Constable's 1824 landscape 'A View of Hampstead Heath: Child’s Hill, Harrow in the Distance'
Constable's 1824 landscape 'A View of Hampstead Heath: Child’s Hill, Harrow in the Distance'

Hackers stole £2.4 million that a museum paid for a John Constable painting, as experts warn that fraudsters are targeting the art world.

The criminals intercepted emails between Rijksmuseum Twenthe in the Netherlands and Simon Dickinson, a London art dealer, who were arranging the sale of Constable’s 1824 landscape A View of Hampstead Heath: Child’s Hill, Harrow in the Distance.

三级成人视频Posing as Dickinson, the seller specialising in Old Master paintings, they instructed the museum to pay £2.4 million into a bank account based in Hong Kong.

三级成人视频By this time, the painting had already been sent to the museum and the real Dickinson was left with no money from the sale.

The targeting of high-value deals in the art world, which has global reach and relies on long-distance transactions, is an increasing threat, with experts now warning galleries to be especially vigilant when carrying out large transfers remotely.

Other international dealerships have reportedly fallen victim to similar scams.

Susan Mumford, founder and chief executive of the Association of Women Art Dealers, has been in the industry for two decades and is developing a mobile application which carries out anti-money laundering checks to make transactions safer.

三级成人视频She told The Telegraph: “The issue is lack of due diligence and controls. To send £2.4 million to Hong Kong when the dealer is based in London brings up an immediate question and anyone sending a sizeable fund these days should be double checking.

“This kind of fraud is becoming really common and is one of the biggest risks to art dealers today, but I haven’t come across a case where such a large sum has been transferred to the wrong account.

“Putting measures in place is essential. You need to verbally confirm with a dealer whether the bank details are correct. 

“You need to make sure it’s two individuals who know each other’s voices. If you do that and also have cyber insurance, you’ve taken really good measures. If you do neither then you don’t have a leg to stand on.”

Rijksmuseum Twenthe attempted to sue Dickinson at the High Court in London, claiming that the dealership was negligent in failing to realise that emails were being sent on its behalf.

Dickinson’s lawyer argued that the museum should have independently confirmed that the bank details were legitimate before sending the payment.

The judge threw out the museum’s claim for damages in January this year, but is yet to decide who should have ownership of the painting.

Emma Ward, Dickinson’s managing director, said: “This unfortunate event highlights the dangers of cyber crime in the art world, which is regrettable for both the museum and Dickinson, especially when both are victims in this instance. Dickinson hopes that the case will result with an awareness of cyber threats and preventive precautions in the art community.”

Rijksmuseum Twenthe did not respond to a request for comment.