History has taught us that no matter how big the trap is, a sneaky mouse will always make its way to its cheese just like museum theft continues to happen in spite of 24/7 security.
On September 3, the robbery in the Nizam Museum left citizens baffled wondering how this offense even took place. However, the mystery behind was soon resolved by the Hyderabad police within a week. But again, this was nothing less than a filmy staple which raised a lot of questions regarding the degrading measures taken for museum’s safety.
Museum security is a kind of art form unto itself, a way to bring humans as close as possible to works of art while preventing wrongdoers from stealing it. “The guards are on an alert during grey hours and are constantly present at other hours too. Glasses need to be bulletproof. Even the walls and floors need to be taken care of. Creating safety and accessibility at the same time is a difficult job to maintain,” says Dr AKVS Reddy, former director of Salar Jung Museum.
From Hollywood to Bollywood, such heists are lauded over and are brought into the realm of fandom. The undeniable planning or having shadowy network of conspirators of these celebrated criminals is too good to ignore. Here are some of history’s greatest and sensational museum heists.
Mona Lisa from Louvre
Mona Lisa is a world famous painting today, but that wasn’t the case until it was first stolen. In the year 1911, an employee of the Louvre museum stole the painting of Mona Lisa after the museum was closed. The man, Vincenzo Peruggia, was caught after two years when he finally decided to sell it. A lot of imitations were made and sold during this span of time.
Works of Mayan from National Museum of Anthropology
It is considered to be one of the biggest museum heists that took place in Mexico City in 1985. A total of 140 priceless works of Mayan and Aztec art from the museum were stolen. It was during Christmas, when the thieves broke into the museum and opened seven glass display cases and grabbed many of the museum’s most-precious objects. Experts agree that the thieves had a strong knowledge of the collection and knew exactly which pieces they were targeting. Nine museum guards were interrogated by police, but were not charged with the crime. To-date, only a small fraction of the stolen artworks has been discovered and it remains doubtful that the art will ever be seen again.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
A scene straight out of a movie, two thieves dressed as Boston Police officers entered the museum and stole thirteen works of art. It was March 18, 1990, when the thieves entered the museum claiming that they were responding to a disturbance. The security officers of the museum violated the protocol and let them in. The thieves then handcuffed the guards and put them in separate areas of the basement with tape on their mouth, hands, and feet. The paintings valued at $500 million (Rs 36 crore approx) are still not retraced.
Paintings by Picaso from Kunhstahl
On October 16, 2012, Romanian gang members stole seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gaugin, and Monet In under three minutes. The thieves got away with more than $24 million (Rs 1.73 crore approx) worth of artworks.