In 1988, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin debuted an exhibition of Lucian Freud paintings. By all accounts, the show was a success, with the Germans warmly embracing the work of the famed British painter…maybe a little too warmly.
On May 27, the gallery filled with students on a trip to see the exhibit. It was just another day at the show with visitors milling around examining Freud’s paintings under the watchful eye of art guards when someone noticed something alarming—one of the works was missing.
In broad daylight, in the middle of a crowded show, someone had absconded with Lucian Freud’s relatively small painting of his one-time friend Francis Bacon.
The painting in question was a 7-by-5-inch oil painting on a sheet of copper that had been completed in 1952, the same year the Tate in London acquired it for their permanent collection.