Artistic crimes are traditionally staged theatrically with a typical ‘masked thief’ scenario, featuring a well-versed villain overcoming the obstacle course from gallery security to snatch a painting worth it. a small fortune. At least, that’s how it’s portrayed in the movies. In real life, this increasingly becomes the job of faceless hackers intercepting private correspondence from an innocent dealer.
A rustic scene from Hampstead Heath painted by John Constable, one of the great English romantics, titled A view of Hampstead Heath: Child’s Hill, Harrow in the distance is at the center of a merchant-gallery dispute over a hacker who tricked his buyer into sending him Â£ 2.4million into the wrong account.
Simon Dickinson, an art dealer in London, sold the landscape to the Dutch museum, the Rijksmuseum Twenthe, after offering it for sale at the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, The Netherlands in 2018. By e- mail, the sale was negotiated and a hacker managed to infiltrate the channel and insert payment details from a bank account in Hong Kong. The museum transferred the money without realizing that the account belonged to a scammer.
The London art dealer and the Dutch gallery are now involved in a legal battle. Arnoud Odding, director of the Enschede museum, who is currently in possession of the painting, confirmed the theft to a Dutch broadcaster but declined to comment further due to the legal dispute.
Both sides, as reported Times, deny that the cybersecurity breach took place through their own computer systems. The museum lost its claim that the dealer was responsible for the lost money because he “had a duty of care to maintain reasonable email cybersecurity.” The London merchant’s lawyer argued that the museum should have independently confirmed bank details before making payment.
Bobby Friedman, acting for the London art dealer, said in a High Court hearing that the museum is keeping the painting despite the dealer not receiving any money for it. The painting is one of many works created in the 1820s by Constable, who is best known for painting the area around his home in Suffolk, now known as ‘Constable Country’.
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