don't do this at home


you know when you click about on the internet trying to find something, and stumble across something like… tangentially barely related to what you’re actually looking for, but it’s very very interesting? yeah - that. So glad we have the blog so i can share this with you all.

In August 1986 an anonymous group called the Australian Cultural Terrorists stole a very expensive painting by Picasso from the National Gallery of Victoria.

it was Picasso’s The Weeping Woman (above ^^^^). The National Gallery of Victoria had just purchased it the year before for A$1.6 million. At the time, that was the highest price paid by an Australian art gallery for an artwork.

what i thought was kinda interesting was this: ACT as like, an anon group, claimed responsibility for the theft and made a set of ‘demands (and then insults)’ - very funny - in a series of letters to the Minister for the Arts. Their main 2 demands were: increases to funding for the arts and a new annual painting prize with 5 $5000 cash awards for winners. they wanted it to be called the Picasso Ransom.

They wanted these demands met, and if not, they threatened to destroy the painting.

i just think this is so interesting! imagine if someone did that now in the uk - that’d be wild. (like, DON’T do it, i am not advocating for cultural terrorism !!! i just think it’s interesting!)

the idea that old paintings could be held to ransom for new paintings is rly interesting too. especially to advocate for more generous arts funding. idk. reading about this from where i’m at now, in the UK after a decade or so of conservative governments that have cut cut cut away at arts funding, making public arts funding a bit of a myth n increasing reliance on the private/philanthropic sector - it’s inttttteresting. it’s also just drama, intrigue scandal. imagine being an artist in victoria in the 80s, this’d be so dramatic wouldn’t it? it’d be all you’d talk about - who are the Australian Cultural Terrorists, etc. theories n gossip, i’d live for that. wish someone would send demands and insults to the Arts Council, that’d be so funny. imagine Nick Serota getting the letter with all the newspaper letters all cut out like a true crime mystery lmaooooo.

Anyway, eventually the government refused to accept ACT’s demands and made a big fuss about how ‘anyone who truly cared about art wouldn’t commit such a crime’ - terribly boring. and the painting was returned/recovered via a train station luggage locker. which is very cool and clandestine. As far as the Wikipedia page knows, no one was ever arrested or charged, it remains Australia’s most famous unsolved art heist.

i j think it’s neat! here’s the wikipedia page for it if u wana read more