There is an impressive list available on Wikipedia that contains stolen paintings. Some of these paintings have been recovered. Others are feared to be lost forever. There is a section with paintings that are missing after the theft and once found there is a great reward to be collected. So, do you want to get rich? Locate these paintings!
Let’s start off with the paintings that have been returned over the years after they were stolen.
The Mona Lisa
You can disagree with the estimated value of this painting by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s estimated value is about $782,000,000. This figure was much lower in 1962 when the painting was valued at $100 million. Still, the fact that this painting was worth so much money that the thief could make by selling this painting. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, was an Italian patriot who worked in the Louvre. He had only one wish: to return the painting to its home country; Italy. It was only when someone he knew told him that selling the painting could result in an astronomical amount of money. After two years, the painting was recovered. The price indeed rose, but Peruggia didn’t profit from it. It was the Mona Lisa that gained more value.
The Scream / Der Schrei der Natur
This painting was the work of Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944). This Norwegian painter made four versions of this painting. One of them is in the National Gallery in Oslo. It was stolen two times and there are also a number of attempts to steal this painting.
The first successful attempt took place on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer on 12 February 1992. Two men broke into the National Gallery and stole this painting. They demanded a ransom for this painting. The Norwegian police made a deal with the thieves and it looked that the ransom money would be paid. With the assistance of the British police and the Getty Museum, a sting operation was set up. The painting was recovered, although it was heavily damaged, on 7 May 1994.
The second successful attempt to steal The Scream was made on 22 August 2004. It was stolen by masked gunmen, together with Madonna – also a painting from the hand of Munch. In April 2005 a suspect was arrested. It was feared that the paintings were burned. More than one year later, in 2006, the paintings were recovered. They had been suffering from moisture damage. The paintings went back on display in 2008.
Paintings stole by the Nazis
During the Second World War, the Nazis stole a lot of beautiful paintings. Not only paintings. They were responsible for many examples of theft of artwork. Not all the paintings the Nazis claimed as their own were recovered. Amongst the stolen paintings are those made by Raphael, Portrait of a young man, with an estimated value of $100,000,000. This painting was reported to be found in 2012. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true.
The painting Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, by Gustav Klimt, is at the top list of stolen paintings by the Nazis. Its value is about $135 million. Luckily, this painting was recovered. This does not apply to the painting that Vincent van Gogh made entitled “The painter on his way to work.” No, this isn’t Van Gogh’s best work. But still, it is painted by this Dutch master-painter. In the aftermath of World War II, this painting got lost. Even a search by The Monuments Men didn’t recover this painting. The Monuments Men is a modern-day name for the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program. This was an attempt to recover art stolen by the Nazis or art that got lost during the last months of the war.
We know about the last location of this painting. It was on permanent display at the Kulturhistorisches Museum in Magdeburg (Germany). On April 1945, it was taken from there to the Stassfurt salt mines art repository near Magdeburg. If you are willing to believe this story, you can try to locate this painting if you want to. There is also a grim scenario. The painting was lost in the fire after an air raid by Allied bombings of the city of Magdeburg.
If you do happen to find this painting: there isn’t a reward for this painting as it is believed to be inestimable.
What paintings can you try to recover?
There are paintings you can try to recover. The list is very long. There is an impressive list on Wikipedia or on the website of The Monuments Men Foundation. On this list, you will find paintings from Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and many more.