Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Art Law Research Guide

This guide provides an introduction to notable resources for conducting art law research available at Georgetown University and online.

Art Crime (Fraud, Looting, Stolen Art)

The looting of art and cultural property during war and conflict and other art theft and crime is a significant problem. Estimated annual loss from art and cultural property crime is in the billions of dollars.

This section of the guide includes information on the following:

Stolen and Looted Art Databases and Resources

  • Stolen Art Alert - IFAR Journal
    Each issue of the IFAR Journal includes the Stolen Art Alert.  Published since 1977, the Stolen Art Alert contains information on thefts reported by owners and insurance companies to the Art Loss Register, police, the FBI, Interpol, and other organizations.
  • Art Loss Register
    This is a registry of lost or stolen artwork and owned possessions containing over 200,000 records. The registry is unfortunately not publicly accessible; rather, users have to register and pay a fee to have researchers conduct a search.  Another, new commercial stolen art registry is Art Claim from Art Recovery International.  For a good discussion of these and other art loss databases, see "Competing or Complementing: Art Loss Databases Proliferate."
  • FBI Art Theft Program
    The program includes the Art Crime Team, comprised of sixteen special agents and prosecutors that investigate and prosecute art theft, and it maintains the National Stolen Art File, a record of stolen art and cultural property reported to the FBI from law enforcement agencies throughout the world. Also available on this website is a list of the FBI Top 10 Art Crimes.
  • INTERPOL
    INTERPOL (the International Criminal Police Organization) "facilitates cross-border police co-operation" and has 190 member countries, including the United States. INTERPOL works to combat the theft of art and cultural property. It maintains a database of stolen works of art, which is publicly accessible to individuals in member countries upon application.
  • The Documentation Project
    The Project for the Documentation of Wartime Cultural Losses (The Documentation Project) provides information on art and cultural property displaced during wartime with a focus on World War II, such as the Art Looting Investigation Unit Final Report, which details Nazi art looting during WWII.
  • Holocaust-Era Assets (NARA)
    The National Archives and Records Administration holds many records related to Holocaust-Era Assets. This section of their site contains information on what is available and how to use and access the records. Some of these records have been digitized. The Georgetown Law Library has a small microfilm collection (Art Looting and Nazi Germany) of administrative documents related to the recovery of art and other cultural objects during and after World War II.
  • The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945 (Lootedart.com)
    The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945 was established after the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, a 1998 conference held at the U.S. State Department where delegations from over forty countries and non-governmental organizations discussed issues related to the looting of assets during the Holocaust. This site includes two databases: (1) the Object Database of over 25,000 missing assets; and (2) the Information Database, that contains laws, policies, reports, archival records, and more from over forty-nine countries.
  • ICOM Red Lists
    The International Council of Museums' lists of objects particularly susceptible to theft and looting. Red lists are available for Africa, Latin America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Peru, Cambodia, and more.

Art Crime Blogs

The blogs discussed in the section on news & blogs will cover stories related to art crime.  A few additional blogs devoted to art crime are the following: