About the Trust

The New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust is a Charitable Trust with three primary purposes:

  • Hosting an annual Art Crime Symposium;
  • Advancing multi-disciplinary research into art crime and related issues; and
  • Encouraging and fostering awareness of art crime in all its manifestations and forms,

with a particular focus on the New Zealand environment.

The Trust hosted its inaugural Art Crime Symposium on Saturday 19th September 2015, at the City Gallery in Wellington. This innovative symposium brought together leading academics and researchers for an important and ground-breaking one-day Symposium, covering many aspects of art crime both in New Zealand and beyond, at the City Gallery in the heart of Wellington.

The first Symposium was such a success that it has now become an annual event.  See the Previous Symposia page for more details .

The four foundation trustees of the Trust are:

Arthur Tompkins
Arthur Tompkins is a District Court Judge based in Wellington. Since 2010 he has taught the Art in War component course as part of the annual Graduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Heritage Protection Studies, presented by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art in Amelia, Umbria, Italy. He has lectured and taught around New Zealand and abroad on various aspects of art crime, and is a regular art-crime guest on Kim Hill’s Saturday Morning show on National Radio. In 2016 he was the editor of Art Crime and its Prevention (Lund Humphries, London) and in April 2018 the same publisher will publish his next book, Plundering Beauty: Art Crime in War.

Penelope Jackson
Penelope Jackson is an art historian with a special interest in New Zealand art crime. She is the former Director of Tauranga Art Gallery.  Jackson curated the exhibition, Corrugations: the art of Jeff Thomson that won the 2014 Museum Aotearoa exhibition of the year.  Her exhibition, Lynley Dodd: A Retrospectivetoured 15 venues, including five in Australia. She has given several presentations about art crime, including at the 2012 and 2015 Association for Research into Crimes against Art conference in Amelia, Umbria, Italy as well as for several festivals and organisations in New Zealand.  Articles by Jackson are published in the Journal of Art Crime as well as for Versopolis: European Review of Poetry, Books and Culture.  In 2016-17 Jackson curated the exhibition, An Empty Frame: art crimes of New Zealand, hosted by Waikato Museum.  In 2016 her book, Art Thieves, Fakers & Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story (Awa Press) was published.  Her chapter ‘Legacy and Longevity: protecting the past for the future‘ appeared in Art Crime and Its Prevention (Lund Humphries) in 2016.  Jackson is currently curating several exhibitions for New Zealand and Australian venues.

Louisa Gommans
Louisa Gommans is a commercial lawyer with a special interest in art law. She practises at Rainey Collins Lawyers in central Wellington and writes regularly on the topic of art law.  Louisa has an honours degree in Italian and Art History, and worked for a time in the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Team at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.  She has researched and written about the protection of Maori cultural heritage, including through repatriation of taonga and remains and the appropriate use of Maori cultural products.  A particular area of interest is provenance research, and advising both buyers and sellers about conducting thorough due diligence.  Her chapter on ‘Art Crime Law’ appeared in Art Crime and Its Prevention (Lund Humphries) in 2016.

Ngarino Ellis
Ngarino Ellis (Ngapuhi, Ngati Porou) is a Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Auckland. Her teaching includes a stage 2/3 paper entitled ‘Art Crime’ which includes illicit antiquities, looting, theft, vandalism, forgery and art squads, both historic and contemporary across the globe. This is the only permanent academic course of this nature in Australasia. She has researched indigenous art theft in Aotearoa New Zealand as part of her wider role as Co-ordinator of the Museums and Cultural Heritage Programme, also at the University of Auckland. She is yet to enjoy the wonders of Amelia, Italy.