The museums where the most famous heists happened

Museums are the most sought after cultural places to visit when traveling abroad. They are as beautiful on the outside, due to the wonderful buildings architecture, as on the inside due to all the amazing and valuable items which are stored here. Because of this, museums are also the most sought after theft spots. We’ve taken a world tour of some great museums where some of the greatest thefts took place.

The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum is one of the most known museums world-wide and on 21st August 1911 it was the stage of one of the most famous thefts in history. Vincenzo Peruggia, who at that time was an employee at the Louvre stole the famous Mona Lisa painting and got away with it for two years before getting caught. Peruggia was an Italian patriot who thought that that Leonardo’s painting belonged in an Italian museum. It is also rumored that a friend of Peruggia, who had painted 6 copies of the Mona Lisa, was able to sell them at an significantly increased price during the confusing period of the painting’s disappearance. Fortunately, everything ended well when the painting was found, two years later, when Peruggia tried to sell the painting to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Izmir Archaeology Museum

Istanbul, Turkey was the location for another great heist which took place on 24th of July, 1969. From the Izmir Archaeology Museum there were over 5 million dollars worth of art and artifacts stolen and a night watchman was killed. Fortunately, soon afterwards, the Turkish police arrested a German citizen who had inside his car over 128 stolen items.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is another delightful museum which, unfortunately was the site of a terrible theft on September 4, 1972. It was the largest art theft in the entire Canadian History and a true tragedy considering the fact that the items stolen were never recovered. Armed thieves got hold of jewellery, figurines and 18 paintings which, in today’s numbers, would have a total value of 10.9 million dollars. Some of the artwork were made by artists such as Delacroix, Gainsborough and even Rembrandt.

Marmottan Monet Museum

On the date of October 28, 1985, the Marmottan Monet Museum was the target of several masked gunmen when they entered the museum and, with pistols aimed at the security and visitors, stole nine paintings from the collection. Among them were Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet, the famous painting which is said to have started the Impressionism movement, Camille Monet and Cousin on the Beach at TrouvillePortrait of Jean Monet, Portrait of Poly, Fisherman of Belle-Isle and Field of Tulips in Holland also by Monet, Bather Sitting on a Rock and Portrait of Monet by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Young Woman at the Ball by Berthe Morisot, and Portrait of Monet by Sei-ichi Naruse and were valued at $12 million.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, one of the most beautiful museums in the world, was also the location of one of the largest art thefts known in world history. On March 18, 1990, in the town of Boston, thieves stole 13 pieces of art, collectively known to have worth $300 million, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Due to the fact that the art works have not been found since their theft, a reward of $5,000,000 is still offered for information leading to their return. The pieces stolen are as follow: Vermeer’s The Concert, which is the most valuable stolen painting in the world, two Rembrandt paintings, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Portrait of a Lady and Gentleman in Black; A Rembrandt self-portrait etching; Manet’s Chez Tortoni; five drawings by Edgar Degas; Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk; an ancient Chinese Qu; and a finial that once stood atop a flag from Napoleon’s Army.

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum which is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands was the target of thieves on December 8th, 2002 when two men stole the famous Van Gogh Paintings: Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen. The two men who were found guilty were convicted for the theft, but the paintings were never recovered. The FBI Art Crime Team has estimated their combined value at 30 million dollars.

Munch Museum

On August 22, 2004, one of the original versions of The Scream was stolen. There are several versions of this painting, all of which have been painted by Munch and they are displayed all over the world. The version stolen in 2004 was held at the Munch Museum together with Munch’s Madonna, which was also stolen along with The Scream. Several men entered the museum during opening hours and keeping the museum staff at gunpoint stole the two paintings. Fortunately, they were recovered on August 31, 2006, relatively undamaged and three men have been convicted. It is believed that the gunmen remain still at large and, if ever caught, they could face up to eight years in prison.

Chacara do Ceu Museum

The thieves who had targeted the Museu da Chacara do Ceu in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 24, 2006, had a well thought out and unusual plan of escape. That particular date coincided with the start of the Rio Carnival which by no coincidence passed right by the museum. The thieves, after keeping the staff at gunpoint, manage to get away with several paintings such as Man of Sickly Complexion Listening to the Sound of the Sea by Salvador Dalí, The Dance by Pablo Picasso, Luxembourg Gardens by Henri Matisse, and Marine by Claude Monet. After leaving the museum, they blended in with the crowd and managed to get away unsuspectingly. To this day, the thieves have not been caught and the paintings have not been returned.

Sao Paolo Museum of Art

On December 20, 2007 the Sao Paulo Museum of Art was the target of thieves who managed to steal in under 5 minutes two of the most valuable pieces of the museum. At around five o’clock in the morning, three men got into the museum and got out with the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch by Pablo Picasso and Cândido Portinari’s O lavrador de café. The paintings were also listed on the Brazilian National Heritage List by IPHAN and remained missing until January 8, 2008. They were recovered in Ferraz de Vasconcelos by the Police of São Paulo and were returned, undamaged, to the São Paulo Museum of Art, where they have remained on display still today.