Showing posts with label Integrated Risk Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Integrated Risk Management. Show all posts

January 11, 2019

Dorit Straus returns to Amelia this summer to teach “Insurance Claims and the Art Trade” at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection


This year, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection will be held from May 31 through August 15, 2019 in the heart of Umbria in Amelia, Italy. In the months leading up to the start of the program, this year’s professors will be interviewed. In this one, I am speaking with Insurance Industry Expert, Dorit Straus, a former Vice President and Worldwide Specialty Fine Art Manager for Chubb & Son, who is now an independent Art & Insurance Advisor.

Can you tell us something about your background and work? 


My educational background is in Middle Eastern archeology. I participated in geographical and archeological surveys and excavated in Tel Hatzor  in northern Israel.  The dig was under the direction of the famous archeologist Yigael Yadin, who went on to become Israel's deputy prime minister but also helped to acquire the Dead Sea Scrolls, identified the historical significance of Masada, and made Israelis in general feel more connected to their ancient past.   I also worked with Amnon Ben Tor, professor (emeritus) at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University.

I then proceeded to work with objects at various museums such as the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University. While there I curated an exhibition "Samaria Revisited,"an exhibit on Harvard University's 1918 Reisner /Harvard expedition.  I was lucky to find original field notes as well as many of the objects that were housed at the Harvard Semitic Museum.

I then changed my career course and joined the Chubb Group of Insurance companies as a property underwriting trainee - and that led to a 30 year career which culminated in creating a specialized fine arts discipline within the company  something that they did not have before.

I am very happy that after all these years I have come full circle back to my first passion, which is archeology and cultural preservation.  I was appointed in 2016 by President Obama to serve with ten other experts on the US State Department's , Office of the Inspector General "Cultural Property Advisory Committee" (CPAC), where the members, representing the interests of museums and the fields of archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, and other related areas do important work in preventing looted or illegally excavated objects from entering the US.

CPAC advises the Department on the actions the United States should take in response to requests from at risk source countries for assistance in protecting cultural property by enacting import restrictions using cultural memoranda of understanding.

We also support the source countries with resources and educational support through various mechanisms. You can learn more by checking the US State Department's web site.


What do you feel is the most relevant aspect of your course?

I think that I provide real life scenarios to explain the insurance transaction - it’s very much the way it is- not theoretical.  I think insurance touches many aspects of what people in the “arts” are involved in - they are just not aware of it.

What do you hope participants will get out of the courses?

A better understanding how insurance can be one of the tools to help them view the entire picture.  Insurance underwriters work out the risk for insuring a particular object. To underwrite insurance means to accept financial responsibility for clients’ potential losses and this is something participants come to understand through my course. 

What would a typical day be like in your classroom?

In the beginning, most participants come into the course without knowing anything about fine art insurance, so I start with the basics, illustrated by slides and actual cases. I am very open to discussion and questions as long as it relates to the subject matter. The last day of the course is the most fun with participant demonstrations of what they learned. We divide into teams and with a lot of role playing their are able to express what the enormous amount of learning they have gleaned as everything falls into place.

While each year participants are very enthusiastic about your courses, is there anything you learn from them in class?

I am impressed at how quickly they grasp things  I am particularly impressed how inventive and original the team presentations at the conclusion of the course are!

In anticipation of your courses, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to participants?

There are a lot of movies about art theft or forgery - most of them not realistic but still fun - like The Thomas Crown Affair. The movie Gambit with Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth and How to Steal a Million with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole  are good.

Which other course in the program would you love to follow yourself and why?

ARCA's Provenance course and any of the sessions which touch upon the art market itself. 

Is there anything you can recommend for future participants to do in Amelia or Umbria?

Eat the fabulous food, visits local vineyards, walk through the olive groves, travel to the nearby towns, and also further away - take the opportunity of to explore and be in Italy.

Are there any funny or interesting things you experienced in Italy, outside class?

Not anything funny, but I have Italian friends who I have known for 40 years.  Because of ARCA I am able to visit them every year either in Rome or at their seaside home south of Rome - it’s a real treat for me!

What is your experience with the yearly ARCA conference in June?

The conference is a great opportunity to learn about what is happening today in the art and cultural arena plus wonderful networking possibilities.
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For a detailed prospectus and application materials or for general questions about this postgraduate program please contact us at education@artcrimeresearch.org  


Edgar Tijhuis at the ARCA Library
Edgar Tijhuis is Academic Director at ARCA and visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana. He is responsible for the postgraduate certificate program in the study of art crime and cultural heritage protection. Since 2009, Edgar Tijhuis has taught criminology modules within the ARCA program. 

September 11, 2018

Recovery: Gold Objects stolen from the Nizam Museum

Image Credit: Hyderabad Police

Holding a press conference in Hyderabad, authorities announced that the  gold tiffin box, saucer, cup & spoon stolen from Nizam Museum on September 3rd have been recovered by Hyderabad Police. The two accused, Mohammed Gaus Pasha (23) and a relative Mohammed Mubeen (24) from the Himayat Sagar area of ​​the city have been arrested.

The pair of thieves had accessed the museum by dislodging a four-feet wide ventilation grill and then dropping some 20 feet down into the exhibition gallery.  

For full details on the theft please see ARCA's earlier blog post here. 

September 5, 2018

Museum Theft: Nizam Museum (HEH Nizam's Museum) Hyderabad, India


According to local authorities, thieves broke into the Nizam Museum housed on the first floor of the Purani Haveli palace located in Hyderabad, Telangana, India sometime on the evening of Sunday, September 2, 2018.  The palace, located just a few kilometers away from Chowmahalla Palace, is also home to a library and the Mukarram Jah Technical Institute.

In the past the palace was once the official residence of the Nizam, the last of whom ruled over the region from 1911 to 1948, when Hyderabad State was annexed by India.  The museum showcases many gifts that the 7th and last Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII received on his silver jubilee in 1936.  The museum  has been privately run by the Nizam’s Jubilee Pavillion Trust, and managed by descendants of the Nizam since the year 2000.  It houses approximately 450 objects in its collection.

Dislodging a four-feet wide ventilation grill, the burglar or burglars appear to have worked as a coordinated pair, dropping some 20 feet down into the exhibition gallery.  


Once inside one of the culprits broke into a non alarmed exhibition case and removed a three-tier diamond-studded gold tiffin box with trays carved with flora and fauna, as well as a golden tea cup and saucer embedded with ruby and emeralds, a spoon and a tray which once belonged to the 7th Nizam. Tiffins (or dhabbas) are traditionally round metal lunch containers with three or four stacking compartments used for serving traditional homemade thali lunches which feature bread, pickles, spicy curries, and sometimes desserts.


Once the goods were in hand, the thief was then hoisted back up and out of the same way he entered before making their getaway.



The loss was discovered the following morning by the museum's personnel who discovered the broken locks and empty showcase and then alerted the police.


CCTV Footage of suspected burglers

Journalists in India report that workers at the museum have been asking for security upgrades for quite some time.   Initial thoughts on the theft are leaning towards someone familiar with its limited security as one of the limited number of museum CCTV cameras had been tilted in such a way as to limit the image capture of the burgler(s). 

October 3, 2016

Conference: The International Arts & Antiquities Security Forum (IAASF)


The International Arts & Antiquities Security Forum (IAASF) will be hosted at the NewcastleGateshead Quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne, Friday, November 11, 2016 and will focus on various topics related to texisting or emerging threats and risks for those in the field interested in the protection of arts and antiquities.

Of benefit to security professionals and the wider heritage protection sector including, gallery owners, shippers, insurance companies and curators the event will include presentations on the importance of security in protecting culture and art, the scale of threat to UK arts and antiquities, the threat of terrorism as it relates to art and antiquities, operational best practices in crime prevention for museums and houses of worship, (both physical & technical) as well as how to protect art and antiquities during transit and the ever increasing roll of conservators in the field of heritage protection.

The content of the presentations has been specifically designed to enable everybody to take away a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the issues that exist, experiencing best practises and being exposed to great innovations; both technical and operational that will help reduce and manage risk.

The IAASF event will bring together an international range of presenters including

Director of Security, UK Christie’s London

National Security Adviser, Arts Council England

Owner and Managing Director of Trident Manor and Chair and IAASF Chair, IAASF

Founder and Director of AA&R -Art Analysis & Research Ltd.

Sr. Insurance Consultant, Former CEO, AXA Art

Security & Safety Manager, National Gallery of Ireland

Detective Superintendent - Major Crime, Organised Crime and Special Branch, Durham Constabulary

Archaeologist, Specialist in Conflict Antiquities

Executive Director, National Maritime Museum - Amsterdam and Advisor to the Dutch Government on Cultural Operations

Committee Chair, Cultural Properties – Houses of Worship, ASIS

Member of the Cultural Heritage Council, ASIS International

Paid registration to the International Arts & Antiquities Security Forum includes: 

  • Full day of presentations
  • Tea, coffee, snacks and lunch
  • Drinks reception served in the Riverside Terrace
For more information please see the Forum's website here. 

July 20, 2013

Report from ARCA in Amelia: Dick Drent on Museum Security and Integrated Risk Management for Cultural Heritage

Le pont d'Argenteuil
by Claude Monet - damaged in 2007 by intruders
by Sophia Kisielewska, ARCA Intern

This past week, our course was taught by Dick Drent, the Corporate Security Manager and former Director of Security at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who led us through the ins and outs of museum security and risk management for cultural heritage. Mr. Drent offered up his vast and unparalleled knowledge from the practical side of art crime detection and prevention -- knowledge he has gained through his eight years heading the security team at the Van Gogh Museum and 25 years working in the field of Law Enforcement in the Netherlands.  We learnt about how, during his time as Security Director at the Van Gogh Museum, he has changed and refined the security procedures of the museum to meet a standard that is truly fitting for the treasure trove that it holds.

Through the week we identified the many threats that face any art institution: theft, vandalism, violent acts, natural disasters, fire, and environmental hazards and learned the practical approaches for protecting against these.  Mr. Drent guided us through the museum security training methods he devised with some of his former colleagues from Dutch law enforcement. He has spent several years promoting this method in museums and galleries around the world and in doing so has become a leading figure in an international movement calling for greater security for cultural property.  The training focuses on the detection of risks upfront in order to minimize actual threats, his mantra being that a museum must have a proactive stance in the protection of its art works rather than a reactive one. This, he emphasizes, need not be reliant on fancy and expensive equipment, rather a shift of attitude from the management level to the floor level on the training of security personnel and museum staff.  This includes training in how to properly observe and recognize deviant behavior and the regular analysis and revaluation of risks to the museum on a daily basis, followed by assessments on the best ways to intervene if such an event were to occur.


The highlight of Dick Drent’s course was undoubtedly the field class that he led in Rome. We rose early on Monday to take a coach bus into the capital where we spent the day surveying some of Rome's greatest collections of Western European art not merely as tourists but through the eyes of a security director. Through a series of group exercises, we gained an understanding of the complexity of securing a museum while keeping the collection available to visitors.


As my classmates talked amongst themselves during the field class, walking among collections, and even on the bus ride back to Amelia, we began to realize the complex field in which a modern-day museum security director works.  His or her job requires them to not only know what is best for their particular museum and their particular collection but to also convey that information to a broad group of interested parties and decision-makers.  It is one thing to talk among colleagues from the security field about what is needed, but it is quite another thing to articulate those same concerns to a museum director, its Board of Trustees, a finance review board, or a museum's curators and conservators.

Having survived a two-week stretch of intensive studying without a pausa, we were treated to a six-day holiday. Most students decided to venture away from Amelia and the chosen destinations ranged from Rome, Sienna, Florence, and Venice to Serbia, Basel, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and Marrakesh.  During the break, many of Europe’s great galleries were visited and no doubt many of us looked vaguely suspicious as we unconsciously carried out security audits of the collections.  During my own trip to Castel S. Angelo in Rome, it became apparent to me that visits to cultural institutions will never be the same again thanks to Dick Drent’s full on and rigorous museum security training.