Turning Stolen Art into Money
May 5, 2006 5:10 AM Subscribe
How can thieves profit from stolen masterpieces by using them as "collateral" for drug trafficking? How might they use the stolen works for money laundering?
posted by taz to media & arts (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm helping a friend with a screenplay in which relatively low level organized crime figures (involved in drugs, prostitution, etc.) carry out an art heist. I objected that a group of this sort wouldn't have the necessary connections to do anything substantial with the stolen items, but on researching the question a bit, I found this article
(google cache) that says:
In reality, art theft is intrinsically linked to money laundering and drug trafficking
Thieves are unable to sell stolen masterpieces on the open market since the objects are so well known that reputable dealers will immediately recognise them. The only way a masterpiece can be sold is on the black market, either for cash or as collateral. A painting like Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna with the Yarnwinder could never be sold legitimately, and it is most likely that thieves are indirectly profiting from its use as collateral for drug trafficking
How would this work?
I'm especially thinking of a museum or gallery heist, as opposed to a private owner, though this plot point is somewhat fluid. Also, the reason this happens in the script is that it's a subplot, intrinsic to the main story, for which just saying "change the profile of the thieves" won't work... They have to be rather thuggish sorts, not sophisticated or high society criminals.