1. The Concert by Johannes Vermeer
Let start with a masterpiece that holds a rather unwanted record. In the early hours of March 18th, 1990, thirteen works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, one of which was The Concert.
Depicting an ambient scene of a man and two women performing music, Johannes Vermeer’s oil painting, created painted between 1663-1666, is believed to be the most valuable stolen object in the world, with an estimated value (as of 2015) of a staggering $250 million.
This is not the first time the painting’s whereabouts were unknown, however the first time it went missing was not due to any master art thief. The painting was purchased in Amsterdam by an unknown buyer in 1696, although it was probably Vermeer’s patron Pieter Claesz van Ruijven from Delft.
It would not be seen again until 1780 at the auction of belongings of Johannes Lodewijk Strantwijk and was bought by intermediary A. Delfos for Mr. van Vlaardingen, Diederik van Leyden. It was purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1892 in Paris for $5,000 and went on display in the museum in 1903.
87 years later the heist would be perpetrated by two thieves posing as Boston police officers, claiming they were responding to a call. After subduing the guards they would cut the paintings from their frames, escaping with artwork worth an estimated half a billion dollars.
The museum would leave the thirteen frames empty on the wall, hoping one day they could be filled again with the missing pieces.
Enjoy the complete works of Vermeer here