ALR Newsletter Issue 20 – May 2021

ALR Newsletter
Issue 20 – May 2021


The Return of the King(s): Lions come home to Cornwall

Hot off the press from the Antiques Trade Gazette

We all know that art or objects can mean far more to us than the fame of the artist or its financial value, and that is why we at the ALR strive to recover stolen items of all values and to protect our clients from inadvertently handling proceeds of crime.

As such, we are very happy to report the recovery of two wrought iron rampant lions that were held within the same family since the 19th Century before being stolen. The pair of pier finials were made for the claimant’s great-great grandfather to stand guard on the gates at the entrance to their house in Hertfordshire. A similar lion to the pair was made for the (now closed) local public house, the Silver Lion in Lilley, Hertfordshire. That statue now stands on the village green.

When the family subsequently moved to Cornwall, the lions accompanied them to their new home in Cornwall, but were stolen in 2000. 20 years later the ALR located the lions as a result of a due diligence search made by Duke’s Fine Art Auctions, a subscribing auction house in Dorset, The consignor had bought them from a scrap metal dealer within the last 6 years. The ALR was instructed by the claimant to recover them and as the seller was unable to demonstrate good title the lions were returned.

“I am so grateful to the Art Loss Register for reuniting me with the stolen lions.  It was amazing enough that you rediscovered them after such a long time, but subsequently the advice you have given and the skill you have shown in negotiating their return with everyone concerned has been equally impressive.  I can still scarcely believe it and I have been and will continue to be fulsome in my praise for the Art Loss Register to all my friends.”

– Owner of the lions

“We are delighted we were able to help restore these lions to their rightful owner. It’s exciting to know they are returning home! We have worked with the ALR since it was set up and we applaud and support all their excellent work.”

– Guy Schwinge, Partner, Duke’s Fine Art Auctions.

INTERPOL ID-Art app launchWe are pleased to see that it is now possible for the general public to search the 52,000 stolen items on the Interpol database via their new app. It is helpful that Interpol have taken this decision to widen accessibility to their dataset, which is already incorporated within the ALR’s wider records of 700,000 items subject to a claim. The increasing focus on due diligence in the art market, whether it concerns the items sold or the people involved in a transaction, can only be a good thing for improving the standards and reputation of the market.

As a reminder, a check of our database not only searches against the ALR’s confidential database of stolen, looted, and otherwise disputed artworks, but also against our growing register of security interests in art, or on consignment. Checks of the Interpol database, as well as other publicly accessible databases such as the FBI’s National Stolen Art File, are incorporated within this research too.


Coming to a bookseller near you…

The world of art crime and recovering stolen art and antiquities is the focus of a new book from Anja Shortland, exploring the way that public and private initiatives interact and collaborate to address this important issue.

Anja Shortland is a Professor in Political Economy at King’s College London specialising in the economics of crime. She studies private order systems in the world’s trickiest markets: hostages, hijacked ships, fine art and antiquities. She researches how people work and invest in complex and hostile territories and studies trades between legal and illegal enterprises.

Lost Art: The Art Loss Register Casebook Volume One is available from 21st June 2021, published by Unicorn.

Buy Now
When and why do contracts makes sense for artists, consignors and galleries? 
The ALR’s James Ratcliffe’s letter was published in April’s The Art Newspaper

Rolex Daytona tracked down across the world

The ALR might be a UK based company but we all know that the art, antiques and watch trade is a very international one…

A recent case that we’ve just resolved centres on a high value prestige “Paul Newman” Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona watch. The Rolex was bought by its Canadian owner in 1972 but stolen in 2017 – before being located in Hong Kong through the ALR’s and our specialist watch service, The Watch Register.

Staying ahead of the curve…
Collection Research – provenance, risk and value

We very much enjoyed this article from Isabel von Klitzing and Constantine Cannon’s Pierre Valentin and Till Vere-Hodge last month, which was an excellent summary of the challenges and opportunities for research of works within collections. Our work is not restricted to trade members and we increasingly sits alongside advisors and experts on projects for public, corporate and especially private collections. In these exciting times of increased digitisation and awareness of archives and resources, the ALR and others can ensure that there are no previously unknown claims but also add history and value to objects through research.

Research of this type on collections is from £30 per object, and you can find out more and get a quote by contacting us directly.