Rembrandt - Storm at the sea of Galilee
Van Eyck - The Just judges
Picasso - The dance
Caravaggio - Nativity
Leonardo - Madonna of the yarnwinder
by G. Fernández - theartwolf.com
Considering the spectacular prices paid in recent times for the works by the greatest names of the history of Art, it is not very surprising that these masterworks have turned into coveted loots for any art robber. The vast majority of the most famous art thefts -from the Gioconda in 1911 to the very recent theft of Edvard Munch's "The scream" in Oslo- are now solved, but nevertheless there are still a considerable number of stolen masterworks whose whereabouts are still unknown. Here are some interesting examples.
CASE 1: FOR A (LARGE) FISTFUL OF DOLLARS...
If you want to become rich thanks to Art, but you lack of any artistic talent and neither you nor your family own a rich collection of Impressionist or Modern Art, you still have a last possibility: find the 12 masterworks stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, and then get ready to claim the $5 MILLION reward. The stolen works included examples of exceptional quality, such as three works by Rembrandt van Rijn ("Storm at the sea of Galilee", his only seascape, valued at at least $150 million; an extremely appealing self-portrait, and a double portrait of a lady and a gentleman) and a rare work by Vermeer, entitled "The concert". This case is still the most important Art theft still unsolved.
CASE 2: SECRET TAKEN TO GRAVE
The Ghent Altarpiece, painted by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck, and now exhibited at the Ghent Cathedral Museum, is considered to be the supreme masterwork of Flemish painting. But in 1934, one of its smallest panels, situated at the bottom left of the altarpiece and depicting "the Just Judges", was stolen by an unknown thief, who demanded a rescue of 1 million Belgian Francs.
Only 6 months after the robbery, Arsène Goedertier revealed on his deathbed that he was the thieve who had stolen the panel, and that he was the only man who knew the whereabouts of the painting. He died without revealing his secret.
The panel was never found, and in 1945 was replaced by a high-quality copy (shown left). Today, most experts believe the painting to be destroyed, but there is still a last hope of that this pivotal piece of Flemish painting could be recovered.
CASE 3: THE CARNIVAL THEFT
On February 26th 2006, while almost everyone in Rio de Janeiro was dancing at the sambodromo, a group of armed thefts stole from the Chacara do Ceu Museum four important modern paintings; among them a Picasso entitled -quite ironically- "The dance", and a "Seascape" by Claude Monet. The paintings -not insured- are still lost.
CASE 4: ORDINARY (NOT) DECENT CRIMINAL
The robbery of a masterwork by baroque master Michelangelo Merisi (called Caravaggio) in Ireland was the plot of the great movie "Ordinary Decent Criminal", directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan. But in this case, the criminals who stole the appealing "Nativity" by the Italian artist, valued at over $20 million, are not as romantic as that one played by Kevin Spacey, and could be related to the fearful Sicilian Mafia.
CASE 5: THE DA VINCI MYSTERY
In the whole history of art, no other name has created more discussions, debates and studies than Leonardo da Vinci, and, among many reasons, that is caused by the fact of that two thirds of his pictorial oeuvre have been lost. That has generated that in the last 150 years multiple critics, promoters, or just art fakers eager for attention have published countless paintings publicized as a "new" Leonard . One of the most interesting and serious debates related to the authenticity of a painting by Leonardo is the one that studies the two versions of the original version -allegedly lost- of the "Madonna of the Yarnwinder". One of them was stolen from the Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland, and after the theft, many critics declared the painting to be authentic and valued at over $65 million. Updated: the work has been recovered.