Heists aren’t what they used to be. These days, the Mona Lisa is safely tucked behind a bulletproof glass shield, there are alarms and guards at every corner, and attempting a good old fashion art piece theft has never been more difficult. But, believe it or not, these are all the result of past heists that have been, unfortunately, successful. There are some famous stolen paintings taken from important art galleries, with no clue of their whereabouts decades later.
Criminality knows no discrimination, which is why the big blow was taken both by small artists and renowned painters of the likes of Rembrandt and Picasso. Join us as we line-up some of the most famous stolen paintings that have yet to be found.
#1 “The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV” by Vincent Van Gogh
This work of art was described by the painter in a letter to his brother. Finished in 1888, it was easy to pinpoint Van Gogh’s pride in his creation and, apparently, he had good reason to. The Lovers: The Poet’s Garden IV caught the eye of Adolf Hitler decades later, who retrieved the painting with the intention to include it in his personal “World’s Greatest Art Gallery.” It would be filled with degenerate works of past painters. Despite many efforts, the painting was lost after World War II.
#2 “Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt Van Rijn
This Rembrandt painting was only one of the thirteen pieces of art that were lost during the greatest heist in American history. Then, two thieves managed to trick the guards into allowing them inside Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by dressing up as police officers. After managing to handcuff them, the pair smuggled up some extremely valuable pieces, this one included.
#3 “Charing Cross Bridge, London” by Claude Monet
On October 2012, the Kunsthal Museum was the victim of a theft that cost it the disappearance of a handful of important works of art. This particular Monet painting, part of a series that depict the Charing Cross Bridge in various moments of the day, was the most valuable loss. Although the convict was later caught and claimed that he burned the piece to hide his traces, there is no solid evidence to back the claim, which led to the painting still being considered missing.
#4 “Le Pigeon aux Petis Pois” by Pablo Picasso
The story of this Picasso work would be hilarious if it weren’t for the tragic undertones. It was stolen during the theft at Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris then hurtled into a bin by the convict. The bin was emptied before authorities could get to it, so, assuming it’s not destroyed, Le Pigeon must be on quite the adventure.
#5 “The Just Judges” by Jan Van Eyck
With a story worth of a movie, The Judges brewed a lot of speculations when it was suddenly stolen from its display on the Ghent altarpiece at Saint Bavon’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. In its place, authorities found a note left by the thief, which eventually led them to a negotiation for its retrieval. The painting was never returned, though, and the man who eventually stepped up as the convict did so on his deathbed, when he also revealed that he would take the location of the piece of art to his grave.
#6 “The Concert” by Johannes Vermeer
Another victim of the heist at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Concert is considered to be the most valuable unrecovered piece of art at the moment, with a price attached to it that goes just a bit beyond $200,000,000. The work of art was initially up for display at the Royal Collection in London before it was purchased by the famous philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner.
#7 “View Of The Sea At Scheveningen” by Vincent Van Gogh
In 2002, two pulled a genuine cinematic move when they decided to infiltrate the Van Gogh Amsterdam Museum through the roof. They got in and decided to steal only two pieces – one of them was View of the Sea at Scheveningen. Their choice didn’t seem to be baseless, as the two paintings were created during the peaking period in Van Gogh’s career. The two works of art have an estimated value of $30 million.
#8 “Portrait of a Young Man” by Raphael
The last we’d seen of this High Renaissance classic, the painting was hanging on the walls of Hitler’s Berlin villa. After World War II, it was taken down by Nazi official Hans Frank, who supposedly intended to take the work of art to the royal Wawel Castle. The journey there was apparently unsuccessful since there haven’t been any traces of the painting since.