Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ and ‘Madonna,’ 1994 and 2004
The threatening image featured in Edvard Munch’s renowned expressionist work The Scream did not deter thieves from taking it—twice. In February 1994, on the day that year’s Winter Olympics began in Norway, four men broke into the National Gallery and stole its version (Munch painted four), leaving behind a note the read, “Thanks for the poor security.” Though the gallery refused to pay a $1 million ransom demand, Norwegian police joined forces with British police and the Getty Museum to arrange a sting operation to recover the famous painting. Three months after it was taken, the painting was returned undamaged and two years later, four men were convicted in connection with the crime. But in one morning in August 2004, two masked gunmen barged into the Munch Museum in Oslo, threatened a female security guard, and escaped in a getaway car with the work, as well as the artist’s painting Madonna, valued at approximately $75 million. In 2006, three men were convicted and the paintings were recovered with minimal damage. “I am almost crying from happiness," said Gro Balas, who chaired the board of the Munch Museum, which reportedly closed for approximately 10 months to undergo a $6 million security overhaul.