Prepared by IMUA's
Arts & Records Committee

Copyright 2007 © Inland Marine Underwriters Association


The Inland Marine Underwriters Association [IMUA] is a not-for-profit national trade association focused on the commercial inland marine line of business. IMUA was organized in 1930 as a national trade association and rating bureau for all inland marine classes. In 1948 the rating bureau activities of the IMUA were transferred to the Inland Marine Insurance Bureau (now defunct) due to the 1944 US Supreme Court decision in the South-Eastern Underwriters Association case.

Today, IMUA is comprised of --

  • Members - insurance and reinsurance companies that underwrite a significant portion of the commercial inland marine insurance in the U.S.
  • Associate Members - companies or organizations that provide products and/or services to the insurance industry.
IMUA is committed to advancing the educational, governmental, regulatory and technical interests of the commercial inland marine insurance industry.

One of the services IMUA provides its members is the publishing of information for use by underwriters, loss control and claims specialists, and other interested parties. The topics covered by IMUA Reports, Bulletins and News Articles are intended to provide an overall awareness of the issues, hazards and exposures associated with a specific industry or inland marine class of business.

Volunteer members of a technical committee of the IMUA or IMUA staff have produced this information. Committee members comply with all applicable laws including competition and trade regulations while compiling information.

It is generally not possible to treat any one subject in an exhaustive manner, nor is it IMUA’s intent to do so. No warranties are made regarding the thoroughness or accuracy of the report or any part of it. Nothing in this report should be interpreted as providing definitive guidance on any question relating to policy interpretation, underwriting practice, or any other issues in insurance coverage.

IMUA does not prescribe to its members how to make underwriting or claims decisions, nor does it require that analysis follow any particular format.

IMUA members offer thanks and appreciation to the following Committee members for their contribution to this Report:

Arts & Records Committee

Dorit Straus (Committee Chair) - Chubb
Rosita Cantres - XL Group
Paul Fritsch - ACE-INA
Randi Glazer - Catlin
Michelle Impey - Chubb
Lauren McDermott - Gen Re
Shelia O’Keeffe - Gen Re
Ann-Louise Seago - XL Group
David Shillingford - Art Loss Register
David Sleeman - Masterson Gurr Johns, Inc.
Elizabeth von Hapsburg - Masterson Gurr Johns, Inc.
Victor Wiener - Independent Consultant
Katja Zigerlig - AIG

IMUA extends special thanks and appreciation to

Special Agent Robert Wittman
Senior Investigator
FBI National Art Crime Team


Wilber Faulk

for their valuable insight and additions to the content of this report.


Genesis of the Report


Scope of the Report

Overview of the Problem

Underwriting Considerations

Loss Prevention Considerations
-How To Deter
-Employee Screening
-Transit Controls
-How to Detect/Recover


Addendum - US and Worldwide Examples


The idea for this report came out of an American Association of Museums [AAM] annual meeting several years ago when Special Agent Robert Wittman - Senior Investigator of the FBI’s National Art Crime Team asked the attendees [curators - registrars - museum staff] - "By show of hands, how many attendees in the audience had experienced an internal theft?" More than half the audience raised their hands. He followed up with - "How many of the incidents were reported or investigated?" Most of the hands went down.

It was from this seemingly innocent series of questions that on May 15, 2007, under the banner of IMUA, a presentation on this topic was made at the AAM annual meeting in Chicago. That presentation upon which this report is based was described in the attendee handbook as follows:

Law enforcement and insurance experts guide you through case studies and discuss the financial, legal and public perception of this insidious crime and risk management techniques and solutions to mitigate the problem and shorten the discovery period.

This report captures the presentations and also expands on that session utilizing attendee feedback by providing additional information.

This report's audience is primarily the insurance community, but the art world should also find value in many of the sections.

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Almost any business has an exposure to embezzlement, forgery, computer crime and theft of property by employees. Impacted businesses run the gamut from the small convenience or grocery store to larger retail businesses with inventory and merchandise; to any business with money, negotiable instruments or precious stones, gold or bullion. However, nowhere is this problem more insidious and generally under the public’s radar screen than in museums, galleries, dealer’s premises, corporate collections as well as private collections.

Besides the theft by organized and opportunistic perpetrators, an element of risk exists whenever employees and subcontractors have access to any collection. Many papers and articles on art theft are in circulation, but few focus on "insider" theft. The execution of insider theft and the profile of the thief are quite different from a loss caused by a break-in and pose additional challenges in both discovery and prosecution.

According to the FBI, fraud and embezzlement by employees is on the rise, and frequently can go on for years before it is discovered. When it is discovered, it is not unusual for the employer to find out that the theft was done by its most trusted employees.

For illustrative purposes, an October 24, 2007 article that appeared in the Washington Post entitled "Materials Missing at Library of Congress" highlights the dilemma of differentiating lack of inventory control and procedures from traditional fraud. The article states that about one-sixth of the books, monographs and bound periodicals at the Library of Congress weren’t where they were supposed to be. Officials believe most of the missing materials are misplaced, not stolen or lost, but they do not know for sure. Since 2002 the library has been conducting an inventory, prompted in part by a series of thefts in the early 1990’s. However, as of this writing, that inventory is only 20% complete.

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From a technical standpoint, employee dishonesty coverage, i.e. the type of insurance that protects organizations from loss of money, securities, theft of inventory, and today can also encompass computer fraud, wire transfer fraud, counterfeiting and other criminal acts, has been underwritten by "crime underwriters", and the coverage is known as "fidelity insurance." Typically this coverage is separate from the property and casualty policy. It is common for this type of insurance to respond only when an employee has been identified as the one who has been dishonest and responsible for theft of property and/or embezzlement of funds.

Over the years, underwriters have been led to believe that museums are not-for-profit, that the items in the collection are unique and not easily sold on the open market, and that the employees are there as a "labor of love." Therefore, the peril of insider theft has not been scrutinized to the degree warranted, and in many cases underwriters have been more than willing to delete the usual employee theft exclusion that is found in many policies. This report will emphasize the differences between ‘insider theft’ specifically as it relates to cultural institutions and traditional fraud.

In this report we will look at the definition of insider theft from an art world perspective; contrast it with traditional employee dishonesty; discuss typical insurance policy terms, conditions, coverages and exclusions; and provide some ideas about loss prevention techniques that might be employed. Finally, the paper will conclude with various case studies of internal museum thefts.

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This type of exposure to loss or damage is one of the most difficult to underwrite. Even if the initial exposure analysis is acceptable, the exposure can change over time as an employee’s personal circumstances changes. All too often, insurance is often looked upon to recoup one’s monetary loss in the event of loss or damage, but some losses, particularly those caused by "insider" theft, can never be fully recovered. Theft of property leaves one feeling violated. An individual or individuals have taken something of value (historical - monetary - sentimental), and left a hole in a collection, pocketbook or heart.

For the purpose of this report, we would like to establish some common definitions of individuals who may be involved with insider theft as follows:

  • Employee: a trusted individual who could have cleared all background checks when first hired. But circumstances within the individual’s life may have altered their lifestyle. For example, they may have run into string of bad luck financially, and they may see the opportunity to steal from the institution where they work.

  • Visitor: this invited guest may be a regular visitor who is well known to the staff and has gained the trust of the employees. They are allowed to move about the institution unsupervised. Their initial motive may have been very innocent: for example, doing research on a particular topic requiring access to a special collections area. But over time, the opportunity presents itself to "take a few small items that no one will miss."

  • Contractor/Contract Employee: similar to the institution employee, this individual may have access to collections areas where work is being done, and an opportunity arises to "pocket" a few items. The employee may be working for a reputable contractor; however, the institution still needs to evaluate the contractor’s hiring policies and practices.
The following are examples of losses that may never be able to be fully recovered:
  • Disappearance of tangible assets such as irreplaceable works of art from exhibition or storage
  • Adverse publicity created by theft impacting reputation
  • Loss of trust of industry peers in the art community
  • Loss or impairment of potential future exhibitions, donations or estate requests
  • Disruption of day-to-day operations
  • Time spent with law enforcement
Deception is the key element of any workplace fraud, and the institution may realize too late that it has been victimized. An appropriate response to workplace fraud first requires an understanding of all potential areas that are 'at risk.' It is unlikely that one can completely eliminate ‘insider’ theft, but it is possible to reduce the risk through effective loss control measures, as discussed in this report.

The opportunity/justification/need basis to ‘insider theft’ is the perfect vehicle through which to define the problem. Psychologists, criminologists and law enforcement officials often look at what motivates a person to commit a fraud or theft. Dr. Donald R. Cressey is credited with the development of the "Fraud Triangle" which identified the three elements often present:

  1. Opportunity

    This refers to the situation or circumstances that make it possible for fraud to take place. The single greatest exposure example here is when an employee has uncontrolled or unlimited access to collections and storage facilities. And the single greatest underlying cause for opportunity is lack of or poor inventory control. Almost all internal thefts are from a storage area or a bookshelf and the greatest single factor is the lack of or poor inventory control. This is probably the key driving factor given that the financial incentive is relatively small in most cases.

  2. Rationalization

    This trait refers to the psychology of people who commit fraud, accept their own actions, but subsequently attempt to shift blame to others for their actions.

    One example is entitlement, i.e. "They do not pay me for what I am worth, therefore I have this coming to me. ... I need this for my collection ... 'they' do not appreciate the significance of the piece." Another example is anger or revenge; "I have been treated poorly." Minimalization is yet another common thread, "I am not taking very much ... the piece will never be missed ... there are a lot more of these in their collection." And finally moral justification, "Everyone else is doing it, so it must not be that bad."

  3. Financial pressure or monetary incentive

    Here one could be addressing anything from lifestyle issues (living beyond one’s means) to a personal financial crisis that one believes can be solved by obtaining a piece that can be sold.

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Policies for art dealers, galleries and corporate collections, which are mostly for profit entities, may or may not contain exclusion for employee dishonesty. Therefore, the first caveat in underwriting - please read and understand the insurance contract. And if there is exclusion, the coverage for employee dishonesty will need to be purchased separately.

The prudent underwriter must evaluate this exposure regardless of the presence or absence of employee dishonesty exclusion. Since many policies today provide All Risk in coverage, the ability to prove whether the disappearance of art objects was the result of an insider theft (employee dishonesty) or ‘normal’ run-of-the-mill theft becomes paramount, and often difficult to determine.

Typical exclusions found in typical industry Dealer and Museum Forms are as follows:


    The Company will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss or damage is excluded regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.

    1. Natural aging, wear, tear, gradual deterioration, insects, moth or vermin, rust or oxidation or hidden or latent defect or any quality in property that causes it to damage or destroy itself, or warping or shrinkage.

    2. Repairing, reframing, restoring, retouching or any similar process;

    3. Theft or dishonesty committed by or in collusion with any principal, shareholder (beneficial or otherwise), partner, director, officer or any employee of the Insured, or any person to whom insured property is entrusted or loaned.

    4. Loss or shortage discovered while taking inventory.

    5. Loss of or damage to property unless it is entered in the Insured’s stock records.

    6. Loss or damage at any trade fair unless specifically notified to and agreed by the Company in advance.

    7. Loss from or damage in or on unattended vehicles.

    8. Electrical or mechanical fault or breakdown.

    9. The amount of the deductible stated in the Declarations for each and every loss.

    10. Consequential loss of any kind.

    11. Mysterious disappearance or unexplained loss.

    12. Loss or damage or liability directly or indirectly occasioned by, happening through or in consequence or war, invasion, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), civil war, rebellion, revolution, insurrection, military or usurped power.

    13. Loss or damage caused by or resulting from confiscation, nationalization, requisition or destruction of or damage to property by or under the order of any government or public or local authority.


    The Company will not pay for loss or damage caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss or damage is excluded regardless of any other cause or event that contributes concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.

    1. Property hereby insured, which may be sustained while the same is under any repairing, restoration or retouching process and directly resulting therefrom.

    2. Wear, tear, gradual deterioration, insects, vermin, hidden or latent defect or any quality in property that causes it to damage or destroy itself.

    3. Loss or damage directly or indirectly occasioned by, happening through or in consequence of war, invasion, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), civil war, rebellion, revolution, insurrection, military or usurped power.

    4. Loss or damage caused by or resulting from confiscation, nationalization, requisition or destruction of or damage to property by or under the order of any government or public or local authority

    Inability by the insurance company to prove that the loss was due to theft by employee can then be construed as mysterious disappearance or ordinary theft, which may be covered under the property section of the policy.

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Now that the issue has been framed, we will now move to ‘insider theft’ risk management and loss control considerations.

In reviewing various underwriting guides used by many insurance carriers who specialize in insuring museums collections, there is one rather consistent thread: often there is little or no discussion of how to control or mitigate this exposure, or even how to offer any risk management advice to insureds. The reality is that insider theft does occur and this paper will attempt to show both the exposures and ways to mitigate losses through proven methods borrowed from other industries that have had to confront these crimes.

Proper precautions may have been taken with installation of alarm systems, security staff, locks and key control. And these are all appropriate means to keep out the unwanted visitor - the person who will break in to take what is not theirs. However, insider theft adds another element to the exposure. Here the perpetrator has entered the building with appropriate credentials: a current employee, visitor, invited guest or contractor. That person has now gotten beyond the initial barriers that were set up to prevent thefts from occurring: guards, alarms systems and locked doors.

There are some typical measures one should take into account at any gallery or institution, tempered by the regulatory environment. However, the biggest challenge might just be inventory control. Smaller cultural institutions just do not have the resources, and larger museums have too many items to conduct regular inventory processes. Regardless of the operational issues surrounding inventory, it is recommended that a formal inventory take place at least on an annual basis. Ideally this would be led by a third party auditor. To ease the financial burden on both small and large institutions, cataloguing pieces as they are received is suggested. Further, the institution can arrange to perform partial inventories throughout the year; for example checking a portion of the artwork each time so that during the 12-month period, the entire collection need not be checked.


The logical place to begin is the managerial attitude of the institution and controls currently in place, if any. There are numerous elements that need to be considered here including:

  • Understanding the desired external reputation and/or perceived integrity of the organization, company or individual;
  • Established organizational hierarchy and reporting relationships;
    • Depending on staff size, consider segregation of duties - establish a separation of duties and responsibilities particularly as respects incoming and outgoing loans, accessioning and de-accessioning collections, and who is authorized to approve the movement of items both within and externally.
  • Install, implement, maintain and test rigorous access control policies and systems and have well defined levels of authority and access
  • Established dual levels of accountability, i.e. a system of personnel checks and balances
  • Have written documentation and record keeping protocols, vetting of security systems employed and their integrity
  • Establish written procedures regarding roles and responsibilities for care, custody and control of each individual item that should include valuation records accompanied by a photograph of the artwork, a short description of identifiable features, a history of ownership, and an appraised value
  • Execute thorough loan agreements, establishing clear responsibility for the objects entrusted and the level of security required
  • Have a system of regulated and documented access control to the inventory or collection.
  • Perform consistent package and bag inspections for all staff and visitors upon departure.
  • Establish hiring and management protocols for staff and administration
    • Employee background screening when initially hired and periodically thereafter, especially as respects positions of trust. The initial screening as well as the periodic checks should include financial/credit data. Also, the institution should incorporate a review of individual tendencies and human factors leading to insider theft and fraud in their personnel screening process.
    • Mandatory vacation policies for employees who hold positions of trust
  • Communicate, clear definitions on use and misuse of company assets and corresponding reprisals including termination and prosecution
    • Fraud deterrence, awareness and reporting protocols
  • Establish and maintain a zero tolerance policy as respects theft and fraud as well as other criminal policies.
  • Create a reputation for aggressively investigating any indication of fraud
  • A process of internal and independent audits [both scheduled and random] and legal review of company records, policies and procedures.
  • Conduct 'table top' theft of collection drills or exercises to make sure everything works as expected.
  • Register readers, scholars and others with access to collectibles and have established procedures for the safekeeping and ready retrieval of current records. Prohibit staff, scholars, consultants, etc. from bringing items larger than 11" x 15" into a collection space, and minimize staff personal possessions within collection spaces.

Employee Screening and Support Program for Insider Threat Abatement

  • Pre employment screening: Criminal history check, credit check, and educational verification complemented by personality, aptitude, and /or cognitive testing
  • Dynamic Employee Monitoring: Ongoing, institutionally tailored reassessments of employees’ personal, financial and psychological status.
  • Team Assessment, Team Diagnostics & Team Building Services: Coaching services designed to assess interpersonal styles and team dynamics, provide feedback regarding these styles/dynamics and enhance team functioning,
  • Performance Improvement: Individualized assessments complemented by coaching sessions focused on performance and personal enhancement; group training/in-service sessions devoted to issues germane to workplace setting/job demands.
  • Leadership Development: individualized assessments to identify personal assets and liabilities related to leadership conducted in tandem with individualized coaching sessions; seminars/in-service training devoted to leadership development.
  • Crisis Intervention: Individualized risk assessments of struggling employees; group debriefing/incident-support services following an on-site crisis.

Transit procedural controls should include:

  • Set high standards for the protection of collections in transit including vetting of the firm selected, level of security provided, route verification and check points. Do not advertise the value of the objects shipped or details of the movement.
  • Check the insured's inventory of artwork against the Art Loss Register to detect possible claims fraud.
  • Enforcement of stringent collections-in-transit guidelines
  • A written procedure to be followed by employees whenever delivering or releasing artwork to a customer that should include property pass and sign-out procedures for objects leaving a secure area of the building.
  • Requirements for the receiving party to sign a receipt.
  • Procedures for preventing theft of items in transit
  • Maintenance of chain-of-custody documents for all items in transit

Physical engineering controls of the building should include:

  • Building materials, construction and integrity
  • Adequacy of public protection (law enforcement interaction)
  • Adequacy of private protection (detection, suppression and notification) systems and equipment for perimeter, area and object alarms
  • Scope, extent, and adequacy of burglary systems and equipment
  • Alarm response plan
  • Scope, extent and adequacy of electronic surveillance systems and equipment
  • Access control devices and levels of authority
Underwriters Laboratories Certificated Central Station Burglar Alarm Systems can be an integral part of protecting the institution from more than external theft threats. Some of the integral parts of these systems include - Home location considerations - if it’s a condo or co-op, determine the level of building security (24-hour doorman, manned passenger elevators, manned service entrance/elevator, etc.)
Occupancy considerations - primary or secondary residence

How to Detect/Recover

  • Stress the importance of proper documentation - photographs, compliance with Object ID [] standards, create and secure backup copies of any collection management software programs, and make sure the valuations are current.
  • Perform regular and random audits to assess organizational compliance with established security-related policies and procedures.
  • Understand the insurance company’s loss reporting procedures and engage your insurance agent or broker and the insurance company in the loss prevention and mitigation strategies before something happens. Do not wait until the first indication of a problem and then try to determine how and to whom a loss should be reported. Cooperate with the claims adjuster assigned.
  • Seriously consider engaging the The Art Loss Register [ALR] in the process. The ALR performs two roles: deterrence and recovery. If something is found missing, it should be reported to the ALR - both the theft victim and the insurance company should check to make sure this is done. The ALR also registers details of items pre-theft and will check these items against any upcoming art sales around the world. This service can alert an institution of an unauthorized sale. This feature is important in insider theft where discovery of a loss may otherwise take years. If ‘insiders’ know that vulnerable items have been registered this may serve as a deterrent to theft.
  • Pre-establish a relationship and liaison with law enforcement personnel, especially the FBI agents specializing in art theft. Then, when one reports a potential theft or fraud, the reporting relationships will be well known.
      Note: Be mindful that small community law enforcement might not have the resources to proactively pursue the matter in an aggressive a manner as desired.
  • If the object(s) might be transported overseas, make sure law enforcement involves Interpol and/or the law enforcement agency in a suspected country of importation.
  • Ensure security and other relevant staff is trained in local, state and federal laws on theft response, detection, restraint and arrest. Make sure staff routes all media inquiries to the communication PR department or designated individual. Have a pre-established philosophy for working with the media during any crises including a published list of Do;s and Don'ts.
  • Provide security awareness training to all personnel on methods used in insider theft of art and fraud cases.
  • Have one person identified and recognized as the key contact during the investigation.
  • Obtain and archive a copy of the crime report and all related records of the incident including logs, CCTV security tapes, etc.
  • In the event of a major theft, the use of an outside private investigative firm might be appropriate to assist law enforcement, the insurance carrier and the organization in recovering the object(s).
  • If the theft is major and has an impact on staff morale, consider coordinating with a recognized employee assistance plan [EAP] or other counseling service to assist with response to staff trauma and emotional needs.

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The concern with internal theft has become a real concern for cultural institutions. While the magnitude of the problem is not easily quantified, the fact exists that not all individuals or institutions have the same appreciation for collection integrity. To assist cultural institutions and private individuals, this report has explored the problem and provided numerous tangible suggestions on how to mitigate the incidence of internal theft. Collect - Register - Secure could be the three words that best describe how one should go about the proper protection of the artwork, collectibles and artifacts in any collection.

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Internal Museum Theft Examples


1. Museum: Numerous Libraries, including Beinecke Library at Yale
  Items: Hundreds of rare and valuable maps
  Value: Unknown, likely in the high tens of millions of dollars
  Date of theft: Unknown when it began, possibly early 1990's
  Date of Discovery: June 8, 2005
  Circumstances: E. Forbes Smiley III had access to various libraries for many years, and with the aid of a paper knife, he cut rare maps from books.
  Means of Discovery: A library worker at the Yale library discovered Mr. Smileys' knife on the reading room floor. Later that day police found in his jacket a fragile map taken form a 17th century book.

2. Museum: Swimming Hall of Fame
  Items: Over 100 medals and cups
  Date of Discovery: December 2004
  Circumstances: The janitor, Paul Nicholas Cristow, alias Joseph Mancino, who was temporarily employed at the Swimming Hall, was stealing items from the museum and selling them on eBay.
  Means of Discovery: The Museum curator was concerned about missing items when he received a call from a collector who bought medals belonging to the museum on eBay. An investigation ensued and the janitor was arrested after the police arranged a sting with the help of a store Mr. Cristow was dealing with.

3. Museum: Whitney Museum of American Art
  Items: Ticket sales proceeds
  Value: $850,000
  Date of theft: 2002 - 2004
  Date of Discovery: 2004/5
  Circumstances: Naseem Wahlah, the museum's manager of visitor services, was accused of stealing nearly $850,000 and Rowan Foley, who worked for Ms. Wahlah, was accused of stealing $30,000.
  Means of Discovery: Mr. Foley informed the Museum of Ms. Wahlah’s activities and an investigation ensued which found both of them to be involved.

4. Museum: National Archives and Records Administration of the United States
  Items: Missing Hundreds of historic documents and artifacts, including presidential pardons and autographed photos of astronauts.
  Date of theft: Various
  Date of Discovery: Years 2003/4
  Circumstances: Items taken by researcher and employee. The researcher hid documents in his clothes despite the rule that no coats or briefcases were allowed in the archives.
  Means of Discovery: In April 2003 a civil war researcher saw a letter for sale on eBay and recognized it as one from the National Archives. This led to the identification of Howard W. Harner Jr. who had hidden documents on his person. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Shawn Aubitz, an archivist with the Museum in Philadelphia for 16 years, was discovered to have stolen items after; again, documents appeared for sale online. He was sentenced to 21 months and fined $73,000. The National Archives has since upgraded its security.

5. Museum: National Museum of Naval Aviation
  Items: Among the objects were a Mercury astronaut space boot, a U. S. Navy "Black Widow" Cross and a U. S. Navy Distinguished Flying Cross.
  Date of theft: Circa 2002
  Circumstances: Former employee, Sherrie Shaw, was sentenced to 366 days in prison for stealing artifacts and selling them on eBay. She maintains her innocence, saying she got the items "mixed in", with her own materials when her office moved to another building in 2002.
  Means of Discovery: Discovered for sale on eBay.

6. Museum: Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
  Items: Space artifacts, including a Gemini space boot, a nose cone and a control panel from Air Force One.
  Value: The perpetrator was ordered to forfeit $129,000
  Date of theft: Various, however a number of items were sold at an auction in spring of 2000 at the Superior Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA
  Date of Discovery: 2003
  Circumstances: Max Ary, the co-founder and former president of the Kansas Comsosphere and Space Center, was found guilty on 12 charges. He stole various space and aviation artifacts from the museum and donors.
  Means of Discovery: An internal audit in the spring 2003 turned up 26 missing Items that had been loaned by NASA; and this initiated an investigation which led to Max Ary’s home being searched in December 2003 by the FBI.

7. Museum: Boston Children’s Museum
  Items: Money stolen through a payroll scheme
  Value: $200,000
  Date of theft: 1998 - 2003
  Date of Discovery: 2003
  Circumstances: Nicole Bartlett, a former employee, was found to have stolen money through issuing surplus payroll checks and depositing them in personal accounts.
  Means of Discovery: The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

8. Museum: University of Texas at San Antonio, Library
  Items: Money stolen from fine payments
  Value: $200,000
  Date of theft: 1997 - 2003
  Date of Discovery: 2003
  Circumstances: Gloria C. Gonzales, a former employee, was found to have stolen money intended for payment of overdue fees.
  Means of Discovery: A 2003 audit uncovered the missing funds and prompted an investigation.

9. Museum: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  Items: Varying forms of historic American memorabilia, including swords.
  Value: Approximately $2.5 million
  Date of theft: Over the course of 10 years starting in the 1990’s
  Date of Discovery: Late 1990’s
  Circumstances: A janitor stole numerous items over the course of ten years and sold them on to a collector.
  Means of Discovery: An FBI investigation led to recovery of all the items.

10. Museum: Wisconsin Historical Society
  Items: Numerous Native American Artifacts
  Value: Approx. $150,000
  Date of theft: 1995
  Date of Discovery: Circa 1998
  Circumstances: David Wooley had been the society’s curator of anthropology for only a few months in 1995 before he began taking items from the collection.
  Means of Discovery: Wooley’s thefts were uncovered after a Ho-Chunk war club he sold found its way on to an online auction catalogue and a German University Professor noticed it and alerted the Museum.

11. Museum: Brigham Young University
  Items: Numerous paintings
  Date of theft: Circa 1970’s
  Circumstances: Former employee of the Museum "deaccessioned" items without authorization and sold them.
  Means of Discovery: Items are still missing

12. Museum: Southwest Museum
  Items: Numerous Native American objects, among them a Hopi Doll
  Date of Discovery: 1999
  Circumstances: Former director of the Museum "deaccessioned" items without authorization.
  Means of Discovery: Losses were discovered and although many items are still missing, the important Hopi Doll was identified by the ALR and recovered by the FBI from a major auction house.

13. Museum: Library of Congress
  Items: 327,000 books and maps
  Value: Approximately $2 million
  Date of Discovery: 1997
  Means of Discovery: A recent survey indicated that about 27,000 rare maps and prints, together with about 300,000 books, are missing. Blamed for this problem are the vastness of the security challenge (500 miles of bookshelves), lack of prosecution and judicial support and a disturbing past unwillingness to report insider theft. There have been 6 arrests and only 3 convictions since 1990.

14. Museum: Hobcaw Barony
  Items: 11 works of art and 40 other items
  Value: Approx. $ 1-2 million
  Date of theft: 1991-2003
  Date of Discovery: Circa July 2003
  Circumstances: Samuel McIntosh II, worked at the museum for 13 yrs, during which time he stole several items.
  Means of Discovery: On being relieved of his position he made a fake robbery claim with the Police. The resulting investigation led them to his house, where the items were found.


1. Museum: Archive of Lucca’s Cathedral Museum
  Items: Various Objects, kneeling stool, chalices, altar clothes
  Date of Discovery: 2005
  Circumstances: Mons. Guiseppe Ghilarducci, aged 70, director of the museum, is charged with receiving and selling stolen property, including a 15th Century canvas by Marracci. Mons. Ghilarducci claims he bought them in good faith.
  Means of Discovery: The Carabinieri of Lucca, following a warrant issued by Chief Attoney Giuseppe Quattrocchi, arrested the Director.

2. Museum: Antiquities Department of Egypt
  Items: Antiquities
  Date of Discovery: 2005
  Circumstances: Taking bribes and supplying smugglers with certificates for genuine items stating they were fakes (in Egyptian Law only fake antiquities can be exported). Abu Shanab is now serving a 25year sentence.

3. Museum: National Library of Stockholm, National Library of Denmark, Uppsala University’s Carolina Rediviva Library.
  Items: Books
  Date of theft: Pre 2004
  Date of Discovery: 2004
  Circumstances: Employee worked with outsiders to sell books.
  Means of Discovery: Library staff alerted law enforcement when they began to notice items missing on the shelf corresponding with items for sale online.

4. Museum: National Museum, Baghdad
  Items: Antiquities - approximately 14,000 items
  Date of theft: March 2003
  Date of Discovery: 2003
  Circumstances: Allegedly a number of museum employees along with other looters raided the museum during the early part of the Iraq War.
  Means of Discovery: US forces were alerted to the possible looting prior to the event. Loyal museum officials alerted the US military of the looting.

5. Museum: Danish Royal Library
  Items: 75 boxes of books recovered, approximately 680 books
  Value: $1.5 million
  Date of theft: Pre 2000
  Date of Discovery: 2004
  Circumstances: A librarian retired in 2000, and started to sell the books he had stolen through auction houses worldwide. After his death his wife and son continued selling the books, unaware they were stolen. They are expected to be sentenced.

6. Museum: Danish Museum of Art and Design
  Items: Approximately 100 items from exhibits, including porcelain and glass objects, portrait paintings, and a 2000 year old Kimono ornament.
  Value: Approximately $163,000
  Date of theft: 1999-2002
  Circumstances: A curator is charged with stealing from exhibits while working at the museum. Small pocket sized objects were taken.
  Means of Discovery: Unknown

7. Museum: Australian Museum in Sydney
  Items: 2000 historical objects
  Value: $1 million
  Date of theft: 1996-2003
  Date of Discovery: 2003
  Circumstances: Henk van Leeuwen, a former employee who worked as a pest controller in the museum, was found to have stolen over 2000 items, including a $50,000 stuffed lion first seen at the Museum in 1911.
  Means of Discovery: The case was investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Leeuwen’s home was raided and the items found; none had been sold.

8. Museum: Army Museum, Delft
  Items: Prints from a book on Napoleon’s travels, among many others, possibly as many as 2000 prints, hundreds of books and 20 paintings.
  Date of theft: Pre 2003, at least for 7 years
  Date of Discovery: April 2003
  Circumstances: Curator Alexander Polman cut out 47 of 67 prints from the book, the remaining prints were severely damaged.
  Means of Discovery: In April 2003 preparations began for a book history event at the Museum. It was during this time that the damage to the Napoleon book was discovered and as a result of this investigation, the large number of thefts was unraveled.

9. Museum: French National Library
  Items: Manuscript titled, 52, 13th Century text
  Value: Approximately $300,000
  Date of Discovery: Michel Garel was arrested in 2004
  Circumstances: Mr. Garel, an expert in Hebrew manuscripts, had been working at the Library for 30 years. After modification he sold the manuscript to a dealer and consequently went to a good faith purchaser through Christie’s.
  Means of Discovery: After a stock take (inventory) in 2004 it was found that 30,000 books were missing and almost 1,200 of the most precious documents were unaccounted for since the last stock take in 1947.

10. Museum: France’s National Archives
  Items: 1814 Treaty Fontainebleau, with other documents
  Date of theft: 1988
  Date of Discovery: 1996
  Circumstances: John William Rooney and Marshall Lawrence Pierce were charged in connection with the theft. Rooney visited the National Archives several times in the 1980’s and had access to the documents. Both were convicted in the US and fined on misdemeanor charges in 2003. They now face charges in France and could spend up to 3 years in prison.
  Means of Discovery: Sotheby’s alerted the FBI after they were approached with the items.

11. Museum: V & A Museum
  Items: Approximately 2500 items, including 98 Japanese Swords
  Date of theft: 1938-1954
  Date of Discovery: 1954
  Circumstances: An employee, named Nevin, had been stealing from the museum for about 16 years.
  Means of Discovery: There hadn’t been a stock taking (inventory) for 16years And in 1954 one was done, the loss reported and Nevin was found guilty; he was sentenced to 3 years.

12. Museum: Vatican Library
  Items: Pages cut from manuscripts
  Circumstances: Anthony J. Melnikas, a university professor, stole books from various libraries.
  Means of Discovery: Arrested in Ohio, he was Most common types of losses are:
  • Overloading of the boom due to improper use of capacity chart, (sometimes due to not knowing what the load actually weighs)
  • Boom cratering, due to contact with load or other structure
  • Boom failure due to side loading of the boom during a lift
  • Crane overturning, due to ground subsidence/ collapse, improper matting, improper use of outriggers, etc.
  • Failure of lifting slings, rigging, etc. and/ or improper rigging
  • Failures due to improper maintenance of safety equipment, such as boom limit switches, anti two blocking device, mechanical level indicator, etc.
  • charged and pleaded guilty to numerous thefts including the Vatican Library.

13. Museum: The Louvre Museum
  Items: Leonardo da Vinci’s, Mona Lisa
  Value: Priceless
  Date of theft: 1911
  Date of Discovery: 1911
  Circumstances: Vincenzo-Perugia hid in the museum until after hours, stole the pieces and exited through a fire escape.
  Means of Discovery: The theft was realized within a matter of hours. Vincenzo was later arrested in Italy when trying to sell the work. He claimed that he was ‘repatriating’ the painting.

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