In perhaps the most paramount 81 minutes the art world has ever experienced, March 18, 1990 became much more than the aftermath of a boozy St. Patrick’s day in Boston. With two fake police officer costumes, some duct tape, and a whole lot of mobster–related mystery, 13 internationally treasured works of art were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—including a Vermeer and the only Rembrandt seascape. This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist details the story of the theft and its enigmatic aftermath that continues to leave sleuths dumbfounded. The enthralling limited series makes for a roughly four–hour Sunday afternoon binge, leaving art–crime aficionados wanting more.
Still looking to satiate your art–crime craving? Here is a range of recommendations, from books to shows to movies, that you’re bound to enjoy if you loved Netflix’s investigation of the Gardner Museum robbery.
This Netflix Original follows Assane Diop (Omar Sy) as he embodies his fictional hero, Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief and master of disguise from Maurice LeBlanc’s 17–book espionage series of the same name. Motivated by injustices plaguing his past, Diop kicks off the series by stealing a very extravagant necklace from the Louvre. What comes next will have viewers on the edge of their seats for the rest of his journey through season one. The show’s Parisian charm (yes, that means subtitles) and fast–paced, imaginative drama makes it a must–see for those craving high–stakes adventure in their ordinary lives. If that glowing recommendation isn’t enough, the data speaks for itself—Lupin is Netflix’s most popular French show to date.
Read The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt shows her hand as a master of compelling and emotional imagery in this novel, making it obvious why she won the Pulitzer Prize for it. It's best classified as a coming–of–age story, with a hint of art crime tossed in the mix. The plot follows a young boy named Theo as he survives a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that kills his mother, and he snatches a small, Dutch painting called “The Goldfinch” while stumbling through the debris. The tragedy radically alters his life, forcing him to grapple with maternal loss, change, and incessant pain. He seeks solace in the painting; he uses it to remember his mother and to cope with the absurdity of life. While the film adaptation, despite having an impressive cast that included Ansel Elgort and Sarah Paulson, fell short according to critics, the original novel is hard to put down and hard to keep a dry eye while reading.
Read The Art Thief
Three stolen pieces, three cities, and three investigations, each with similarities that lay deep beyond the surface in this book about seemingly disconnected art robberies in Paris, Rome, and London. A riddle–like plot, historical art references, and witty conversations can be found on each and every page of this admittedly challenging, involved read. Rife with twists and turns, the novel is an unexpected deep dive into the mysteries of the art world—from galleries to auction houses and everything in between. The Art Thief is just as educational as it is enigmatic, exploring art theft, forgery, and over–paintings in a way that, while thorough, is still spellbinding.
Watch Woman in Gold
While many of us tend to think art crime consists of one–off events, the Third Reich demonstrated that it could also be systematic. The film stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, a Jewish escapee of Austria, as she mounts a legal battle to reclaim art stolen from her family during World War II. Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch–Bauer I”—the painting in question—in its gold and glittering glory, frames the fight for retribution—giving viewers an inside look at art–law dynamics during the time. The gripping true story combines historical accuracy with a dramatic plot and compelling acting, making for fantastic conversation as the credits roll. And for more WWII–era art–crime intrigue, check out The Rape of Europa, a documentary that dives deeper into stories like Altmann’s alongside more historical details of the Nazi’s artistic plunder.