Interpol Makes Stolen Art Database Available

InterpolINTERPOL has announced it will put its database of stolen art online to try to limit the illicit trade in cultural objects.  The new site has photographs of 34,000 stolen works.  The site is free of charge, though registration is required.  The database is here, while the registration form is here.  Previously, the stolen works database was available only on DVD, while the new database will be updated in real time.

Karl Heinz, the co-ordinator of the Works of art department says the new database is “an important tool to counter the traffic in cultural property effectively”.   He also encouraged increased reporting by INTERPOL member nations:

“Accessibility to stolen art information is a vital contribution to creating public awareness on the protection of cultural property,” said Mr Kind. 
“The inclusion of a stolen cultural property item into INTERPOL’s stolen works of art database, and extensive online access to the database, therefore represent an important barrier to the illicit trafficking of a stolen cultural object by making its sale more difficult,” added Mr Kind.

This is a remarkable development in a number of ways, and makes it possible for anyone to search.  This means it will be far more difficult for a buyer to claim he or she did not have the resources to check into a work’s history.  Though the database will likely be of limited use for the antiquities trade, it is an important development. 

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