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Artistic masterpieces and scientific artifacts clearly draw the attention of travellers at least as much as attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Burj Al Arab. The best art museums benefit from broad name recognition and a desirable artwork collection. These art museums also have the good fortune of being located in areas that draw the most international tourists. Yearly, millions of inquisitive and fun loving individuals and families troop out to see these wonderful art museums all over the world. This is the 2017 list of the ten most visited art museums in the world.
MUSÉE DU LOUVRE, PARIS: The Louvre was a Sitting on top of this list for over five years is the Muse du Louvre medieval fortress and the palace of the kings of France before becoming a museum two centuries ago. The world’s most-visited museum doesn’t show signs of budging; its numbers have held strong at over 7 million for several years now. The Louvre contains over 35,000 masterpieces including its main attraction the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. In 1989 a 69-foot-high glass pyramid added to the museum’s entrance by renowned architect I. M. Pei.
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK CITY: Recording over seven million annual visitors, the metropolitan museum of art sits on the second spot on this list. The Met draws more visitors in yearly thanks to the special art exhibition and art installation on the roof. You can expect even higher visitation numbers in 2011 due to the Alexander McQueen show, which drew 661,509 visitors, some of whom waited in line for hours to get in. The McQueen show is now the eighth most popular in Met history.
BRITISH MUSEUM, LONDON: With over 6.4 million annual visitors, the British Museum London sits in the third position on this list. There are 2.5 miles of galleries and 7 million artifacts that will take you plenty of time to navigate past thousands of visitors. Its main attractions are the Rosetta Stone and the controversial Elgin marble.
NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON: With a wealth of Western European paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries, free entry, and a prime location on Trafalgar Square the national museum sits in the fifth spot. Little wonder why roughly 6.3m people come to see arts like the Constables and Van Goghs, the Amsterdam’s red-light district, The Hoerengracht; the National Gallery’s first modern installation.
VATICAN MUSEUMS, ROME: With over 6 million annual visitors, the Vatican museums sit in the fifth spot of this ranking. The Vatican Museums started as a collection of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century. The popes continued to build this collection over the next five centuries to transform it into a stronghold of art history and culture. The Vatican museums contain the works of Raphael, Caravaggio, and most famously Michelangelo.
TATE MODERN, LONDON: Since its inception in the year 2000, the Tate Modern has risen to the top rank as the world’s most popular modern art museum. The Tate modern records an annual visitor of over 5.8 million which puts it on the sixth spot on this list. It is located in a repurposed power station across the Thames from St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Tate Modern consists of works by Dalí, Magritte, and Matisse as well as large sculptural installations in the dramatic turbine hall.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM, TAIPEI: The national palace museum recorded over 4.6 million annual visitors. It is located in Shilin District, Taipei, Taiwan. It consists of 700,000 pieces of works of art, history, and culture of the Chinese dating almost 8,000 years. The Museum was constructed in China in the 1920s and relocated to Taiwan in 1948. The Sino-Japanese and Chinese Civil Wars contributed greatly to the present day look of the museum.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON, D.C.: The national gallery of art sits in the eight spot with a record of over 4.26 million. It contains ever increasing collection paintings by the Old Masters and modern artworks.
STATE HERMITAGE, ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: The state hermitage museum sits in the 9th spot with a record of over 4.12 million annual visitors. The hermitage museum contains over three million items from the Stone Age to the early 20th century. Its collection ranges from art from the Middle Ages to those of notable artist like Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, Titian, Da Vinci, Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne, van Gogh, and Goya.
REINA SOFÍA, MADRID: To conclude the top 10 most visited museums in 2017, the Reina Sofía museum located in Madrid, Spain recorded over 3.65 million annual visitors.
Wealthy buyers from all over Europe, Asia and the Middle East have set a string of records as they have snapped up paintings from notable artists in the world. Although these paintings are old, the amount at which they are sold signifies how highly valued they remain in this modern world. Here are the top ten most expensive paintings in the world. (The prices shown are all adjusted for inflation.)
MONA LISA BY LEONARDO DA VINCI: Many people would probably agree that the Mona Lisa, painted by High Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, is priceless. Putting a price on a masterpiece of this calibre is nearly impossible; however, in 1962, the Mona Lisa was insured for $100 million USD, the highest at the time. In today’s money, that would be somewhere around $700 million USD, easily making it the most expensive painting. One of the most famous paintings as well, the Mona Lisa is a lovely portrait believed to be that of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo. Due to its pricelessness, the only way to see this beauty is by visiting the Louvre Museum in Paris – just be prepared for extremely large crowds.
INTERCHANGE BY WILLEM DE KOONING: In the fall of 2015, Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund investor, bought the interchange alongside another painting for from David Geffen, a successful business magnate for a grand total of $500 million. According to sources, the price of the interchange which was painted by Williem De Kooning was sold for around $300 million USD.
WHEN WILL YOU MARRY BY PAUL GAUGUIN: Paul Gauguin’s 1982 picture of two Tahitian girls became the world’s most expensive single work of art when Qatar bought the canvas from a Swiss collector for almost $212 million in February. It was painted during Gauguin’s first trip to Tahiti, where he said he travelled to escape everything that was artificial and conventional in Europe.
THE CARD PLAYERS BY PAUL CÉZANNE: On April 11, George Embiricos sold the 1892 Paul Cezanne card players to the state of Qatar for a record price of $366m. Qatar had bought this painting along with dozens of major Western works that for its museum in recent years. The painting featured two stony-faced card players, models selected by Cézanne from his family’s estate outside Aix-en-Provence: the gardener and a farm hand.
NO.6 (VIOLET, GREEN AND RED) BY MARK ROTHKO: In August 2014, Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, paid $186 million, setting a record for a 1951 mark Rothko painting. However, it is now subject to a legal dispute with Mr Rybolovlev accusing Yves Bouvier, an art dealer, of misleading him about the price.
LES FEMMES D’ALGER (VERSION O) BY PABLO PICASSO: On the 11th of may 2015, the Les femmes d’algiers (version o) painting by Picasso was bought for a record-breaking price of $179.3m by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Picasso created a series of 15 variations of Les femmes d’Alger inspired by the French master Eugene Delacroix who in 1834 had painted The Women of Algiers in their Apartment. Version O marks the culmination of the series and has long been considered the most important Picasso in private hands.
No. 5, 1948 BY JACKSON POLLOCK: On the 2nd of November 2006, Sotheby brokered the No. 5 1948 painting sale in secret. The 8-foot by 4-foot piece of fibreboard, covered in drips of brown and yellow paint was reportedly bought by David Martinez for a record $165.4m from David Geffen, the Dreamworks co-founder and entertainment magnate. Mr Martinez’s law firm later issued a statement saying that the painting did not belong to him.
WOMAN III BY WILLEM DE KOONING: On the 18th of November 2006, David Geffen sold another painting for $162.4 m to Steven Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire. The painting was the third in a series of six paintings by de Kooning, an abstract expressionist, done between 1951 and 1953. It was part of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art collection, which meant it disappeared from view after strict rules on images of women introduced after the 1979 revolution.
LE RÉVE BY PABLO PICASSO: Steven Cohen, founder of SAC Capital and one of Wall Street’s biggest art collectors bought the 1932 Picasso painting; Le Reve at a record price of 158.5m. The deal had originally been agreed in 2006, but its owner Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas because of his failing eyesight. The deal went through after it had been repaired.
PORTRAIT OF ADELE BLOCK-BAUER I BY GUSTAV KLIMT: On the 18th of June 2006, Gustav Klint portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was sold to Ronald Lauder, the cosmetics magnate for a record $158.4m by Maria Altman. The painting was seized by the Nazis during the Second World War and reclaimed by the rightful owner’s niece only when she was in her eighties. This extraordinary story was told in a recent film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren.
Ancient paintings and artworks are worth millions, which is why they attract the attentions of the finest and most talented of thieves. While some stolen art pieces have been returned to their rightful locations and a few have been returned to their owners, a number of art pieces are still yet to be found. There are some conspiracy theories that accuse the governments of staging these heists to make it look like these paintings were stolen to cover up for storing them in secret facilities. This is done with the aim to preserve the art pieces and keep them away from the public. There are also some conjectures arguing that some of the art pieces displayed in museums and art galleries are high-quality replicas.
However, for those who believe that these art pieces were indeed stolen by art thieves will agree that these crooks did an exceptional job. Not only did they steal valuable masterpieces, they also left the authorities flabbergasted and puzzled. Here is a list of the ten biggest art heist in human history.
THE ISABEL STEWART GARDNER MUSEUM HEIST: In the early hours of March 18, 1990, two men pretending to be policemen requested to be allowed in by the guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Once they got inside the Venetian-palazzo-style building, the men commended the guard to move away from the emergency buzzer, his only link to the outside world. They handcuffed him and another guard and tied them up in the basement. The thieves then raided the museum’s treasure-filled galleries for over eighty-one minutes and then loaded up a vehicle waiting outside and vanished.
Later that morning, the day guard arrived for his shift and discovered spaces on the walls where paintings should have been. Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” Vermeer’s “The Concert,” Manet’s “Chez Tortoni,” and five works by Edgar Degas had vanished. In some places, empty frames were still hanging, the priceless works crudely sliced out. Till date, the Isabel Gardner museum heist is the largest property theft in U.S. history, experts have assessed the current value of the stolen art at more than $600 million. Twenty-three years later, the case is still yet to be solved.
MEXICO NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY HEIST: On the eve of Christmas 1985, Robbers stole 140 precious objects from Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology containing pre-Colombian objects in history. The robbers picked a lethargic time when they knew the guard’s attention would be diverted by holiday cheer, and grabbed various gold, turquoise, and jade objects, as well as an obsidian monkey-shaped-vase worth over $20 million. Most of the pieces were recovered in 1989 when the thieves – Carlos Perches Trevino and Ramon Sardina Garcia – were arrested after trying to sell the precious artifact on the black market. Tracking down the remaining objects have been frustrated by the size of the artifacts and ease of transport.
THE NATIONAL GALLERY IN OSLO HEIST: One of the most notable heists occurred at the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It took two thieves approximately fifty seconds to break in and steal an artwork, one of the two canvas versions of The Scream. Before leaving, they penned down a short note saying, “A Thousand thanks for the poor security”. No suspects were identified immediately despite the fact that whole act was recorded. A month after the theft, the museum received a ransom request of $1 million but refused to accept the demands. The thieves were caught when undercover British detectives pretended as art buyers willing to pay £250,000 for the painting. The thieves took the bait and three months later they were arrested in a small coastal town just south of Oslo. Munch’s masterpiece was recovered with only negligible damage and returned to the museum.
THE LOUVRE, FRANCE HEIST: Before the Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa became the most famous painting in the Louvre, this tiny Renaissance portrait had to be stolen. On August 21, 1911, three Italian handymen hid inside a supply closet overnight in order to sneak into the museum and steal the Mona Lisa. One of them, Vincenzo Perugia, was the man who had installed the protective glass over the Mona Lisa in the first place. The theft was all over the French newspapers because many people feared that German or American businessmen were buying up all the good art from their museums. The painting became so popular that he couldn’t trade it without getting caught. So Perugia hid it in the false bottom of his trunk until over two years later, when he finally tried to sell the art piece. Perugia was arrested and the painting was returned more famous than ever.
THE STOCKHOLM MUSEUM, SWEDEN HEIST: A few minutes before closing time on the 22nd of December 2000, armed burglars stole $30 million worth of art by Renoir and Rembrandt from the Stockholm Museum. The artwork stolen were the 1630 Rembrandt self-portrait and two paintings by Renoir, “Young Parisian” and “The Conversation,”. They planned two car explosions nearby to divert the attention of the police, and then a gunman with a semi-automatic terrorized the museum while his accomplices grabbed the art piece. Then the burglars escaped in style by sprinkling nails on the ground to ward off pursuit and zooming away in a motorboat.