So art thieves drive Audi A6's, do they? I guess it's an appropriately Euro-trash sophisticated, dashingly criminal getaway car, although if I were choosing Audis to steal masterworks with, I probably would have gone with the 12-cylinder A8 L. It's six-speed automatic transmission, ability to reach 250 km/h in 30 seconds, and single-frame radiator grille with painted gray fins, all conspire to make the A8 the Audi to rob a museum at gunpoint in. Of course, the best choice for a getaway car would have been the Pontiac Sunfire, whose TV ad several years ago featured the angsty Screamer from Munch's classic painting as a cool, sauntering Ray-Banned pitchman for a car that "looks like a work of art" but "drives like a real scream."

It's impossible not to imagine what The Scream is up to these days. Short of condoning the theft, I'm sort of happy the despairing little guy finally gets some air and a little adventure. There is, of course, no image more perfectly suited to being ripped off the wall and kidnapped than Munch's little Macaulay Culkin-esque, gloomy, solitary man. "Oh nooooo," I can almost hear, always having assumed that the Screamer sounds just like Mr. Bill. I'd have to imagine that the bandits aren't aesthetes themselves, but perhaps by now the work has found its way into the hands of some diabolical Dr. No with a hard-on for Norwegian Expressionism.

When Vincenzo Perugia lifted the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, he lived with the painting hidden away in his apartment for two years. With an enormous secret sequestered in hiding, Perugia set out one memento of his life's greatest conquest: as a charming little detail, he kept a postcard of the Mona Lisa on his mantelpiece. The painting's theft did wonders for the Louvre's business--attendance spiked with throngs of Parisians, many of whom had never visited the museum before, flocking in to see the space where the painting had once hung. Even young Franz Kafka joined in, hoping to see something new in the vacancy that the theft had left. Not coincidentally to their thefts, both The Scream aand the Mona Lisa had become icons of the art in the truest sense, but functioning more as signs of paintings than as paintings themselves, at which point they assume a different sort of invisibility--a self-reflexive theft by their own transcendence and popularity.