Collectors are put on high alert following recent rhino horn thefts



The news that thieves made off with a rhino horn from the UK's Ipswich Museum earlier this summer will have surprised few collectors.

It is one of around 30 such thefts from Europe's museums and antiques dealers this year, reports the New York Times newspaper, and is further evidence of the demand for rhino horns around the world.

It means that collectors who are offered rhino horns should be on high alert, and take every effort to confirm an item's provenance.

However, it is suspected that many of the stolen horns will by now be in powder form.

Horns are often ground down for the Asian black market to make homeopathic remedies for illnesses such as cancer.

The black rhino's horn is believed to have healing properties

Ian Lawson, a London Metropolitan Police detective specialising in art and antiques, told the newspaper that the powder from a rhino horn can sell for $45,000 a pound.

The market for legal rhino horn antiques is also keenly contested.

In the UK it is illegal to sell ornaments crafted from rhino horns after 1947, and a rhino horn in its raw state can rarely be sold at all, regardless of its age.

However, there remains a strong market for antique rhino horns and they have commanded significant prices at auction in the past.

A rhino horn cup recently sold for £58,750, while last June IM Chait listed an intricately carved rhino horn libation cup for $75,000-100,000.

In February, a rhino head valued at £50,000 was stolen from British auctioneers Sworders.

You can be sure that Paul Fraser Collectibles will keep you abreast of all the latest news from this controversial area of collecting over the coming months.


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