Art is the one thing weve always seemed to have appreciated as a species, from the cave paintings found in France and Australia to modern art on exhibit in various museums around the world. Being always in demand, art is also one of the things people steal the most.
Every war or conquest somehow ends with the plunder of art pieces. As a result of this and other forces at work, there have been instances of interesting art being found in the craziest places. Here are just some of the most interesting examples.
The Nazi Plunder
When WWII started across Europe, no one was ready for what was about to come. With the Great war so freshly ingrained into everyones memory, people were sure that whatever Hitler was doing would be sorted out in a matter of days or weeks. After all, no one would fight another global war, right? We know how this one ends. The level of devastation in Europe
alone was immense. As the Nazis conquered one country after another, theyve also plundered all of the art pieces and valuables from both private and public collection. The thing is, not all of that art was found after the war.
One of the latest instances of Nazi stolen art being found happened as recently as 2010 when Cornelius Gurlitt was put in custody due to a shady art sale. Once police finished their investigation, theyve found over 1,200 unframed pieces in his apartment. Anything from Monet, Renoir to Picasso, and Durer was in this cache. We can only imagine how many such caches there are waiting to be discovered. If you were to put a pin for every cache on this Europe and Africa map
, youd see a lot of red pins popping up around Germany and Austria. However, there have been caches found as far as South America.
The Thrift Store Pollock
Modern art is often criticized as being too abstract, to a point where any artistic value is lost. However, not all modern art suffers such a reputation. A few artists have cut through the white noise of modern art and became well known for their personal style. Jackson Pollock was one such artist. Pollock is a contemporary expressionist who was known for his mastery of liquid paints. He would point on a horizontal medium, using what was often described as delirium inducing dance. As abstract as his pieces were, they were in high demand. Some were reaching high nine figures on the open market while one of his paintings sold for around $200 million not so long ago.
Enter Teri Horton. A truck driver by trade, Teri went looking for cool art to decorate her home. She went into one of the local thrift stores and pulled out an unusual looking painting. Somehow that painting got in front of an art teacher who advised Teri that she might have a legit Jackson Pollock
in her hands. Horton didnt have to be told twice. She got the painting appraised. Lo and behold, it was a real Pollock piece that was appraised at $50 million.
The Lost Bereny
Some say that lost art cant remain lost forever, especially now with so many cameras everywhere. What happened in 2009 was definitely adds in favor of this argument. Gergely Barki is an art historian and a researcher with the Hungarian National Gallery over in Budapest. One evening Barki and his daughter decided to give the old Stuart Little film a rewatch. As they were enjoying the film, Barkis professional eye spotted something interesting - a painting that looked awful like the lost work of Robert Bereny. Bereny was a Hungarian painter with a long list of critically acclaimed paintings.
Barki sprung into action. He got in touch with both Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures, where he was given the contact info of Stuart Littles movie set designer. She let Barki know that the painting was acquired in a local antique store for a few hundred dollars and is now sitting in her living room. After some negotiations, the painting, now known as the Sleeping Lady with Black Vase, was returned to Hungary, where it remains to this day.
Finding Lost Art
All of these instances of lost art being found in unusual places happened by mere chance. Most art historians think that lost art will continue to pop up all over the world, but that its hard to anticipate where and what art. A lot of the pieces that are being discovered were never reported as missing or stolen.