Munch Art Heist Was Well-Planned, Oslo Police Say

Edvuard Munch, Historien, stolen painting

OSLO, NORWAY — Perhaps it's the miserable, tortuous scenes in the artwork of Edvard Munch that makes it attractive to the criminal element. The Symbolist painter's most famous agony-laden image, The Scream, was stolen on the same day as the opening ceremony of the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In 2004, another version of The Scream and the Madonna were both taken from Oslo's Munch Museum. And on Thursday, a man smashed the window of the Nyborg Kunst art gallery in Oslo and snatched Edvard Munch's Historien.

Historien (Norwegian for history), is a rare lithograph, measuring approximately 2x3 ft and estimated to be worth $355,000. Though several copies of the work exist, the stolen piece was hand-embellished by Edvard Munch, making it unique and quite valuable.

Norway's most popular artist, Edvard Munch was a major influence on the development of the early twentieth-century's Expressionist movement. Rather than depicting physical reality in his art, Munch concentrated on illustrating raw emotions like fear, misery and death.

Authorities have already recovered the thief's vehicle, reported stolen 10 days prior to the Munch heist. "This leads us to believe it was a well planned robbery," said John Roger Lund, head of the organized crime unit for Oslo police.

The artworks stolen in 1994 and 2004 were later recovered. Police are hoping for a similar outcome in this case.
[Photo: A version of Edvard Munch's Historien, 1912-1913.]


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