Throughout history, both art, literature, and property have been either lost or stolen, in many cases, stolen more than they are lost. For instance, between 1939, and 1945 during the mass destruction of WWII, the Germans had stolen thousands of paintings, artifacts, and historical texts. Until this day, police are working on finding some of these priceless gems. Now, in other cases, you have some costly things out there that are worth a lot of money, and people just happen to walk right up to them. Hopefully having an eye for value, and being able to cash in on the rest of their lives after. We gathered a list of both stolen, and lost and found works of art that have been mentioned throughout history.
The Concert is a $200 million painting by famous Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer. The Concert was stolen along with eleven other artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in 1990.
The thieves got away with a total of $500 million worth of artwork that day. I guess you could say they stole the whole show!
The Saliera, a 16th-century masterpiece by Benvenuto Cellini, was made as a gift to France’s King Francis I. It’s a 10-inch gold sculpture designed to hold salt and pepper.
Thieves stole the $57 million piece from the Vienna art museum in 2003 it would be a few more years until the police retrieved the Saliera.
The Russian royal family owned 50 bejeweled eggs, made by The House of Fabergé in 1885. During the Russian overthrow of the Zhar and his family, the eggs had disappeared.
Yet when word got out that each one is worth more than one million dollars, they all of a sudden reappeared. Well, only seven of them did. Maybe the other 43 owners of these eggs are waiting for the value to go up before declaring they found one too!
A 3,000-pound Vietnamese copper bell was stolen inside a Buddhist Monastery located in Tacoma, Washington.
While monks were doing their daily meditation routine, a thief came in with a forklift, picked up the bell, and stormed off. The police recovered the bell when the thief tried to sell it. You would think these monks would have said something.
Eric Prokopi stole remains of half a dozen dinosaurs from Mongolia and smuggled them back to the U.S. The bones were believed to cost over $1 million.
The FBI then caught Prokopi on the run yet he only sat in jail for three months. Sounds worth the experience, I guess.
Created by Edvard Munch, “The Scream” is one of the most famous paintings in the world today. There are four original copies of it, with the first one being worth $120 million.
That version was stolen in 1944 from the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway. Thieves demanded a $1 million ransom, but their demands were rejected, and the police captured the group not too long after.
Remember Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? Of course, you do! Slapping her ruby red slippers together repeating the mantra, “there’s no place like home.” That still stands today as one of the most iconic movie scenes in history, and those same slippers are worth millions of dollars.
The shoes were stolen in 2005, only to be found again in 2018. I wonder how many years in jail the robber got? “There’s no place like jail, there’s no place like jail,” said the judge.
The New York Daily News stole the deed of the Empire State Building in December 2008 to prove a point. The journalists filed false paperwork to transfer the $1.89 billion deed legally.
It showed a glaring loophole in the law that caused politicians to evaluate deed legislation thoroughly. The newspaper returned the building to its owner right away!
When I was 13 years old, my aunt took me on a birthday trip with her to no other than Paris, France. I was a young chubby little Jewish boy, whose sole interest was overeating on delicious French cuisine.
However, I did get to stand just a couple of feet away from the Mona and was surprised at how small it was. As a boy, I thought it was boring, little did I know it was stolen twice throughout history and is said to be worth two billion dollars.
The Gibson Stradivarius is one of the world’s most valuable violins, the Gibson Stradivarius, which was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1727, has been stolen twice. Once in 1919, when it was swiftly recovered, and in 1936 by a young musician named Julian Altman.
Altman only confessed to his wife while on his deathbed in 1985, and she turned over the violin to the authorities in 1988. Now the Strad is worth $15 million or (£11.6m) and is currently owned by top violinist Joshua Bell.
This painting says it all, this young blond white woman got a brand-new puppy, and everyone from Catholic Monks, to an angel from heaven, and even a local cow has come to see the new puppy. As anyone does when they adopt, she seems to look really exhausted.
All jokes aside this painting was rumored to have been stolen by the Sicilian Mafia in 1969, but that’s not surprising, the Mob loves Puppies.
The Amber Room is a reconstructed chamber decorated in amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors, located in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg.
Constructed in the 18th century in Prussia, the original Amber Room was dismantled and eventually disappeared during World War II only to be re-opened in 2003.
It is rumored that during his later years as an artist, Pablo Picasso began to lose his eyesight, but you know what they say, “flaunt your faults,” and that’s exactly what Picasso did, some of his best works were done when the man had lost his vision.
This painting, along with five others, was stolen in 2010 and sadly never recovered. It together with the other paintings stolen was worth 123 million dollars in total. I hope the money went to a good place. Oh, who am I kidding it probably bought some guy a boat.
This opulent necklace was crafted in 1928 by the House of Cartier for Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. Dripping with 2,930 diamonds, the necklace contains a 428-carat De Beers diamond, the seventh largest diamond in the world.
The necklace went missing from the royal treasury of Patiala in 1948, and while parts of the necklace have been found, including the De Beers diamond, the Burmese rubies and scores of diamonds remain missing.
Another important work of art that was thankfully recovered is this $37 million (£28.7m) self-portrait of a Dutch master was taken from the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, along with Renoir’s “A Young Parisienne and Conversation” during an armed raid in December 2000.
The Rembrandt self-portrait was discovered in Copenhagen in 2005, while the Renoir painting cropped up in Los Angeles one year later.
Valued at up to $55 million (£42.6m), this charming depiction of yellow and red poppies, which was painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887, has been stolen not once, but twice! In 1977, it was snatched from the Cairo Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum but recovered 10 years later in Kuwait.
The painting was stolen a second time in August 2010 and is yet to be located. Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has offered a reward of $175,000 (£136k) for information leading to the artwork’s recovery.
This ornate gold salt cellar by Italian sculptor Benvenuto Cellini was completed in 1543 for King Francis I of France and is considered ‘the Mona Lisa of sculptures,’ hence its sky-high value of fifty million Euro.
It was stolen in May 2003 from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Fortunately, the salt cellar was recovered in January 2006 as it was buried in a lead box on an isolated Austrian forest after thief Robert Mang confessed to the crime.
One of two versions of Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder, the Buccleuch Madonna was stolen in 2003 from Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland, where it had hung for 236 years. Two thieves posing as tourists brazenly took the artwork in broad daylight.
The Buccleuch Madonna turned up in 2007 when a lawyer from Lancashire, England attempted to act as a go-between to sell the painting, and it was promptly returned to its rightful owner, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch.
Regarded as one of Paul Cézanne’s most beautiful works, the Boy in the Red Vest was painted around the year 1890, and was stolen on February 2008 from the, E.G., Bührle Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland by three armed gunmen.
The Boy in the Red Vest was recovered in Serbia in 2012, and the other missing paintings have since been tracked down.
In 2005, U.S. Army soldier Scott Taylor discovered a massive fortune of gold in Afghanistan. However, when asked by the U.S. government where the gold was at, he refused to tell them.
As a result. Therefore, this massive load of gold you see here most likely was never cashed in on. Why didn’t he just take like two bags worth and give the government the rest? You could have been a rich kid!
The German Fascists stole this celebrated 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt in 1941 from a Jewish banker and sugar producer named Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, whose wife is depicted in the painting. Bloch-Bauer fled to Zurich, where he died impoverished in 1945.
The portrait ended up in an Austrian gallery and was eventually claimed by Bloch-Bauer’s niece in 2006. It was sold later that year to Estée Lauder heir Ronald Lauder for $87.9 million (£68m) and is estimated to be worth $150 million (£116m) today. Take that Germany!
Following a 1992 pipeline oil spill in Midland, Texas, the Shell Company sold off the rights to that pipeline and quietly buried the proof in a nearby desert.
The documents were discovered, however, and Shell was forced by the courts to pay more than 60 million dollars in fines. Maybe next time they should shell out the dollars earlier, and they would not have to pay so much.
The Parda Marfa is a lone art installation in the middle of Texas, just outside of the town of Valentine. It may look like a store from the outside, but it is actually a piece of street art. A store full of Prada products meant to stay closed and never open.
Cute concept. Too bad this place gets looted and robbed on the first night it was “Opened.” From here we will pivot on too much more interesting facts about valuable things found in unusual places.
This Winchester Model 1873 is worth $15,000 and was discovered resting against a tree in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, over a century ago.
At the time it was made they cost about 50 dollars (1,059 dollars today) to buy. So, you can say there is a small profit of $14,000 out there for whoever found it.
The James Ossuary is said to have contained the body of James the Just, brother of Jesus of Nazareth, this religious artifact was discovered in an ancient cave in Jerusalem, Israel.
Since it’s impossible to authenticate artifacts from such a long time ago, the Ossuary is valued at a very low fifty thousand dollars.
Following the video game crash of 1983, gaming company Atari decided to bury its unsold games in trash dump in the New Mexico desert.
When the landfill was excavated, the surviving cartridges were auctioned off salvaged by the crew working on site and auctioned at a total price of one hundred and eight thousand dollars.
Formed only by lightning strikes, volcanic activity, and meteor impacts, Libyan glass is considered one of the rarest minerals on Earth and can only be found in the deserts of Libya.
It may just look like one big booger, but this booger shaped glass is worth one hundred and ten thousand dollars. Not too bad if you ask me. Cheaper than a moon rock.
Discovered in Jerusalem, Israel in 2010, the Ptolemaic coin was dubbed by researchers as the most valuable coin ever discovered.
The 2,200-year-old coin is believed to have been worth a half-year’s salary during its circulation. Today sadly, it is only worth ten thousand dollars.
Very few people know the difference between an asteroid, a meteor, and a meteorite. An asteroid is a piece of rock flying within our solar system, if that asteroid enters Earth’s atmosphere, it is then called a meteor, and if the meteor hits Earth, it is then called a meteorite.
This meteorite formed fragments after it struck the Earth during the prehistoric era. Bits of it were used by natives to craft tools and weapons; any material from space costs thousands of dollars per gram, this specific set is worth almost four hundred thousand dollars.
In true treasure-hunting fashion, a pair of archaeologists has discovered a large wooden chest in California’s Death Valley.
The chest contained 80 coins, a hymnal, baby shoes, a pistol, pottery, and a letter from a lost pioneer saying congratulations, if by now it is the 21st century, you just found half a million dollars. Well, that’s not really what it said, but it may have well should have been!
This otherworldly opal is considered one of Australia’s greatest treasures. It’s called the Fire of Australia, and it was found in 1946 on the small desert town of Coober Pedy, South Australia.
The rough-cut gem weighs in at just under 5,000 carats (worth $675,000) and is roughly the size of two cricket balls. Try stealing that I dare you!
The set for the 1923 film was destroyed and buried shortly after production. However, in 2014, a large sphinx head emerged from the sand in Santa Barbara, prompting a recovery effort to excavate the “lost” city completely.
This underground city set is estimated to be worth about one million dollars altogether. Sounds like a bit too much for some buried set equipment.
In a land of wealth like Dubai, million-dollar cars are about as expendable as Hot Wheels. This Ferrari Enzo was abandoned in the middle of the desert.
According to local news outlets, it was abandoned by a runaway criminal. Judging by the fact that his getaway car was an Enzo; he probably fled in a helicopter and is now long gone.
This gold nugget was discovered in 1989 by a prospector using only a cheap RadioShack metal detector. Weighing in at 389.4 troy ounces.
Nowhere near the most significant golden nugget ever found on Earth, but still a very impressive find worth more than 1.5 million dollars. Hey, it’s better than nothing right!
On November 5th, 1922, Howard Carter wrote in his pocket diary: ‘Discovered tomb under tomb of Ramesses VI investigated same & found seals intact.’
The subsequent excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun captured the public’s imagination. The complete records of the ten-year excavation were deposited in the Griffith Institute Archive shortly after Carter’s death by his niece, Miss Phyllis Walker. Just the mask of the tomb of King Tut is worth millions of dollars.
In 1965, an anonymous prospector claimed to have discovered a pirate by the name of Peg Leg Smith’s stash of black gold.
This prospector’s find, valued at around $3 million today, has inspired countless other treasure hunters to search for Peg Leg’s legendary lost mines reported to be hidden around the world.
A group of De Beers miners inadvertently found an even greater treasure at the bottom of a dried lagoon: a 500-year-old sunken ship.
The ship, once belonging to the King of Portugal, was loaded with gold, tin, ivory tusks, and nearly 44,000 pounds of copper ingots, you would think these Kings and Queens held salvage campaigns when they lost all their gold.