Anticipating Prosecution of the Gardner Heist
17 Canadian Crim. L. Rev. 47 (2013)
26 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2013 Last revised: 9 Sep 2013
Date Written: September 5, 2013
A recent arrest has brought the already high profile 1990 art heist from the Gardner Museum back into the headlines. While the Gardner theft may catch headlines, art theft from museums is common and when a theft occurs it illuminates the patchwork of criminal laws inadequately equipped to deter these thefts or deal with them. This article first explores the facts of the Gardner theft and then applies the statutes potentially available to prosecutors. After a thorough review of the state law, here Massachusetts, the article analyzes the federal statutes that may be applicable. Specifically, the National Stolen Property Act has been applied to theft of artwork but was not designed for this purpose and may not provide adequate remedies. The Theft of Major Artwork (TOMA) statute was passed at least partially in response to the Gardner theft and fills some of the gaps in state and federal laws applied to the theft of artwork. The article concludes by analyzing how and when TOMA applies and provides a critique of potential challenges to TOMA as currently written.
Keywords: art theft, Gardner Museum, National Stolen Property Act, Theft of Major Artwork, TOMA
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation