The Great Art Robbery…Foiled


Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the Rembrandt’s Light exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Sadly, since Thursday, 14th November 2019, the gallery is closed until further notice. This is due to a failed attempt at a great art robbery. Namely audacious break-in on Wednesday night targeting two of Rembrandt’s paintings from the exhibition.


Imagine now the situation, because this, just like may other art burglary attempts is movie material. Relatively small Dulwich Picture Gallery, quite far from the city center, Wednesday night, around 11 pm, it is cold, humid and dark outside. Someone breaks into the silent gallery and removes two selected paintings from the 35 Rembrandt’s paintings hanging in the exhibition space. According to Detective Inspector Jason Barber from the Flying Squad: ‘This was an audacious attempted burglary and was clearly planned in advance.’


Luckily for all of us, the planning was not impeccable. The burglar triggered the gallery’s security systems and at 11:30 pm the police were called. Officers arrived minutes later and, following the search of the area, challenged an intruder and one of them gave chase. Then the intruder sprayed the officer in the face with an unknown substance, managing to get away. Thankfully the police officer was not seriously injured and swiftly located one of the paintings. The police and security staff found the second painting shortly after. Both paintings never left the gallery and are now safe.


As always in such cases, the question is not so much ‘why?’, we can all safely assume it was for the money. But who? (which we may find out in due course) and who was the buyer? (which will probably remain a mystery, if the previous experience is to guide us).


At this time the gallery did not disclose which paintings have been targeted and remains closed for investigation. Below, you can find a selection of the paintings that were displayed in Rembrandt’s Light exhibition. Check the Dulwich Picture Gallery website to see when it reopens.

Rembrandt, The Denial of St. Peter, 1660, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, phot. Joanna Kaszubowska.
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Rembrandt, Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1647, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, phot. Joanna Kaszubowska.
Rembrandt, Philemon and Baucis 1658, National Gallery of Art, Washington, phot. Joanna Kaszubowska - Dulwich Picture Gallery
Rembrandt, Philemon and Baucis 1658, National Gallery of Art, Washington, phot. Joanna Kaszubowska.
Rembrandt's Light - Dulwich Picture Gallery
Rembrandt, Self-Portrait in a Flat Cap, 1642, The Royal Collection HM Queen Elizabeth II, phot. Joanna Kaszubowska.

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The Great Art Robbery…Foiled was first posted on November 16, 2019 at 4:00 am.
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