back to top

    The unlucky Polish museum

    It occurred on the night of November 16-17, 1976 in Poznan. A small self-portrait by Jacek Malczewski was stolen from the National Museum. The thief took advantage of construction work. He climbed on a machine with a jib set up by the building. He threw a board between the end of the crane and the roof (at a height of about 17 meters), and climbed on such a footbridge to the roof of the museum. Then he broke down the door leading to the attic and reached the glass ceiling above the exhibit hall.

    The thief probably had chosen the painting before, as he broke one of the glass squares located above Malczewski and pulled out the work with a metal hook. The investigation did not help. The thief disappeared. When everybody almost handled the loss, an unknown informant left the message to check the hiding place at the Main Station. The policemen found a painting in it. On the back of the painting, there was a clipping from “Express Poznański” describing the grand theft. The title of the article was “Thief or Geek”. The National Museum decided that this clipping became part of the history of Malczewski’s work, so it was left as a memento for future generations. 


    It must be said that the museum in Poznań is particularly unlucky when it comes to thefts, although on the other hand, all stolen paintings have been recovered so far. 


    In 2000, a thief took the only painting in the Polish collection, “Beach in Pourville” by French impressionist Claude Monet. On September 19, museum staff noticed that a forgery was hanging on the wall instead of the original. A few days earlier, a man had been walking around the halls doing sketches of the exhibit halls and had been asked to show his ID. When the recorded data was checked after the theft, it turned out to be false. The painting was recovered after 9 years, presumably, the thief had failed to find a way to get it safely out of the country.


    By Claude Monet –, Public Domain,


    More in section