by Anja Shortland
Countless dollars of art are stolen or looted every year, yet governments often consider art theft a luxury problem. With limited public law enforcement, what prevents thieves, looters and organised criminal gangs from flooding the market with stolen art? How can theft victims get justice – even decades after their loss? What happens if the legal definition of a good title is at odds with what is morally right? Enter the Art Loss Register, a private database dedicated to tracking down stolen artworks. Blocking the sale of disputed artworks creates a space for private resolutions – often amicable and sometimes entertainingly adversarial. This book is based on ten cases from the Art Loss Register’s archive, showing how restitutions were negotiated, how priceless objects were retrieved from the economic underworld and how thieves and fences end up in court and behind bars. A fascinating guide to the dark side of the global art market.