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Art is One of the Best Types of Property to Recover
Many people believe that when art is stolen, the chances of recovery are remote – that it falls into a black hole, never to emerge again. That has not been the experience of the Art Theft Detail. On the contrary, art is one of the best types of property to ultimately recover.
Law enforcement agencies typically have two main categories of stolen property reported to them. Both become more difficult to recover as time goes by. One category involves property that eventually becomes obsolete. Who is still looking for a computer or a television or clothing stolen ten years ago? These items deteriorate in value to the point where they become worthless. Victims soon go to the local department store where they can purchase the new and improved model of the same thing.
The other category is property that may be distinctive and high value, but can be disguised. So, even if the item is encountered, it is not recognized. A distinctive diamond bracelet can be melted down for its gold and the stones removed to fashion an entirely new piece of jewelry. A luxury car can have parts replaced and the vehicle identification number altered. With a new paint job, fraudulent paperwork, and new plates, the car can assume an entirely new identity to the point where a victim will not recognize his own car.
However, stolen art will have a tendency to appreciate in value and stay relatively unchanged. Ten years from now, an Andy Warhol will still be an Andy Warhol. It may have a new frame and need cleaning but the artwork cannot be easily disguised or altered without having an adverse effect on its value. A thief isn’t going to remove the artist’s signature and replace it with an alias. Art has intrinsic value for what it is. Therefore, art and other distinctive cultural and historical property are recoverable if we put in place the tools to locate and identify these items when they eventually surface.