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The Intrigue of Art Theft

My publisher, Algonquin Books, has been tweeting and Facebooking that they have no responsibility for the robbery of the Kunstal Museum in Rotterdam last week in which thieves stole hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of paintings: Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Gauguin. The reason for the disclaimers is that The Art Forger will be released on Tuesday, October 23, and it’s set against the backdrop of the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum heist in 1990 – the largest art heist in history. Including the Kunstal.

What is it about art theft that fascinates us so much? Is it the huge dollars? The images of leotard-clothed men swinging from the ceiling? Or the idea of that rich guy sitting in his underground lair surrounded by priceless paintings? Probably all of the above. But what’s the real story?

In almost all cases, the truth is that no one’s wearing a leotard, there’s no fat-cat smugly surveying his loot, and although the paintings may be worth hundreds of millions at a legitimate auction house, they are worth far, far less once they’re been stolen. Check out the following links for more details.

Slate - What do thieves do with their stolen masterpieces?

Huffington Post - Rotterdam Art Heist

Huffington Post - $4 Million Lichtenstein Returned