We’ve all seen heist movies: Some dude wants what he can’t have, and then he steals it just because. Sure, sometimes there’s a greater reason behind it (“Ocean’s 12” and “13,” anyone?), but for the most part, people just want to have things simply because it is said they are out of reach.
What do we do when someone says we can’t have something? We find a way to prove them wrong.
At the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, seven paintings were stolen on Oct. 16, 2012. The heist occurred at around 3 a.m. according to security footage, but local authorities are not releasing details about how it was executed.
The seven paintings missing are Pablo Picasso’s “Harlequin Head” (1971), Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London” (1901) and “Charing Cross Bridge, London” (1901), Henri Matisse’s “Reading Girl in White and Yellow” (1919), Paul Gauguin’s “Girl in Front of Open Window” (1898), Meyer de Haan’s “Self-Portrait” (around 1890), and Lucian Freud’s piece “Woman with Eyes Closed” (2002).
This is a needless blow to the art community. These works are valuable, true, but now that the thieves have them, what do they plan to do with them? Sell them?
Let’s be honest: No intelligent person purchases a stolen painting. The paintings can’t be displayed for fear of them being recognized and of the thief being prosecuted. They can’t be ransomed for fear of something going wrong and the thieves being caught. They can’t be sold to other museums for the same reason. (Note: Doing almost anything with a high profile stolen item is likely to get a person caught and thrown in jail.)
The most someone can do with a stolen painting is hang it up in a locked room and just sit there looking at it when they’re bored. They can’t be shown off — anyone could report them.
Is that what people do, then? Own stolen paintings and hide them in private home offices or something?
It’s pointless. Sure, the thieves have something no one else is allowed to possess, but at what price? Who can you share that victory with?
And, regardless of whether you stole the piece or bought it from the guys who did, what kind of victory is it if it can’t shared with the world?