Do you know Jacob de Gheyn III ? I don’t, but art thefts kinda like his portrait, made by Rembrandt. Why this paining is so special ? Just because it has the title of most often stolen painting in the Guiness Book of Records, with its nickname The Takeaway Rembrandt.
A few works have been stolen twice, but hardly any paintings have been stolen more often than that. Except for one work: Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn (1632), which has been stolen four times from the same museum.
The picture, which hangs in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, was stolen for the first time in 1966 by a gang of criminals hoping to resell it on the black market. Thanks to smart police work, it was recovered within two weeks, and hung back on its former spot. The second time it was stolen, in 1973, the thief did not enter the gallery at night like his predecessors, but simply walked into the gallery and put the painting in a plastic bag. He then walked out of the museum and mounted his bike, but was soon halted by policemen. The 24-year old thief boldly declared that he liked the look of the painting and wanted to sketch it.
In 1981, Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn was stolen for the third time. This time the two thieves entered the gallery during the day, one of them distracted the guard and the other took the painting from the wall. Indeed, it could not be simpler to steal a work of art from a museum, because the gallery simply could not afford expensive security measures. However, after the painting was retrieved after a couple of weeks, the museum decided to invest $ 20,000 in its security. Although the system worked this time – the police was alarmed when the thieves took the painting from the wall at night and arrived at the gallery three minutes later – it was too late: the thieves were already gone, and had taken the painting with them. This time it would take three years for the painting the resurface. It was found in Munster in 1986, but no one ever found out who had stolen it. Perhaps the art world criminals figured out that the painting is by now too famous to be resold, since for the past 25 years it remained safe in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
I believe that this paining has nowadays the best crisis management plan. You ?