February 12, 1994: Edvard Munch’s The Scream stolen in early-morning raid

One of the world’s most recognisable artworks is stolen from a Norwegian museum and held to ransom after a raid which took no more than 50 seconds to execute.

One of history’s most daring art thefts took place on this day in 1994 in Norway. The Scream, by Edvard Munch, was stolen from Oslo’s National Art Museum.

In a lightning early-morning raid two thieves scrambled up a ladder, smashed through a window and cut the iconic picture from the gallery wall.

The entire 50-second incident was recorded by CCTV cameras.

The museum was criticised for lax security, considering that one of the world’s best-known paintings was uninsured, and had been moved from the more secure first floor to the ground floor for an exhibition mounted to tie in with the Winter Olympics which started the same day in Lillehammer.

The criminals left behind a note which said: "Thanks for the poor security.”

The director of the museum, Knut Berg, said at the time: "It is impossible to estimate the value of the painting.

"But it is Norway's most valuable, Munch's most renowned, and it would be impossible to sell."

A few weeks after the robbery, a ransom demand was sent to the gallery, prompting a joint Norwegian/British police operation which resulted in the recovery of the painting in May of the same year.

[Also On This Day: February 12, 1945 - Allied leaders reveal plans for post-war Europe at Yalta]