American Greed

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The Art of the Steal

Daring thieves have broken into museums, castles, and even personal homes throughout history to swindle artistic masterpieces. It doesn't happen often given how much art is out there, but when it does — and especially when the thieves get away with it — it makes global headlines. Unlike most robberies, art theft is typically more about obsession than it is making money — the thieves steal for their own personal collections.

The FBI estimates that $6 billion is lost annually around the globe to the theft, fraud, looting and trafficking of art and cultural property. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest cases by estimated value. Click ahead to see some of the world's biggest art heists.

By Elizabeth Rocklin
Posted 1 April, 2011

Photo: Paulo Pinto | AFP | Getty Images