Bayou’s 11

The Art Heist That Wasn’t 

Earlier this week, burglars broke into Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. You won’t believe what happened next. 

By Catherine Wendlandt March 19, 2021

It was the makings of a new Ocean’s 11 movie, Houston edition. Except it failed.

Around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, the Houston Police Department tweeted, “Central officers K9 and FOX are searching for burglary suspects near Memorial Park.” 

A fairly normal sentence, but what came next set Twitter aflutter: “Suspects broke into a museum and then fled on a boat in Buffalo Bayou.”

In the early evening of March 16, two would-be burglars—a man and a woman—broke into Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, a satellite location of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, through a window grate in the basement, according to a statement from MFAH. The security alarm went off but the thieves who weren’t escaped through the front door

A security guard accordingly pursued and chased them through the woods, but the intruders had a plan: Once they reached Buffalo Bayou, they hopped in a motorboat and sped away. HPD later gave chase, but to no avail. The pair crawled into a drainage tunnel called a culvert—or, if you’re trying to be dramatic, the sewers—and escaped. The police later found their abandoned boat. 

“No one was harmed, and no works of art were damaged. Nothing was removed from the premises,” according to the MFAH statement. Spanning 14 acres in River Oaks, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens showcases furniture, ceramics, paintings and more in the former home of legendary Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg. 

As far as we know, the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde are still on the lam. They could’ve just been a pair of troublemakers looking to have a good time at 6:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night, but there have been some particularly spectacular, movie-worthy art heists throughout the pandemic, most notably the break-in at Amsterdam’s Singer Laren Museum that resulted in a stolen van Gogh painting on March 30, 2020.

In any case, Bayou’s 11 was thwarted.

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