Infamy is defined as the state of being well known or famous for a serious criminal act. It is commonly used to describe deeds that, while considered wrong, are often glorified by media, folklore, and the news. The words used to describe a work of art and the way the art is stolen is almost identical. Which brings up the question: can an art heist be considered a work of art in itself?
In Edward Dolnick’s book, The Rescue Artist, barely anyone had even heard of The Scream…at least until it was stolen from a museum. (Dolnick 27) As strange as it seems, the mere association of something with a famous criminal act can cause it to become famous itself. Take the Titanic for example, had it never crashed into the iceberg and sunk, it would just be known as “that stupid boat that nobody has ever heard of.” By extension, infamy is a huge influence on human history, art, culture, and media.
Throughout history, there have been many notable heists that are significant enough to be called infamous. An almost perfect example of one of these is known as “The Great Art Heist of the 20th Century”, in which the Mona Lisa itself was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian man who convinced a security guard to help him take the painting off the wall and to a nearby lab used to prevent mold from growing on the paintings, where he climbed out the window and ran the second the museum closed. (Dyer 4) After the painting was recovered two years later, more people visited the painting than ever before.
Another heist occurred as recently as September 25th, 2013. Three art thieves in Costa Rica broke into a museum and stole 300,000 dollars worth of paintings by Rafi Fernandez. (Daniels 6) The paintings were recovered a week later and since then have also received more visitors.