The stolen masterpieces: Famous paintings whose whereabouts are still unknown
The paintings of the great masters are not only artistic, but also quite measurable in monetary terms, value, and therefore are always in the focus of the robbers. Some of the masterpieces that once disappeared from museums, churches and cathedrals, continue to exist now only in reproductions and copies – while the fate of the originals remains unknown.
Abductions of the 20th Century
Jan van Eyck. “Righteous Judges,” sash of the Ghent Altar.
The work, created by Dutch artist Jan van Eyck or his brother Hubert, was stolen from the Cathedral of St. Bavon in Ghent on April 10, 1934. A resident of Ghent suspected of this crime, already on his deathbed, pleaded guilty, while simultaneously reporting that he would take the secret of the whereabouts of the masterpiece to the grave. Currently, the altar in Ghent is supplemented by a copy made from surviving photographs of the lost fragment.
This painting was perhaps the only self-portrait painted by Raphael. In 1798, the canvas was transported from Italy to Poland, to the collection of Princes Czartoryski. With the outbreak of World War II, despite all attempts to hide the masterpiece from the Nazis, the “Portrait of a Young Man” was discovered by the Gestapo and taken to the Hitler Museum in the Austrian city of Linz. After the war, to discover the picture failed. However, according to Polish authorities, this work of Raphael is not destroyed and is safe, its whereabouts are unknown.
Tradition says that the icon was painted by the Evangelist Luke. It was first mentioned in 1347, when the Byzantine emperor Andronicus III Paleologus donated the image as a gift to the monastery of Monemvasia in modern Greece. During the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821-1832, the icon was taken to St. Petersburg, where it took its place in the Winter Palace. Having changed his location several times, the Andronikov icon was in the Epiphany Cathedral of the Vyshny Volochok, from where it was abducted in 1984.
The image is revered by believers as miraculous. It is believed that after hitting the iconoclastic with a knife on the icon on the neck of the Mother of God, a bleeding wound appeared. A lithographic copy of the icon is stored in the church of the Feodorovsky Convent of Pereslavl-Zalessky.
Robbery of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990
On the night of March 18, 1990, a peculiar record was set for the cost of painting masterpieces stolen in one day – the damage from the crime was estimated at half a billion dollars. Robbers dressed in police uniforms entered the museum and neutralized the guards and carried out thirteen exhibits. Among the stolen paintings were three works by Rembrandt and one by his student Howard Flink, five paintings by Edgar Degas, works by Vermeer and Monet. Before leaving the museum, the criminals destroyed the video recordings. Currently, the search for the stolen masterpieces continues, and a reward of several million dollars has been announced for information about their whereabouts.
Isabella Gardner is one of the most famous women collectors who has collected about 2500 works of European art in her life.
This painting is considered the most expensive ever stolen. It was created by Vermeer in the period from 1663 to 1666. Three musicians are depicted on the canvas: a girl playing the harpsichord, a man with a lute and a singer. On the floor lies a popular musical instrument in the 17th century, a relative of the cello – viola da gamba.
Behind the singing girl Vermeer painted a picture of another great Dutch artist – Dirk van Baburen. This work, entitled “Combined”, was placed next door to the Concert and was not damaged during the theft.
Painted in 1633, this painting became the only seascape of the work of the great Rembrandt. The composition on canvas reflects the legend of one of the miracles of Jesus Christ – when, during a crossing with his disciples across the Sea of Galilee, he tamed a walking storm.
This work is one of the examples of Rembrandt’s early work, which already then demonstrated a brilliant transfer of action and emotions using chiaroscuro techniques.
The canvas depicts a man sitting with a notepad at a table at Cafe At Tortoni in Paris, where Mane had breakfast almost every day. The work was created by the artist in 1878-1880, during the heyday of his creative powers. “At Tortoni” is not just a vivid example of French impressionism, it is also a “portrait of an era”, a reflection of one of the facets of the social and cultural life of Paris at the end of the last century.