Art and Crime

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Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World is a collection of essays edited by art historian and writer Noah Charney, published in 2009 by Praeger Press. The collection includes essays by professors, lawyers, police, security directors, archaeologists, art historians, and members of the art trade, on the subject of art crime (including theft and forgery) and protection of cultural heritage. It was the first book published under the auspices of ARCA (The Association for Research into Crimes against Art), an international non-profit think tank and research group which studies art crime. All profits from the sale of this book go directly to support ARCA’s charitable activities in defense of art.


Art crime has received relatively little scholarly attention. And yet it involves a multi-billion dollar legitimate industry, with a conservatively-estimated $6 billion annual criminal profit. (US Department of Justice website) Information and scholarly analysis of art crime is critical to the wide variety of fields involved in the art trade and art preservation, from museums to academia, from auction houses to galleries, from insurance to art law, from policing to security. Since the Second World War, art crime has evolved from a relatively innocuous crime, into the third highest-grossing annual criminal trade worldwide, run primarily by organized crime syndicates, and therefore funding their other enterprises, from the drug and arms trades to terrorism. It is no longer merely the art that is at stake.

The book is an interdisciplinary essay collection on the study of art crime, and its effect on all aspects of the art world. Essayists discuss art crime subcategories, including vandalism, iconoclasm, forgery, fraud, peace-time theft, war looting, archaeological looting, smuggling, submarine looting, and ransom. The contributors conclude their analyses with specific practical suggestions to implement in the future.


Author Essay Subject/notes
Noah Charney Introduction to Art & Crime & Art Crime in Context Introduction to the book
Derek Fincham The Fundamental Importance of Archaeological Context Importance of protecting archaeological sites from looters
David Gill Homecomings: Learning from the Return of Antiquities to Italy Italy's pursuit of its artifacts from collections around the world
Toby Bull Lack of Due Diligence & Unregulated Markets: Trade in Illicit Antiquities & Fakes in Hong Kong, China Art crime in China and the Hong Kong art market
A. J. G. Tijhuis Who Is Stealing All Those Paintings? Criminological categorization of art thieves
Silvia Loreti The Affair of the Statuettes Re-Examined: Picasso & Apollinaire's Role in the Famed Louvre Theft The theft of Mona Lisa, and Guillaume Apollinaire and Pablo Picasso's roles in thefts from the Louvre, Paris
Bojan Dobovšek Art, Terrorism & Organized Crime Balkan organised crime
Kenneth Polk and Duncan Chappell Fakes and Deception: Examining Fraud in the Art Market The criminal justice system's attitude to art crime
Dorit Straus Implication of Art Theft in the Fine Art Insurance Industry Inner workings of the insurance industry
Judah Best Trepidations of a Private Art Collector The risks to the private collector of art
Colonel Giovanni Pastore Defending Art Italian police officer, head of Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage on his career
Dennis Ahern & Anthony Amore Q&A with Two Revolutionary Security Directors The security directors of the Tate Galleries and Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Stevan P. Layne Exercises in Futility: The Pursuit of Protecting Art Advice on museum security
Dick Drent Exhibition Security: Regular, Customized or Tailor Fit. Security approach in Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Travis McDade The Quiet Crime: An Introduction to the World of Rare Book, Map and Document Theft Map and rare book thefts
John Kleberg Unexpected and Accessible: Threats to University Collections University art collections
Richard Oram & Ann Hartley Bringing It All Back Home: Recovery of Stolen Special Collections Materials Recovery in high-profile cases
Judge Arthur Tompkins Art Theft: Heralds of Change in the International Legal Landscape. Legal analysis focussing on theft of maps from Museo del Prado in Spain
Dafydd Nelson Economic Woe, Art Theft and Money Laundering – A Perfect Recipe How to regulate the world art trade
Erik Nemeth The Artifacts of Wartime Art Crime: Evidence for a Model of the Evolving Clout of Cultural Property in Foreign Affairs Wartime looting
John Stubbs Why Masterpieces Matter: Some Dogmatic Reflections Conclusion reflecting on the importance of art


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