This Day in History (12-Feb- 1994) : Art thieves snatch world’s best-known paintings Scream

On 12-Feb-1994, thieves stole one of the world’s best-known paintings from a gallery in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Two men took just 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash through a window of the National Art Museum in Oslo and cut The Scream, by Edvard Munch, from the wall with wire cutters. The cutters were left behind along with a short ladder as the men fled with the painting. The entire incident was filmed by security cameras. The painting was priceless and Munch’s most renowned one. Art experts believed that it would be impossible for thieves to sell the Scream on the open market  It was believed to have been uninsured. The painting was in the gallery as the highlight of a Norwegian Culture Festival staged in connection with the Winter Olympics which was starting that day in Lillehammer. There was a speculation that it may have some connection with the Games, possibly as a publicity stunt by campaigners. The museum faced a strong criticism over its security after it was revealed that the masterpiece had been moved from the more secure first floor to the ground floor for the exhibition.

Initially, a radical Norwegian anti-abortion group claimed responsibility for the theft, but police remained sceptical. In March 1994, the gallery received a £700,000 ($1m) ransom demand for the painting. The gallery board refused to pay, unsure that the demand was genuine. Norwegian police contacted London shortly after the theft and the Norwegians worked closely with Chief Inspector John Butler, head of Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques squad.  In May 1994, Norwegian and British police mounted an undercover sting which uncovered the painting, unharmed, in the seaside town outside Oslo where Edvard Munch painted many of his most famous paintings. Two Metropolitan Police officers fooled the thieves by pretending they would buy the painting for £250,000.

In January 1996, four men were convicted and sentenced in connection with the theft. One of the two thieves who carried out the raid, Paal Enger, is now a legitimate art buyer, acquiring his first Munch – an unsigned lithograph – at auction in 2001.

 

Reference: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/february/12/newsid_3591000/3591994.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/may/09/archive-edvard-munch-scream-recovered

 

This Day in History (9-Feb-1895) – The sport of volleyball is created in Massachusetts

William G. Morgan, joined as director of Physical Education at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA. In this role he had the opportunity to establish, develop and direct a vast programme of exercises and sport classes for male adults. He came to realise that he needed a certain type of competitive recreational game in order to vary his programme. Basketball, a sport that was beginning to develop, seemed to suit young people, but it was necessary to find a less violent and less intense alternative for the older members. He decided to blend elements of basketball, baseball, tennis, handball and German game of Faustball  to create a game for his classes of businessmen which would demand less physical contact than basketball. He created the game of mintonette. Morgan borrowed the net from tennis, and raised it 6 feet 6 inches above the floor, just above the average man’s head.

Early in 1896 a conference was organized at the YMCA College in Springfield, bringing together all the YMCA Directors of Physical Education where Morgan was invited to make a demonstration of his game in the new college stadium. Morgan explained that the new game was designed for gymnasia or exercise halls, but could also be played in open air. An unlimited number of players could participate, the object of the game being to keep the ball in movement over a high net, from one side to the other. The name Volleyball came when a spectator commented that the game involved much “volleying” the ball back and forth over the net and game was renamed Volleyball.

In 1964, Volleyball was introduced to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The beach volleyball was introduced in 1996 Atlanta Olympics. As per the data was provided by each of the International Sports Federations; on the estimates of participants in the sport worldwide (based on 2002 figures) ; volleyball ranks no. 1 with almost 1 billion  players. Volleyball is one of the big five international sports, and the FIVB (Federation Internationale De Volleyball), with its 220 affiliated national federations, is the largest international sporting federation in the world.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/february-9-1959-the-first-intercontinental-ballistic-missile-becomes-operational

http://inventors.about.com/od/uvstartinventions/a/Vollyball.htm

http://www.volleyball.org/history.html

http://www.topendsports.com/world/lists/popular-sport/final.htm

http://www.fivb.org/en/volleyball/History.asp

https://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/volleyball-training.html

 

This Day in History (25-Mar-1896) – Modern Olympics began in Athens, Greece

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin witnessed German defeating France in 1870. He attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers’ lack of vigor. After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person. In spite of resistance from countrymen, in 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games, “Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future”

Further Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Athens was chosen as the location for the revival of the Olympic Games. Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent of those to do so.

On 25th March (6 April, as per new calendar) 1896, the American James Connolly won the triple jump to become the first Olympic champion in more than 1,500 years. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events. The Games have grown to about 10,500 competitors from 204 nations at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/march/25

http://history1900s.about.com/od/fadsfashion/a/olympicshistory.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Games

http://www.olympic.org/athens-1896-summer-olympics