Meet Our New Art Crime Team
a small but ugly criminal specialty: trafficking in stolen
works of art and priceless national treasures. And it’s getting
bigger, with losses running as high as $8 billion a year.
In fact, we’ve
brought a number of cases to your attention over the past year:
Case of the Eight Ancient Iraqi Seals
Case of the Master Forger
Case of the Missing Civil War Sword
Case of the Elvis-A-Rama Museum Heist
So last year
our specialists sat down and asked themselves how they might centralize
investigations and maximize FBI resources.
our new art crime team: a group of eight agents working in
major art markets around the country—New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia,
San Francisco, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City. The team
is supported by two Assistant U.S. Attorneys and several FBI analysts.
Its focus? Breaking
up crime rings that steal and smuggle priceless works of art, loot archaeological
sites, and churn out fakes and forgeries.
it so good?
1. Expertise. To
run an art-theft case, you’ve got to know a Monet from a Manet,
a Rembrandt from a Rubens. You’ve got to know the dealers, appraisers,
collectors, curators, and auction houses. You’ve got to be well
versed in the markets and the unique laws that apply. Now we have eight
art-loving agents who are dedicated to these specialized investigations.
2. Partnerships. When
domestic and international requests for help come into HQ, they go straight
to an agent who knows exactly who to contact in the local art communities,
working groups, and law enforcement agencies.
and speed, to respond instantly to tips and leads, in each
agent’s own territory or wherever in the world the case might
4. A developing
intelligence base. Of course.
FBI National Art Theft program, puts it this way: “Now
we’ve got a team of agents nationwide that knows its stuff and
can be deployed at a moment’s notice—and that’s going
to make a world of difference in protecting national treasures.”
Art Theft Program