BONUS BOOK: Stealing Rembrandts by Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg

“As art collectors sometimes say of such unhappy images, ‘Great, yes, but it would be a tough painting to live with.'”

Genre: Nonfiction

Book Jacket Synopsis: “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 of 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: I first heard of this book while reading The Lady in Gold. Stealing Rembrandts was referenced in a chapter that focused on the unforeseen shock waves that impact many people when great art is stolen. While The Lady in Gold focused exclusively on artwork taken by the Nazis before, during, and after World War II, Stealing Rembrandts opted to omit Nazi theft from its narrative and instead focused on high profile art thefts, particularly those that involved artwork by the great Rembrandt van Rijn. I really enjoyed the overall formatting of this book, with each chapter detailing different heists while also providing solid background on the stolen pieces. Stealing Rembrandts is an extremely informative look into the world of art theft, and there is certainly a colorful and eventful history to be found when one delves deeper into this world. What becomes abundantly clear from reading this book is that the majority of high profile art thefts are conducted by common, everyday criminals who seize an opportunity to make a sizable chunk of change. All of these criminals, however, soon find that stealing a Rembrandt is only half of the battle; the second half comes in trying to figure out how to turn a profit and sell a painting that has likely been posted all over Interpol as stolen property. In most cases, the paintings either end up being squirreled away for years, or even decades, until a new generation of buyers comes onto the market, or is returned to the museum/owner in exchange for sentencing leniency. Amore and Ashberg definitely succeeded in drawing me into their narrative and had me wondering where in the world the many missing Rembrandts are (such as those taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in 1990). I think my next art history-related book will be The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft!




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