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February 2, 2011

Noah Charney interviews Mark Durney, creator of the ARCAblog and "Art Theft Central" in his new ARTINFO column "The Secret History of Art"

In his new ARTINFO column, "The Secret History of Art," Noah Charney interviews Mark Durney who discusses how he began studying art crime and his development of the ARCA blog. You can read it here.

Durney studied History at Trinity College in Hartford, CT and earned a masters degree in cultural heritage studies at University College London's Institute of Archaeology.

Here's an excerpt from Charney's interview:
Describe some of your past work experience?

While a student at Trinity College, I pursued internships in finance, including in the financial services strategic business unit of Capgemini Consulting. Although not related to the culture heritage field, these experiences greatly enhanced my research and analytical skills as well as my business acumen. Since graduation in 2008, I have volunteered and consulted with ARCA on a number of projects, such as the development of ARCA's blog and podcasts, and the advancement of its postgraduate program International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies. Additionally, in 2009 I worked as a gallery officer at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which was the victim of an art heist in March 1990. During my studies at UCL, I completed a work placement in the UK's Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council's Cultural Property Unit. In my spare time, I maintain Art Theft Central, which discusses art theft news and provides insights into the historical trends in the field, and I moderate the Museum Security Network, which redistributes news related to the protection, preservation, and conservation of cultural heritage. 

How did you develop an interest in art crime and cultural heritage?
At Trinity College, I wrote my senior thesis on debunking the Thomas Crown Affair art heist scenario by utilizing a number of case studies from the 20th century. This was not hard to do in light of the fact that not every art thief is as sophisticated or affluent as Thomas Crown! Similarly, my master's thesis "An Examination of Art Theft, Analysis of Relevant Statistics, and Insights into the Protection of Cultural Heritage" qualifies and interprets art theft statistics provided by the London-based Art Loss Register (ALR) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in order to quantify the problem of art theft and to assess the effectiveness of the most recent strategies that have been implemented to combat the illicit art trade. 

How did you learn about ARCA and first become involved? 

I received "The Art Thief" for Christmas 2008, and after reading it began seeking opportunities that enabled me to contribute to the greater security of our collective cultural heritage. Eventually, I discovered ARCA and Noah Charney offered me voluntary (and eventually paid) opportunities.