cover image Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists

Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists

Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg. Palgrave Macmillan, $25 (256p) ISBN 9780230108530

Art history meets C.S.I. in this account of the theft of works by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, the most prolific master painter of the Dutch Golden Age. Amore and Mashberg narrate heists ranging from noir to farce, weaving in details about the historical relevance of each work and background on the artist. Some thieves prove more cunning than others, but the star is Myles Connor, the mastermind behind a daring lift from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts that is reminiscent of a Hollywood movie. Even on paper, Connor comes off so beguiling and debonair that his chapter outshines the occasionally lackluster companion pieces. However, these cases provide insight into the psychology and even the philosophy of art thieves. They also provoke questions about the purpose of such thefts given that it is nearly impossible to re-sell world famous pieces of art. Overall, the authors convey the importance of Rembrandt's works as historical and cultural touchstones and argue that art theft is a "crime against all of us." Amore himself is plagued by the theft of three Rembrandts from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where he serves as head of security. That mystery, for now, remains unsolved. Photos. (July)