Rembrandt and Dürer Works Stolen From Boston Public Library in Suspected Inside Job

The library owns one of the largest public collections of prints in the US.

Works by Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer disappeared from the library in April. Photo: A View on Cities

Police are investigating the disappearance of a Rembrandt etching and an Albrecht Dürer engraving that have gone missing from the Boston Public Library. Detectives suspect that the heist from the Library’s esteemed print collection was an inside job, the Boston Herald reported.

The Rembrandt—a self-portrait—is worth an estimated $20,000 – $30,000; and the Dürer, depicting Adam and Eve, is worth an estimated $600,000.

According to police documents, the works were discovered missing from the BPL’s print collection on April 8, and the Police report was filed on April 29. However, according to an unnamed source, library officials were reportedly aware that the prints had gone missing already a year before police has been notified.

The library is currently searching its extensive print and drawings collection for the missing artworks. The collection contains over 200,000 works, including 30 pieces by Rembrandt, and 105 by Dürer.

“It is our hope that these two significant pieces have simply been misfiled,” said BPL President Amy Ryan in a statement released on Tuesday.

“The curators and department staff are currently conducting a detailed search of the collection,” she added, “and we are working with the Boston Police Department to determine if there is the possibility of criminal activity.”

After the theft came to light library officials were quick to make assurances that the institution would reevaluate protocols, and that it would commission an independent review of its security practices.

Ryan insisted that “while strict procedures for viewing items in the collection are in place, it is always a balance to fulfill our obligation to make collections open to the public to study and enjoy, while preserving them and keeping them secure.”

However, the library—a public institution—has made no indication concerning the extensive time it took to notify Police over the missing works, nor did it address criticism over why it did not make the incident public.

City officials are also planning to hold library officials accountable for its inventory management. The library costs the city $41.6 million annually to run.

Hopefully, the works will be recovered swiftly (see Unsolved Art Heists: The Missing Paintings of Vincent van Gogh).


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