Source: Artsy

High Art Heists: Valuable Paintings Still Missing Today

While sophisticated art heists where balaclava-clad robbers escape with paintings worth millions of dollars seems like a rarity, statistics indicate that art theft is a relatively common occurrence. With reportedly more than 50,000 pieces of art stolen each year globally, valuable works of art are carefully guarded – or at least they’re deemed to be.

The Concert by Vermeer

Along with 12 other priceless pieces of art, two thieves dressed as policemen stole Johannes Vermeer’s ‘The Concert’ on the morning of March 18 1990. Estimated to have been painted between 1663 to 1666, The Concert was displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston before it was plucked off the wall, never to be seen again. The oil painting depicts three musicians, a woman playing the harpsichord, a man playing the lute and a woman who appears to be singing and is said to be worth more than A$340 million.

Charing Cross Bridge by Claude Monet

From 1899, Claude Monet is said to have produced almost 100 paintings of the River Thames, however, two of them were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in 2012. The paintings titled Charing Cross Bridge and Waterloo Bridge were two of Monet’s 1901 impressionistic paintings among a handful of expensive works stolen from the museum. The art heist also saw Picasso’s Harlequin Head and Matisse’s Reading Girl in White and Yellow disappear from the gallery’s walls and, following investigation, are believed to have been burned and thus potentially lost forever.

Poppy Flowers by Vincent van Gogh

Painted in 1887, Van Gogh’s ‘Poppy Flowers’ has been taken not once, but twice. After originally being stolen from Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in June 1977, the painting was recovered 10 years later in Kuwait and returned to the walls of the museum. However, after being taken from the same museum in August 2010 the still life painting has never been seen again.

Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco by Caravaggio

While a recreation of Caravaggio’s Nativity hangs in a church in Palermo, the original painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio hasn’t been seen since October 1969 when the painting was taken from the Oratory of San Lorenzo. The two by three-metre painting, which uses the technique of ‘chiaroscuro’ and depicts the Christian nativity scene, dates back to 1609 and is believed to have been cut off of the wall with a Stanley knife.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt

One of Rembrandt’s most famous works, ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’, is yet another painting that is yet to be returned to the gallery. Portraying Jesus and his disciples clinging to a boat while caught in a storm, this famous Rembrandt painting was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in the aforementioned art heist of March 1990. Along with the other 12 paintings stolen that morning, The Storm of the Sea of Galilee hasn’t been seen since with theories around the stolen art being sold into the black market.

Le Pigeon Aux Petits Pois by Pablo Picasso

Also known as the ‘The Pigeon with Green Peas’ this Picasso painting was stolen in May 2010 from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Reportedly carried out by just one thief, the heist saw a total of five works stolen from the museum which are yet to be recovered. Picasso’s ‘le pigeon aux petit pois’, a classic Cubist oil on canvas, was painted in 1911 and is said to be valued at around A$170 million.

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