From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the world

In Dresden, the largest theft in history occurred: thieves "robbed" the world-famous treasury in the Green Vault Museum and took out unique jewelry of the XVIII century worth hundreds of millions of euros. German media called the theft "the biggest since World War II." In fact, museum robberies are not uncommon. We will tell you about the ten most high-profile cases of museum thefts.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the world

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn November 25, 2019, a robbery occurred in the Saxon treasury "Green Vault" of the Dresden State Art Collection. In the morning, when there were no visitors in the museum, the criminals broke into the display case with three precious headsets, stealing 94 items. The attackers are on the run. According to the police, CCTV cameras recorded two criminals. According to law enforcement officers, this does not exclude that other attackers were not waiting on the street. According to the tabloid Bild, we are talking about the theft of antique jewelry worth almost a billion euros.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn the night of October 16, 2012, criminals took out seven paintings by famous artists of the late XIX — first half of the XX centuries from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam. These paintings are "Harlequin's Head" by Pablo Picasso," Reading Girl "by Henri Matisse," Waterloo Bridge " and "Charing Cross Bridge" by Claude Monet, "Woman in Front of an Open Window" by Paul Gauguin," Self-portrait "by Meyer de Hahn and" Woman with Closed Eyes " by Lucien Freud. The Kunsthal Museum, where the theft occurred, does not have a permanent collection, but exhibits private collections of works of art. The stolen paintings belonged to the private organization Triton Foundation.

The robbery was committed around three o'clock in the morning local time. Then the alarm went off, but the security officers who arrived at the scene, who also called the police, did not find the criminals. Several Romanian citizens were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the theft of paintings in Bucharest. The mother of one of the accused, Olga Dogaru, later told investigators that she buried the paintings in one of the cemeteries near the house, and then dug them up and burned them in a furnace.

All those involved in this case were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. The court also granted the claim of the insurers of the stolen paintings and sentenced to a fine of 18.1 million euros the four main defendants in the theft case-Radu Dogara, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Prokop.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn the night of May 20, 2010, five paintings by famous artists were stolen at the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The robber broke the lock of the iron fence and cut out the glass in one of the gallery windows. In the morning, the museum staff found the missing "Pigeon with Green Peas" by Pablo Picasso, "Pastoral" by Henri Matisse, "Olives near the Estac" by Georges Braque, "Women with a Fan" by Amedeo Modigliani and" Still Life with Candlesticks " by Fernand Leger. The cost of the paintings is more than 100 million euros.

Vieran Tomic, a 49-year-old Serbian man who confessed to the crime, was accused of directly committing the theft. The recidivist, nicknamed Spider-Man, who has 14 criminal records, was arrested in May 2011. His accomplices, antiques dealer Jean — Michel Corvez and watchmaker Jonathan Byrne, were also arrested on charges of buying stolen goods. During the investigation, Tomic said that he had planned to steal only a painting by Fernand Leger, but the successful circumstances prompted him not to limit himself to one still life. At the same time, he did not disclose the customers of the crime. Byrne claimed that he destroyed and threw away the paintings that turned out to be in his possession, although he paid 80 thousand euros for the Modigliani canvas.

In February 2017, Tomic was sentenced to eight years in prison, and his accomplices received seven and six years each. In addition, the attackers were sentenced to pay a fine in favor of the city of Paris — the owner of the stolen paintings. The stolen masterpieces have still not been found.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn February 10, 2008, three robbers stole four paintings from the Emil Buehrl Museum in Zurich, Switzerland — "The Boy in the Red Vest" by Paul Cezanne, "The Field of Poppies" by Claude Monet, "Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter" by Edgar Degas and "Flowering Chestnut Branches" by Vincent Van Gogh with a total value of 180 million Swiss francs (more than 112 million euros or 164 million dollars).

On February 19 of the same year, Swiss police found two stolen paintings — Van Gogh and Claude Monet-in a car parked near the University Psychiatric Hospital. In 2009, a Degas painting was discovered. On April 12, 2012, in Belgrade (Serbia), the police found a painting by Cezanne.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn August 27, 2003, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Vinci's "Madonna with a Spindle". According to the investigation, two men bought tickets for visitors to the castle gallery, tied up the museum's caretaker and dragged the painting to the street, where a car was waiting for them, which was later found abandoned a few kilometers from the castle. According to the owner of the painting, its value is at least 25 million pounds. The painting was discovered in October 2007 during a police raid in Glasgow, and after a while it was again put on display to the public.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldDecember 7, 2002 from Two paintings of the artist were stolen from the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The thieves entered the building at night through a heating pipe on the roof, using a ladder, and escaped with the stolen goods before the opening of the museum. The famous paintings "Sea View from the sea" were stolen. Scheveningen" (1882) and " The congregation leaves the Reformed Church in Newnene" (1884/85), their value is estimated at approximately $ 100 million, as a long-term investment. Hosts from the Amsterdam museum were included in the FBI's special list of the ten most wanted works of art in the world.

In 2003, the Dutch police arrested two compatriots who were found guilty of stealing masterpieces and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison. The convicts pleaded not guilty, and the stolen paintings disappeared.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn December 22, 2000, the National Museum of Sweden was robbed in Stockholm. Masked criminals, threatening the museum guards with weapons, stole a self-portrait by Rembrandt and two paintings by the French impressionist Renoir - "Conversation with the Gardener" and "Young Parisian Woman". From the scene of the crime, the kidnappers escaped in a light motor boat, which was waiting for them at the museum, located on the embankment. The cost of the paintings was estimated at $ 36 million.

In January 2001, as a result of a large-scale operation by the Stockholm police, criminals suspected of stealing paintings from the National Museum were detained. In total, there were 13 people in the dock, andin July 2001, eight of them were sentenced to real terms of imprisonment. It took the museum five years to recover the stolen paintings.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn the night of March 18, 1990, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston lost 13 exhibits worth about $ 500 million as a result of a robbery. The robbery took the criminals 81 minutes. They entered the museum disguised as police officers and neutralized the guards by chaining them to a water pipe.

Robbers cut off two Rembrandt paintings from the frames, including "Storm on the Sea of Galilee" — the only seascape of the great artist. The criminals took away the" Concert " by Jan Vermeer, worth $ 200 million, several paintings by the French impressionists Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, as well as a painting by the Dutch painter of the XVII century Govert Flink. In addition, they took a Chinese vessel of the second millennium BC and a bronze eagle from the Napoleonic standard.

In 2013, the FBI announced that it was on the trail of the perpetrators. However, their names were never made public, and the stolen paintings, as it turned out, were not found. The bureau clarified that a number of exhibits have probably already changed owners several times, who did not even know about their value. Most of the stolen paintings in the museum still have empty frames where they should have been.

December 27, 1985 at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico was penetrated by robbers who stole 124 exhibits-artifacts and gold jewelry of the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. The exhibits were made of gold, jade, obsidian and turquoise, and were located in seven showcases in the museum's three galleries on the ground floor of the building and in the basement. The theft was discovered at 8 o'clock in the morning, during the changing of the guard. None of the eight guards noticed the robbers. The museum had no electronic alarm system, and the artifacts themselves were not locked.

Later it became known that the crime was committed by two college graduates who visited the museum more than 50 times, and on the day of the robbery jumped over the fence, entered the building through the ventilation system, and then left in a car parked near the museum. The police found 119 artifacts, which were returned to the museum.

From the treasury of the "Green Vault" to the Louvre: the 10 biggest museum robberies in the worldOn August 21, 1911, the Italian painter and decorator Vincenzo Perugia slipped out of a cabinet in the Louvre, where he had been hiding all night, and approached a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Vinci "Mona Lisa", took it out of the frame and quietly left the building. The theft was noticed only after 24 hours. For distribution on the streets of Paris, the French police printed out 6.5 thousand photos of the painting, after which the "Mona Lisa" gained its fame.

In 1913, the thief approached a Florentine dealer named Alfred Geri, who he hoped would help him sell the painting for cash. The painting was removed from the double-bottom suitcase, the cracks were identified by the paint layer, and Geri immediately called the police, after which the thief was arrested. Vincenzo Perugia was sentenced to 380 days in prison, but spent seven months and four days in prison.

Keywords: Louvre | Museum | Robbery

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