By Luke Davies on Feb 7, 2020 4:06:20 PM
Thomas Crown sits upon his beach-bound balcony, and a smug expression graces his face. He is, at that moment, the greatest art thief of our time. At least in his eyes. Now, why wouldn't he feel this way?
He has pulled off some of the most daring, devious and downright blasé art heists to date. Utilising specialised briefcases, an eye for stunning pieces and, well, enormous wealth.
All of this is fine and easy to accept in the sphere of Hollywood movie script but a little harder to swallow when it becomes a reality.
There is one particular nation named China who possess at least two of Tom's traits from above. An eye for stunning pieces, namely ones removed from China during the so-called "Century of Humiliation" and enormous wealth. Whether they have specialised briefcases or not is up for discussion (of course they do!).
It is suspected that Chinese billionaires are arranging Ethan Hunt style heists to reclaim these priceless works of art to flex financially and show patriotism.
That's correct, those Mission Impossible movies where you can't move for someone ripping off their own face only to reveal another beneath aren't so ridiculous after all.
This all started after a programme was instigated by one of China's most influential business conglomerates. The China Poly Group, a state-run organisation, enlisted a team of experts to travel to different museums and catalogue any Chinese art they discovered.
Shortly after the team's expedition, it all started to go a little wrong. Think abseiling, laser beams and speedboats.
As cars burnt in Stockholm as a distraction for police a team of highly trained thieves descended into the Swedish royal residence, more specifically the Chinese Pavillion and emptied it of its Chinese art. Using mopeds, they fled to a nearby lake and speedboat making their getaway.
A grand total of 6 minutes was all it took.
Next was Norway followed by Durham and Cambridgeshire of England. These thieves were knowledgeable, trained and financed.
Now, of course, China feels this art was wrongly removed, often taken forcefully during conflicts and as such, they believe it is rightfully theirs and should be brought back. Whether that be through securing it with significant financial sums or via elaborate heists doesn't appear to matter, just that it makes its way home.
The heists have continued throughout Europe, yet the art's so renowned and recognisable it can't really be displayed. Perhaps there is a Thomas Crown figure somewhere in China glancing smugly at his near unobtainable treasures, perhaps not.
I guess we'll never really know.