The world’s largest police organization has developed a user-friendly app to better identify and report stolen artworks as a means to combat art and artifact trafficking.
“In recent years we’ve witnessed the unprecedented ransack by terrorists of the cultural heritage of countries arising from armed conflict, organized looting, and cultural cleansing,” says Secretary-General Jürgen Stock of the police organization Interpol, headquartered in Lyon, France. “This new tool is a significant step forward in enhancing the ability of police officers, cultural heritage professionals, and the general public to protect our common heritage.”
The public can use ID-Art, Interpol’s free app, to scroll through the stolen art database that contains more than 52,000 items. It is now as easy to identify a piece of stolen as swiping on a smartphone. Information can be accessed through a search engine or by uploading images on the app. Collectors and art owners have the reverse-image search option to check if a work of art is from dubious provenance. According to Unesco, almost $10 billion worth of cultural heritage items finds their way on the market. The app has already a few wins under its belt: two stolen statues have been identified by the Italian police earlier this year, and the Dutch Art Crime Unit was able to recover two stolen paintings.