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Given the considerable risk of being caught, or not being able to pass on stolen paintings with obvious recognition value, like the Turners, there is a genuine puzzle as to why this type of crime is undertaken at all. Making money, combined with a certain level of bravado, is the simplest answer. Because after a successful theft each stolen work of art acquires a new ‘value’ in the underworld: perhaps only 10 per cent of its commercial value, but still potentially a large sum. This is value that can be utilized as collateral in criminal deals. Such motivation for thieves has significantly increased as the values at the top end of the fine art market have shown stupendous growth.
Specialist criminologist Professor John Conklin analyses this financial desire of the ‘motivated offender’ through the Routine Activities Theory, which breaks theft down into five subcategories. First, there are those who steal art in the hope of selling on to a dealer, either directly or through a middleman or fence — although this does not generally relate to high-value works, which by definition cannot simply be sold on. Secondly, there are those who are paid to carry it out, who steal on commission. Thirdly, thieves may steal with the intention of ransoming the work to the owner, seeking a buy-back from an insurance company or doing a deal of some indirect kind. And, fourthly, those who steal to keep the work for themselves. Occasional symbolic or political acts constitute a fifth category. … The fourth and fifth categories are very rare and seen only occasionally in recent times. It is clearly financial considerations that are uppermost in the minds of most criminals, sometimes with an added element of competition. -Sandy Nairne, Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners
Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about an art thief.
Journaling Prompt: If you could have any famous piece of art on your wall, which would it be and why?
Art Prompt: Art Thief
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about a famous art heist.
Photo Credit: -Jeffrey- on Flickr
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