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The World's Most Expensive Stolen Paintings

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There’s somehow something glamorous about art theft: people sneaking into art galleries and out again with a priceless canvas rolled up in their coat. (I blame The Thomas Crown Affair.) And great masterpieces hold such a place in our cultural life – otherwise why would we pay so much for them – that when they’re stolen, it somehow strikes a chord.

But actually the snaffling of art treasures, often to order, is a business worth billions, with only a fraction being traced by investigators. So what can be done to protect the works, and what’s the process of recovering them? Art critic Alastair Sooke examines some of history’s great art heists – even the Mona Lisa was lifted from the Louvre in 1911 – and meets the experts following one particularly daring theft.


The art-crime industry is worth billions of pounds and around 47,000 works are reported missing each year, but it is a world glimpsed only occasionally in the headlines when valuable pieces vanish or - even more rarely - when they reappear. In this documentary, Alastair Sooke investigates the circumstances surrounding audacious thefts of some of the world's most valuable works of art.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Alastair Sooke
Director Dominic Gallagher
Executive Producer Ross Harper
Producer Dominic Gallagher


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