Recovery of the Stolen Munch

A valuable Lithograph, stolen in 2009, by famed artist Munch was recovered by the Norwegian police as announced on April 4, 2016.

stolen art

A handout photo of the lithograph circulated by the Oslo Police department after the original was stolen in 2009.

The lithograph, titled ‘Historien’ or “History” in Norwegian, made in 1914 by the Expressionist artist Edward Munch, depicts an old man seated under an old oak tree reading to a young boy next to him. The scenery is reminiscent of Norwegian landscapes depicting rocky beds and rivers, and Munch was inspired by his immediate surroundings of the Kragerø region. The depiction of storytelling was chosen to put emphasis on the reason behind the tradition; that of oral handover between generations. There are many other versions of the print, however, this one is rare because Munch had himself hand-coloured sections of the piece. The colours used in the lithograph are bright yet minimal, and the colouring could even be considered incomplete.

The lithograph was stolen on November 12, 2009, when two individuals smashed one of the windows in the Nyborgs Kunst art gallery in Oslo, with a rock and took away the artwork. The owner of the gallery, Pascal Nyborg, had estimated the value of the lithograph to nearly 2 million Kroner ($ 304,500) at that time.

Fortunately, the lithograph has been recovered undamaged and now in the custody of the Oslo police department. As mentioned in the Guardian report dated April 6, the police have arrested two men alleged involved in the handling of the artwork, but were not part of the theft itself.

Munch’s work has always been a popular target for art thefts in Norway; especially the versions of ‘The Scream’, one of his most famous paintings.

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