Although rare, valuable paintings are stolen and never found. They are the most valuable of all.
There have been hundreds of paintings that have disappeared over the years, whether due to war, theft or a host of other untold reasons. These paintings were either classics or sought after by those who admired an artist’s work. Some are only worth a few dollars, but others are worth millions.
We’ve compiled a list of ten expensive paintings that have been missing for years. These paintings are majestic in their own way and from several different periods through time. Keep reading to learn about ten expensive paintings that have been missing for years!
ten Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee – $100 million
This famous painting was stolen in 1990 from an art museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Two men posed as police officers and tied down security inside the museum, as they stole this famous painting. They stole twelve other masterpieces with this one. This was originally painted in 1633 and even though the FBI have been looking for this painting for years, they still haven’t had any luck finding it. It was Rembrandt’s only seascape, and now it’s lost to the world forever.
9 Pablo Picasso’s Pigeon with Peas – $28 million
This painting was stolen from an art museum in Paris in 2010 after a single intruder disabled the security system. The masked man also stole four other works of art, but this one is the most memorable of them all. The thief managed to steal the paintings within fifteen minutes, even though there were security guards on duty that night. There has been speculation that the thief did not work alone, regardless of what the cameras say, but so far no evidence has been found to solve the case.
8 Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco by Caravaggio – $20 million
This painting was stolen in 1969 from the San Lorenzo Conservatory in Italy. This painting is still wanted by the FBI and has not yet been found. It was suspected that the Mafia were behind the robbery and its members made up imaginative accounts of its fate, but the police refused to believe them. There is a more recent claim that the painting was cut into pieces, but there are others who still don’t believe the theory due to other evidence in the case. We can only hope that this piece of history can one day be salvaged.
7 Madeleine leaning on her elbow with flowers in her hair by Pierre Auguste Renoir – $1 million
The oil painting pictured was stolen in 2011 during an armed robbery, and currently there is a $50,000 reward for the person who returns the painting to its original owner. It was originally painted in 1918 and it was stolen with the frame still intact from his home in Houston, Texas. It still hasn’t been recovered, but many suspect it will be sold in a major city or taken overseas, but the FBI is on the lookout and hope to find it soon.
6 Poppy Flowers by Vincent Van Gogh – $50 million
This painting has been missing since 2010, but surprisingly it has been stolen and returned once before. It was taken both times from the Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo, Egypt, and the second theft was blamed on a lack of security. The museum only received about ten visitors a day on average, and yet the thief is still there and the painting has still not been found. This makes people wonder why this painting has been so accessible, given its value and the number of people who yearn to sell it on the black market.
5 White Duck by Jean-Baptiste Oudry – $8.8 million
This painting was stolen in 1992 and the burglar was well trained in the art of deception. He used smoke to block the cameras from seeing anything while he cut the painting from the canvas and made his big escape. It was speculated that he fell into the hands of a local gypsy gang as part of a clandestine deal and was never seen again. We can only imagine where it ended up and we hope that one day this piece of history can be found.
4 The Vermeer Concert – $200 million
It is the second most expensive painting to go missing and was part of a major art theft that left the world crying out for revenge. This was painted in the 1660s and was midway through Vermeer’s career. He died young, so his works are less abundant than other artists of his time, but this is also the reason for the high price. The depth of this image is what draws people in and makes them feel something, which is another reason the art community is hoping to see it return.
3 Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals 3A and 3B by Maxfield Parrish – $4 million
This theft in 2002 at the Edenhurst Gallery when a thief entered through a hole in the roof. The paintings took the artist four years to create and were to be located in Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s home on Long Island. It was a devastating blow to Hollywood when this piece of art was stolen from the museum and it was a professional job. It is suspected that they were sold somewhere in Asia and the collector who owned them thinks he will never see them again.
2 View of Auvers-sur-Oise by Cézanne – 3 M$
This masterpiece was stolen at New Year’s midnight in January 2000. It was stolen from the Oxford University Museum. This flight was different from the others because it was carried out by a professional who knew exactly what he was doing. The thief used construction scaffolding to reach a skylight, then let go of a rope which he slid down to enter the museum. He tossed a smoke canister and set off the fire alarm to make it appear to be on fire, but after authorities checked the area they believed only that paint was missing.
1 Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi – $450 million
This painting is the most recent expensive work of art to be stolen and it was stolen this year from the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It may not have been missing for years, but it still deserves mention because of the exorbitant price it fetched at auction. It was previously missing and restored before being bought at auction, and now its disappearance has raised questions about its new whereabouts. This 1500s masterpiece is priceless and we can only hope for its safe return.
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