There have been some major art thefts from museums lately and when this happens, the public often thinks back to films like "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "How to Steal a Million," where sophisticated thieves rappel down through skylights to make off with incredibly valuable art. But the reality is not nearly so glamorous.

While the FBI calls the illicit trade of stolen art and antiquities serious, with losses as high as $6 billion a year, in the real world, these thieves are the same guys who rob armored cars for cash, pharmacies for drugs and homes for jewelry. They are often opportunistic and almost always shortsighted.
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When we view art, a complex series of activities go on in the brain, which help us to appreciate it. The aesthetic experience integrates sensory and emotional reactions in a manner linked with their personal relevance. BUT viewing art which we’re told is "fake" DOES NOT stimulate the same type of brain reactions.
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Art by some of the most famous painters in history, such as Leonardo DaVinci (who painted, among other things, the Mona Lisa) is often described in writings by their contemporaries. When the paintings that have been written about can no longer be found, art historians begin searching frantically for the missing artwork. Now they have authenticated a DaVinci painting that has been missing for centuries, and they think they’ve found another one, hidden behind a wall.
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How can we tell if something is real? Forgeries of paintings by famous artists, even ones that have hung in museums for years, are now being identified using a new scientific method. Even the authenticity of a Jackson Pollack “drip” painting can now be verified.

A “library” of the artist’s works is collected on a computer. The images are then turned into fractals using mathematics. These tiny areas of paint are a particular artist’s signature, that he or she uses again and again, and are completely unique.
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