Billions of dollars’ worth of art goes missing every year, according to the F.B.I., but thefts of high-profile paintings are both infrequent and widely reported. While an open-market sale of works taken in such circumstances is impossible, there continues to be demand for the product, because the rightful owner — a collector, a museum, an insurer — wants the art back. That desire, however nebulous, is what is truly being traded when noteworthy artworks are exchanged on the black market. As long as there is a belief among criminals in the enduring willingness of parties from the legitimate art world to retrieve their property, a stolen painting has currency.
Ed Caesar for The New York Times read the rest here.
Why is art theft so romantic?