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A new Netflix documentary explores the world’s biggest art heist — here are 11 times famous artwork was stolen and recovered

Summary List PlacementFOLLOW US: INSIDER is on Facebook Netflix's new docuseries "This Is A Robbery" investigates the world's biggest art heist in which $500 million worth of art was stolen from a Boston museum. In 1990, two men posing as police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and left with...

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Netflix’s new docuseries “This Is A Robbery” investigates the world’s biggest art heist in which $500 million worth of art was stolen from a Boston museum.

In 1990, two men posing as police officers entered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and left with 13 paintings worth a total of $500 million.

The museum continues to offer a $10 million reward for information that can lead to the missing art, but it has still never been found. 

Over four episodes, Netflix’s limited documentary series “This Is A Robbery” explores the history of the case, the ongoing investigation and possible suspects.

While the missing art has not been recovered so far, investigators in other major cases have had more luck.

Dutch art detective Arthur Brand has recovered so many pieces that he’s known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world.”

Most recently, The New York Times reported in 2019 that Brand recovered “Portrait of Dora Maar,” a 1938 painting by Pablo Picasso, that was stolen off a yacht in 1999. Brand told the Times he received a tip from “two persons with good contacts in the underworld” who dropped it off at his house wrapped in garbage bags.

Brand recovered a 1,600-year-old mosaic from the Byzantine era that had been missing for over 40 years in 2018.

Stolen from the church of Panaya Kanakaria in 1974, Brand found the mosaic in Monaco at a British family’s apartment. They had bought the piece without knowing it was stolen, according to CNN.

In 2015, he helped Berlin police track down bronze horse sculptures by Josef Thorak that were commissioned by Nazis.

The sculptures were made for the courtyard of Hitler’s chancellery and had been missing for years. According to the New York Times, Brand invented a Texas millionaire interested in acquiring them and wore a camera disguised as a button to meet a middleman.

The sculptures were found to be in the possession of a businessman named Rainer Wolf, who released a statement saying, “The art objects were lawfully acquired more than 25 years ago from the Russian Army and the earlier producers.”

He also recovered two Spanish Visigoth carvings that were stolen in 2004.

The carvings, weighing 110 pounds each and dating back to the 7th century, were stolen from the Maria de Lara Church in Spain in 2004. Brand traced them to a British family’s garden and turned them in to the Spanish embassy in 2019.

Five paintings stolen from the Isaac Levitan House Museum in Russia in 2014 were found nearly three years later.

Five paintings by 19th-century landscape painter Isaac Levitan worth about $2 million were stolen from his namesake museum in 2014 when thieves broke in through a window. They were found in December 2016 during raids of the suspected thieves’ homes.

Police in Turkey recovered “Woman Dressing Her Hair” by Pablo Picasso in 2016 after it was stolen from a collector in New York.

Undercover Turkish police haggled with suspects about the price of the 1940 Picasso painting, meeting them at a hotel and in a yacht before making arrests at a cafe, The Guardian reported.

Rembrandt’s “Child with a Soap Bubble” was stolen from a museum in 1999 and was missing for 15 years before it was found.

Rembrandt’s “Child with a Soap Bubble,” worth $2.7 million, was stolen from the Musee Municipal D’art Et D’histoire in Draguignan, France, in 1999 during Bastille Day celebrations, according to the BBC. It was found in Nice 15 years later and two men were arrested in connection with the theft.

“The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen in 2003 and found in 2007.

The painting was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland, home of the Duke of Buccleuch, in 2003. According to The Guardian, the thieves took the painting through a window and told onlookers, “Don’t worry love, we’re the police. This is just practice.” Police found it four years later in an office in Glasgow.

Elizabeth Gibson stumbled upon a $1 million stolen painting by Rufino Tamayo on the street in New York City.

Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo’s “Tres Personajes” (Three Persons) was stolen in 1987 from a warehouse in Houston, Texas. It belonged to a couple who were in the midst of moving, according to The New York Times.

Gibson found the painting in a pile of garbage bags on a New York City street in 2003. After years of asking friends about it and doing her own research, she contacted broker of fine arts Sotheby’s, which confirmed that she had found the long-lost painting.

The Mona Lisa’s theft from the Louvre in 1911 helped make it one of the most recognizable paintings in the world.

Media coverage of the stolen painting made the Mona Lisa famous, CNN reported. 

“There was nothing that really distinguished it per se, other than it was a very good work by a very famous artist — that’s until it was stolen,” Noah Charney, professor of art history and author of “The Thefts of the Mona Lisa,” told CNN in 2013. “The theft is what really skyrocketed its appeal and made it a household name.”

It was stolen by a handyman who was making glass cases for artwork at the Louvre. He hid in a closet until nightfall so he could slip out with the painting.

It was recovered in 1913 when the thief contacted an art dealer and a gallery about the painting, saying he wanted to return it to Italy. He was arrested and sentenced to seven months in jail, CNN reported.

Two Edvard Munch paintings were stolen at gunpoint from the Munch Museum in Norway in 2004 and found two years later.

“The Scream” and “Madonna” by Edvard Munch were stolen in 2004 when two armed thieves took the paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo while it was full of tourists, according to The New York Times. Oslo police recovered the paintings in 2006. They had sustained some damage but were mostly intact.

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