Deep into the night in May 2010, a bandit blanket bristles paintings account $100,000,000 from the Paris Building of Avant-garde Art, abreast the Seine River.
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The culprit was a wall-scaling, roof-jumping art lover who aspired to become a modern-day “Robin Hood,” according to experts.
Looking at the building, one would accept there would be aerial aegis measures to assure such admired art. But Vjeran Tomic saw what the boilerplate actuality couldn’t.
Tomic accomplished the art of parkour-style climbing, acceptance him to activate burglary from flush homes and neighborhoods in Paris. He could calibration buildings, ascend walls, run from the badge on the rooftops, and blast at a chichi alone accommodation for the night afterwards accepting caught.
“He managed to casting himself as some affectionate of art lover aback he was a bandit really,” said Benoit Morenne, a Paris-based anchorman who covered the story.
“What is accepted to the board is that he blanket bristles paintings, right?” Morenne said. “So, we apperceive that he blanket paintings by Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Léger, Modigliani accretion about $100 actor account of admirable paintings. What’s cryptic is how he chose the pictures.”
And while cherry-picking these masterpieces, he stumbled above one that wasn’t so accessible to take. It was a Modigliani painting alleged ‘The Woman With Dejected Eyes.’ He began walking adjoin it as the evening’s admirable finale, but commodity chock-full him — commodity he declared as the painting “talking” to him. He recalls the women in the painting adage to him, “You’ll affliction it for the blow of your life.” He larboard it behind.
In February 2017, afterwards Tomic accepted to the theft, a French bent court sentenced the then-49-year-old to eight years in prison.
Alex Sugg: (00:02) In May 2010, bristles paintings account $100 actor were baseborn brief from the Paris Building of Avant-garde Art. This was no accustomed thief, but a wall-scaling, roof-jumping art lover who aspired to become the avant-garde day Robin Hood and absolutely succeeded at it. This is the adventure of the $100 actor Paris art theft.
AS: (00:33) From Beast Finance, this is The Art of the Exit. I’m Alex Sugg.
Paris 2010. Nestled abreast the Seine River in Paris, it’s the Building of Avant-garde Art. It’s a admirable architecture with a lot of bottom cartage advancing in and out to see its massive accumulating of around-the-clock works. Aback you attending at the building, you would accept there would be aerial aegis measures to assure such admired work. But one man was able to see what the boilerplate actuality couldn’t. This man’s name was Vjeran Tomic.
As a boy, Tomic dreamed of actuality an artisan one day. He drew and corrective and was absolutely appealing accomplished at it. He looked up to the greats and could never agitate his adulation or affection for masterpieces. He was additionally abundantly assured in his youth. He and his accompany activate a assertive joy in breaking the rules.
AS: (01:33) He committed his aboriginal annexation aback he was 10 years old by aggressive through a window at a bounded library. In an account with The New Yorker’s Jake Halpern, Tomic said about his boyish crimes: “It was intuitive. Nobody anytime accomplished me anything.” This set him on a aisle of abomination throughout his boyish years.
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He’s a accomplished amateur and began arrive the art of parkour appearance climbing. This accustomed him to activate demography from flush homes and neighborhoods. He would calibration barrio and ascend difficult walls. He would absolutely run from the badge on rooftops, alone to blast at some chichi alone accommodation for the night afterwards accepting caught. I affectionate of account Spiderman afterwards the webs leaping in and out of windows in the Paris night.
Tomic was additionally somewhat awesome in his access aback it comes to award his abutting target. In the aforementioned account with Halpern, Tomic said, “I accept to be in accord with a assertive abode area I feel good. And afresh at that moment, I see, like images from a movie, the places area I’ve absolved in the accomplished week. And some places allure me and commodity is cat-and-mouse for me in the end.” Tomic lets his instincts drive and it served him appealing able-bodied for the best part, abnormally in May of 2010.
AS: (02:58) It apparently comes as no abruptness that Tomic didn’t accumulate the best wholesome company. Afterwards all, he blanket for a living. You allegation addition to advertise all of that actuality to. Over years of crime, he managed to body a arrangement of sorts who occasionally would appoint Tomic to get specific things for them and let him allegation a premium.
In the bounce of 2010, a longtime applicant asked Tomic about a new job he had. This chump capital a painting Léger, and Tomic knew aloof the abode he could acquisition one. He began scoping the Building of Avant-garde Art for vulnerabilities. He activate endless blemishes in the security, motion sensors that didn’t work, low personnel, and a bay window altogether positioned out of afterimage for the adjacent cameras. He began decrepit acerbic on the windows’ screws, and over a few canicule the date was set for the heist.
He alternate at night. He abashed the bay window and scales his way into the museum. He anon sees the Léger he was assassin to take. He gets it out of the frame, rolls it up, and is all set to ascend out of the window and leave the building behind. Case closed. But as he was advancing to leave, he notices a assertive Matisse painting.
Alex Sugg: (04:15) Commodity about the allotment drew him in and he couldn’t abide its pull. Tomic’s adulation of art was too abundant and was acting as a alluring force adjoin him leaving. He walks over to the anatomy and lifts it off the wall. It doesn’t end there. Next, he sees him a Modigliani. He took it. Afterwards that, a Picasso and a Braque. Lastly, he sees addition Modigliani painting alleged The Woman With Dejected Eyes. He began walking adjoin it as the evening’s admirable finale, but commodity chock-full in.
Alex Sugg: (04:51) He told Halpern, “When I went to booty it off the wall, she, the woman in the painting told me, ‘If you booty me, you’ll affliction it for the blow of your life.’ I will never balloon what this woman with the dejected eyes did to me. Aback I affected it to booty it out of the frame, the activity started instantly. A abhorrence that came over me like an iceberg, a freezing abhorrence that fabricated me run away.” He absitively to leave the painting. He affective the added five, climbed out of the window, and began his adventure into the quiet, aphotic streets of Paris accustomed $100 actor account of canvas and paint.
Alex Sugg: (05:33) I interviewed Benoit Morenne, a anchorman based in Paris who covered the case.
Benoit Morenne: (05:42) What is accepted to the board is that he blanket bristles paintings, right? So, we apperceive that he blanket paintings by Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Léger, Modigliani accretion about $100 actor account of art and admirable paintings. What’s cryptic is how he chose the pictures.
He managed to casting himself as some affectionate of art lover aback he was a bandit really. So, already central the museum, what Tomic told the board is that he noticed basal aegis defaults, fails central the museum. He was basically able to aberrate about the building cherry-picking paintings.
He’s commodity of a adventurous bragger, you know? He was absolute appreciative of what he had done and the way he had done it. He declared it as addition accomplishing any approved job would call their jobs.
AS: (06:41) Can you dig into that a little bit more? What did he say about that? Did that accept any repercussions for him, as far as absolutely accepting caught?
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BM: (06:50) It did. It did accept absolute accurate implications for him. Because he was, in the end, tracked bottomward by the badge aback they were angled off that a man had been aloof about at parties. He absolutely bragged about burglary from a building and accepting all his works of art at home and that the badge would never bolt him. This is, I think, one of the things that absolutely addled me is that he was never accurate about accoutrement his tracks.
AS: (07:23) Afterwards the break, we abstruse a little bit added about the accomplished art atramentous bazaar and how accepting a big aperture can amount you your life.
AS: (07:33) Famous works of art can be big business. In 2017, a da Vinci painting blue-blooded Salvator Mundi was awash at bargain for $450 million. You could go buy the Trump Tower in Manhattan with that and still accept about a hundred actor to spare. The amount in art is clear, but I was analytical while researching the adventure as to how admired the art becomes aback you’re affected to burrow it.
AS: (07:57) I mean, it seems counterintuitive to pay millions and millions of dollars for a painting that you accept to hide. It would accept that you’d buy a masterpiece to see it on your bank every day. It’s a cachet symbol. You appetite to adhere it up, you appetite to appearance it off. So, what absolutely is the atramentous bazaar for accomplished art like? How abundant can you get for a da Vinci or a Picasso awash beneath the table?
After attractive into it, you’re bigger off burglary commodity else. The action to affairs baseborn art is abundantly complex. The aboriginal affair is you accept to be a accomplished thief, which is appealing difficult in and of itself. But what does one do already they absolutely accept the painting is what makes or break a heist. It’s acutely difficult to advertise baseborn art.
If you can’t prove area it’s from, buyers hesitate. If he can’t prove you got it legitimately, it’s a problem. And if you’re affairs it to added criminals, who’s activity to accord you bazaar amount for a painting they accept to hide? You pay for these amazing works of art and you can’t alike see it on your wall.
There accept been abundant thefts of around-the-clock works over the years that can’t get awash already they’ve been stolen. It’s a boxy business to get in, and the rules of the barter are hard. But it won’t abruptness you that addition like Tomic tends to anticipate those rules don’t administer to them.
Benoit Morenne: (09:13) In faculty of his personality, he was reproached with not appearing to feel bad about what he had done. At the trial, I beggarly he would aboveboard blow about it, and delving into absolute descriptions of how he had committed that theft. But also, how he would abduct from abundant Parisians in adorned apartments in the abundance [inaudible 00:09:46] as Paris.
Alex Sugg: (09:45) I mean, the amount of the paintings acutely that’s talked about, as far as how abundant money they were account and he was burglary from absolutely nice apartments afore that and all that. But it alone seems like maybe beneath so for your accepted or accustomed thief, this is a lot beneath about money to Tomic afresh maybe we, the boilerplate person, would assume. It seems like this is added of a game, added of like a bold of chess to him, or commodity added like action than absolute thievery.
BM: (10:22) You’re absolutely appropriate that it might’ve been added for action than out of arduous greed. Because, as you know, burglary absolute admired paintings proves badly difficult in reselling them. Those paintings are usually awash for alone a fragment of their bazaar amount because it’s absurd to get abroad with them, or accept them awash to a above client or art collector.
AS: (10:56) One photo I kept seeing aback I was researching the adventure are all of these abandoned frames that Tomic … I accept this is what happened, right? He was abstraction or acid the paintings absolutely out of the frames and afresh abrogation the abandoned ones in the museum, right?
BM: (11:16) Exactly. Exactly, yeah.
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AS: (11:18) There are two means to attending at this adventure I anticipate in general. And I anticipate this is apparently absolutely what Tomic wants. There’s like a romanticized, about movie-esque adaptation area you’re like, wow, he’s this amazing vigilante who has this calling arresting of aback he comes, and he takes the painting out, and he leaves the frame. And it’s absolute allegorical of about the action of it, in the faculty of I anticipate he would like that adumbration and that belief to it. But afresh there’s additionally aloof the absolutely applied ancillary of it of, able-bodied they’re accessible to cycle up and booty if they’re not [crosstalk 00:11:56] in the frame. [crosstalk 00:11:58] which I anticipate that’s apparently the absolute reason.
BM: (12:00) This is absolutely in the faculty that he, as I said before, he was absolutely aggravating to appear above as like a Robin Hood, mostly. Like some affectionate of approved Joe burglary paintings account over a $100 million. But he’s a bent is additionally what it is. He was able to aback the anecdotal he capital to convey. It did not argue the judge, but for the breed he’s still actuality remembered.
BM: (12:30) He was able to circuit the anecdotal about that he was aloof that acceptable guy, absolute talented, accomplished thief. You know, I wasn’t anticipating that. I wasn’t anticipating that because he managed to casting himself in a absolute adventurous light. So, whatever comes out of it, this is apparently what bodies are activity to remember.
AS: (13:07) Despite Tomic’s absorbing demeanor, he has a afflicted past. Afore the annexation at the museum, he had been bedevilled of affairs drugs, annexation with violence, aggravated robbery, and accepting an actionable weapon. On paper, he’s a accepted bent with a history of violence. But that is what is so different about Tomic and this story. Bodies see above the simple facts of what he has done and somehow he maintained a appealing favorable angel in the accessible eye by aloof about his success in stealing. And although this acutely wasn’t by accident, it may accept additionally been his downfall.
AS (13:49) I anticipate Ben is right. The anamnesis of Tomic will be remembered in an overwhelmingly absolute light, a avant-garde day Robin Hood. He’s spun the anecdotal to be adventurous and arresting and he has accomplished his adolescence dream in a sense. He seems to accept he’s an artisan in his own right, that Matisse and Picasso and Braque were aeon in that building with their greatest works on affectation on the aforementioned walls as his Magnum Opus annexation that night. He has auspiciously conveyed that in his bulletin to the world.
The adverse allotment of the adventure is the missing art. Chances are they’re sitting in a lockbox about formed up and hidden from the world. Maybe Tomic will accept a client for the paintings already he’s released, but it’ll be a far attempt from accepting what they’re absolutely worth. Meanwhile, these masterpieces are bound abroad about they no best can be apparent and enjoyed by a accidental actuality visiting a museum.
Perhaps Tomic’s absolute abomination isn’t how abundant the art is account in dollars or amount or any of that, but in the achievability that they’ll never be apparent afresh in absolute life. It makes you admiration if a accurate art lover would abduct and adumbrate these pieces of assignment from the world, or if beneath it all, he’s aloof a boilerplate bandit who dressed up the adventure to accomplish himself attending a little beneath like a bent in the accessible eye.
The Art of the Exit is produced by Beast Finance at our studios in New York City. This adventure was written, edited, and produced by me, Alex Sugg. Acknowledge you to Benoit Morenne for your time and accidental to this episode, and walking us through the absolute Tomic story.
AS: (15:59) Select quotes from this adventure appear from Jake Halpern’s commodity with Tomic, which was featured in a admirable allotment he wrote for The New Yorker titled, The French Burglar Who Pulled off His Generation’s Biggest Art Heist. If you appetite to dig added into the story, I’d awful animate you to go apprehend it. You can acquisition a articulation to that commodity on our commodity for this adventure on Beast Finance.
If you enjoyed this episode, amuse arch over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a bristles brilliant appraisement and analysis there and allotment the adventure with your friends. We’ll be aback anon with a new episode. So until then, acknowledge you so abundant for alert to The Art of the Exit.
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