TOP 5 Art Thefts in History

Art thefts have been present in the artistic world throughout history. This is a list of the top 5 art thefts that have occurred throughout history:

The Pigeon with the Green Peas by Pablo Picasso

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald)

This is particularly noteworthy because while paintings can at times be recovered, the world is about 99.9% sure we will never recover this. The person who stole the painting was extremely scared that he would get caught so he ended up throwing the painting in a nearby trash can.


Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

(Source: Encyclopedia Brittanica)

The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous art pieces in the entire world. I’ve never seen it in person but I can imagine how difficult it would be to steal this art piece when so many people are constantly surrounding and viewing it in the museum. In 1911, it was stolen for the first time and the man who stole it was named Perugia. He believed that the painting should go back to Italy because that was the home of da Vinci. A police officer caught him selling the painting and it was returned.


The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

(Source: New York Times)

This art heist did not end up in the loss of one painting, but multiple artifacts and paintings, such as The Concert by Vermeer and Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Manet. The process through which the art thieves took to steal the art pieces is interesting. The two thieves came to the museum when it was closed dressed as police officers. They demanded that the guard let them into the building because they were responding to a disturbance. The guard was forced to call his partner and they were both handcuffed and thrown in the basement while the art thieves stole paintings. The paintings were never to be found and the frames of the paintings still remain as a reminder.

The Stockholm Museum

(Source: National Gallery)

This was a particularly violent theft that occurred in Sweden in the year 2000. Armed burglars put bombs in two cars and made them explode to distract the police and bystanders. The thieves ended up stealing Rembrandt’s paintings and escaped in a small boat.


The Last Judgement by Hans Memling

(Source: Art and the Bible)

This is an art theft that occurred in 1473. Many historians believe this may have ever been the first ever art theft recorded, although it is entirely possible that this occurred before 1473. The painting was on a ship heading to Florence, Italy when the ship was attacked by Polish pirates. The pirates then stole the painting among other things.  The painting was never returned to the rightful owner. It remains in the Polish National Museum.



Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author