Art as collateral

In a book I’m reading at the moment (won’t say which one, as it’s a mild spoiler) some has stolen a very famous painting from a museum and this painting is being used as collateral for drug deals. Now, the idea is that the painting is way too famous to be sold, but because it is valuable, it is still useful as collateral. And I don’t get this part. Why is it useful as collateral if it can’t be turned into money?

Some thoughts:[ul][]Maybe it’s just that drug dealers can appreciate art too. If an object is inherently desirable, then it has value; the borrower doesn’t want to lose the painting, and the lender will end up with a nice painting if things go south.[]The painting may be too famous to sell on the open market, but there’s a substantial black market for stolen art.The exigencies of the plot require it to be so.[/ul]

Another possibility: The painting is too famous to be turned into money, even on the black market, without incurring significant risk. But the person who posted it as collateral appreciates it and wants to get it back, so there’s an incentive for that person to do whatever the collateral is supposed to ensure is being done. Of, in other words: “If you don’t do as we agreed, then we’ll cut your nice little picture into tiny little pieces!”

Collateral may not be the proper term to use in the context of the novel…I would suggest that they are holding the piece of art as ransom.

When a person is kidnapped you wouldn’t consider them held as collateral. You couldn’t sell the CEO of General Electric for cash, but you could hold him for ransom…in the same way the characters in the novel do with the art.

Yes, it makes sense. Though the word “collateral” is what is (mis)used in the book. I think the black market art for stolen art might also be what is going on. I haven’t finished the book yet, so perhaps it will be explained more clearly - if not I kind of think it should have been, but perhaps it’s just me being a bit dim.

Maybe it can’t be sold now, but could be later (even if it’s much later) after the heat’s died down.

Anything desirable has value and can therefore be used as collateral. The stolen art can’t be sold on the open market but so long as there are people who want it, and are prepared to pay for it, it has value.

There might also be people who would do things just to prevent the art from being damaged (ransome I guess). “Give me the cash - or the puppy gets it.”

The problem with art used this way, is that it is inherently fragile. A painting might be worth millions one minute and be ashes the next.