Global stolen art database to trump traffickers


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 17, 2009 at 1:31 PM EDT

Global police agency Interpol said on Monday it is putting its database of stolen art online in a bid to stem the illicit traffic of artwork and cultural goods.

Open to governments, museums, galleries, foundations and private collectors as well as law enforcers, the site will supply photographs and details of some 34,000 stolen artworks, with updates to be made in real time.

Would-be users can sign up online for access, which is password-protected but free of charge, the French-based police body said in a statement. Up until now, the database was only available on DVD.

The head of Interpol's art department, Karl Heinz Kind, said providing reliable data on stolen art was a vital part of the fight against traffickers.

Interpol hopes the online database will make it "that much more difficult for a seller or purchaser to claim not having had the opportunity to check whether an item was recorded as stolen."

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