438: Art thieves get a lesson in Munch (Friday 5 August 2005 #1)

compiled by Karah Byrns

Norway's beloved Edvard Munch has been making recent headlines as an object of affection for art thieves everywhere, thanks to the 1994 theft of a version of the Scream from the Norwegian National Gallery and the 2004 theft of the Madonna and the Scream from the Munch Museum in Oslo (see our coverage of latter here ). This time no art was harmed, but the reputation of an unfortunate group of aspiring art thieves undoubtedly suffered damage.

This Wednesday, two unarmed men barged into the Hotel Continental Oslo and threatened staff while removing three 'paintings' from the walls. However, these thieves should have done their homework: after the 2004 Munch theft, the Hotel Continental, which was recognized for its collection of twelve Munch originals, swapped the valuable paintings for worthless photographs. The originals are currently tucked away for safe-keeping in an undislcosed location. Although the thieves quickly made their getaway, their escape car was found not even a kilometer away. One can only imagine their disappointment to discover that the most valuable goods they had stolen were the frames.

Oslo police spokesman Vidar Hjulstad has issued the statement that "They are not like the thieves from the real Munch Museum; these are amateurs. They made a fool out of themselves." Ouch.

While the incident suggests that Munch is still a wanted man on the black market, it also suggests that collectors are taking more security precautions. After an exhausting trend of Munch theft, Munch afficionados can finally breathe a slightly satisfied sigh of relief, while this time, the second-rate thieves are the ones left 'screaming' foul play.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4741683.stm