What to do in case of theft or disappearance of a work?
1. How do I report a theft or disappearance?
The procedures to be followed in case of theft are defined by the Ministry of Culture according to which the property, national treasure within the meaning of the Heritage Code, is kept in an archives department, in a library, in a museum in France or classified or inscribed as a historical monument.
2. How do I check if a work was stolen?
The Ministry of Culture makes available to any public tools to search, in the heritage databases, the national treasures stolen or disappeared. These tools complement national and international police databases dedicated to stolen property.
In all areas of heritage (archives, libraries, archaeology, museums, historical monuments, etc.), the Ministry of Culture databases are regularly fed by the State services and its public institutions (DRAC, National Archives, National Furniture, National Plastic Arts Centre, Architecture and Heritage Library, BNF, National Museums, National Monuments Centre) and with the help of local authorities (archives, libraries, museums of France, regional cultural heritage inventory services, heritage services of departmental councils, etc.).
“Stolen and Missing Property” in Collections Engines
The search engine « Collections » indexes more than 70 databases of the Ministry of Culture and its partners and contributes to the European portal Europeana. A specific search on “stolen and missing property” has been implemented since 2015 in “ Collections ».
“Missing or Stolen Items” in POP
Since July 2019, POP, the open heritage platform, also allows access to records of missing (missing) or stolen items (with or without filing a complaint) using, at the simple search page, the filter "Missing or stolen items", for the bases Mona Lisa and Palissy.
The museums of France
As regards the museums of France, the Circular note of 4 May 2016 relating to the methodology of the proofing of the so-called indenomible sets and to postof the collections of the museums of France provides that the objects found missing and/or stolen at the end of the decennial document of a museum of France must be reported by its care in the catalogue of missing goods. Accessible on the Mona Lisa site, this catalogue of missing goods allows to search for the goods not found and that can be claimed at any time if they reappear.
The consultation of the records of the museums of France can be extended to the entire base Mona Lisa, a collective catalogue of the collections of museums in France, whose content is continuously enriched by the museums themselves, and which has nearly 600,000 records.
Museums of France: access to the complete catalogue of missing goods in Mona Lisa
In addition, the base Rose-Valland of the National Museums of Recuperation (MNR), works recovered in Germany at the end of the Second World War and which, failing to find their rightful owners, have been entrusted by the Office des biens et intérêts privées to the custody of the Direction des musées de France under the decree of 30 September 1949, is accessible to all on the Internet. Les MRN records are also available on the open heritage platform POP.
Movable objects classified or listed as historical monuments
In the field of monumental heritage, 'Palissy » lists the French movable heritage through the surveys of the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage (inventory files) and the national protection measures under the Historical Monuments (classification and inscription files). The data relating to thefts, statements of disappearance following periodic payments and refunds are constantly updated.
Historical monuments: access records of missing (missing) or stolen (with or without filing a complaint) items in Palissy.
The written heritage
In the field of written heritage, the portal Biblissima constitutes the point of entry of reference on the written heritage of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in the West. It lists digital libraries of manuscripts or printed matter, catalogues and scientific databases of various kinds allowing searches by sources, iconography, texts or bindings. It makes digitized documents from Gallica (BnF) or the Virtual Library of Medieval Manuscripts (BVMM, IRHT-CNRS).
Heritage data are integrated into police and gendarmerie databases
Data relating to stolen property (with filing of complaint) are integrated into the databases of the Central Office for Combating Trafficking in Cultural Property - OCBC (Treima II – reserved access) and the National Gendarmerie (TAJ - reserved access) then into the PSYCHE database ofINTERPOL, accessible to all since 2009 upon prior registration. This database allows users to view the latest information on stolen artworks around the world.
TREIMA II - Thesaurus of electronic research and imaging in artistic matters - reserved access:
Since 1995, the TREIMA II photo library of stolen objects of the Central Office for Combating Trafficking in Cultural Property (OCBC), includes photographs of cultural property stolen in France and abroad when their disappearance is reported by the INTERPOL channel. Designed by police officers for police officers and including search by similarity of images, it is in food/reading: at the OCBC, the Central Criminal Intelligence Service (SCRC) of the national gendarmerie, the Brigade de Répression du Banditisme (Groupe «Antiquaires») at the Paris Police Department. It is accessible for consultation for the «objects» cards to certain departments of the Ministry of Culture, the National Directorate of Intelligence and Customs Investigations and the insurance group GIE ARGOS.
Finally, the file Treatment of criminal records (TAJ) in reserved access gathers the information relating to the offences observed and the related documentation.
INTERPOL – Stolen Art Database - available upon registration:
As the main tool to combat trafficking in cultural property, more than 50,000 objects are registered in the stolen art database with descriptions and photographs. It is the only international database containing certified police information on stolen and missing art objects.
Countries transmit information on stolen and missing items. In accordance with the strict data processing regulations, only information provided by authorized entities (INTERPOL National Central Offices and specific international partner organizations, such as UNESCO, ICOM and ICCROM) can be entered into the database. And only fully identifiable objects are registered
Anyone can become an authorized user of this database, in order to check in real time if an object is among the registered objects. Simply use the access request form.
In addition to traditional data fields, users can refine their search by downloading a photograph of any art object and perform a check using the image matching software.
This database is also one of the international registries covered by the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Property of 1995 when the concept of due diligence is addressed.
Contact: heritage flights[at]culture.gouv.fr