings were produced between 1853 and 1890 and are valued at $30 million. The thieves were brazen as they entered the museum from the roof.
In Palermo, Sicily in 1969, Caravaggio’s Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco was sliced from its frame as it hung on display and has an estimated value of at least $20 million. Rumor has it that it was perpetrated by the Sicilian Mafia and that the painting has actually been damaged. The painting has never surfaced since being stolen in 1969.
Just one month before the death of world-renowned violinist Erica Morini, her Stradivarius violin was allegedly stolen from her apartment. The violin is worth at least $3 million and was created by the mythical violin maker in 1727.
One final daring and bold robbery occurred at a residence in Houston in 2011. An intruder broke into a home and demanded jewels and cash while brandishing a semi-automatic handgun in the face of the female owner. It was then that the thief noticed the painting Madeline Leaning on Her Elbow with Flowers in Her Hair by Renoir. The painting is valued at over a million dollars and has yet to be recovered.
All in all, it is a tragic shame that any works of art, world-famous or not, would be stolen or mistreated in any way. We can only hope that some, or all, will one day resurface and once again hang in their designated home.
Source: Economic Times