Biggest Museum Heists of All Time

Art has been stolen for as long as it has been created. For the last couple hundred years, some of the best pieces of art have been held in museums that has seen some of the biggest museum heists of all Time. Here are some of the biggest and most brazen museum heists of all time.

The Louvre, France 1911

It goes without saying that Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world. However, it was stolen from the Louvre in Paris in 1911 by three handymen that worked there. The three his overnight in a supply closet at the museum and one of them in Vincenzo Perugia was the one that put up the protective glass around the famous painting. The thing is the painting was so famous that it was impossible to sell and Perugia hid it in a trunk for over two years. He was caught trying to finally sell it. This theft is not the biggest one in terms of the money of the art stolen, but with the most iconic painting the world-over it has to be on the top of the list.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, USA 1990

This heist was not only relatively recent but also the biggest in terms of the art that was stolen. There were two thieves in this heist, as they were disguised as Boston Police officers. They came to the museum under the guise that there was a disturbance at the museum telling the guard on duty at the time to go get his partner and when he did both were handcuffed by the thieves and hid them in the basement duct-taping them to the pipes there. They stole nearly $500 million worth of paintings with some of the more famous ones being Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Manet’s Chez Tortoni, and Vermeer’s The Concert. The thieves were never caught, and these days there are empty frames that hang where the famous stolen paintings used to hang.

The Stockholm Museum, Sweden 2000

In late December of 2000 armed thieves stole nearly $30 million worth of paintings from famous artists such as Renoir and Rembrandt. They set up a diversion in the form of an explosion of two cars to throw the police off their trail and keep them busy while they then used semiautomatic weapons to overtake the museum security and steal the precious art. The thieves then used a small boat as a getaway and were never heard from again.

The Kunstahl Museum, Holland 2012

Gang members from Romania took part in this heist where seven valuable paintings by the artists of Monet, Picasso, Matisse, and Gaugin. The total value of the stolen art was $24 million and, surprisingly, they were not caught right away, as they were making their getaway they tripped the alarm of the museum. However, the Kunstahl Museum is a rather small museum, which, at the time, only used electronic security and no guards were on duty to protect the art.