OwlTail

Cover image of Criminalia

Criminalia

Humans have always committed crimes. What can we learn from the criminals and crimes of the past, and have humans gotten better or worse over time?

Popular episodes

All episodes

Read more

Humans have always committed crimes. What can we learn from the criminals and crimes of the past, and have humans gotten better or worse over time?

The Ghent Altarpiece: Chasing the Lost 'Just Judges' Panel

Podcast cover
Read more

Napoleon once stole several of its panels. The Nazis; they took the whole thing. The Ghent Altarpiece, also known as Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, has been the victim of more than a dozen crimes, including several thefts. Commissioned in the 15th century, it is, today, considered the most famous Flemish painting from the Renaissance period. Since it's completion, though, the work has been cut in half, nearly damaged in fire, and hidden in salt mines -- and part of it's still missing today. It's kind of a miracle it's made it this far through history.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 29 2022

48mins

Play

The Skylight Caper: Canada's Biggest Unsolved Art Heist

Podcast cover
Read more

One the world's greatest unsolved art thefts happened in Montréal, Québec, Canada, in 1972. Seventeen paintings remain missing, and the cat burglars behind the incident have never been apprehended. In fact, the story sounds a lot like a Hollywood script. Under the cover of darkness, three men entered the building through the one skylight that was under repair, and rappelled into the museum galleries below. It was, it's agreed, a very cinematic theft.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 22 2022

28mins

Play

Who Was Jacob de Gheyn III and Why Do People Keep Stealing His Portrait?

Podcast cover
Read more

“We have some bad news, sir. The Rembrandt is gone again,” the investigating officer told the gallery director at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Rembrandt painted during the 17th century, and as part of his completed works you’ll find a portrait of a man named Jacob de Gheyn III, an engraver who commissioned the painting. The piece has since been nicknamed, the Takeaway Rembrandt, because it’s been stolen so many times – four times, so far, and from the same gallery. And here's its story.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 15 2022

24mins

Play

Title Who Really Stole Goya's 'The Duke'?

Podcast cover
Read more

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, is probably best remembered for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. A military general, he became a leading military and political figure of 19th-century Britain. And, his portrait, painted by Goya, also became a target of theft from the National Gallery in London – though not for reasons any of us might image. The Duke was once quoted as saying, “The only thing I am afraid of is fear.” We wonder, though, how he felt about ... ransom? 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 08 2022

39mins

Play

The Day Polish Pirates Pinched the Last Judgment

Podcast cover
Read more

For some, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian bible is an apocalyptic prophecy, involving the second coming of Christ and the judgment of souls. And the imagery for that interpretation is seen in artwork over the centuries, including The Last Judgment triptych. You may wonder, but which one? And you're right -- there are actually several Last Judgments. But only one has been stolen -- by pirates.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Nov 01 2022

32mins

Play

The Heist That Turned the Mona Lisa Into a Star

Podcast cover
Read more

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has been described as, “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.” She's been immortalized in everything from Andy Warhol’s pop art to Dan Brown’s bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. But there was a time when the Mona Lisa was not well known, if you can imagine – and it took a man named Vincenzo Peruggia to launch her into stardom. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 25 2022

35mins

Play

The Time 5 Thieves Paid an Entrance Fee to Steal 9 Paintings

Podcast cover
Read more

Art heists can often look and sound like something out of a Hollywood script. One time, two thieves lifted two Van Gogh paintings from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and they entered the premises through the roof -- Mission Impossible-style … ish. In this new season of Criminalia, we’re telling the stories of, and looking at the motivations for, art heists throughout history. In this episode, we’re talking about five men who were brazen enough to buy tickets to a museum and pull off an art heist in broad daylight.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 18 2022

23mins

Play

Did the Sicilian Mafia Really Feed Caravaggio’s Nativity to the Pigs?

Podcast cover
Read more

Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence considered a 17th century masterpiece, created by Italian painter Caravaggio in 1609. Nativity has been missing since it was nicked by thieves in Palermo in 1969. No one for sure knows who stole it, or why they stole it, but what might have become of it has sparked dozens of tales. One prominent theory is that it was stolen by the mafia – and, quite possibly, eaten by pigs.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 11 2022

27mins

Play

Welcome to the Season 7 Finale of Criminalia: The Treasonists

Podcast cover
Read more

Author and historian Andro Linklater once said, “Some people are born to treachery.” It seems like it. It was an season of interesting moments, for sure. Treason, pretty generally, is the crime of betraying a nation or a sovereign by acts considered dangerous to security. A cursory glance suggests … well … that there were a lot of variables from show to show, not only in regard to treasonous activities, but also when it came to motivations. And there were plenty of cocktails and mocktails to go around, too. Listen as Holly and Maria continue their tradition, and talk about their Top 3 favorite shows and favorite drinks of the season. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 04 2022

44mins

Play

Welcome to Season 8 of Criminalia: THE ARTNAPPERS

Podcast cover
Read more

The most famous art heist happened in 81 minutes, when two men dressed in law enforcement uniforms stole 13 masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. But the art heist isn't a recent phenomenon; in fact, it's been part of Western culture since the 1400s. Welcome to a brand new season of Criminalia, where we’ll be telling the stories of bold art thieves who took priceless paintings, sculptures, and other forms of visual art from galleries, museums, as well as from other public and private locations.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Oct 04 2022

4mins

Play

Kōtoku Shūsui Wasn't Part of the Kōtoku Incident; Or Was He?

Podcast cover
Read more

It began with the discovery of bomb-making materials at the home of a man named Miyashita Takichi, in the Nagano Prefecture. And it resulted in what became known as, the High Treason Incident, a socialist-anarchist bomb plot to assassinate Japanese Emperor Meiji in 1910. The fall-out led to the convictions of 26 people on charges of high treason against the Imperial family, including well-known anarchist, Kōtoku Shūsui.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 27 2022

30mins

Play

No Comment From the Bug House: When Ezra Pound Was Charged With Treason

Podcast cover
Read more

“Europe calling! Pound speaking! Ezra Pound speaking!” came over the airwaves in more than 100 shortwave broadcasts from Rome, directed toward America during WWII. Ezra Pound was an American ex-pat, poet, and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist literary movement in early-to-mid 20th century -- and was also a fascist collaborator and anti-Semite arrested for treason against the United States for his radio broadcasts. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 20 2022

30mins

Play

Will the Real Sidney Reilly Please Stand Up?

Podcast cover
Read more

Many knew this man as Sidney Reilly, but his real name was Sigmund Georgievich Rosenblum -- probably. Historians do know he was a British intelligence officer, and he’s considered the most accomplished spy in history. But, most of Reilly’s account of who he was and what he did was probably a lie. We can be certain of one thing; he was executed for treason, on the order of Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 13 2022

27mins

Play

John Brown: The First American to Hang for Treason

Podcast cover
Read more

He was arrested in 1859 for his role in the Harpers Ferry raid – an event that set the stage for the American Civil War. He was convicted of treason, as well as for murder, and for instigating insurrection. We’re talking about American abolitionist John Brown, the first person executed for treason in the United States. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sep 06 2022

32mins

Play

Lavrentiy Beria, the Chief of Stalin's Secret Police Who Was Executed as a Traitor

Podcast cover
Read more

“Let me have a man for one night, and I’ll have him confessing he’s the king of England,” Lavrentiy Beria bragged to his colleague, Nikita Khrushchev. He was intelligent and intriguing and cynical. He was also violent, unethical, and prone to using ruthless measures, including kidnapping, torture, rape, and murder. And he was almost the ruler of the Soviet Union after the Second World War – until his former colleagues executed him for treason.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 30 2022

38mins

Play

The Political and Rebellious Life of Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox

Podcast cover
Read more

The first time Robert Wilcox incited rebellion was in an effort to overthrow the so-called Bayonet Constitution and the newly-formed provisional government of Hawaii. The second time was when he tried to restore the deposed monarch, Queen Liliʻuokalani, and the Native Hawaiian government. His revolts led to his arrest on charges of treason – treason, technically, against an illegitimate government. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 23 2022

39mins

Play

The Complicity of Magdalena Rudenschöld in the Armfelt Conspiracy

Podcast cover
Read more

This is the story of a noble woman convicted for crimes against her country because of her devotion to the wrong person. To talk about how Magdalena Rudenschöld found herself a traitor to the Kingdom of Sweden and imprisoned for it, we need to talk about that wrong person -- a Swedish courtier and diplomat named Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, and the conspiracy that was named for him.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 16 2022

29mins

Play

The Execution of Mary Surratt

Podcast cover
Read more

More than a century after these events unfolded, there continues to be debate among historians as to whether or not Mary Surratt was or was not involved in the plot to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. What we know for sure, though, is Mary was hanged for treason in the summer of 1865.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 09 2022

34mins

Play

Chidiock Tichborne: The Poet Who Fell in With a Regicidal Crowd

Podcast cover
Read more

Chidiock Tichborne was a poet raised Catholic among Protestants. He is known to history as one of the conspirators involved in a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant, and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic. Let's talk about how his involvement in what was called the Babington Plot led to his execution for high treason.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Aug 02 2022

30mins

Play

The United States v. Douglas Chandler: America's ‘Lord Haw-Haw’

Podcast cover
Read more

This American traitor used the pseudonym 'Paul Revere’ when he broadcast over the airways. But it was the pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic agenda that dominated Douglas Chandler’s radio show that was problematic for the United States government, not his nom de plume.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Jul 26 2022

42mins

Play