Art Theft in Lockdown
By Gail Bosch

Adriaan Boshoff, My Gypsy Dream, Oil On Canvas, 810 x 1225mm

It has been a common misperception historically that only electronics and jewellery are stolen in South Africa, but art theft, even though not as common, is happening.

We have no intention of downplaying the risk of theft of high valued jewellery, and the increased levels of theft in this category.

As levels of desperation among the population increase with the impact of the COVID-19 virus and resultant lockdown on the income of so many, so too do the levels of crime.

We have been in lockdown for about a year now, that sounds incredible to put in writing, but it’s been a year in which high numbers of people no longer earn a living. Putting bread on the tables has become a much more difficult task.

Marie Vermeulen-BreedtMymering – Toneel In ‘N Klassieke Interieur, Oil On Canvas, 900 x 1200mm

The reasons are many, they may be justified, but the fact remains that many people are hungry.

This is perhaps, not the ideal time to wear your best jewellery to the grocery store. Not only because you need to go through the process of claiming from your insurance, but also because it is dangerous.

No insurer wants to tell their clients that they should rather not take the risk, but we live in extraordinary times.

Quite frankly, insurance will earn higher premiums for Jewellery and watches that are worn regularly when compared to cover whilst in a bank vault or home safe only. It will protect your financial investment in your collection, but nothing can replace the irreplaceable when it comes to sentimental value. Even more important, there is nothing that is worth the safety of you and your family.

Danie Smith, Verposing, Oil On Canvas, 810 x 1000mm

Art Theft a growing trend:

The privacy of every one of our clients is sacrosanct. We do not divulge personal information, nor the details pertaining to individual claims. We can however, comment on the trends that we are seeing.

Since the start of Lockdown in March 2020, iTOO Artinsure has paid out approximately R6 million in claims for the theft of Art and Collectables – and these are only our own claims.

Examples include jewellery stolen from safes, Chinese ceramics, Oil paintings and sculptures.

Owners should take extra measures to secure their collections by reviewing their existing security measures to ensure that all systems are functioning properly and perhaps consider moving vulnerable collections to specialist fine at storage facilities or bank vaults.

Of course, expert insurance of your precious collections will allow you to rest easy, knowing that your financial investment is protected.

In our ongoing efforts to recover stolen artworks, we maintain an Art Theft Register, which is freely available to everyone, at no cost, to notify authorities and commercial art dealers of items that may not be legally sold.

The faster we are notified, the better the chances of recovery. Items of this nature and value are moved quickly and rather frighteningly professionally. We are not just talking about an opportunist snatching an unattended cell phone.

Those items can be replaced. Art cannot.

Danie Smith, Restauranttoneel, Oil On Canvas, 900 x 1200mm

“Nothing can replace the irreplaceable
when it comes to sentimental value.”