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Updated by Fusion 360 on Aug 20, 2014
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The Most Valuable of Stolen Assets in US History

Who needs Hollywood? Though “The Italian Job” and “Ocean’s Eleven” are great movies about monumental feats of thievery, the stealing of priceless items worth millions of dollars occurs with an impressive regularity in the United States. From Salt Lake City to New York City, Americans are interested in knowing just what has been taken from within their borders and how much it was worth at the time of it’s wrongful obtainment. Asset protection is a vital component of avoiding the reoccurrence.

Rembrandt’s ‘The Storm on the Sea of Galilee’

On March 18, 1990 — immediately following Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities — two men disguised as Boston police officers gained entrance into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Upon gaining entrance, the thieves managed to tie up a team of guards and steal 13 works of art, including Rembrandt’s, “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” worth an estimated $300 million.

The Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius

In October of 1995, a $3 million Stradivarius violin was reported as having been stolen from the apartment of Erica Morini, a famous violinist living in New York City at the time. The masterful asset was made in 1727 by Antonio Stradivari and clearly was in need of protection.

Plots of Land During the Land Run of 1889

Often referred to as “Sooners,” those who entered the unassigned lands of what currently constitute the state of Oklahoma before President Grover Cleveland officially declared them available for settlement on March 2, 1889. Oddly enough, the state of Oklahoma considers its shady past an asset in need of protection and takes pride in being known as the “Sooner State.”

Murals by Maxfield Parrish

In July of 2002, FBI officials reported that masked thieves had cut two oil paintings from an art gallery in West Hollywood, California. Worth upwards of $4 million, the paintings were originally commissioned for art collector, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and were rumored to soon travel east towards Salt Lake City for an art exhibition.

A Tank from the California Army National Guard Armory

An unemployed plumber evaded police for 23 minutes in a M60 tank that he’d stolen from the California Army National Guar Armory on May 17, 1995. Reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, the slow-speed chase ended with the thief being shot and killed by police.

A 3,000 Lb. Bell From a Vietnamese Temple

The Buddhist community of Tacoma, Washington was shocked to learn that their 3,000 lb. bell had been stolen, in 2005.While the exact value of the asset is unknown, the $500 that the thieves attempted to sell it for was considered well below its worth. Looking to the various Mormon communities of Salt Lake City as an example of religious artifact protection, temple officials claim that their temple’s safety is now their top priority.

The Empire State Building

Technically, in 2008, the New York Daily stole the $2 million Empire State Building. According to, “The stunt was launched in order to highlight the gigantic loophole in the city’s system for recording deeds.” Before the act, few New Yorkers felt that the tower was an asset worthy of protection. With their proverbial tails now tucked between their legs, they now know.

The Entirety of the United States

Though Salt Lake City, Carson City and Oklahoma City are known for being home to many Native Americans, the majority of the North American continent used to be entirely theirs. Sadly, with the Indian Removal Act of 1830, many Native Americans saw their precious lands taken from them as they were relocated to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River.




Lucas Miller writes for York Howell. He is a writer at Fusion 360, an advertising agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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