Friday, August 2, 2013

Millions and Millions

Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists by Anthony M. Amore, Tom Mashberg

Summary: Today, art theft is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises in the world, exceeding $6 billion in losses to galleries and art collectors annually. And the masterpieces of Rembrandt van Rijn are some of the most frequently targeted.

In Stealing Rembrandts, art security expert Anthony M. Amore and award-winning investigative reporter Tom Mashberg reveal the actors behind the major Rembrandt heists in the last century. Through thefts around the world—from Stockholm to Boston, Worcester to Ohio—the authors track daring entries and escapes from the world’s most renowned museums. There are robbers who coolly walk off with multimillion dollar paintings; self-styled art experts who fall in love with the Dutch master and desire to own his art at all costs; and international criminal masterminds who don’t hesitate to resort to violence. They also show how museums are thwarted in their ability to pursue the thieves—even going so far as to conduct investigations on their own, far away from the maddening crowd of police intervention, sparing no expense to save the priceless masterpieces.

Stealing Rembrandts is an exhilarating, one-of-a-kind look at the black market of art theft, and how it compromises some of the greatest treasures the world has ever known.

Review: A collection of interesting stories about art thefts of Rembrandt’s works with a little history about Rembrandt himself.

Art thieves, at least art thieves who steal famous works of art, never prosper. They wind up ditching the painting, using an intermediately to return the painting, or using the painting for leverage or ransom. It’s quite ironic since the thieves are expecting to make tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions from the paintings. Despite the popular image, most art thieves are petty thieves who would steal just about anything to make a quick buck. They often grab what they think is the most valuable and oftentimes leave pieces that are just as valuable or even more valuable.

What surprised me was how some people got almost happy about art thefts, like the thief was sticking it to the rich man. But as the authors point out, when the thieves take from museums, people are losing the chance to ever see that important work of art. Museums are for the masses. The glimpses of Rembrandt’s life was fascinating and I will certainly read more about him and his paintings. His workshop churned out paintings like a modern factory line. Then he lost it all and went into bankruptcy.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that are interested in art and art history.

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