Friday, October 19, 2012

High-End Art Heist Reveals Facts About Art Crime

Seven masterpieces, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Monet worth over $100 million collectively, were stolen earlier this week from a Dutch museum. Thieves broke into the Kunsthal in Rotterdam at 3 AM and made off with the paintings before anyone could stop them. The director of the Kunsthal, Emily Ansenk, described it as, "every museum director's worst nightmare," and then went on to characterize the museum's security as "state of the art." But according to THIS Associated Press story, the Kunsthal had no security guards on-site, despite the pricelessness of the works on display inside. If Ms. Ansenk considers that "state of the art" security, I'd be worried if I were the owner of the works (the Triton Foundation) that she characterized their insurance coverage as merely "adequate."

This 2 minute story about the heist from ABC World News noted a couple of interesting tangential facts.  Apparently less than 10% of stolen art is ever recovered.  And yet the paintings are almost valueless to the thieves because they are un-saleable. As is to be expected, no legitimate dealer, museum, or private collector would buy the works.  But surprisingly, 'experts' cited in this piece aver that there isn't really a worldwide black market for stolen high-end art either. That assertion shocks me.

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