Museum Security Network

Art Theft Central: New Insights into an Old Art Theft

In June 1961, Francisco de Goya’s “Portrait of the Duke of Wellington” was temporarily barred from  export to the United States after its sale to the American oil magnate Charles Wrightsman, who at the time was also a Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two months later, the UK purchased the work from Wrightsman with the financial support of the Wolfson Foundation and the government. The work, which was deemed to be nationally significant by the Reviewing Committee, was stolen only a few weeks after while on display at the National Gallery. Prior to its recovery in 1965, the painting became a pop culture icon, and even made a cameo in Ian Fleming’s Dr. No. Despite its high profile, there are still a number of mysteries that surround the art theft…

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