Is Art Being Stolen to Order?

The Rise in Art Theft

Art theft has seen a significant uptick in recent years, with thieves targeting both high-profile and lesser-known works. One notable case involved Nima Mazhari, who was convicted on June 5th for stealing also by the late Ghitta Caiserman-Roth, valued at $100,000. In another incident, a group of thieves in hoodies made off with prints by the anonymous graffiti artist Banksy in Brighton.


High-Profile Cases

  • Nima Mazhari and Ghitta Caiserman-Roth: Mazhari, the boyfriend of Olympian Myriam Bédard, was convicted of stealing Caiserman-Roth’s paintings. The stolen works were valued at $100,000.
  • Banksy Thefts: Banksy’s works have become prime targets due to their public nature and high value. In one instance, a piece was cut from a wall in Paddington and later auctioned on eBay for £20,000. Another theft involved murals in Whitechapel, which were damaged as thieves attempted to chisel them from the walls.

The Milwaukee Delacroix

In Milwaukee, a Delacroix drawing that had been stolen two years prior was returned by a man who claimed to have found it in the trash. This incident highlights the unpredictable nature of art theft and recovery.

The Market for Stolen Art

The increasing popularity and value of certain artworks have made them attractive targets for thieves. Banksy’s works, in particular, have seen a surge in visibility and demand. Stuart Hobday, Director of a canceled Banksy exhibition in Norwich, stated, “It’s a real shame that this exhibition is not going ahead, but the risk of the art being stolen was fairly high, and we understand the concern raised by the owner of the works.”

The Role of Public Art

Banksy’s graffiti, often displayed in public spaces, is easier to steal than traditional artworks. This accessibility has led to a rise in thefts and subsequent sales on platforms like eBay. The public nature of these works also complicates security measures, as seen in the Paddington and Whitechapel incidents.