The ALR, the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables is about to have some competition. Christopher Marinello the Director General Counsel for the company is leaving to set up his own rival firm, after seven years service. been a lawyer since 1986, specialising in resolving art related title disputes. Marinello who is also a lawyer said in a recent interview, “The Art Loss Register and I have been a good fit for the last seven years”.
The ALR’s range of services have included item registration, search and recovery services to collectors, the art trade, insurers and worldwide law enforcement agencies. These services are delivered by employing art IT technology and a team of specially trained professional art historians. The worldwide team has been deliberately constructed so as to offer a range of language capabilities as well as specialities (modern art, old masters, antiquities).
Conceptually, there are two aspects to the business. First, by encouraging both the registration of all items of valuable possessions on the database and also the expansion of checking searches, the ALR acts as a significant deterrent on the theft of art. Criminals are now well aware of the risk, which they face in trying to sell on stolen pieces of art.
Second, by operating a due diligence service to sellers of art and also being the worldwide focus for any suspicion of illegitimate ownership, the ALR operates a recovery service to return works of art to their rightful owners. In recent years, the service has been extended to negotiate compensation to the victims of art theft and a legitimising of current ownership.
The ALR’s pre-eminence in the field of stolen art has allowed the business to be instrumental in the recovery of over £160m ($320m, €230m) worth of stolen items.
In a recent letter Marinello stated; “I am pleased to announce that after 7 years as General Counsel for the Art LossRegister, I have left the company to form Art Recovery International, a London based partnership that specialises in recovering stolen, missing, and looted works of art. I have assembled a small team of legal experts and other professionals who offer discreet and bespoke services to collectors, dealers, insurers, museums and artists.
While our primary focus is on art recovery and resolving complex title disputes, we also provide due diligence services and provenance research. We will be active in education on art crime and cultural heritage preservation and plan on instituting a pro bono service for artists, eligible claimants, and non-profit institutions.
We are also working with a number of developers to build what will be the most comprehensive central database of stolen and looted artwork, title disputes, fakes and forgeries, and works that may be subject to financial security interests. Utilising the most advanced technology available, the database will be run ethically, responsibly and with respect for the rule of law.
This is the ground floor of a very exciting business. I am open-minded to ideas and policies and recognize that all of you have either years of experience or youthful brilliance to impart. I welcome and appreciate both and thank you in advance for your support”.