Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Art Theft: Edvard Munch's The Scream

What follows is the second installment in a series about art theft. You can read the first here.

In 1994, a group of thieves broke into the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway. In the chaos of the Winter Olympic Games, they took one of the four versions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. A few months later, police recovered the painting and arrested the men involved.

A later heist involving another version of Munch’s The Scream would not conclude nearly as swiftly or neatly. In August of 2004, two thieves in masks entered the Munch Museum in Oslo. One of them men controlled the crowd with a gun while the other took The Scream and another Munch painting, The Madonna, off the wall. A third man waited in a getaway car and the three were able to disappear before the police arrived.

The car was found not far from the museum. The thieves had left the frames in the car and sprayed the interior with fire extinguishers so the police would have a difficult time finding clues such as fingerprints. Their efforts worked and the men were able to get away with the paintings.

In late 2005, more than a year after the theft, police captured three men believed to have been involved in stealing, transporting, or hiding the paintings. Police continued to search for another three men.

In August of 2006, the paintings were finally recovered, though the two gunmen were never found.

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