Search for the World's Most Wanted Art
2003's Most Wanted Art

This is a journalistic inquiry by  Saz Productions, Inc. to acquire information for a television  & new media production.  In the process we hope to publicize lost art and offer assistance towards its recovery.  Collectors, journalists, researchers, police, and others with questions or contributions e-mail 

*June 2003 -
All that glitters...two intriguing cases crossed our desk this past month concerning lost works of gold.  Neither piece was cast or hammered from bullion (one was plate the other gilt) but still each piece had it's own unique story.  First, Cellini's famous golden salt cellar was stolen from Vienna's Art History Museum.  This plated work is the goldsmith's only known, authenticated piece.  For details see BMI
or FBI

Next in Korea, thieves raided the Kongju National Museum making off with a golden (gilt) Buddha and three ancient ceramics pieces.  In this second case however, it took less than two weeks for the police to recover the loot.  As we like to say, suspects arrested pieces recovered and another case closed.

Otherwise, beyond the usual listing updates, this month we've reformatted our pages covering stolen musical instruments
and stolen artifacts.

*May 2003 -
The on-going response to recover antiquities looted from Iraq continues.  ICOM, UNESCO, and a host of international organizations and are actively working on the many problems associated with this unusual crime.  Additionally, INTERPOL is convening a conference (May 5 - 6) to coordinate international law enforcement efforts to help recover those stolen antiquities. For more information on this topic see US State Department

Elsewhere, two crimes with quick recoveries to report.  First, at the Whitmore Art Gallery in Manchester England, a thief stole minor works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin.  Those artworks were recovered (although damaged) the following day with a note claiming the theft was an attempt to show the poor security of the gallery.  Even in these circumstances it is important to remember such antics still constitute criminal actions. 

Next, in Italy, police recovered two frescos recently stolen from the archaeological site of Pompeii.  The first century depictions of cupid and a bird pecking a pomegranate were chiseled from the walls of a closed villa.

As to other  lost treasures, this past month saw five miniature portraits stolen from Hever Castle in Kent England.  Missing are two pictures of Mary Stuart, Thomas Cromwell, Queen Mary and Anne of Austria.
  And of interest to American history buffs, General George Armstrong Custer's family photo album was stolen from a California collector.  There's always some action on the art crime beat.

*April 2003 -
Breaking news this month concerns the loss of extraordinary treasures from Baghdad's National Museum.  Under the cover of civil unrest, thieves stole many rare near eastern artifacts.  As of this writing the FBI & INTERPOL are investigating the theft.  For information concerning the specific missing items see this report from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute

As to other crimes, this past month saw several interesting cases of art theft.  New York City's Rikers Island correctional facility was the scene of a fine art switch.  A donated work by Salvador Dali was stolen and replaced with a forgery during a fire drill.  Fortunately, a security officer involved  in the heist "sang" soon after the theft.  Elsewhere, in Ghent Belgium, there was a theft of 50 icons
dating from the fifteenth to seventh century.  The theft of that many paintings should pique the interest of police making it difficult for the thieves to dispose of them. 

Finally, for those interested in stolen Stradivarius violins, we've added a new section to our existing page of stolen musical instruments

*March 2003 -
This past month, there were a number of art crimes around the world.  Although some works by extraordinary artists were stolen, nothing of extraordinary value was taken. 

The latest round of thefts include a book of Matisse illustrations stolen in Athens, a ceramic plate by Picasso missing in Madrid, and a $500,000 cache of paintings by Dufy, Dubuffet, Marquet, and Metzinger have been lost in Florida.  Additionally, ancient coins were stolen in the Netherlands, 19 Idols were snatched from a temple in India, and some bronze statues have gone missing in New York.  For details on these and other extraordinary crimes visit the mailing list of the Museum Security Network

*February 2003 -
Congrats to those involved with the recovery of two paintings (Renoir and Monet) recently stolen in Naples Florida
.  A quick turn around in such cases is always good to see.  Elsewhere on the art crime beat there was an antique jewelry heist in California.  For details see the LAPD

On another note, it was very nice see old friends and make new acquaintances at the recent US National Conference on Cultural Property Protection
.  Our hats off to the Smithsonian for running this very informative conference.

*January 2003 -
This past year closed with a lot of activity in the world of art crime.  Among the major stories that broke this past December were a Van Gogh heist, some impressionist paintings stolen in Florida, and two important art recoveries in Europe. 

First, thieves broke into Amsterdam's Vincent Van Gogh Museum stealing two works by that famous Dutch artist.  Elsewhere, Renoir and Monet paintings were stolen from a private beachfront residence in Naples Florida.  For links and information about these and other recent art crimes see our page listing the major art thefts of 2002

Next, J.W.M. Turner's
two great works (Before & After the Deluge) were recovered as part of a six year long investigation by London's Tate Gallery.  Our congratulations go out to them!  In addition to that recovery, Irish police also recovered five valuable paintings stolen from Ireland's Russborough House.

Finally, welcome to all readers who are also attendees of this year's NATPE convention in New Orleans.  We continue to look for international media partners interested in developing an interactive art crime television series
.  Hope to see you on Bourbon Street!

Jonathan Sazonoff

Archive: January - June 2003 UPDATES
Archive: 2002 UPDATES
Archive: 2001 UPDATES
Archive: 2000 UPDATES
Archive: 1999 UPDATES