The trafficking in art and antiques is not a new crime. In the 1490's Lorenzo de'Medici requested Michelangelo in Florence to make his statue to look as if it had been buried in order to sell for an ancient piece for more money. This is an indication that art has gradually increased as an investment option over the years. Ancient Romans adored ancient Greek art, and workshops in the Imperial City created tonnes of reproductions, as some of these artefacts were quite good, and it makes it hard to tell what is ancient Greek and Roman forgery . It is important to note that due to the increase in buyers investing in artefacts, forgery has become a related crime, as there are only so many original artefacts to be dispersed.
In 1937 INTERPOL was established and in 1947 had released the first notice of stolen artefacts internationally, and has kept track of the crime ever since.
The crime did not peak in the aftermath of World War Two, but as can be seen from reports by the international foundation for art research, the figures for art stolen since the 1970's have tripled. This has reinforced the theory that there is a growing trend in the trafficking of art and antiques.
The recovery rate for stolen items is as low as 10%, as reported by Interpol, the FBI, and The International Art Research. This crime is now regarded as the third largest illicit trade after drugs and firearms . The estimated figures of the world wide stolen art tally are of between 2 billion and 6 billion dollars , with countries of Italy, France, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Germany and Turkey as the largest targets for art thieves, as listed by Interpol in 2003.
It must be noted that the statistics...