Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Secrets of Stéphane Breitwieser, One the World’s Greatest Art Thieves

Michael Finkel, GQ:

In the annals of art crime, it’s hard to find someone who has stolen from ten different places. 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.

By some combination of skill and luck, Breitwieser and Kleinklaus are doing everything right to avoid capture. They constantly shift the countries they target, alternating between rural and urban locations, large museums and small, while further mixing things up by stealing from churches, auction houses, and art fairs. They don’t kick down doors or cover their faces with masks—actions that would trigger a much greater police response. Crime works best, Breitwieser believes, when no one realizes it’s being committed.

Several times, he steals while they’re on a guided tour, then casually continues the tour while holding the item. 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.

Via Michele Seiler at Coudal, naturally.