Stealing Art: How Thieves Do It, and How They (Sometimes) Get Caught

Robert Wittman – FBI

Just a few weeks ago, on March 12, 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic was unfolding, one of the most remarkable art heists in history took place. The Singer Laren art museum near Amsterdam had just closed its doors due to the Coronavirus threat. Under the cover of darkness, thieves broke the glass doors of the museum and absconded with an 1884 oil painting by Vincent van Gogh called The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring. Similar works by van Gogh have fetched tens of millions of dollars at auction. With the coronavirus effectively freezing travel and disrupting shipping routes, smuggling the painting over international borders could prove incredibly difficult. Many feel “the thieves might not be too far from the site of the crime”.
This class, taught by world renowned expert (and FBI agent) Robert Wittman, will examine the historical aspects of art theft and other art crimes, including; frauds, forgeries and fakes. He’ll offer an overview of the worldwide problem and the amount of annual loss. He will then detail the Van Gogh heist, including, how the painting could be recovered.