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Criminal Investigative Division
America’s Criminal Enterprise
Major Theft Unit
Art Crime Team
The FBI established a rapid deployment Art Crime Team in 2004. The team is composed of 13 Special Agents, each responsible for addressing art and cultural property crime cases in an assigned geographic region. The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI's Art Theft Program, located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Art Crime Team agents receive specialized training in art and cultural property investigations and assist in art related investigations worldwide in cooperation with foreign law enforcement officials and FBI Legal Attaché offices. The U.S. Department of Justice has assigned three Special Trial Attorneys to the Art Crime Team for prosecutive support.
Since its inception, the Art Crime Team has recovered more than 2,600 items of cultural property valued at over $142 million. These include:
- Recovery of more than 100 pre-Columbian artifacts that had been looted from archaeological sites in Panama and brought into the U.S. by an amateur archaeologist.
- Recovery of two 15th c. maps from a 15th century edition of Geographica (one of four major treatises of Ptolemy) stolen from the National Library in Spain.
- Recovery of Francisco de Goya's 1778 painting Children With a Cart. The painting was stolen while being transported from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
- Approximately 700 pre-Colombian artifacts. The objects recovered in Miami were the result of a sting operation in coordination with the Ecuadorian authorities.
- Three paintings by the German painter Heinrich Buerkel (1802-1869), stolen at the conclusion of World War II and consigned for sale at an auction house near Philadelphia in 2005.
- Rembrandt’s Self Portrait (1630) in a sting operation in Copenhagen carried out in cooperation with ICE and law enforcement agencies in Sweden and Denmark. The FBI had previously recovered Renoir’s The Young Parisian. Both paintings had been stolen from the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm in 2000.
- Approximately 100 paintings stolen from a Florida family’s art collection in a fine art storage facility. This collection included works by Picasso, Rothko, Matisse and others that were recovered from Chicago, New York and Tokyo.