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Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
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Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  533 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The true story behind the blank spaces on the museum walls.

What kind of person would dare to steal a legendary painting—and who would buy something so instantly recognizable? In recent years, art theft has captured the public imagination more than ever before, spurred by both real life incidents (the snatching of Edvard Munch’s well-known masterwork The Scream) and the gla
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 28th 2006 by Sterling (first published January 1st 2006)
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Vanished Smile by R.A. ScottiThe Forger's Spell by Edward DolnickThe Rape of Europa by Lynn H. NicholasThe Art Forger by B.A. ShapiroMuseum of the Missing by Simon Houpt
Art Fraud And Theft
5th out of 132 books — 79 voters
The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. NicholasThe Rescue Artist by Edward DolnickThe Forger's Spell by Edward DolnickMuseum of the Missing by Simon HouptThe Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey
Art Crime
4th out of 37 books — 44 voters

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Lance Charnes
Feb 14, 2013 Lance Charnes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who want true crime with pretty pictures
Museum of the Missing is a fast, solid introduction to and survey of art theft over the past century.

Houpt – a Canadian arts columnist for The Globe and Mail – writes as if the reader knows a painting from a statue and has at least heard of the big names in art, but has no specialized knowledge of either art or the art market. By and large this works well; he doesn’t bother explaining who Rembrandt or Picasso are, but will spend a line identifying some of the less-famous names he mentions.

Friends of  Linebaugh Library
This is an interesting book about the history of art theft and the crazy things people do, and ultimately the loss to everyone when cultural objects are stolen. It is pretty fascinating even if you're interested art history at all. It is a history of art thefts, some solved, many still open, and concludes with a wonderful appendix of a "museum of the missing" - color plates of works still lost to theft.

It inspired the documentary "The Rape of Europa," although the movie focused only on art stole
I enjoyed the concept of this book which does an excellent job of revealing the world of art theft and missing art. It is chockful of interesting, well chosen stories and the author wisely decided to illustrate all the art discussed. The illustrations are much of the interest in this book. His tone is a little stiff at times and the large inset single story panels sometimes break up the rhythm of a longer story he is telling. The inset panels are a strange editorial decision. Each is interesting ...more
Michelle X.
Good overview of the history of art theft, though heavily biased in the way books on this subject typically are-- as in, it's certainly not written at all with the thieves' perspective in mind. Still, the information is good and the pictures are neat (even if the language is a bit melodramatic at times). Good to read as an introduction if you're planning on delving more into the subject (which I highly recommend).
Linda Lipko
Prior to October of 1958, art sales were handled away from the public and art dealers selectively catered to the wealthy who requested specific works.

When Sotheby's held a black-tie affair and auctioned seven paintings from the prestigious Jakob Goldschmidt collection, they unleashed a beast. Never before was art publicly displayed for so many people, and never before was the price of art work bid frantically at such incredible high amounts.

Jakob Goldscmidt escaped Berlin during the Nazi rein of
David R.
A fairly lightweight treatment of art theft over the ages. There are many distracting sidebars focused on specific incidents and aspects of the art trade, and the narrative never goes into detail on even the most notorious thefts. This one may serve as an introduction to the subject, but can be ignored by more serious students.
Julie Renee
Upsetting account of influential and eye catching works of art that have succumb to thieving hands.
Yet, inspires this reader to want to search the corners of the earth to bring the masterpieces to
their rightful owners.
Thrilling read with a multitude of gorgeous pictures of the art!

Lewes Library
While this book is decidedly Non-Fiction it reads like a fast paced thriller, constantly slapping you in the face with shocking facts of art theft throughout the ages. The book tackles the cost of art theft - both as a finanical loss and a cultural one. Houpt covers ground throughly but you never feel as though you're sitting through a college lecture. This book may be a good choice for young adults who are looking for something in the Non-Fiction realm for school, or just as a change of pace. T ...more
I'm an easy target for those authors that'll write a good art theft story, history, outline, movie, anything! But why didn't this make 5 stars? Well I'll tell you. Simon Houpt was insistent on reminding me of how boring art thievery can be. In fact, he spends a lot of time dwelling on the institutional theft of art by countries during times of war.

Yes, he's probably right that art theft is just another buck for most criminals and he's probably right that they're just as likely to use brute stre
Kelly Proulx
An interesting illustrated history of art thievery! It was fascinating to see a english men's take on the Gardener Museum heist...spoiler: still devastating!
I loved this book. It's a great introduction to the history of art theft. The book starts with theft during war (and the Nazi's and the billions of dollars of artwork that they stole, destroyed and lost) and continues to the present (where artwork is traded for drugs). I should have read this book before reading Robert Wittman's book Priceless and The Rescue Artist by Edward Dolnick (both of which are mentioned in this book). I especially enjoyed the appendix at the end- "Gallery of Missing Art" ...more
This is a good overview of art theft and why we should care about the loss of cultural treasures, whether they are fine arts or antiquities. The best part of the book is the photos of the beautiful paintings and items that have been stolen--which is the saddest part of the book. The authors don't include in their comprehensive catalog much of the art that went missing during the Holocaust, although they have a good chapter about the subject. Recommended for anyone interested in art history or ar ...more
Anna Richland
I'm on an art-theft-con-artist reading kick, because the hero of my current romantic suspense novel is a thief. This book was full of wonderful history of thefts, engagingly written, many pictures. I especially liked the 30 page appendix that was set up like a museum catalog of stolen artworks.

The research into the art and the actual thefts is strong. The only weak part is the way the author sometimes stretches to make broad statements about organized crime - not as strong as the rest of the bo
Reading Museum of the Missing felt a little like reading a high school text book entitled "Introduction to Art Theft." It was a fascinating topic, and the book was full of interesting stories and lots of beautiful pictures, but I guess I wanted more. Actually, now that I think about it, it was kind of like watching a show about art theft on Discovery or History channel. I think my favorite part was the gallery of missing art at the end of the book.
An advocasy book, written about an important topic, the theft of fine art. For people interested in the arts & culture sector, this will touch a chord, but I've read 2 other books on the same topic, and this one didn't say much new. The pictorial section of missing artwork was extensive, and showed many fine works that I had never seen before, but I didn't learn much of anything new.
The color reproductions of artwork are fabulous. Houpt, I think, does a really nice job of summarizing major issues with art theft, contemporary and historical. Great stories, well told. I like that he centers focus on the Gardner theft, unsolved to date. Obviously, this work is a scratch on the surface of all that's really happened, worldwide. Role of war, and now, drug trafficking, in art theft business is certainly food for thought.
This was borrowed from the library. It inspired the documentary "The Rape of Europa," although the movie focused only on art stolen during WWII. That was the most compelling chapter of this book as well, but the information about modern art detectives was also fascinating. I enjoyed his diatribes against the glamorization of art thieves in Hollywood. This was a good overview of the subject.
If you want a quick and easy survey of art stolen mostly over the past century read this book. If you want something with a little more depth read something else. The book is well written and lavishly illustrated with photos of what you may never see again. It ends with a plea for citizens and governments to take this problem more seriously.
So far I'm finding it interesting, but Houpt does not go into enough depth and barely scratches the topic. More like an overview or something you might see on the History Channel. Many short vignettes and editorializing, by the author. However, the photos are wonderful. At the end of the book, there is a photo gallery which is my favorite part.
Lightweight, and not memorable.
Felt like there was a lack of detail here, and that the author was more interested in pushing his feelings on crime/theft (in broad strokes).

Probably the most interesting section was the "Gallery of Missing Art" appendix.

Worth flipping through just for the reproductions, though.
David Ward
Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft by Simon Houpt (Sterling Publishing Co. Inc 2006)(364.162)is a brilliant book about art theft. It describes the business inside and out and contains a long section of famous works of art that are currently missing. My rating: 7/10, finished 3/2/12.
I think this makes a better coffee table book than straight read. It has interesting points, but nothing of depth. The reproductions are very high quality and are nice to look at. I also enjoy the listing of pieces that are still missing at the end.
This one is pretty fascinating if you're into art history at all. It is a history of art thefts, some solved, many still open, and concludes with an appendix with actually is a "museum of the missing" - color plates of works still lost to theft.
The topic is incredibly interesting and to it's credit this book has great full color illustrations and pictures. I thought it didn't have enough content. It was a like a quick overview of art theft without really getting into any details.
Houpt has a pragmatic but elegant style that serves the topic well. Beautiful color plates of much the stolen art he addresses. An even, balanced treatment of art theft and recovery that does not obsess over any one artist or art rescuer.
Kathy  Petersen
The figures of art theft are startling, as is the nerve of certain thieves! It all makes for an enthralling but quite sad volumes with, incidentally, beautiful illustrations of masterpieces that may never be seen again for real.
Why does this subject interest me? It's amazing that someone somewhere has a beautiful masterpiece hidden either for self-pleasure or because of ignorance. These artists whose work has been stolen will never pass our way again.
Jul 01, 2014 Jodi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
The slightly oversize format was unnecessary and made the book feel awkward to read. This is a good introduction or overview of art theft but certainly doesn't break any new ground. It feels a little textbook-y.
Loved this!! It was really facinating and I learned a lot but I felt that it could have been more detailed...more indepth. Certainly perfect for anyone who hasn't studied Art History, however.
Apr 08, 2008 Leila rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers
I loved this book! It traced important cases in the history of art theft, it provided interesting information and photos of the artworks, and it was an enjoying and fascinating read.
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Art Crime: Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft 4 5 Feb 29, 2012 08:37PM  
  • The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities--From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums
  • Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists
  • Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World
  • The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
  • Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece
  • Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures
  • The Gardner Heist
  • Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World's Richest Museum
  • I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger
  • The Art Detective: Fakes, Frauds, and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures
  • Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
  • The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War II
  • The Irish Game
  • Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa
  • Stealing History: Tomb Raiders, Smugglers, and the Looting of the Ancient World
  • Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
  • Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces

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