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Rising football star who stole Scream painting speaks out on heist for the first time

Rising football star who stole Scream painting speaks out on heist for the first time

Pal Enger was a promising footballer but instead turned to a life of crime

Once upon a time, Pal Enger had a promising football career, but rather than fulfil his potential on the pitch, he turned to a life of crime.

Growing up in a poor neighbourhood near Oslo, Norway, he says he'd always been on the wrong side of the law.

But despite amassing an impressive collection of fancy cars and boats, it was never enough for Enger.

Speaking to the Sun about his rise to one of the most wanted criminals on the planet, he said: “I grew up in Tveita, on the east side of Oslo, and people there don’t have much money.

“We started doing crime when we were very young and I found it exciting. I carried on because I enjoyed it very much.

“I had a good life. I travelled a lot between football and I used my money on cars — Porsches, Mercedes and BMWs.

Pal Enger was a promising footballer but turned to a life of crime.

“I did so much crime in my twenties that I had everything — cars, boats, money, the most beautiful women in Oslo. But I wanted more.”

That 'more' he speaks of eventually became Edvard Munch's iconic masterpiece 'Scream'.

Back in the mid 90s, it was being housed at Oslo's National Gallery, and Enger and his band of crooks set their sights on nabbing it.

And that's just what they did, all while playing for one of the country's biggest football teams, Valerenga.

"Maybe there are some things I would do differently in my life," Enger explained.

“But the Scream theft was perfect. It was beautiful having the painting and knowing nobody else can touch it for a while. I have no regrets for that.”

Planning had started in 1988, when he told his best mate that he was going to 'show the world I could pull off something huge'.

When they attempted the first time, though, the pair accidentally stole the wrong painting, and were quickly caught, with Enger serving four years behind bars.

Upon his release, and amid the furore surrounding the Winter Olympics, which were being held in Lillehammer, Enger found the perfect time to try again.

On 12 February that year, with the opening ceremony taking centre stage, he and an accomplice climbed a ladder at the National Gallery and broke in through a window.

He and an accomplice stole The Scream painting in 1994.

They then simply cut the painting down and walked away, but not before leaving a little message behind.

“A thousand thanks for your poor security," it read.

And while police suspected Enger of being the brains of the operation, there was little evidence linking him to it.

He even began taunting the authorities, giving anonymous tip-offs that he was responsible so he would get stopped by the police.

And when his son was born not long after the heist, he even took out a notice in the newspaper, which said that he had been born 'with a scream'.

However, once again, Enger was eventually caught, this time by an undercover sting by Scotland Yard.

And he was convicted of theft and sentenced to six years and three months in prison, which at the time was the country's longest ever sentence for theft.

The Man Who Stole The Scream is on Sky Documentaries at 9pm on 19 August.

Featured Image Credit: Sky

Topics: Documentaries, Football, Sport, TV and Film, Crime, Art, True Crime