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Art crime represents the third highest grossing criminal enterprise worldwide, behind only drugs and arms trafficking. It brings in $2-6 billion per year, most of which goes to fund international organized crime syndicates. Most art crime since the 1960s is perpetrated either by, or on behalf of, international organized crime syndicates.* They either use stolen art for resale, or to barter on a closed black market for an equivalent value of goods or services. Individually instigated art crimes are rare, and art crimes perpetrated for private collectors are rarest of all. One of the greatest problems is that neither the general public, nor government officials, realize the severity of art crime.  Art crime funds all organized crime enterprises, including terrorism. And yet it is often dismissed as a victimless crime, because it is not understood. Italy has by far the most art crime, with approximately 20,000 art thefts reported each year.  Russia has the second most, with

BRAFA 2012

Record attendance, a noticeable increase in quality, steady sales: the BRAFA confirms its growing stature At the opening of this 57th edition, the exhibition President, Bernard De Leye, stated his aim of ‘moving the BRAFA up a notch each year’. An objective that has clearly been achieved. With an increase in quality noted by press and visitors, a high level of sales and record attendance figures (46,096), the BRAFA has reached a new milestone in its development and is continuing to confirm its position among the major gatherings of the art market. The BRAFA is the first event of the year in the art world calendar and many observers were curious to see how buyers would behave. The positive signs apparent from the opening evenings set the scene for the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that prevailed throughout the entire event. Some significant results were recorded on the opening evenings. Including an almost complete sell-out for a few exhibitors, such as Didier Claes

Looters plunder $8.5M from Ivory Coast museum

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Looters stormed Ivory Coast’s national museum during the country’s bloody political crisis earlier this year, plundering nearly $8.5 million worth of art including the institution’s entire gold collection. Five months later, the museum’s gates still open and close at the posted hours, but empty display cases gather dust. A lone set of elephant tusks sits in the dark in the museum’s main exposition room. And staff member Oumar Gbane now spends his days making a handwritten inventory of what was stolen since his computer was among the items taken. “No tourists can come here. There is nothing to see,” he laments. The pillage was the first in the museum’s 70-year history. Doran Ross, former director of the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, says the Abidjan museum used to be “one of the best maintained in Africa.” Student groups and tourists once filled the museum’s halls to view the corpse-like Senoufo statues depicting

Interpol stolen art database

On August 17, Interpol announced that it had “established direct online access to authorized users via a secure website to its international database on stolen works as part of its fight against the illicit trade of stolen cultural property.” Recently, I was granted access to this database of some 34,000 stolen works of art, and so decided to examine its contents. After obtaining access, my first thought was to see how updated is the database. Impressively, the recent missing Roerich paintings were listed; however, “Talung Monastery” had not yet been posted as “discovered” (the term Interpol uses for recovered/returned art). My next search was for the Picasso sketchbook stolen from the Picasso Museum in Paris. This was quite a pleasure because the database actually provides one with images of the sketchbook’s binding in addition to all thirty three sketches found between its covers. Certainly, these images will now make it harder for the thieves should they attempt to

8th Meeting of the INTERPOL Expert Group (IEG) on Stolen Cultural

Property – Lyon, 5-6 April 2011 The participants of the 8th Meeting of the INTERPOL Expert Group (IEG) on Stolen Cultural Property, held in Lyon, France on 5-6 April 2011: CONSCIENT of the threats to cultural heritage in countries and regions affected by civil unrest, armed conflicts and natural catastrophes, and the high risk of illicit trafficking in unlawfully removed cultural property, CALL UPON UNESCO, ICOM and INTERPOL to rapidly collect and disseminate information on cultural goods particularly at risk, AWARE of the urgent need to enable all countries to effectively combat illicit trafficking in cultural property from these countries, ENCOURAGE ICOM to continue to publish Red Lists of cultural objects at risk, RECOGNIZING the need for specific skills in order to effectively fight the illicit trafficking in cultural property, INVITE INTERPOL and its member countries, as well as international Organizations to organize and contribute

Protecting fine art against high temperatures

NEW YORK (AP). - Temperatures getting a little uncomfortable? Your artwork and antiques are probably feeling the humidity as much as you are. Paintings and works of art on paper expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, say experts with Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. That can cause surface distortions, flaking paint, growth of mold, staining or decay. It’s not only the summer months that pose a threat to your most cherished pieces, either. Furniture and gilded frames can dry and shrink during the winter, while wood absorbs moisture when it’s humid. If the gesso primer layer beneath your frame isn’t thick enough to flex with the expansion and contraction of the wood, then it will flake and detach. Chubb gives these tips to protect your art from deterioration: Keep the temperature and humidity in your home as constant as possible, around 60 to 80 degrees and 55 to 65 percent relative humidity. Use an air conditioner in the summer and a humidifier