chapter  3
20 Pages

The Peculiar Problem of Art Theft

ByDuncan Chappell, Kenneth Polk

This chapter examines the puzzling topic of art theft. It often seems to be a crime that makes little sense, since in many situations a successful theft produces for the criminal an object which is so well known that it not only is impossible to sell on either a legal or illegal market, but the very presence of the object becomes a source of danger to the thief if for some reason circumstances provoke a police investigation. The art market can be seen as consisting of two major components. The primary art market which is made up of the initial point of sale after the work has been created. The secondary market is where art re-enters the market after an initial sale. Expensive art which has been stolen, if it is to enter the legitimate art market, must gain access to this secondary market, with the most likely points of entry being either an art dealer or an auction house.