But pity the poor perps.
Nothing is more difficult to convert into cash than great art, for it will be recognized everywhere as having been stolen. One thief became so discouraged at his inability to fence a picture that he returned his loot in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The authors note that while the recovery rate for stolen art in general is low, the recovery rate for masterpieces is impressive, perhaps as high as 80 percent. The most profitable area of art theft thus appears to be little-known works that can be moved and marketed without drawing undue attention.
The best hope for anyone who steals a Rembrandt is to treat it as a kidnapping: negotiate with the museum for its return. The authors think a considerable amount of art has been recovered by negotiation, but institutions understandably are reticent about acknowledging such ransom payments. The most famous art heist in recent decades remains the theft of 13 masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in More than two decades have passed since the Gardner break-in, and investigators have tracked down leads all over the world.
Scores of tips have turned out to be hoaxes.
Stealing Rembrandts : The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists
When art thefts are solved, it is often within a year of when they are committed. Time is running out for the Gardner Museum.
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a book review by Russ Stover: Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists
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