How can we stop the increase in theft of art?

There has been a reported increase in the theft of works of art. This was confirmed by some of the well known insurers of art.

“The frequency of art thefts in South Africa and worldwide is rising and the public needs to be cautious if they are offered art at values that seem too good to be true,” Artinsure’s managing director Gordon Massie said in a statement.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, based in the US, art theft is a lucrative criminal enterprise, with estimated losses running as high as US6 billion (about R40 billion) annually worldwide.

Art Theft and the Art Theft Registry

Artinsure has introduced South Africa’s first Art Theft Register in response to the increase in frequency of art theft in South Africa. They have created an art loss register which will be accessible to all.

This register will help in maximising publicity on stolen artworks and lower the probability of resale and movement. Anyone will be able to register missing or stolen artworks.

The register can also be used to cross check when encountering works of art that are on offer for sale. The register is not intended to be all encompassing, but the higher the utilisation of the register, the greater the probability of identifying missing works.

[Those who had their art stolen are invited to send all details of missing art works to]

How do South African thieves get away with works of Art?

Thirty-two art works had been placed on Artinsure’s theft register for South Africa in the last three months. The descriptions of the loss of art provide interesting insights as to where these pieces of art have been lost and stolen.

Description of Loss:

  • Stolen from Auctioneers
  • Stolen from an office along with four other paintings.
  • Stolen from a gallery
  • Stolen from a hotel
  • Stolen from a gallery in Clarens
  • Believed to be stolen from a print drawer by a walk-in couple
  • Taken during a house robbery
  • Theft from the Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • Stolen from a school collection in Parktown
  • Taken from a museum
  • Taken from an auction house
  • Taken in transit

Every owner and collector of valuable works of art should take the time to consider not only security measures – but also on finding the best insurance product for their works of art. They may find that their art might spend a significant amount of time in transit and may be displayed at locations where the security is not the very best…

To quote from another post “In South Africa, most claims on works of art arise from physical damage during transportation of the work and from theft of the work. The frequency of accidental damage loss is on the rise due to the amount of assets in transit on SA’s roads as well as the condition of our roads.”

Thieves also appear to have an increased appetite for fine pieces of art.

View this story from the Francisco News:

Restaurant captures image of alleged art thief

We would like to refer art owners to a few posts on Art Insurance:

Is your art insured against pothole damage during transport?

What are the most important questions to ask when insuring art?

Artists at KKNK are aware of the need to insure fine art!

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