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The Things They Stole: Exploring 7 Of The Strangest, Most Exotic Thefts Ever Reported

Christopher Marinello has made a career out of tracking down priceless stolen art and artifacts.

As the CEO of Art Recovery International, if it’s famous and it’s missing, Marinello is probably on the case. His track record of helping items find their way back to their rightful owners sounds like something out of a “Most Interesting Man in the World” pageant.

An Henri Matisse painting, one of the many pieces of Nazi-looted artwork he has helped recover. An English ceremonial sword. An astrolabe from the 16th century. A bunch of old guns.

Currently on the docket: the 1964 Aston Martin that was used in the James Bond film Goldfinger, complete with Q’s suite of gadgets. It disappeared from an airport hangar in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1997. (Last month, Marinello received a tip saying the stolen car was being held at a specific location in the Middle East—no word on if it’s the one just yet.)

Thieves take on an extreme amount of risk to pilfer these sorts of pieces, with no guarantee that they’ll be able to unload them easily. You can’t really drive that Aston Martin to the local swap meet and slap a “For Sale” sign on it now, can you?

“They’ve got to have rocks in their heads to call this some sort of a profession,” Marinello says.

The money is the main enticement, sure, but people steal all sorts of strange things for all sorts of reasons. Here are some of the strangest, most exotic thefts ever reported, along with the motivations of the culprits and the fates of the objects.


Christopher Marinello