Art

FBI Top 10 Stolen Art Masterpieces List

Millions of dollars of art goes missing more often than you might think. Whether it’s stolen from a major museum, gallery or a private collector’s home, these well-known works have become the subject of art sleuthing the world over. What are some of the most notable stolen artworks that are yet to be recovered? The FBI maintains a top 10 art crimes list that includes:

Caravaggio, Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco. Stolen in October 1969 from Palermo, Italy. According to the FBI, this painting is worth roughly $20 million.

Carvaggio - Sleeping Cupid

Carvaggio – Sleeping Cupid

Cezanne, View of Auvers-sur-Oise. This landscape was stolen on New Year’s Eve 1999. During the holiday fireworks celebration, an art thief broke into the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England and took this notable Cezanne work.

Cezanne - Uferlandschaft

Cezanne – Uferlandschaft

Renoir, Madeleine Leaning on Her Elbow with Flowers in Her Hair. In 2011 this painting was stolen by armed thieves from a private collector’s home in Houston. The FBI notes that a private insurer is offering up to $50,000 for credible information that leads to the recovery of this stolen masterpiece.

Van Gogh, View of the Sea at Scheveningen. Two thieves stole two the artist’s works in December 2002 from the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Even though Dutch police found and convicted the suspected thieves, the paintings (valued at $30 million total) were never found.

Maxfield Parnish, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals. Stolen in July 2002, these panels were taken from a West Hollywood gallery. With an estimated value of $4 million, these artworks are still missing.

Other works on the FBI’s top 10 list include 13 artworks that were stolen from Boston’s Gardner Museum (including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer), several pieces stolen in 2006 from the Museu Chacara do Ceo in Rio de Janeiro (Monet’s Marine, Picasso’s Dance, Matisse’s Luxembourg Garden and Dali’s Two Balconies) and Van Mieris’ A Cavalier.

Even though these works are yet to be recovered, other masterpieces have been. In 2003 a statue of King Entemena of Lagash was stolen from the Iraq Museum. This work was recovered and returned three years later in 2006. In 2015 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil action to return Picasso’s La Coiffeuse – the work had been smuggled into the U.S. illegally in 2014. A Gauguin still life was recovered in 2014, 40 years after its original theft. Worth upwards of $14 million, the painting was found hanging on a Sicilian auto worker’s kitchen wall. The auto worker unknowingly bought ‘stolen art’, paying $100 in 1975 for the painting at a railway auction of unclaimed items.

Erica Loop

About the Author

Erica Loop has a BA in the history of art and architecture as well as film studies. She has worked for the Andy Warhol Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Ms. Loop has taught studio-based art classes for children from toddlers to teens for the past decade along with writing freelance content across the web.