Looting, robbery and pillage are the norm not just in the sea off Somalia, but in the refined world of art, and this has always been the case. The great museums of the world are largely deposits of loot.
Lord Elgin - infamous for stealing sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens - was neither the first, last nor greatest of the looters. Page two of this month's issue shows one of the crudest recent examples of art looting, the taking of some Banksy's pictures from Palestine to be sold to wealthy collectors. But the current crisis in public finance has led to a new wave of transfers of public art into private hands and a reversal of New Labour's attempts to limit the privatisation of the art scene.