7 Notorious Art Thefts

Notorious Art Thefts, 4-7

These notorious art thefts, as well as the ones on the previous page, involve some of the most valuable works of art in the world.

4. Oslo, February 1994: $60-75 million

"The Scream" has been a popular target for thieves in Norway. On the day the 1994 Winter Olympics began in Lillehammer, a different version of Munch's famous work (he painted four) was taken from Oslo's National Art Museum. In less than one minute, the crooks came in through a window, cut the wires holding up the painting, and left through the same window. They attempted to ransom the painting to the Norwegian government, but they had left a piece of the frame at a bus stop -- a clue that helped authorities recover the painting within a few months. Four men were convicted of the crime in January 1996.

5. Scotland, August 2003: $65 million

Blending in apparently has its advantages for art thieves. Two men joined a tour of Scotland's Drumlanrig Castle, subdued a guard, and made off with Leonardo da Vinci's "Madonna of the Yarnwinder." Alarms around the art were not set during the day, and the thieves dissuaded tourists from intervening, reportedly telling them: "Don't worry . . . we're the police. This is just practice." The painting was recovered in 2007, but the crafty thieves remain unidentified.

6. Stockholm, December 2000: $30 million

Caught! Eight criminals each got up to six and half years behind bars for conspiring to take a Rembrandt and two Renoirs -- all of them eventually recovered -- from Stockholm's National Museum. You have to give the three masked men who actually grabbed the paintings credit for a dramatic exit. In a scene reminiscent of an action movie, they fled the scene by motorboat. Police unraveled the plot after recovering one of the paintings during an unrelated drug investigation four months after the theft.

7. Amsterdam, December 2002: $30 million

Robbers used a ladder to get onto the roof of the Van Gogh Museum, then broke in and stole two of the Dutch master's paintings, "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" and "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen," together worth $30 million. Police told the press that the thieves worked so quickly that, despite setting off the museum's alarms, they had disappeared before police could get there. Authorities in the Netherlands arrested two men in 2003, based on DNA from hair inside two hats left at the scene, but they have been unable to recover the paintings, which the men deny taking.


Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen