The Mona Lisa, Nutella, the Empire State Building, and inflatable gorillas. All of these things have something peculiar in common: they are all pretty expensive and all of them were stolen at one point or another. You might ask yourself how these heavily secured objects could be stolen or why anyone would want to steal an inflatable gorilla. Well, some criminals are very determined, and others like to choose unconventional paths. So nothing can stop them from getting what they want. Even if they want a whole room!
Bright Side has compiled a list of expensive, and sometimes weird, items that give us a glimpse of what thieves like to steal. There’s also a bonus story at the end of the article about a man who was rewarded for an attempted theft!
13. Inflatable gorilla, $6,000
A 30-foot-tall inflatable gorilla was stolen from an auto dealership in Simi Valley, California in 2010. It was later found at a local high school. Apparently, it’s pretty common to steal inflatable apes. One was stolen from a mall near Seattle, Washington, another from a car dealership in Alberta, and one more from a gym in New Zealand!
12. Nutella, $20,000
About 11,000 pounds of Nutella were stolen in Niederaula, Germany in 2013. It’s not that hard, though, to understand the motive of the thieves — eating so much of this delicious spread is something we occasionally wish we could do! What is more, The Atlantic suggests that there’s even a secret Nutella black market.
11. Hair extensions, $30,000
Although pretty weird, hair theft is actually pretty common. There was one time someone stole $30,000 worth of hair extensions from a beauty salon. On another occasion, someone stole $8,000 worth of hair.
If you think you can only encounter pirates at sea, you are terribly wrong. There are also so-called ’’cheese pirates’’! They once stole $46,000 worth of cheese, and it wasn`t the first time someone stole cheese in that area.
9. Rocket engine, $200,000
In 2012, NASA confiscated a stolen Saturn RL-10 rocket engine when it was being auctioned off. The seller claimed he’d bought it from someone else, and that person claimed that a NASA employee had sold it to him. Someone even tried to sell this same or a very similar rocket engine on eBay in 2010.
8. Dinosaur bones, over $1 million
Eric Prokopi, a paleontologist, stole dinosaur fossils from Mongolia and smuggled them to the US. He was arrested, spent 3 months in jail, and has since been helping authorities investigate the black market for fossils.
7. Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, $2 to $3 million
The iconic shoes from The Wizard of Oz were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota in 2005. The thieves tried to extort money for their return, but in 2018 the FBI safely recovered them and identified the suspects.
6. The Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius, $3.5 million
This rare Stradivarius violin was stolen in 1980. It was taken from the New York City apartment of famous violinist Erica Morini, who was 91 at that time and passed away shortly after the theft. The FBI didn’t recover it until 35 years later.
5. Maple syrup, $20 million
720,000 gallons of maple syrup were stolen in Quebec, Canada in 2012. 16,000 45-gallon barrels were part of a reserve to ensure there was enough supply during low-production years. The thieves drained the barrels of their contents and stole the syrup. Luckily, it was later found in another facility, although its owners claimed it had been bought legally.
4. The Saliera, $57 million
This gold table sculpture was stolen from Vienna’s Art History Museum in 2003. The thieves climbed the scaffolding outside the museum, broke a window, and stole the sculpture, evading the motion detectors. It was reacquired a few years later when the thieves tried to demand a ransom from the museum`s insurance company and were caught.
3. The Amber Room, $142 million
Some people`s greed knows no bounds, and the next item on our list is a perfect illustration of that. The Amber Room was designed in Prussia by a German sculptor and constructed by a Dutch craftsman. It was later given as a gift to Russia and moved to the Winter House in St. Petersburg first, and then to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin. During World War II, the Nazis came and looted the room and later shipped it to Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia). In 1944 it was destroyed in a bombing raid.
2. The Empire State Building, $2 billion
The Empire State Building wasn`t physically stolen, but the property was. The Daily News wanted to show a loophole in the way the city`s system records transactions. They filed fake paperwork to transfer the deed of the property, and, in doing so, “stole” the building in just 90 minutes!
1. The Mona Lisa, $2 billion
This famous Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The thief had worked there as a handyman for some time. He hid in a closet and, when the museum closed for the night, stole the painting. When the museum opened the next morning, he simply walked out with the painting under his smock. It was found only 2 years later when the criminal tried to sell it to an art dealer.
Bonus: Lucky scoundrel!
In the 17th century, a man named Colonel Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels but was arrested. He refused to talk to anyone except the King himself, since he knew the King had an affinity for audacious people and he wanted to charm him. King Charles was indeed amused, and even pardoned Colonel Blood and gave him Irish land that was worth £500 a year!
What do you think about these bold endeavors? Share your thoughts in the comments!