Samsung Launches Exhibition In A Bid To Recover Lost Art

Lost art including famous paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne and others is now available in Samsung's online exhibition "Missing Masterpieces".

Nov 12, 2020By Antonis Chaliakopoulos, MSc Museum Studies, BA History & Archaeology
White duck, Jean Baptiste Oudry, 19th century (left); Last Judgement, William Blake, 1908 (center); Summer, David Teniers the Younger, 1644, via Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces (right).

Samsung has partnered with an art crime professional to create an online exhibition of lost artworks in an attempt to recover them. The show is called Missing Masterpieces and includes viewings of stolen paintings by Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh. The stolen artworks disappeared either in dramatic art heists or under other suspicious circumstances. In any case, they have interesting stories to tell.

The Missing Masterpieces exhibition will be live on Samsung’s website from November 12 to February 10, 2021.

Why An Exhibition About Stolen Art?

Summer, David Teniers the Younger, 1644, via Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces.

The exhibition organizers hope that by making the artworks available to a wide audience they can attract information leading to the recovery of the missing works.

Consequently, this is not a simple exhibition, but rather an attempt at retrieving a series of famous stolen artworks. As Dr. Noah Charney said:

“Before you get to work on a puzzle, you want to gather all the pieces, right? It’s the same with a crime or a mysterious loss. From contradictory media reports to speculation in Reddit feeds – the clues are out there, but the volume of information can be overwhelming. This is where technology and social media can help by bringing people together to assist the search. It’s not unheard of for an innocuous tip posted online to be the key that unlocks a case.”

The exhibition is a really interesting project offering help in a difficult time for museums. As the finances of the sector are getting worse, security is developing into a major issue. Just during the first lockdown, six paintings by famous artists, including Van Gogh, were stolen.

It is no secret that the black market in the art world is worth millions of dollars. Unesco recently also argued that the number could be as high as $10 billion annually although that is highly unlikely.

Missing Masterpieces: The World’s Most Wanted Art Exhibition

White duck, Jean Baptiste Oudry, 19th century, via Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces.

Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces tells the stories of 12 stolen and lost artworks. The show is exhibited is curated by Dr. Noah Charney and The Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA). As is natural, all of the 12 stolen art pieces are not available to be seen anywhere else in the world. As a result, Samsung can take pride in saying that it is bringing them together for the first time.

Nathan Sheffield, Samsung Europe Head of Visual Display, stated:

“Art is for the enjoyment of everyone, and we have a collective responsibility to protect and preserve our culture for future generations. This is why we are launching Missing Masterpieces, to ensure priceless pieces that may never be seen again, can be enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible.”

The Lost Artworks

Waterloo Bridge, Claude Monet,1899-1904, via Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces.

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The lost artworks exhibited in the show include a few particularly interesting cases. Worth mentioning are two paintings by impressionist painter Claude Monet; a study of Charing Cross bridge and one of Waterloo bridge. Both paintings are part of a large group of artworks by the artist depicting the two bridges with emphasis on light. The artworks were stolen in October 2012 from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal. If we believe the mother of one of the convicted thieves, then she burnt the paintings in an attempt to destroy all evidence against her son.

Van Gogh’s lost artworks are also worth mentioning, as he is an artist who has been frequently targeted. The show presents three of the post-impressionist painter’s lost art, but there are many Van Gogh’s missing at the moment. Only in 1991, 20 Van Gogh’s were stolen from the Van Gogh museum of Amsterdam. In 2002 two more paintings were taken from the same museum but were found in 2016 in Naples.

Other works include Cézanne’s “View Auvers-sur-Oise”, which was also the subject of a Hollywood-like art heist. During New Year’s Eve 1999, a group of burglars climbed from the ceiling of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford using a rope ladder. After securing the painting, they shielded their path with a smoke bomb.

Furthermore, the exhibition includes lost art by Barbora Kysilkova, Jacob Jordaens, József Lampérth Nemes, William Blake, Jean Baptiste Oudry.

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By Antonis ChaliakopoulosMSc Museum Studies, BA History & ArchaeologyAntonis is an archaeologist with a passion for museums and heritage and a keen interest in aesthetics and the reception of classical art. He holds an MSc in Museum Studies from the University of Glasgow and a BA in History and Archaeology from the University of Athens (NKUA) where he is currently working on his PhD.