Debate Magazine

Stolen Artwork Surfaces on the Dark Web

Posted on the 28 November 2017 by Darkwebnews @darkwebnews

After selling hacked user accounts and trading illicit drugs and weapons, the dark web seems to have taken a turn and is now focusing on making huge profits off of stolen paintings.

A surprise it is, as one of the rarest paintings which was stolen back in April was just recently spotted for sale on the dark web, for a hefty sum of approximately $500,000.

Back when the story was reported, it was confirmed that an unidentified car crashed into the International Art Center located in New Zealand and within minutes, the team took off with two of the most famous and rare works of art by painter Gottfried Lindauer.

One of the paintings which were stolen during the heist was created back in 1884, and it was also a rare piece because of the artistic intricacies found in it.

The same painting has now been listed on the dark web, and the seller obviously claims that it is the original piece even though whoever is behind the listing doesn't confirm how they acquired it in the first place.

The description states it is the Chief Ngatai-Raure painting, which is nearly 133 years old. And the listing has surprised even veteran buyers who often browse dark web markets to find unique items.

A lot of these transactions are often carried out using Bitcoin because the cryptocurrency is quite popular now and is a stable choice for almost every user who wishes to purchase goods that are not strictly legal.

Auctioning an antique artistic masterpiece over this platform has taken everyone by surprise, and adding to the factor is the lines that read it is one of the stolen paintings that went missing in the heist earlier this year.

The seller, named Diabolo, has provided these details in his/her listing, which is found on a new darknet market called the White Shadow Marketplace.

Judging by posts on Reddit, the site appears to have officially launched about a month ago.

However, it also provokes a question about the authenticity of the listing and whether the seller really has the piece of artwork in their possession.

Possibly, the listing could even be from a random person who took a cue from the April heist and listed the antique work of art on the dark web. Once the payment is made through Bitcoin, it is next to impossible to trace the source to a physical identity or address.

According to the sources which reported the listing, it has been confirmed that the painting has been posted for sale for more than three weeks on the dark web, and the auction accepts only Bitcoin as the preferred currency to complete the transaction.

After multiple dark web users made their bid, it has now been finalized and the last buy now the price has been fixed at 35.1129 Bitcoins, which when roughly converted costs about $417,000 in New Zealand dollars.

Adding further to the description found in the dark web listing, the user Diabolo states that the pricing of over 35 Bitcoins is an impossible feat to achieve for more than 99 percent of dark web users, which is why the vendor is willing to sell the rare piece of art to government organizations, private institutions and individual collectors who may have the cash to afford such a purchase.

Diabolo also confirms that the piece would be shipped to the buyer within four days, and will be safely enclosed within a wooden box.

In the dark web market listing, Diabolo claims that the painting was not stolen and he doesn't have any connection with the ones who robbed it from the museum.

The listing further continues to claim that the sale is being made to overcome the vendor's financial situation and that he/she is doing it purely for the money as there are no other issues associated with this particular sale.

Hamish Coney, the managing director of the Art and Object gallery in New Zealand, confirmed in an inquiry that the photograph associated with the listing cannot be real because it appears to be added later using Photoshop.

The original work of art was showcased using a different frame than the one found in the listing.

Still, Coney confirmed that the pricing of the painting is quite accurate because of how old and rare the piece is.

But the picture shows a perfect frame which doesn't seem legitimate for such an antique piece of artwork.

If it was not damaged during the theft, Coney stated he would be very relieved and would be more than happy if the product being sold in the dark web is legitimate, which will give the center a chance to bring it back to their abode in due time.

Security experts from London-based financial consulting firm ReSolve Cyber were the first to find the painting being auctioned on the dark web.

Resolve Cyber CEO Jim Wheeler stated that he was surprised by the sale. It is to be seen if the work of art will be eventually sold in the near future.


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