Did you know that the art world has its own Indiana Jones?

July 14, 2017

Treasures, art thieves, old attics and intrigue. For an art detective Arthur Brand it’s all just part of the job.

Actually, recovering lost masterpieces is not Arthur Brand’s day job; his Netherlands-based company Artiaz advises collectors on the provenance of art and antiquities and works with Jewish families to recover works from their collections stolen by the Nazis. But a small part of work is recoveries of thefts, and these are the things that hit the headlines.

Arthur’s remarkable story began in 2002. He had been a collector himself and was stunned to find out that he had invested in forgeries. He befriended notorious Dutch art smuggler Michel van Rijn, who had since been working with police as an informant (just like Neal in “White Collar”!), who invited him to London where he was working with Scotland Yard, the FBI and a number of high-profile fakers and antiquities smugglers. Van Riijn took a liking to Brand and passed on a wealth of information. Yeah, that’s a real-life story!

In 2016, two important, multi-million-pound pieces of 20th-century art stolen seven years prior from a Dutch museum by a masked gang in broad daylight were recovered by Brand, putting him in the spotlight yet again. The paintings, Salvador Dali’s 1941 Surrealist work Adolescence and Polish Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka’s La Musicienne (1929), which featured in Madonna’s “Vogue” music video, had been thought destroyed forever. But after nine months of careful negotiations with two separate criminal gangs which kept the masterpieces worth an estimated £6.5m, Brand secured their return.

No need for Bond movies when we’ve got a real-life Arthur Brand!

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