Christopher Marinello, formerly General Counsel for the Art Loss Register, has announced that he is setting up a rival operation, 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," he said.

"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."

Mr Marinello said that his team was 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".