Who is Herr Igel? Investigating the International Thief Linked to Recent Art Heist

Ever since Edward Hopper’s iconic Nighthawks painting was stolen from Hogeman’s Gallery and Auction House on the 25th of November, rumours have been rife that it may have been the work of international art thief, Herr Igel.

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The connection was made after police discovered a series of paw prints left at the scene of the crime. It has previously been reported that these paw prints are a signature of Herr Igel’s work.

But, just what do we know about the elusive thief?

The mysterious criminal has been linked to over 20 thefts across Europe including items stolen from the Louvre, the National Portrait Gallery and the theft of a Tim Rollins work from the Tate St Ives archives. 

The Tim Rollin’s work suspected to have been stolen from the Tate archives by Herr Igel.

Police have been aware of Herr Igel’s activities over the past decade, however, there has never been enough concrete evidence to tie him to the crimes. 

While it is unknown exactly how long Herr Igel has been operating for, he first caught the attention of the authorities, and the press, in 2009 when a 15th-century engraving went missing from the collection at the British Museum. 

The engraving, dating from 1624, was created by Strasbourg born artist Isaac Brun and featured a study of various four-legged animals, including a boar and a hedgehog in front of a town. 

The first crime linked to Igel was the theft of this 15th-century engraving from the British Museum in 2009.

Little is known about Igel’s personal background. However, authorities have their suspicions surrounding his criminal activities.

It is thought that Herr Igel works without accomplices, preferring to single-handedly enact his crimes.

No one has ever been injured in a crime linked to Igel, in fact, it is suspected he conducts these thefts unarmed.

While many other art thefts are motivated by financial gain, it would appear that Herr Igel has more philanthropic intentions. 

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The works of art presumed to have been stolen by Igel never are found listed for resale, nor do they ever appear on the black market. 

In fact, the artworks are often later discovered in unassuming public locations such as schools, hospitals and places of work. 

Because of this unusual habit, it has been previously suggested that Herr Igel is making a political statement about the elitist nature of the art world and is seeking to ‘democratise’ art with his thefts. 

The thefts linked to the suspected larcenist have always been carried out during the early hours of the morning when the thief can use the cover of darkness and light security presence to make his escape.

Despite his nocturnal thieving habits, there have been a few suspected sightings of the art thief over the course of the decade that he has been on the radar of authorities. 

Witnesses to the apparent Herr Igel thefts have reported seeing a sharply dressed man with a short and stocky build in his mid-thirties near the scenes of the heists. 

They described the man as having spiked dark hair with lighter flecks throughout, a small mouth and ears, with a prominent nose and hunched shoulders which give him a rounded appearance.  

An image captured from CCTV which is thought to show Herr Igel stealing Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting.

However, as the thief never leaves a trace of DNA evidence at his crime scenes and any CCTV footage captured has always been too poor quality, it has never been possible to provide a positive identification. 

The closest authorities have is the CCTV footage above, capturing the moment the suspected Herr Igel removed the artwork from Hogeman’s Gallery and Auction House.

As authorities continue the hunt for Herr Igel and the missing Edward Hopper artwork they are, once again, appealing to the public for any information which could aid them in their investigations.