A $250,000 Rembrandt drawing was stolen from a California hotel on Saturday in what's being called a "well thought-out, well-executed theft," according to BBC News. The piece was on display at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del-Ray by donation from The Linearis Institute, who sometimes share their art collection in high end hotels. The picture, a pen and ink drawing called "The Judgement," is 356 years old. The hotel "has top quality security," according to a police spokesman, but the description of the heist seems to imply otherwise. The museum curator was talking with someone when he turned his back to the drawing, sometime between 10:20 and 10:35 p.m, and by the time he turned back around, the picture had vanished from the wall. "Our detectives are reviewing the hotel security video for information identifying those involved," police told the L.A. Times.
Detectives aren't sure if the person distracting the curator was connected with the crime, but it's pretty likely. The distract-the-shop-owner shop lifting strategy is common to anyone who's worked at a corner store. The brilliant simplicity of the theft sounds like something straight out an art heist movie, like the great Thomas Crown Affair, or the not-so-great Ocean's 12.
"I'd be shocked if the person who stole this piece had any idea how to fence it," Anthony Amore, co-author of the book "Stealing Rembrandts," told the Times. He said thieves usually have a tough time moving stolen pieces of art, specially such high-profile ones like a Rembrandt, because of the attention the theft brings to the painting. We broke down what happens to expensive pieces of art once they go missing last year, after over $100 million worth of art was stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art.
Update (8/16): the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has announced that the drawing has been recovered, but no further details have been released at this time.