Artworks has been stolen and gone missing over the years and millions of dollars have been dispensed both by insurance companies and galleries just to compensate for the loss. It becomes worse when the stolen art work was painted by the most famous artists in the field.
Art theft is one of the most lucrative fraud industries in the world. A single artwork can be sold for millions of dollars to an illegal dealer or even on the black market. Insurance companies also suffer from bogus claims and high cost of coverage for a stolen or destroyed art piece. It is also easy for owners to stage that their art pieces has been stolen and claim their insurance, only to report that it is back on their property again after a few months or years. Alas, present day insurance companies are not yet equipped with tools to detect pre-empted art theft. Fortunately for specialist insurance, the coverage clearly stipulates that the insurance company have the right to make all experimental measures to verify the case.
There is no exact data on the precise number of theft cases as the thieves are elusive and there are still number of art works which are not known to be missing since it is replaced by fraudulent ones. However, it is estimated that billions of dollar worth of valuable paintings are lost in the United States alone.
Art-insurance fraud is surely hard to detect. In turn, most insurers don’t even know when they have been defrauded. Some are even harder to trace and may take years to find. An artwork, for instance, in Louvre in Paris was once found in Jakarta, Indonesia after 13 years. The one displayed in the museum, which turned out to be fraud, was even highly promoted in many art seminars and events. Three people were arrested including an insider who worked for the museum as one of the utility personnel. The case had undergone arduous trials despite the heavy security placed upon the artwork.
Thefts and fraud are committed by those who “practice to deceive.” Policyholders should be aware of the insurance coverage they have in place and take all necessary steps to negotiate the “tangled web” of the insurance claims process and to ensure that they avoid double disaster.
The responsibility of keeping artworks from fraudulence and theft lies on all the parties involve. Most of the times, carelessness is the main culprit.