Sunday, September 2, 2007

Commissioned Art Thefts

National Post [Canada]
1 Sept 2007

Art theft ranked as fourth-largest criminal enterprise

By Cameron Skene, CanWest News Service

[...] Hollywood portrayals of art theft perpetuate the idea that it's a non-violent, victimless crime, says Simon Houpt, author of The Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft.

So who really steals the stuff, and why? The prevailing myth of Mr. Big, the mysterious collector who commissions theft for the pure pleasure of ownership, is roundly dismissed by experts. Richard Ellis, a 10-year veteran of the Art and Antiquities Squad at the New Scotland Yard, is blunt: "I do not think they exist. It's a bit of nonsense.

Nobody has ever come across any evidence that such collections exist."

Mr. Houpt agrees: "I don't know any collector that doesn't like to show off his collection. And you can't do that if you've commissioned a theft." [...]