Sometimes when you hit the very bottom of your bank account, you start grasping at straws to make some more money. Some people prefer to work hard, others – smart. Too bad smart doesn’t always mean legal. And what could be easier than robbing a museum? Well, honestly, a lot of things, but that’s not the point, people have made their choice and today we’re gonna see how far the human greed can get you.
Here are 10 most expensive things ever stolen from museums!
1. The Mona Lisa
You all know how famous Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is today, but just around a hundred years ago nobody cared about it. Until 1911, when someone outright stole the painting from the Louvre. A mere 2 years later, Mona was one of the most recognizable paintings in the world.
2. Gibson Stradivarius
Gibson Stradivarius is probably the most famous instruments on the planet. Made by Stradivarius himself in 1713, this mini-guitar has been snatched not once but twice, actually! In 1919 and 1936. Current estimated value of this brilliant instrument is $15 million, so you can’t blame the thieves for trying.
3. Third Imperial Fabergé Egg
Of the 50 unique jewelry eggs that were crafted for the Russian royal family in 1885, only one survived. I mean, the rest were either destroyed or stolen, which is way more probable. The last egg was found in a scrapyard in America. In 2012 some rich dude auctioned it off for $33 million.
4. Van Gogh’s Poppy Flowers
Sadly, Van Gogh didn’t live long enough to see his best work, “Poppy Flowers”, get stolen. Actually, I think he’d have a heart attack if he saw the price tag on that painting ($55 million). Unfortunately, the painting was stolen in 1977 from the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo. It took 10 years to find it! That’s not all, in 2010 it was stolen again, and is still MIA.
5. Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”
The Scream is one of the most recognizable images in modern culture. It’s worth around $120 million, so of course, people tried to steal it. It was actually snatched twice!
6. The Just Judges Panel
These panels are old, and I mean really old! They were painted in the XV century (1420-1432), and in April of 1934 one of the panels went missing from the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral in Belgium. The thief eventually came clean, lying on his death bed, but failed to mention where he hid that darn panel. Eight decades later people are still looking for it.
7. Amber Room
How do you steal an entire room? Easy, all you need to do is be at war with Russia and send troops to plunder the Catherine Palace outside Saint Petersburg. The Amber Room, full of gold, jewels, and other stuff was plundered by the Nazis at the beginning of the war (1941). As the war wound down and the Germans were loosing they moved this and other treasures around and wouldn’t ya know it got lost. But fast forward to 1979 and you have the Russians beginning reconstruction of this masterpiece and it was paid for by…you guessed it… Germany! It took till 2003 to finish.
8. Mexico City National Museum Of Anthropology
In 1985 a robbery of the Mexico City National Museum of Anthropology took place, where the thieves managed to take 124 priceless items with them. The authorities spent 3 years looking for these professional robbers only to find out soon after that the whole heist was done by a couple of local amateurs. Thankfully almost all of the stolen goods were recovered in time.
9. Paul Cezanne’s “View of Auvers-sur-Oise”
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1999 turning to 2000, a new millennium is here! So, of course the guards of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford were probably celebrating this huge date like everyone else. Meanwhile some sneaky bastard managed to slip through inside the museum and stole Paul Cezanne’s “View of Auvers-sur-Oise.” All that in under 10 minutes. If you have any info on the whereabouts of the painting, well, you’re probably the thief then, because no-one has seen it since then.
10. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
This case only proves that you can’t have too much security in museums. In 1990 two dudes dressed as Boston cops requested to be let inside the closed museum. And the guards let them in. *SMH* Well, the rest is textbook Hollywood heist: knock out the guards, bad guys go “shopping”, flee before anyone notices the guards are down. These two made it out with enough priceless items that even 30 years later nobody knows anything about who they are and certainly not where they went. It’s estimated that the loot from this heist was around $500 million, making it the most valuable art theft of all time!