On Christmas Eve 1985, thieves absconded with 140 priceless Mayan and Meso-American pieces – including a jade mask from the Mayan ruins of Palenque and a mask of the Zapotec bat god Murcielago – from México’s National Anthropology Museum.
All the pieces were smaller than 10 inches in diameter, making it easy for the thieves to conceal and carry. One vase in the shape of a monkey had an estimated value of $20 million.
The art heist, which resulted in the arrest of two veterinary school dropouts in 1989, comes alive in ‘Museo’ (Museum),’ a YouTube Originals movie starring Gael García Bernal.
The movie, directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, is the first in Spanish for YouTube Originals, a premium service.
‘Museo’ premiered at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, where Ruizpalacios and co-writer Manuel Alcalá won the Silver Award for best screenplay. The movie, which had its Northern American debut Sept. 6 at the Toronto International Film Festival, was also nominated for a Gold Bear for best film in Berlin.
“‘Museo’ began over a decade ago, with a faint memory of a Christmas museum heist in the 80s,” said Ruizpalacios. “Research and word of mouth quickly laid out a vast story that spread far beyond México’s National Museum of Anthropology.
“It had the perfect mix of narrative and anecdotal elements, and I’m incredibly excited to collaborate with the talented Gael García Bernal and YouTube to bring this Mexican tale to life and share it with the world.”
García Bernal stars as Juan Núñez and Leonardo Ortizgris as Benjamín Wilson, the 30-somethings who can’t survive veterinary school or manage to move out of their parents’ homes. The pair work in conjunction with a rare arts dealer (Simon Russell Beale) in executing the heist.
Susanne Daniels, global head of original content for YouTube, praised the debut of the Spanish-language movie.
“We are extremely grateful to be working with such a talented director, cast and creative group of producers and executive directors to share this story globally.”
García Bernal is one of the movie’s executive producers.
YouTube Premium is a subscription program that offers access to movies and YouTube series, music and ad-free content.