Request a search of the Art Loss Register’s database to discover whether an item has been registered as stolen, missing, subject to a dispute, or reported with authenticity issues.
Increasingly, the value of any valuable possession depends on the ability to demonstrate clear title and evidence of its undisputed ownership since creation. Continuing reports of international art theft indicate that many stolen works of art must be traded every year, with thieves seeking to secure a profit selling to innocent purchasers.
The benefits of searching the ALR database are twofold:
To the purchaser, a search minimises the chance of acquiring a work of art which has been stolen. Alternatively there may be some question concerning its past ownership, which could have a substantial impact on its future value and marketability.
To the vendor, a search not only minimises the chance of acquiring or dealing in stolen items, but also acts as an encouragement to buyers to know that they are acquiring the work with good title.
Given the range of items traded and the complexities of an international market, all search requests require detailed professional investigation and are carried out by the ALR’s trained art experts.
The process starts with your completion of the online search form and wherever possible the attachment of a clear photographic image. Following payment of the search fee a comparison with the half a million items on the database will then be carried out. If these procedures do not reveal an issue with the item then you will be emailed an ALR certificate, which confirms that at the date that the search was made the item had not been registered as stolen, or subject to an issue, on the database.
Please note that in order for us to issue a certificate, for each item searched we require a minimum provenance of at least the current ownership, to include details of the type of collection (e.g. private collection, dealer, museum), its location and date of acquisition. Please provide any earlier provenance wherever possible. Some high-risk items, such as artworks created prior to World War Two or antiquities, may require more than the minimum provenance outlined above. Please note that in those cases where minimum provenance is not provided or insufficient information is given for high-risk items, the ALR will not be able to issue a certificate.
Searches can be paid for either on the basis of a 25 search subscription at a cost of £500, US$800 or €700 (plus VAT where applicable), or as single searches carried out and paid for on the website at the time of submission using any of the major credit cards. The fees for single searches are £60, US$95 or €80 (plus VAT where applicable). Any unused search credits expire 1 year from date of purchase. The search fee is due even if a certificate cannot be issued, and the ALR reserves the right not to issue a certificate if, in its sole judgment, it believes that it is not appropriate to do so.
This process usually takes two working days, although more time may be required for items that necessitate further research, such as works at high risk of having been looted during the period 1933-45, and antiquities.
If you require an urgent search of the ALR’s database then please contact the ALR via firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)20 7841 5780. If all necessary information is provided and no further detailed provenance research is required a response can be given to an urgent search within one working day, or same day if possible. An urgent search will cost £250, US$ 400, or €300 (plus VAT where applicable).
In order to maintain their value to the Art Trade it is essential that ALR certificates are not issued on the basis of incomplete or inadequately researched information. Therefore if any further information is needed or additional research required the ALR will notify the searcher of what is believed to be necessary and inform them of any further costs that might be incurred in carrying out such research.