Works of art
The theft of cultural objects affects developed and developing countries alike. The illicit traffic in cultural heritage is a transnational crime that affects the countries of origin, transit and final destination.
The illicit trade in works of art is sustained by the demand from the arts market, the opening of borders, the improvement in transport systems and the political instability of certain countries.
At INTERPOL, we are working to raise awareness of the problem among the relevant organizations and the general public. We encourage not only police, but also art and antiques dealers and owners of works of art to play an active role in the exchange of information. This combined action will strengthen our efforts to curb the erosion of our cultural heritage.
We published the first INTERPOL Notice on stolen works of art in 1947. Since then, we have developed a highly efficient system for circulating information in the form of a database accessible not only to law enforcement agencies but also to members of the public who have been provided with specific access rights.
In addition, certain types of data can be accessed openly by the general public:
- The most recent stolen works of art reported to INTERPOL;
- Recovered works of art;
- Works of art that have been recovered but remain unclaimed by their owners;
Further resources are also available on this website:
- The latest INTERPOL posters showing the most wanted works of art.
- Object ID: the international standard for describing cultural objects, in order to facilitate their identification;
- Frequently asked questions.
We work in partnership with other international organizations, such as:
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
- International Council of Museums (ICOM);
- United Nations Organization for Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
- World Customs Organization (WCO).
National police services
Romanian Police: database of stolen works of art (in Romanian only)
Latvian e-service: for owners and holders of cultural objects to record details of their objects, to be provided to police in case of theft.
Stop heritage crime - Joint Polish-Norwegian project on legal and illicit trade with cultural heritage
- Conclusions from the 1st International Conference on Counterfeit Art (October 2012)
- Access to the stolen works of art database (for authorized users only: once you have logged in, go to the ‘My Profile’ link at the top of the page and select the database from the list of options)
- Application form
- User guide (PDF) / User guide (PowerPoint)
WARNING! Deletion of inactive user accounts
Accounts that have not been used for a period of one year will be deleted. We advise you to log in on a regular basis in order to keep your account active.
Fighting illicit traffic of cultural property in Southeast Europe
Video provided by the Culture Unit of the UNESCO Venice Office on the illicit traffic of cultural property in the specific region of Southeast Europe.