The Great Theft from Brukenthal Museum 1968

Dates and Hours:

Piaţa Mare, Nr. 5, Sibiu, România


Exhibition: The Great Theft from Brukenthal Museum 1968
Location: Casa Albastră/Blue House, Multimedia Hall (Sibiu, Piața Mare, No. 5)
Duration: 12.12.2022 – 26.04.2023
The exhibition is extended until April 26.

Opening: Monday, December 12, 12:00 pm
Curators: Dana Roxana Hrib, Alexandru Constantin Chituță
Audio: Liliana Nicolae, material made for Radio România Actualități (2010)
Text from the curators:
In 1968, eight works of European painting were stolen from the Brukenthal Palace; the investigation was completed in 1972, the conclusion being "author unknown"; four works (Aelbrect Bouts, Self-Portrait; Titian, Ecce Homo; Frans van Mieris the Elder, Man with a Pipe at the Window and Rosalba Carriera, Portrait of a Woman) were recovered in 1998 with the help of INTERPOL. They can be seen today in the permanent exhibition of European paintings.
Few people thought to know what the four missing works looked like: Anthony van Dyck, Death of Cleopatra; Christoph Amberger, Portrait of a man; Jörg Breu, Portrait of a man and German Anonymous (possibly Hans Holbein the Younger), Portrait of a man.
The exhibition project has two objectives: the presentation of the events, starting from the night of May 26 to 27, 1968, and the recovery of the memory of the four lost paintings with the help of museum specific documentation: archival photos and conservation sheets from the 60s, data from the inventory register and traces of the paintings’ existence such as the stretcher from which the canvas of the Death of Cleopatra was cut or the frame of Christoph Amberger's Portrait of a Man.
On display there are both original photographs and their large-scale printed image, capturing aspects of the exhibition in Brukenthal Palace where some of the stolen paintings were displayed, verso of the wood panel in the case of other works, photo after x-ray, in raking, direct and even infrared light, macro photography of details. 
The research carried out for the exhibition has opened new directions that we intend to follow in the coming years. For example, recovering the memory of the 17 works that disappeared from the Brukenthal collection in 1926, 1944 and 1948, probably stolen, lost or destroyed especially during evacuation and nationalization. Of these 2 were recovered and for the rest the images of 3 little known paintings were found (Gillis van Coninxloo ?, Forest landscape with bull and Forest landscape with boar hunting, missing since 1944 and Alexander Liezen-Mayer, Elisabeth of Thuringia attending the poor, missing since 1948) which will also be presented to the public.
Brukenthal National Museum aims at using this opportunity for awareness-raising on heritage importance and uniqueness. The abuses of art works are a reflection of the abuses people inflict on each other. When a painting is stolen or destroyed not only the owner suffers the loss but generations of visitors and their access to culture; it is a nowadays theme on which we all have a duty to meditate.
The exhibition opens from Wednesday to Sunday (exceptionally on Tuesday, December 13) between 10:00 and 18:00.
The cost of the ticket is 18 lei standard and 9 lei for students and seniors.