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Art Thefts Through the Years: The New England Edition

On Tuesday October 16, 2012 seven paintings from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands were stolen in the early hours of the morning. The stolen paintings are by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Lucian Freud among others.

The works which were on loan for the exhibition Avant Gardes, formed part of the private collection of The Triton Foundation. In a statement posted on the museum’s website, Amy Ansek the Kunstal’s director stated "we are not prepared to comment on the value of the works." This isn’t the first time the art world has witnessed the theft of artworks: Art Daily ran a compilation of some notorious art thefts from around the world.

The Kunsthal story is a familiar story for many New Englanders. In May 1972, the Worcester Art Museum suffered a major theft which included works by Rembrandt, Gauguin and Picasso. All stolen works have been recovered, unlike those stolen in March 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Thieves disguised as Boston Police officers entered the Gardner Museum and walked away with sixteen works of art. Among these included Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633), Vermeer’s The Concert (1658-1660) and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638). The heist remains unsolved and a $5 million reward is currently offered for information leading to the recovery of these works in good condition.

In August of 2008, three contemporary works of sculpture were stolen from the historic Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain. Kahlil Gibran’s bronze Seated Ceres and Carol Spack’s Bark Balls were among the stolen works.

As recent as October 9, 2012, The Museum of Bad Art located in the basement of the Somerville Theater in Davis Square reported the theft of an Elvis Presley painting which was purchased at a yard sale for $5. According to this report, the MoBA had already suffered prior thefts.

About Author

Anulfo AKA The Evolving Critic is a preservationist and blogger with a strong interest in architectural history, urbanism, and the parallels between fashion and architecture. He holds degrees in Tourism Planning and Development from the University of New Hampshire and in the History of Art and Architecture from Boston University. Anulfo has written for the Boston Society of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He oversaw BR&S's blog, Our Daily Red, from 2012-14.

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