The Fascinating Story of Stéphane Breitwieser
Art theft is one of the most fascinating and daring crimes. While most people steal to make money, some steal for love. Meet Stéphane Breitwieser, one of the most famous art thieves ever.
Breitwieser stole the love of art, and his impressive collection included paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts from Europe’s most famous museums and churches. Below, we will explore Stéphane Breitwieser’s criminal record, his love of art, and one of his most daring heists.
Breitwieser’s criminal record is impressive, and not in a good way. He stole over 200 works of art from museums and churches across Europe, including France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. Breitwieser often acted alone, but sometimes his girlfriend Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus helped him.
He would enter museums and churches during opening hours and remove artworks in broad daylight, often using a razor blade to remove the paintings’ canvases. His stealing spree lasted from the mid-’90s to 2001, when he was finally caught.
Born in 1971 in Mulhouse, France, Breitwieser’s criminal journey began innocently enough when he stole a Bugatti radiator cap from a Swiss museum in 1995. But this seemingly minor theft ignited an obsession that led him to target some of the most prestigious cultural institutions in Europe.
Rubens House Heist
One of Breitwieser’s most daring heists was at the Rubens House in Antwerp, Belgium, in February 1997. The Rubens House is the former residence and studio of the renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens, and it now houses an impressive collection of his works.
During the heist, Breitwieser attempted to steal an ivory sculpture of Adam and Eve, a masterpiece worth $2.3 million. With a combination of audacity and skill, he unscrewed two screws from the plexiglass display box, took the sculpture, and fled the scene with Kleinklaus in their car. The daring theft set off a frantic police chase, but the art thieves managed to escape capture.
Later, they sold the sculpture to a Swiss collector, and it was only returned to the Rubens House in 2011, after Kleinklaus tipped off the authorities about the location of the stolen artwork. This brazen heist was just one of many in Breitwieser’s remarkable criminal career.
Breitwieser’s Love of Art
Despite his criminal record, Breitwieser deeply loved and appreciated art, even though he was not formally trained or educated in the field. He often kept the stolen artworks in his bedroom and admired them for their beauty and historical significance.
Some of the most notable pieces he stole include a book of sketches by Albrecht Dürer, a Rembrandt drawing, and many other valuable works of art that are still missing to this day. This paradoxical love for art makes Breitwieser a unique figure among art thieves.
While most criminals in this field are driven by monetary gain, his motives seem to be rooted in an intense passion for the masterpieces he stole. However, his actions caused significant damage to the art world, and many precious works of art are still missing, leaving a void in cultural heritage and history.
More in Luxury & Life Style
These Startup Founders Raised Millions to Innovate Women’s Healthcare
Carolyn Witte knows how difficult it is to be a woman navigating the United States’ broken healthcare system. In fact, it...May 6, 2023
14-Year-Old Crypto Millionaire and His Impressive Car Collection
Bitcoin is a digital asset with a market capitalization of almost $747.34 billion, and it is considered one of the most...April 28, 2023
Best Budget Apps For Saving Money
Saving money can be difficult, but with the help of a good money savings app, it can become much easier. A...April 22, 2023
Does Inflation Benefit Lenders or Borrowers?
Inflation is a measure of the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, and...April 16, 2023
Why Hollywood Stars Make So Much Money
The salary of Hollywood stars is often the topic of much debate, but it’s easy to see why they make more...April 6, 2023
Historical Spanish Train Station Gets a Complete Makeover
Canfranc Station is a historical railway station located in the Spanish Pyrenees. It was built in 1928 by the Spanish government...April 1, 2023
How To Keep up With Your Mortgage Payments
For many people, paying a mortgage can be one of the most difficult financial obligations. With rising housing costs and stagnant...March 26, 2023
Successful Investors Who Capitalized on the Financial Crisis
The global financial crisis of 2007–2008, which was largely caused by the collapse of the US housing market, had far-reaching consequences...March 19, 2023
Why Debt Can Lead To Financial Fragility For A Business
Debt can be a double-edged sword for businesses. On one hand, it can provide the necessary capital to finance growth and...March 14, 2023