International Foundation for Art Research

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) is a non-profit organization which was established to channel and coordinate scholarly and technical information about works of art. IFAR provides an administrative and legal framework within which experts can express their objective opinions. This data is made available to individuals, associations and government agencies.

  • IFAR functions as a step towards more regularized attribution protocols in which the question is not the importance of the attribution but the correctness of it.[2]
  • IFAR is actively involved in the legal, ethical, and educational issues surrounding the ownership and theft of art.[3]
International Foundation for Art Research
TypeNonprofit organization
HeadquartersNew York, NY, United States
Anthony Williams
Executive Director
Sharon Flescher
  • Michael de Havenon
  • Christiane Fischer
  • Aaron M. Milrad
  • David Nash
  • Leon B. Polsky
  • Samuel Sachs II
  • Theodore E. Stebbins
  • Lisa Dennison
  • Caroline Lowndes
  • Peter Sutton
  • Ethan Lasser
  • Steven Schwartz
  • Dorit Straus
  • Scott Lynn
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$815,220[1]


IFAR was initially conceived in New York in 1969; its first president was Houston industrialist John de Ménil.[2]

Founding members of the privately funded foundation were:[2]

The first Advisory council members were:[2]

In 1989, IFAR had become "a very grand-sounding name for what is really just three smart, dedicated, underpaid women who are among the nation's leading experts on stolen and forged art." Constance Lowenthal, Margaret I. O'Brien and Virgilia H. Pancoast work in an Upper East Side office which contains 30,000 files documenting stolen art cases. The three-rooms were on the fourth floor of the Explorers Club, on East 70th Street.[4]


IFAR compiled information about stolen art; and by 1990, IFAR was updating its catalogue of stolen art 10 times a year.[5] In 1991, IFAR helped to establish the Art Loss Register (ALR) as a commercial enterprise. IFAR managed ALR's U.S. operations through 1997. In 1998, ALR assumed full responsibility for the database although IFAR retains ownership.[3]


In response to the growth and development of IFAR, museum officials have revised some policies based on an assumption that discussing theft would scare away potential donors. The change from policies of secrecy to ones which emphasize openness was gradual, mirroring an expectation that publicizing theft is likely to promote recovery.[5]

Selected timeline

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "International Foundation for Art Research Inc" (PDF). Foundation Center. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Glueck, Grace. "Art Group Is Set Up To Judge Attribution," New York Times. May 8, 1970.
  3. ^ a b IFAR: About IFAR, Art Theft Database
  4. ^ Winerip, Michael. "The Ultimate Marketplace; Hot on the Trail of Missing Masterpieces," New York Times. November 12, 1989.
  5. ^ a b c d Yarrow, Andrew L. "A Lucrative Crime Grows Into a Costly Epidemic," New York Times. March 20, 1990.
  6. ^ a b Dobrzynski, Judith H. "For What Nazis Stole, A Longtime Art Hound," New York Times. November 29, 1997.


External linksEdit