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3 Art Heists & Forgeries That Would Never Have Happened if ArtChain Global Had Existed

3 Art Heists & Forgeries That Would Never Have Happened if ArtChain Global Had Existed

People are very intrigued by art crimes and they’re a favourite theme in blockbuster movies. Ocean’s 12, The Thomas Crowne Affair and Entrapment are just some of the movies with art crime as a central theme.

Art crime isn’t only restricted to the big screen though as it can be a very lucrative business when successfully executed. After all, only 5 to 10% of stolen art is ever recovered.

ArtChain Global’s platform will prevent a lot of art crimes from occurring in the future. ArtChain Global, once launched early next year, will be the world’s most trustworthy reference point for buyers and sellers around the world. It will provide provenance in the sale of art and collectables while collaborating with artists, galleries, collectors and online platforms globally.

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous art crimes and how ArtChain Global would have prevented these from occurring if their platform had existed at the time.


1. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s many forgeries

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a famous French landscape and portrait painter, but perhaps his greatest claim to fame is that his artwork has been forged on a massive scale.

René Huyghe, a famous French art writer, once memorably said “Corot painted three thousand canvases, ten thousand of which have been sold in America”. Time Magazine reported in 1990 that it had been said that Corot painted 800 paintings in his lifetime, of which 4,000 ended up in the United States.

Even though accurate numbers aren’t available, Jean Corot was chosen almost unanimously in an ARTnews survey from 2005 in which they asked experts who the most faked artist in history was.

(The Woman with a Pearl by Jean Corot (Left) can be viewed in Louvre Museum in Paris.)

If forgeries like these are uploaded to ArtChain Global’s platform, once released, they would immediately be rejected as a duplicate. Each artwork can only be uploaded once and its entire transaction history is available on the platform.


2. Illusionist Derren Brown’s The Great Art Robbery

Illusionist Derren Brown (below picture)  famously trained four pensioners to steal a painting from a London art gallery in the TV show ‘The Great Art Robbery’. The show sees Brown make a £1 bet with art collector Ivan Massow that a Chapman brothers painting will be stolen from a London exhibition during a public viewing.

Brown trained the pensioners for a month teaching them the art of illusion and deflection together with fooling security cameras. The elderly folks eventually succeed in their audacious mission and get away with not just stealing one but two very expensive paintings.

While the show was at times exhilarating to watch, the security left much to be desired for. If the gallery had used ArtChain Global’s technology, the silvery stealers wouldn’t have succeeded in their daring effort. As part of ArtChain Global’s ecosystem paintings can be fitted out with an IoT sensor. The sensors can report on various parameters, including:

  • GPS
  • Any pressure on the painting canvas
  • Whether the painting has been removed from the wall
  • Temperature change


Sensors report a change in any of the above plus if it has been removed from a painting or deactivated. This generates an alarm that is sent to security guards in real time who can take immediate action to prevent the theft. If a painting is successfully removed and taken away from the venue, accurate GPS tracking will enable the security guards to locate the whereabouts of the painting.

The show makes for great viewing though and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the entire show here:


3. Johannes Vermeer forgery sold to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring

Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren was hailed by some as a national war hero after World War II. He sold a forged painting of Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s “Christ with the Adulteress” to German art dealer Alois Miedl in 1942, who subsequently sold it for around $7 million in today’s money to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, who believed it was a genuine Vermeer.

Van Meegeren's Christ with the Adulteress

Van Meegeren’s Christ with the Adulteress

Han van Meegeren was arrested after the painting was found in Göring’s collection after the war and was charged with being an alleged Nazi collaborator and plunderer of Dutch cultural property. He was threatened with the death penalty.

After considerable contemplation, Han van Meegeren finally came forward and admitted to art forgery. This made the authorities drop the collaboration charges and instead charged him with forgery and fraud, for which he served two years in prison.

This forgery and other forgeries could have been prevented had ArtChain Global been around at that time. Once the platform has been released, each artwork that is uploaded to the platform will be analysed to verify it as an original using artificial intelligence (AI).

Artwork is analysed by zooming in to individual pixels in the painting once it is registered on the platform. Any future sales that deviate from the original painting already registered will be picked up by the platform and marked as a fake/duplicate.

ArtChain Global’s other benefits

Other than detecting and preventing art crimes, ArtChain Global’s platform will:

  • Reward artists for uploading artwork to the system
  • Protect intellectual property and copyright
  • Track and/or pay resale royalties
  • Open new global markets to artists and galleries


If after reading this article you want to make sure your art is protected in the future, why not go to and register your interest to get notified when the platform goes live in February 2019. Let your art be discovered by people all over the world and give them the confidence they’re looking at and can purchase a genuine work of art.

If, on the other hand, you believe you can still think of a way to forge, steal or overcharge for art after our platform has been adopted by the masses we’d love to hear how you would do it. @DerrenBrown, here is a challenge for you.


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