Art of the Heist episode 1 – The Big Sting: On December 22nd, 2000 three of the world’s greatest art treasures were stolen from the National Museum in Stockholm. Together the Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings were valued at 50 million dollars. The Stockholm heist was dramatic enough. But so too was the police sting to get them back in Art of the Heist episode 1.
Art Of The Heist investigates the most high profile art thefts of the 20th and 21st centuries fitting together the pieces of the crimes.
Art of the Heist episode 1 – The Big Sting
On December 22, 2000, three men walked into the Swedish National Museum, one of them holding a machine gun. They held up security and went in for the artwork they had planned to steal. It seemed like a simple plan, walk in, subdue the guards, take what you want and leave; but this was one of the most elaborate heists in history.
At the same time as the robbery, two cars exploded across town because of bombs that the robbers planted to divert police resources. Once an alarm was sounded, responders found their tires had been slashed. The gang went in with the machine guns, knowing these would be the most effective in intimidating the museum security. After they quickly retrieved the paintings from the museum they retreated to a motorboat waiting nearby, acting as their getaway vehicle.
The stolen paintings were a self-portrait by Rembrandt as well as two paintings by Renoir, Conversation with the Gardner and Young Parisian. All together, the robbery was worth somewhere between $30-36 million. However, it was unclear what the intent was for the stolen paintings. They were too distinctive to be resold and the black market was under heavy surveillance after the robberies. Shortly after the paintings disappeared, the museum received a ransom note for $3 million.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that “Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.”
He was the father of actor Pierre Renoir (1885–1952), filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894–1979) and ceramic artist Claude Renoir (1901–1969). He was the grandfather of the filmmaker Claude Renoir (1913–1993), son of Pierre.
Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of “Les Collettes,” a farm at the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, close to the Mediterranean coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life even after his arthritis severely limited his mobility.
He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. It has often been reported that in the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers, but this is erroneous; Renoir remained able to grasp a brush, although he required an assistant to place it in his hand. The wrapping of his hands with bandages, apparent in late photographs of the artist, served to prevent skin irritation.
In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with those of the old masters. During this period, he created sculptures by cooperating with a young artist, Richard Guino, who worked the clay. Due to his limited joint mobility, Renoir also used a moving canvas, or picture roll, to facilitate painting large works.
Renoir’s portrait of Austrian actress Tilla Durieux (1914) contains playful flecks of vibrant color on her shawl that offset the classical pose of the actress and highlight Renoir’s skill just five years before his death.
Renoir died at Cagnes-sur-Mer on 3 December 1919.
Rembrandt – Art of the Heist episode 1
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch draughtsman, painter, and printmaker. An innovative and prolific master in three media, he is generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history of art and the most important in Dutch art history. Unlike most Dutch masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt’s works depict a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, and biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies.
His contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age, when Dutch art (especially Dutch painting), although in many ways antithetical to the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific and innovative and gave rise to important new genres. Like many artists of the Dutch Golden Age, such as Jan Vermeer of Delft, Rembrandt was also an avid art collector and dealer.
Rembrandt never went abroad, but he was considerably influenced by the work of the Italian masters and Netherlandish artists who had studied in Italy, like Pieter Lastman, the Utrecht Caravaggists, Flemish Baroque, and Peter Paul Rubens. After he achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, Rembrandt’s later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardships. Yet his etchings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high, and for twenty years he taught many important Dutch painters.