Pablo Picasso's "Tête d'Arlequin."
Pablo Picasso's "Tête d'Arlequin." - 
Listen To The Story

One art museum in the Netherlands has empty spaces on its gallery walls today. Thieves made off with as much as $130 million in artwork from the Kunsthal museum early Tuesday morning. Missing: a Picasso, a couple of Monets and a Gauguin, among others.

Robert Wittman is an art security and recovery consultant and the former senior investigator of the FBI's National Art Crime Team. He's also the author of "Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures." He says a heist like this is done by people who aren't art thieves.

Though the paintings that were stolen are worth a lot of money, it will be nearly impossible to make any money from them. It's true that some stolen art is bought and sold, but not pieces as valuable -- or recognizable -- as the ones taken from the Kunsthal.

Wittman says almost all artwork is ultimately recovered. "It might take a few years but eventually they call come back because let's face it, these outlive all of us," he says. "We're here for a short amount of time, these paintings are here for centuries, some of them."

Wittman thinks the thieves that organized this heist were probably long-time criminals who have experience stealing things that are more easily sold again for profit with little chance of being traced -- like cars.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal