that most of the major art theft occurs because of 2 specific groups of bandits: one called the Balkan Bandits and the other, a ring of Irish thieves. Once the art is lifted from regional museums, galleries and less secure spaces the work is used as leverage in arms and drug deals. Those individuals who track the lost art and help negotiate it’s return are hired by the insurance companies who have underwritten the collection, not the museums.
But in this most recent case, the work probably wasn’t insured like the first time… since these last works were prints and can’t compare to a trophy from Isabella, it’s probably just local thieves who have the work in Brazil. Soon they are going to freak out, leave them in a bathroom stall and the prints will get water damaged and have to be repaired – it happens in France all the time
One of my favorite tales from France is of the Italian glazier who stole the Mona Lisa in 1911 while working at the Louvre fitting protective glass into frames. Though, I feel stoic act of repatriation, when he got the work back to Italy (feeling like a national hero) and tried to resell it 2 years later, everyone was like “Ummmm, Vincenzo, listen. We gotta talk. I kinda don’t have a viable client for this…” (he was arrested and it was later returned.)