Protecting the Priceless

Protecting the Priceless

Partnership formed to secure property from thieves

Late at night on March 18, 1990, two thieves dressed as police officers — one of them bold enough to sport a false mustache made of wax — talked their way past security guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. After handcuffing the hapless guards, the pair made off with a half-billion-dollars’ worth of paintings by Rembrandt, Degas, Vermeer, Manet and other fine works of art. The still-unsolved heist is among one of the largest thefts of property in world history.

A Criminal Enterprise
The FBI refers to art theft and related crimes as a “looming criminal enterprise” that costs museums, galleries and private collectors billions of dollars each year. More than 50,000 pieces of artwork are stolen each year globally, according to the FBI. The value of that stolen art is estimated to be $6-$8 billion annually.

Protecting those priceless works of art is a challenge not every security professional would want. It requires constant vigilance to stay one step ahead of highly motivated, sophisticated thieves. But it’s all in a day’s work for Bill Anderson, who founded Art Guard to protect the valuable collections of art museums, galleries, and private collectors worldwide. “It’s all about using cutting-edge, trusted technology,” Anderson said.

The company is tasked with providing museum-level protection for at least $500 million worth of artworks and other valuables, including safeguarding the same Gardner Museum in Boston that was ransacked nearly 30 years ago (but hasn’t been hit since), as well as NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, Sotheby’s Auction House and the homes of countless high-end collectors.

Art Guard accomplishes this with custom-made magnetic sensors and Alula’s Connect+ System.

“Using Alula’s system gives me the ability to provide a customer with an easily self-managed system,” Anderson said. “It can be controlled with a phone kept in your pocket. That’s what this particular clientele wants. They want the kind of control that equates with home automation.”

Art Guard uses a theft-prevention technique co-developed by Anderson called magnetic asset protection (MAP). The wireless system involves placing tiny magnets on artworks or other valuables that have a sensor in close proximity. When movement is detected, MAP triggers an alert that can range from an onsite alarm or wireless siren, to a text message or phone call to the owner.

“This is a robust system with multiple means of alert and multiple backups,” Anderson said.

A system for guarding valuable objects must run independently from the premises’ main security (for example, perimeter alarms) as these must be turned off and on at different times of the day, potentially leaving valuables unprotected.

Anderson said that linking sensors to Alula’s Connect+ System means full security for valuables is always running in the background, providing protection 24 hours a day. The Connect+ comes standard with battery backup so it will continue operating even if the museum loses power.

“It continues to work if other systems fail, a key attribute for art security consultants,” Anderson said.

The highly configurable, mobile-first experience provides customers — whether they’re protecting art museums, offices or private homes — with control and simplicity. Connect+ is a modular system, which allows Art Guard and other security professionals to choose what works best for their needs. The options include cards for cellular backup, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave, which enables a broad range of home automation features. Paired with video from Alula, it’s a perfect choice for a growing number of dealers.

Art Guard’s system has been battle-tested by protecting the types of art collections that would tempt any thief, and now one of the world’s top hedge funds —with more than 1,000 employees and more than $10 billion under management — is turning to Art Guard to protect 120 valuable pieces of art displayed throughout the firm’s eighth-floor offices.

Where some clients might be fine with a security truck parked outside their home while a dealer installs a new security system, an art gallery or wealthy collector with a valuable art collection must be more discreet. Prying eyes don’t need to see what type of security is being deployed to keep art collections, jewelry, antiques, fine wines and collectibles safe.

“There are all kinds of nuances to this market,” Anderson said. “This isn’t a business where people just stick a prominent company security sign out front.”

Safeguarding valuable collections comes down to discretion, trust, reliability, convenience and constant protection, he said, and Alula’s flexible, customizable system is key to making that happen.


  • 12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    Understanding crime statistics in your industry and area is crucial for making important decisions about your security budget. With so much information out there, how can you know which statistics to trust? Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3

  • AC Nio

    AC Nio

    Aiphone, a leading international manufacturer of intercom, access control, and emergency communication products, has introduced the AC Nio, its access control management software, an important addition to its new line of access control solutions. 3