There was a good deal of press coverage surrounding a recent art recovery I handled for the Museum of Modern Art in Sweden. A UK-based dealer with significant connections to the Polish art market searched Matisse's Le Jardin against the Art Loss Register database. The results showed that the work had been stolen 26 years earlier, from the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden and reported to the local police, INTERPOL, and the IFAR (later the ALR) database.
Following confirmation of the match, my role was to ensure that the painting made its way into the UK, where I would secure the assistance of law enforcement in case a seizure of the work became necessary. I then proceeded to negotiate (with police approval) for the return of the work.
Fortunately, I encountered a very cooperative dealer who was willing to listen to my analysis of the laws of Poland, the UK, and Sweden. (I think I might have bored him into submission). We engaged in considerable debate about what options he had available to him, knowing that he now held a stolen painting. Once obtaining his release, the painting was placed in a safe for eventual return to the museum in Stockholm.
Many of the reporters covering the story wanted to know how much money was paid to the dealer, to obtain the release of this $1,000,000 painting. The follow-up question was just as direct, in wanting to know how much money the ALR was going to make from the recovery. The answer to both questions was, and is, zero.
Mr. Marinello's article is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by Noah Charney and published by ARCA (available electronically and in print via subscription and Amazon.com). The Associate Editor is Marc Balcells (ARCA '11), Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.