Museum Security Network

Quebec police crack down on art forgery

By Rene Bruemmer, The GazetteJanuary 27, 2009 1:01 PM

SQ chief inspector for economic crimes Michel Forget looks over one of several statues stolen from parks and building under construction. The accused, Richard McClintock, is also charged with being in the possession of 80 paintings he forged with a total value of $1.5 million.

Photograph by: Marcos Townsend, THE GAZETTEMONTREAL- In a sun-drenched room of the Musée des beaux arts sit three dozen paintings bearing the signatures of the masters of the Quebec and international art scene: abstract oil paintings by Quebecers Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Émile Borduas, impressionist landscapes by Montrealer Fernand Toupin, multicoloured fabrications by Belgium’s Pierre Alechinsky.

Unfortunately, according to police they’re all the art work of local talent Richard McClintock, 50, of Quebec City, who last week was arrested and charged with 75 charges of fraud, forgery and the possession of goods obtained under a criminal nature.

He sold two of the pieces to Montreal art dealers for $25,000 each.

In an effort to combat what police officers call the third-largest international criminal enterprise after the drug trade and arms smuggling, the Sûreté du Québec and RCMP have announced a new squad of four officers dedicated to combatting art-related crime, specifically theft, forgery, smuggling and reselling.

Since 2004, the SQ has dealt with more than 450 cases involving art theft, leading to 20 arrests, and seized nearly 150 stolen artworks worth more than $2 million.

The unit, which will work closely with national and international agencies, is the only one of it’s kind in Canada. Quebec police decided to form one because its years of expertise in the field have given it a 15 per cent recovery rate for stolen items, far better than the international average of 8 or 9 per cent, officers said. Art theft is not more common in Quebec, they said.

They have already established an email used to alert or collect information from 50,000 art dealers, museums, auction houses, collectors and police services in 70 countries about lost or stolen pieces. The email address is art.alerte@surete.qc.ca

rbruemmer@thegazette.canwest.com

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