The Art Loss Register (ALR) states on its website that it "searches all auction catalogues and private sales for Christies to identify before sale any items which are registered as stolen, fake, missing, looted". The ALR continues: "This is the foundation of due diligence to ensure that the buyers obtain good title free of disputes."
This is a bold claim. Are all looted antiquities documented and photographed? Do looters submit their photographs to the ALR? So the statement assumes that looted antiquities have to be registered.
And what if objects in one of the auctions are identified from one of the photographic dossiers seized in Switzerland and Greece? Will Christie's only respond if the ALR makes the identification?
And does the work of the ALR guarantee that "buyers obtain good title free of disputes"? What if the Italian authorities make the identification themselves and approach the auction-house directly?
The wording is clearly intended to reassure potential buyers. But does it?