Art Crimes

ArtInfo has an interesting little piece on art crimes and how they affect the market. The strangest form of art crime has to be stealing sculpture for scrap metal. Like the 2 ton Reclining Nude by Henry Moore that was stolen from the Henry Moore Foundation in 2005. As scrap metal it would have made £3,000 or $5,800, but it was insured for £2 million.

They list the top four art crimes as Vandalism, Forgery/Deception, Art Theft, and Antiquities Looting.

I think buying art posters should be a crime too as there’s just too many artists out there with rooms filled with cheap original art. Or at least buy prints signed by the artist!

Four major art crimes and how they affect the market
“Today, the largest victim of art crime is the art trade. This multi-billion-dollar legitimate industry is victimized to the tune of a conservatively estimated $6 billion per year, most of which goes into the pockets of organized crime.” ArtInfo

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Hi, Woopidoo

    Stealing bronze sculptures for scrap metal dealers makes sound commercial sense. These things litter parkland and the gardens of stately homes in the UK and they’re unguarded because they seem too heavy to lift. Skip lorries are commonplace. £3000 for an evening’s work isn’t bad. And as soon as the work is melted down it’s untraceable, so no fear of arrest. Next night they’re off to strip lead off a church roof or to cut out a few hundred yards of heavy copper cabling from a railway line. (Part of London Underground failed last week because of the loss of an unspecified length of copper cabling.) Again, this stuff isn’t guarded. It’s manna from heaven.

    If those villains got greedy and tried to sell stolen artworks, they would be swiftly collared and convicted, because the evidence would be unassailable. So long as they refrain from being as greedy as the art trade, they’ll probably avoid capture.

    And they can proudly tell themselves they’re doing their bit to save the planet by recycling essential metals. Green thieves! Modern Robin Hoods. And who needs overpriced Henry Moore sculptures anyway? Blots on the landscape.

    As for prints, a lot of artists produce signed limited edition prints of their work to compete with the print market and keep their prices down. I bought a print from a local artist a few years ago and asked her to sign it for me, which she happily did. It cost me only a few quid.

    Banning the print market wouldn’t help artists who are making money out of it, and I’m sure the lack of prints wouldn’t persuade the punters to buy mediocre or downright ugly “art” from artists who can’t make a living from their work. And let’s face it, the art market is so much bigger than the market for daubs to hang on the walls of private houses. Advertising, video games, animated cartoons, book cover art; the commercial art market is vast. Grabbing a slice of that action is where most modern artists should be, if they want to make money.

    Look at that daft logo created for the London Olympics 2012. It cost a fortune and everyone gave it the thumbs down, but it’s our logo! And some artist or team of artists got paid handsomely to design it. I’m sure you and I could have both done better, but we haven’t got a foot in the door.

    P.S. Did you see my recent post on that classic piece of modern art Homer Simpson? Good for a grin.

  2. Donald Frazell says:

    People been melting down statues for thousands of years, what do you think happened to most of the greek and roman bronze statues? In the middle ages through Napolean, many statues were melted down for bronze cannons. War being much more profitable than art, though i know few artists want to accept that. Not better, but more profitable, so the vultures have taken over what is to be made of it, and marketed it ot get their maximum investment, regardless of quality.

    As far as supporting original art, its kinda like back in the disco era, where musicians had “Disco Sucks: Support Live Music” bumper stickers. Rap has pretty much put them out of business, cant really call what pop children do music, anyone can play it. But music schools do churn out tons of new trained musicians every year struggling to get gigs. Many blues bands now have great technical player, but nowhere the feel or tonality of the originals, like BB King and Albert Collins.

    Same with jazz, lots of technically profecient players, but ot the heart wrenching purity of the true artists, wo also ahd their share of manipulating BS.

    The print market is difficult because the profit margin is so small. You can get miro and matisse prints for cheap, framed adn ready to go at poster shops. Hard to compete with that. The intial costs of printing are high, in mass quantities, cheap as hell. Gotta prove you can deliver buyersw before many wil deal with you. Til then, gotta stick with higher prices, and lower quantity, art shops. And gotta be a good salesman yourself.

    Like I have said, most good artists DO go into graphics and design work these days. Few traditional artist worth a damn anymore. gotta be constructively self critical, and not work to please yourself, but learn what the best is, and compete only against them to make it in the long run . No one gets rich quick in the art game, unless you are completely commercialized and pop in nature. (YBAs)

  3. Donald Frazell says:

    Of course, looking at the list of theft, the values are grossly overstated, as art is grossly overesteimated in insurance terms. The only thing truly subjective about art is price, and popularity. the real stuff always wins out, unless destroyed or never revealed.

    As a history majhor, truth is the only value worth anything. it should be in art also, but is not. the PC way the dominant wave, artistes too scared to say anything that my “hurt someones feelings”. Art used to always be for, by, and about the strong, now it seems the meek have inherited the earth, the artiste earth. And easily manipulated by eager vultures.

    There was an article I think in Art Forum about some dumb womans “art works” where some guard damaged one with a key. They were a series of stars on black sky. Thats it. And valued at $3mil. And declared a total loss, Fix it, paint over it.

    Damn precious anal artistes, if something needs to be that pristine for viewing, it must suck. It is just a commodoty for presentation then. This fixation with preparation and cleanliness is quite annoying, and irrelevant. And indicative of deep psychological issues. Gee, that in the art world, who woulda thunk?

    Besides, I can get great posters of galaxies and nebulas from National Geographic for a few bucks, far more beautiful, and real, than hand painted portraits of stars. Talk about stealing, from the insurance companies this time, and fools gullible enough to be talked into buying the crap.

    Art is the new snake oil salesman field. Truth is their enemy. As a deliberate outsider, I will keep on firing it every chance I get. But damn, thats one built up fortress of business.

  4. Donald Frazell says:

    Reading the aricle, its just a buncha legal mumbojumbo in a hyper inflated market, one based on speculation, which is the whole point of the article. Something market economies go through, especialy capitalist ones. Which we are going through now. This doesnt affect art at all, only investors who deserve what they get, as they are gambling on higher future prices. Dont care about gamblers thats their problem.

    The only affect is when something really IS art, like Moores piece, gets destroyed. Or insurance theft, not covered in the article at all, as that is a prime motive for many of those reading such art mag trash. Ways to inflate the market, causing insurance rates to rise for the rest of us, to cover obsecenely overinflated works. Ones smart gangstas(speculators) will try to get rich payouts on, and to inflate the remaining artists works values.

    Funny how this wasnt covered at all. But then, the art world doesnt exactly want truth shined on it, now does it?

  5. says:

    I agree buying art posters is a crime. Mainly becasue people go to there mass market store and purchase something that their neighbour has an exact replica of. Theworld is becomeing more and more homogenised. Buy something original spend that little bit more and get 100% more enjoyment. If I melt a moore and then re cast it what value does that place on my sculpture?

  6. Ian, I don’t mind signed prints by artists, I just dont like art posters that are produced by the millions and are worthless.

    I saw the Homer thing too. You don’t miss much. I wish I was a more dedicated reporter of the news! My excuse this week has been the flu though..

    The sceptic in me thought of the insurance money too Donald. A Henry Moore would be easy to sell, but some lesser known art could be worth more if it is stolen (and is well insured).

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