This is the Cellini Salt Cellar, an elaborate gold and enamel table decoration, measuring only 10 inches in height. It was stolen on May 11, 2003 from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It was later recovered in January 2006 near Zwettly, Austria. The thief, Robert Mang was an alarm-systems installer with no criminal history. The theft was listed at one time as one of the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes.
He claimed to have had a couple of beers before the theft. He climbed into the museum which was covered in scaffolding at the time, and took the work. After hiding it under his bed for a couple of years he attempted to ransom it back. He sent a number of ransom notes to the museum’s insurance company threatening to melt the work down if he wasn’t paid €10-million. Though eventually a photo of him was circulated and he was forced to turn himself in to the authorities
Mang turned himself in to the police, and served two years and nine months in prison. Now it seems he will return to selling and installing alarm systems: (via) “he had distributed advertising leaflets and made appointments to check on the state of installed alarm systems or to install new ones . . . his lawyer Lukas Kollmann said: ‘He wants to be left alone in order to lead a normal life again.’
Photo Credit: Herbert Pfarrhofer/European Pressphoto Agency