Balkan Art Bandits

Posted on: February 13th, 2012

The Balkans is currently the centre of art investigations for lost & stolen works of art. The investigations began after two stolen Picasso paintings were discovered in Belgrade. Now several European art recovery experts including two private investigators and the Art Loss Register (ALR) are increasingly concentrating on the Balkans to track down stolen artworks circulating in criminal networks.

Since the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent war the region has become an important transit point for art stolen from France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the former Czechoslovakia, Holland and Belgium by well-known gangs including the “Balkan Bandits” and the “Pink Panthers”. This has made the Balkans an ideal holding place for multiple lost & stolen works. Two factors have now changed, making now the opportune moment to investigate the region. Firstly, art bandits being pressured by their governments who are keen to improve relations with the EU and Nato. Secondly, with problems in the EU, the Balkan states are benefiting from increased inward investment in infrastructure and tourism, providing legitimate business and investment opportunities for would-be-criminals.