Grace Li | Portrait of a Thief


Portrait of a Thief

This was how things began: Boston on the cusp of fall, the Sackler Museum robbed of 23 pieces of priceless Chinese art. Even in this back room, dust catching the slant of golden, late- afternoon light, Will Chen could hear the sirens. They sounded like a promise.


Portrait of a Thief is Ocean's Eleven meets The Farewell, about five Chinese American college students hired for a series of heists to reclaim looted Chinese art. It is based on this true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums.

It has:

  • Ambitious Chinese American college students
  • Anti-imperialism
  • Museum heists
  • Fast and Furious-esque street races
  • The loss inherent in diaspora