Art: Up For Grabs

A shocking theft puts museums on notice: No treasure is truly safe

Willie Sutton, a once celebrated American crook, was partly famous for saying he robbed banks because "that's where the money is." Actually, museums are where the money is. Where else can you find so many portable items of stupendous value within arm's reach? In a single gallery there can be canvases worth more, taken together, than a whole fleet of jumbo jets. And while banks can hide their money in vaults, museums, by their very mission, are compelled to put their valuables in plain sight.

So the theft last week of one of the world's best known paintings was discouraging...

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