Thieves have fancy tastes. At least that’s how it looks, since art theft is the No. 3 criminal enterprise in the world (behind drug trafficking and weapons trafficking), says Interpol. About $7 billion in fine art is stolen each year, and only 20% is ever found. Why?
Even top museums and collectors often have terrible security. The Louvre in Paris has been robbed during busy visiting hours. When specific works disappear, police often suspect that they were “stolen to order.” And once stolen, art can go on strange journeys—ending up in the hands of South American drug traffickers or even Serbian war criminals, reports “Art & Antiques”
But art theft isn’t as lucrative as it might seem: Stolen works often sell for just 10% of their actual value. Still, insurers must pay top dollar in compensation for looted art.
This Rembrandt painting was stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 and never recovered. (Photo not shown herein)
PAGE 14 • AUGUST 17, 2003
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