International Foundation for Art Research
International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is a non-profit organization which was established to channel and coordinate scholarly and technical information about works of art. IFAR provides an administrative and legal framework within which experts can express their objective opinions. This data is made available to individuals, associations and government agencies.
- IFAR functions as a step towards more regularized attribution protocols in which the question is not the importance of the attribution but the correctness of it.
- IFAR is actively involved in the legal, ethical, and educational issues surrounding the ownership and theft of art.
Founding members of the privately funded foundation were:
- Harry Bober, New York University, Institute of Fine Arts
- Jose Lopez-Rey, NYU Institute of Fine Arts
- Lewis Goldenberg, Wildenstein & Co, New York
- Peregrine Pollen, Park-Bernet Galleries, New York
- John Rewald, University of Chicago
- Joseph Rothman, New York Attorney General, art frauds
The first Advisory council members were:
- Diego Angulo Íñiguez, Prado Museum, Madrid
- Francois Daulte, Bibliotheque des Arts, Lausanne
- Charles Durand-Ruel, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paris
- Lloyd Goodrich, Whitney Museum, New York
- Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
- Lawrence Majiewski, Conservation Center, NYU Institute of Fine Arts
In 1989, IFAR had become "a very grand-sounding name for what is really just three smart, dedicated, underpaid women who are among the nation's leading experts on stolen and forged art." Constance Lowenthal, Margaret I. O'Brien and Virgilia H. Pancost work in an Upper East Side office which contains 30,000 files documenting stolen art cases. The three-rooms were on the fourth floor of the Explorers Club, on East 70th Street.
IFAR compiled information about stolen art; and by 1990, IFAR was updating its catalogue of stolen art 10 times a year. In 1991, IFAR helped to establish the Art Loss Register (ALR) as a commercial enterprise. IFAR managed ALR's U.S. operations through 1997. In 1998, ALR assumed full responsibility for the database although IFAR retains ownership.
In response to the growth and development of IFAR, museum officials have revised some policies based on an assumption that discussing theft would scare away potential donors. The change from policies of secrecy to ones which emphasize openness was gradual, mirroring an expectation that publicizing theft is likely to promote recovery.
- Selected timeline
- 1998: The World Jewish Congress established the Commission for Art Recovery to recover art taken from Jewish collectors before and during World War II . Constance Lowenthal, then executive director of the IFAR, was selected as its initial executive director.
- 1997: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington started the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) in order to document and publish Jewish artwork which still remains missing. HARP developed and maintains an archive and database for families who have lost works and want to find them. HARP will not seek recover art.
- 1990: Artworks stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston include Vermeer's Concert, three Rembrandts and five works by Degas.
- 1989: IFAR received reports of about 5,000 thefts.
- Glueck, Grace. "Art Group Is Set Up To Judge Attribution," New York Times. May 8, 1970.
- IFAR: About IFAR, Art Theft Database
- Winerip, Michael. "The Ultimate Marketplace; Hot on the Trail of Missing Masterpieces," New York Times. November 12, 1989.
- Yarrow, Andrew L. "A Lucrative Crime Grows Into a Costly Epidemic," New York Times. March 20, 1990.
- Dobrzynski, Judith H. "For What Nazis Stole, A Longtime Art Hound," New York Times. November 29, 1997.
- Feliciano, Hector. (1997). The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 978-0-465-04194-7; OCLC 36446851
- Houpt, Simon and Julian Radcliffe. (2006). Museum of the Missing: a History of Art Theft. New York: Sterling Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4027-2829-7; OCLC 67375076
- Nicholas, Lynn H. (1994). The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War. New York City: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-679-40069-1; OCLC 32531154