New technologies against art theft in Italy
Drones and Satellites in the field to defend the Italian cultural heritage
According to the annual report of the Carabinieri, in 2020, fewer cultural assets and works of art were stolen in Italy than in 2019.
The decline was partly caused by the pandemic, which also forced stolen art dealers to move online, but is also due to a downward trend visible over the years thanks to increasingly better and more technological surveillance and security systems.
The report reveals that 287 works were stolen in 2020 , down from 345 in 2019 and 474 in 2018. Meanwhile, the Carabinieri recovered 501,574 objects for an estimated value of € 333.6 million in 2020 (including 1,085 paintings and 7,460 sculptures) compared to 902,804 worth € 103.5 million (including 796 paintings and 146 sculptures) in 2019. Law enforcement also recovered 12,181 art objects in online searches in 2020, up from to 8,732 in 2019.
“The impact of Covid-19 cannot be excluded. Places of worship, museums, galleries and libraries have all been closed for long periods, thus reducing the opportunities for thieves to steal works”, said Roberto Riccardi , head of the Carabinieri Command for cultural heritage protection. “Stolen works popped up in digital auction catalogs, as well as on websites and Facebook pages. Merchants often didn’t know they were handling stolen works.”
The searches through the electronic database of the Carabinieri, which contains 1.3 million stolen goods and the oldest and largest catalog of this kind in the world, will soon be enhanced with an automated system that will sift the web in search of the corresponding works. The program, developed with a grant of € 5 million from the European Union, is expected to be operational by the end of 2022.
Another project also sees the Carabinieri collaborating with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii , to develop a state-of-the-art surveillance system based on drones and satellite footage: it will be used for other similar parks and archaeological sites as already happened in Calabria where the survey was carried out. led to 23 arrests and the recovery of 104 objects in several countries.
Among these are the platforms to combat art fakes, Art Rights , for the management and certification of works of art which, thanks to blockchain technology , allows you to create a real Work of Art Passport to protect the authenticity of the work for artists, collectors and operators in the sector.