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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.

International data

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;
  • Stolen Afghan items;
  • Stolen Iraqi items.

Further resources are also available on this website:

We work in partnership with other international organizations, such as:

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.

Latvia : how to determine the status of a cultural object

Art stolen in Republic of Korea

Stop heritage crime - Joint Polish-Norwegian project on legal and illicit trade with cultural heritage

News
18 February 2013

Bhutan hosts international conference on protection of cultural property in Asia co-organized with INTERPOL


18 February 2013

INTERPOL to support global action plan for rehabilitation of Mali’s cultural sites


01 February 2013

INTERPOL calls on international support for the preservation of cultural heritage in Mali


22 January 2013

Appeal following aggravated theft of art from house in Belgium


13 November 2012

Protection of cultural property focus of Bhutan Police Chief visit to INTERPOL


25 October 2012

INTERPOL holds first conference addressing growing problem of counterfeit art


16 October 2012

INTERPOL issues alert following theft of paintings from Kunsthal Museum in The Netherlands


08 October 2012

Philippines hosts INTERPOL workshop on the prevention of illicit trafficking in cultural property


21 May 2012

INTERPOL calls for vigilance on looting of ancient mosaics in Syria


02 March 2012

Cultural property crime focus of international expert meeting at INTERPOL


27 February 2012

Armed robbery at Ancient Olympia Museum in Greece


17 February 2012

Theft of three paintings by Brueghel from private home in Belgium


23 January 2012

Theft of Picasso and other paintings from National Art Gallery in Athens


16 December 2011

Coin dealers alerted by INTERPOL over illegal sales of ancient Roman treasures


21 October 2011

Safeguarding the world’s cultural heritage focus of INTERPOL symposium


12 October 2011

Appeal following theft of artwork by Magritte in Belgium


22 September 2011

INTERPOL issues alert following disappearance of cultural goods in Libya


14 April 2011

Meeting of INTERPOL's Experts Group on Stolen Cultural Property focuses on information sharing


17 March 2011

INTERPOL underlines role of concerted action at UNESCO forum on cultural heritage trafficking


23 February 2011

Four works of art stolen in Ajaccio, Corsica, France


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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.