Found Words – Paul Farhi

“Big-time heists like the Paris job occupy a special place in the public imagination. They aren’t like ordinary crimes, which are dreary and depressing. Novels, movies and TV shows have trained us to believe a good caper is thrilling, even admirable. We think we know the vocabulary and visual terrain, from the dashing perp (Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” is your go-to guy here) to the shocked-and-outraged victim to the feckless investigators.

“But even stripped of Hollywood artifice, major art thefts are different. Unlike ordinary burglaries, they take planning and scheming, which invests them with a certain kind of intelligence and criminal nobility. Short of a broken window or two, they rarely involve physical violence or even guns. They involve insanely valuable objects, which elevates the act above the commonplace. Most of all, they take something missing from most crimes: nerve and smarts.”

-“In Grand Fashion, thief makes off with five masterpieces from museum in Paris,” Paul Farhi, The Washington Post, May 21, 2010

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