Art installation cubes


Priceless Assets of Subversion: Financial Crime and the Valuation of Unique Goods

Crimes involving high-value unique goods (HVUG), such as luxury items and works of art, have evolved in one surprising way: where the lure for criminals once lay in stealing or forging such objects, it now lies in transforming them into financialized assets, for instance to obscure transactions, to launder money, or to hide wealth and evade sanctions.

Key to the assetization of unique goods is their valuation, upon which subsequent collateralisation, securitization, and derivation depends. To better understand and tackle proven vulnerabilities to subversive (financial) crime, this innovative project analyses contested practices of value appraisal, insurance, and accounting, and examines how they can become corrupted.

While many different parties are involved in the valuation of unique goods, they each use different methods and rarely exchange relevant data, often due to privacy constraints. However, sharing information is crucial to understanding how the valuation of assetized unique goods is malleable and subject to manipulation. PRICELESS builds on a successful, established collaborative network between public and private partners in the Netherlands to map and mitigate associated risks of criminal subversion.

The project combines qualitative and quantitative research into the assetization of high-value artworks (including crypto art and NFTs) and expensive (pre-owned) watches with the promising method of financial crime scripting to reveal how (non-banking) financial services and legal arbitrage practices facilitate dangerous schemes of subversive crime.

Adapting innovative privacy-preserving technologies to allow for data, information and intelligence sharing between private and public organizations, PRICELESS improves resilience through better standards, controls, regulation, and policing.

Principal investigator


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