Canada’s greatest artwork heist stays a thriller

“Who hasn’t learn a novel about an amazing artwork heist? This was an opportunity to be a part of a novel,” stated former CTV Montreal reporter Bob Benedetti.

It was in Montreal, 1972, a 12 months into his job as a reporter for CFCF (a CTV affiliate), when Benedetti lined a narrative so large it made headlines all over the world.

Benedetti acquired the decision on September 4, 1972. The Montreal Museum of Wonderful Arts, Canada’s oldest artwork museum, had been looted in a single day. He was one of many first reporters on the scene.

When he arrived, police had been looking for proof, on the lookout for clues about how 53 items of artwork and jewellery had been stolen from the historic museum.

It quickly grew to become obvious to Benedetti that this was no odd homicide. It was and nonetheless is Canada’s greatest artwork heist.

“In these days, two million {dollars} value of work was so much. Two million was actual cash,” Benedetti advised CTV W5. However what actually shocked him was how the thieves managed to do it.

“I can most likely title a number of novels the place thieves entered a skylight and climbed down [rope]it was all straight out of a novel,” he stated.

Investigators advised Benedetti that three thieves gained entry to the museum’s roof. They then entered a skylight that was being repaired. It was not alarmed on the time and simply lined with plastic wrap. Like spies in a Hollywood film, they lowered a rope and slid undetected throughout the museum flooring. As soon as inside, they encountered little resistance. A shotgun blast was sufficient to subdue the guards.

Thieves systematically ripped a number of the museum’s most beneficial work from the partitions. Among the many gadgets stolen had been work by Delacroix, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Millet, Rubens and Rembrandt.

In 1972, the principles for roaming reporters had been “lax”. In truth, Benedetti was in a position to stroll to the ladder left behind by the thieves and climb it to document a carry. CTV has footage of the intrepid younger reporter gaining unprecedented entry to proof in the course of a criminal offense scene.

In 1972, Bob Beneditti managed to stroll to the ladder left behind by the artwork thieves and climb it to document a carry. (CTV Information Archives)

“In contrast to at present, the place he could be surrounded by flashing police vehicles and yellow crime tape and every part, there was none of that,” Benedetti stated. “Issues had been a bit extra informal in these days. The truth that I might climb the ladder. , a significant proof, to do a arise…“

One thing that may by no means occur at present.

Benedetti remembers the connection he had with the police. “There was a sure belief and camaraderie that we had been doing the identical form of work. We tried to search out out who did what they usually tried to search out out who did what,” he stated.

The police had been puzzled. “I do not keep in mind them ever having an actual suspect. You realize, in loads of these instances, they used to have someone that they knew was doing it, however they simply could not show it,” Benedetti stated. “However on this case, that they had no thought. Maybe this was because of the newness of this sort of theft in Canada. They weren’t skilled artwork thieves wandering round.”

Laughing, Benedetti advised us, “you recognize, individuals weren’t looting museums. They robbed banks. We had been the financial institution theft capital of Canada.”

Bob Benedetti is an award-winning former journalist who has had a 35-year profession working in a wide range of roles, together with anchor and producer.

Benedetti had his personal idea: “To me it smells like a bunch of native guys who acquired actually fortunate as a result of possibly the busy weekend helped distract the investigation.”

Fifty years later, there was no signal of the stolen artwork, and police aren’t any nearer to discovering out who pulled off Canada’s greatest artwork heist. Montreal police advised W5 the case is now “closed.”

Additionally they stated: “If new info involves mild, we’d test it and if it seems to be critical, we’d reopen the case.”

Watch the CTV W5 documentary “Raiders and the Misplaced Artwork” Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

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