Art thefts are often crimes that pique the public's interest because of the high-prices associated with the works. While several masterpieces have been targeted and stolen over the years - most notably da Vinci's 'Mona Lisa' - one painting holds the distinction of having been stolen twice. In our latest #HSTBT, we explore the thefts of Edvard Munch's "The Scream."

Norwegian painter and printmaker Edvard Munch wrote in his diary in 1892, "One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord - the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream." Over 100 years later and Munch's revelation that many believed stems from the deaths of his mother and elder sister remains one of the most noteworthy and important works in modern history.

Considered to be one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, Munch actually created four different versions in his career - two painted (housed at the The National Gallery in Oslo and The Munch Gallery) and two pastel versions. One of the pastels holds the distinction of being the second highest nominal price paid for a painting at auction when Leon Black purchased it for $119,922,600 USD in 2012. It should come as little surprise then that thieves have attempted and successfully stolen it before. What is unique of The Scream is that it became the target for not only one, but two daring thefts.

Paal Enger, an ex-professional soccer player who played for low-level and low wage-driven Norwegian club Valerenga, had been incarcerated for stealing Munch's The Vampire in 1988 by climbing into the Munch Museum through an open window. As The Guardian noted, "Two of Enger's' teammates were policemen who noticed that, despite not having a second job, he threw away brand new tracksuits at the end of each training session, claiming it wasn't worth washing them. Intrigued, they followed Enger through Oslo and watched as he spent large sums on watches, clothes, restaurants and holidays. They soon discovered that he was a thief, mainly stealing jewels and cash. When police raided his home, The Vampire was found hanging on his wall."

After being released from prison in 1994 after serving three years of a six-year sentence, Enger was commissioned to steal The Scream from the National Gallery. On the opening day of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway - with festivities taking most if not all of the attention of the police - Enger and three accomplices needed only 50 seconds to break into the National Gallery in Oslo. Not satisfied with merely getting away with Munch's masterpiece, the thieves left a note on the wall in place of the painting which read, "Thousand thanks for the bad security!"

In subsequent weeks, Enger took out a birth announcement in the newspaper which read, "med et Skrik" - "with a scream." As The Guardian reported, "Police hired a British art recovery expert, Tony Russell, who helped put together a sting when Enger tried to ransom the painting for £700,000. He was captured during the handover in a small town near Oslo and the painting was recovered undamaged. He was sentenced to six-and-a-half-years. He escaped from prison while on a field trip in 1999 but was captured 12 days later in a blond wig and dark sunglasses trying to buy a train ticket to Copenhagen."

On August 22, 2004, The Scream would once again be a target - although this time it was different version - but just as brazen. According to TIME, "Armed men walked into the museum and carted off Munch's archetypal image of contemporary anxiety along with a ghostly masterwork, Madonna. They knew exactly where the paintings were and took them down from the wall," said Jorunn Christophersen, head of information for the Munch Museum, in speaking with CNN. After threatening staff and museum goers with a .357 Magnum pistol, they disappeared. Most assumed it was another attempt to try and sell one of Munch's works on the black market.

Two hours later, less than a mile away, the police found shattered wooden frames and glass from the stolen works - a discovery that caused art experts to fear that the two treasures might already have been damaged. It was the last time any pieces of The Scream would be seen in public for over two years.

Prior to the 2004 Scream heist, there was another brazen robbery in Oslo that had captured nearly the entire police force's attention after thieves successfully entered Norsk Kontantservice (Nokas), a cash transport service in the basement of Norway's central bank. As The Guardian reported, "At about 8 A.M. on April 5 2004, a man drove a large white van in front of the police station in Norway's cathedral city of Stavanger. Another man got out of the cab, walked to the main door holding a canister of tear gas, pulled the pin and threw it inside. The two men drove off in a passenger car, the van bursting into flames as they fled. At that same moment, the police started receiving calls of a robbery in progress at the offices of Norsk Kontantservice (Nokas). Five men wearing black overalls, gas masks and helmets had entered the building carrying bags stuffed full of equipment. Another three, armed with automatic weapons, had taken up strategic positions at the junctions of two nearby streets."

In the aftermath of the robbery, the thieves made off with £5m in untraceable cash - leaving behind one dead police officer who had traded fire with the robbers. Following the theft of The Scream, investigators began to wonder if the taking of the painting itself was a smokescreen to alleviate the spotlight that the robbers were facing after only the seventh police officer death in postwar Norway.

Investigators focused their attention on David Toska, a career criminal, believing he was not only the mastermind behind the NOKAS robbery, but also the one responsible for hiring/executing the subsequent theft of The Scream. Toska was eventually arrested in Malaga and charged with the NOKAS robbery, but prosecutors couldn't make a definitive link between the cases.

On August 31, 2006, police announced the recovery of The Scream but provided little details as to how they got it back. "For two years and nine days we have been hunting systematically for these pictures and now we've found them," Iver Stensrud, who headed the police investigation, said at a news conference in Oslo. "It is a happy day for us in the police, for the owners of the paintings, and not least for the public, which will soon be able to once again admire the paintings."

For more about art thefts, read about the pilfering of the Mona Lisa here.

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