Thursday, July 07, 2005


Scene of the crime last August.

On Sunday, August 22, 2004, armed robbers stole The Scream and the Madonna from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. It was been almost a year after the bold daylight robbery of the two Edvard Munch masterpieces and still no developments.

The Munch Museum has reopened its doors after several months of closure. The museum underwent a massive security overhaul with a price tag of NOK 40 million, or $6.5 million. The Munch Museet is being called “Fortress Munch” for its upgraded security, including airport style checkpoints and bulletproof glass "glazing" over important artowrks. Unfortunately, it is essentially fixing the barn door after the horses have run away.

It had been hoped that they would be recovered in time for the reopening of the museum. There have been five arrests in connection with the theft of the Munch Museum’s versions of The Scream and Madonna, neither have been recovered. The Norwegian authorities remain optimistic and the FBI is now also involved. A spokesman from the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, in that typical crass Fed way, that there is a very good chance that the works will be retrieved if they haven’t already been destroyed. A newspaper, the Dagbladet, has reported that, according to underworld sources, the two paintings have been incinerated, but there is no credible proof to the claim.

On Friday, June 17, the Munch Museum reopened to a private gala for the new exhibition “Less Famous Paintings by Munch that We Still Have.” Actually, the exhibition is titled Munch by Himself–the Artist’s Self Portraits. It is reported that it took so long to make it through the security checks that eventually people were just allowed to walk right in to save time.

On view in place of the lost works are a pastel version The Scream, and a lithograph of the Madonna. The pastel Scream is one of four versions of The Scream, there is another pastel owned by a private collector, and two paintings. The most famous of which hangs in Norway’s National Gallery which was stolen in 1994 and later recovered.

Read the Art or Idiocy’s SCREAM Report

And an update with lots of vivid photos. (Please scroll down, sorry we can’t be more tech savvy than that)

In other Munch news, the Progress Party of Norway wants to rent out Munchs in the way the Boston MFA has.

Sources for this article:
Aftenposten, Norway • CBC News, Canada • Cleveland Plain DealerIndymedia IrelandReuters, UK • San Diego Union Tribune