How to Report Stolen Artwork

Art theft has been a common practice for criminals due to the heavy price tag attached to valuable pieces. Most artwork is sold for millions in the black market, possessed, traded for drugs or simply held for ransom. It has been reported that art theft is the third most profitable business after drugs and unlawful arms sales. Many English movies have covered the subject and provided a resourceful insight on how art collectors make millions in the process. As of today, the biggest art heist took place in 1990, where reported items of worth $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The transaction however, is not a straightforward process, and therefore, involves some big game players, the identities of most are unknown to the general public.


  • 1

    Increase the awareness of the stolen item. It is the first step to take, where a person will need to alert the police authorities, who will then spread the world regarding the stolen art work and the missing individuals. For small cases, such as private stealing, the local police are likely to perform all the necessary duties, such as gathering information, seaingl the location etc. However, if the case has national significance i.e. art work stolen from a public place, Interpol – the International police organization- will get involved.

  • 2

    Vacate the area as quickly as possible in order to protect the crime scene. Make sure you avoid touching anything at the crime scene as police will gather the basic evidence from there such as fingerprints, foot prints etc. After the police have investigated thoroughly, then conduct your own research and find the items which have been stolen. As for public theft, the Interpol will run the stolen work on their online database to check whether it has been reported. With time, they can also check whether the stolen artwork has been recorded, despite the identity of the owner unknown.

  • 3

    In most cases, you will need to fill out a form, and report the specifics of your art work which will include name, picture, dimensions, and other relevant additional information. The process will take time so it is important that you provide all necessary details.

  • 4

    Obtain your copy of the report you have filed, and contact your insurance company. In the meanwhile, create as much awareness you can about the stolen item.

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