ALR Quarterly Newsletter Issue 15 – October 2019

What have we been up to?
It has been an extremely busy (but successful!) few months at the ALR.
A few event highlights in which we have been involved include…

– The ALR’s Paul Exbrayat was in Lille presenting to an academic conference on “From identification to restitution of confiscated works during WW2”, organised by the Louvre and curators from across France.
– James Ratcliffe was in Rome attending the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage’s international conference on 50 years of experience and future challenges.

Last week…
– The ALR’s Katya Hills and Antonia Kimbell presented to leading fine art insurers, loss adjusters, lawyers, and many others on the work of the ALR and The Watch Register (TWR) at the IFASIC 2019 conference in Antwerp.
– We completed a case to recover an artwork from a UK museum – stay tuned for news of that soon…

Last month…
– We had teams working as part of the vetting at La Biennale Paris and Frieze Masters, removing artworks subject to claims from display at those fairs – as well as those upcoming (see below).
– Alongside articles within the main art world and international press, our work was covered in multiple major programmes on art crime and looting, including ARTE, Al Jazeera and on BBC Radio.

Comment: High value “heists”:
The ‘Portland Tiara’ and Cattelan’s ‘America’ The past few months have seen at least two significant museum “heists” in the UK – most recently that of Maurizio Cattelan’s America (a.k.a. the golden toilet!) from Blenheim Palace, and the ‘Portland Tiara’, stolen at the end of last year from the Welbeck Estate in November last year. Thankfully, such (in)famous heists as these are rare due to modern security, and are distinct from the majority of ‘art crime’ that we witness.
The difference between these cases and normal ‘art crime’ is not only the rarity or value of the items involved, but also in the method of the crime – such a heist of America and the ‘Portland Tiara’ must have been planned at least to a certain extent, while more common ‘art crime’ is more likely to be opportunistic. A further distinction is that art’s value is also most commonly intact and as a whole – whether stolen or not – whereas these two examples are, perhaps worryingly, valuable in their individual parts of metal and jewels.
Both thefts now have a significant reward to recovery these precious objects. We remain hopeful that they will indeed be recovered soon – for the tiara, there are similar cases such as a set of Swedish crown jewels were recovered last year when the thieves either decided to return them or realised that they could not be sold given the press coverage, and in another case several years ago, the ALR helped to recover the Duchess of Argyll’s tiara when it was offered for sale. Perhaps the thieves of America will decide that the novelty of a golden toilet will wear off soon?

Did you know…
ALR: Dispute and Lien Registration
As an increasing number of artworks on the market are subject to complex financial arrangements or disputes, so is the ALR’s work greatly expanding within this field.
Over the past few years, demand has led us to now register artworks that are subject to complex arrangements (such as multiple payments over an extended period of time, artworks that have yet to be delivered long after payment, or disagreements over the consignment). Alongside these, we also record artworks subject to a security interest on behalf of art lenders worldwide to ensure that any offered for a prospective sale or collateral are confirmed with the lender.
As a result of these registrations, we have identified more than 40 artworks on sale in the past six months that are subject to security interests or disputes. A check against these registrations is included in our standard search for protection against artworks recorded as stolen or looted over the years. Do get in touch if you have any questions
on this service.

Loss Notification – Engagement ring
The loss of a particularly sentimental Asprey & Garrard sapphire and diamond engagement ring was brought to our attention a couple of months ago. The ring was stolen from the very bedroom in which the victim and her husband were asleep, and is still missing.
Please do let us know if you come across it, or contact the Metropolitan Police (crime reference 6553716/19).

Where to find us…
We have just finished at Frieze Masters, and will be present and working at the upcoming fairs before the end of the year:
– TEFAF New York Fall
– Cologne Fine Art & Design
– PAN Amsterdam
– Art Basel in America at Miami Beach