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How to Research an Artwork: Art Theft and Forgeries

Art Theft and Forgeries

Once you’ve determined exactly what you have along with provenance and its value you’ll want to ensure both that the artwork has never been stolen, and that, should it be stolen in the future, you’ll have the best possible chance of recovering it.


Object ID: An international standard for describing art, antiques and antiquities     
This organization provides a checklist of the type of documentation current art owners should develop for the objects in their collection.  Law enforcement agencies use this documentation in their recovery efforts. 

Federal Bureau of Investigation: Art Theft
This is the site for the National Stolen Art File.  

The AAM Guide to Provenance Research by Nancy H. Yeide.  Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums, c2001. N3999.Y45 2001 AH/C Reference.  Guide for tracing the ownership history of works of art. Focused on cultural property looted by the Nazis and others during WWII, it is divided into three parts: Basic Provenance Research and Principles; Holocaust-Era Provenance Research; and Appendixes, which include bibliographies of collections, dealer archives, and “red flag names” compiled by the Office of Strategic Services. 

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