What’s the difference between the police and the mob? The mob doesn’t try to justify their actions as being for your own good. The Los Angeles Police Department have recovered a stolen Rembrandt sketch and are now refusing to return it to its proper owner:
Police investigators in Los Angeles are refusing to return a stolen Rembrandt sketch to its owners unless they prove they own it and that it is a Rembrandt.
According the Los Angeles Times, the piece’s authenticity is in question.
The authorities also say San Francisco gallery The Linearis Institute has yet to provide proof of ownership.
Let’s look at the two issues the police are citing; the proof of ownership being in question and the authenticity of the piece. First of all there is no need for the The Linearis Institute to provide proof of ownership because there are no other reports of the piece being stolen. An item can only be considered stolen if somebody is claiming it as such. For instance the police should not be able to retain one of my 10 year-old computers simply because I no longer possess the receipt as nobody is claiming that the computer was stolen from them. Proof that the piece was at the gallery (provided by security cameras) should be more than sufficient to release the sketch back to the hands of the institute.
Now let us look at the other issue the police are citing, the question of the piece’s authenticity. When the fuck did the police get into the business of determining the authenticity of artistic pieces? It’s not their job to judge whether or not a piece of art is authentic, their only job lies in recovering reported stolen property and returning it to its owner. If somebody is questioning the authenticity of an artistic piece they can hire an expert on the subject to evaluate and determine the piece’s authenticity. Unless I missed a memo somewhere the scope of such a task is well outside of the police’s job.
Considering these two facts why would the police be making it difficult for the institute to reclaim the sketch? Take a guess:
It is the latest development in a widely-reported case that began when the sketch, valued at $250,000 (£154,152), was reported stolen from a Californian hotel on 13 August.
Any property the police have recovered that hasn’t been reclaimed by the owner are sold at police auctions. The Los Angeles Police Department are likely retaining the sketch so they can sell it at an auction and get the $250,000 for it. At least when the mob steals from you they don’t try to justify the theft in a wrapping of bullshit.