Are famous museum paintings really easy to steal?

Monk’s Scream has been stolen twice, and the police fight the thief as in the movie

The representative work of the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, The Scream, features the characters holding their heads with their hands, revealing a look of anxiety and anguish, making the viewer feel uneasy. This painting has been imitated in various media such as film, music, art scene, and even sold as a keychain or T-shirt, and is a world-famous art icon.

In fact, there are five versions of the world-famous the scream painting repeating the same theme, and it took ten years to paint five Scream paintings, two of which were stolen. The theft was both located in Monk, Norway, and two art galleries in Oslo. After several years, the suspects returned the paintings to the museum, but the Scream collection at the Monk Museum in Oslo was severely damaged, causing excitement and concern among art fans.

Tragedy at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics

On February 12, 1994, the first theft of “Scream” was the opening day of the 17th Winter Olympics. In order to highlight the country’s reputation, Norway devoted all its resources to hosting the Winter Olympics. Two men came to the Oslo National Museum of Art, where they collected “Scream,” at 4:30 a.m., and at 4:30 a.m., they placed a ladder rack on the outer wall of the museum. One of them climbed the ladder to the second floor, broke the glass, and then came to a display a meter from the window. The location of “Scream”, cut the metal wire from the hanging frame, and then climb the ladder to the first floor to escape. The crime time is only fifty seconds.

Related article: Mona lisa stolen: Is the Mona Lisa in the Louvre a fake? 

The suspect also left a note at the scene of the crime, which read: “Thank you for the unreliable security system.
The stolen news, along with the news of the opening of the Winter Olympics, is broadcast on television around the world.

The security system at the National Art Museum in Oslo was weak, and although the surveillance video of the suspect’s staircase could be seen through monitors, the guards at the museum were concentrating on filling in the duty logs on the desk, completely ignoring the surveillance screen.

When the suspect breaks the glass, the alarm in the building sounds, which the guards think is a false alarm, and without confirming the surveillance screen, the alarm device is turned off directly.

In addition, the windows of the National Gallery of Oslo do not have intrusion prevention devices such as iron fences, nor do they fix the paintings securely to the walls, only hanging them with metal wires. When the museum’s security system was announced in the afterlife, it was as if telling suspects to “steal paintings,” such lax safeguards caused the world a stir.

In addition, the stolen Shout supports are made of fragile thick paper drawn with egg and crayons. If suspects lack artistic knowledge and commit theft for money, they are less likely to return the painting in full, and a search is needed as soon as possible.

The Norwegian police confirmed the surveillance footage, but the image quality was poor, making it difficult to identify the face of the criminal. In addition, no fingerprints were taken at the scene, no eyewitnesses, and no messages were received from the suspect asking the museum to buy back the painting, causing the investigation to be halted momentarily.

London Police Department’s Art Search Officer Arrives

In the UK, a man named Charley Hill, was very concerned about the progress of the Scream theft case. He was a detective with the London Police Department’s art search team, who in the past managed to recover works by Vermeer and Francisco Goya using a round fishing hunt. However, as the theft took place in Norway, the London Police Department was unable to intervene.

A few weeks after the theft, the case has progressed

An English man named Billy Harwood went to prison for drug trafficking and was later released from prison. He actively contacted the Norwegian police, stating that he knew the suspect who stole the scream painting. The Norwegian police decided to work with the London Police Department’s Art Search Team to investigate the case, and Hill joined the search.

With Harwood still unable to locate the suspect, Hill decides to lure the seducer into the scene. His plan is as follows. FIRST, HILL PRETENDED TO BE AN ARCHIVIST AT THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM IN LOS ANGELES, USA, AND SPREAD THE MESSAGE TO THE BLACK MARKET THROUGH THE GETTY MUSEUM THAT “THE MUSEUM IS GOING TO STEAL THE SHOUT BACK”, INDICATING THAT THE POLICE WERE COMPLETELY UNAWARE. If the suspect counts, the suspect can be arrested while retrieving the painting at the scene of the transaction.

However, if there are a few errors in the script, the suspect will lose the opportunity to retrieve the painting forever. With the help of the Getty Museum, Hilhua went by the name Chris Roberts, and the museum also produced fake staff files and records of past salary payments for him to be fully prepared.

American entrepreneur Paul Getty, founder of the Getty Oil Company, was once the world’s first fortune teller. He was also an art collector who founded an art gallery to house art from his personal collection. After Getty’s death, the museum was operated by the Paul Getty Foundation. The Getty Museum has a huge amount of money, often acquiring high-priced art, and has a strong reputation in the industry.

Hill put out a message on the black market that the Oslo National Gallery had asked the Togetti Museum as an agent to provide ample funds to buy the paintings back, which sounded very credible. If the Scream could be recovered to help recover the painting, the Oslo National Gallery agreed to allow the Getty Museum to exhibit the painting for a period of time, which sounds quite reasonable. Since the famous painting “Scream” has only been displayed at the National Art Museum in Oslo for many years, it is a great advantage for the Getty Museum if you can borrow it. The script is perfect and should reduce the suspects’ suspicions.

ON APRIL 24, A PAINTER NAMED UBINK CONTACTED DUNE, DIRECTOR OF THE OSLO ART MUSEUM, WHO SAID: “THERE WAS A GUEST NAMED JOHNSEN WHO SAID HE KNEW SOMEONE WHO COULD ARRANGE FOR THE RETURN OF THE SHOUT.” While doubting the credibility of the lead, the search team received an anonymous call the next day, stating that they had found a picture frame in the “Yell” section, and the search team decided to investigate. Fang and Johnson agreed to meet at a hotel in the city of Oslo on May 5.

Hill, posing as a Getty Museum curator, went undetected. After much deliberation, the two sides agreed to redeem the painting at a price of $50,000. Johnson was a man of great vigilance who, although he had once discovered the police lurking in the case, was greatly reduced by seeing the large bill Hill had prepared in advance.

The condition of the transaction was to exchange cash and Yell. On May 7, two days later, Hill took Ubink’s car south from Oslo, a hundred km drive to a holiday villa in Asgardstrand, where he was suspected of hiding Scream.

On the other hand, the place where the ransom is handed over is the hotel. That is, when Hill confirms that the Shout is real and is as good as it originally was, he will be handed over to Johnson for ransom at the hotel.

After Hill gets The Scream and verifies that the painting is real, he pretends to call his partner in charge of handing over the ransom at the hotel, in effect contacting the police who are buried at the hotel. Police mount a raid and raid the room where Johnson is located, and after a twist, they successfully arrest Johnson, and Hill’s fishing arrest plan is successfully terminated.

(Scream) Second theft, the first gun theft in history

The second theft, suspected of forced robbery, was held at 11.30 a.m. on August 22, 2004, on a Monday, by a large crowd of visitors to Oslo’s Munk Art Museum. On this day, two masked thugs broke into the building and robbed everyone at gunpoint and ordered everyone else to hang out. After subduing the crowd, the thugs rudely tore down the walls of The Scream and another of Monk’s work, The Virgin Mary. Although there are guards in the building, they see the suspect with a gun and do not dare to go astray.

Following the theft, it was speculated that police suspected the theft was linked to a robbery at a cash centre in Stavanger, Norway, three months ago. The Stavanger robbery, which killed one police officer, was the largest robbery in Norwegian history. Police suspect that the suspect stole the Monk painting, considered a Norwegian national treasure, to distract police and reduce the number of people investigating cash robberies.

In 2006, the police investigated the Stavanger robbery and arrested a suspected lawyer who gave him clues about the location of the painting. The Oslo police managed to retrieve The Scream and The Virgin Mary through clues, listening to the monitor screen and listening to more than 7 million calls.

However, the damage to the Shout is serious and makes one worry about whether it will be repaired successfully. In particular, the lower left corner was splashed with liquid, severely damaged, centered on the area where the glass was broken, and several cuts were found on the surface of the painting. After the police search for “Scream”, the museum exhibited the painting for a short time, but it was not long before the painting was taken down for restoration work, lasting up to two years.

The director of the Monk Art Museum said: “We stopped working to a certain extent and there was no tinting. Thick paper is more difficult to process than canvas, plus the paper used by Monk is quite thick, and the pigment cannot penetrate from the inside to the surface. In addition, unfortunately, the damaged area due to liquid splashing has not been repaired. Although the damaged areas are still visible, forced repairs may worsen the condition of the work, which should be handled with particular care.”

Four years after the theft, the Monk Museum of Art exhibited “Scream” again in 2008.

The second theft of “Scream” shows that the museum did not learn from the lessons

Since the first theft of the Scream, although the painting was stolen again from another museum, the version of the painting is different, but the second theft, when the suspect stole the work directly at gunpoint, shows that the museum’s security system is still loose.

Since the second robbery, the museum has finally strengthened its security system, in addition to installing monitors in all exhibition areas and conducting security checks at the entrance of the museum, similar to airport security measures.

According to the museum’s head of security, in 2010, about 40,000 kroner (about Yell) was invested to prevent theft of the Shout, to strengthen protection, such as X-rays or metal detectors, which are an important means of preventing visual crime.

Today, Oslo, Norway, is undergoing a large-scale development project, with the Monk Art Museum and the Oslo National Art Museum moving to the area of Biovica, which faces the Oslo Fjord in 2020. When Monk’s view of the Oslo Fjord from the hills of Eckberg inspired him to create The Shout, the new Monk Art Museum is now the scene of the scream painting.

Leave a Comment