A History of Transnational Trafficking in Stolen and Looted Art and Antiquities

  • Noah Charney


Peace-time transnational theft and looting of art has evolved. What began, before the Second World War, as the realm of individual thieves has evolved after that conflict into a widespread transnational plague, with tens of thousands of thefts reported worldwide each year, a number which is certainly a mere fraction of what is actually taking place but which, for reasons discussed, goes undetected, unreported, or improperly filed. When once only the art was at stake, stolen art has become a criminal currency in the network of drugs, arms, and even terrorism. What was once a category of crime against individuals and the world of culture now affects a broad array of crimes and, as such, though popular opinion has not caught up with reality, is far more frightening than it once was. This article provides an overview of the history of transnational cultural property crime, from the ancient world to today. It provides a series of short case studies, each chosen because it represents a trend, change, or category of translational art and antiquities crime. Readers will come away with a solid introductory understanding of the history and evolution of this important, but oft-overlooked, crime type.


Organize Crime Human Trafficking Terrorist Group Criminal Group Crime Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Association for Research into Crimes against ArtKamnikSlovenia

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