The man who stole The Scream

The man who stole The Scream

THE SCREAM: Paal Engers stole, but returned, the picture in 1994 Photo credit: CC/JRodSilva

Paal Enger, a former Norwegian footballer who earned fame for stealing Edvard Munch’s picture, The Scream, died in Oslo at the age 57 on June 29.

The press officer for the Valerenga Fotball, where Enger played as a teenager informed Associated Press (AP) of his death without providing further details, although Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, reported that he died in Oslo.

Enger served his first prison sentence when he was 19, a year after making his debut as a footballer. On his release he launched his criminal career with a series of art and jewellery thefts.

These included an attempt to steal a version of The Scream from the National Gallery in Oslo.  Failing to locate it, he stole another Munch painting, Love and Pain, but in a 2023 documentary said his failure led to a disappointment “that lasted days.”

Enger went to prison for four years for that theft but finally managed to steal The Scream – then valued at €50.45 million – on the opening day of the Winter Olympics which began on February 12, 1994 in Lillehammer.  He left behind a message that said, “A thousand thanks for the bad security!”

The picture was recovered undamaged in May that same year, hidden in an Asgardstrand hotel after Enger confessed to taking it.

Over the coming years, he was repeatedly convicted of art thefts and drugs crime, and once gave news and television interviews while on the run after escaping from an open prison in 1999.

Imprisoned again by 2007, Enger took up painting but still preferred a life of crime and in 2015 was arrested and charged with stealing 17 paintings, leaving behind his wallet and ID.

Although he never married, Enger possibly leaves behind four children, having once claimed to have fathered four children with four women from four different countries.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca province and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at