Why We Love Gutsy Art Heists

Thefts of masterpieces just classier than other crimes
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2010 9:46 AM CDT
This photo released by Bridgeman Art Library International, shows Amadeo Modigliani's "La femme a l'eventail". The painting is 1 of 5 stolen.   (AP Photo/Bridgeman Art Library International)
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(Newser) – Sure, it was a tragic loss when a thief made off with a priceless haul of Picasso, Matisse, and Braque paintings yesterday. But it was also a pretty great story, Paul Farhi writes in the Washington Post. Big art heists "aren't like ordinary crimes, which are dreary and depressing," Farhi writes. And it's not just because novels and movies have taught us to admire clever art thieves; there really is a difference.

"They take planning and scheming, which invests them with a certain kind of intelligence and criminal nobility," Farhi notes. They rarely involve physical violence, and often involve insanely valuable objects. "Most of all, they take something missing from most crimes: nerve and smarts." Throw in the Paris location and lone wolf perp of yesterday's heist at the Musee d'Art, and you have "all the elements that have filled bestsellers and movie theaters for decades."

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