Rembrandt paintings heist at Taft Museum bungled in 1973

Rembrandt paintings heist at Taft Museum bungled in 1973

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, 1973, at 1:57 a.m., two adult males wearing ski masks and gloves pointed a pistol at a night watchman at the Taft Museum of Art and forced him to just take them inside to the 2nd-floor gallery. They taped his arms and legs to a chair, then stole two paintings and still left.

The paintings, “Man Leaning on a Sill” and “Portrait of an Aged Girl,” were being by Rembrandt, the revered Dutch Old Master painter, dating to the 1640s. They had been aspect of the art collection at 316 Pike Street and experienced been bequeathed to the men and women of Cincinnati by Charles Phelps Taft in 1927. They had been appraised for insurance policies reasons for $250,000 and $80,000, respectively.

The theft made splashy headlines. “Two Taft Rembrandts Stolen.” “Art Theft Triggers Worldwide Hunt.” The Cincinnati law enforcement worked with the FBI and Interpol in hopes of recovering the paintings, which could be bought on the black marketplace or ransomed.

December 1973: "Man Leaning on a Sill" by Rembrandt at the Taft Museum.

Enquirer art critic Owen Findsen puzzled why the thieves had “selected two paintings of lesser worth than other folks they could have taken.” They experienced ignored the much more major Rembrandt, “Portrait of a Gentleman Mounting from His Chair,” which was temporarily exhibited with a companion portrait from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and was getting proven on a distinct ground than usual.