by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor
The Kunstahl Rotterdam is not alone. Almost a decade ago, another famous art heist in Europe captured headlines and museum officials faced charges of inadequate security. Jeffrey Fleishman and Sonya Yee reported for The Los Angeles Times that on May 11, 2003, Benvenuto Cellini's saliera (saltcellar), a rare gold-plated sculpture, was stolen from Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum.
The Cellini Saliera heist set off a three-year "nightmare" for the museum as the Austrian press accused it of "lax security", Richard Bernstein reported for The New York Times ("For Stolen Saltcellar, a Cell Phone is Golden").
In January 2006, Robert Mang, a 50-year-old "specialist in security alarms" lead police to "a wooded area 50 miles outside of Vienna where he had buried the legendary 10 inch-high sculpture inside a lead box" (Bernstein):
A few days ago, Charley Hill, former Scotland Yard art investigator and now a private investigator, had this to say about the thief:
Robert Mang was almost a teetotaler who lived in Zwettel, 50 miles north of Vienna. He was a security alarm engineer who, from another source, at his trial was so attractive (like some latter day Rudolph Valentino) to the women of Vienna that some of them sent him their knickers and house keys. He served a short sentence. The guard who turned off the alarm system when it was activated had recently married a Serbian lady. I thought her relatives might be interesting for the police to look at. The cops did a good job catching Mang.