Bosnian authorities do not have a central database of lost and stolen artworks from the country, so an NGO has made one for them.
The Bosnian Centre Against Trafficking in Works of Art, an NGO, will by May release a database for artworks lost and stolen from Bosnia to help stem the illicit trade in artworks from the country.
As artwork stolen from Bosnia and Herzegovina is hard to identify, it is aimed at making the work of illegal art dealers more difficult by circulating information about the pieces, allowing easier identification by border officials.
“Those who are supposed to solve this problem aren’t doing it,” the organisation’s director, Dzenan Jusufovic, told BIRN.
The NGO has been collecting reports of stolen pieces of art in Bosnia since the end of 2014 with the help of art galleries and private collectors.
“The problem is that when we tell an international agency about this, what we think should be done, and that we are willing to help, we mostly get the answer that as an NGO we don’t have the competency,” Jusufovic said.
According to Jusufovic, only thirteen cases of stolen artwork from Bosnia are registered in Interpol’s stolen artwork database, despite the fact thousands of pieces of art disappeared during and after the war of 1992 and 1995.
With the help of international partners, Jusufovic’s organisation has in the past organised trainings for judges and prosecutors to help tackle the illicit artwork trade in Bosnia.
It has also already published a set of guidelines on reporting and photographing such artwork.
Only last August, the Sarajevo gallery of renowned late Bosnian painter Mario Mikulic was broken into, and dozens of pieces of his work were reportedly stolen.
According to statements by Mikulic’s daughter in local media at the time, the thieves did not steal her pieces from the gallery, but only her father’s art.
“These people who steal and trade in art know exactly what they are looking for,” Jusufovic commented.
Source: Balkan Insight