ARCA Blog Editor Catherine Sezgin reviews Joshua Knelman's "Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Art" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime:
Interpol and UNESCO listed art theft as the fourth- largest black market in the world (after drugs, money-laundering, and weapons). But what did that mean? After I’d been following Czegledi’s career for several years, one point was clear: don’t look at the Hollywood versions of art theft – the Myth. This is a bigger game, with more players, and the legitimate business of art is directly implicated. A lot of the crimes are hidden in the open. Stealing art is just the beginning. Then the art is laundered up into the legitimate market, into private collections, into the world’s most renowned museums. – Joshua Knelman, author of Hot Art Toronto journalist
Joshua Knelman, author of Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art (Tin House Books 2012), introduces to the general reader the international problem of art crime and the limited resources of legal authorities in fighting this problem in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2003, Knelman was just a 26-year-old researcher for the Canadian magazine Walrus, when he stumbled down the rabbit hole of art theft and recovery. A gallery owner hesitant to speak about the theft of $250,000 worth of photographs stolen two years earlier opens up when police arrest a thief who has some of the pieces. Knelman asks to speak to the suspect’s lawyer, leading to a midnight phone call from the thief who has been investigating Knelman. The two meet in a café in Toronto. The aspiring reporter is physically threatened, given stolen art, and then lectured by the thief about how the secretive business practices in the legitimate art market actually support art crime. Thus begins Knelman’s adventures through the world of thieves and investigators of looted art.