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Art of the Heist

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Revealing the trade secrets of art thieves.

Latest episodes

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It’s January 2006 - police officers from Vienna’s crime investigation squad arrive on the outskirts of a forest. For almost three years they’ve been working to try to recover one of the most important sculptures in Renaissance Art –The Saliera by Benvenuto Cellini.
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Argentina was in the grip of a ruthless dictatorship when the biggest art theft in the country’s history took place including paintings by some of Europe’s most famous artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
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In 1988, the 1500-year-old archaeological site of “La Mina,” on the northern coast of Peru, was looted until it virtually disappeared. It was the site of the tomb of the Lord of La Mina, a ruler of the ancient Moche culture.
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The Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia, is one of the world’s greatest museums. On August 1st 2006, its director made a dramatic announcement. Over 200 items, worth around 5 million dollars, were missing from its store of Russian precious metals and jewelry.
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December 1913 in Italy– a man arrives in Florence after a sixteen-hour journey. He checks into a small rundown Hotel. He’s here for a secret meeting with two of Italy’s greatest art experts and he has something extraordinary to sell – the world’s most famous painting – the Mona Lisa.
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It started as one of the most perfect art heists. Two Rubens sketches stolen in broad daylight form a gallery in Spain leaving no clues. With the art world on high alert trying to sell the stolen paintings was to prove the thieves’ biggest challenge.
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The head of Scotland Yard's art squad must go to the British Museum on a case of stolen Egyptian artifacts.
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It was perhaps the biggest art heist of all time. Countless millions of dollars of the finest European art simply seized by the Nazis. Picassos, Rembrandts, Titians along with precious family silver and gold are taken by the Nazis from museums and private collections.
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Thieves take a mosaic from a Greek Orthodox Church.
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Nearly thirty years ago seven paintings, including a priceless Cezanne, were stolen from a private collection in America. As the years passed, Michael Bakwin, who owned the paintings, thought he would never get to see his precious Cezanne again. The police couldn’t find it.
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The Scream by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is one of the most famous and powerful images in art history. In the past 12 years, it has been the target of thieves not once but twice. Munch painted the image many times. One version, stolen in 1994, was recovered.
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It’s the most important question in the worldwide art market is it genuine? Or is it fake? When a forgery is passed off as the real thing, there are fortunes to be made and lost. For nearly a decade two Englishmen did just that.
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It was the biggest art heist in American history – half a billion dollars’ worth of paintings snatched from the walls of a Boston gallery. The haul included a rare Vermeer and paintings by Rembrandt and Degas. Since then teams of FBI agents have worked on the case.
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On December 22nd, 2000 three of the world’s greatest art treasures were stolen from the National Museum in Stockholm. Together the Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings were valued at 50 million dollars. The Stockholm heist was dramatic enough. But so too was the police sting to get them back.