Many thieves are motivated by the fact that valuable art pieces are worth millions of dollars and weigh only a few kilograms at most. Transport for items such as paintings is also trivial, assuming the thief is willing to inflict some damage to the painting by cutting it off the frame and rolling it up into a tube carrier. Also, while most high-profile museums have extremely tight security, many places with multimillion art collections works have disproportionately poor security measures. That makes them susceptible to thefts that are slightly more complicated than a typical smash-and-grab, but offer a huge potential payoff.
For those with substantial collections, such as the Marquess of Cholmondeley at Houghton Hall, the risk of theft is neither negligible nor negotiable. Jean-Baptiste Oudry's White Duck was stolen from the Cholmondeley collection at Houghton Hall in 1990. The canvas is still missing.
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