Things About Art Theft That Movies Get Completely Wrong
Who has not seen Ocean’s Eleven? Heist movies are probably the first thing we think about when we hear the words “art theft.” Art criminals in fiction are often portrayed as exceptionally smart people who spend a lot of time scheming and planning out their next heist. But how realistic are those movies? Experts in criminology say that a lot of what Hollywood shows us is an exaggeration for the sake of entertainment. Let’s find out if art theft is like what we see on our screens.
Art Theft: Myth or Fact?
It is easy for art thieves to sell stolen art
This is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about art theft. Many of us think that the primary motivation for criminals is money. Turns out that, according to experts, there is no black market for illegally sourced high-end art. Have you ever heard about stolen artworks returning to the museums they originally belonged to? The reason for that is simple: thieves are not being able to successfully sell their loot.
All art thieves are intellectuals
In cinema, art criminals are highly educated and careful every step of the way. In reality, however, these people are mostly regular burglars who often work closely with the organized crime scene. History shows that art thieves are a surprisingly diverse demographic, from construction workers to handymen to even museum personnel.
Art theft is often an inside job
Do art thieves have industry insiders helping them? This is something that is usually not shown in movies but often happens to be true: crime specialists confirm that in many cases, museum workers are involved in heists. They can access staff-only spaces and provide exclusive information about the museum.
Museums have poor security
This is also true. Unfortunately, many museums are low on budget and cannot afford quality security systems, even though they are responsible for keeping billions of dollars worth of items safe. No wonder, many cases of art theft happen in broad daylight in front of a live audience. It is also often that museums and galleries do not improve their security issues even after the act of theft has occurred because they do not expect it to happen again.
Artwork theft is a real issue, but, fortunately, it is preventable. Many museums learn from the mistakes of their colleagues and introduce more strict security measures. It is fair to say that with the technologies available to us nowadays, the era of art-related crime is bound to come to an end.