The most high-profile crimes in art
Theft of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
On August 21, 1911, the painting was stolen by an employee of the Louvre, the Italian master of mirrors Vincenzo Perugia.
A year earlier, the director of the Louvre, Theofil Omol (who had resigned shortly after the theft), stated that the assassination of Mona Lisa was just as likely as an attempt to steal the bells of Notre Dame.
The purpose of this abduction is not clear. Perhaps Perugia wanted to return the “Mona Lisa” to its historical homeland, believing that the French “kidnapped” it and forgetting that Leonardo himself brought the painting to France.
Searches undertaken by the police did not bring any results. The borders of the country were closed, the museum administration was dismissed. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested on suspicion of committing a crime and later released. Pablo Picasso was also under suspicion.
The painting was found only two years later in Italy – and the thief himself was the fault, who responded to an advertisement in a newspaper and offered to sell the Mona Lisa to the director of the Uffizi gallery. It is assumed that he was going to make copies and pass them off as the original. Perugia, on the one hand, was praised for Italian patriotism, on the other, they gave him a short term in prison.
Pictures of Leonardo da Vinci
Portrait of Jacob de Hein III. Rembrandt van Rijn
Theft of Rembrandt’s painting “Portrait of Jacob de Hein III”.
This picture is one of the artist’s smallest works, with which numerous attempts of her theft are connected. The portrait is nicknamed Takeaway Rembrandt, since it has been stolen 4 times since 1966 – a record for painting.
Discovered on a bench in a cemetery in Stratham, England.
Found on the trunk of a bicycle.
from August 14 to September 3, 1981. Returned when the police detained a taxi with 4 men who had it with them.
1983 – a thief descended from the ceiling, breaking a glass roof. Returned three years later, in the locker room of the British Army’s garrison railway station in Munster, Germany.
Each time, the picture returned anonymously and no one was accused or convicted of its disappearance.
Christmas with St. Francis and St. Lawrence
Theft of Caravaggio’s painting “Christmas with Saints Francis and Lorenzo”.
In October 1969, two thieves entered the altar of the Church of St. Lorenzo in Palermo and carved the picture “Christmas” from the frame. Experts estimated the masterpiece at $ 20 million.
In 2003, the canvas was discovered.
As it turned out, for 33 years the painting adorned the villa of the leader of the Sicilian mafia Jerlando Alberti. One of the arrested mafiosi admitted during interrogation that for many years “Christmas” adorned the villa of the leader “goat nostra”.
Girl and maid with a letter 1667 Jan Vermeer
Theft of paintings from the estate of Russborough House near Dublin in Ireland.
The owner of the estate, the baronet Sir Alfred Beit, one of the owners of the De Beers diamond company, owns one of the world’s best private collections of old masters’ paintings.
The first theft was in April 1974. An armed gang of the Irish Republican Army of five broke into Beit’s house. The gang was led by Bridget Rose Dugdale, daughter of the director of Lloyd Insurance Company and a friend of the Beit family. The raiders tied up the Beit couple and all the servants, and then put 19 paintings in the truck, including the most valuable – “The Lady and the Handmaid, writing a letter” by Wermer. A few months later, Dugdale was taken along with paintings in an abandoned cottage. Upon arrest, she put up armed resistance and received nine years in prison. After imprisonment she changed her name and now works as a teacher.
The second theft – May 1986. At two in the morning the alarm went off. The watchman called the police, the building was bypassed from all sides, but did not notice anything. Only the next morning they discovered the loss of 18 paintings: including Vermeer, Goya, two Rubens and Gainsborough. The robbery was committed by a gang of Martin Cahill, nicknamed the General. Criminals deliberately triggered an alarm. Then they watched as the police searched the building and climbed into the house in the short period of time between the end of the search and the new activation of the alarm. The police soon found 7 paintings with an abandoned car, the remaining 11 went into the “looking glass” of the underworld and were found many years later.
The third theft is June 2001. At 12.40 in the morning, the jeep rammed the main entrance to Rassborough. Three robbers in black masks burst into the house. There they stole a painting by Bellotto and for the third time “Portrait of Madame Bachelli” by Gainsborough. The whole operation took three minutes. A year later, the paintings were found in Dublin. The fourth theft is September 2002. At 5 in the morning a siren howled. Criminals knocked out a window from the rear facade of the house. 5 paintings were stolen, including Rubens’ Dominican Monk. The plan worked thanks to incredible efficiency: changing cars several times, the criminals broke away from the ripened police. Three months later, detectives seized all the paintings from resellers in Dublin. With General’s light hand, the robbery of Russborough became a kind of initiation ceremony for each new leader of the Irish mafia.