Monday, January 17, 2005

Screaming for security

New FBI Task Force to Focus on Art Theft (excerpts)

PHILADELPHIA - Art theft may conjure up images of a suave movie villain creeping through a dark gallery or last year's bold daylight robbery of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" from a Norway museum. Most art heists, however, are far more subtle, involving forged documents, fake prints or smuggled cultural artifacts that slowly make their way into the hands of private owners or museums.

It's also a huge industry: Interpol ranks it third among property crimes worldwide.

A new national FBI (news - web sites) task force on stolen art hopes to learn more about the global trade and how to tackle it with the help of professionals and scholars in museums,
as well as art and antiques dealers.

Worldwide, only 5 percent to 10 percent of artwork reported stolen is recovered, said Lynne Richardson, who manages the art theft program at FBI headquarters in Washington. The group wants to learn more about how purloined art makes its way to U.S. shores.

The article makes me happy. In light of the guy and his mom last week, coupled with the losses because of them (but at least they got jail time), I am glad to see that officials are taking it seriously. It is not only important for the art, it is important for the buyers to know that what they're getting is stolen or for in-the-know buyers to get busted, too. It's a win-win situation and I can't believe that, with its ranking as 3rd among property crimes worldwide, that it hasn't been seriously addressed sooner. Fodder for more research by me, I guess.

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