Investigate the history of famous art crimes, including forgeries and thefts. Learn the basics of art law as well as a variety of scientific techniques to spot the difference between what is real and what is fake.
From the looting of antiquities to Nazi theft to the seizure of paintings right off museum walls, the world of international art crime is both fascinating and diverse. In a dynamic virtual learning environment that balances live sessions with different types of interactive activities, students will engage in an intensive study of this high-stakes arena, where millions of dollars as well as the reputations of premier art institutions and experts are on the line. Students will learn how fakes enter the market and what methods are used to determine whether a work of art is authentic or a forgery, as well as investigate how and when stolen works are restituted to their rightful owners. This course is ideal for students who love true crime and detective work, are inherently curious, and interested in law and ethics.
Using case studies of the most notable art crimes of the past three centuries, students will be introduced to basic legal and ethical issues specific to the art market, guided by an expert educator and an internationally renowned art law specialist. Students will discover how two unarmed men posing as police officers could steal 13 famous artworks valued at nearly $500 million right off the walls of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Students will also look at works of art stolen by the Nazi’s and then ultimately restituted to their rightful heirs, such as the captivating case of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was profiled in the 2015 film The Woman in Gold. A virtual visit to the new Art Tribunal in the Netherlands will shed light on the complex procedures of international art law.
Virtual site visits may include:
- Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I at The Neue Galerie in New York
- The Old Masters collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, highlighting works whose authenticity has been questioned by experts
- The Kiddell Collection of fakes, forgeries and reproductions at Sotheby’s Institute of Art-London
- The new International Art Tribunal in the Netherlands
Guest speakers may include:
- Art lawyers
- Forensic scientists
- Auction house experts
- Art insurers & handlers
- Speakers from the Art Crime Unit of the F.B.I.
Projects may include:
- Taking on the role of an art crime professional, students will create their own written proposal to track down fascinating stolen objects and return looted objects to their rightful owners
- Learning how to analyze the authenticity of artworks in major international museums
- Exploring the London Stolen Arts Database
Tech Fee: $75
Please note: This information is subject to change at any time at the discretion of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.