10 Impressive Art Heists


The Henry Moore Foundation, 2005

If it's about 12 feet (3.6 meters) long, 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, 6 feet (1.8 meters) wide and weighs over 2 tons (1,814 kilograms), is it worth the trouble to steal? That's a question that three men must have asked themselves after targeting a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, "Reclining Figure," for a potential heist. Of course, thievery involving such massive dimensions would require the use of a construction foreman's tools. Armed with a crane-equipped Mercedes flatbed truck and a Mini Cooper, these crooks had the tools for the take [source: BBC].

In December 2005, the two vehicles rolled into the Henry Moore Foundation courtyard at night, loaded the hippopotamus-sized sculpture onto the flatbed truck and drove away. The entire job took 10 minutes [source: Telegraph].

Thought to be worth about $4.6 million, it is likely that the sculpture was cut up, shipped abroad and melted down for only about $2,300 worth of scrap metal [source: Townsend and Davies]. Charles Hill, currently a private art detective in Scotland, believes the bronze piece was stolen by a group of traveling criminals. It's likely that the metal was shipped to Rotterdam and then to China to be used for electrical parts. No arrests have been made.

On the next page, we'll share the story of a masterful heist in which nothing of value was stolen but 15 thieves were convicted.