The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (2022)

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The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (1)

When the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Musée du Louvre in Paris in 1911, the theft caused an international sensation. Hiding in a broom closet until the museum was closed, Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia then swiped the painting, leaving just four iron pegs on the walls. Two years later, the thief and the painting were recovered, and the painting returned to the museum in 1914. However, many prolific stolen artworks have yet to be found, and their whereabouts remain a mystery. Here is a list of the most famous missing paintings in the world.

(Video) 10 Most Wanted Lost Objects In The World!

Poppy Flowers | Vincent Van Gogh

Painted by Vincent Van Gogh, Poppy Flowers (also known as Vase and Flowers) was stolen from the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo in August 2010. The painting depicts yellow and red poppy flowers against a dark background and is small in size, measuring just 65 x 54 centimeters. It is believed that Van Gogh painted this work three years before his suicide and that it was created out of Van Gogh’s admiration for Adolphe Monticelli. With an estimated value of $50 million, it is no surprise that the painting was targeted by thieves. The robbery in 2010 wasn’t the first time the painting had been snatched; it was stolen from the same museum in June of 1977. Following an extensive search operation, it was found ten years later in Kuwait. A few hours after the second theft in 2010, Egyptian officials and police believed that they had discovered the painting at the Cairo International Airport when two suspects attempted to board a plane to Italy. However, this lead proved to be false, and the painting’s location is still unknown.

The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (3)

Vincent Van Gogh, Poppy Flowers, c1886 | © Chimino/WikiCommons

Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois | Pablo Picasso

Painted in 1911, Pablo Picasso’s Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois (The Pigeon with Green Peas) became the target for a large art robbery in May of 2010. Swiped alongside four other masterpieces, Picasso’s painting was stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. All five works have an estimated value of €100 million. What was unusual about this theft was that it was carried out by one person instead of a gang of thieves, and all that was found at the crime scene was a broken padlock and a single smashed window. The paintings themselves were also removed from their frames rather than being cut. In 2011, a man who stated that he had thrown the painting into a rubbish container following the theft was convicted of the robbery. However, the credibility of this story is doubtful, and the painting is still lost.

The Concert | Johannes Vermeer

Painted by Johannes Vermeer in 1664 and depicting an ambient scene of a man and two women performing music, The Concert was part of a large art heist that took place in 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In March of that year, a group of thieves entered the museum dressed as Boston police and claimed that they were responding to a call. The thieves stole 13 paintings in total, including Vermeer’s famous work. The painting’s estimated value is $200 million; as a result, it holds the record for the most valuable and unrecovered artwork in the world. This is not the first time the painting’s whereabouts are unknown. The painting was sold in Amsterdam in 1696 and did not resurface for over 100 years. It was purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1892 in Paris for $5,000 and went on display in the museum in 1903.

The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (4)

Joannes Vermeer, The Concert, c1664 | © Sailko/WikiCommons

(Video) The 10 Most Wanted Lost Things In The World

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee | Rembrandt van Rijn

Another painting snatched in the same robbery as the Vermeer was The Storm of the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt van Rijn. This painting is believed to be Rembrandt’s only seascape. It depicts Jesus and the miracle of calming the Sea of Galilee from the Gospel of Mark. Painted in 1633, the painting is also amongst the most valuable missing artworks in the world. There have been recent developments related to the theft. In 2013, the FBI claimed that they knew the culprits of the crime and that the theft was carried out by a gang rather than one individual. However, there have been no other announcements about the case since then. There is a $5 million reward for information in relation to the robbery. The museum still displays the empty frames of the stolen paintings.

The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (5)

Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633 | (c) Aavindraa/WikiCommons

Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence | Caravaggio

One of the most prolific artists in history, Caravaggio’s works are among the most valuable in the world, and as a result, there have been a number of attempts by thieves to steal them. One successful theft occurred in 1969 when The Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence (also known as The Adoration) was taken from the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Sicily. The painting hung above the altar and was almost six square meters in size. The thief must have removed the painting from its frame due to its size. The Oratory was also pillaged of other artworks, precious woods and benches inlaid with mother of pearl. The location of the Caravaggio is still unknown to this day. It is believed that the local Sicilian Mafia carried out the theft, but this is just speculation. It is also rumored that the painting is hidden abroad or that it was destroyed during the theft or during the 1980 earthquake.

The Just Judges | Jan van Eyck

Stolen in 1934, Jan van Eyck’s The Just Judges (also known as The Righteous Judges) was one part of a display at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It was part of The Adoration of the Lamb altarpiece that Jan van Eyck created between 1426 and 1432. The panel, which is also believed to have been painted by his brother Hubert van Eyck, is considered to depict several contemporary figures, as well as portraits of Jan and Hubert van Eyck themselves. Oddly, The Just Judges was the only part of the 12-panel altarpiece that was taken. Furthermore, it was replaced by a note that read ‘Taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles,’ which was written in French. Over the following year, a number of random notes and letters were exchanged between the Belgian government and the supposed thief, a flamboyant local politician named Arsène Goedertier. On his death bed, the thief claimed that he knew the painting’s location but that he was taking the secret to his grave. To this day, the location of the painting is still unknown, although it has long been speculated that it was destroyed. The panel was replaced in 1945 by Belgian copyist Jef Van der Veken, who applied a layer of wax to the copy to make sure it blended in with the altarpiece.

The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (7)

Jan Van Eyck, The Just Judges (Photograph), c1426 | (c) WikiCommons/1Veertje

(Video) 10 Most Wanted Lost Objects In The World

Portrait of a Young Man | Raphael

Snatched by the Nazis in Poland, the Portrait of a Young Man is believed to have been created by Raphael around 1513. It is often cited as one of the most important missing paintings since World War II. While the subject matter is disputed, it is generally regarded to be a self-portrait of Raphael, as the facial features are similar to those depicted in his self-portrait in the fresco The School of Athens. The portrait shows a confident and well-dressed young man, depicted in an early Mannerist style. In 1939, the family patriarch Prince Augustyn Józef Czartoryski rescued a number of pieces from the Czartoryski Museum, including Portrait of a Young Man. Despite being hidden, the collection was discovered by the Gestapo. The portrait was sent to Berlin and then Dresden to become part of the Führer’s Collection at Linz. The last sighting of the painting was in Kraków when it was placed in Wawel Castle. Its current location is still unknown. In 2012, a false report about the painting’s rediscovery was published but was soon ascertained to be a hoax.

The 10 Most-Wanted Missing Paintings In The World (8)

Raphael, Self Portrait of a Young Man, c1510 | (c) Algotr/WikiCommons

Charing Cross Bridge, London | Claude Monet

Between 1899 and 1904, Impressionist Claude Monet painted his famous series of Charing Cross Bridge in London, depicting the bridge over various times of the day and from different views. One of these paintings was stolen from Rotterdam as part of the Kunsthal Museum theft in October 2012. Following the theft, a group of Romanian thieves were convicted of the crime. One of the burglars claimed that the Monet painting, as well as a few other artworks that were stolen, was burned in his mother’s stove in order to hide any evidence of the theft. Following a search of the stove, traces of pigment were found, but there was not enough solid evidence to prove his claim. The painting is still listed as missing, and the investigation continues.

Reading Girl in White and Yellow | Henri Matisse

Part of the same Rotterdam art heist was Reading Girl in White and Yellow by French artist Henri Matisse. Painted in 1919, the painting depicts a woman deep in thought reading a book, sitting next to a table decorated with flowers. The theft of this artwork and the others stolen in the robbery was one of the biggest in The Netherlands in over a decade. The burglars broke into the museum through an emergency exit and swiped a number of works before fleeing, all within two minutes. The mother of one of the thieves also claims that she was frightened following her son’s arrest, and so she buried the stolen artworks in an abandoned house and a cemetery in the village of Caracliu. She later dug up the paintings and burned them in her stove. The Matisse painting and the other stolen works formed part of the Triton Foundation collection.

Francis Bacon | Lucian Freud

Missing since 1988, the portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud was taken from Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, possibly by a fan of Bacon or a student. The gallery was full at the time of the theft. Following the robbery, Freud designed his own wanted poster for the stolen portrait, but this didn’t garner any responses. The poster depicts a monochrome version of the painting with ‘wanted’ in red as well as a reward. The stolen painting was created over half a century ago and reveals Freud and Bacon’s close friendship. The portrait was praised for its intimate nature and tension. At the time of the theft, the portrait was on loan from the collection at the Tate for a retrospective on the artist at the Berlin gallery. There has been information regarding the portrait since the theft.
By Julie Daunt

(Video) The 10 Most Wanted Lost Things In The World

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FAQs

What famous painting is missing? ›

What painting is still missing? ›

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee | Rembrandt van Rijn

Painted in 1633, the painting is also amongst the most valuable missing artworks in the world.

How many pieces of art are still missing from ww2? ›

More than 30,000 pieces of art are still missing. Some may have been destroyed, others hidden from public view. This gallery focuses on works of art that have been tragically lost to the second World War. The portrait of "Dr Paul Gachet" is one of Vincent van Gogh's more popular works.

How much is the Mona Lisa worth today 2022? ›

Mona Lisa ($860 Million)

While the price tag associated with it is hard to calculate, considering it is deemed priceless; the estimated cost for the Mona Lisa price is approximately $860 Million.

What are the 13 stolen paintings? ›

Stolen artwork
  • The Concert – Vermeer.
  • The Storm on the Sea of Galilee – Rembrandt.
  • A Lady and Gentleman in Black – Rembrandt.
  • Landscape with Obelisk – Flinck.
  • Chez Tortoni – Manet.
  • Self-Portrait – Rembrandt.
  • La Sortie de Pesage – Degas.
  • Cortege aux Environs de Florence – Degas.

What famous art has been stolen? ›

“The Scream,” Edvard Munch

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's most famous work, “The Scream,” was stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo during a heist in 1994. The thieves stole the painting in less than 1 minute after breaking in through a window.

Is the Mona Lisa still missing? ›

The Mona Lisa was eventually returned to the Louvre, where it remains today, exhibited behind bulletproof glass. It is arguably the most famous painting in the world and is seen by millions of visitors every year.

Where do stolen paintings go? ›

The black market. Most stolen art work goes underground. The thief sells his haul to an unscrupulous art dealer, who usually sells it on to a private collector who keeps it for a while.

Who Stole the Mona Lisa in ww2? ›

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa was swiped from the under-secured Louvre Museum by an amateur Italian painter and handyman named Vincenzo Peruggia. Peruggia was under the mistaken impression that the painting had been looted by Napoleon, during his Italian campaign.

What famous art was lost in ww2? ›

Raphael's Portrait of a Young Man was looted by the Germans from the Czartoryski Museum in 1939. Although Polish officials state that it has been known "for years" that the painting survived the war, its whereabouts remain unknown.

Who owns Mona Lisa now? ›

It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

Can I buy the Mona Lisa? ›

Though Mr. Bezos could theoretically afford it, the Mona Lisa isn't for sale, and France likely wouldn't be willing to give it up. “As a general rule, the French Heritage Code states that works in French national collections (e.g., the Louvre) are deemed to be French national treasures.

What is the most a painting has ever sold for? ›

This is a list of the highest known prices paid for paintings. The current record price is approximately US$450.3 million (which includes commission), paid for Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi ( c. 1500).

Who Stole the Mona Lisa picture? ›

On the 21st of August 1911, a man named Vincenzo Peruggia committed an infamous art crime that made history. He stole what is now the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, 1503, from the Louvre in Paris.

Who stole Hitlers art? ›

ALIU officers interrogated more than two thousand individuals involved in art looting, including such key German and Nazi figures as Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler's chief photographer and art adviser; Ernst Buchner, director of the Bavarian State Paintings Museum; Karl Haberstock, a Berlin art dealer who purchased and sold ...

What was the punishment for stealing the Mona Lisa? ›

And so, with much fanfare, the painting was returned to the Louvre. Perugia pleaded guilty to stealing it, and was sentenced to just eight months in prison. But a few days after his trial, Dorothy Hoobler says, World War I broke out. Suddenly, the drama of an art heist was off the front pages.

What are the 7 things of art? ›

ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value.

What are 4 pieces of art called? ›

Specifically, a "diptych" is a two-part work of art; a "triptych" is a three-part work; a tetraptych or quadriptych has four parts, and so on.

What piece of art is worth the most? ›

The most valuable painting in history must surely be the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. Although it is considered priceless, we can determine some numerical value by looking at the insurance value of the painting. In 1962 the masterpiece was assessed at a value of $100 million.

Which painting became famous only after being stolen? ›

Vincenzo Peruggia (8 October 1881 – 8 October 1925) was an Italian museum worker, artist, and thief, most famous for stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum in Paris on 21 August 1911. A police photograph of Vincenzo Peruggia in 1909, two years before the theft.

What is the biggest art theft in history? ›

The largest art theft, and the largest theft of any private property, in world history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990, when thieves stole 13 pieces, collectively worth $300 million, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Who has the most paintings stolen? ›

Pablo Picasso holds the record for the artist with the most stolen artworks in the world, with more than 1,000 of his artworks reported missing.

Where is the real Mona Lisa hidden? ›

Her mystery attracts the crowds to the point of almost being an icon of the Louvre Museum. You want to know where is the Mona Lisa located ? To see her, head to the Paintings Department, Denon wing, room 6.

Why is the Mona Lisa smiling? ›

Other research indicates that da Vinci may actually be trolling the viewer and that the "Mona Lisa" uses an optical illusion developed by da Vinci that's been dubbed the “uncatchable smile.” The illusion is that when looked at as a whole, the subject appears to be smiling.

Where is the original Mona Lisa today? ›

Where is the real Mona Lisa kept? The Mona Lisa hangs behind bulletproof glass in a gallery of the Louvre Museum in Paris, where it has been a part of the museum's collection since 1804. It was part of the royal collection before becoming the property of the French people during the Revolution (1787–99).

How do you make money from stolen art? ›

So how do criminals profit from art theft? One solution is to steal artwork on commission for a private collector. The collector is unlikely to offer the full price, but stealing on commission removes all the risk for the thieves of trying to find a buyer.

Is stealing art a crime? ›

Art Crime. Art and cultural property crime—which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines—leads to billions of dollars in losses every year.

Where do robbers sell stolen paintings? ›

According to the experts, the black market is the last resort for art thieves hoping to monetize their stash. There, criminals are hard pressed to find a legitimate buyer and, as FBI art crime specialist Christopher McKeogh tells Artnet News, there is risk associated with the sale.

Why was Mona Lisa attacked? ›

The “Mona Lisa,” a 16th-century portrait by Leonardo da Vinci—and arguably the most famous painting on earth—was the target of a pastry attack Sunday in a stunt by a climate change protester who was dressed as an elderly woman.

Was the Mona Lisa found after it was stolen? ›

In 1911, Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre by an Italian who had been a handyman for the museum. The now-iconic painting was recovered two years later.

How many times has Mona Lisa been attacked? ›

The Mona Lisa has drawn a fair few attacks throughout her history, having now been subject to vandalism or attempted vandalism five times.

What art was lost on the Titanic? ›

La Circassienne au Bain, also known as Une Baigneuse, was a large Neoclassical oil painting from 1814 by Merry-Joseph Blondel depicting a life-sized young Circassian woman bathing in an idealized setting from classical antiquity. The painting was destroyed with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

Did Russia steal art in ww2? ›

At the end of World War II, when Stalin's Red Army entered Berlin, it raided the museums and galleries along the way. Over 2.5 million items were sent back to the Soviet Union. In a gesture of friendship with Communist East Germany, the Kremlin returned some of the stolen art to its Communist allies in 1958.

Are ww2 pictures worth anything? ›

Signed pictures of these famed generals dating to World War II can be worth thousands of dollars apiece. Autographed Patton photos can bring as much as $10,000. Machine guns. Most US guns from World War II are worth less than $1,500.

What does Mona mean in English? ›

Meaning:noble or aristocratic. Mona is a girl's name of Italian origin. This name translates to “noble” and “aristocratic.” It is thought to be derived from the name Madonna, which is famously associated with the Virgin Mary in Christian theology.

Are there 2 Mona Lisa's? ›

Actually, there's at least four different versions painted by Leonardo da Vinci and his students. But the one we all know and love is at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The others can be found at the Prado Museum and in numerous private collections.

How much is the real Mona Lisa worth? ›

However, another conflicting report claims that back in 1962, the painting's price was assessed at $100 million. Taking inflation into account, it would make its value about $900 million as of 2021. SEE: How many kids does Master P have as he reveals daughter's death?

Can you destroy art you own? ›

In general, someone who purchases a copyrighted work has the right to destroy it. If you buy a copyrighted book, you are free to throw it away, or to give it away to someone else. However, the Visual Artists Rights Act is a federal law that provides some additional protections for certain artworks.

Is the Mona Lisa protected by bullet proof glass? ›

The Mona Lisa has been protected by glass since the 1950s and had its now-bulletproof case updated as recently as 2019. "The museum salutes the professionalism of its agents who reacted immediately during this incident," the Louvre said.

How much is a replica Mona Lisa worth? ›

A famous fake copy of the Mona Lisa, so similar to Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece that some experts questioned whether the real copy was hanging in the Louvre, was purchased Friday for $3.4 million, selling at an auction for more than 10 times its appraised value.

What color paintings sell best? ›

Noussair, and Luc Renneboog analyzed 5,500 abstract works that had sold at auction, according to the Blouin Art Sales index, and found that blue and red works sold for prices 10.6% higher.

What is the most visited painting? ›

Unsurprisingly, the most visited painting in the world is also the most famous portrait ever painted – the Mona Lisa. Created by Leonardo da Vinci at the start of the 16th century, it's valued at well over $660 million.

Is The Scream painting still missing? ›

On May 7, 1994, Norway's most famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, is recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo.

Was the Mona Lisa ever missing? ›

In 1911, Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" was stolen from the Louvre by an Italian who had been a handyman for the museum. The now-iconic painting was recovered two years later.

Is the Rembrandt painting still missing? ›

In 1990 Rembrandt's painting was stolen along with 12 others from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and it was never found again. It was one of the largest heists in US history. So, who stole this rare work of art, and how did they get away with it?

Who stole scream? ›

The gang was led by Pål Enger, who was sentenced to 6 years and three months in prison. Enger was no stranger to art theft: he had already spent four years in prison in the late 1980s for the theft of another Munch artwork, The Vampire.

How did The Scream painting get stolen? ›

2004 theft

The 1910 version of The Scream was stolen on 22 August 2004, during daylight hours, when masked gunmen entered the Munch Museum in Oslo and stole it and Munch's Madonna. A bystander photographed the robbers as they escaped to their car with the artwork.

Can you buy the Mona Lisa? ›

Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.

Who owns Mona Lisa? ›

It had been believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506; however, Leonardo may have continued working on it as late as 1517. It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

How much is a Mona Lisa 1911 worth? ›

In 1911, the Mona Lisa was not yet instantly recognizable. In fact, when The Washington Post first reported the theft and appraised the painting's value at $5 million, the paper mistakenly ran a picture of the Monna Vanna, a nude charcoal sketch that some believe da Vinci made in preparation to paint the Mona Lisa.

Did the Mona Lisa get damaged? ›

1956: A rock is thrown at Leonardo's masterpiece

In 1956, the Mona Lisa was vandalized not once but twice. First, a vandal attempted to take a razor blade to the painting, though no damage ended up being inflicted. Then, a Bolivian man named Hugo Unjaga Villegas tossed a rock at the painting.

Are there any missing Monet paintings? ›

The painting is still considered missing and the investigation remains active. Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London, 1901, was also part of the RotterdamKunsthalart theft and is also presumed to have been destroyed or still missing along with the Charing Cross Bridge, London, mentioned above.

How much is an original Rembrandt worth? ›

LONDON (Reuters) - A Rembrandt painting unseen in public for nearly 40 years sold for a record 20.2 million pounds ($33.2 million) at auction in London on Tuesday, the highest ever paid at auction for the 17th century artist.

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