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Art crime seems to straddle the world of both the romantic and mysterious—writers like Charney help expose the serious nature of the matter. In an outside interview, Charney says, “Fictional portrayals [of art thieves] are great fun. [Yet], it is important that art crime should generate the outrage in the public eye proportional to its actual devastating effect.” Research for the novel made Charney realize that there was relatively little scholarly material on art crime. He says, “I felt that anything I produced would really contribute to the field, which was all but non-existent at the time, just a handful of remote scholars who wrote some books and articles, but without a strong core linking them all, and not a single university department specializing in the field—not even as a subsection of criminology. In the world of art history I would have just been a droplet in the sea, but in art crime I could help to establish the new field.”
Charney’s novel-writing not only guided his initial research into art crime, but also inspired the creation of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA), a non-profit think tank based in Italy that works in cooperation with police, churches, and art institutions seeking consultation on art crime incidents. Charney serves as founding director and trustee of ARCA. “We’ve since grown into a small but stable non-profit that is perhaps disproportionately high-profile to our size, even featured in The New York Times and quoted widely as the go-to source for expert commentary on art crime.” ARCA runs educational programs such as its flagship annual summer-long Masters Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Each summer, dozens of renowned professors, academics and professionals flock to Umbria, Italy, where ARCA offers an interdisciplinary course in all aspects of art crime, from security and investigation to criminology, organized crime and art law. Charney exclusively teaches the program’s history of art crime segment. Faculty members at ARCA also publish a twice-yearly, peer-reviewed academic journal, The Journal of Art Crime, the first and only scholarly journal in the field. All things considered, ARCA serves as the long-awaited bridge between the world of art and subsequent protective criminology, made possible by Noah Charney.
To learn more about Noah Charney and his work, visit http://www.noahcharney.com/.
—Amy Cunningham, ’15, William D. Adams Presidential Scholar