Samsung hunts stolen art with the Missing Masterpieces gallery

Mike Wheatley

Samsung’s lifestyle smart TV The Frame is getting more artwork added to its digital gallery with the launch of the Missing Masterpieces Exhibition, which features 12 of the world’s most valuable lost paintings.


The Missing Masterpieces exhibition was launched in partnership with Noah Charney, an art crime expert and founder of The Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA), with the aim of drawing greater attention to the artworks in the hope that some of them might be recovered.

Samsung’s The Frame TV is part of its lifestyle collection, designed to be hanged on the wall like a picture frame. When not in use, the TV can instead display digital art to brighten up the room.

Samsung regulalry adds new artworks to its digital gallery for owners to download. There are now dozens of images to choose from, including digital versions of famous pictures painted by artists such as da Vinci, Botticelli and others. Most recently, Samsung added 25 new artworks created by five of the top artists on the creative goods marketplace Etsy.

The Missing Masterpieces exhibition is something special though. Many of the artworks in the collection have a backstory worthy of a Hollywood movie. For example, Cézanne's View of Auvers-sur-Oise (1879-80), once on display in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum, went missing after a daring raid by burglars on New Year’s Eve 1999. The thieves took advantage of the noise of the celebrations going on nearby the museum, climbed up the scaffolding of an adjacent building before reaching its roof and getting inside through a broken skylight. Once inside, they used a smoke bomb to block the motion sensors from setting off an alarm, before making their getaway.


Meanwhile, Barbora Kysilkova’s Chloe & Emma was stolen in broad daylight from a museum in Norway. The thieves reportedly pulled out more than 200 nails to retrieve the canvas from its frame, which was left behind.

The collection also includes Monet's Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge that were stolen from Rotterdam's Kunsthal in 2012. The thieves were later arrested, and the mother of one of them claimed to have burned the paintings to get rid of the evidence, but investigators say there is no evidence she really did.

While some will see Samsung’s Missing Masterpieces collection as a clever marketing ploy for its fancy TV, Charney said he hopes that the virtual exhibition might be able to jog someone’s memory and provide further clues as to the whereabouts of some of the missing artworks.

"From contradictory media reports to speculation in Reddit feeds, the clues are out there," Charney said. "But the volume of information can be overwhelming. This is where technology and social media can help by bringing people together to assist the search. It is not unheard of for an innocuous tip posted online to be the key that unlocks a case.”

Samsung said the Missing Masterpieces collection is available now until February 10, 2021.