Jul 11, 2011

Stolen Masterpieces

Did you hear/read about the the Picasso Doodle Bandit?  He's the bawdy fella who walked into a San Francisco art gallery over the July 4th weekend and walked out with a $200,000 Picasso drawing and escaped in a taxi. Crazy! The Bandit was quickly caught and arrested, and the Picasso was recovered unscathed.  it turns out that the bandit is a New Jersey boy, who has worked at a sommelier /waiter at some quite fine NYC eateries. What the heck was a sommelier doing stealing fine art in San Francisco?!? My mind races at this stupidity; art theft is a brazen move and bold criminal act. 

If I didn't know better, I'd think this bandit's bust was some sort of viral marketing campaign for the much-anticipated book Stealing Rembrandts by Anthony Amore and Tom Mashberg. Amore is the head of security and chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and he knows a thing or two about art theft; the Gardner Museum was robbed of 13 works of art in 1990 by two men dressed as police officers.    
No longer on pre-order, it's finally available! Click here to purchase
Stealing Rembrandts details the history of art theft over the past century, by following thefts of Rembrandt paintings. It also biographies the Dutch master, whose work is generally regarded as the greatest of European art history.
"Portrait of a Young Girl Wearing a Gold-Trimmed Cloak"
The FBI offered a $5 million reward for
the return of "Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee"
"A Lady and Gentleman in Black"

But, as the Huffington Post pointed out (the obvious predicament to art theft, duh), "Unlike diamonds or gold, a celebrated old master painting actually has little street value. Instantly recognizable, it cannot be reintroduced into the legitimate marketplace without attracting attention and is therefore difficult for criminals to monetize."  So why do people steal art?  And why, specifically, do people steal Rembrandts???

The book is part historical biography, part fine art education, part crime thriller.  It would make a great gift for a true crime fan or an art enthusiast.  Or make it your compelling beach read this summer (if you have it in you to commit to a compelling read on the beach)!


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