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The most precious cultural artifacts that have been lost

13 works of art from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

On March 18, 1990, a heist occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, resulting in the disappearance of 13 exhibits valued at over $500 million. Among them were works by Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt, Edouard Manet, and Edgar Degas.

The robbery took 81 minutes to complete. They dressed up as police officers and stormed the museum, ostensibly responding to an emergency call, killing two employees who were guarding the multimillion-dollar collection. The overall worth of the theft, according to Jan Vermeer, is more than $200 million. This picture, one of 36 known works by the Dutch artist, was most likely painted between 1663 and 1666 and is the world’s most valuable stolen work of art.

The museum has announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the collection’s discovery. Later, they increased the reward to 5 million dollars. In 2013, the FBI declared that crooks were on the lookout. Their identities were never revealed, and the stolen paintings were never discovered. The bureau confirmed that many exhibits had likely changed hands multiple times before, with the owners unaware of their value.

Amber’s Room is a fictional setting.

In 1716, King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia constructed amber panels with mosaic art components. I presented them to Russian Emperor Peter I. Mirrored pilasters, paintings, panels, amber products, and interior items were added to the chamber in Russia. Since 1755, the Amber Room has been housed at Tsarskoye Selo’s Great Catherine Palace. The Germans dismantled the cabinet and transferred it to Konigsberg after the invasion of Tsarskoye Selo in 1941. (now Kaliningrad). The Amber Room was last seen in a packed state in the basement of the Konigsberg Castle, which burned down during the German troops’ escape in early April 1945.

The inquiry was carried out in the Baltic States, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and South America for several years. The Room was rumoured to have been burned down in a fire or buried on Konigsberg land. In 1967, the USSR established a commission to find the masterpiece, but after 17 years of searching, it was unable to locate it. At the same time, Baron Eduard Falz-Fein, a Russian emigrant, launched an investigation and offered a $500 thousand prize for good information.

In 1997, three genuine Amber Room artifacts were discovered in Germany: a Florentine mosaic “Sense of Smell and Touch” (about $250 thousand) and an amber chest of drawers (roughly $200 thousand). The discovery corroborated the rumour that the Room had not been burned down but rather transferred to Germany. The fragments were repatriated to Russia and displayed in Tsarskoye Selo’s restored Amber Room. Creating a replica took 22 years, 6 tonnes of amber, and $11.35 million (70 percent was given by the budget, 30 percent by Ruhrgas AG).

The picture “Portrait of a Young Man” by Raphael

The “Portrait of a Young Man” first appeared in Poland in 1798, when Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski imported it from Italy. Since then, the painting has been on display in a Krakow museum founded by his mother. The portrait was hidden at the Czartoryski family estate in Senyawa in 1939, just after WWII, but was quickly discovered by the Gestapo. The canvas was taken from Poland to the Hitler Museum in Linz and then to Wawel Castle, which served as the Governor-General of Occupied Poland, Hans Frank, in 1945.

Following the liberation of Poland by Soviet soldiers, Frank and the collection fled to Silesia and then to Bavaria. On May 4, 1945, he was apprehended by the American military. There was no “Portrait of a Young Man among the masterpieces discovered with him.” Frank disclosed the sites where the Nazi administration had buried the confiscated artworks during interrogations, but none of them held the painting.

The Foundation of the Princes of Czartoryski, the canvas’s rightful owner, had heard stories regarding its fate. The painting ended up in the hands of Swiss financiers, then it was sold to Russia, and finally, it ended up in North America. Wojciech Kowalski, a spokesman of the Polish Foreign Ministry for cultural property repatriation, stated in August 2012 that the masterpiece had not been burned or destroyed but was “secure in one of the bank safes.” The country in which the bank is located was not identified. There hasn’t been any additional information concerning the portrait since then.

Five works from the Musée d’Art Moderne of Paris

Pablo Picasso’s “Dove with Green Peas,” Henri Matisse’s “Pastoral,” Georges Braque’s “Olive near the Estas,” Amedeo Modigliani’s “Woman with a Fan,” and Fernand Leger’s “Still Life with Candlesticks” were taken from the Paris Museum of Modern Art on the night of May 20, 2010.

Although the prosecutor’s office first indicated €500 million, the museum estimated overall damage at €100 million. The most expensive piece by Picasso was worth €23 million, while Matisse’s was for €15 million. The expenses of further works were not specified. The robbery took approximately 15 minutes to complete. By breaking the iron fence’s lock and squeezing through the window glass, the robber gained access to the building (the alarm system has been broken since the beginning of March). Because surveillance cameras showed only one person exiting the museum, the authorities concluded it was a single performer immediately away.

The thief was meticulous in his operation, removing the canvases from the frames rather than cutting them out as is customary. It was later revealed that the thief had intended to steal only one picture, but when the alarm system failed, he chose to steal four more. After the guards had not heard anything, the loss was found the next morning.

France has officially asked for Interpol’s aid. The specialists at the organization assumed that the theft was carried out “on command” because all of the paintings are well-known and open sale was not possible. According to media sources from October 2011, three suspects were apprehended by French officers. Jonathan B., a 34-year-old watchmaker, stated that he panicked and managed to dump the paintings into the trash before being apprehended. Some people, however, do not believe this version: they believe the canvases were taken out of the country.

There are eight Faberge eggs.

During the revolution, the collection from 1885 to 1917 was lost. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviet Union has sold 32 seized eggs abroad (at 500 rubles apiece; although the average cost of one product at prices of the XIX-XX centuries was 3-8 thousand rubles). Ten eggs were kept in Kremlin museums, while the other four were given to private collections.

The fate of the remaining individuals is unclear. The jewellery, according to historians, was stolen. There was no mention of an official investigation. A malachite “Cherub and Chariot” and “Dressing Case” egg, gold and diamond “Portraits of Alexander III” egg, and a pink-purple egg with three miniatures are among the missing eggs. On average, each one costs more than $10 million. In 2004, Viktor Vekselberg spent almost $100 million on a collection of nine Easter goods.

In August 2011, some Americans discovered images of one of the collection’s lost copies in the 1964 catalogue of Parke Bernet (now Sotheby’s), a British auction house. According to the catalogue, the egg was made of gold and studded with valuable stones — three sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds — and sold for $2.5 thousand. The new owner’s identity has not been revealed. The exact location of the merchandise is yet unknown. Experts estimate that the genuine worth of the Imperial Collection copy that was once acquired was £20 million ($33.8 million).

“Poppies” or “Vase with Flowers” by Vincent van Gogh.

The robbery happened not long after the museum opened. According to the preliminary inquiry, the museum had been visited by nine people before the robbery. Those in the building at the time of the theft were searched promptly, and two Italian tourists were held at the airport for interrogation, but there was no proof that visitors were involved in the crime. The building’s alarm system was not operational on the day of the theft, and only 7 of the 43 security cameras were turned on; it was later determined.

Egypt’s Ministry of Culture’s department chief, Mohsen Shaalyan, and ten museum employees were arrested on suspicion of theft. In October 2010, a judge sentenced them to three years of probation for negligence. The search for the painting has been put on pause for the time being.

According to British experts, the stolen “Poppies” are merely a carbon copy of Van Gogh’s canvas. According to scholars, the original was taken from the Egyptian museum in 1978, and a copy was later returned. According to one account, the original was maintained in the collection of a senior Egyptian official for 33 years before being auctioned off in London in 2010 for $35 million. There was no confirmation or refutation of this version. According to some reports, traces of the canvas stolen in 2010 were discovered in London in 2012. The exact location of the painting is still unknown.

“The Bent Figure,” a sculpture by Henry Moore.

In December 2005, the bronze sculpture “The Bent Figure” by English modernist Henry Moore was stolen from an exhibition at the artist’s London home Perry Green. It was expected that the project would cost $5 million.

This bronze figure was deemed a national treasure by the British. It measured 3.5 metres in length, 2 metres in height, and 2 metres in breadth. It was roughly 2 tonnes in weight. On the other hand, the sculpture was not secured in any way. The assailants broke into the estate late at night, loaded the “Figure” onto a truck with a crane, and drove away unseen from the murder site. The sculptor’s fund obtained £3 insurance reimbursement million (about $5.1 million) due to the incident, which exceeded the experts’ total estimate.

On May 17, 2009, the police reported that the inquiry had concluded. The “Bent figure” was chopped up practically quickly after the theft, taken abroad (most likely to Rotterdam, then to China), and melted down, according to police departments. The burglars were thought to have received around £1.5 thousand ($2.5 thousand), a fraction of the market value of two tonnes of bronze.

The police, on the other hand, did not name the culprits or reveal the information that led to such judgments. The museum is still offering a $10,000 reward for information that could lead to the discovery of the sculpture, assuming it still exists. Meanwhile, ” Reclining figure. Festival,” another work by Henry Moore from the “Bent figures” series, was auctioned off at Christie’s in 2011. The total sum raised for it, £32.2 million, was a world record for sculptures.

Violin by Davidoff-Morini

In the nineteenth century, the violin belonged to Russian composer and cellist Karl Davydov, and after his death, Mud Powell, one of the first American female violinists. Shortly before she died in 1920, Powell gave the guitar to the “great master.” After hearing her perform, her widowed spouse chose to donate the violin to Erica Morini.

The violinist was hospitalized at the age of 92 due to heart difficulties, and the violin was stolen from an unoccupied flat during this time. Erica Morini died a few days later before the lost instrument was discovered. After the incident, the violinist’s relatives launched an inquiry, but cops discovered no proof of criminal activity or even signs of a break-in. It was thought that a member of Morini’s entourage was responsible for the kidnapping.

It was discovered after a loss that the violin was insured for $800,000. Meanwhile, experts predicted a cost of $3.5 million. In 2005, the FBI added the instrument to their list of most-wanted objects of art. It is estimated that just 650 authentic Antonio Stradivari musical instruments have survived.

The Kazan Mother of God’s Icon

The Russian national shrine—the image of the Kazan Mother of God—was recovered in the ashes after the Kazan fire of 1579. The icon was stored at the Kazan Bogoroditsky Monastery until 1904 when it was stolen by Bartholomew Chaikin, a 28-year-old criminal, and his partner Anancy Komov. They were apprehended and sentenced to 12 and 10 years of hard labour, respectively. They admitted the image was burned in the oven during the court hearing. The icon was later revealed to have been sold to the Old Believers rather than destroyed.

In 1950, people started talking about the icon again.

Mitchell Hedges, an English art collector, acquired the icon. He presented the icon to the Russian Orthodox Church several times, but the price of $92,000 was too exorbitant. In 1970, after Hedgis’ death, his relatives sold the symbol for $3 million to the Catholic organization Blue Army. Thanks to a donation from the Blue Army, the icon initially appeared in the papal chambers of the Vatican in March 1993.

The Vatican donated the icon to the Moscow Patriarchate in 2004. On July 21, 2005, Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia handed it over to the Kazan Diocese, and the shrine was erected in Kazan’s Holy Cross Church.

P.S. Check out Lavelart if you want to buy a canvas print of any icon or painting. They provide a large range of stunning paintings to choose from and the option of ordering a personalized print.

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