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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Art Theft Aboard Carnival Cruise: A Real-Life Heist on the High Seas

Cruise vacations are typically synonymous with relaxation, adventure, and a wide array of entertainment options. However, a recent incident aboard a Carnival cruise ship has brought an unexpected twist to the story. In late September, two passengers allegedly swiped valuable art pieces valued at nearly $13,000, making headlines and turning an ordinary cruise into a real-life mystery.

The Art Heist

The Carnival Legend, sailing from Baltimore to Bermuda, became the unexpected stage for an art heist that wouldn't be out of place in a Hollywood thriller. The two sculptures in question were taken from the ship's art gallery without authorization, and the individuals involved had not participated in an onboard art auction or made a purchase through the gallery.

Security footage from the cruise ship played a pivotal role in solving the case. One of the ship's art auctioneers noticed the missing sculptures on the day after the ship had returned from its previous sailing. This discovery prompted a review of the ship's security footage, which revealed two individuals entering the art gallery empty-handed in the early hours of September 29. They left a few minutes later, carrying items that appeared to be "consistent in appearance with the missing sculptures," as stated in court documents.

The individuals' identities were eventually uncovered, with one person's appearance matched to a recent social media account photo that featured the same distinctive attire seen in the surveillance footage.

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The Recovery

To recover the stolen artwork, court documents for a search warrant were filed on October 31, 2023, in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) then conducted an appropriate search, successfully retrieving the missing sculptures. While the artworks are back in safe hands, the individuals responsible have not been publicly identified. Federal charges of theft and transportation of stolen goods may still be filed. 

Carnival has had a share of bad press in recent months like this flooded stateroom and hallway:

The Stolen Sculptures

Cruise ships are known for their diverse collections of artwork, including paintings, prints, and sculptures. The two sculptures that were stolen are both acrylic pieces, each with its unique story.

  1. Robert Wyland's "Kiss the Sea" - Valued at $6,200

One of the stolen sculptures, created by artist Robert Wyland, depicts two sea turtles facing each other, fittingly titled "Kiss the Sea." This limited edition piece, crafted in 2019, showcases wave-like formations at its base and bears Wyland's hand-engraved signature. Wyland is renowned for his ocean-themed artworks, including depictions of dolphins, whales, and mermaids.

  1. Marcus Glenn's "Tappin’ the Keys for Love" - Valued at $6,600

The second stolen and recovered piece is by artist Marcus Glenn, titled "Tappin’ the Keys for Love." Similar to Wyland's sculpture, this artwork showcases a man playing a piano keyboard with a red heart in the background. Glenn often incorporates music motifs into his work, and this particular piece holds a value of $6,600.

Art Auctions Aboard Carnival Cruises

Art auctions are a common feature on Carnival cruise ships, conducted by Park West Gallery. These auctions feature a wide variety of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, lithographs, autographed items, and more. The collections offered may vary from one ship to another and from one sailing to the next, sometimes curated to match the destination's theme and generate more interest among passengers.

In addition to Carnival Cruise Line, Park West Gallery handles art auctions on more than 90 ships worldwide, including those of Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, and Princess Cruises.


While the heist aboard the Carnival cruise ship might sound like a scene from a Hollywood thriller, it serves as a reminder that real-life mysteries can unfold in the most unexpected places. Thanks to the diligent efforts of law enforcement and the recovery of the stolen sculptures, the passengers responsible may face legal consequences. This story also highlights the diverse and valuable art collections available for passengers to explore and purchase on cruise vacations, adding a unique dimension to the onboard experience.

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