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Monday, August 30, 2004

Art Heist Database

Edvard Munch's famous "The Scream" (value $60 million) was stolen at gunpoint from an Oslo museum on August 22nd. It joins a list of thousands of stolen paintings maintained by the The Art Loss Register. The Register says it adds about 10,000 items a year to its database of 145,000 items. The Art Loss Register was set up in 1991 by several auction houses and art trade associations.

Munch painted four versions of "The Scream" in 1893. Another one was briefly stolen in 1994. The recent heist was played out like a farce. Two masked thieves cowed an unarmed guard. They dropped the fragil paintings twice on the way out, and sped away in an a stolen Audi, strewing bits of frame behind.

The register includes 467 works by Pablo Picasso, 289 works by Marc Chagall, and $300 million worth of art stolen from Boston's Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in 1990. The most valuable painting taken in the Gardner heist was Jan Vermeer's "The Concert".

Some recent high-profile art thefts:

July 2004 Santo Spirito in Sassia hospital, Rome: 10 paintings including "The Sacra Famiglia" by Parmigianino

May 2004 Pompidou Center warehouse, Paris: "Nature Morte a la Charlotte" by Pablo Picasso

Dec. 2003 Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, N.M.: "Special 21 (Palo Duro Canyon)" by Georgia O'Keeffe

Aug. 2003 Drumlanrig Castle, Scotland: "Madonna with the Yarnwinder" by Leonardo da Vinci

Dec. 2002 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam: "View of the Sea at Scheveningen," "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen" by Van Gogh

July 2002 National Fine Arts Museum, Paraguay: "The Virgin Mary and Jesus" by Esteban Murillo, "Landscape" by Gustave Coubert, "Woman's Head" by Adolphe, self-portrait by Tintoretto, and others

Dec. 2000 National Museum, Stockholm: two works by Renoir, one by Rembrandt (Renoir's "Conversation" recovered)

July 1994 Schirn Gallery, Frankfurt: "Shade and Darkness" and "Light and Color" by J.M.W. Turner, among others

March 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston: Eleven works, including "Chez Tortoni" by Edouard Manet, "The Storm on the Sea of Gaililee" and a self-portrait by Rembrandt

'The Scream' stolen from Oslo gallery [Scotsman]
The Isabella Gardner Museum heist [CNN]
The Art Loss Register [artloss.com]

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