For several nights before the theft, workmen at a construction site near the National Gallery had left a ladder lying in plain view. In the dark of night a few hours before the museum break-in, the thieves walked off with it. (The building site happened to be at Norway's largest newspaper, Verdens Gang. For crooks with a taste for publicity, it was a sweet touch that a newspaper whose job would be to shout out the story had itself played a bit part in the break-in.)
The day before the heist, the thieves stole two cars, a Mazda and an Audi.
Both were in good condition and roomy, well-suited to fast driving and awkward cargo. The Mazda was the getaway car. The thieves drove a few blocks to where they had parked the Audi and transferred The Scream to the second car, in case anyone at the museum had seen them flee. Then they split up and drove off in different directions.
Within hours, everyone with a television set, in every country in the world, knew about the theft. In Norway, while excited reporters chattered for the cameras, chagrined officials at the National Gallery picked out a gift-shop poster of their lost masterpiece. The day before, The Scream had reigned in glory. Now a cheap poster in a flimsy frame hung in its place. Beneath the poster, a hand-lettered sign read simply: stolen!
From The Rescue Artist. Copyright © 2005 by Edward Dolnick. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022.
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