May 8, 2012

Art Crime in Film: Jø Nesbo's "Headhunter" steals art from corporate executives looking for new jobs

Here's another example of how an art thief is portrayed in a movie.

The 2011 Swedish film "Headhunter" (the English title now playing in theaters in the U. S.) based on the book by Swedish crime writer Jø Nesbo features a corporate management recruiter in Norway who steals art to compensate for his 'bad genes' and -- in his mind -- his less than desirable stature of 'five feet, six inches' (168 centimeters).  The protagonist narrates that the money earned from stealing art pays for the lifestyle that allows him to keep happy his beautiful statuesque wife.

In this fictional film, the movie's hero, Roger, obtains information from high-level managers seeking new employment that will enable him to rob the client -- is anyone home during the day? do you have a dog? do you own a valuable work of art? Roger has an accomplice who works at a protective security firm who disengages the residential alarm during the burglary.  Roger, in protective clothing, is careful not to leave any DNA evidence and replaces the original artwork with a reproduction before leaving the residence -- all within ten minutes.  Roger hides the stolen paintings in the roof of his car then parks in his garage for his accomplice to retrieve and then sell through a fence in Sweden.

Caledonian Boar Hunt by School of Rubens/Rueters Photo
Roger, under financial pressure, is looking for an expensive painting that will allow him to pay off his outstanding debts and finds out through his lovely wife that a man brought a painting by Peter Paul Ruben's that his grandmother received from a German officer during World War II.

Hiding a painting in the lining of the roof of a car is exactly where thieves hid Cézanne's painting "Boy with a Red Waistcoat" discovered by Serbian police last month.

In the film, one of the artworks stolen is that by Edvard Munch; the other painting, The Caledonian Boar Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens, was allegedly lost during the Nazi occupation of Ruben's hometown of Antwerp.  A painting similar to the image used in the film and by the same title was discovered in Greece last September.  Greece police recovered the 17th century oil sketch ten years after it had been stolen from the Fine Arts Museum of Ghent in Belgium.


Post a Comment