The Top 10 Art Heists in the World

The recovery of a stolen Goya masterpiece by the FBI this week cleared only one of the 10 stolen masterpieces on the FBI's most wanted art crimes list, and the remaining nine will be much more difficult to recover, according to the FBI.      

The FBI says the thieves who stole the Goya dumped it after realizing it was too hot to handle, especially after the FBI put it on its Top 10 Art Crimes list.

The top 10 list of art crimes includes the 1990 theft of more than a dozen famous paintings, Rembrandts and a Vermeer, from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Watch how the thieves raided the Gardner Museum.


Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, the FBI's art theft program manager, says that it's not unusual for it to take several years to crack a case. "Art does not devalue," says Magness-Gardiner. "It only gets more valuable over time so it often does go underground for a significant period until it surfaces again when a family member or heir brings it to market."

One of the paintings on the list, a Caravaggio, has been missing since 1969. But Magness-Gardiner says the creation of the art crimes top 10 list alerts the public to these crimes and is helping solve them.

"Part of the reason we have a top 10 art crime page up on the Web site is to alert the public to these art thefts and also to solicit their information and their tips; it's vitally important," says Magness-Gardiner. "It is something we can use readily and often, and it is something that can lead to the solution of cases and the recovery of artwork."

Since the FBI started its top 10 list in 2004, over 850 objects on the list have been recovered at a value of approximately $65 million, the most famous being the self-portrait of Rembrandt stolen out of the Swedish National Museum in 2000 and recovered last year and Edvard Munch's "Scream" stolen in 2004 and recovered this past September. 

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...