Mystery Readers Journal has had several issues devoted to Art Crime Fiction, too. Art Mysteries I. Art Mysteries II.
Oddee.com posted 9 of the Most Brazen Art Thefts today. Some you'll know. Some you'll want to read more about... maybe for your next novel?
Mona Lisa Hidden Inside Coat
On August 21, 1911 guards opened the doors to the Louvre in France to
find the iconic portrait gone. The museum was closed for a week and an international
investigation began, turning up nothing. Even Picasso and Appolinaire
were questioned. Two years later, a man calling himself “Leonardo”
contacted an Italian art dealer,
saying he had the Mona Lisa. A trap was set, and the thief was
apprehended. It turned out his real name was Vincenzo Peruggia, who used
to work at the Louvre. According to Peruggia, the theft was somewhat of an impulse – the room
in which the painting was hung was temporarily empty because a guard
had taken a smoke break; he grabbed the Mona Lisa, discarded its frame
in a stairway, and walked out of the museum with it under his coat.
Peruggia claimed his motive was not money:
he wanted to see Da Vinci's masterpiece returned to Italy, where he
felt it belonged. Even though he was sentenced to two years for his
crime, he became a hero to Italia
Retired Briton Stole Goya in Protest over TV fees (photo)
In 1961, a pensioner named Kempton Bunton was upset with the British
Government. Not only did they make retired people pay a license to watch television, but he felt they squandered money to buy a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya. (Wellington was considered a national
hero, and a rich American had bought the painting, planning to take it
to the US.) So he devised a scheme to make his point. He chatted up the
Guards at the British National Museum and found out the sophisticated
alarms they used to protect the art were often switched off in the
morning during cleaning. Thinking quickly, he stepped into the loo and
jimmied open the window. The next morning about 6am, the 252-pound man
came in through the bathroom window, pulled down the Goya, and slipped
back out with the precious painting. He sent several ransom notes,
demanding a fund of 140,000 British Pounds be set up in a trust fund to
pay elderly people's licenses. But the police thought it was a hoax.
Finally, in 1965 he sent a letter to the Daily Mirror telling them the
whereabouts of the painting and turned himself in to Scotland Yard. At
the trial, Bunton used an obscure British law to defend himself, saying
that they were required to acquit him of the theft if they believed he
intended to eventually return it. He was, however, found guilty of
stealing the frame, which was never recovered, and sentenced to three
months in prison
Read about the other Art Thefts HERE.
Stolen Dali Put in Shopping Bag, Mailed Back to Gallery
Stephane Breitwieser Stole Hundreds of Artworks, Mother Destroyed Them
Thieves Use Car Bombs as Diversionary Tactic to Steal Artworks
Zurich Heist: 4 Masteroworks Stolen in 3 Minutes
Munch's The Scream Stolen Twice
Monet, Sisley & Brueghels Stolen at Gunpoint in Broad Daylight
Last Judgement Stolen in 1473 by Pirates
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