How Stéphane Breitwieser stole over a billion dollars worth of art, and the sad desperate destruction that ensued

A 23-year-old Stéphane Breitwieser was overcome with cacoëthes (a mania or deep desire to do something ill advised) upon seeing this portrait painted by Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, asked his girlfriend to stand watch as he pried the painting from the wall, detached the canvas from the frame & stretcher bars, rolled the painting up and walked onto the path of a serial art thief identifying as an "Art Collector."

The Guardian quotes Stéphane recalling the moment like so:

"I was fascinated by her beauty, by the qualities of the woman in the portrait and by her eyes," he recalled yesterday. "I thought it was an imitation of Rembrandt."

Stéphane eventually "admitted to stealing 239 artworks and other exhibits from 172 museums" with an estimated value of $1.5 billion, simply because he didn't know how to sell his pilfered treasure, and instead hung the art in his French attic apartment while living paycheck to paycheck. Times were different back then, and it's because of art thieves like Stéphane that the current security measures are in place, but I'm sure police across 5 European countries share Vincent Vega's sentiment when he said: "Boy, I wish I could've caught him doin' it. I'd have given anything to catch that asshole doin' it. It-huv been worth him doin' it, just so I could've caught him doin' it."

Sadly, a desperate attempt ended in the sloppy destruction of Stéphane's billion dollar plus "collection", with some pieces lost to future viewers, scattered like the ashes of time:

Mireille Breitwieser cut up the works, including canvases by Antoine Watteau and Peter Bruegel, after the arrest of her son Stephane for stealing a bugle from a museum in Lucerne, Switzerland. French police said that Ms Breitwieser also dumped antique vases, weapons and musical instruments in the Rhine-Rhône canal. A hoard of stolen art worth more than $1.4bn (£960m) has been destroyed – by the mother of a French art thief. Stephane Breitwieser, 31, accumulated a collection of 172 artefacts, including chinaware, pictures and statuettes, over seven years. Breitwieser, currently in prison, stole the works in the years after 1995, travelling across Europe to work as a restaurant waiter in different cities.