Lost Masterpieces: Part 1

Throughout history, many historical masterpieces have been stolen and then recovered. These are three of the most prominent.

Recently, a long-lost painting by Caravaggio was discovered in a leaking attic in Toulouse, France. The painting has allegedly sat untouched for more than 150 years after an officer in Napoleon’s army brought it into the country.

The discovery of the painting, thought to be work about €120 million, has been called a “momentous occasion” by experts. Some, however, don’t put as much stock in these lost masterpieces.

“I don’t really care about them,” said senior Skyler Searle. “They don’t affect me.”

While this painting is an incredible find, there are still hundreds of rare and valuable paintings missing in the world. These are three of the top ten most-wanted, according to the Art Loss Register:

  • Lucian Freud’s “Francis Bacon”
    • Disappeared: 1988
    • Reward Offered: 300,000 German Marks
    • For 25 years, there have been no rumors of the location of the painting. Usually after a reward is offered, criminal gangs offer hints about the locations. Freud designed his own ‘Wanted’ poster for the stolen image, but even this didn’t elicit a response. This portrait is thought to have been taken by a Bacon fan or a student.
  • Rembrandt, “Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee”
    • Disappeared: 1990
    • Reward Offered: €3.2 million
    • One of the 13 artworks taken from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in America’s biggest art theft, the crime is still open twenty years later. A pair of art thieves stole thirteen paintings after after posing as police officers and museum guards allowed them entry. The thieves managed to handcuff both guards on duty and trapped them in the museum basement while they robbed the gallery.  The FBI’s investigation of the theft hasn’t been conclusive and a $5 million reward is being offered for information that leads to finding the paintings in good condition.
  • Jan Van Eyck’s “The Just Judges from the Ghent Altarpiece”
    • Disappeared: 1934
    • Reward Offered: Undisclosed, £21,300 were demanded as a ransom
    • This painting was part of the Ghent Altarpiece at the Belgian city’s Saint Bavo Cathedral. It was removed from the cathedral during the night in April of 1934 and replaced with a ransom note: “Taken from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles.” Although a ransom was demanded, the Bishop of Ghent refused to pay it. Further negotiations were made through letters later in 1934. The thief of the artwork, on his deathbed a few weeks later, insisted that he would take the secret of the masterpiece’s location to his grave.