A problem that has vexed police agencies, the insurance industry, museums, art galleries and honest art dealers for many years is the theft, disappearance and sometime re-emergence years later of significant artworks. Police agencies often are reluctant to devote resources to this category of property theft. For insurance companies, art represents a peculiar, high-end category of property and only a few are equipped to deal with it. And for those actively engaged in the business of showing and selling art, theft is an embarrassing, disruptive phenomenon that many would prefer to ignore. All these factors make art theft a fascinating topic for a book.
In writing Stolen: The Gallery of Missing Masterpieces, (which was originally subtitled, more appropriately, To Catch an Art Thief), Jonathan Webb had some assistance from a remarkable London-based company, the Art Loss Register. Julian Radcliffe, the company’s founder, shared information about some of the cases in which he had been involved and made images available for reproduction. Webb also drew on the work of some American archaeologists in running down information about the theft of ancient treasures from the museum in Baghdad. The resources of the British Library and London University wiere indispensable in rounding out detalis for sections on Nazi depredations in the Second World War and other aspects of the plundering of archaeological sites the world over.
Stolen was published in Great Britain by A&C Black and in Canada by Madison Press Books under its Black Walnut imprint.