In this 500th article of TopYaps we bring to you a list of top ten famous paintings that were stolen. There have been many reports of famous paintings being stolen. As per the FBI records, art and cultural property crime including fraud, theft, trafficking and looting is an ominous criminal venture with estimated losses running as high as $6 billion every year and this is nothing new. With extravagant art heist dating back for nearly a century, they have only got bolder. So how do they steal the famous paintings of all time? By doing it in a never before seen method, or in a historic manner or even by sheer stupidity. TopYaps have gathered them all, from the well known (thanks to newspaper headlines, films and novels) to those famous in artistic circles, check out the master robbery of the the top famous paintings that were stolen:
On 8th February, 1988 at East 8th Street in Manhattan, burglars entered inside the private gallery of the London Art dealer, Colnaghi by thumping a hole in its skylight and then sliding down a rope. They ripped off Colnaghi with ten drawing and 18 paintings, including two works by Fra Angelico and Chardin’s Rayfish with Basket of Onions. During that time, the 28 works were measured to be worth $8 to $10 million in total. Since the robbery, 14 paintings have been recovered.
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On November 1981, an audacious robber entered the Musée Faure museum in the town of Aix-les-Bains in southeastern France, removed a small picture – The Fish Market – by the eminent French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro, hid it within his coat along with an equally precious canvas by Renoir, and easily walked out with them without any suspicion. Vanished for thirty years, the painting finally surfaced in 2010 in the hands of an American collector and was finally returned to Aix-les-Bains in March this year. The whereabouts of the Renoir stolen with it still remains a mystery.
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“Everybody was on the floor, just like in a bank,” said Yves Brayer, curator of the Marmottan Museum, to the press after the theft. “This is the first time anybody has stolen paintings with arms. One security guard was still trembling like a crazy man when I arrived.” In all, the gang of gun-wielding men on October 27, 1985, stole nine paintings, including Renoir’s Bathers and Monet’s Impression Sunrise — where Impressionism gets its name. They all were worth approximately $12.5 million, if you can put a price to Monet’s influential work. In 1991, the paintings were discovered in Corsica. Authorities believe a Japanese gangster named Shuinichi Fujikuma was the master planner behind the theft.
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Produced during Picasso’s blue period in 1903, the painting made headlines in 2003 precisely after 100 years when it was stolen from the Manchester art museum. During its stay at the Whitworth Gallery it became the target of robbers, along with works by Van Gogh and Gauguin. By means of implausible covertness, the robbers managed to take away the paintings, without being trapped on camera or setting off an alarm bell. Nevertheless, next day the paintings were recovered in a public toilet near the museum on a mysterious tip. After re-establishment, they were all returned to the museum.
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Just before Christmas 2000, the burglars made an almost James Bond style burglary at the National Museum, Stockholm. Flaunting a submachine gun they crushed the only security guard and got themselves to self-portrait by Rembrandt and two other pictures, including Renoir’s ‘Young Parisian’. They made their escape by scattering nails on the floor in their attempt to prevent chasers, fleeing into a speedboat and vanishing into the night. All three paintings worth around $50 to 100million, have been recovered and eight men are now in jail for their part in the theft.
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In order to rob 20 van Gogh paintings valued approximately $10 million each, two masked men strained the guards to turn off the alarm at gunpoint. The thieves spent over an hour walking around the museum removing paintings off the wall. However, half an hour later, all the 20 paintings were discovered in a dumped getaway car, which belonged to one of the guards. Three of the canvases were poorly damaged, including Wheatfield with Crows.
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Still missing, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” is measured as one of the major art theft in the US history. It was stolen along with twelve other works including Renoir’s Conversation with a Gardner, 5 Degas and 1 Veermeer on the morning of 18th March 1990 when thieves disguised as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston, Massachusetts, USA. This is perhaps the only seascape done by the Dutch golden age painter Rembrandt van Rijn.
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From 1893 to 1910, Munch painted four versions of the little man screaming in expressionist form. One is exhibited in the National Gallery of Norway, another is owned privately while the remaining two were with the Munch Museum. However, in 2004, one among them was stolen along with another of Munch’s works. An outrageous art heist, two armed men ripped the paintings off the walls as spectators looked in dismay. The predictable value of the paintings was $19 million. Though nobody was harmed, the crime was alleged to be a detraction for other grave crimes. Ultimately, both the paintings were recovered but they both were damaged. After undergoing broad restoration, they both were then redisplayed in 2008.
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One of the world’s celebrated and the most famous paintings was actually not one of its most protected. It was stolen on August 11, 1911 from the Louvre, Paris by an ex employee, Vincenzo Peruggia after hiding in the museum overnight. Italian officials trapped Peruggia when he tried to sell the master work of art to a local dealer. The Mona Lisa was finally returned to the Louvre on January 4, 1914, and Vincenzo spent only a few months in custody since he claimed that the intent was to return the masterpiece back to its native Italy. For robbing such an eminent work of art and having it in possession for two years, this is indeed the most astounding art burglar of all time!
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