Criminologist reveals new findings from 1950s art crime in BBC One Show

  • Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The BBC One Show recently interviewed Criminologist and expert in art theft Dr John Kerr to uncover the truth behind Britain's biggest museum heist in the 1950s.

Gyles Brandreth in the One Show recently investigated how more than 2,000 pieces of art were stolen from Britain’s Victorian & Albert Museum before, during and after the World War 2. He interviewed Dr Kerr from the University of Roehampton who described how the museum assistant was able to steal the thousands of expensive pieces. 

Professionals, academics and students in the area of art security will soon be able to access the first map of the policing and securitization of art in London to increase their understanding of art security at city, national and global levels, in Dr Kerr’s new book: The Securitization and Policing of Art Theft, The Case of London. The book examines who is performing, managing, governing and controlling the securitization and policing of art theft in London.

Dr Kerr who was formerly an art transporter and installer said: “The global art world is dynamic and currently thriving with a staggering amount of valuable art travelling around the world for sale or on loan. The movement of stolen art is an international issue and is linked to many other crimes such as drugs and money laundering. In contrast to media depictions, art theft is often violent.”

London is one of the global hubs of art, playing a central role in the British cultural economy. Dr Kerr’s new book, launched in May 2015, provides practical recommendations for professionals operating in art security in London and across the world. 

James Sheptycki from York University, Canada said: “This book shines a bright light onto art theft, an often-neglected corner of criminology. It provides a wonderful account of the complex policing and security arrangements that protect art and other cultural artefacts. It is essential reading for anyone interested in crime in the art world.”

To get a comprehensive picture of the world of art for his research, Dr Kerr interviewed the police, private detectives, insurance companies, loss adjusters, international policing organisations, government agencies, artists, and people who work in locations which have art.

Dr Kerr is a specialist in art crime and shares his expertise with students as a Criminology Lecturer at the University of Roehampton.