Skip to Main Content

Art Heists That Made History: Home

Art Heists that Made History


Why Do Art Heists Fascinate Us?


Popularized across all mediums of fiction, the art heist has been a part of Western narrative since at least the 1400s. The modern art heist is a crime to which we collectively return; most of us are at once fascinated by the procedure of the actual theft and, at the same time, curious about objects that are valued so abstractly. The romantic cat burglars of the heist, well-dressed and sleek in fictional depictions (and often touted as gentleman thieves), are seen less as criminals and more as connoisseurs, stealing from imposing museums and often returning art to a singular space of solidarity. The art heist’s popularity in the cultural imagination may hinge on how valuable we perceive art to be, but its allure is also strengthened by a sense of mystery as to the art thief’s motivation, as well as to how complicated any given robbery turns out to be. Continue reading from JSTOR Daily


Heists in Chronological Order

Link to Theft of the Mona Lisa resource guide
Link to Europe's Art during WWII resource guide
Link to Museum of Natural History Gem Heist resource guide
Link to The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist resource guide
Link to Munch's
Link to Stockholm Nationalmuseum Heist resource guide
Link to Van Gogh Museum Robbery resource guide
Link to The Musee d’Art Moderne Heist resource guide
Link to Kunsthal Museum Heist resource guide