The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief

The Secrets of the World’s Greatest Art Thief is an absolutely amazing read. I started it over lunch a few days ago, and literally could not stop reading until I had finished the entire article.

Michael Finkel details the unbelievable (and unbelievably long) career of Stéphane Breitwieser, who seems to be one of the most successful art thieves… well, ever.

The article is filled with amazing moments, and it’s difficult to not include every one here. Take this for example:

By the time the calendar flips to 2000, by Breitwieser’s calculations, he’s nearing 200 separate thefts and 300 stolen objects. For six years, he’s averaged one theft every two weeks. One year, he is responsible for half of all paintings stolen from French museums.

At times, it seems that Breitwieser is truly someone who loves the artwork he steals. But over the course of the article, Breitwieser’s need to steal seems to emerge. The longevity of his career, and his technical acumen, are really both quite impressive.

Another moment in the article that really crystalized for me just how good Breitwieser was at theft:

At an art fair in Holland, Breitwieser hears a shout of “Thief!” and sees security guards tackle a man. It’s another burglar. Breitwieser takes advantage of the commotion and slips a painting under his coat.

In looking over some of Finkel’s other articles, I realized that he was also the author of an article I mentioned five years ago. Much like that one, this article is another you should really read.

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