Thieves that steal famous artworks are immediately disadvantaged, according to Mark Hughes, Crime Correspondent of The Independent. He was reporting on the recent £86m robbery from the Paris Museum of Modern Art. He said that the fame of artworks prevented thieves from passing items through the trade. Usually the thief had a buyer with an agreed price in mind, often only 10% of its real value. Roy Ramm, a former member of the Metropolitan Police, added that thieves are immediately disadvantaged when they steal famous artworks to order because if the buyer doesn’t want to pay the agreed price, then there isn’t much the thief can do about it. Also, stealing famous items to order tends to involve plenty of middle men which also help to distance the buyer from the thief so it is comparatively easy for the buyer to add continued pressure on the thief to get the deal they want, otherwise the thief will be left with an item that cannot be sold.
For the thief, it is virtually impossible for famous stolen paintings to go through the trade anyway where these pieces are listed on the Art Loss Register. This register has a 300,000 item database and when artworks come up for sale, it is a fail safe system for buyers to check the register to see if items are stolen. Around 4% of artworks put up for sale are found to be on this register.
Famous works of art worth millions, such as The Scream by Munch which has actually been stolen twice, were eventually recovered. However, other artworks by Cézanne and Degas worth £112m have never been found. .
Antiques dealers are extremely wary of buying stolen items and should anyone be interested in buying rare antique cabinets in Lancashire and Cumbria, dealers will always be able to provide good provenances for any pieces they have on sale.
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