Showing posts with label art crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art crime. Show all posts

March 15, 2017

Fighting Art Trafficking and Art Crime in Bosnia: the work of CPKU

By: Helen Walasek

The importance of South East Europe as a major route for the illicit trafficking of looted and stolen art and antiquities, as well as a source region itself is recognised by international art crime researchers and professionals. However, the activities of the Tuzla-based Center Against Trafficking in Works of Art (Centar Protiv Krijumčarenja Umjetninama – CPKU), the only organisation in Bosnia-Herzegovina dedicated to documenting and fighting art crime, is not as well-known as it should be. 

CPKU is also playing a role in focusing attention on one of the great unanswered questions of the 1992–1995 Bosnian War: that of the enormous amount of cultural property looted during the conflict. This has never been adequately addressed, either with regard to the detailed documentation of missing objects, or investigation of the movement, destination and whereabouts of looted cultural property. Nor (so far as the author is aware) have any formal claims for restitution of looted cultural property been made by governmental or institutional authorities. 

Since the centre was established in December 2014, CPKU has worked to establish a national system of coordination and cooperation on art crime between national and international agencies and owners of cultural property (both public and private). Yet despite being the only state-wide organisation working in the field, the centre is often told by international bodies that as an NGO it does not have the authority to deal with these issues. However, as CPKU’s founder-director Dženan Jusufović has pointed out, official bodies which should be dealing with such issues, simply aren’t. Nevertheless, CPKU is having a significant impact in creating a greater awareness of the issue in official bodies and continues to forge a growing number of links with law enforcement and judicial agencies in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In October 2015 CPKU convened its first major event, a roundtable conference on the illicit traffic in art in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which brought together over 40 representatives from key stakeholders engaged in the fight against organised crime and war crimes, including international, national and entity agencies and law enforcement bodies, as well as from cultural institutions such as museums and galleries, alongside private collectors and NGOs.

Growing out of the conference were calls for the creation of a national database of missing works of art and other cultural property, for training in art crime for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and the judiciary, and for the formation of specialised art crimes units. Parallel with this, the holders of cultural goods (whether public or private) were urged to assist in the fight against the illicit traffic in cultural property by regularly updating their documentation of objects (including making good quality photographic documentation). 

Since then CPKU has produced guidelines for documenting works of art and reporting thefts, as well as providing detailed instructions on the best ways of photographing objects for documentation purposes (both downloadable from the CPKU website). Last year it published the first manual (also downloadable ) on the illicit art trade in Bosnia-Herzegovina which incorporates information on the legal international and national legal framework, how art is trafficked across the country and the region, and suggested preventive measures, as well as reproducing the sample documentation instructions.

A public awareness-raising event/performance, Giants of Art (Velikani Likovne Umjetnosti), was held in partnership with the National Gallery of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Association of Artists of Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Sarajevo-based gallery in April 2016 to alert the wider public to the issue of missing works of art – some of which had no photographic documentation.

All these initiatives have been supported by CPKU’s principal partner, the French Embassy in Sarajevo. The embassy was also instrumental in bringing Corinne Chartrelle, Deputy Head of France’s L'Office Central de Lutte Contre le Trafic de Biens Culturels (OCBC), to speak at a recent CPKU seminar on the illicit art market at the headquarters of the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (CEST).

By May 2017 CPKU hopes to release a database of artworks missing or stolen from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dženan Jusufović has noted that only thirteen cases of stolen artwork from Bosnia are registered on Interpol’s database of stolen art, despite that thousands of items of cultural property disappeared during or in the aftermath of the 1992–1995 war.

In addition to ongoing support from the French Embassy, CPKU also has partnerships or cooperation with national and international bodies and institutions, including ICOM Observatory, Interpol, UNESCO, ICOM Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Centre for Judicial and Prosecutorial Training of the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (CEST), the British Council, the National Gallery of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Historical Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Association of Artists of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Faculty of Law at University of Tuzla, the NGO Akcija, and other museums, galleries, heritage institutions and legal-judicial bodies. 

For further information contact:
Centar Protiv Krijumčarenja Umjetninama (CPKU)
Atelje Ismet Mujezinović
Klosterska 19
75000 Tuzla 

Email: cpkubih [at] gmail [dot] com
Phone: +387 61 185 733
Facebook: Centar-protiv-krijumčarenja-umjetninama

November 21, 2016

Book Review: Portraits of Pretence by Susan Grossey

Book 4 in the Sam Plank Mystery Series
Author:  Susan Grossey

Review by:  Arthur Tompkins

Constable Sam Plank is a magistrate’s constable in seventeenth century Regency London. In Portraits of Pretence (available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon) the fourth Sam Plank novel, Susan Grossey weaves an elegant and polished tale of art crime, forgery, falsified provenance, smuggling, clandestine collecting, dubious art dealers and untimely death, all against a backdrop of the evocative sights, sounds, smells and ambience of crowded and bustling Regency London.

Susan Grossey is, by day, a specialist in combating money laundering, and also the author of the (now) four Sam Plank mysteries (her Amazon author’s page can be found here). In Constable Sam Plank she has created a gentle, thoughtful, careful, indomitable and very likeable investigator of crime in the heart of England’s great capital.  In the first three Sam Plank novels, Sam tackled financial forgery and bank fraud (Fatal Forgery, set in 1824), investment fraud (The Man in the Canary Waistcoat, set in 1825) and blackmail and corruption (Worm in the Blossom, set in 1826). This time around, it is the spring of 1827 and Sam is plunged into the art market and the criminal dishonesty that swirls in and around it in post-Napoleonic England and Europe. An elderly French artist is found dead, clutching an exquisite miniature painted on ivory in his hand.  The trail leads through the vaults under the then newly-built Customs House in riverside London, visits to the blockade-men stationed in Kent, and in and out of various salubrious and not-so salubrious rooms of artists and dealers in London.

Constable Plank is ably assisted in his investigation, as he was in his earlier outings, by his indomitable and perceptive wife, Martha, his able and swift-to-learn (although not always, in matters of the heart) junior constable William, and a widening circle of memorable supporting characters – some based on historical figures, others plausible and fascinating characters circulating in the milieu of a London bursting at the seams and flexing its commercial, financial and international muscle as it enters the period when Great Britain would dominate the known world.

Ms Grossey is meticulous in her research. Her characters’ language, the streets and the buildings they inhabit, and the street-level topography of central London they walk by day and by night, are a delight. To read the story is to live in the streets of a London on the brink of global greatness, thronged by a deeply rich tapestry of life’s all-too-human variety.  The tone of the novel and the writing throughout is eminently readable and light-handed (a not inconsiderable authorial achievement), and briskly-paced.

The historical background is accurate, but not overpowering – personally I liked the passing and accurate references to the historical development of the protection and repatriation of cultural property plundered in war, and various facets of art crime itself. The many manifestations of art crime that Sam encounters are illuminating, especially for students of contemporary art crime, who will quickly realise that nothing that lies beneath the glittering surface of today’s art world is new, and that the same dark currents twisted and ran riot two centuries ago just as they do now.

Three more Sam Plank mysteries are scheduled, the next one due out (a reliable source tells me) in October 2018...


Arthur Tompkins is a sitting District Court Judge based in Wellington and one of the founders of the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust.  For 8 years now he has taught the Art in War course module for the annual Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Heritage Protection presented by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art in Amelia, Umbria, Italy. He has lectured around New Zealand and abroad on art crime, and is a regular art-crime guest on Kim Hill’s Saturday Morning show on National Radio.

October 15, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016 - ,, No comments

Collector's indictment shows just how easy it was for art to be transported to places it shouldn't be

In April of this year luxury real-estate developer and fine arts collector Michael Shvo, based in New York City with offices in New York, London, and Dubai blessed the pages of the Wall Street Journal as one of New York's savvy young developers with more than $4bn (£2.84bn) worth of luxury projects in development. But in September Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. indicted the business mogul for allegedly evading more than $1.4 million in taxes related to the purchase of fine art, furniture, jewelry and a Ferrari 458 Spider. 

With hefty charges that include criminal tax fraud in the second, third and fourth degrees, repeated failure to file taxes and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, The New York indictment alleges that between 2010 and 2016, Shvo told auction houses his art purchases were to be shipped to the Cayman Islands and thus would not be subject to sales tax.

Prior to his indictment, Blouin Art & Auction had listed Shvo on their Power 100 list of movers and shakers with significant influence in the art world.  The charges he now faces, come at a time when dealers and collectors in the New York art market have started to come under increased scrutiny for offenses from fraud to tax evasion. 

The article printed below, republished with permission from the October 2016 issue of the Maine Antique Digest, shows how disconcerting simple it is to move art around like chess pieces outside the established rules of the game. 


Real estate developer and collector Michael Shvo, 43, his companies, Shvo Art Ltd. and Seren LLC, and two shipping companies and their principals were indicted on September 8 in New York City for participating in a scheme to evade the payment of more than $1 million in state and local sales and use taxes associated with the purchase of fine art, furniture, jewelry, and a luxury sports vehicle.

The defendants are charged with criminal tax fraud in the second, third, and fourth degrees, falsifying business records in the first degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, among other charges.

“As alleged in the indictment, Michael Shvo went to great lengths to defraud New Yorkers out of more than a million dollars in tax revenue,” said New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in a press release. “This indictment puts other purchasers of fine art on notice: the purposeful evasion of New York State and City taxes is a tax crime, and those who scheme to avoid their obligations will be held criminally and civilly accountable.”

According to court documents, between 2010 and 2016, Shvo engaged in a long-term scheme to evade payment of state and local sales and use taxes on purchases of fine art, furniture, and jewelry. In communications with auction houses and art galleries, Shvo allegedly falsely represented that purchases he made would be shipped to an out-of-state address in the Cayman Islands or other overseas destinations, and therefore no sales tax was collected. Shvo’s purchases were allegedly shipped instead to his office or homes in New York, including an apartment on Columbus Circle and a house in the Hamptons.

Sheridan C.T.S. Hedley (a.k.a. “Tully Hedley”), 33, Guy Drori, 49, and their respective shipping companies, Hedley’s Inc. and Bestguy Moving LLC, are charged with participating in the scheme by providing auction houses and galleries with shipping documentation that deliberately misrepresented the destination of Shvo’s purchases.

It is also alleged that Shvo fraudulently used New York resale certificates, which allow dealers to purchase items solely for the purpose of resale without paying sales tax, in connection with a number of personal purchases, including jewelry valued at more than $65,000 for his wife and furniture for his office in New York.

Shvo evaded payment of New York state and local use taxes on a new Ferrari 458 Spider that he purchased from an out-of-state dealer by establishing a limited liability company in Montana called Seren LLC—named after his wife—and registering the luxury vehicle to the company. According to court documents, no business was ever conducted in Montana and the vehicle was used in New York.

Shvo is accused of evading payments totaling more than $1,000,000 in New York state and local sales and use taxes.

Shvo is alleged to have engaged in a scheme to hide the assets of his company, Shvo Art Ltd., from taxation and evade paying both New York state and New York City corporate taxes on the profits made from the company’s sales of fine art and furniture. Between 2010 and 2016, Shvo Art Ltd. allegedly made efforts to falsely portray the company and its assets as being located offshore, when in fact Shvo operated the company out of his office and homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons. Shvo and his company are charged with failing to file appropriate tax returns and evading the payment of more than $275,000 in corporate tax.

The New York County District Attorney’s Office’s asset forfeiture unit has filed civil papers against Shvo and two of his companies seeking the forfeiture of funds gained through the alleged crimes. In connection with its civil action, the district attorney’s office has secured a temporary restraining order restraining approximately $1.5 million of Shvo’s assets.

To subscribe to the Main Antiquities Digest please see the journal's web link here.

September 20, 2016

New Art Crime Book: Art Thieves, Fakers & Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story

Do you happen to know the whereabouts of Psyche? Its the painting that graces this cover of the new Awa Press book:  Art Thieves, Fakers & Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story? 

The publisher asks, because it went missing 74 years ago from Robert McDougall Art Gallery in Christchurch, and has never been seen again.

Psyche was a massive turn-of-the-century work painted by British artist Solomon J. Solomon. It had been torn from its gilt frame. An inspection of the building found wax matches on the floor. Some window catches had been tampered with and a glass pane broken.

Yet there seemed no possible way thieves could have got the painting out of the gallery and through the locked gates of the surrounding Botanic Gardens.

Was it an inside job? A wartime prank by visiting US servicemen? A phantom operating through a locked skylight?

The Psyche mystery is just one of the intriguing stories in Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story

Author Penelope Jackson is an art historian, former director of Tauranga Art Gallery, and founding member of the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust, set up in 2015.

Lest we think that art theft, faking and forgery are things that happen only in other countries, Jackson's book unveils a catalogue of Kiwi home-grown skulduggery. 

Urewera mural, 1975
Some crimes, such as the heist of the $2 million Colin McCahon Urewera Mural from the visitor centre at Waikaremoana, have made headlines, but others have not been widely publicised by galleries perhaps anxious to not to deter potential donors.

With many valuable art collections hanging in private homes, Jackson also includes timely suggestions on how to ensure artworks don’t disappear out the door, like five much–loved paintings that took flight from an Auckland home twenty-five years ago. They, too, have never been found. 

And if you’re advertising your house for sale on New Zealand's Trade Me, you may want to read this book first.

Take a look at what the academics in the field are saying: 

Release date: October 14, 2016; RRP: $40.00

For a review copy, cover image, extracts, and/or interview with the author, contact Sarah Thornton, sarah.thornton (at); (09) 479-8763/021 753 744

December 16, 2014

Essay: Bringing Art to the Masses, With Limited Success in Rome

Image Credit: Roma Capitale
By Lynda Albertson

It was an initiative to bring the museums to the streets and the streets to the museum.  The city of Rome, in cooperation with three city municipalities, three Rome museums and Italy’s Cultural Ministry, set about to beautify the periphery of Italy’s capital with interesting artworks.  Commuters on their way to work, would be given a unique opportunity to explore the potential of Rome’s artworks within the comfort of their daily routine and hopefully learn a little bit about artists that they might not otherwise have known while they were at it.

The pilot installation, designed to entice passers-by to visit the collections housed at the MACRO - Museo d'arte Contemporanea Roma, the GNAM - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, and Palazzo Braschi, a large Neoclassical palace in Rome near Campo de' Fiori, have been scheduled to run for six months. 

Image Credit: Roma Capitale
Fifteen masterpieces were photographed at high resolution on a 1:1 scale then printed on canvas and hung along common transit areas.  Like art exhibitions held in New York City’s "Subway Art"  and London Transit Authority’s extensive “Art on the Underground” Rome’s goal was to allow art lovers to appreciate the city's ever-growing collection of Contemporary and Modern art by making more accessible works of art by painters like Carla Accardi, Paolo Anesi, Giacomo Balla, Benedetta Cappa Marinetti, Pablo Echaurren, Filippo Gagliardi, Gavin Hamilton, and Titina.

They even sweetened the pot by publicizing to residents that if they took selfies in front of the artworks they would gain admission to the museum where the artwork was housed for free. 
Image Credit: Roma Capitale

In addition to the free ticket photo shoots, the city scheduled a series of cultural and educational events which include guided tours and workshops for school children designed to  incorporate the masterpieces and the artists that created them. For those too busy to attend, the exhibition also includes a QR code on the captions located beside each of the artworks.  Used in conjunction with a specially-developed smart phone app called "Musei in Strada”  (Museums in the street) rushing pedestrians could also get information on the art works and the museum’s that host the originals.

Giovanna Marinelli, councillor for culture, was quoted in Arte Magazine as saying "We want to reduce the distance that separates, physically and metaphorically, museums in the city center from the suburbs, with the objective being to discover or rediscover the artistic heritage of Rome’s cultural identity and to strengthen the bond of its citizens to the history of their city.”   
Image Credit: Twitter user @anderboz
Unfortunately for Rome’s art loving citizens, some folks got a little too physically close.  In the past week someone has defaced one reproduction with graffiti and destroyed another, setting fire to the reproduction of Benedetta Cappa Marinetti’s "Velocità di motoscafo" on Sunday, December 14th. 

It makes one glad that these were simply reproductions, and not original works of art. 

Not to be discouraged, the city has vowed to replace the damaged artworks and to carefully review CTV footage to identify the art-hating culprit. 

December 12, 2013

Bojan Dobovšek and Boštjan Slak on "Criminal Inspectors and Art Crime Investigation in Slovenia" in the Fall 2013 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Bojan Dobovšek and Boštjan Slak write on "Criminal Inspectors and Art Crime Investigation in Slovenia" in the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. This is the academic article's abstract:
The aim of the paper is to present some presumptions about the criminal investigation of art and historical heritage-related crimes. Because credible literature on art crime investigation is rare, especially with clear empirical data, we have decided to survey Slovenian investigators about their opinions and experience relating to art crimes. Slovenian investigators rarely come across art crime cases, even in connection with other types of crime. Our survey showed that Slovenian criminal investigators are indifferent regarding keenness for art-related criminal cases investigation-: cases are not very “desirable” but also they are not “non-desirable.” In addition, investigators do not agree that they have enough knowledge about art-related crime. The most positively evaluated was cooperation with other instructions (like INTERPOL). The study results also showed that more dedication should be devoted to education about investigating art crimes; especially prosecutors and judges lack such knowledge. Some problems and experiences about academic research methods are also debated in the paper, therefore providing some help to future researchers. Our pilot study has shown that (at least in Slovenia) qualitative research methods would be more suitable. However the findings of our research are still useful to those who develop strategies for investigating art-related crimes, and for further academic research.
From the introduction:
Art crimes are most often defined as “criminally punishable acts that involve works of art” (Conklin, 1994, p. 3). Passas & Proulx (2011, p. 52), are more detailed: “... subsumed under the rubric of art crime are such activities as diverse as art thefts and confiscations, vandalism, faked and forged art, illicit excavation and export of antiquities and other archaeological material.” We list these definitions of art crime simply because most countries also penalize criminal acts against art and cultural heritage in such a broad sense. Without a doubt, such broadness limits the research of art crime, as individual acts are lost in the statistics of property crime, under which art crime falls. One can only examine the rough numbers of the frequency with which art crime occurs per year. Only in notorious cases do we have more data, but the majority of data remains uncollectable1 or, as is the case in Slovenia, it isn’t consistent, as determined by Vučko (2012) in her study. She noticed that there are severe discrepancies between annual data about art crime that the General Police Directorate gives to the public, to researchers, and that which was published elsewhere (ibid). Dobovšek, Charney, & Vučko (2009) see one of the reasons why criminologists and criminalists aren’t keen on empirical studies of art crime, in the fact that even though there are extensive art crime databases kept by INTERPOL, the FBI, and private organizations, these are sometimes hard to access. Moreover, because of social and, mainly legal, specifications of different countries, the available data only enables country-by-country analysis (Durney & Proulx, 2011).
Bojan Dobovšek is Associate Professor and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia. Boštjan Slak is a postgraduate student at the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security, University of Maribor, Slovenia. 

Design for this issue and all issues of The Journal of Art Crime is the work of Urška Charney. Here's a link to ARCA's website on The Journal of Art Crime (includes Table of Contents for previous issues).

November 14, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - ,,,, No comments

Art critic Alastair Sooke features V&A Art Symposium in his BBC article on the 'seedy reality' behind the myth of art crime

In the BBC's "Art Crime: The seedy reality behind the myth" (November 13), "Alastair Sooke, art critic for The Daily Telegraph, covers "Daring heists have a glamorous image. But in truth, the billion-dollar black market is a far dirtier business". As part of his research, he attended ARCA's symposium last week at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
“The myth of the sophisticated, art-loving Hollywood gentleman art thief is nothing like the real thing,” says Dick Ellis, a career detective with London’s Metropolitan Police. He set up the Art and Antiques Squad at New Scotland Yard in 1989, and was involved in the recovery of a version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, after it had been stolen from the first floor of the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 by two thieves who gained access by using a ladder and breaking a glass window, before leaving a postcard in Norwegian: “Thanks for the poor security”. “In reality, art thieves are professional criminals who view art and antiques as a soft touch, offering potentially high rewards and/or the ability to utilise the asset as a form of collateral to fund other areas of criminal activity.”
In part, this explains one of the puzzles surrounding this form of art crime: why thieves would want to purloin world-famous works of art that are essentially unsellable because they would be recognised at once if they were ever offered for sale in the future.
While some criminals hope to ransom lost artworks back to the institutions from which they were stolen, this strategy rarely works, according to Dick Ellis, because paying out ransoms, as well as being illegal, only encourages further thefts. Institutions are more likely to offer rewards for information leading to the recovery of stolen artworks. A $5m reward, for instance, is on the table for anyone who can crack the Isabella Stewart Gardner case – though, 23 years on, this has yet to yield results. 
“Recovery rates internationally are very small, but best for well-known works of art,” explains Noah Charney, the founder of ARCA, and a professor of art history specialising in art crime. “So smarter criminals would steal B- or C-level works of art rather than more famous ones.”
With ransom rarely an option, criminals find other uses for high-profile stolen paintings, which often accrue a new value on the black market – typically, according to Ellis, around three to 10% of a painting’s total estimated value as reported in the media. Once this value has been determined, a stolen painting can then be offered as collateral to help secure a loan to finance illicit endeavours. “In this way stolen art actually funds activities such as drugs or tobacco trafficking,” Ellis explains.
Moreover, he continues, “Art now provides an alternative mechanism to transporting cash” – offering a solution for criminals keen to circumvent money-laundering regulations. “Stolen art can easily be carried across international borders and is used as a kind of banker’s draft to pay for things like drugs consignments. It has an international value without the hassle of currency conversion and may even be accepted as a trophy payment by senior cartel members.”

October 29, 2013

"The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story" showing twice a day this week at the Arclight Pasadena

The documentary, The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story, is playing now at the Arclight Theatre in the Paseo Colorado shopping center in Pasadena.

This award-winning documentary, directed and written and produced by the husband and wife team of Joe and Justine Medeiros, is a story of an audacious art theft - Vincenzo Peruggia, an immigrant house painter, walked into the Louvre on a Monday morning and then out with the Mona Lisa under his arm and onto the streets of Paris in late August (a notoriously quiet month in Paris when residents traditionally flee the humidity to the sea and the countryside). For two years Leonardo da Vinci's portrait allegedly of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo escalated in fame as the public wondered if the masterpiece would ever be recovered. The Medeiros team traveled to Peruggia's hometown in northern Italy to meet his daughter, then in her 80s, to find out from her about the man who had stolen La Joconde -- only to find out that her father had died before she turned two years old and she herself had not heard about the theft until she was about to marry. The Medeiros' promised Peruggia's daughter to find out why her father had become an art thief. They studied primary materials, including archival material related to the police investigation, and re-traced Peruggia's actions with his grandson and granddaughter.

The film will screen at noon and 2 p.m. Tuesday (October 29) through Sunday (November 3).

August 17, 2013

In Bangor with Howie Carr: ARCA Trustee Anthony Amore Speaks About Art Crime

ARCA Trustee Anthony Amore, Director of Security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, joined syndicated talk show host and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr in "An Evening of Crime" Friday night at Spectacular Event Center in Bangor (Dawn Gagnon, "Howie Carr sold-out Bangor show talks 'Whitey' Bulger, art thieves'", Bangor Daily News, August 17):
For the past seven years, Amore has also served as the museum’s chief investigator into the 1990 theft of 13 priceless works of art from the museum. 
Author of “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists” with investigative reporter Tom Mashberg, Amore discussed some of the most infamous art heists of the 20th century, involving works valued $1 billion in total. 
Chief among the heists involved one at the at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which alone resulted in the loss of $500 million worth in paintings, etching and other works that have yet to be recovered. 
In that case, two men posing as Boston police officers were buzzed into the museum on March 18, 1990, after saying they were responding to a disturbance. They handcuffed the two night guards who were on duty and took them into the basement, where they were secured to pipes and their hands, feet and heads were duct taped. 
Amore described how the thieves made off with priceless works like Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee, A Lady and Gentleman in Black and a Self Portrait, Vermeer’s The Concert and Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni, according to the museum’s website. 
Not all art thieves, however, were so clever. Amore also regaled the audience with stories of robbers with more bravado than brains — among them Myles Connor, a notorious Boston art thief who unwittingly tried to sell works by Andrew Wyeth and NC Wyeth to an undercover FBI agent. He and several accomplices stole the paintings — along with several other famous paintings — from the Woolworth Estate in Monmouth, Maine, in the early 1970s. 
“When you steal these highly recognizable paintings, there’s no market for them. There’s no one out there who’s going to buy a painting that everyone knows is stolen. Especially when, even if you’re paying pennies on the dollar, you’re paying millions of dollars. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people don’t spend lots of money on things they can never show anyone. 
“Myles found that out, he couldn’t find a buyer for these Wyeth paintings,” Amore said. “He looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find one. Then all of a sudden, he gets lucky and he comes across a guy named Bernie Murphy who wants to buy these paintings from him.” 
Murphy arranged to meet Connor in the parking lot of a Cape Cod IGA store to discuss a deal. 
“Myles is elated,” Amore said. “They go, they park next to each other, Myles opens his trunk and shows him the Wyeth paintings.” Unfortunately for Connor, the supposed buyer reaches into his pocket and pulls out his FBI badge.

August 5, 2013

Edgar Tijhuis on "Legal and Illegal Actors around Art Crime: a Typology of Interfaces" (The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2013)

Edgar Tijhuis
The Journal of Art Crime is pleased to serialize Edgar Tijhuis' now out-of-print book, Transnational Organized Crime and the Interface between Legal and Illegal Actors, originally published by Enfield in 2006, the author publishing under his formal name, A. J. G. Tijhuis, and based on the author's doctoral dissertation. The Journal of Art Crime is pleased to present its content, which deals largely with transnational organized crime and art, adapted into a series of articles, which will appear in consecutive issues, beginning with this one.
This article discusses a number of criminological typological interfaces, and shows how they might apply to art crime. A number of interfaces from these typology could be used to understand particular activities within the illicit trade. Several interfaces commonly discussed by criminologists will turn out to be superfluous to the understanding the illicit art trade. The discussion of this typology in this article will show that seven of ten commonly-discussed interfaces could be used to understand the relationships between actors in the illicit art trade. These seven consisted of two antithetical interfaces and five symbiotic interfaces. The antithetical interfaces are the injurious and antagonistic interfaces; the symbiotic interfaces included the outsourcing, reciprocity, collaboration, co-option and synergy interface. Three interfaces seem superfluous, as far as the illicit art trade is concerned: the predatory, parasitical and funding interface.
Edgar Tijhuis works at VU University as an associate professor and as researcher at the NSCR (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement), both in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Furthermore he practices law at Pontius Lawyers and is an ARCA trustee.

Mr. Tijhuis introduces his article here:
Art crimes, like other crimes, in most cases ultimately depend on legal actors and the legitimate market. Without a legal market in art, or other goods, there would be no point in stealing them, at least in most cases. Exceptions to the rule are of course figures like Breitweiser or the infamous, but rarely found, rich collectors buying secretly from thieves or fences. 
Despite the above, criminologists and others often describe and analyze crimes by focusing primarily on the criminals, and not the environment around them, including legal businesses, government agencies, etc. When this environment is mentioned, legal actors are often assumed to be either victims or actors with a minor stake in the crime. To shed more light on the role of legal actors and the interaction between legal and illegal, my PhD study specifically focused on the interfaces between legal and illegal actors, around transnational crime (Tijhuis: 2006). A typology of interfaces was refined, and a model was developed to understand the transformation from transnational crimes to legitimate activities. The study was based, in the first place, on a study of transnational crime in general, including all kinds of crimes ranging from, for example, arms trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, to drug trafficking. Secondly, it was based on a thorough study of the illegal art and antiquities trade, and this typology and model was applied to this field of crime. 
In this article, the interface typology will first be described. After that, the typology will first be described. After that, the typology will be applied to art crimes. The article is, in part, a reproduction of a portion of chapter 8 of the aforementioned PhD study, dealing with the illicit art trade (Tijhuis, 2006: 143-167).
Mr. Tijhuis's article is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney and published by ARCA, available electronically (pdf) and in print via subscription and The Associate Editor is Marc Balcells (ARCA '11), Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.

August 27, 2012

"Q&A on Art Crime in Canada" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Editor-in-Chief Noah Charney features "Q&A on Art Crime in Canada" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. You may read the rest of this interview in The Journal of Art Crime by subscribing through ARCA's website.
In 2008 the Sureté du Quebec, in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, established the first national art crime investigation team in Canada’s history. The four-man team is now led by Jean-Francois Talbot, who has worked since 2003 with Alain Lacoursiere, an art historian and retired member of the Montreal police. Lacoursiere, who has been nominated for an ARCA Award, helped in the development of an art crime team in Canada and a system called Art Alert, which is an email bulletin sent out to 25,000 subscribers in 75 countries, largely members of the art community and police departments. Between 2004 and 2008, a combined force of agents from the Sureté du Quebec and the Montreal police department investigated around 450 art crimes, made 20 arrests, and seized over 150 stolen or forged artworks, with a total estimated value of around $2 million. The newly-established art crime team handles an average of 90 art crime cases per year. ARCA interviewed the art crime team, including Alain Dumouchel, to learn a bit more about art crime and investigation in Canada.

July 18, 2012

Noah Charney on "Art Crime in North America" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

A shorter version of this lecture was delivered via Skype to the conference entitled “Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation, and Prosecution of Art Crime,” organized by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policingand Security (CEPS) at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia on May 1-2, 2012. An extended version, including citations and new edits, will be published in two upcoming academic publications, both organized by CEPS.
Today I’m pleased to speak about art crime in North America. It is refreshing for me not to have to introduce art crime in general—if anyone knows about it, it will be my fellow speakers. So many of us are obliged to begin talks with an introduction to art crime, because the extent of it, and the facts obscured by fiction, film, and media misinterpretation, create a screen that can be difficult to see beyond. Even the facts, presented by reputable sources like the US Department of Justice, are not always clear and coherent. They rank art crime as the third highest-grossing criminal trade worldwide, behind only the drug and arms trades. This is based on a study that my friend and colleague, Vernon Rapley, could tell you more about—it was a combined Interpol and Scotland Yard study that was also integrated into the UK Threat Assessment in 2006/2007. Another number that we hear is that art crime is worth $6 billion per year. Of course no one has any real idea, and that number is little more than an arbitrary guess. It could only reflect the estimated black market value of art registered as stolen (meaning 7-10% of its estimated auction value, which is itself an unscientific measurement). If that number is correct, then art crime cannot be the third highest- grossing criminal trade. The number is far too low, and human trafficking, even illegal traffic of plants and animals, might be considered higher. We simply don’t know, which can be frustrating—it is also one of the reasons why art crime has gone relatively understudied until recent years. Criminologists shy away from a field such as this, which lacks extensive and accurate empirical data, and relies on macro-analysis from anecdotal material and the experience of those in the field, often related orally or even through the unreliable filter of the media.

March 29, 2012

Catching up with Judge Tompkins About his "Art Crime during Armed Conflict" course at the University of Waikato's Law School

University of Waikato's Law School
Judge Arthur Tompkins, an instructor at ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies, also taught a course in February in his home country.  ARCA Blog caught up with him to see how it went in New Zealand.

Tell us about the Art Crime course you presented earlier this year at the University of Waikato?

The University of Waikato's Law School hosted the course and offered it as a credit course to their own students.  It was also offered as a non-credit coruse through the Continuing Education arm of the University. The course was entitled "Art Crime during Armed Conflict", and, similarly to the course I teach in Amelia as part of the ARCA Postgraduate, it was a five-day intensive course, comprising 5 hours of teaching each day for a week during the height of our Southern Hemisphere summer. We cover two thousand years of the history of art crime during war, and the international and private law responses to it. And all in five fun-filled and fascinating days! 

We ended up with 16 students in the group, from three countries and two hemispheres, with the largest sub-group being law students (I was teaching the course within a Law School, after all!). But the class also included a working artist, two art historians, a police officer, a doctor, an art gallery director, a cultural heritage worker, and others.  It all made for a vibrant and energetic group, and we had some spirited discussions!  And on the last day, ARCA's Noah Charney was able to join us, via Skype, from Slovenia, which was a real highlight.

University of Waikato's campus
At least two of the group will be in Amelia for this year's Art Crime Conference on 23/24 June, and in addition, in the last few days, I have learnt that one of the group has been accepted into the full ARCA Postgraduate Program, so will get to spend the entire Italian summer living and studying in Amelia.

It is likely that the course will be offered every second year at Waikato University, so the next occasion will be in February 2014. I am presently investigating offering a similar course elsewhere in New Zealand in the intervening year.

What time period do students seem most interested in? Nazi theft?

The students were from a wide range of backgrounds and interests, as I said, and I think that as a result no one area or era stood out.  They have written (or are writing - the assignments from the for-credit students are due soon!) assignments on an equally wide range or topics - which is, I think, a testament to the breadth of scholarship that falls under the art crime umbrella.  And because the course covers not only the historical background to art crimes during wars over the centuries, but also the international and national legal responses, there is something of real interest there for everyone.

What do you think are the most contentious legal issues involved in conflict art?

Two difficult issues continue stand out for me - first, the return of objects taken during past armed conflict, that are held currently by a state or national institution, and where there is a call for return.  In that context no issue of private ownership arises, but rather the issue revolves around often contentious questions of the principles underlying the legal structures around the state's continued retention of the object, and the ability or willingness of a state, or its politicians, to relinquish possession. Secondly, the spectrum of responses by legal systems around the world to the bona fide purchaser rule - where someone has paid a reasonable price without knowledge of the fact that the item had in the past been stolen, do they or should they prevail over the original, dispossessed owner's rights? Different legal systems around the world adopt often mutually exclusive positions on this issue, and despite decades of work, the gulf remains unbridged.  We need to find some way of reconciling the irreconcilable!

In 2009 you spoke at the International Art Crime Conference in Amelia about a proposed International Art Crime Tribunal.  As you have now taught this course three times, how have your ideas about an IACT evolved? What would it take to make it happen and what do you think would be some of the first cases that you would like to see be dealt with?

I would still love to see such a Tribunal established, and nothing that I have seen or read or heard over the last three years has changed that view - to the contrary, there is still much to recommend it.  The United Kingdom's Spoliation Panel has shown that a tribunal can effectively apply both legal and moral criteria when resolving claims to disputed art, and, whilst effective in some cases, the litigation experience in the United States shows that the resolution of such disputes by "traditional" adversarial litigation brings with it inevitable constraints, in terms of access to justice, the restrictions inherent in the rules of evidence a court applies, and a likely win/lose result paradigm.  

What would it need to make this happen? As I said to the ARCA Conference in 2010, it needs a champion on the world stage, and a real commitment by a group of states with a single voice in the forums of international law - particularly the United Nations and within that, UNESCO - to make it happen.  Where either of those might be found, I do not know.  Until then, it will remain a lonely idea wandering at large in the world, although I was very heartened to hear Pablo Ferri support the idea at last year's ARCA Conference!  

By the way, I still think, for a whole lot of reasons, that Florence would be a very suitable seat for such a Tribunal!

September 9, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2011: Danelle Augustin Writes "A Different View of Art Crime: An Interview with Sculptor Nicolas Lobo"

Nicolas Lobo's Cough Syrup Play-Doh Diorama, 2007
In the Spring 2011 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, art historian Danelle Augustin interviews a Miami artist about the influence of illegality in his works in the interview "A Different view of Art Crime."

Augustin, a professor and attorney who lives and works in Miami, Florida, discussed the artist's works titled "Dummy Crack Doppelganger", "Cough Syrup Play-doh Diorama", and "Canario".

You may obtain a copy of this issue through ARCA's website or

August 26, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2011: Ludo Block on "European Police Cooperation on Art Crime: A Comparative Overview

Retired Dutch police officer Ludo Block writes on "European Police Cooperation on Art Crime: A Comparative Overview" in the fifth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011). This is Mr. Block's abstract:
The academic literature in the field of cross-border policing tends to concentrate exclusively on the high-level crimes -- drug trafficking, terrorism, and human trafficking -- that are so often the focus of transnational police cooperation in criminal investigations. There are, however, many other types of transnational crime, including the often neglected art crime, which may represent the third most profitable criminal enterprise in the world, outranked only by drug and arms trafficking. Drawing on existing literature and interviews with practitioners, this study provides a comparative overview of the policing efforts on art crime in a number of European Union (EU) member states and examines the relevant policy initiatives of the Council of the EU, Europol, and the European Police College. It also addresses existing practices of and obstacles to police cooperation in the field of art crime in the EU. The study reveals that EU police cooperation in this field occurs among a relatively small group of specialists and that -- particularly given the general lack of political and public attention -- the personal dedication of these specialists is an indispensable driver in this cooperation.
Ludo Block is a senior investigator at Grant Thornton Forensic & Investigation Services in Rotterdam (The Netherlands). Previously he served over 17 years with the Netherlands' police and held senior positions in the Amsterdam police. Between 1999 and 2004 he was stationed in Moscow as the Netherlands' police liaison officer for the Russian Federation and surrounding countries. Ludo holds a Masters in Social Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where he currently is finalizing his PhD (Public Administration) on European Police Cooperation.

You may purchase this issue through subscription through ARCA's website or through

August 24, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2011: David W. J. Gill and Christos Tsirogiannis on "Polaroids from the Medici Dossier: Continued Sightings on the Market"

"Bonhams withdraws Roman sculptures with 'Medici link' from auction"
Polaroid from the Medici Dossier and Bonhams Copyright [for the composition] David Gill.

David W. J. Gill and Christos Tsirogiannis have written on "Polaroids from the Medici Dossier: Continued Sightings on the Market" for the fifth issue of The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011) which can be purchased through subscription through ARCA's website or individually through This is the abstract for the article:
The series of returned antiquities to Italy have been a reminder of the role of Giacomo Medici in the movement of antiquities to North American public and private collections. A dossier of images was seized during a series of raids on premises in the Geneva Freeport linked to Medici. Such images have made it possible for the Italian authorities to make identifications with recently surfaced antiquities. In spite of the publicity some involved with the trade of antiquities continue to offer recently-surfaced objects that can be traced back to Medici and his consignments to the London market.
David Gill is Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at Swansea University, Wales, UK. He is a former Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome and was a member of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. He has published widely on archaeological ethics with Christopher Chippindale. He is currently completing a history of British archaeological work in Greece prior to the First World War.

Christos Tsirogiannis is a postgraduate research student at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. His PhD research, supervised by Christopher Chippindale and David Gill, is on the international implications of the Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides photographic archive. He has excavated in Attica, the Cyclades and on Ithaka. He was seconded by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Justice to research illicit antiquities. He was involved with the return of antiquities from the J. Paul Getty Museum to Greece.

April 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 - ,, No comments

Forging News (Part two of four): The News Media's Misrepresentation of the Art Criminal

by Katherine Ogden, ARCA Alum 2009

Worldly Perceptions: The Reporting of Art Crime Criminals in the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy

Ironically, while the news media thrives on images, when it comes to art crime, which is situated within an art world comprised of imagery, pictures are hard to come by. When a painting is stolen the public is typically presented with a stock photo of the missing painting, and occasionally a photo taken from a distance of the crime scene. Even more rarely the article may be accompanied by a blurry image of black-clothed thieves running from the scene of the crime. It is puzzling that when dealing with such a visual medium it is rare to find a photo of said criminal. This seems to be the case in each of the countries that were focused on for the purpose of this paper. We will start our study with the United Kingdom.

The two papers with the highest circulation in the United Kingdom are The Sun and The Daily Mail (Wikipedia). Both The Sun and The Daily Mail are considered tabloid papers, which indicates that the papers’ articles focus primarily on local interest stories and entertainment. This classification does not dictate that these papers do not report on international news or contain serious journalism, but it does suggest that they are inclined to offer their readers a larger portion of entertainment than hard news. This indication becomes obvious when analyzing some of the headlines associated with stolen art articles printed in The Sun.

On April 29, 2003, The Sun printed “Stolen Art found in the Loo-vre” which referred to stolen paintings, including a Van Gogh, found in public restroom, or loo (Cardy). The article explains that the paintings were found in the loo after being stolen from the Whitworth Art Gallery at The University of Manchester, but fails to mention key factors of the theft, such as the name of the Van Gogh painting or why they chose to implicate the Louvre even though the Louvre was not involved at any point. Quite amazingly, The Sun was able to provide photographs of before and after shots of the Van Gogh painting. The inclusion of the photographs is helpful because it shows how destructive art crime can be, however the photographs would have had a stronger impact had key information such as size, title, age, etc. been included in the story.
The Fortifications of Paris with Houses
Vincent van Gogh, 1887, water colour
Whitworth Art Gallery

Another headline found in The Sun, “Mob are Sculpture Vultures” refers to an unidentified gang that had allegedly stolen up to twenty metal sculptures from public spaces in the United Kingdom. Additionally this article included a sidebar, which asked, “What’ll crooks steel?” that listed other sculptures the thieves might be interested in procuring (Syson)(Plot). While these attention-grabbing headlines may be entertaining and grab the reader’s attention, they clearly diminish the severity of the crime being committed. Besides comical headlines, The Sun also has a tendency to focus on the sensationalism of the crime as opposed to the callousness of the criminal. There is little to no mention in either article of the criminal(s) associated with the crime. [You can read 'Mystery of the stolen Moore solved' here].

Terry Adams (Daily Mail)
As opposed to the attention grabbing headlines evident in The Sun, the United Kingdom’s other widely read paper The Daily Mail offers readers more developed articles that focus marginally more on the facts and slightly less on comedic value. Additionally, The Daily Mail is one of the few newspapers in our examination that mentions the art crime criminal. Not only does The Daily Mail mention the criminal, Terry Adams, but they also provide readers with a picture and a descriptive article in “Revealed: Godfather Adams’ 500,000 Aladdin’s Cave of stolen art and antiques”. The article explains how authorities found the items, which are also pictured, in the mob leader’s home. This article is revolutionary in the field of art crime reporting, not only because it mentions and provides photographs of an art crime criminal, but also because it highlights an often disputed direct link between organized crime and art crime.

Overall, the news media outlets of the United Kingdom, primarily The Sun and The Daily Mail, focus on the details regarding the crime, sometimes the details regarding the recovery, and rarely the details regarding the art crime criminal. This is not entirely different from the way that news media outlets in the United States portray art crime. The two top circulated news publications in the United States are The Wall Street Journal and USA Today (Wikipedia). However, since there were no examples of articles written on art crime in The Wall Street Journal, this paper will focus instead on USA Today and The New York Times which is the third most widely circulated news publication in the United States (Wikipedia).

The LAPD released images of
the stolen Warhol paintings
An article published in USA Today on September 12, 2009, “Warhol’s sports superstar pieces stolen from L.A. home,” has all the markings of a traditional art crime article published in the United States (Associated Press). Along with copious mention of the monetary value of the paintings and corresponding reward money, a typical call to arms regarding the state of insurance for the art collection in question is also included. American art crime articles typically attempt to place blame with the owner for either having or neglecting to have an insurance policy for their collection. In either instance the news media finds fault. If the owner has insurance and works go missing the owner is often accused of hiring someone to steal the paintings in order to collect the insurance money. This is precisely what occurred with this Warhol case in a follow-up article entitled Insurance Waived in Warhol Theft Case, where the owner is called into question for refusing to accept the insurance premium. Why is the American news media so quick to place blame on the victim and yet so slow to call for the criminals accountability? In this particular case, the reporter has committed a great disservice to the audience by not explaining that in most cases by refusing the insurance payout, the owner is still hoping the artwork(s) will be found and returned. If the artwork is found and the owner has already accepted a payout from the insurance company, the owner forfeits their ownership rights and the insurance company acquires the title to the recovered pieces. From this standpoint, one would presume that refusal to accept an insurance payout would be further proof that the owner did not hire a thief to steal the artwork so that they could profit from the insurance.

Moreover if you were to compare this case to an automobile theft, would the news media be so quick to place blame on the owner for the theft? Granted the notoriety and money would not be proportional, but the percentage of the value of an insurance payout for a car is similar to that for a piece of art. Throughout the course of this study it has become evident that the public’s resentment towards private collectors, fueled by the news media, exists because of a distaste towards the collectors’ ability to own something of such astronomical value. Since the news media continually cultivates this sentiment, the importance of identifying and prosecuting the criminal that steals such objects is lost in the cloud of resentment. It is almost as if a sense of appropriateness has been created in a Robin Hood sense of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, even though art crime criminals are no Robin Hoods.

Moving onto The New York Times and an article that ran on February 28, 2007, titled Purloined Picassos in Paris. This piece reports on the theft of multiple Picassos from the home of Picasso’s daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Although the alliterative headline does not mention the monetary value of the stolen paintings, the first sentence displays the 65 million dollar figure quite prominently. Which brings us to a new issue, why is it a problem that the American news media focuses on the values associated with art crime? This has to do with the fact that by advertising reported values; the news media is giving thieves an inflated view of the value of a stolen painting.

On February 1, 1976, 119 paintings by Pablo Picasso were reported stolen from the Papal Palace at Avignon in France (Unknown, Picasso Theft Valued at $4.5 Million). This theft occurred at a time when thefts of master paintings in France had risen from 1,500 in 1970 to 5,000 in 1976 (Unknown, Picasso Theft Valued at $4.5 Million). This rise in thefts of master paintings coincides with an increase of record-breaking publicized sales of masterworks by the news media and began with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s purchase of Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer in 1961 (Knox). The morning after the purchase The New York Times’ front page had the bold headline “Museum Gets Rembrandt for 2.3 Million,” which the article then went on to explain was the highest price paid for a piece of art in history (Knox). After this purchase the values of other master artists rose as well, including Pablo Picasso. It is believed that the Corsican Mafia carried out the theft of the 119 paintings by Picasso, although following the initial theft there has only been one mention of leads and no mention of recovery in the media (Charney).

What the comprehensive review of news media in the United States regarding art crime criminals has shown is a large absence of the art crime criminal. News media outlets in the United States prefer to focus on monetary values associated with thefts, the thematic quality of the thefts, and rarely on the recovery of thefts. Which brings us to our final focus, the news media in Italy. The top two news publications in Italy are La Gazzetta dello Sport and La Repubblica, since the main focus of La Gazzetta dello Sport is sports, we will be focusing on the third top news publication Corriere della Sera (Wikipedia).

The first thing you will notice about the mention of art crimes in Italian news media outlets is that the monetary value of the object is rarely mentioned. This can be attributed to the strong connection that Italians have with their culture, it is a relationship that does not exist to such a degree in the United Kingdom or the United States. In Italian news media the word art is often replaced by treasure or treasures, such as the following headline from the March 12, 2004 edition of La Repubblica, “Recuperati dai carabinieri tesori d' arte rubati 15 anni fa” which translates to “Treasures recovered by art police stolen 15 years ago” (Staff, Recuperati dai carabinieri tesori d' arte rubati 15 anni fa). The article explains that these items were stolen, taken apart, and reassembled in order to be sold to private collectors. The article reads more like a missing persons report than a record of loss of monetary value, and this may be due to the Italian’s deep bond with their culture and their history, Italians as a whole see a lost work of art as a deprivation to society.

In the summer of 2009, while speaking to a group at a conference in Amelia, Italy, Vice Comandante Cortellessa of the Italian Carabinieri’s Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage was asked if the focus of recovering art was on the artwork or the criminal, and if he had to choose one, which would he choose (Cortellessa). Vice Comandante Cortellessa responded that art is irreplaceable and that he and his men always work to secure the art first, the criminal second. He added that criminals will always commit crimes, so he can always catch the criminal another time, he may not have a second chance to recover a piece of stolen art. This connection with art is what separates the Italians from much of the rest of the world. Additionally, this connection with art previously led to the creation of the Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the elevation of art crime as serious in the national media landscape.

An additional difference between Italian news media and the others we have discussed is their constant praise for the Carabinieri for the recovery of stolen goods. In Corriere della Sera, an article published on July 15, 2009, “Tresori etruschi in vendita ai russi
la finanza sequestra reperti rubati” commended the police for the capture of a car filled with Italian antiquities headed to Russia for sale (Staff, Tesori etruschi in vendita ai russi la finanza sequestra reperti rubati). Again there is no mention of the monetary value of these items. While the Italian news media outlets are more proactive in the fight against art crime, they too tend to ignore the actual art criminals. However, the news media’s focus on the recovery and prevention of art crime is a decidedly different approach to the reporting of art crime and leads to headlines such as this one from the November 16, 2009 edition of Corriere della Sera “Furti d'arte, calo nel 2009
” which translates to “Thefts of art drop in 2009” (Staff, Furti d'arte, calo nel 2009).