The Art Loss Register

Relevant Literature

The ALR have contributed to a number of books on the subject of art theft and missing art pieces.

Stolen: The Gallery of Missing Masterpieces
Jonathan Webb (Author), Julian Radcliffe (Introduction)

This is an overview of the booming business of art theft and a look at more than 200 of the world's missing masterpieces - paintings, sculptures, and artifacts which have disappeared and are not likely to be seen in public again.

Filled with wonderful images, notes about why the pieces are important and descriptions of the circumstances in which the works were taken accompany each picture. The result is a fascinating look at the world of art theft and the masterpieces that have been lost. Julian Radcliffe, the head of the Art Loss Register in London, has been the consultant adviser on this important project.

Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft
Simon Houpt (Author), Julian Radcliffe (Foreword)

"Museum of the Missing" offers readers a rare glimpse of the greatest gallery that never was. Simon Houpt brilliantly recounts the story of its valuable holdings and investigates some of the men and women involved in the thefts.

Filled with beautiful paintings and rarely seen photographs, this intriguing book is also a recognition of the ingenious few who are trying to get these treasures back.


Many other books about art crime also mention us. These are listed below.

Art and Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World
Noah Charney (Editor), John Stubbs (Afterword)

Through the use of case examples and careful examination, this book presents the first interdisciplinary essay collection on the study of art crime, and its effect on all aspects of the art world.

Contributors discuss art crime subcategories, including vandalism, iconoclasm, forgery, fraud, peace-time theft, war looting, archaeological looting, smuggling, submarine looting and ransom.

The contributors offer insightful analyses coupled with specific practical suggestions to implement in the future to prevent and address art crime. This work is of critical importance to anyone involved in the art world, its trade, study and security.

Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage
James Cuno (Author)

Whether antiquities should be returned to the countries where they were found is one of the most urgent and controversial issues in the art world today, and it has pitted museums, private collectors and dealers against source countries, archaeologists and academics.

Maintaining that the acquisition of undocumented antiquities by museums encourages the looting of archaeological sites, countries such as Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey and China have claimed ancient artifacts as state property, called for their return from museums around the world, and passed laws against their future export.

But in "Who Owns Antiquity?", one of the world's leading museum directors vigorously challenges this nationalistic position, arguing that it is damaging and often disingenuous. "Antiquities," James Cuno argues, "are the cultural property of all humankind [...] evidence of the world's ancient past and not that of a particular modern nation. They comprise antiquity, and antiquity knows no borders."

Stealing the Scream: The Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece
Edward Dolnick (Author)

One morning in 1994, two men in a stolen car skid to a halt in front of Norway's National Gallery. Minutes later, they roar off with Edvard Munch's iconic, tortured, best-known work. In desperation, Norwegian police call on the world's greatest art detective - Scotland Yard's enigmatic, irascible, brilliant Charley Hill. The hunt for The Scream will either cap his career or end in a fiasco that will dog him forever...

An 'utterly captivating read' (City AM). '"Stealing the Scream" is a thrilling tale of the hunt to recover a $72 million masterpiece. [Protagonist] Hill regards art crime as "serious farce" and that's just how Dolnick plays it, with journalistic verve, in this enjoyable book.' (Guardian). This book is the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for the Best Factual Crime book.

Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art
Joshua Knelman (Author)

It began with a burglary at a local art gallery and turned into an international investigation. Hot Art traces Joshua Knelman’s five-year immersion in the shadowy world of art theft, where he uncovers a devious game that takes him from Egypt to Los Angeles, New York to London, and back again, through a web of deceit, violence, and corruption. 

With a cool, knowing eye, Knelman delves into the lives of professionals such as Paul, a brilliant working-class kid who charmed his way into a thriving career organizing art thefts, and LAPD detective Donald Hrycyk, one of the few special investigators worldwide who struggle to keep pace with the evolving industry of stolen art. As he becomes more and more immersed in this world, Knelman learns that art theft has evolved into one of the largest black markets in the world, which even Interpol and the FBI admit they cannot contain. Sweeping and fast-paced, "Hot Art" takes readers into a criminal underworld like no other.

Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners
Sandy Nairne (Author)

The theft of high-profile works of art is not new and recurs on a fairly regular basis. In 1994, two important paintings by J.M.W Turner (then valued at £24 million) were stolen from a public gallery in Frankfurt while on loan from the Tate in London. Sandy Nairne, who was then Director of Programmes at the Tate, became centrally involved in the pursuit of the pictures and in the negotiation for their return.

In "Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners" he relates for the first time this complex, cloak-and-dagger story of the theft, the many efforts to regain the paintings and the final return of the pictures in 2002 to public display at the Tate.


The Recovery of Stolen Art
Norman Palmer (Editor)

This volume represents an important academic and practical initiative. It comprises a collection of essays by eminent academics and practitioners examining in detail the law relating to the recovery of stolen works of art and antiquities. The timing of the publication coincides with public debate on both the national and international fronts of issues of ethics, law and morality relating to the return of looted, stolen and unlawfully excavated art works.

The UNIDROIT Convention will enter into force later this year, and a number of countries are actively considering its adoption. This consideration itself forces examination of the current regimes, since the Convention itself will not be retroactive in force.

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
Robert K. Wittman (Author), John Shiffman (Author)

In "Priceless", Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival "The Thomas Crown Affair".

Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.

In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: the golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king; the Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement; the headdress Geronimo wore at his final Pow-Wow; the rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments.

New Report: Cultural Objects: developments since 2000, First Report of Session 2003-04
House of Commons: Culture, Media and Sport Committee

In June 2000 the previous Committee reported on the illicit trade in culture property and issues around the return of items from museums and galleries. This further Report, prompted by looting in Iraq and implications for the London art market, finds a distinct lack of progress with the Government’s cultural property agenda.

Our predecessor recommended: a national database of stolen and illegally removed cultural property; the criminalisation of dealing in such property; accession to an appropriate international convention; and – whilst affirming the concept of world class museums with global collections – legislation to permit museum and galleries to return objects in two categories: human remains and material illegally removed by the Nazis during the period 1933 to 1945 (‘spoliation’).

The Government accepted these recommendations but there have been few concrete achievements.

Archaeology, Cultural Property, and the Military
Laurie Rush (Editor)

Various international conventions have suggested, with differing levels of emphasis, the requirement for armed forces preparing for conflict to make provision for the identification and protection of the cultural heritage that may be at risk.

The experience of the recent, and continuing, conflict in Iran, from the looting of the Iraq National Museum to the damage to archaeological sites caused by both Iraqi and coalition forces, has served to underline the fact that these responsibilities are not high on the agenda of military planners. However, since the invasion, cultural property officers, academics, and military archaeologists have been working together to address this problem: their goals include changing military policy, provision and effective use of planning information, and improving archaeological awareness amongst the personnel involved.

Drawing on major contributions from seven armed forces, amongst others, this book aims to set out the obligations to protect cultural heritage under international Conventions; provide a series of case studies of current military practice; and outline the current efforts to enhance this. It will be a vital benchmark for the future development of training and raising of awareness within other armed forces.

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