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The Quick 10: 10 Pieces of Stolen Artwork

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August 22 is a bad day for artwork: on this day in 1911, it was discovered that the Mona Lisa was stolen, and on this day in 2004, two Edvard Munch paintings were stolen at gunpoint from a museum in Oslo. So, it makes sense to me that today's Q10 should be about famous works of art that were snatched out from under the collective noses of museums.

1. The Mona Lisa, 1911. After movies with incredibly complicated plots to steal art, like The Thomas Crown Affair and Oceans 12, it seems almost unbelievable that an employee at the Louvre just strolled out with the Mona Lisa stashed under his coat. But that's what happened. He kept it in his apartment for a couple of years before attempting to sell it to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He was caught and served a few months in jail for his crime.

2. The Gardner Museum, 1990. A total of 13 pieces were stolen from Boston's Gardner Museum, including a few Rembrandts, a Manet, a Vermeer and five drawings by Degas. The total value of the pinched items is about $500 million. If you know anything, there's a reward of $5 million.

jacob3. The Jacob de Gheyn III, 1966 (among others). This Rembrandt is the most stolen painting in the world "“ it's gone missing four times to date. It keeps turning back up, though, and is living (for now) at London's Dulwich Picture Gallery. The fact that it's barely bigger than a piece of typing paper "“ 11.8 by 9.8 inches "“ certainly makes it easier to steal than most famous works.

4. The Van Gogh Museum, 1991.

Twenty of Van Gogh's most famous works were stolen from his namesake museum in Amsterdam, but were quickly found about 35 minutes later in an abandoned car. I guess the thieves lost their nerve(s).

5. Emile Bührle Foundation, 2008. A similar theft happened just earlier this year, this time in Zurich. Works by Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Cézanne were taken from the Foundation, for a total of $163 million in missing masterpieces. However, the Van Gogh and the Monet were found not too long after the theft in a parked car near the museum.

6. Ghent Altarpiece panels, 1934. Two panels of the altarpiece were stolen and held for ransom. One of them was found, but the thief died before the other one could be safely returned and never told anyone its location. It's still missing to this day.

7. The Scream and the Madonna, 2004. Edvard Munch's pieces were famously stolen in Norway. An alarm went off when the thieves broke in, but the guard ignored it. I guess they were well-mannered thieves, because they left a note thanking the guard for his poor security.

8. Last Judgment triptych, 1473. Art theft is definitely not a recent phenomenon. An altarpiece like the Ghent panels, the Last Judgment was stolen from the de'Medici chapel in Florence. It's not lost, though "“ the thief gave it to the Gdansk cathedral in Poland. It was moved to the museum in Warsaw in the 1940s, but I believe it has since been returned to the cathedral.

9. The Duchess of Devonshire, 1878. The theft of this Gainsborough piece is kind of funny, I think "“ it was stolen so the thief could demand his friend's release from jail. Except, his friend has already gotten out of jail. Whoops. He made lemonade out of lemons, though, and demanded a ransom instead.

10. Quedlinburg medieval artifacts, 1945. During WWII, a soldier stole eight artifacts from a mineshaft "“ they had been hidden there by clergy members who feared that Nazis would steal them. He was still in possession of them when he died in 1980 "“ when his brothers attempted to sell some of the items in 1990, they were charged. That statute of limitations had passed, though, so the brothers were let off the hook.

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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]


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