Guide How to Steal a Million: The True Stories Behind the Greatest Art Heists of All Time

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Not a museum, no, but I couldn't leave this one out. It's returned to the Smithsonian, where it remains today. The dealer soon realizes he's just bought stolen goods, and he calls police.

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This Renoir painting led to one of the best art-theft stories D. The statue weaseled out of the Phillips Collection in Ally Schweitzer. Jan 15, 3 PM. Below, a brief history of notable thefts from D. Load More Content. It's dangerous, it's glamorous, there's an adrenalin rush. Upon entering the unguarded Gem Hall, they found the alarm batteries dead in their cases more over confidence on the Museum's part and they simply took what they liked.


And what they liked included nothing less than the world's biggest star sapphire, the Star of India, which at carats is about the size of a golf ball. It was a dumb plan. But it worked because in this instance the museum was just as dumb. Dumber, really. But in the end, the way they finally got caught was probably the dumbest part of the whole adventure.

Murf and his two buddies had been planning the heist while throwing raucous, nonstop parties at the posh Cambridge Hotel for weeks, and continued to do so after the theft- throwing money around like it was stolen, and bragging about their various exploits. Once the Museum opened and all the jewels were found missing the news spread like wildfire. It was all New York could talk about, and even if a nosey bellhop hadn't turned them in, another party guest surely would have. To say that they were indescret would be an understatement.

Within a few days the guys were in lockup, and most of the stolen jewels were found hidden at a Miami bus station. Minus nine big ass diamonds that had already been sold off.

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In the end, after an hilarious trial that involved multiple grand juries and Murphy actually jumping through a window, they were finally convicted. Ultimately, the professional party boys did serve a few years in prison. But hey man- it's all good. Murf learned to play the guitar. Not the contents of the room, mind you, the structure itself. The Nazis stole a lot of shit: art, gold, jewels But an entire structure?

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  • The Amber Room, as it's been called for the last years, was exactly what it sounds like - a room made out of Amber. But it was a pretty dope room, in a palace. And it was constructed entirely of precious stones, amber and gold.

    The Art of the Steal: A Brief History of Museum Theft in D.C.

    And it wasn't a small room either; elaborately carved like a giant piece of jewelry, the structure was made of several tons of gemstone. The beautiful room itself was primarily constructed of of solid amber, carved and inlayed into panels, backed with pure gold, making the walls glow from within. The Amber Room was designed and constructed in in Prussia -- and then given as a gift to Peter the Great of Russia in to celebrate peace between the two nations.

    He liked it. Catherine the Great liked it even more and had it moved to her palace a few centuries later. It was the wonder of Russia, and the most treasured treasure of the Czars for centuries, in a country known for its Imperial loot. Famous for among far worse acts seizing anything shiny and trying to drag it back to Berlin, on June 22, Adolf Hitler initiated operation Barbarosa sending 3 million German soldiers into the Soviet Union.

    While this would ultimately prove to be a really bad idea, as all land wars in Asia are, the invasion was successful enough that it resulted in the looting of massive amounts of Russian art treasure, not the least of which was the Amber Room. As the Nazis approached the Catherine palace, where the Amber room was installed, the residents attempted to hide it behind wallpaper.

    Sadly it didn't work -- probably because you can only wallpaper real walls. So the Amber Room was unceremoniously torn down, panel by panel, and packed up in 27 crates to be shipped to Konigsberg Germany.

    21. "A Fish Called Wanda"

    Unfortunately like a lot of art and treasure stolen by the Nazis in the final months of the war, those crates mysteriously disappeared and haven't been seen since. The moral of this story is; if you have enough gold and gemstones to build an entire ballroom , hide it from Nazis. So what about the cops who catch all these thieves; where do they come from? In fact, modern law enforcement, as we know it anyway, all started with a jewel heist.

    Majoring In Crime

    And as a result, together they inadvertently created the first modern police bureau, and eventually, most of the science of modern criminology. Right before Napoleon dumped her, he gave his wife Josephine a large emerald 'parure' -- a lavish set of jewels. One of Josephine's last acts as Empress was having her official portrait painted wearing the rocks. As soon as it was completed, she put it on display. Shortly thereafter, he divorced her and married one of his mistresses.

    She left the palace, and Paris, and was relegated to the countryside.

    Supposedly he was still desperately in love with her. The story goes that, years later, after his final defeat and exile, on his death bed, his last, whispered word was Josephine. Obviously the feeling wasn't mutual -- because releasing the portrait of herself in the emerald parure on the eve of her abandonment was quite the publicity stunt; right after the painting and the divorce was completed, the emeralds were stolen from her chateau.

    Napoleon was frantic to get Josephine's jewels back because he was terrified of scandal. Public opinion mostly influenced by her was still against him for leaving her, and he was paranoid that his political enemies would take advantage, by convincing people that he had orchestrated the theft himself when in reality, she probably did it herself, for that very reason.

    Josephine was a far more astute media whore than her husband. Napoleon had no shortage of henchmen. He also had a practical army of secret police--not to mention an actual army. But even with those considerable resources at his disposal, he was as loss as the fate of her jewels. None of his troops had even the faintest familiarity with basic police work.

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    • He rose to infamy in France as a criminal: a master thief, a conman, and yet another really fun guy. His life, though well documented, seems like a work of fiction. He's been posthumously credited as an inspiration for both Sherlock Holmes and some of Conan Doyle's more interesting villains. When all of Napoleon's resources failed him, he made a bold move. He hired a criminal. Employing only so-called 'deductive reasoning,' observational skills, and previously unheard of techniques of undercover investigation, Vidocq tracked down Josephine's emeralds, the thieves, and their buyers in less than three days.

      After successfully locating the jewels, Vidocq earned both a formal pardon and the Emperor's continued favor. In keeping with Vidocq's rather warped sense of humor, he asked to be made a police officer. He argued that crimes were better investigated using science, deductive reasoning. Most important of all, he insisted on implementing his own invention: cops in plain clothes; because nothing makes people guilty or innocent as nervous as seeing a uniform. Over the next twenty years, he and his handpicked team of fellow "detectives" all former criminals as well invented most of the foundations of modern criminology.

      He later went on to open the world's first private detective agency, Le Bureau des Renseignements, in , where he would further refine his methodology. In a Thai gardener named Kriangkrai Techamong kicked off a chain of events that ended in an international incident when he stole a ton of jewels from the palace of a Saudi prince.