BY: CHRISTOPHER WAI
Though I knew museum thefts to be common, it seems that they are far more frequent than I had imagined. They also seem to be fairly overt (in the news at least); less secretive and more of the smash and grab variety. Thankfully though, recoveries seem to be just as common, though the space in between can be quite... variable. Unfortunately, I haven't touched on the situation in the Levant here as there is a lot of ground to cover, but I do hope to do so later.
So here are a selection 14 cases that have either just been solved, are still ongoing with a new strategy, or have just begun. Click on the headings for more info!
|Motoshige: Chido Museum. Source|
Stolen in 1986 with its shorter twin, the 14th century Motoshige sword of the Sakai family has been recovered by a private buyer (with permission from the family). Similarly, the Chido museum managed to recover the short sword earlier in 1986. In September, an exhibition was set up at the Chido museum to celebrate the recovery but unfortunately, the Motoshige was not planned to be returned to the Sakai family, so what will happen next is unknown.
While the Isabella Stweart Gardner Museum has yet to recover the stolen subjects from the infamous heist in 1990, surveillance footage of the theft is available online in hopes that someone will recognize the culprit. At 25 years though, one wonders if it will help.
The museum also has a virtual exhibition and 3-D tour on the stolen objects as well.
|Heart Shaped Glasses. Source|
|La Coiffeuse Source|
Stolen 14 years ago, Picasso's 'La Coiffeuse' was recovered in a shipping container after police received a mysterious tip. It's worth according to the shipping label? 30 Francs or 39.76 CAD/ 30.21 USD.
|Personal Effects. Source: Polish Police|
In a previous, unrelated case, a neo-Nazi was among the suspects apprehended for attempting to steal a sign at the site.
|Space Exhibits. Source|
|Roman Altar. Source: BBC|
An example of one of the great fears of open displays and mounts, a Roman altar was stolen in August from the Senhouse Roman Museum. There is CCTV footage of the theft, so perhaps it will be found, but the altar will never be in the same condition. The museum is said to be reviewing its security practices.
|5th Century Achaemenid Bas Relief. Source: Quebec Provincial Police.|
Perhaps the most immediately disturbing and unsettling in the list, body parts stolen from the Siriraj Medical Museum in Bangkok were found in a series of packages by DHL employees before they could be sent abroad. There are three suspects, but no arrests have been made.
Rodin's Man with Broken Nose was stolen from Copenhagen's Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum just this July. There was no dramatic heist or plan; it was taken in broad daylight and the thief strolled out the front door. CCTV footage is available.
|Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery. Source|
Two revolvers and a scabbard were stolen during Diwali in October 2014 from the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery. Curiously enough, the sword itself was simply discarded at the museum. The gold scabbard was acquired in 1986 and the revolvers were gifted this year. As with the Senhouse Museum, they are now also reviewing their security measures after the fact.
|Pearl Harbour Jeep. Source|
|Red Slippers from the Judy Garland Museum. Source: Associated Press|
|Type of .30 Cslibre Machine Gun stolen. Source: Road to Victory Military Museum|
A full sized, belt fed machine gun was stolen from its mount on top of an armored car in August 2015.
Thankfully it is inoperative, though it can make “realistic gunfire-like sounds...” by creating "small explosions"