The FBI works in conjunction with Interpol and Art Theft squads from Australia, the New Scotland Yard, and others in Europe, to recover art stolen overseas. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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  FBI & Interpol Fight Art Theft


 The FBI works in conjunction with Interpol and Art Theft squads from Australia, the New Scotland Yard, and others in Europe, to recover art stolen overseas.

While fraud is one of the main concerns in the United States art community, Art Theft Program Manager Lynne Chaffinch says that extortion is the big problem overseas, where art is used to launder drug money. Drug money is used to purchase stolen art, which is then sold for clean money. Sometimes, art is traded directly for drugs. Thieves are "much more organized overseas. They work in groups. It's just not like that here [in the United States]," says Ms. Chaffinch.

In addition, Ms. Chaffinch says that in Europe, "church thefts are huge. [The stolen items] have great historical value, but the moral offense is to such a degree that there's a particular problem, especially in the Czech Republic." She explains that in Europe, particularly in the Eastern European countries, items stolen from churches are nearly impossible to recover.

While the items have been in the churches' possession for hundreds of years, one critical step is often overlooked. "These items often have no documentation: no photos, no descriptive information. Without the documentation, they cannot be added to the National Stolen Art File and we cannot make a recovery without that documentation."

Ms. Chaffinch encourages anyone who collects art to have proper documentation of the art they possess. Physical descriptions help, but "even snapping a photograph of it will increase the chances of its recovery significantly," if it is ever stolen.

Once a piece is added to the National Stolen Art File, it remains there until it is recovered.

For more information about the FBI Art Theft Program and specific art thefts, please follow the Related Stories links to the left.

Useful links for art theft are:

 


 

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