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Priceless masterpieces...Brazen thefts: The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls.    What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting—and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch’s well Priceless masterpieces...Brazen thefts: The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls.    What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting—and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch’s well-known masterwork The Scream) and the glamorous fantasy of such Hollywood films as The Thomas Crown Affair. The truth is, according to INTERPOL records, more than 20,000 stolen works of art are missing—including Rembrandts, Renoirs, van Goghs, and Picassos. Museum of the Missing offers an intriguing tour through the underworld of art theft, where the stakes are high and passions run strong. Not only is the volume beautifully written and lavishly illustrated—if all the paintings presented here could be gathered in one museum it would be one of the finest collections in existence—it tells a story as fascinating as any crime novel. This gripping page-turner features everything from wartime plundering to audacious modern-day heists, from an examination of the criminals’ motivations to a look at the professionals who spend their lives hunting down the wrongdoers. Most breathtaking of all, this invaluable resource offers a “Gallery of Missing Art,” an extensive section showcasing stolen paintings that remain lost—including information about the theft and estimated present-day value—and which may never be seen again.   


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Priceless masterpieces...Brazen thefts: The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls.    What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting—and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch’s well Priceless masterpieces...Brazen thefts: The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls.    What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting—and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch’s well-known masterwork The Scream) and the glamorous fantasy of such Hollywood films as The Thomas Crown Affair. The truth is, according to INTERPOL records, more than 20,000 stolen works of art are missing—including Rembrandts, Renoirs, van Goghs, and Picassos. Museum of the Missing offers an intriguing tour through the underworld of art theft, where the stakes are high and passions run strong. Not only is the volume beautifully written and lavishly illustrated—if all the paintings presented here could be gathered in one museum it would be one of the finest collections in existence—it tells a story as fascinating as any crime novel. This gripping page-turner features everything from wartime plundering to audacious modern-day heists, from an examination of the criminals’ motivations to a look at the professionals who spend their lives hunting down the wrongdoers. Most breathtaking of all, this invaluable resource offers a “Gallery of Missing Art,” an extensive section showcasing stolen paintings that remain lost—including information about the theft and estimated present-day value—and which may never be seen again.   

30 review for Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lance Charnes

    Museum of the Missing is a fast, solid introduction to and survey of art theft over the past century. Houpt – a Canadian arts columnist for The Globe and Mail – writes as if the reader knows a painting from a statue and has at least heard of the big names in art, but has no specialized knowledge of either art or the art market. By and large this works well; he doesn’t bother explaining who Rembrandt or Picasso are, but will spend a line identifying some of the less-famous names he mentions. Likewi Museum of the Missing is a fast, solid introduction to and survey of art theft over the past century. Houpt – a Canadian arts columnist for The Globe and Mail – writes as if the reader knows a painting from a statue and has at least heard of the big names in art, but has no specialized knowledge of either art or the art market. By and large this works well; he doesn’t bother explaining who Rembrandt or Picasso are, but will spend a line identifying some of the less-famous names he mentions. Likewise, he assumes all you know about art theft is The Thomas Crown Affair, which he name-checks several times. (It appears he has a thing for Rene Russo; I totally understand.) So you meet the top good guys (Robert Wittman, Charley Hill) and the top bad guys (Martin Cahill, Stephane Breitwieser) and get stories about how they did the things they did. And there are pictures. I can’t discount this; a book about art has to have pictures. It’s one thing to read about a painting called Storm on the Sea of Galilee, quite another to see the power and drama of Rembrandt’s masterpiece with your own eyes. This is a very handsomely produced book, with page after thick, glossy page of full-color artwork. The appendix is a gallery of major paintings still missing after having been stolen. This volume could be a coffee-table book if it was bigger. Despite a couple pages devoted to Napoleon’s looting rampage across Europe and Africa (the Louvre is stuffed with the spoils of Napoleon’s many campaigns), Houpt’s focus is squarely on modern-day art crime starting for all intents and purposes in the early 1930s. He mentions antiquities looting and smuggling only in passing, even though by all rights it’s a much larger segment of the overall art-crime enterprise. He doesn’t explain the process of laundering an artwork’s provenance (its archaeological and collecting history), even though it’s pretty interesting even for a layman and would take only a couple pages, nor does he place enough blame on the major auction houses for their role in abetting the sale of artworks with shady histories. Stolen statues and decorative arts get short shrift in his gallery of the missing. Like I said, this is a survey for a newcomer. If you follow the ARCA or Looting Matters blogs, or you’ve already read Wittman’s memoir or Chasing Aphrodite, you’re past the text in this book. But if Pierce Brosnan’s shoulders or Rene Russo’s transparent dress inspired you to dip your toe into the real world of art crime, Museum of the Missing is a pretty good place to start.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    A good quick read about the theft of art. In some cases too general, so functions more as an introduction. It does trace the historical cases, so not just the big modern criminal cases. Nicely illustrated. Especially at the end where the museum is presented.

  3. 5 out of 5

    kari

    It's quite amazing that you can write a book about stolen art and make it so Anglocentric and homophobic. It's quite amazing that you can write a book about stolen art and make it so Anglocentric and homophobic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    About all the thousands of art works that have been stolen, plundered in war and made away with for various reasons, there is a particularly interesting account of the Nazi caches and Lord Elgin's marbles. About all the thousands of art works that have been stolen, plundered in war and made away with for various reasons, there is a particularly interesting account of the Nazi caches and Lord Elgin's marbles.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This book hits all the happy buttons with me. History, beautiful art, tales of true crime and intrigue from around the globe. The writing was enjoyable and I only wish it had been a longer book. (Do I take a star away because it wasn't long enough?) It was helpful to have an art background, but the author includes pictures of most of the art he talks about so it's a good read for anyone. It's so sad to see what we've lost. This book hits all the happy buttons with me. History, beautiful art, tales of true crime and intrigue from around the globe. The writing was enjoyable and I only wish it had been a longer book. (Do I take a star away because it wasn't long enough?) It was helpful to have an art background, but the author includes pictures of most of the art he talks about so it's a good read for anyone. It's so sad to see what we've lost.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle Leo

    Ok this was useless to my research, also weirdly opinionated

  7. 4 out of 5

    Friends of Linebaugh Library

    This is an interesting book about the history of art theft and the crazy things people do, and ultimately the loss to everyone when cultural objects are stolen. It is pretty fascinating even if you're interested art history at all. It is a history of art thefts, some solved, many still open, and concludes with a wonderful appendix of a "museum of the missing" - color plates of works still lost to theft. It inspired the documentary "The Rape of Europa," although the movie focused only on art stole This is an interesting book about the history of art theft and the crazy things people do, and ultimately the loss to everyone when cultural objects are stolen. It is pretty fascinating even if you're interested art history at all. It is a history of art thefts, some solved, many still open, and concludes with a wonderful appendix of a "museum of the missing" - color plates of works still lost to theft. It inspired the documentary "The Rape of Europa," although the movie focused only on art stolen during WWII. That was the most compelling chapter of this book as well, but the information about modern art detectives was also fascinating. I enjoyed his diatribes against the glamorization of art thieves in Hollywood. This was a good overview of the subject; however, I felt that reading Museum of the Missing felt a little like reading a high school text book entitled "Introduction to Art Theft." It was a fascinating topic, and the book was full of interesting stories and lots of beautiful pictures, but I was left wanting more. It was much like watching a show about art theft on Discovery or History channel where you are left lacking in content and information. I felt that it needed to go more in-depth, however, that could just be because I got my degree in Art History. All in all, my favorite part was the gallery of missing art at the end of the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I enjoyed the concept of this book which does an excellent job of revealing the world of art theft and missing art. It is chockful of interesting, well chosen stories and the author wisely decided to illustrate all the art discussed. The illustrations are much of the interest in this book. His tone is a little stiff at times and the large inset single story panels sometimes break up the rhythm of a longer story he is telling. The inset panels are a strange editorial decision. Each is interesting I enjoyed the concept of this book which does an excellent job of revealing the world of art theft and missing art. It is chockful of interesting, well chosen stories and the author wisely decided to illustrate all the art discussed. The illustrations are much of the interest in this book. His tone is a little stiff at times and the large inset single story panels sometimes break up the rhythm of a longer story he is telling. The inset panels are a strange editorial decision. Each is interesting on its own so either develop that story or leave it out but to jam it in the middle of an existing story doesn't really work. Maybe they were trying to layer and build the excitement but it is confusing, almost like having someone tap you on the shoulder when you are listening to someone else tell you a ripping yarn.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle X.

    Good overview of the history of art theft, though heavily biased in the way books on this subject typically are-- as in, it's certainly not written at all with the thieves' perspective in mind. Still, the information is good and the pictures are neat (even if the language is a bit melodramatic at times). Good to read as an introduction if you're planning on delving more into the subject (which I highly recommend). Good overview of the history of art theft, though heavily biased in the way books on this subject typically are-- as in, it's certainly not written at all with the thieves' perspective in mind. Still, the information is good and the pictures are neat (even if the language is a bit melodramatic at times). Good to read as an introduction if you're planning on delving more into the subject (which I highly recommend).

  10. 4 out of 5

    David R.

    A fairly lightweight treatment of art theft over the ages. There are many distracting sidebars focused on specific incidents and aspects of the art trade, and the narrative never goes into detail on even the most notorious thefts. This one may serve as an introduction to the subject, but can be ignored by more serious students.

  11. 4 out of 5

    C.A.

    I've always love a good heist movie, but what's the real thing like. This book gives a brief history of art dealership and how art got so expensive, big heists, and current issues such as security and restitution from the holocaust. All of this of this, plus beautiful artwork, makes this a fun non-fiction book. I've always love a good heist movie, but what's the real thing like. This book gives a brief history of art dealership and how art got so expensive, big heists, and current issues such as security and restitution from the holocaust. All of this of this, plus beautiful artwork, makes this a fun non-fiction book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Fraser Sherman

    This hooked me partly because the open frame on the cover is one I've actually seen (the Gardner Museum still has it sitting on the wall but the painting inside went bye-bye in the 1990s). But it's good even in its own right as Houpt studies the great art thefts, cultural appropriation of Third World treasures and art taken by conquest (while I was familiar with Nazi efforts, I didn't know Napoleon was so aggressive in looting his empire), the fate of the art (the mother of one thief decided to This hooked me partly because the open frame on the cover is one I've actually seen (the Gardner Museum still has it sitting on the wall but the painting inside went bye-bye in the 1990s). But it's good even in its own right as Houpt studies the great art thefts, cultural appropriation of Third World treasures and art taken by conquest (while I was familiar with Nazi efforts, I didn't know Napoleon was so aggressive in looting his empire), the fate of the art (the mother of one thief decided to hide the evidence by dumping it int a canal) and the efforts at recovering it. Very good if the subject appeals to you (I've read worse in the same vein).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie L

    This is one of my favorite nonfiction books; I loved learning about the different art forgeries that have been found, thwarted, or suspected. It was a little heart-breaking (but very interesting) to read about the destruction of some museums or collections. I haven't picked this book up in a while, but now that I'm seeing it on goodreads I may have to. I remember being very interested in the specific cases and situations described throughout the book. This is one of my favorite nonfiction books; I loved learning about the different art forgeries that have been found, thwarted, or suspected. It was a little heart-breaking (but very interesting) to read about the destruction of some museums or collections. I haven't picked this book up in a while, but now that I'm seeing it on goodreads I may have to. I remember being very interested in the specific cases and situations described throughout the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    It is sickening to think of all the art that is missing (and possibly destroyed), especially through war and theft. Very good graphics in this volume. Some well known pieces I had no clue that they were missing. Luckily some make it back to their owners or onto display. I really wonder how much stolen art ends up in the hands of the super rich, particularly in areas without good law enforcement. Wanna beta lot is in the hands of Russian and Saudi billionaires?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    A great overview of stolen art through history. If you're just getting into stolen art this would be a great first book to read. All the usual suspects and brief overviews of stories to dive deeper into. Also really love the beautiful pictures and the directory of (some) stolen art in the back. And of course the focus on the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft was particularly interesting to me. Though you can tell some of the information about security is a bit outdated it's still a good read. A great overview of stolen art through history. If you're just getting into stolen art this would be a great first book to read. All the usual suspects and brief overviews of stories to dive deeper into. Also really love the beautiful pictures and the directory of (some) stolen art in the back. And of course the focus on the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft was particularly interesting to me. Though you can tell some of the information about security is a bit outdated it's still a good read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    This is a wonderfully illustrated account of art theft, covering the removal of well-known art under the cover of warfare, as well as many stories of famous (and less famous) art heists. The costs and the reasons for art theft are interestingly covered and also the difficulties encountered in solving art crimes. The author is a supporter of an international digital record of stolen artworks as one way to make art theft a less attractive sort of crime. This is an engaging and informative read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This was a more basic/less action-packed version of Robert Wittman's Priceless. The book dealt with a very general overview of different aspects of art theft (art theft in war, art as commodity, security of art, etc.). I would have been more interested to read up on different paintings that have been stolen over time (i.e. an art book about missing pieces). This was a more basic/less action-packed version of Robert Wittman's Priceless. The book dealt with a very general overview of different aspects of art theft (art theft in war, art as commodity, security of art, etc.). I would have been more interested to read up on different paintings that have been stolen over time (i.e. an art book about missing pieces).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I was absolutely amazed to find out how much art and antiquities have been lost, stolen, or destroyed over the last century or so. Some (a comparative few) have been recovered; others have never been seen again, at least not in public. These works are our common human heritage and more funding should be allotted to art theft prevention, investigation, and recovery.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen McRae

    I liked how this book on art thefts at galleries ,museums and private collections was presented as a book of greed for status and how it has inflated prices to a ridiculous level making fine art a rich peoples game with many a person willing to plunder,forge and use intricate unethical schemes to gain entry into this elite megaomaniac pursuit.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    Not as much detail as I expected. Good images at least.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    This is good book about art theft that is lavishly illustrated and pitched and the lay person who is curious to know about the "great art thefts" -- and whether or not the paintings have been recovered. Naturally, this book only covered a small fraction of art thefts - the most well-known ones, such as the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum heist. Also, since this books publication, many more works have been stolen and a few (like the 2 Van Goghs from the Van Gogh museum) have been recove This is good book about art theft that is lavishly illustrated and pitched and the lay person who is curious to know about the "great art thefts" -- and whether or not the paintings have been recovered. Naturally, this book only covered a small fraction of art thefts - the most well-known ones, such as the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum heist. Also, since this books publication, many more works have been stolen and a few (like the 2 Van Goghs from the Van Gogh museum) have been recovered. But the basic information remains solid and interesting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    Prior to October of 1958, art sales were handled away from the public and art dealers selectively catered to the wealthy who requested specific works. When Sotheby's held a black-tie affair and auctioned seven paintings from the prestigious Jakob Goldschmidt collection, they unleashed a beast. Never before was art publicly displayed for so many people, and never before was the price of art work bid frantically at such incredible high amounts. Jakob Goldscmidt escaped Berlin during the Nazi rein of Prior to October of 1958, art sales were handled away from the public and art dealers selectively catered to the wealthy who requested specific works. When Sotheby's held a black-tie affair and auctioned seven paintings from the prestigious Jakob Goldschmidt collection, they unleashed a beast. Never before was art publicly displayed for so many people, and never before was the price of art work bid frantically at such incredible high amounts. Jakob Goldscmidt escaped Berlin during the Nazi rein of terror. His was not the only collection robbed by the Nazi's, but his collection was the only one at the time having the distinction of fetching incredible amounts in the 1950's, setting the tone for the increased desire for art and the perception of incredible worth, marking precious works as ever increasing targets for thievery. Paul Cezanne's 1890 Le garcon au gilet rouge was one of the works for sale at the auction. It sold for $610,00, which was a large sum in 1958. It went for seven times more than any previous painting sold at auction. The author of this book carefully, meticulously takes the reader from the Sotheby's sale through current day and chronicles famous art stolen. Some pieces, such as the Mona Lisa, were recovered, others, such as those taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum in Boston in March of 1990, have never surfaced. Historical figures such as Hitler and Napoleon blatantly, with greedy intent confiscated priceless works. Despite years of trying to hide the legendary Rothschild collection, Mad man Hitler hunted down all scattered secret locations and received 29 shipments containing over 4,000 works, including Rembrandts, Raphael's, van Dyck's, Ingres' and Fragonards. Most precious was Vermeer's The Astronomer Throughout the years individual pieces have been stolen from museums in the light of day, others under the cloak of darkness. The bottom line is if not recovered, these priceless works, are forever gone and we are robbed of beauty. Here are some paintings missing and are included in the museum of the missing: Claude Monet's painting Marine, missing since Feb. 24, 20006 stolen during carnival festivities in Rio de Janerio, Brazil One of two versions of the Edvard Munchs' Scream was stolen at gunpoint by two masked thieves in bold daylight. It is missing since August 22, 2004. Madonna with the Yarnwinder by Leonardo Da Vinci is currently valued at $65 million. It was stolen from the Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries Scotland when two men overpowered a young tour guide. View of the Sea at Scheveningen by Vincent Van Gogh is missing since December7, 2002 when two thieves used a ladder and broke into the roof of the museum, stealing this and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen by Van Gogh. The current estimated value for each painting is $30 million. One of my favorite paintings, The Concert by Johannes Vermeer was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum March of 1990. It is listed as "priceless" in value.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Alderson

    **Excuses dat ik dit recensie in het Engels heb geschreven! Nederlands blijft toch mijn tweede taal en ik wilde dat mijn mening duidelijk overkwam. Ik hoop dat je het nog nuttig vindt... This beautifully illustrated tome will appeal to those interested in learning more about the stories behind some of the most famous art thefts in history, ingenious swindles carried out by daring criminals, heartless looting of cultural treasures by nations, and all the law enforcement agencies and cultural inst **Excuses dat ik dit recensie in het Engels heb geschreven! Nederlands blijft toch mijn tweede taal en ik wilde dat mijn mening duidelijk overkwam. Ik hoop dat je het nog nuttig vindt... This beautifully illustrated tome will appeal to those interested in learning more about the stories behind some of the most famous art thefts in history, ingenious swindles carried out by daring criminals, heartless looting of cultural treasures by nations, and all the law enforcement agencies and cultural institutions who tried (and still try) to stop them. I’d originally borrowed this from a local library to find out more about the Gardner heist in Boston, but was so captivated by the author’s storytelling and interesting tidbits of background information that he’d woven into the short texts, that I bought my own hardback copy and read the whole thing. Not only does the author describe in detail several of the more brazen and important art crimes worldwide, he goes further, placing the robberies or looting in historical context, describing the value of the objects within criminal organizations, and explaining the important role of forgeries in many thefts. The role of political leaders behind some of the more extensive looting's is also described, as well as the rightful owners’ often unsuccessful quest to regain possession of their sculpture, painting or antique heirloom. The complex research and investigative work of private detectives, museum staff and police in trying to find these missing pieces is also well explained. The book ends with a lengthy appendix of missing masterpieces and descriptions of their theft or disappearance. It is not an exhaustive reference book, more of an introduction into this murky world of looted, stolen and forged art. And quite an entertaining one! *I should note that I bought the Dutch version (Vermist uit het Museum), not realizing that it was translated from English! The Dutch version is not yet in Goodreads. I’m about to add it, and believe it will show up in the system shortly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer S. Alderson

    This beautifully illustrated tome will appeal to those interested in learning more about the stories behind some of the most famous art thefts in history, ingenious swindles carried out by daring criminals, heartless looting of cultural treasures by nations, and all the law enforcement agencies and cultural institutions who tried (and still try) to stop them. I’d originally borrowed this from a local library to find out more about the Gardner heist in Boston, but was so captivated by the author’s This beautifully illustrated tome will appeal to those interested in learning more about the stories behind some of the most famous art thefts in history, ingenious swindles carried out by daring criminals, heartless looting of cultural treasures by nations, and all the law enforcement agencies and cultural institutions who tried (and still try) to stop them. I’d originally borrowed this from a local library to find out more about the Gardner heist in Boston, but was so captivated by the author’s storytelling and interesting tidbits of background information that he’d woven into the short texts, that I bought my own hardback copy and read the whole thing. Not only does the author describe in detail several of the more brazen and important art crimes worldwide, he goes further, placing the robberies or looting in historical context, describing the value of the objects within criminal organizations, and explaining the important role of forgeries in many thefts. The role of political leaders behind some of the more extensive looting's is also described, as well as the rightful owners’ often unsuccessful quest to regain possession of their sculpture, painting or antique heirloom. The complex research and investigative work of private detectives, museum staff and police in trying to find these missing pieces is also well explained. The book ends with a lengthy appendix of missing masterpieces and descriptions of their theft or disappearance. It is not an exhaustive reference book, more of an introduction into this murky world of looted, stolen and forged art. And quite an entertaining one! *I should note that I bought the Dutch version (Vermist uit het Museum), not realizing that it was translated from English! The Dutch version is not yet in Goodreads. I’m about to add it, and believe it will show up in the system shortly.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Granny

    There are brilliant thieves and astoundingly stupid thieves, here. Some steal for money, some for a strange kind of nameless fame, some become obsessed with a piece and finally lose their ability to resist its allure. This is one of the better true crime books I have read at some time, lavishly illustrated and it tells the stories of the detectives and crime hunters as vividly at the evil doers and their planning (or lack of). Mr. Houpt examines the security systems of museums, churches, hospital There are brilliant thieves and astoundingly stupid thieves, here. Some steal for money, some for a strange kind of nameless fame, some become obsessed with a piece and finally lose their ability to resist its allure. This is one of the better true crime books I have read at some time, lavishly illustrated and it tells the stories of the detectives and crime hunters as vividly at the evil doers and their planning (or lack of). Mr. Houpt examines the security systems of museums, churches, hospitals, and other surprising where great art can reside. Even street art; the most vulnerable of all, is discussed. I kept my laptop near at hand, to read some heists in more depth, to see small images of art in larger format, to check and see if some piece has been returned since publication, and so on. I recommend this approach to you. Or put an extra book mark in to hold the spot until you can get home and explore further. The final section is color reproductions of art which is still missing; in beautiful color, encouraging us to keep an eye opened for it, as though it were on a milk carton. My only complaint are the one page sections; which tell a single story, which are scattered throughout the middle of chapters. I find this distracting, a better choice would be the end of each chapter. I would not be doing this book justice without mentioning the Art Loss Register where you can go and browse missing works, and see the latest ones to be returns. This is an excellent book, which runs the spectrum between villany and unspeakable beauty. I think you will enjoy it very much.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

    As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I don't think that it quite lived up to its potential. It could have been a grand overview of the major conflicts in history that led to wide-scale pillaging of cultural history, a diary exploring the psyches' of the world's greatest art thieves (caught or otherwise), and a collection of tales of mystery which tell of all the works not yet found and the detectives who hunt for them. It dabbles in all of these topics - covering subjects like the reign of Na As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I don't think that it quite lived up to its potential. It could have been a grand overview of the major conflicts in history that led to wide-scale pillaging of cultural history, a diary exploring the psyches' of the world's greatest art thieves (caught or otherwise), and a collection of tales of mystery which tell of all the works not yet found and the detectives who hunt for them. It dabbles in all of these topics - covering subjects like the reign of Napoleon, the recovery of the Mona Lisa, and the role of auction houses in the case of fencing stolen art - but none of these topics are covered in any sort of depth, which resulted in this book serving as a mere warning to the general public about the problem of art theft. My appetite is whetted, though, so I will certainly seek out more books on this topic (fictional, semi-fictional, with the hope that some of the nonfiction will live up to the storytelling potential of the others).

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I loved Museum of the Missing. The topic was extremely interesting and I ended up reading every last word, even though the writing style was a little dry at points. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on art theft in times of war and Hitler's desire to open his own museum of stolen art during World War II. That definitely wasn't something we covered in my high school history classes, but it really underlines how much cultural destruction occurs in a time of war. This book made me want to go back t I loved Museum of the Missing. The topic was extremely interesting and I ended up reading every last word, even though the writing style was a little dry at points. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on art theft in times of war and Hitler's desire to open his own museum of stolen art during World War II. That definitely wasn't something we covered in my high school history classes, but it really underlines how much cultural destruction occurs in a time of war. This book made me want to go back to school and start studying art and art history again. The reproductions of the artwork are incredible; crisp and vivid. Printing in colour was a smart move on the part of the publisher, and worth the extra cost. This is definitely a book for any art lover or history buff.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I'm an easy target for those authors that'll write a good art theft story, history, outline, movie, anything! But why didn't this make 5 stars? Well I'll tell you. Simon Houpt was insistent on reminding me of how boring art thievery can be. In fact, he spends a lot of time dwelling on the institutional theft of art by countries during times of war. Yes, he's probably right that art theft is just another buck for most criminals and he's probably right that they're just as likely to use brute stre I'm an easy target for those authors that'll write a good art theft story, history, outline, movie, anything! But why didn't this make 5 stars? Well I'll tell you. Simon Houpt was insistent on reminding me of how boring art thievery can be. In fact, he spends a lot of time dwelling on the institutional theft of art by countries during times of war. Yes, he's probably right that art theft is just another buck for most criminals and he's probably right that they're just as likely to use brute strength as they are to use clever, Crownsian schemes. But no, he's wrong about making this a boring crime just the same as shoplifting or parking with out a permit.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is a good overview of art theft and why we should care about the loss of cultural treasures, whether they are fine arts or antiquities. The best part of the book is the photos of the beautiful paintings and items that have been stolen--which is the saddest part of the book. The authors don't include in their comprehensive catalog much of the art that went missing during the Holocaust, although they have a good chapter about the subject. Recommended for anyone interested in art history or ar This is a good overview of art theft and why we should care about the loss of cultural treasures, whether they are fine arts or antiquities. The best part of the book is the photos of the beautiful paintings and items that have been stolen--which is the saddest part of the book. The authors don't include in their comprehensive catalog much of the art that went missing during the Holocaust, although they have a good chapter about the subject. Recommended for anyone interested in art history or art theft.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    I loved this book. It's a great introduction to the history of art theft. The book starts with theft during war (and the Nazi's and the billions of dollars of artwork that they stole, destroyed and lost) and continues to the present (where artwork is traded for drugs). I should have read this book before reading Robert Wittman's book Priceless and The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick (both of which are mentioned in this book). I especially enjoyed the appendix at the end- "Gallery of Missing Art" I loved this book. It's a great introduction to the history of art theft. The book starts with theft during war (and the Nazi's and the billions of dollars of artwork that they stole, destroyed and lost) and continues to the present (where artwork is traded for drugs). I should have read this book before reading Robert Wittman's book Priceless and The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick (both of which are mentioned in this book). I especially enjoyed the appendix at the end- "Gallery of Missing Art"- showcasing recent thefts from the last ten years.

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