He sold Goering a newly-discovered painting by the 17th-century artist Johannes Vermeer, although, if you've been paying attention, you've probably guessed that what van Meegeren actually sold Goering was a picture he had painted himself, in Vermeer's style. Van Meegeren's original intention was to come clean after tricking the #2 German into buying one of his knockoffs, thus proving that the Nazis were a bunch of gullible idiots. But, instead, he went mad with power and built himself a career producing Vermeer forgeries and selling them, while becoming an alcoholic and a morphine addict in the process. His sudden change of heart might have also had something to do with the realization that "taking a joke" was not something the Nazis were known for.
Eventually, the Allies won the war, and the Nazis' stolen artwork was recovered, but this created a new, incredibly ironic problem for van Meegeren: His forgeries were so realistic that the Allies assumed that he had stolen them for the Nazis, and they arrested him for art theft. Despite admitting that he had forged the pieces, his forgeries were so good that art appraisers hired by the Allied prosecutors didn't believe him, assuming he was lying in order to reduce his sentence. Only after being plied with enough alcohol and morphine to successfully replicate a Vermeer painting was van Meegeren able to prove his innocence. Or, at least, prove that he was a different kind of guilty.
"It is true -- I cheated Hitler. I accept one year in prison and/or the key to the city."
A Gang of Robbers Steal all of Stockholm's Cash and Escape via Helicopter
One of the most memorable sequences in the history of action movies is the heist scene from the 1995 Michael Mann film Heat, in which a robbery by Robert De Niro's gang escalates into a full-blown war in the streets of Los Angeles, complete with machine guns, explosions, and the last time Tom Sizemore was ever taken seriously. The scenario is so over the top that it's almost a spoof of an action scene, but a group of Serbian bandits pulled off an even more brazen robbery in 2009 in Sweden, in what came to be known as the "Swedish helicopter robbery," for reasons that will soon become spectacularly clear.
Hint: The gang doesn't escape through the sewers.
Despite the robbery's unofficial title, a helicopter was not the most valuable thing that was stolen. A gang of 10 thieves merely used the stolen chopper to land on the roof of a cash-handling depot in Stockholm and, armed with explosives and submachine guns, proceeded to demolish their way in through the ceiling like a high-octane reboot of Dig Dug.
A SWAT team was called in, but the criminals had already laid down caltrops (those portable road spikes you see in the movies) to disable any incoming vehicles. In the meantime, the bandits blasted their way into the safes and began hauling hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of cash into their chopper. Then, they took off with their substantial bounty while police were still trying to figure out how to get to the building ... because life is occasionally a Grand Theft Auto mission with all of the cheats turned on.
via Seattle Times
Cheats that turn all dialog to "orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!"
"But cops have helicopters," you're probably musing to yourself. "Why didn't they just use their flying instruments of justice to chase the robbers down?" We are so fucking glad you asked because that means we get to type this next sentence: Before the heist, someone (either a burglar or a subcontracted loyal henchman) had planted a bag marked "bomb" at the entrance to the police helicopter hangar. The bomb was fake (the bag might not have contained anything but a VHS copy of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane), but it delayed the authorities in accessing their own aircraft long enough for the thieves to escape.
Some of the burglars were later arrested and sentenced, but not all of the cash was recovered, which was a bigger deal than it might seem -- Swedish authorities remained tight-lipped on that matter, but they did release a warning after the fact that Stockholm ATMs might run out of money due to the incident. That's right -- the roof-jacking helicopter bandits stole so much cash that a major European city almost ran out of money.
Zachary Frey is currently a student at Greenwich High School, and you can read all his other crazy articles and (not) be his friend here.
For more stories straight out of a movie, check out 6 Real Heists More Badass Than Any Movie and 7 Real World Heists That Put 'Ocean's 11' to Shame.
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