Home News Stories 2007 July Top Ten Art Crimes Addition

Top Ten Art Crimes Addition

Art Crime Alert
Masterwork Stolen in Australia

07/30/07

A Cavalier, by Dutch Artist Frans Van Mieris, Stolen From Sydney, Australia in 2007
A Cavalier, by Dutch artist Frans Van Mieris was stolen in June while on display at an art gallery in Sydney, Australia.
Please be on the lookout, no matter where you live in the world, for the 350-year-old painting pictured here—A Cavalier, by Dutch artist Frans Van Mieris—recently stolen from an Australian art gallery. Valued at more than $1 million, it is the latest addition to the FBI Top Ten Art Crimes list.

Here are the facts:

…The painting was taken on Sunday, June 10 from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney while the museum was open to the public.
…An oil on oak panel, it depicts a man believed to be the artist seated in a chair wearing a feathered cap and formal attire.

The work of art is tiny—without the frame, the painting is just 20 centimeters high and 16 centimeters wide, or roughly 6 x 8 inches.
…It was secured to the wall before disappearing from a small room within the gallery, which holds significant collections of Australian, European, and Asian art.

The Top Ten Art Crimes list. We created the list in November 2005 to help publicize and locate stolen masterworks around the globe. Since then, four entries listing five paintings and one sculpture—including works by Renoir, Rembrandt, Cellini, and Munch—have been recovered worldwide. One of the stolen Iraqi artifacts was also recovered.

The Van Mieris addition replaces a 1778 painting by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes recovered last November by agents in our Newark field office. Goya’s Children with a Cart had been stolen from a transport truck in Pennsylvania while in transit from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

The top ten list was developed by our Art Crime Team, a dozen special agents with extensive training in sleuthing stolen artworks and three Department of Justice trial attorneys. The team works in major art markets around the country and has helped locate more than 850 items worth over $65 million.

Recent recoveries aided by our Art Crime Team include:

  • The long-missing original manuscript of Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Good Earth;
  • A Civil War flag stolen from an Indiana museum’s inventory in the mid ‘90s;
  • Norman Rockwell’s Russian Schoolroom, stolen in 1973 and recovered in Los Angeles in March after the Art Crime Team initiated a cold-case investigation;
  • A stolen 1865 Colt revolver that belonged to Theodore Roosevelt when he charged San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War;
  • Approximately 100 paintings stolen from a Florida family’s collection, including works by Picasso, Rothko, and Matisse; and
  • Four rare books—including pencil sketches by John James Audubon and a first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species—stolen from a university in Lexington, Kentucky.

If you have any information concerning the theft of the Van Mieris painting or any of the works on our Top Ten Art Crimes list, please contact your local FBI field office or nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. You can also submit a tip online.

Resources:
- FBI Art Theft program
- Art Theft stories
- National Press Release