A reader pointed to this one sentence in a recent and utterly fascinating piece on art theft that illuminates an entire world, like a searchlight spotting a plane ducking and weaving among dark clouds….

Much of the art ends up in northern Cyprus or Taiwan, because the islands are not officially countries, and have no extradition treaties.

That led me to this absorbing tale of Taiwan, Argentina, and art for arms….let me whet your appetite:

Gordon was also a key player in Operation Condor, the clandestine campaign of assassination, counter-terrorism and intelligence-gathering operations implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone, which meant he had extensive contacts all over South America. Most explosive of all was the rumour that the paintings had been used to procure arms from Taiwan for the Falklands War. “There was an arms embargo against Argentina at the time,” explains Avignolo, “and the Junta worked a lot with Taiwan, because it was the only country willing to break the embargo. Taiwan was also a triangulation point for other countries - the Junta even had an ambassador in Taiwan, and military attachés, which was very unusual.”

Not being a real live state has more fallout than just passport annoyances and long travel times between Taipei and Shanghai….