The FBI has introduced a free online tool aimed at allowing people to search a database of thousands of stolen artworks and contact the agency if the have information about the items.
The tool called the National Stolen Art File has about 7,000 images in its database and allows people to search a variety of categories, including books, bowls, stamps, stained glass or enter keywords such as an artist's name, period date, or artwork title.
“It’s impossible for the FBI to look for every piece of stolen art in the country,” said Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, who manages the FBI art theft program.
“Having this online, searchable database accessible to the public as well as local law enforcement takes advantage of our technological resources to help curb the age-old problem of art theft.”
Search for “Monet,” for example, and several stolen works are returned. Click on an image and it enlarges. In many cases, details are provided about the artwork, including the work’s dimensions and other identifying information.
Any object stolen within the U.S. with a value of more than $2,000 can be listed. There are some international pieces in the file, but this is primarily a resource for reporting the theft of artwork within the United States.
“If a collector or gallery owner checks our site and sees that a piece of art is stolen, that’s an immediate red flag, and they can contact us,” Magness-Gardiner said.
“We want to solicit any and all information from the public about the stolen material .”
“And we in turn will provide this information to a much wider audience. This is a first step, and as we grow, we look forward to working with local law enforcement, the art community, and the public.”