10 of the most expensive and precious items ever stolen
Murder, kidnapping, robbery, thefts- life is just coloured with all these things nowadays. Let us go through a list of robberies that might shock you as they involve stealing items that are so precious that you’ll think it is almost impossible to steal them- know why? We even have a really famous building in this list- yep, a building! But the most astonishing part of the ploy is that most of the items are such that they even if the thieves tried to sell them, they were bound to be caught. And guess what?
10) Museu Chacara Do Céu Theft (worth unknown)
Works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Salvador Dali were stolen from the Museu Chacara do Céu in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 24, 2006, as per the FBI reports. This was accomplished In broad daylight, when four men entered the museum at gunpoint and left with these four renowned paintings: Monet’s “Marine,” Picasso’s “Dance,” Matisse’s “Luxembourg Garden,” and Dali’s “Two Balconies.” According to the FBI, there are no estimates of what the combined works are worth, and sadly the precious artworks haven’t been discovered yet, as this theft is one of the FBI’s top ten unsolved thefts.
9) A Bell (priceless)
You definitely read it right. An immensely loud device used to create loud noise was stole, very very inconspicuously in 2005. The bell was a 3,000 lb copper Vietnamese one and was stolen from a Buddhist Monastery, in Tacoma, Washington. This priceless item makes us scratch our heads thinking how did it even get stolen with its size and weight and hello- sound? They just have one explanation- the monks were too deeply engrossed in their meditation. The police believed that someone came with a fork-lift and simply took the bell away and after three years, the bell was found among a variety of stolen goods like car engines, eagle talons, an eagle’s head and 4 cases of pseudoephedrine and the bell was discovered only because the thieves were trying to sell it for scrap. So much for being priceless!
8) Dorothy’s iconic Ruby Red slippers (Worth $3 million US Dollars)
Yes, we are talking about the world’s most expensive pair of shoes- Dorothy’s iconic Ruby Red slippers, from The Wizard of Oz, which are worth between $3 million. They were created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous classic movie “The Wizard of Oz”. This pair of shoes is highly and carefully crafted as it took two months to be completely done and it is encrusted with four thousand and six hundred (4,600) rubies that weigh 1,350 carats in addition to 50 carats of diamonds. But all the labour and enthusiasm that went into making them went in vain as one of the five pairs which was being displayed at the Judy Garland Museum was stolen on August 27th, 2005. In December 2013, investigators in Minnesota stated that there were two prime suspects, but no further information has been released since, and they are still not found.
7) The Saliera (worth $57 million US)
The Saliera or the Cellini Salt Cellar, was a 10 inch gold sculpture made by 16th century artist, Benvenuto Cellini, and is called the ” Mona Lisa of Sculptures”. It is worth $57 million and was stolen in 2003 from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna that was covered in scaffolding at the time for restoration work, favouring a thief as he used this scaffolding to get inside. Despite the motion detectors, he smashed the glass easily and stole the sculpture, only to negotiate the sculpture’s ransom with the museum’s insurance company after a few years (as we told you, no black market for all this stolen stuff). As simple as the robbery was, the tracking of this man happened and he was caught, returning the Saliera without any harm done.
6) Van Gogh Museum Robbery (worth $53.97 million US each as of today)
The art loving world came to a breathless halt when in December 2002, two thieves climbed the roof of the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, broke into the museum and managed to steal two Van Gogh paintings in a matter of minutes, as per FBI. The stolen works, 1882’s “View of the Sea at Scheveningen” and the 1884 “Congregation Leave the Reformed Church in Nuenen,” are from a period that was crucial to the post-impressionist master’s development as a painter. Dutch police convicted two men in connection with the crimes in December 2003, but the paintings were discovered after a long wait of 14 years, unharmed, in Italy September, 2016, behind a false wall in a villa that is said to belong to Raffaele Imperiale, who is accused of running an international cocaine trafficking ring.
5) The Scream (worth $120 Million US today)
The famous Impressionist painting by Edvard Munch, “The Scream”, often referred to as the “Mona Lisa of our time”, is one of the World’s most recognizable pieces of art. It is known to really few people that the painting has many versions painted by Munch and out of which, two are kept in separate museums. First stolen in 1994, it was recovered within three months of a dramatic theft where the thieves had left a note after the robbery that stated ” Thanks for the poor security”. In 2004, it was stolen again from the wall of the Munch Museum in Norway by two armed men wearing ski masks who busted in the museum with guns and ran away with the painting. The painting was nowhere to be found for two years and nine days, until it was recovered. Even though the world of art lovers sighed in relief, the authorities never disclosed how it was actually recovered. Will the explanation make us scream?
4) Gardner Museum Art Theft (Worth $300 Million US)
This well thought-out and simple robbery was accomplished on March 18, 1990, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, when policemen arrived at the door of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, saying that they had received a call about a disturbance in the museum. The security officer let them in, despite of strict regulations that didn’t allow him such authority, as one of the men said he had a warrant for the guard’s arrest if he didn’t comply. The twist: the “policemen” were really criminals in disguise, and as soon as they were in, they quickly handcuffed him and ordered him to call the other guard to the front, who was also met with the same behaviour. The thieves escaped with 13 paintings, including masterworks by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, worth three hundred million dollars. To this date, the criminals who accomplished the theft, are still out there, free, nor have the paintings ever been recovered, making it few of the entries on the list that were never discovered.
3) Five Paintings from the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (worth $123 Million US)
In May 2010, five paintings by the sensational artists including Pablo Picasso were stolen from the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (The Museum of Modern Art of Paris). The five missing paintings were Dove with Green Peas by Pablo Picasso (painted in 1911), Pastoral by Henri Matisse (1906), Olive Tree near l’Estaque by Georges Braque (1906), Woman with Fan by Amedeo Modigliani (1919) and Still Life with Candlestick by Fernand Leger (1922). These five paintings were worth together more than $123 million. The security cameras revealed that the crime was committed by one man who cut the paintings out of their frames, making them easier to steal. It was also claimed that he may have had help during the theft. He was caught and convicted in 2011, but paintings were never found. Honestly, they just steal to burn the art or what?
2) The Mona Lisa (worth $790 million US today)
The painting famous for its intense smile, the Mona Lisa, was one of the best creations done in the history of part- all thanks to the ever brilliant man, Leonardo Da Vinci. It was stolen from its exhibit place in the Louvre, Paris, on August 21, 1911 (yep, that long back). Maybe it was the time of too many precious artworks, for its absence wasn’t noticed until the next day. How exactly it was stolen? Well, it’s too easy. A handyman by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia accomplished the deed by simply hiding in the closet after the museum shut off for the day and simply stealing it at night and walking out in the morning. Since no CCTVs aided at the time, the inept museum security and police men just had the option of questioning the suspects and our cunning thief was questioned twice! It is a joke that the artist Pablo Picasso was also one of the suspects. Two years later, Peruggia tried to sell the painting and the police set up a sting operation. He was arrested and sentenced to seven months in jail and Lisa was back, smiling at you to confuse you to the deepest depths of hell.
1) The Empire State Building (worth $1.89 billion US)
Sayyy whaaaaaa. Yep, we told you in the beginning that one of the most famous buildings of the world was stolen and it was our very own Empire State Building . Currently worth $1.89 billion, it was taken by the New York Daily News to expose a gaping loophole in New York City’s system for recording deeds and mortgages that the system – run by the office of the city register – doesn’t require clerks to verify the information. And the process was all too simple. They just had to make fake documents, a fake notary stamp and file papers with the city on which the names used were as funny as listing actress Fay Wray (from King Kong), as the witness and Willie Sutton (a famous bank robber), as the notary. In only 90 minutes, the city approved the transfer of the building from Empire State Land Associates, to Nelots Properties LLC (Nelots is ‘stolen’ spelled backward). The building was returned the next day as stealing the Empire State Building wouldn’t go unnoticed for long, will it? Definitely the true worthy of number 1, this heist!
You must be flabbergasted to see how these precious trinkets of the history were stolen, without even a chance of being of any value after the theft and it makes us wonder, why are these robberies even done? To gift them to a lover to end tiff? To hang in your own hall (doesn’t seem that bad though)? To trouble the authorities or to simply burn down whatever gifts our heritage left us behind?