Art Crime and Fraud

The art market which remains driven by London and New York is truly global but stolen and looted art, the production of fakes and forgeries and the fake antiques market are big business and art crime, often closely linked with money laundering is now the second most lucrative criminal enterprise in the UK behind drug dealing. It is not just inexperienced individuals but global companies with access to great knowledge who are falling victim to art crime and fraud.

We support our clients with cross border advice on the criminal and fraudulent aspects of transactions involving high value objects, works of art and objects of cultural heritage. Clients may have been the victim of an auction related fraud intended to artificially bid up the price; stop a sale going through at too cheap a price or to otherwise distort the sale price. Perhaps you've bought art or antiquities that are described as being more valuable than they are, or you have been deliberately sold a forgery or reproduction as the genuine item. If so we can help.

We help to trace and recover lost, stolen or misappropriated items and advise you on your options for obtaining compensation. These can include civil recovery, which can be time consuming and which have difficult rules relating to when proceedings can be brought, or by pursuing a criminal conviction, the latter of which has advantages in relation speed and to accessing the Court's draconian powers against offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to claim compensation. 

This is a rapidly expanding but difficult area of the law. The Police and Crown Prosecution Service are under resourced and frequently turn away requests to prosecute cases if they appear to be complicated, involve time consuming investigations or where evidence is lacking. We utilise our wide experience of prosecuting criminal offences, including fraud, by putting together cases in a format that may assist in persuading the Police and CPS to take on the prosecution, and we make legal representations to reinforce the evidence submitted. Alternatively we can bring a private prosecution on your behalf, which if successful, can result in costs being recovered, compensation being ordered, the proceeds of any crime being confiscated, a prison term and the guilty verdict being published.