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As part of the acquisition, Swift-Find have bought Trace’s name and existing business, but the acquisition and the merging of the two registries will create the world’s largest electronic database for stolen art and antiques.

Swift-Find sales director Alexandra Smith said: “Having added the Trace database to our existing database, we have 147,000 items of stolen antiques that we have collated so far.”

Over 1000 auctioneers in the UK, continental Europe and the United States use Trace for their due diligence. They will now be able to access Swift-Find’s online, real time search service and the global search engine service launched last month.

With this service, customers make one search and, where appropriate, they are given links to public websites that have data on items reported lost, stolen, looted or illegally exported from around the world. Already the service searches German looted art database, lostart.de, as well as the websites of the Carabinieri, Fedpol and the Los Angeles police.

Ms Smith could not confirm whether Trace stolen art and antiques magazine would continue but she said job cuts were unlikely.

Invaluable will continue to provide the Trace service until early May when Swift-Find will take over. Swift-Find is in the process of consulting customers over whether to keep the Trace name or re-brand the database.