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Mona Lisa wasn’t always as popular as she is today, Edward Munch’s The Scream made a trip to a bus station in 1994, and Picasso was questioned in the disappearance of a major work of art. Here is a list of the 5 greatest art heists in history.
1. The Stockholm Museum, Sweden, 2000
In December of 2000, armed burglars got away with $30 million worth of art by Renoir and Rembrandt from the Stockholm, distracting police by staging two car explosions nearby. The fled in a small boat with the two Renoirs and a self-portrait by Rembrandt. The works were recovered and eight criminals each got up to six and half years behind bars.
2. The Louvre, Paris, August 1911
Probably one of the most notorious art thefts to date, Vincenzo Peruggia, an employee of the Louvre, stole Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” from the Louvre. His super secretive plan was to hide in a closet and grab the painting when he was alone in the room. He then hid it under his long smock and walked right out with the painting after the museum had closed. Because of this theft, the somewhat known “Mona Lisa” became one of the best-known paintings in the world.
The police went as far to question Pablo Picasso about the crime, but Peruggia was later found trying to sell the painting to an art dealer in Florence.
3. The Kunstahl Museum, The Netherlands, 2012
Speaking of Picasso, seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and Gaugin in under three minutes from the Kunhstahl Museum in Rotterdam on October 16, 2012.The Romanian gang members responsible for the theft had stolen more than $24 million in works despite tripping the small museum’s alarm system.
Recently, the mother of one of the alleged thieves, Olga Dogaru, claimed to at first buried the paintings and then burned them, maybe to protect her son from prosecution. However, the two ’s thieves have been sentenced to 6-8 years in prison.
4. Oslo, February, 1994
“The Scream” was thieved from Oslo’s National Art Museum in less than one minute as the crooks entered through a window, cut the pictures wires, and scooted out the same window. They tried to hold Munch’s painting for ransom from the Norwegian government but managed to leave a piece of the frame at none other than a bus stop, providing a clue that helped to recover the painting.
5. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico, 1985
In the largest heist of pre-Columbian objects, thieves got away with 140 precious works of art. They took advantage of the Christmas Eve holiday, knowing the guards would be distracted by beer, and grabbed various gold, jade, and turquoise objects, not to mention an obsidian monkey-shaped vase valued at over $20 million. Since most of the objects were small, it was easy for the robbers to transport them and that much harder to track down. The items were recovered in 1989.