Police in Norway today recovered Edvard Munch's The Scream (1893) and Madonna (1893-94), stolen at gunpoint from the Munch Museet, Oslo in a daring daytime robbery on August 22, 2004. The canvases were lifted from the museum's walls, and torn from their frames while thieves were on the run toward their getaway vehicle. Speculation since has run the gamut from the paintings' being irreparably damaged to having been dumped, buried or burnt. They could never have been sold.
The Munch heist topped the FBI's Art Theft Program's Top 10 list in 2005. Despite four arrests, and promises from the authorities that those detained would either provide information leading to the paintings' recovery or pay an unbelievable amount of restitution (the paintings being "priceless"), Aftenposten reported that police received no assistance from the men in custody. The Norwegian newspaper additionally disclosed that both paintings are in much better shape than had been feared.
I'd wager good money that the mood at the Munch Museet earlier today was euphoric. A national icon is back in its rightful home and Norwegians - and, indeed, all of us everywhere who've worried over these paintings' loss - are entirely justified in feeling celebratory. (P.S. to Mars, Inc. The police detectives in Oslo deserve every last one of those two million dark chocolate M&M's, so please make good on the reward offered in your latest ad campaign.)
Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863-1944)
The Scream, 1893
Tempera on board
83.5 x 66 cm
Munch Museet, Oslo
Buy a reproduction