Armed Robbers Stole 17 Rare Paintings from Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy

Art News

November 21, 2015

It’s not happening only in auction movies – “spectacular” robberies of priceless artworks do happen in reality as well. However, museums and galleries have significantly improved their security systems, and it’s not quite easy for thieves to “do their job”. It’s difficult to imagine that we see some kind of Pink Panthers styles of robbery, as it was the case with the Gardner Museum in Boston burglary from 1990. But, the thieves’ always find other ways to break through security systems and steal precious artworks. On November 19, three masked men entered the Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy, and they have stolen a collection of seventeen rare paintings. This is one of the Italy’s biggest art robberies ever!

Armed Robbers Stole 17 Rare Paintings from Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy
Giovanni Francesco Caroto - Portrait of a Young Benedictine and Portrait of a Child with a Drawing (courtesy of

Armed Robbery at Verona’s Famous Museum

On Thursday night, three armed men broke into the Museo di Castelvecchio, and they tied up and silenced a security guard and a cashier. When the thieves disarmed the museum's security system, they stole 17 paintings. It is believed that stolen artworks worth around $16 million in total. During the escape, the armed men used the security guard's car as a getaway vehicle. And, what did they steal? While they took some of the paintings out of their frames, they left other artworks untouched. But, they managed to steal some of the most important Renaissance-era works by a range of European artists. As AFP reports, pieces that were stolen include artworks by Peter Paul Rubens, Jacopo Tintoretto, Jacopo Bellini, and Giovanni Francesco Caroto. At least five Tintoretto’s pieces were stolen, Andrea Mantegna’s The Holy Family with a Saint, Peter Paul Rubens’s The Lady of Licnidi, Pisanello’s Madonna of the Quail, and two works by the Dutch landscape painter Hans de Jode.

Armed Robbers Stole 17 Rare Paintings from Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy
Pisanello - La Madonna della quaglia.jpg (courtesy of

They Knew What To Steal

This robbery was conducted by professionals, there is no doubt about it. They were perfectly coordinated, and they knew exactly what to steal. However, everything seems to be even more coordinated - the thieves’ calculated timing and clear knowledge of the museum’s layout and the works’ whereabouts have led many to believe that the heist was commissioned by a collector! Even Flavio Tosi, the mayor of Verona believes that the theft must have been commissioned. As mayor put it: Someone told them exactly what to steal and given that they are very well-known paintings, I imagine they will end up in a private collection. Indeed, 11 of the 17 stolen works are considered masterpieces, while the other six are lesser pieces.

Armed Robbers Stole 17 Rare Paintings from Museo di Castelvecchio in Verona, Italy
Tintoretto - The Judgement of Solomon(courtesy of

The Forces of the Black Market

Having in mind that the thieves apparently knew exactly what to take, it is believed that the whole action was ordered by someone who could financially benefit from it. It’s likely that these well-known paintings will end up in a private collection. Of course, the owner of this collection will not keep the paintings, but will try to sell it on the black market. We already know that illegal actions are taking place on the “real art market” – let us just remind on the story about money laundering on art market. Only imagine what’s happening on the black market! The problem, however, is that these stolen masterpieces from Verona will probably be sold for a nice price, and will end up in a “semi-legal” private collection.

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Featured Image: Museo di Castelvecchio. All Images used for illustrative purposes only.