The small etching was stolen from a private exhibition on Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey between 10:20 p.m. and 10:35 p.m.
The piece, called "The Judgment," is dated circa 1655 and is about 10-by-6 inches. Rembrandt had used one of his favorite mediums - a quill pen with black ink.
The lithograph was part of an exhibit at the hotel sponsored by San Francisco's Linearis Institute. The artwork had been signed on the back by Rembrandt.
A sheriff's spokesman says there was an elaborate security system in place at the hotel, and there were surveillance cameras in the lobby where the theft took place.
But thieves had the heist all mapped out.
One suspect distracted a curator so that a second suspect could take the artwork off the easel, which is worth $250,000. The curator had his back turned for only 15 minutes.
"It appears to be that this was not a crime of opportunity," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore. "This was something that was thought out and planned."
According to an expert, Rembrandts are the most targeted by thieves after Picasso's artwork. There are 81 documented thefts over the last 100 years.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Marina del Rey station at (310) 482-6000.