UK: THE Art and Antiques Helpline, a seven-day-a-week service which will give access to one of the most comprehensive databases of stolen art and antiques, is to come into operation this summer.
The new scheme, a joint initiative by Antiques Trade Gazette and the specialist stolen art publication and database Trace, was officially announced last week at the annual Art & Antiques Crime Conference attended by most of the country’s newly appointed police antiques liaison officers.
The Helpline was welcomed by speakers and delegates alike as a practical solution for anyone wondering whether an object they are about to buy has been registered as stolen.
“We recognised that the Trade needed an easy way of checking with the stolen art databases when they came across something suspect, so we developed the idea of a Helpline,” says Anne Somers, Antiques Trade Gazette commercial director, who has worked with Jon Dooley of Trace to perfect the service.
“When you call the number and describe the suspect object, someone will immediately run a check to see whether there is any evidence that it was stolen. The Helpline will be open seven days a week, catering for those at fairs and auctions over the weekend.”
The service will be open to all and the only outlay will be a premium rate call to help cover costs. There will be no subscription or recovery charges. Most importantly, callers names and addresses will be logged as proof that a check against a stolen database has been made – an key step towards proving due diligence in the case of any dispute.
All Antiques Trade Gazette subscribers will be receiving further details and a special phone card with the Helpline number in the near future.