Our Instructors

Get to know our wonderful lecturers sharing their lifelong skills and experience!

Noah Charney

Noah Charney

The History of Art, Famous Forgers, Missing Masterpieces

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Talking about art crime is one of my passions! I look forward to seeing each of you in my next course.

Dr Noah Charney is a best-selling author, columnist, TV presenter and professor of art history specializing in art crime.  He is also the founder of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art and the author of hundreds of academic and popular articles.  As a journalist he contributes regularly to The Guardian, the Daily Beast, Atlantic, Salon, The Art Newspaper, The Washington Post, and Esquire. His first novel, The Art Thief (Atria 2007), was translated into seventeen languages and was a best-seller in five countries.  A complete list of the books he has published can be viewed here. 

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Teaching others about the murky world of art criminals makes me very happy, second only to recovering stolen art. I look forward to meeting new faces and exploring this field together.

“Dick” Ellis is an internationally recognised art crime investigator with over 30 years experience. He served in Special Operations at New Scotland Yard where he set up the Art & Antiques Squad, which he ran from 1989 until 1999 when he retired from the police to become general manager of Christie’s Fine Art Security Services Ltd. In 2000 he was made managing director of Trace recovery services running their database and magazine for stolen art and antiques. In 2005 he joined with security and conservation specialists to form the Art Management Group Limited of which he is a director.

Richard Ellis

Richard Ellis

The World of Art and the Fine Art of Crime

Marc Balcells

Marc Balcells

Criminal Minds and Criminological Approaches to understanding Art Crime

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Criminology helps us to understand better crimes, criminals, victims, and the workings of the criminal justice system. My passion is to apply criminology to better comprehend the why's of cultural heritage crime: there is so much need for research on thieves, looters, vandals, forgers, and many more shady characters in the art world!

Dr. Marc Balcells is a Spanish criminologist, a professor at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, and an associate professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Marc holds degrees in Law (Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona), Criminology (Universitat Autònoma; Barcelona), and Human Sciences (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya), and masters both in Criminal Law (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Universitat de Barcelona) and Criminal Justice (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York). A Fulbright scholar, he obtained his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, at John Jay College. His research revolves around cultural heritage crime and, more specifically, the criminological aspects of archaeological looters. He frequently appears in Spanish media outlets to raise awareness about cultural heritage crime. Other research interests of Marc are victimology and cybercrime.

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When I began working in the field of archaeology I saw myself very much as a scientist saving knowledge about the past for future generations but now I found myself more interested in working with communities in the preservation of their local heritage.

Dr Valerie Higgins is an Associate Professor of Archaeology and Program Director for Sustainable Cultural Heritage at The American University of Rome. Her areas of research include the heritage of Rome, antiquities crime, cultural heritage in conflict and post-conflict areas and community heritage.  A seasoned lecturer, she believes in making archaeology accessible to a broad audience and regularly teaches university and adult learners.  In addition she  appears regularly in documentaries about the ancient world.

Valerie Higgins

Valerie Higgins

Sustainable Preservation

Samer Abdel Ghafour

Samer Abdel Ghafour

Art and Heritage in Conflict

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Destruction, looting and illicit trafficking of antiquities are ancient phenomena that came back to the front in the modern era. I look forward to meeting you in my next course.

Dr Samer Abdel Ghafour is a Syrian cultural heritage specialist and the founder of ArchaeologyIN – the Archaeology Information Network.  He began his formal career at the National Archaeological Museum of Aleppo, where, from 1994 to 2005, he served as assistant curator for the Ancient Near East department before moving to Damascus to serve as Chief of Staff until 2012 at the office of the Director General for the Syrian Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums – DGAM. In 2018 he was awarded a PhD from La Sapienza Università di Roma with a thesis entitled “Ideologies of the Destruction of Cultural Heritage in the Ancient and Modern Near East”.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the focus of his research and academic teaching has been on safeguarding cultural heritage and countering the illicit trafficking of art and antiquities in conflict and post-conflict zones.

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I joined the Chubb Group of Insurance companies as a property underwriting trainee and that led to a 30 year career which culminated in creating a specialised fine arts discipline. I look forward to sharing with you real life scenarios in providing solutions on art and insurance matters and risk transfer needs for museums, cultural institutions, auction houses, galleries and collectors.

Dorit D. Straus is an Art and Insurance Advisor for Art and Insurance Advisory Services Inc., a position she has held since 2013. Ms. Straus was previously Vice President Worldwide Specialty Fine Art Manager for Chubb & Son, where she held various management positions from 1982 to 2013. She presently serves on the Board of Directors of AXA Art Americas Corporation, and the International Foundation for Art Research and has been a Visiting Lecturer at the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art since 2009.

Dorit Straus

Dorit Straus

Art, Technology and Insurance

Dick Drent

Dick Drent

Proactive Museum Security. Threat and Risk Management

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Be warned! Even if you are not into security, after my course you will never walk uninhibited through a museum again. Cultural heritage protection is all about mindset and commitment for everybody who works in this area of expertise.

Dick Drent, the CEO of the International Security Expert Group (ISEG), has been a professor with ARCA for more than a decade, teaching about the proactive ways of protecting cultural heritage. With 30 years of law enforcement experience in the Netherlands and abroad, he’s spent his law enforcement career fighting organised crime and terrorism, mostly within the Undercover and Sensitive Operation Unit.

In 2005 Drent left policing to take on the role of security director at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Over the next ten years he worked to change the traditional methods of reactive museum security into a more dynamic proactive security which focused on preventing incidents before they happen.  He was also pinpointed chief investigator for the tracing and recovery of two priceless Van Gogh paintings stolen from the museum in an after-hours burglary in 2002.   

Drent left his position at the Van Gogh Museum in 2015 to start his private consultancy but stayed seconded as chief investigator for the retrieval of the Museum’s stolen paintings. In 2016, working as part of a joint recovery operation with the Guardia di Finanza of Italy the law enforcement action recovered both of the stolen Van Gogh’s, after they were identified with one of the leaders of a Camorra affiliated drug trafficking clan operating in Naples, the Netherlands and Spain.

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To understand the Etruscans D. H. Lawrence once said ''to the tombs we must go: or to the museums containing the things that have been rifled from the tombs'' which is where a hundred years later I still find stolen works of art. I look forward to seeing each of you in my course.

Dottor Stefano Alessandrini is a forensic archaeologist served for many years as a consultant to Italy’s Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali and the country’s Avvocatura di Stato.  Presently he serves as an expert to the Tribunale Penale di Roma

Like the world’s ambassadors who serve as official envoys, promoting good relations between countries, requires the cooperation of judicial authorities, law enforcement and archaeological experts like Stefano Alessandrini, who working together are able to bring plundered antiquities and works of art back home, even in cold cases once thought lost.

Stefano Alessandrini

Stefano Alessandrini

Cultural Diplomacy and Restitution, The History of Italy's Cultural Legislation and the Plunder of Italy through the centuries.

Lynda Albertson

Lynda Albertson

The Art Market's Laundrymen and Time Crime: The Transnational Business of Smuggling Cultural Property

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Talking about art crime is one of my passions! I look forward to seeing each of you in my next course

Lynda Albertson is the CEO of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art.  Her courses focus on research methodology useful in understanding art-related crimes, to better preserve the world’s collective cultural heritage. 

In her capacity as a forensic analyst she assists, where possible, public officials in uncovering useful details surrounding crimes against art and antiquities as part of ARCA’s Transnational Crime Mapping Project which assists law enforcement and public prosecutors in Europe and North America.  She also oversees onsite operations during ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Programming on art crime and cultural heritage protection.

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Art has always suffered in times of war...the first recorded instance of plundering of art during wartime is the taking of the Stele of Hammurabi by the Elamites from Babylon to Susa in the 12th century BCE all the way through today to the shelling of the Crac des Chevaliers and the destruction in Palmyra.

Judge Arthur Tompkins is a District Court Judge in New Zealand. Since 2010 he has taught Art Crime in War as part of the Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Heritage Protection with the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. He has presented papers to three of ARCA’s previous International Art Crime Conferences in Italy and has delivered public lectures on art crime during war, and the fate of libraries during war, in New Zealand and elsewhere.

He is the author of Plundering Beauty: A history of art crime during war (Lund Humphries, London; 2018) and the editor of Art Crime and Its Prevention (Lund Humphries, London 2016) and Provenance Research Today: Principles, Practice, Problems (Lund Humphries, London, 2020)

Arthur Tompkins

Arthur Tompkins

Rose Valland: Hero in the museum and The Prince of Plunderers: Napoleon and his Art Plundering

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