Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners

Overview

In 1994 two important paintings by J.M.W. Turner—then valued at twenty-four million pounds—were stolen from a German public gallery while on loan from Tate Britain. In this vivid, personal account, Sandy Nairne who was then Director of Programmes at the Tate and became centrally involved in the pursuit of the paintings and the negotiations for their return, retells this complex, 8-year, cloak-and-dagger story, which finally concluded in 2002 ...

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Art Theft

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Overview

In 1994 two important paintings by J.M.W. Turner—then valued at twenty-four million pounds—were stolen from a German public gallery while on loan from Tate Britain. In this vivid, personal account, Sandy Nairne who was then Director of Programmes at the Tate and became centrally involved in the pursuit of the paintings and the negotiations for their return, retells this complex, 8-year, cloak-and-dagger story, which finally concluded in 2002 with the pictures returning to public display at the Tate.
 
In addition to this thrilling narrative, Nairne unravels stories of other high-value art thefts, puzzling what motivates a thief to steal a well-known work of art that cannot be sold, even on the black market. Nairne also examines the role of art theft within the larger underworld of international looting and illicit deals among art and antique collectors. The art heist, of course, is a popular theme of crime novels and films, and Nairne considers these depictions as well, investigating the imaginative construction of the art thief, the specialist detective, and the mysterious collector.
 
Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners is a compelling, real-life detective story that will keep both art and mystery lovers eagerly turning pages.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Art Theft Central

“Rarely does an institution victimized by an art theft recover its stolen works of art. . . . It is also rare that someone associated with the victimized institution writes an intriguing, in-depth account of the recovery effort. Sandy Nairne has just such a captivating account in Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners . . . a dramatic narrative of the case that dispels many of the myths and misconceptions that have surrounded the circumstances of the works' extraordinary recovery. . . . I would recommend Nairne's new book to anyone interested in the intricacies of stolen art recovery.”
ARTnews
This is an engrossing volume . . . with behind-the-scenes stories of an incredibly complicated recovery that included not only the Tate but also Scotland Yard, Britain’s High Court, the Department for National Heritage, the Charity Commission, and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Frankfurt Prosecutor’s Office and the German Federal Crimes Police.

— Milton Esterow

ARTnews - Milton Esterow

“This is an engrossing volume . . . with behind-the-scenes stories of an incredibly complicated recovery that included not only the Tate but also Scotland Yard, Britain’s High Court, the Department for National Heritage, the Charity Commission, and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Frankfurt Prosecutor’s Office and the German Federal Crimes Police.”
Library Journal
In 1994, two paintings by J.M.W. Turner were stolen from a German art gallery while on loan from Tate Britain. Both important paintings by one of Britain's most famous artists, they were valued at £24 million. Nairne (former director, Tate Britain; current director, National Portrait Gallery, London) was directly involved in the search for the paintings and the negotiations for their ransom and return. With its cast of colorful characters and intrigue, this true-crime story should be riveting; however, a rather plodding style makes this read more like a painstakingly documented explanation to the Tate trustees. In the second half of the book, Nairne analyzes the ethical and practical questions surrounding art theft, taking examples from famous art thefts in history and examples from fiction and film. VERDICT This is no Da Vinci Code or Thomas Crown Affair and will disappoint readers looking for a good thriller with an art theme, but museum administrators and trustees will benefit from reading about the Tate's experience—Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781780230207
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/15/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandy Nairne is director of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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Table of Contents


Introduction

Part One
1. Loss
2. Pursuit
3. Recovery
4. Return
Part Two
5. Ethics
6. Value
7. History
8. Fiction
9. Future

References
Select Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index

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