FBI’s #1 Art Crime: Looting of Iraqi Artifacts


During the war, and in March and April in particular, many Iraqi institutions and archaeological sites were looted. Above is a picture of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad back in 2008. After thousands of artifacts were looted, the FBI was brought in to investigate and recover the priceless artifacts.

The Iraqi museum houses the heritage of the Babylonian, Mesopotamian, and Persian civilizations. The museum was closed for several years while the collection was being recovered. It officially reopened in February, 2015. Although many pieces have been recovered, it is estimated that nearly 10,000 relics are still  missing. One item recovered by the FBI was the Statue of Entemena.

statue of entemena

If you have any information about these stolen relics please call the FBI tip line.


For more information on the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes:



Photo credits:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/fbi-top-ten-art-crimes/iraqi-looted-and-stolen-artifacts

Photo of National Museum of Iraq: By Zzztriple2000 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Alexknight12 using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6793185


FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes #2: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist



The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist has been labeled “The Crime of the Century,” but although the crime itself was rather remarkable, the fact that the case has gone unsolved for more than 27 years is unthinkable.

On March 18, 1990, two armed police officers knocked on the gates of the museum claiming to be responding to a disturbance call. The guards let them in thinking that there must be a mistake. Neither man had called the authorities. When they tried to explain this to the uniformed men, the guards were informed of the truth. They had given entry to two disguised art thieves. The guards were marched down to the basement at gunpoint and handcuffed to the water pipes. Their hands and feet were bound with duct tape and their mouths taped shut.

The thieves then took their time and stole thirteen pieces of art with an estimated value of over $500,000,000. These pieces included Rembrandt’s only seascape The Storm on the Sea of GalileeVermeer’s The Concertand a Chinese bronze gu from the Shang Dynasty. Other pieces were stolen, but the strangest item was a bronze finial that sat atop a Napoleonic Flag. This bronze bird has brought on many unanswered questions. If this was a professional job orchestrated by an art connoisseur then why did they steal this bird?

isabella stewart gardner museum heist

Motion censors indicated the movement of the thieves, their trips to their awaiting vehicle to load their stolen goods, and their final exit. The entire operation took an amazing 81 minutes. 27 years later the case is still unsolved and not one of the stolen pieces have been recovered.

Recently there has been a stirring in this cold case in the news. A Boston gangster named Robert Gentile has been making headlines. This aging criminal has claimed, officially, to have no knowledge of the matter. However, privately he has told people he knows where the artwork is located. FBI investigators are hot on the trail of this and has searched his home twice. I will keep you posted on leads as they are reported.

As always if you have any information on these missing pieces please call


YouTube Video about the heist.

(I do not own the rights to this video. I am merely sharing it for public use)


Photo credits:

Museum Picture: By Biruitorul – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4004123

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/5-million-reward-offered-for-return-of-stolen-gardner-museum-artwork


FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes: #3 Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence


The Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence is believed to be painted in 1609. While it’s date of origin is disputable, it’s creator is not. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was on the run for his life after murdering a man over a debt. This is believed to be one of is last paintings and is highly valuable.

In October 1969, two thieves entered the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo, Italy and removed the Caravaggio Nativity from its frame. Experts estimate its value at $20 million.

Two thieves entered the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palermo in October 1969 and cut the $20 million painting from it’s frame. Although there are plenty of rumors of Mafia involvement, the case remains unsolved and the priceless piece of Baroque art is still missing. A replica hangs in the Oratory where the original once stood.

If you have any tips relating to this 48-year-old cold case please call



Photo credits:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/fbi-top-ten-art-crimes/nativity-with-san-lorenzo-and-san-francesco



FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes: #4 Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius


This crime is most heartbreaking. While one of the world’s greatest violinists lay dying in October, 1995, a cruel thief slipped a hidden key from it’s discreet location and unlocked the closet door where Erica Morini, 91, kept her most treasured possession; a Davidoff Stradivarius estimated to be worth more than $3.5 million. The violin was made in 1727 by the famous Antonio Stradivari.

If you have any information about this missing item please call


Photo credit:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/fbi-top-ten-art-crimes/theft-of-the-davidoff-morini-stradivarius


FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes: #5 Van Gogh Museum Robbery – ARTWORK RECOVERED

Van Gogh, View of the Sea at ScheveningenTwo Van Gogh paintings were stolen from the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam in December, 2002. Two very determined thieves cut a hole in the roof of the museum to gain access to the building. Two of Van Gogh’s paintings were taken; The Sea at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen. Officials estimate the combined value at $30 million.

While the thieves were quickly caught and arrested a year later, the paintings weren’t recovered until September, 2016.

Photo credits:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/fbi-top-ten-art-crimes/van-gogh-museum-robbery




FBI’s Top 10 ART Crimes:#6 Cezanne’s View of Auvers-sur-Oise

Cezanne, View of Auvers-sur-Oise

As Oxford, England celebrated the new millennium with fireworks, a thief broke into the Ashmolean Museum and stole the View of Auvers-sur-Oise by Cezanne. This landscape painting is worth approximately £3 million.

If you have any information please call 1-800-CALLFBI

Photo credit:

Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team, Public Domain, via Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) @ https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/violent-crime/art-theft/fbi-top-ten-art-crimes/theft-of-cezannes-view-of-auvers-sur-oise