Art paintings have always been a prized possession of many; may it be private collectors, galleries or even governments. Though, none of them has been able to guard them forever from the eyes of professional thieves. Here is the list of the famous stolen paintings in ascending order of value.
15. A Cavalier by Van Mieris worth INR 5 Crore
In 2007, the painting ‘A Cavalier’ by Frans van Mieris was stolen from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia. Van Mieris was a Dutch Baroque artist and this painting is believed to be his self portrait. The painting is valued at more than $1 million or INR 5crore.
14. View of Auvers-sur-Oise by Paul Cezanne worth INR 27 Crore
On December 31 1999, the world was celebrating the birth of a new millennium. But, except some thieves. On that night, someone broke into the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England, just to steal this work of art by Paul Cezanne. Cezanne never felt this painting was finished and so, it wasn’t signed or dated. Today, this painting is valued at around $5 million, around INR 27 crore.
13. White Duck by Jean-Baptiste Oudry worth INR 34 Crore
‘White Duck’ is an 18th century painting by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, a French artist. This particular painting was stolen from the Houghton Hall, England, in 1992. The ‘White Duck’ is a ₤5-million painting, which is around INR 34crore. This piece of art work has never surfaced after it was stolen and police are still trying to find traces.
12. Count Lepic and His Daughters by Edgar Degas INR 59 Crore
This painting by Edgar Degas was completed in the year 1870. It was kept in the Foundation E.G. Buhrle in Zurich, Switzerland at the time it was stolen. Three other paintings were also stolen with this one and the total worth of these four paintings was estimated at $163.5million. This painting was recovered later in the year 2012 from Serbia. However, slight damages couldn’t be averted. The value of this painting is believed to be around $11 million, around INR 59crore.
11. Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence by Caravaggio INR 108 Crore
‘Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence ‘ is one of the many valuable paintings, which are believed to be lost or damaged. This painting is a large six square meter painting and was hung above the altar of ‘Oratory of Saint Lawrence’, Palermo. The painting was stolen in the year 1969 and the thieves removed the frame before taking the painting out of the church. The estimated value of this painting stands at a staggering $20million or INR 108 crore! Nobody knows for sure, whether this painting is still intact or is destroyed. Some say it was destroyed in the earthquakes, while others say the painting is still somewhere abroad.
10. Le pigeon aux petits pois by Pablo Picasso INR 151 Crore
This $28million dollar (INR 151crore) painting by Picasso is one of the most expensive paintings to be stolen and destroyed. The thief, after stealing the painting from Museum of Modern Art, Paris, panicked and threw the painting into trash. However, the painting could never be recovered and it stands as discarded.
9. Madonna of the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci INR 162 Crore
‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’ is one of the 20 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, that exist today. This painting is thought to have been completed in 1501 and has been a possession of the Buccleuch family for years. The painting was stolen in 2003 and was recovered in 2007. The value of this painting is estimated at around $30 million or INR 162 crore.
8. Rembrandt van Rijn INR 216 Crore
This art painting by Rembrandt van Rijn is a self-portrait of this famous Dutch artist. It was stolen in 2000 from the National Museum of Sweden. The actual value of this painting is supposed to be more than $40 million, INR 216 Crore. The painting was recovered in 2005, when the painting was being shown to a potential buyer in Copenhagen, Denmark.
7. Poppy Flowers by Vincent van Gogh INR 300 Crore
This is a painting by Van Gogh and has the history of being stolen twice. The painting might be a small one, but the value of this painting is big! 55 million USD, around INR 300crore! Van Gogh completed this work in 1887 and is owned by Cairo’s Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil Museum. It was first stolen in 1977 and was recovered after almost 10years in Kuwait. Again, in 2010, it was stolen. But this time, the painting is yet to be recovered.
6. The Boy in the Red Vest by Paul Cézanne INR 494 Crore
A painting portrays a young boy in traditional Italian outfit. The painting, which was completed in the year 1890, is supposed to have a value of around $91 million! An equivalent of around INR 494 crore. It was a priced possession of Foundation E.G. Buhrle in Zurich, Switzerland and this painting along with three others in the same gallery, came under the radar of thieves. In 2008, it was stolen. However, in 2012, the painting was recovered from Serbia and returned to Zurich.
5. Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael INR 540 Crore
This painting is widely regarded as a self-portrait of the great artist, Raphael. The painting might have been completed in the year 1513 or 1514. In 1940’s, the painting was stolen by the Nazis from Poland. This valuable painting was never returned and according to Lynn H. Nicholas, an American author, the painting would have been worth more than $100 million, around INR 540 crore, in today’s market value.
4. The Scream by Edvard Munch 644 Crore
This Edward Munch painting has broken the record for being the most expensive painting, more than once. So, it may not come as a surprise, but yes, it was stolen twice! And yes, it was recovered later, both the time. The painting was completed in the year 1893 and there are different versions for this painting. The version kept at the National Gallery, Oslo was the first one to be stolen. In 1994, two men stole the painting from the gallery and also left a note, “Thanks for the poor security”! Two months later, the police recovered the painting and returned it to the gallery. Another version of ‘The Scream’ was stolen in 2004 from Munch Museum in Oslo. Two years later, in 2006, the police recovered the paintings and the police said, “The damage was much less than feared.”! One of the versions of this painting went for more than $119 million, around 644crore Indian rupees, in an auction recently.
3. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt INR 731 Crore
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1 was completed in the year 1907 and in 1940’s, this beautiful painting by Gustav Klimt was stolen by Nazis. The painting was later returned to the rightful family and in 2006, the painting was sold for $135 million, around INR 731 crore, by an American businessperson. Today, it is on display at the Neue Galerie, New York.
2. The Concert by Johannes Vermeer INR 1000 Crore
If you make a list of stolen paintings that are still missing, ‘The Concert’ would be the first one you should write down. Johannes Vermeer, the artist, has portrayed a man and two women playing music and is believed to have completed this painting in 1664. This is the most expensive piece of painting that is still missing. The painting was stolen from Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, which remains to be the largest art theft in history of art. The painting is estimated to be worth around $200 million, more than INR 1000 crore!
And the most pricey stolen painting is…
1. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci INR 4000 Crore
Yes, the same Mona Lisa you hear, sing and read about all the time: it was once stolen! At the time of theft, the Mona Lisa was still smiling standing at a corner of the ‘Musée du Louvre’, Paris. A former employee of the Louvre museum namely, Vincenzo Peruggia, stole the painting in 1911. Two years later, the painting was recovered from the same man, while trying to sell it. The painting was completed by DaVinci in the year 1519. The value of painting was assessed in the year 1962 and it was estimated to be a 100 million US dollar. Today, it could be around 743 million USD! Around INR 4000 crore!
Some of these valuable paintings were returned to the rightful owners, while some others are still missing. The worst part is, some of the masterpieces from artists like Caravaggio and Picasso are never to return to the world of art as they were destroyed during these robberies. If you have any information regarding the missing paintings in the list, it could make you a millionaire!