“Charing Cross Bridge, London”, Claude Monet
Source: The New York Times
Monet’s “Charing Cross Bridge” is a famous series depicting the bridge at various times of the day, from different viewpoints. In 2012, one of the pieces from the series was stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam and is valued at an undisclosed sum. Using speed as their main tactic, the group entered through the back exit of the gallery, grabbed the paintings, and fled, all within two minutes. A group of Romanian thieves was arrested a year later and one of which said the painting was burned in his Mom’s oven. However, there is not enough evidence to prove this claim and therefore the painting is still considered to be missing.
“Femme Devant Une Fenêtre Ouverte, Dite La Fiancée”, Paul Gauguin
Source: Smithsonian Mag
Also stolen in 2012 from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, this Gauguin painting is considered both unique and rare. While the painting’s value remains undisclosed, the museum has said it is worth “a considerable amount of money”. Despite this, it appears the museum may have acted negligently as the painting was not equipped with an alarm. A statement was released claiming the thieves mother destroyed the painting in her oven, however the media later retracted this.
“Portrait of a Young Man”, Raphael
Source: Daily Art Magazine
Disappearing in 1945, “Portrait of a Young Man” is considered to be the most important piece of missing art since World War II. The $100 million piece was one of many snatched by the Nazis in Poland and depicts a confident and well-dressed young man. While there is controversy surrounding the piece, it is believed that the young man is Raphael himself. In 2012, a false report was published claiming the painting has been discovered but was quickly removed.
“The Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, Rembrandt
Source: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Nearly three decades after thieves stole Rembrandt’s “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” from the Boston Museum, investigators are still on the hunt to find the missing painting. The Dutch master’s iconic seascape was stolen alongside 12 other treasures, including Vermeer’s “The Concert”. The privately funded reward was set at $5 million for years and unexpectedly doubled in May of 2017 to reignite a sense of urgency. However, the reward has since expired, and the pieces remained unrecovered.
“Poppy Flowers”, Vincent Van Gogh
Source: Artnet News
One of Van Gogh’s later works, “Poppy Flowers” was created just three years before the artist’s death. Despite being relatively small in size, the painting is estimated to hold a value of $50 million. No wonder the demand over this painting is so high as it wasn’t just stolen once, but twice! The first theft occurred in 1997 at the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo, Egypt and was recovered 10 years later. Then, in 2010 the painting was stolen again from the same location where it is believed to have been an inside job. On that day, only 7 of the 43 cameras worked in the museum and no alarm was triggered. To retrieve the painting, the thief moved a couch and cut the painting from its frame triggering zero alarms; not to mention it was broad daylight at the time and the museum only had 10 visitors that day!
Although shocking, this is just the tip of the art crime iceberg. More than 50,000 pieces of artwork are stolen each year from museums and galleries around the world. Police officers and art owners invest time and money into the recovery of art, especially as there are welfare costs from the disappearance of a stolen piece. This is because art is considered a public good, meaning one person’s enjoyment of an art piece does not diminish another’s. History has proven it is not impossible to steal artwork, however, doing so removes the opportunity for art to be shared among the masses. In an effort to make art more accessible, Arius’ has developed cutting-edge technology that allows for the re-creation of museum-quality masterpieces, while original pieces can safely remain in storage facilities. Get in touch to find out more about our Art Collector Services.