I have never understood the whole art heist thing. Is anybody else with me on this? Maybe someone can explain it to me because I just don’t get it. What is the point of stealing famous, priceless works of art that are recognized the world over? Well, I know the point which is to have famous, priceless works of art in your possession. I mean after that . . . what are you supposed to do with your big score? You can’t exactly hang them on your wall and then invite your friends over for an art viewing social gathering, replete with an open bar and canapes, and proudly show off your newly-acquired art. That would raise a little suspicion, don’t you think? People will ask, “Arnie works at the post office, how did he get a Picasso?”. You can’t sell them to any reputable art dealer, gallery, or museum curator. That’s out. So I repeat, what’s the point? We’re not talking about a stolen Rolex or a set of hubcaps. These are recognizable, renowned, famous paintings by major artists! An “all points bulletin” has been issued, Interpol is looking for your ass! You can’t show them to anybody, you can’t sell them, WTF???
Most of you probably heard about the big art heist in Paris last week. Great modern masterpieces, estimated to be worth $120 million, were swiped from the Modern Art Museum. These burglars somehow managed to cut a padlock, climb through a window, carry out several big paintings, and did it all without triggering the alarm because the system was temporarily disabled and the Museum was still waiting for the replacement part! Can you believe this? You can’t make this stuff up. Now I’m certainly no expert on heists of any kind, but I’m guessing this was an inside job because someone among the gang of theives obviously knew about the faulty alarm. Or were tipped off by someone.
This is one of the stolen paintings. Modigliani’s Woman With a Fan:
When I was a kid, I once stole two pretzels from the corner candy store. Remember those big glass jars with the long pennystick pretzels? They were literally a penny a piece. Well for some reason, I took two out of the jar when the storekeeper wasn’t looking and just walked out with them without paying. Don’t ask me why I did it because I have no idea! I was such a good, obedient, well-behaved kid, so this incident was really out of character for me. But something just came over me at that moment and I turned into a little thief. Do you know that I was racked with guilt that night? I’m not joking. I was in my bedroom, almost crying, completely tormented and ashamed over stealing those pretzels, and I was terrified that some candy store SWAT team was going to bust down my door and arrest me for my crime. I admit that I am prone to having a guilty-conscience when I do bad things, but this was a bit much!
But at least I got to EAT my pennysticks. I think that’s my point. These burglars don’t care about the beauty of art or the genius of Picasso’s Cubist period or Matisse’s use of color. They are working on an entirely different level – one driven by avarice, corruption, and all sorts of sleazy black market underworld doings. The article I linked to above discusses this, and talks about drug trafficking and organized crime. It helped me understand the whole art heist thing, somewhat. But I still don’t get it. It’s all too creepy for me.
Another one of the recently stolen works, the gorgeous Pastoral by Henri Matisse: