Art Crime and the Law

Course content

Art crime involves forgery, fraud, theft, intellectual property violation, the illicit movement of antiquities across borders, vandalism and other criminal acts involving art objects and cultural heritage. This course offers students an introduction to art crime by focusing on the main criminological and legal approaches that have sought to confront, prevent, and make sense of a form of crime whose tentacles often extend across international borders and whose impact can affect the integrity of a nation’s cultural heritage. Drawing on the latest research from fields like art history, socio-legal studies, cultural and narrative criminology, forensic and restoration science, art crime research, museum studies, and international criminal law, ‘Art Crime and the Law’ will focus on a range of topics, from the motives of offenders, to the market for stolen antiquities, to attempts to control art crime through international legislation and law enforcement cooperation.


The course will include (but will not be limited to) lectures on the following themes/subjects: art fraud/forgery; art and intellectual property law; graffiti and vandalism; the theft and trafficking of antiquities; the practice, policing and prevention of art crime; and criminal law and procedure in art crime.

Learning outcome

The lecture/seminar provides the students with knowledge of:

  • the main contemporary criminological and legal debates surrounding art and antiquities crime;
  • key discussions and debates surrounding emerging criminological issues in relation to globalization and transnational crime;
  • how legal positions are forced to adapt to deal with developing types of international crime; 
  • some of the basic forensic technologies associated with art and provenance fraud/forgery detection;
  • how comparative and interdisciplinary approaches are used to combat complex criminological problems.


The seminar provides the students with the following skills:

  • the ability to synthesize items of knowledge from different schools and disciplines of enquiry;
  • the capacity to discuss criminological and legal isses within transnational and international contexts;
  • the capability to think both creatively and constructively in evaluating and critiquing contemporary criminological and legal theory;
  • the intellectual flexibility to consider the regulatory challenges posed by international art and antiquities crime;
  • the capability to analyse popular discourses, texts, and visual material realted to the field of art crime.


The seminar provides the students with the following competences:

  • the ability to independently identify and address emerging legal issues within the field of contemporary art crime;
  • the ability to apply comparative approaches to complex problems (e.g. by researching responses developed in other jurisdictions or by drawing analogies to responses to other criminological or legal problems);
  • the capability to critically address rapidly changing global realities from a criminological and legal perspective;
  • the capacity to independently undertake basic analysis of forensic and technological issues relating to art fraud/forgery;
  • the capacity to conduct sustained individual research into a self-identified topic and to develop and defend a substantive hypothetical or critical position;
  • the ability to draw upon research from a range of disciplines in order to better formulate specific criminological or legal research questions, and to derive improved regulatory results.

One of the main learning activities on the course will be a day long visit to the Statens Museum for Kunst’s Center for Art Technological Studies and Conservation (CATS). This afternoon visit will include a guided tour of both the Center’s forensic laboratories and its holdings of “fake”/problematic artworks, as well as a series of mini-lectures by art experts and forensic scientists at Statens Museum for Kunst.

Peer-to-peer learning is embedded in the course as a preparation towards the individual
written assessments (faculty guided, of course), and engaged participation is critical. This is because this course is not about ‘knowledge transfer’ but more about fostering dynamic thinking processes and active response to the ideas and approaches raised in class.
This course seeks to explore anomalies arising from the intersection of art and law and thus to think differently about certain legal precepts, principles and processes.

There is NO set textbook for this course. Week-by-week readings will be provided. However, the following books will be useful as background reading. (They do not need to be purchased).


  • Bazley, T. D. (2010) Crimes of the Art World, Santa Barbara: Prager
  • Tompkins, A (2016) Art Crime and its Prevention: A Handbook for Collectors and Art Professionals, London: Lund Humphries.
  • Slattery, A. J. (2012) 'To catch an art thief: using international and domestic law to paint fraudulent art dealers into a corner’,  Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, 19: 827-871.Conklin, J. E (1994) Art Crime, Westport: Praeger.
  • Mackenzie, S (2005) Going, Going, Gone: Regulating the Market in Illicit Antiquities, Leicester: Institute of Art and Law.
  • Mackenzie, S (2005) ’Dig a bit deeper: law, regulation and the illicit antiquities market’, British Journal of Criminology, 45(3) pp. 249-268.
  • Korsell, L et al, (2006) Cultural Hertiage Crime: The Nordic Dimension, Stockholm: The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
  • Prowda, J. B (2013) Visual Arts and the Law, New York: Lund Humphries.
  • Anderson, M. L (2017) Antiquties: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Chappell, D and Hufnagel, S (2014) Contemporary Persectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime, London: Routledge.


It is illegal to share digital textbooks with each other without permission from the copyright holder.

Good command of English, ready and willing participation, critical analytical abilities, openmindedness.
Willingness to challenge received knowledge.


Feedback by final exam, which will take the form of a written assessment (In addition to the grade)

Reconciliation of Expectations will be performed at the start of the course and reassessed in the concluding lecture.

Witten feedback will be provided on the final assessment (via the online marking system).

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Home assignment
Type of assessment details
Individual written assignment
(Note: the assignment must be submitted individually)
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Hand-in date: TBA


Hand-in date: TBA

Criteria for exam assessment

Read about the descriptions of the individual exam forms, including formal requirements, scope and deadlines in the  exam catalogue

Read about practical exam conditions at KUnet

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • English
  • 206,25


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice

1 semester

  1. Students enrolled at Faculty of Law or holding a pre-approval: No tuition fee
  2. Professionals: Please visit our website  
Please see timetable for teaching time
Contracting department
  • Law
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Law
Course Coordinator
  • Keith John Hayward   (13-706a6e796d336d667e7c667769456f7a7733707a336970)
Saved on the 01-05-2024

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