Stolen art? Why no one can say for sure
One of the main art databases, the Art Loss Register, has issued certificates for works looted or subject to recovery claims
The Art Newspaper has discovered that the largest and most powerful due diligence service used by the art world is at the centre of three separate provenance disputes, two of which are working their way through international courts.
The Art Loss Register (ALR), a company founded by Julian Radcliffe that works with law enforcement officials worldwide, more than 80 auction houses, most major art fairs and innumerable collectors and dealers, has provided certificates confirming that works of art were free from claim, when they were in fact subject to claims by third parties or stolen.
“It’s incredibly frustrating because it doesn’t matter what you do,” says one affected person, who asked to remain anonymous. “You do everything you can to check a painting is clean, and it’s useless. How can you protect yourself? You can’t.”