1. Boston, March 1990 – Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
In the middle of the night on 18 March 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston opened their doors to two men dressed as police officers claiming to be responding to a Museum disturbance. After handcuffing the Museum’s two night watchmen in the basement and obtaining the security tape, the costume-clad men made off with 500 million dollars worth of paintings, including three Rembrandt’s (one of which was his only seascape, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”), Vermeer’s “The Concert,” Manet’s “Chez Tortoni,” and a series of drawings by Degas. The artworks sadly remain missing and the thieves remain at large. The empty frames still hang at the Museum complete with the tattered edges of cut canvas, in homage to masterpieces lost.
‘Storm on the Sea of Galilee’ by Rembrandt
‘The Concert’ by Johannes Vermeer is thought to be the most valuable unrecovered
stolen painting, with a value estimated at over $200,000,000.
‘Chez Tortoni’ by Édouard Manet
2. Oslo, August 2004 – Munch Museum
Two masked gunmen stole Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and “The Madonna” during a daytime theft at the Munch museum in August 2004. The paintings had an estimated value of over 100 million euros, but “The Scream” was uninsured because the curators determined that the painting was “priceless.” Thankfully, the painting was recovered two years later and three men have been convicted, but the gunmen supposedly remain at large.
‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch
3. Paris, August 1911 – The Louvre
Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, famously stole the “Mona Lisa” in August 1911 by simply hiding in the gallery until it was empty and sticking the painting under his smock. This art heist turned the moderately popular “Mona Lisa” into one of the most well known paintings in the world, and it remained missing for two years until Peruggia attempted to sell it to an art dealer in Florence two years later.
‘Mona Lisa’ by Leonardo Da Vinci