“I don’t want to hear who walked on water, Because the hallways are empty and the clocks tick.”
-Our Lady Peace, “Thief”
Nothing says Memorial Day like a good heist. Well, actually, there’s no relation, but I figure we should recognize everyone that has given everything for everyone. Thank you.
Now, nothing says Memorial Day like a good heist. Damn it, I did it again. Art heists are one of the most entertaining and intriguing main stage crimes a criminal can accomplish successfully. The complexity and efficiency of pulling off such an impressive act shocks the general public into almost hoping there’s no resolution and the mystery keeps its luster.
Audiences see impressive crimes in movies and what not, making the illegal seem cool, but we must remember that these acts do in fact happen in real life; somewhere, somehow, and at sometime something incredible was executed with precision.
Recently, the FBI confirmed there have been sightings of masterpieces that were stolen from Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum back in 1990 by two men disguised as police officers sporting fake mustaches, with insider information, some rope, and some box cutters (Fox, 2014). Who would have thought that such a simple plan would get you $300 million worth of art and the option to keep your freedom?
The criminal act remains unsolved, but the intrigue of such a heist triggers research on the history of stolen art and the amazing ability of criminal masterminds.
Swedish National Museum- In 2000, $30 million worth of art was stolen from the beautiful waterfront museum with a machine gun, a bomb, flat tires, and, of course, a getaway speedboat (Layton, 2014). If that isn’t a movie scene then it should be, but the real lesson is that expensive things are ruined by water so don’t use your phone to take pictures inside and outside of the gallery.
Van Gogh- The elusive criminal “The Monkey” used agility and a pair of extra hands to steal two of the famed artist’s paintings that were valued at $20 million combined. Though the criminals were captured two years later, there’s actually an outdated Dutch law that grants a thief sole ownership of a stolen piece of art if not found after 20 to 30 years (Layton, 2014). It may cost you an ear though.
Munch- When you think of Norway, you think of nothing really, but Edvard Munch would say differently (if he was alive). In 2004, two thieves stole “Madonna” and “The Scream” at gunpoint; however, the $19 million haul spent a majority of its time away from the museum in European drag racer, Thomas Nataas’, tour bus without the driver actually knowing what he was transporting around. Apparently detectives believe this was all a distraction to cover up another crime, and I think we all know who the real culprit behind the schemes is.
Monuments Men- Hitler and Herman Goering would pillage societies to confiscate their artistic culture on the way to desired world domination. The Monuments Men, a group of American specialists, were able to salvage $80 million worth of stolen art from the Nazi Regime (Layton, 2014). As portrayed in the now motion picture, George Clooney was able to seduce the Nazis with his charm and good looks, just like in real life.
Mona Lisa- The Da Vinci painting actually became famous because of the 1911 Louvre heist when Vincenzo Perugia rolled the piece in a blanket and caught a train from Paris to Italy in order to patriotically return the art to its homeland (Layton, 2014). We still can’t tell if this was appreciated by Mona Lisa because of her confusing emotional expressions (typical woman).
What a crime industry; it’s amazing the amount of money involved in these heists, but trust is an important factor as well. It seems a little too obvious to have a piece of art that everyone has heard of and is aware it has been stolen. Even if a buyer obtains the work through a million dollar purchase, questions will eventually arise about where the new owner got the artwork.
It’s a classy crime that deals with high society. It takes skill and precision, master thinking and confidence. You think of art thieves dressed in all black or a wonderful disguise, cool gadgets and fake credentials, and then relaxing on a patio overlooking the French Riviera enjoying an expensive glass of wine and a fine cigar. The breeze slightly disrupts perfectly positioned strands of hair as he sports stylish aviator sunglasses and a causal button down shirt exposing just enough skin that flirts between innocence and seduction; all while accompanied by his beautiful Mediterranean model wearing a bikini top and beach skirt. Did anyone else picture Pierce Bronson during that description for some reason?
Oh, what a life; much cooler than all the petty illegal crap that goes on here. Some criminals deserve to be arrested immediately because of their stupidity; others should be rewarded a grace period for their mastery before they are pursued.
Fox News (2014.) Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/22/confirmed-sightings-missing-boston-artwork-in-decades-old-500m-heist/?intcmp=latestnews on May 23, 2014
Layton, J. (2014). Retrieved from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/art-heist.htm#page=10 on May 23, 2014