I got that stat from CNN, which called it "the world's most stolen work of art," putting that in quotes, so someone else must have said it. But after Andrew questioned my blind repetition of CNN's claim, I decided to look into just how many times The Scream has been stolen.
Two sites agree that the number of times The Scream was stolen was...
(Drum roll, please)
Wow! I like that sound. I would like that to precede everything I have to say. Like:
Sweetie: What do you want for dinner?
Sweetie: [Sigh.] *mentally counts how many days until actuary charts expect me to kick off, brightens up*. "Okay." *reviews actuary charts in her mind again* "Extra cheese, right?"
Anyway, the actual number of times that The Scream has been stolen, according to two different websites one of which is poorly worded is... two.
God dang it, Art World. Don't make me sic Big Retail on you.
So I looked into other works of art that might have been stolen, and I found this picture:
Which looks a lot like a guy who was a junior in high school when I was a sophomore and who used to smoke over by his Camaro in the parking lot, but who is actually "Jacob III de Cheyn," and that painting is by Rembrandt, who would go on to invent a short-lived toothpaste that ground your teeth into chalk, but who before that painted Jacob III, which this site says was stolen four times since 1960.
Interestingly, each time the painting has been recovered, it's been abandoned: it was found (again according to that site) on a luggage rack in a train station, under a bench in a graveyard, and on the back of a bicycle. (Presumably, the thief was not on the front of that bike as nobody has ever been charged with stealing old Jacob III).
But the Mail Online, which usually is devoted to stories of teachers having sex with their students, reports that Picasso is the artist whose work is most frequently stolen.
So The Scream isn't the most stolen painting, and it's also not the world's most valuable painting, as it turns out. The real most valuable painting is one that's missing completely:
That's The Concert by Johannes Vermeer, and this site says it's valued at $200,000,000, which means that if you want a truly valuable painting, have it stolen. (And, my idea for a thriller about the five people who could own The Scream gets a little better...)
Everything reported about me is a lie!