The Slatest

Uzbekistan Art Thieves Replaced Twenty-Plus Paintings With Fakes Over the Course of 15 Years

The fakes probably did not carry this label. It would have given the whole thing away.


A brief but provocative item on the Radio Free Europe site describes a clever and effective inside-job art-theft technique carried out museum officials by in Uzbekistan. Well, it was effective until they got caught.

On December 12, court officials in the Uzbek capital said three former senior employees of the museum have been sentenced to prison for fraud.

They were found guilty of replacing several paintings by prominent Soviet artists with copies between 1999 and 2014 and selling the originals to unknown individuals.

Authorities said they did the same with about 25 paintings from the museum’s treasury of European art.

The same museum also seems to have been subject to a more traditional break-in theft back in 2001.

Stealing is always wrong, but stealing paintings in an elaborate way is a little like stealing bread to feed your family. It’s stealing bread to feed the world’s daydreams about becoming an art thief.