Where do the stolen paintings go?
By Kinjal Trivedi
We hear stories of museum paintings being stolen. They all seem mysterious and curious, but where do they really go after they’re stolen. Because if you see someone selling them, of course they will be questioned!
That’s a dangerous path to tread.
However, this is a multi billion dollar a year illicit industry. Everything from making the artist famous to the auction houses taking a cut and also most important, creating a major story around it to increase valuation.
An elaborate heist of a famous painting would be a Hollywood worthy story, this has a series of repercussions. Some billionaires hire professional thieves to carry out the heist for their personal collection whereas some hide the paintings only to reveal them a few decades later.
More often than not the paintings have nothing to do with the artists because the artists would rather have their paintings taken or sold by collectors and they can always create more.
Sometimes thieves will go directly to the insurance company, as ownership of the work often passes to the insurer after it has paid out for losses. Marinello, who has several art insurance companies as clients, says it is not uncommon for thieves to try and ransom work to the insurance company directly.
Thieves who fail to cash out from museums or insurers may attempt to sell their acquisition on the legitimate market, such as through auction houses or dealers. This is easiest when the painting has not been reported stolen.
With the increase of new museums in different parts of the world, new age modern paintings are also gaining popularity.
It’s interesting to see how and when a painting emerges. The shock value adds to the story and makes the viewers more curious.