Derek Fincham discusses the stolen Norman Rockwell painting that ended up in Steven Spielberg's collection (mentioned earlier here) and points to a company that's come up with a way to use cellphone cameras to check works against a database of stolen art. Says Derek:
"I imagine that the first company which figures out how to make a simple and easy database will earn a lot of money, and will do wonders for insuring the legitimacy of the art trade. My personal preference would be to have a free system similar to wikipedia, which allows anyone to use and access the site. Until there is a comprehensive database which ties together all of these various databases though, we will continue to see people unwittingly purchasing stolen works."
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog's Peter Lattman discusses the Spielberg story here. He also recommends Jonathan Harr's "The Lost Painting," "a gripping yarn about the search for a lost Caravaggio." More reviews here (Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times), here (The New Yorker), and here (Richard Eder in The Boston Globe).