Could it be true that a painting’s success is predicated on its level of infamy? Is it really true that works are remembered, even revered, because they were stolen/lost? Does that incident live on, overriding the quality of the work? The test is: have any bad works of art been stolen, and are these works now considered good?
Consider Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ :
Why has the arrest, trial and execution of a religious radical in Roman Judaea just over 2,000 years ago inspired so much of the world’s greatest art?…It tells the intriguing story of this picture, rediscovered in a Jesuit house in Dublin in 1990 after being misrecognised and undervalued for centuries. Since its rediscovery, The Taking of Christ has become one of Caravaggio’s most famous works.
But the author of the article claims that its “famousity” is:
Because it is a story of universal human truth. It speaks to all oppression and all suffering. You don’t have to be a Christian to feel the tragic power and disturbing authenticity of Caravaggio’s scene.