25.07.2024 Collection Tips

Is your art collection secure?

by Amelie Ebbinghaus, Director of The Art Loss Register

Useful tips on theft prevention and risk management

Have you ever thought about how art gets stolen? And what are the chances of getting it back? We met Amelie Ebbinghaus, director of The Art Loss Register, at Art Cologne. She shared with us a selection of theft prevention and risk management practices.


How do I know I'm doing enough to protect my artwork?

It is important to create documentation while the art is still there. Work documentation should include images, work details, provenance information, due diligence documents and acquisition information (e.g. the invoice). The invoice should not be attached to the artwork or kept directly with it. The same applies to watches and corresponding certificates. Store the documentation online or in a cloud. 
Before purchasing new works, ask questions about the authenticity of the work, its provenance and any research and investigations that have been carried out. We also recommend researching common loss databases such as Lost Art or the Art Loss Register.
As a general rule, cases that seem too good to be true should be treated with caution and further research should be carried out.


What are the chances of stolen art being recovered?

The better the loss is documented, the greater the chances of recovering stolen art. This includes good documentation of the work (see above).
Stolen watches always turn up very quickly, whereas stolen art often requires patience. Some works only come back into circulation after 10 years or more. 
In the case of jewelry, bronzes or other materially valuable objects, the chances are lower, as there is a risk of melting down.
Registration with the police and the Art Loss Register greatly increases the chances of recovery. In addition, we recommend a "Google Alert", if a detailed description of the missing work is possible, and possibly also alerts on price databases.