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FBI Announces Top Ten Art Crimes

Washington, D.C. November 15, 2005
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

The FBI today announced a list of the Top Ten Art Crimes: Iraqi Looted and Stolen Artifacts; The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Theft; The Swedish National Museum Theft; Theft of Munch's The Scream; Theft of the Cellini Salt Cellar; Theft of Caravaggio's Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francisco; Theft of the Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius; The Van Gogh Museum Robbery; Theft of Cezanne's View of Auvers-sur-Oise; Theft of Da Vinci's Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

In arriving at this list, the FBI Art Crime Team (ACT) determined that these ten criminal cases represent losses as high as approximately $600 million, in an industry with overall losses of up to $6 billion a year. However, these works are considered priceless in terms of their cultural value.

The Top Ten list highlights an overall restructuring of the Art Theft Program website. FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, Criminal Investigative Division, said the new website initiative will enhance investigation and recovery of art pieces, and help to bring responsible individuals to justice: "What is notable with these thefts is their value to world cultural heritage. Disseminating information about these crimes through the web site will bring them to the attention of the broadest possible public. We hope this encourages people with information to submit it to the tip line."

The ACT was established in November 2004, with the first training of team members in Philadelphia in January 2005. Since that time, the ACT has been involved in the recovery of more than 100 items of art and cultural property, valued at more than $40 million. The items recovered by the ACT include a wide range of cultural property: manuscripts, maps and documents, historical firearms, Native American artifacts, paintings, and sculptures. Recently, the ACT was instrumental in the recovery of a painting by Rembrandt, valued at $36 million, that was stolen from the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm. The ACT assists in art related investigations worldwide in conjunction with foreign law enforcement officials and FBI Legal Attaché Offices.

Assistant Director Swecker continues: "Theft of cultural property is a world-wide problem and the FBI Art Theft Program and Art Crime Team are part of the solution. Objects of art and cultural heritage enhance all our lives, and represent a legacy of history and art for future generations. Theft of cultural property, no matter where in the world, impoverishes us all."

Tips can be submitted on the www.fbi.gov website or by contacting your local FBI office.