Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, 2018, May The Force Be With Your Heart

800-year-old stolen saint’s heart returned to Dublin cathedral

People observe the heart of St Laurence O’Toole at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin (Tom Honan/PA)
People observe the heart of St Laurence O’Toole at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin
The 800-year-old heart of Dublin’s patron saint has been recovered by police, six years after it was stolen from a cathedral in the city.
The relic – the heart of St Laurence O’Toole – was taken from Christ Church Cathedral in 2012.
It has no monetary value but is “a priceless treasure” for the church, the cathedral’s Dean, the Very Reverend Dermot Dunne, said.
The theft of the relic, which had been kept in a wooden heart-shaped box and placed within a small iron-barred cage, sparked a six-year investigation by Gardai.
It will be presented to the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr Michael Jackson on Thursday evening by Garda Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy.
Archbishop Jackson thanked those who had helped recover the relic, and described the return of the heart as a joyful moment for the people of the city.
He said: “The return of the heart of Laurence O’Toole to Christ Church Cathedral brings great joy to the people of Dublin as Dubliners.
“For those of us associated with the life of the dioceses, it brings again to the fore the close relationship between Glendalough and Dublin, a relationship of more than 800 years.
People line up to observe the heart of St Laurence O'Toole (Tom Honan/PA) 
People line up to observe the heart of St Laurence O’Toole
“Laurence left the monastic city of Glendalough of which he was Abbot to become Archbishop of Dublin, hence cementing a vibrant relationship that continues unabated to this day.”
Rev Dunne said he was “delighted” at the relic’s return.
He said: “I said at the time it was stolen that the relic has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links the cathedral’s present foundation with its founding father, St Laurence O’Toole.”
Assistant Commissioner Leahy commended officers who he said had “kept their radars on and their minds open in this ongoing investigation”.
Gardai said no arrests have been made.
There will now be a shrine to St Laurence, who died in 1180, in the cathedral, the church said, noting that they had looked at their security since the theft and continue to have regular reviews.

Stolen Art Surrendered After Criminal Group’s Heist Decades Ago

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered a prized painting from a decades-old art heist in New York City, thanks to the guilty conscience of an aging organized crime figure, the agency announced.

The painting, a Chagall from 1911 titled “Othello and Desdemona” was stolen in 1988 along with several other invaluable artifacts and artworks including those of Renoir, Hopper, and Picasso.

The heist was executed over the course of several days; the thieves entered the 16th-floor loft of Ernest and Rose Heller—wealthy art collectors who were in Aspen for their annual two-month vacation-- and left without a single trace. No arrests were ever made, and none of the artworks have been recovered until now.
A 72-year old, terminally-ill man with ties to Bulgarian criminal groups contacted the FBI’s Art Crime Unit in Washington, DC to hand over the painting and clear his conscience before his death, according to an FBI report.
The unnamed man claimed to have been contracted to sell the painting in the early nineties and once he found an interested buyer, the person who contracted him—one of thieves-- tried to cut him out of the deal. In retaliation, he stole the painting and stored it in his attic in Maryland, which police found to be kept in a makeshift paper box titled “Misc High School Artwork.”
At the time of the theft, the painting was worth US$750,000. In 2018, it’s value is estimated to be well over the million-dollar mark.
At one point, the 72-year old attempted to sell the painting to a gallery without proof of ownership.
“The gallery refused to accept the painting,” the press release states.
“They suggested that the individual contact law enforcement, which resulted in the FBI obtaining custody of the painting.”
The man who contracted the 72-year old was one of the masterminds of the heist. He had a degree in fine arts and worked as a superintendent in the building that was burglarized. He was later convicted of similar crimes and is now in prison.
The statute of limitations on the heist expired years ago and no charges are being filed against the known thief or the man who surrendered the painting. The artwork will be returned to the Heller estate.

Dutch Old Master stolen by Nazis to go to auction

It is due to goes on auction on July 4 in London with a pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2.5 million.

A Dutch Old Master painting stolen by the Nazis towards the end of World War II is to be auctioned after it was discovered hanging in the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London.
The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt was put on show in the Amsterdam offices of auction house Sotheby’s.
It is due to goes on auction on July 4 in London with a pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2.5 million.
Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck recounts how the painting was recovered
Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the 97-year-old daughter of the Arnhem children’s doctor who originally owned the painting, says that as a child she loved the light blue dress and fur-trimmed red coat worn by the girl being offered a plate of oysters by her suitor.
Ochtervelt’s oil on canvas masterpiece, from 1664-65, shows a man presenting a plate of oysters to a warmly-lit, seated young woman.
“I loved it,” Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck said. “I was a young girl; I liked her dress, I liked her coat with the white fur and the way he offered her the oysters.”
Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck was reunited with the painting last year at a ceremony in London, now she has decided to sell it to pass on the proceeds to the children of her siblings.
After the war, the painting changed hands several times before the family tracked it down.
It resurfaced in the mid-1950s at a gallery in the German city of Duesseldorf. It was later bought by an American diplomat before British property developer Harold Samuel bought it in 1971 and later bequeathed it to the City of London Corporation.
Ms Bischoff van Heemskerck said tracking down the missing art was not a priority in the immediate aftermath of the war, as her father sought to re-establish his children’s hospital.
“My father said, ‘we won’t talk about the missing things’,” she said. “We will just live again.”

New York judge awards Egon Schiele art to Holocaust heirs

A New York judge has awarded two Nazi-looted drawings to the heirs of an Austrian Holocaust victim.
The drawings - Woman Hiding Her Face and Woman in a Black Pinafore by Egon Schiele - will go to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum, killed in Dachau concentration camp in 1941.
The Nazis confiscated Grunbaum's 449-piece art collection when he was arrested in 1938.
London-based art dealer Richard Nagy had claimed a legal title to the works.
He had exhibited the drawings at a 2015 art show in New York, where the heirs discovered the art was up for sale.
Mr Nagy said he had bought them legally. But the Manhattan state court ruled against him, citing the 2016 Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (Hear) Act.
Image copyright Egon Schiele/Leopold Museum
Image caption Egon Schiele (1890-1918), depicted here in a self-portrait, was an Austrian figurative painter
The act extended the statute of limitations for making claims on Nazi-stolen art to six years after its "actual discovery".
Raymond Dowd, a lawyer for the Grunbaum heirs - Timothy Reif, David Fraenkel and Milos Vavra - argued that the lost works were not discovered by his clients until they noticed they were up for sale at the art fair.
After the ruling, Mr Dowd praised the decision for moving "a step closer" to recovering art taken in "the largest mass theft in history".

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The case follows a failed attempt by Milos Vavra and Mr Dowd in 2005 to win restitution for another Schiele drawing from Grunbaum's collection.
The court in that case ruled in favour of Boston businessman who owned the work, on the grounds that too much time had passed since the heirs had made their claim.

Thieves escape with €2.2m gold artwork after 220kph chase

Thieves smashed their way into an art gallery to steal a 2.2 million euro artwork before escaping police by fleeing at 220 kilometres an hour down the wrong side of a highway with their lights out.
The burglary broke through 5cm thick reinforced glass using some kind of battering ram in order to reach the piece, called "Golden Natural Chaos" which is made from 45kg of 18 karat gold.
The entire operation took just four minutes. A neighbour of the gallery in Knokke, Belgium captured the getaway car being loaded up after being awoken by the alarm.
Artist Arne Quinze who took more than 2 years to make the work, told Euronews he was stunned and devastated because he had invested so much - both financially and artistically in its creation.
"When it was finished I remember the team went silent. Not just because they were proud but because of the feeling created by the piece. The piece made us," he said. "It's impossible to make that piece again."
"Now it's a race. Like every piece of art it's impossible to sell so they will melt it down for the gold," he added.
Police were on the scene within around five minutes, according to a spokesman for the artist, but were unable to recover the work despite a long car chase.
The artwork, which was originally made in Belgium as part of a collaboration with precious metals manufacturer Heimerle+Meule has toured the world, passing through China, the US and France before returning to its homeland.
The scene of the crime

Chinese antiquities stolen in raid on Bath museum

Haul includes precious gold and jade artefacts, which police say may have been stolen to order

UPDATE: This article was amended to include comment from Vernon Rapley
Police have issued an appeal for witnesses after four masked men broke into a museum in south-west England and stole precious jade and gold artefacts as well as many other items.
The raid on the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath took place at around 1.20am on Tuesday 17 April.
Zitan wood covered box with inlays (18th century) Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Witnesses saw the thieves smash a first-floor window to enter the museum. The four men then broke into display cabinets and removed numerous objects, according to a statement on the website of Avon and Somerset Police.
The break-in follows an attempted robbery at the same museum six years ago, when three men tried to steal items during opening hours. On that occasion, nothing was taken and the intruders escaped before police arrived.
This time, the thieves removed objects including a jade monkey holding a peach from the Yuan or early Ming dynasty (13th-15th century); a carving of jade mandarin ducks with lotus flowers from the Qing dynasty (probably 18th century); a set of 14 gold belt plaques decorated with flowers from the early Ming dynasty (around 1500 or earlier); a Jizhou stoneware vase with painted floral and insect designs from the Southern Song dynasty (12th-13th century); a soapstone figure of the scholar Dongfang Shuo by the stone carver Yang Yuxuan from the late Ming or early Qing dynasty (1630-1680); and a zitan wood covered box with various inlays from the Qing dynasty (18th century).
The men were then seen fleeing the museum in a dark SUV. Police arrived at the scene five minutes after receiving a phone call from a member of the public. They are now investigating the crime scene, conducting door-to-door enquiries and reviewing local CCTV footage.
A museum employee tells The Art Newspaper that the thieves had taken “many more” objects than those listed as stolen on the police website. Museum staff are now working on compiling a full list of the seized items and will publish this on their website “as soon as possible”, the employee says. The museum will remain closed for the next few weeks and “hopes to reopen by 5 May” for its new exhibition [A Quest for Wellness: Contemporary Art by Zhang Yanzi], she adds.
“Due to the items stolen and the speed of the burglary, we suspect this to be a targeted attack, with the artefacts possibly stolen to order. These items range in monetary value, but their cultural significance is priceless,” Detective Sergeant Matthew Reed said in a statement.
Vernon Rapley, the director of Cultural Heritage Protection & Security at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the chair of the National Museum Security Group, says: “We were all saddened to hear about of the theft from the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath, I know that museums across the UK will do all that they can to assist in recovering the property and hopefully bringing the offenders to justice. It is concerning to witness a crime targeting jade and gold in a museum, after a period of relative quiet within the UK. The NMSG monitors crime patterns across the UK and Europe, and has been keeping a cautious eye on events targeting gold and other precious goods. We very much hope that this crime isn’t the start of a pattern of offending.”

The astonishing £100,000 haul burglars stole from Cheltenham flat - including Faberge eggs and Rolex watch

The list of stolen goods is quite incredible - and the owner is devastated
The hunt is one for two Faberge eggs and a Faberge bowl after they were stolen from a flat in Cheltenham.
David Sartori was devastated to return to his home in Evesham Road and find the eggs had been stolen in a burglary. The thieves also took a whole host of other items and in all the haul was worth more than £100,000.
It included a Faberge 24k gold and royal blue enamel miniature bowl, valued at £30,000.
The Faberge bowl that David most wants to get back
The Faberge bowl that David most wants to get back
That was given to David as a gift by his late grandfather, Charles Hayes.
The 39-year-old, who works as a garden designer, is desperate to get all of the items back but the bowl is of particular sentimental value to him.
He said: “I wish I had been here and could have done more. I feel really upset about this.
“My enjoyment is to come home and look at my collection.
“As sad as that sounds, I love it. It’s my thing.
“It’s the fact that one day I walked in and my treasures had gone.”

The full list of items stolen, valued at £100,000+

One of the precious Faberge eggs stolen from a Cheltenham flat
  • Faberge Antique Russian Imperial Silver Letter Opener – £4,310
  • Asprey solid silver pill boxes – x3 £1200-1500
  • Asprey cuff links - £300.00
  • Collection of blue enamel and solid silver pill boxes – x8 in all - total £2/2500
  • Solid silver writing pen - £800-1000
  • Enamel green and silver Art Deco pill boxes – £500
  • Asprey blue enamel miniature carriage clock plus leather case – £6500/7000
  • Collection of solid silver pill boxes – x5 in total - £500ish
  • A solid silver miniature settee and two French chairs – £1000
  • A solid crown & silver horn with red silk tassel - £800
  • Gold Fabergé egg. Inside a porcelain rose bud housing gold chain and diamond pendent. - £5000
  • A 24k gold and royal blue enamel miniature bowl. Faberge. - £30,000
  • Gold Fabergé egg from glass display case in hall way. – £3500/5000
  • A pair of Georgian solid silver boxes plus tortoise shell and solid silver box - £600/800
  • A mauve porcelain and diamond set pill box. Stamped Asprey - £3000
  • A collection of coal port porcelain for a Tiffany and Co exhibition c 1890 – x3 Pieces - £1800/2000
  • A collection of enamel and solid silver or gilt miniature picture frames. - x6 pieces. - £3500
  • A 24k gold zodiac Pisces Fabergé egg. Royal blue enamel front panel with 24k gold star sign and a aquamarine stone inside egg - £3,000
  • Polaroid television/dvd - £350.00
  • Watch box housing a Gucci dress watch - £800
  • Rolex submarina - £8000
  • X2 Armani dress watches - £1000
  • X2 Tissot watches - £1500.00
  • X1 Diesel watch - £200
  • The watch box they were housed in - £500
  • X1 large Creed Aventus - £300
  • X1 White Company Aspen - £70.00
  • X1 large Creed Tweed - £250.00
  • X1 Chanel Sport - £70.00
  • X1 invictus large - £90.00
  • IPad – £600
  • Lap Top – £400
  • Louis Vuitton duffle bag - £1000
  • A pair of Gucci Aviator sunglasses - £350 A pair of Prada sunglasses. - £400 A pair of Gucci sports sun glasses - £300 (All boxes left behind) A Gucci wash bag £400
  • Grandfather’s war medals
  • 5 gold full sovereigns £1500
  • Apple iPod
  • A brand new iPhone 7
  • A baby blue Nintendo DS plus charger and games in a black material holder - £250
  • One 18 ct gold money clip
  • A Gucci monogram belt with polished silver buckle stamped Gucci - £300
  • A Gucci leather grey snakeskin belt unopened stamped Gucci on buckle -£300
  • A pair of black Emporio Armani aviator sunglasses unopened unwrapped - £350
  • Two solid silver and tortoise shell writing pens - in a distinctive Buckingham Palace black velvet box - £500
  • X3 Lalique glass sculptures £800/1000
  • X3 Gucci candles unopened and unwrapped - £300
  • A silver Gucci bamboo bracelet - £400
  • X2 antique silver pocket watches
  • A black Mount Blanc writing pen - £600
  • A silver gilt grape stand and grape scissors - £800/£1000
  • A miniature solid silver brief case - Tiffany and Co - £300
  • A miniature silver vase 2” tall - Tiffany and Co - £300.00
  • A Louis Vuitton Passport Wallet - £200
  • A collection of miniature solid silver and enamel animals. British hall marks. A pheasant.... three pink pigs, a peacock, a giraffe, a leopard and a large lion - £2500 minimum
  • A collection of 14 Herend porcelain animals with a distinctive fishnet pattern some pink, 24k gold, blue, green. Some will have an Aspreys red and gilt sticker on their bases - £2500 minimum
  • A Gucci silver chain with two dog tags attached both stamped in tiny letters Gucci - £250
  • An antique walnut cuff link box - £200
  • A box contains 20 silver 1 Troy ounce bullion bars - silver - £600
  • Two solid silver cigarette cases - £500
He added that it had taken him 30 years to build up his collection and he was grateful that about 60 per cent of it had not been stolen during the March 26 burglary. Items that were not taken included seven more Faberge products, including eggs.
David’s eggs are not any of the 50 that are famous across the world and can change hands for millions of pounds. Those were made by Faberge for the Imperial Russian royal family between 1885 and 1916.
But his are, nonetheless, original Faberge eggs and are very valuable and collectable.
One of the precious Faberge eggs stolen from a Cheltenham flat
One of the precious Faberge eggs stolen from a Cheltenham flat
The haul stolen from David’s flat, which he has been restoring for about 18 months, included valuable watches, jewellery and antiques. Medals belonging to his grandfather were also stolen.
One egg is gold with a porcelain rosebud housing a gold chain and diamond pendant. The other is a gold Zodiac Pisces egg which has a royal blue enamel front panel, a gold star sign and an aquamarine stone inside.
Other pieces are jewellery and watches from Rolex, Chanel, Tiffany, Asprey and Gucci. A valuable Asprey blue enamel miniature carriage clock and leather case was also stolen.
The Louis Vuitton bag that was stolen in the burglary and which the thieves may have put other items from the collection into
The Louis Vuitton bag that was stolen in the burglary and which the thieves may have put other items from the collection into
David began collecting as a child with the help of his grandfather and that is one of the reasons he is so fond of the pieces.
He added: “I want everything back. I don’t want a cheque, I want them back.
“The bowl is completely unique. There’s one in the whole world and that’s it.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Hatton Garden, Seed Sowed, NZ Ram-Raid, Antiquities Spotlight, As Nazi-Looted Painting Goes To Auction, Uderzo Drawings surface

Hatton Garden 'mastermind' is the son of 'genius' Cambridge biophysicist: 'Basil the ghost's' father pioneered study of DNA as aunt slams claims against him as 'outlandish'

  • 'Final' Hatton Garden suspect is the son of a top Cambridge biophysicist
  • Police say they found jewellery and gold at his north London flat 
  • He appeared in court yesterday and his lawyer said he is a jeweller
  • His aunt has insisted he is not behind the raid and the charges are 'outlandish'
The man alleged to be the mastermind behind the Hatton Garden jewel heist is the son of a Cambridge scientist, it was revealed last night.
Michael Seed is accused of being 'Basil the Ghost', the only burglar who evaded capture following the notorious £25million raid over the Easter weekend of 2015.
He was arrested on Tuesday at a run-down council flat less than two miles from Hatton Garden vault with what is alleged to be property from the burglary. 
Police say they found a large amount of jewellery, precious stones and gold ingots. 
Michael Seed, a jeweller suspected of being the final member of the Hatton Garden gang,  appeared in court today
Michael Seed, a jeweller suspected of being the final member of the Hatton Garden gang,  appeared in court today
A court sketch of Seed, who was remanded in custody until he can appear before a judge next month
The £25million raid on the safety deposit box firm was one of the most audacious in British criminal history
A court sketch of Seed, who was remanded in custody until he can appear before a judge next month. The £25million raid on the safety deposit box firm (right) was one of the most audacious in British criminal history
Officers have spent three years hunting the masked figure seen on CCTV walking away from the raid with a bin bag full of cash, gems, gold and jewellery.
A man known as 'Basil' was seen using a key to enter the building and is believed to have disabled the alarm system.
Detectives believe that 'Basil' was one of only two raiders who crawled into the vault to ransack deposit boxes after a hole was bored in a basement wall. He stayed on the wanted list as six accomplices were jailed for up to seven years each.
Yesterday, grey-haired Seed, 57, appeared in court on two charges related to the raid. 
The son of biophysicist John Seed - who taught himself to degree level before taking a PhD at Christ Church, Cambridge - his background is a far cry from that of the mainly elderly working-class members of the gang nicknamed the 'diamond wheezers'.
Seed himself is understood to have studied sciences at the University of Nottingham. 
Seed's aunt Kathleen Seed last night questioned whether he was involved in the raid. She told The Times: 'The idea of him being a safebreaker is outlandish.'
A CCTV still shows a Hatton Garden raider said to have got away after the jewellery raid
A CCTV still shows a Hatton Garden raider said to have got away after the jewellery raid
The official value of the record-breaking haul is £13.7million, but police suspect it could be as high as £25million as much of the cash, foreign currency, gems and gold in the underground vault was never declared by the owners.
Facing charges of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to conceal or disguise criminal property, Seed appeared before City of Westminster magistrates in a green jacket, blue checked shirt and jeans and spoke only to confirm his name, age, address and nationality.
His barrister, James Reilly, suggested he would deny the offences, saying: 'He works as a jeweller - he fashions jewellery. 
He had no knowledge or belief of involvement with the burglary.' Prosecutor Philip Stott said: 'The charges relate to the burglary of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company over Easter weekend in 2015.
'Mr Seed was arrested and inside [the] address was a large number of items of jewellery, precious stones and golden ingots. It's an amount consistent with Mr Seed having been involved in the burglary.
'There are covert audio recordings of others involved, describing the role of others in the team, who refer to [an accomplice] by the pseudonym Basil.'
Officers from Scotland Yard's Flying Squad raided Seed's flat in Islington this week
Officers from Scotland Yard's Flying Squad raided Seed's flat in Islington last week
Neighbours in the block of flats said Seed seemed like a nice man but was not well known
Neighbours in the block of flats said Seed seemed like a nice man but was not well known
There was no application for bail and after chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot remanded him in custody Seed, who had followed the proceedings attentively, smiled, nodded and bowed to the bench before being led away.
Later, on the Mersey Estate in Islington, rubber gloves and large bottles of chemicals could be seen in the kitchen of the small flat where he was arrested. 
Neighbours said Seed was a 'pleasant man' but suspected he was down on his luck because he wore the same clothes every day.
A caretaker on the estate said: 'He was Mr Invisible, Mr Anonymous, but he was very pleasant and would always say good morning.' 
Seed's father has been dead for some years while his 90-year-old mother still lives in Cambridge. He has three siblings. 
His aunt Kathleen Seed, 83, who lives in Nottingham, said: 'The thought of Michael being a bank robber is so remote, I would find that so highly unlikely.'
The hole the gang drilled through the wall of a vault beneath London's diamond quarter
The hole the gang drilled through the wall of a vault beneath London's diamond quarter
The scene inside the vault after the raid took place in over the Easter weekend three years ago
The scene inside the vault after the raid took place in over the Easter weekend three years ago

Art gallery ram-raid: No sign of paintings one year on

It's been a year since robbers ram raided an Auckland Auctioneers and fled with two valuable paintings by artist Gottfried Lindauer.
The 'Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure' and 'Chief Ngatai-Raure' (inset) were stolen from the International Art Centre in Parnell.
The 'Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure' and 'Chief Ngatai-Raure' (inset) were stolen from the International Art Centre in Parnell on 1 April last year. Photo: RNZ / Laura Tupou
However their whereabouts, and who exactly was behind the heist remain a mystery.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, 1 April last year, a window in the front of the International Art Gallery shattered as a car backed into the building.
Alarms went off but by the time people arrived two 1884 Gottfried Lindauer paintings known as Chieftainess Ngatai-Raure and Chief Ngatai-Raure were gone.
A year on the centre's director Richard Thomson said they were still no closer to finding them.
"There's no news about the paintings... For us it's still as big a mystery as it is to a lot of people."
It took several months for the $50,000 to $100,000 worth of damage to the building to be fully repaired and security measures have been ramped up.
They will be on show this week as works from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's personal collection go up for auction, including three major paintings by Charles Frederick Goldie.
"There's a couple of really serious things that we've done that we've talked to the insurance company about.
"We've got 24 hour monitoring on foot, so after hours we've got an actual guard on at the moment until the auction is finished. The security is obviously quite high."
Mr Thomson said he believed the paintings hadn't left the country.
"A lot of people say 'oh they'll be overseas hanging on a wall in Shanghai or somewhere' but I really believe that's unlikely ... Everyone's speculating and who knows, they might just turn up. They could turn up in half an hour, they could turn up this time next year, we just don't know."
However, he said it wasn't something he'd like to dwell on.
"That's not how I live my life. The only person dwelling on that situation is the people that took them. They'll be living in fear and they'll have problems so their day will come."
Art historian and art crime expert Penelope Jackson said the art community was more aware now and it demonstrated to the country that New Zealand wasn't immune to these sorts of crimes.
"This terrible event had all the ingredients, all the sensational ingredients really, that you might get in a movie. Night time, smash and grab, highly valuable works and when I say valuable I mean not just monetary valuable but culturally valuable. That there were two get away vehicles etc."
While nothing is for certain, she said the paintings were more likely to still be in the country with their cultural significance and history meaning there's a bigger market for them here.
"New Zealand's too small, there'll be something that happens that will be a catalyst that will lead someone or the police to find those works."
She said many famous paintings have been found again in the past, in late 2016 two Vincent van Gogh paintings were found in Naples after being stolen from a public art museum in Amsterdam 14 years earlier.
Ms Jackson said many were worried about what condition they would be in if they did turn up.
"You've got paintings there that are 134 years old now so they're very vulnerable.
"They were moved quickly, there was broken glass involved, there was speeding vehicles, and if you think about how in an art museum context works are moved, you know not when the public are there, on cushioned trolleys, white gloves, lots of people, very carefully, very slowly, and this was the complete opposite."

Two Spaniards arrested over smuggling of artifacts looted by ISIS

Spanish police have arrested two men for allegedly smuggling pieces of art looted by groups affiliated with ISIS from sites in Libya.
Authorities there believe this to be the first ever police operation against the financing of terrorism through the looting of art.
The suspects, both 31-year-old Spanish nationals, are art experts who bought the pieces -- known in the market as "blood antiquities" -- to sell in their gallery, according to a police statement Wednesday that did not specify where the gallery was located. Police named them only as Mr. O.C.P and Mr. J.B.P.
Police recovered a number of artworks after searching five locations.
They were arrested in Barcelona for their "alleged participation in the crimes of financing terrorism, belonging to a criminal organization, trading in stolen goods, smuggling and forging documents."
The statement said that the suspects were part of a Catalonia-based network with international reach dedicated to the retail of artworks from territories controlled by groups affiliated to ISIS.
The two men used foreign intermediaries to acquire the artworks, and concealed the origin of the goods by dispatching them from Asia and different parts of the Middle East, police said.
After searching five locations, including storage facilities and the gallery where some looted pieces were on sale to the public, police recovered artworks including sculptures, mosaics and sarcophagi.
With the help of the Libyan authorities, police verified the authenticity of the pieces and traced their origin to the Apollonia and Cyrene archaeological sites in northern Libya, both of which have been looted by terrorist groups.
The recovered items included sculptures and mosaics.
Some of the recovered pieces showed imperfections such as bumps and dents that suggested they had been extracted from the ground violently and transported insecurely, police said.
Police believe the suspects carried out restoration work on the artworks in Spain in an attempt to disguise the damage.
Members of ISIS have destroyed or looted a number of ancient cultural treasures in Syria and Iraq, often posting videos of their vandalism online.
In 2015, the FBI asked art collectors and dealers to look out for antiquities that could have been put on the market by ISIS.
The warning came after "credible reports" that some Americans had been offered cultural items that seemed to have been taken from Syria and Iraq, according to a statement at the time from Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, who was then manager of the FBI's Art Theft Program.

Nazi-looted Cranach painting returned to rightful heirs to be sold at Christie’s Old Masters auction

An Old Master portrait missing for nearly 80 years has been returned to the heirs of Dutch banker and art collector Fritz Gutmann. They now plan to auction the picture with an estimate of $1m-2m.
'Portrait of John Frederick I, elector of Saxony' by Lucas Cranach the Elder measuring 24¾ x 15⅝ in (62.8 x 39.7 cm). Image from Christie's.
Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Portrait of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony was last publicly displayed in Rotterdam in 1938.
Gutmann’s vast collection in his home to the west of Amsterdam was stolen by the Nazis in 1940, with many works acquired for Hitler and Goering. Gutmann and his wife Louise were arrested in 1943 and died in the camps of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz a year later.
But after its former owner acknowledged it had been stolen, Gutmann’s heirs, with the help of experts at Christie’s, negotiated its return.
The half-length oil on panel will now be offered at Christie’s Old Masters auction on April 19 in New York.
Simon Goodman, Fritz Gutmann’s grandson and owner of the Cranach painting, said: “I have spent years hunting for this marvellous painting. Among those pieces still missing from my grandfather’s collection, this was the piece I was the most doubtful of ever recovering. My family are thrilled by its discovery. We are also extremely grateful to the people who brought it forward and to Christie’s for facilitating its return.”
Monica Dugot, international director of restitution at Christie’s, said: “We hope that the reappearance of this painting demonstrates that with goodwill, perseverance and collaboration, amicable and fair solutions can be found in resolving complex restitution cases and losses due to Nazi persecution, even after so many years.”
The portrait, painted in the 1530s, depicts John Frederick I (1503-54), an electoral prince and head of the Schmalkaldic League of Germany - a defensive alliance formed by Protestant territories. John Frederick was an ardent supporter of Martin Luther and the Reformation, and is considered to be one of the founders of the University of Wittenberg.
He married Sibylle of Cleves in September 1526, whom Cranach also portrayed on numerous occasions. According to Christie’s, this painting is one of Cranach’s most refined depictions of John Frederick, who at the time of painting was the artist’s greatest patron and close friend.

Belgian Police Discover 84 Pages of Stolen Albert Uderzo Art in Forest

It feels something that might have actually happened in an Asterix comic, to be followed by a lot of dead wild boar. But it appears that Belgian police have discovered 84 stolen pieces of art by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo, secreted in a forest. Or, rather, the town of Forest.

Eighty-four original drawings were found during a search of the town earlier this month. The art was reported stolen last year after being discovered being sold at auction in Belgium as part of what was called ‘The Rackham Collection’. But after the auction, the art — and the sellers — disappeared.
At the time, Uderzo said the pieces were either stolen, or lent out in 2012 and not returned. The owner of the auction house, Alain Huberty, while holding an investigation to determine the origin of the art pieces, stated that he knew the seller is honest, and that any statement from Uderzo that the art disappeared in 2012 is false. And the owner reported they had owned them for 30 years, and no police complaint has been filed.
But the gendarmes were on the hunt. And it was the French police who discovered their location, and worked with Belgian authorities to organise a raid within 24 hours.
Denis Goeman, spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office, put the speed down to Getafix’s magic potion.
The stolen drawings are some of Uderzo’s earliest and predate Asterix, from the ’40s to the ’60s, including childhood drawings, he worked on the Captain Marvel Jr character and also Castagnac, a forerunner of Asterix.
The countries have different laws over art ownership, as a result of the theft of Jewish property during the Second World War. In France, owners of art are obliged to disclose how they acquired them, but not in Belgium. Uderzo describes Belgium as being “a little curious country for not having similar legislation,” which would have prevented the pages being put up for sale in the first place.
Asterix pages and covers regularly sell for six or seven figures, and while these artworks are worth less, in total they would be worth many millions.
No one has yet been charged or arrested and the French investigation continues.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Stolen Art Watch, Degas Surfaces, Carravagio Re-visited, Nazi Looted Art Displayed, Plus Round-up

French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.
The French Culture Ministry said Friday that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature "Degas" inside a suitcase in the bus' luggage compartment. The ministry says none of the passengers claimed the suitcase during the Feb. 16 search.
Experts verified the artwork as Degas' "Les Choristes" ("The Chorus Singers"), which depicts a scene from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni."
The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009 while on loan from Paris' Musee d'Orsay.
French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she was delighted by the recovery of a work "whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage."

Did stolen Caravaggio go to Switzerland?

Mafia informant claims the painting, which is included in the FBI’s list of top ten art crimes, was sold to a Swiss dealer

Italian investigators are following a new lead in the hope of solving one of the most notorious art crimes of the past 50 years: the theft of Caravaggio’s Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence from a Baroque oratory in Palermo, Sicily, in October 1969.
In testimony to the Italian parliament’s standing commission on organised crime, recently revealed in La Repubblica newspaper, the mafia member turned informant Gaetano Grado said the painting was initially stolen by small-time criminals. The subsequent press coverage of the theft alerted the mafia to the painting’s importance and potential value. The criminal organisation made it known they wished to receive the work and the Caravaggio was duly presented to Gaetano Badalamenti, the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission known as the Cupola, which rules on disputes between competing mafia families, Grado said.
Badalamenti then sold the work to a Swiss dealer who travelled to Palermo to finalise the deal, Grado said, adding that Badalamenti told him the painting would be cut into pieces to transport it abroad. When shown photographs of several Swiss dealers, Grado identified the one he claims purchased the Caravaggio from Badalamenti. The name of the dealer in question, now deceased, has not been released.
Rosy Bindi, the head of the government commission on organised crime, said she hopes for “international cooperation” in the investigation of the new information. Grado’s testimony has been shared with the Sicilian authorities.
Mafia claims
The theft of the Caravaggio, which is included in the FBI’s list of the top ten art crimes, has featured in the testimony of numerous mafia informants. The information they have provided has ranged from the unlikely to the absurd. There have been claims that the painting was kept by the mafia for display at their gatherings, that it was stored in a stable and eaten by mice, that it was irreparably damaged during its theft and then destroyed, and even that it was used as a bedside carpet by a mafia boss.

France Hopes Exhibit Of Nazi-Stolen Art Can Aid Stalled Search For Owners

Paintings looted by Nazis during World War II, are on display at the Louvre museum, in Paris. In a move aimed at returning work of art looted by Nazis during World War II, the Louvre museum has opened two showrooms with 31 paintings on display which can be claimed by their legitimate owners.
Christophe Ena/AP
France's most famous museum recently designated two rooms for paintings looted by Nazis in World War II. The rightful owners of these works never have been found, and the Louvre says the exhibit is a continuation of the search. But critics say the museum has not done nearly enough over the years.
The 31 paintings include French, Italian and Flemish artists — eclectic works from various periods that once were destined for the personal collections of Nazi officials and an art museum Hitler was planning for Austria. What the paintings have in common is that they all were stolen or obtained through forced sales from Jewish families.
Louvre curator Vincent Delieuvin says the display is a symbol to remind people that the museum has not forgotten.
"Unlike in the regular collections, we've hung the paintings closely together to evoke the intimateness of a private home," he says. "We want to find the rightful owners of these paintings, but we also want these rooms to serve as a place of memory — a place where people can come reflect on this terrible time in history where Jewish families fled or were killed and their artworks were plundered."
Parisian Collete Grillot, 86, felt it was important to come view the paintings.
"I lived through the war when I was a child and it has marked my whole life," she says. "I'm not Jewish, but at school I had a Jewish friend who wore the Star of David."
Valerie Sutter, a French teacher from Florida, also visited the museum to take in and reflect on the collection.

"I find this fascinating," she says. "That they're still looking, and that they're still hoping to find the owners. I find that very touching, very worthy."
Others are not sure how worthy the Louvre's efforts have been. The exhibit has been criticized for lacking historical context and for being relegated to two tiny, obscure rooms.
Lawyer Corinne Hershkovitch says the Louvre only really has become proactive on the issue of Nazi-looted artwork in the past few years.
In 1999, Hershkovitch successfully sued the Louvre to get back several paintings that were sold at auction in 1941, a year after their owner's death. While the sale of the artwork appeared to have taken place legally, Hershkovitch argued that the fact that the owner's children were unable to attend — because they had fled Nazi-occupied Paris — made it a forced sale. Hershkovitch won.
"They've done too little, too late," she says of the Louvre. "And there's sometimes been this whole sentiment of 'why are you coming to bother us with this 50 and 60 years later?' "
The Louvre currently has custody of around 800 stolen or forced-sale paintings whose owners are still unknown. Most are hanging in museums across France. Curator Delieuvin says that's to give them maximum exposure to the public.
For Hershkovitch, putting museums in charge of giving back artworks was the first mistake.
"Curators want to conserve paintings," she says. "That's their job."
She admits that most families who get artworks back usually do sell them, so not only does the museum lose an important work, but it sees it go on the market to be bought by another museum or a private collector.
During World War II, the Nazis took around 100,000 artworks from France. Some 60,000 were brought back to France after the war, and 45,000 of those immediately were reclaimed by their owners. Then, says Hershkovitch, everything slowed to a halt.
"The Jews wanted to reintegrate into French society and the French wanted to forget about the collaboration, so there was a kind of consensus to pull a veil over all this and move on," she says.

Standingwith French Culture Minister Françoise Nyssen, Christopher Bromberg and Henrietta Schubert, grandchildren of Henry and Hertha Bromberg, view Flemish painter Joachim Patinir's Triptych of the Crucifixion, which was returned to them Monday by the French state.
Didier Plowy/Ministère de la Culture
Hershkovitch says all that changed with the next generation, who raised consciousness worldwide about the issue in the '90s. In 1998 in Washington, DC, 44 countries signed new international protocols for the identification and return of Nazi confiscated art."
A seminal moment in France came with President Jacques Chirac's 1995 speech on the anniversary of a famous roundup of Paris Jews during the war. Chirac said the Velodrome d'Hiver roundup had been carried out not by the Nazis, but by French police.
He said France, a country of enlightenment and human rights, had been complicit in Nazi barbarism. He called on the French to face this dark chapter in their history. It was the first time the country confronted its role in the deportation of some 72,000 Jews during the war.
Hershkovitch says it was huge, and that "Chirac's speech changed things both morally and judicially."
Hershkovitch says people had not come to terms with the country's collaborationist Vichy regime because the hero of the resistance, president Charles DeGaulle, had acted as if Vichy were not part of France.
"He put Vichy in a sort of parenthesis of French history," she says. "And when you put something aside and don't confront it, you cannot solve the problem."
In 1997 France launched a three year investigation into the theft of Jewish art under the Nazi occupation. The ensuing "Matteoli Report" offered propositions for finding and compensating victims and for increasing national awareness of Nazi looting.
That eventually led to the creation of a working group to actively search for the artworks' rightful owners, instead of waiting for them to come forward. The group includes the French culture and foreign ministries, museum curators and the Shoah Foundation.
The French culture ministry also has put its vast database of Nazi looted artworks, including photos, online.
Delieuvin says that database is the best way to link a looted painting to its rightful owner, which he describes as a very complicated process.
"The other day a family came to us with a picture of the work and we found it on the database," he says. But Delieuvan says most often there's no picture or even the name of the person who once owned the art.
Many art sales took place during the war, but not all of them were forced sales. Delieuvin says that if a work was sold at auction it is much easier to track, because records can be obtained showing the buyer and the seller. "If the seller was Jewish, then there's a good chance it was a forced sale," he says.
But plenty of non-Jews also sold works to Nazis during the war. If it was a private sale, Delieuvin says there's usually no trace of who the seller was.
France is still conserving about 2,000 artworks that are thought to have been looted or obtained through forced sales by Nazis. Only around 100 have been returned since the 1950s.
American Christopher Bromberg has gotten back two of his family's artworks. Bromberg's grandfather was forced to sell his paintings quickly as he fled Nazi Germany in 1938 through Switzerland and France to reach the United States.
In a ceremony in Paris last week, French culture minister Françoise Nyssen returned a 16th century Flemish painting to Bromberg and his sister Henrietta Schubert.
Nyssen called the restitution of the plundered work a struggle for justice and memory.
"This is a moment of pain and of hope," she said. "After 70 years and much searching, this painting has been returned to its rightful owner."
Nyssen promised France would continue to fight relentlessly for the return of Nazi looted artworks to their rightful owners.
In 2016 Bromberg was handed over another one of his grandfather's paintings in a similar ceremony.
"There's this feeling of thanks and gratitude that is more valuable than the paintings themselves," he said. "It's the society that I want to take my hat off to, that allows this kind of event to take place."

A Stolen Watch Used to Mean Ready Cash for Thieves. Not Any More

Katya Hills is the managing director of the Watch Register, which provides both identification and recovery services of lost and stolen watches. Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Watches have long been easy targets for thieves. Stolen off a wrist or taken in a smash-and-grab attack, high-end timepieces, easily transportable and often untraceable, could easily be turned into cash.
But that has been changing. The rise of online services specializing in identifying lost or stolen watches has helped law enforcement, dealers and diligent buyers — even in Miami, which the FBI has identified as one of the top fencing hubs in the United States (and where the Watches & Wonders fair is opening Friday).
“ ‘No mama, no papa’ — that is what they call watches with no papers and no serial number,” Jeff Harris, a Los Angeles-based watch dealer, said. “Those are very easy to trade. After all, a gold Submariner is a gold Submariner.”
To Mr. Harris, the vernacular of that underworld has become all too familiar. He was in Las Vegas last April to attend the International Watch and Jewelry Guild trade show, held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. With about $2 million in mostly vintage and one-of-a-kind timepieces locked in his room safe, Mr. Harris went to dinner — and returned about an hour later to find the room door broken and the safe missing.
“The safe was crowbarred out of the wall,” Mr. Harris said. “The thief had wrapped it in a towel to take it out to the stairwell. He was caught on video running out of the hotel and jumping into a cab.”

A pair of fake Rolex watches at the Watch Register. Of the 60,000 lost and stolen timepieces in its database, one third are Rolexes. Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Filippo Salvador Cuomo, who was arrested days later in Miami, was identified from a combination of the surveillance video and a jacket that he left behind in his own room at the hotel. His name had been sewn into the label.
He pleaded guilty to larceny and, through an agreement with Nevada state prosecutors, received a five-year prison sentence; a federal case (he crossed state lines during the crime) is pending.
Mr. Harris’s watches, however, were not recovered. “They made off with a couple of ruby- and sapphire-encrusted Rolex Daytonas, vintage complicated Pateks, Rolexes with Stella dials, a unique Audemars Piguet and other very rare timepieces,” the dealer said.
According to the FBI’s website, organized groups of thieves often use intermediaries, commonly called fences, in cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, New York and Miami to convert stolen goods into cash.
In his case, Mr. Harris said, authorities have leads to two fences in Miami. “We suspect a Miami jeweler and a known Milanese money launderer, identified in the Rio hotel’s surveillance video,” Mr. Harris said. “In the U.S., the hub for stolen watches is Miami. In Europe, it is Italy.”
There are no official statistics on the number of watches stolen around the world each year but the FBI’s website estimates that the jewelry and watch industry in the United States loses more than $100 million annually in retail thefts. Since 1992, the FBI’s Jewelry & Gem Theft program has helped the industry combat such crimes. And, while the bureau does not maintain a database, it does cooperate with the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, a nonprofit trade association that has a registry of stolen watches and jewelry.

5 Things To Consider

  • Taking Precautions

    Receipts, a record of serial numbers and any makers’ certificates or guarantees should be kept — but stored separately from your watches, to avoid losing everything in a robbery. Registry sites recommend that, as an additional precaution, you photograph your watches and all paperwork and then email the images to yourself.
  • Insurance

    Your homeowners’ or renters’ policy may cover theft but check the details. Companies often require high-value items like watches and jewelry to be documented individually, sometimes with valuations. And even if your policy covers losses in a home burglary, it may not cover thefts while traveling or just going about your day.
  • What to Do

    If your watch is lost or stolen, report it to the police and then get an official copy of the complaint. You will need the document to alert the watch’s maker and stolen-watch registries. If the timepiece is found, it also will help establish your claim to the piece.
  • Just Remember

    Social media allows you to broadcast your loss to a wide audience but be aware that there is a risk involved in disclosing a watch’s serial number. A legitimate serial number can, for example, be used on another watch, even a counterfeit one, to improve its chances of being sold.
  • If You're Buying

    It is a good idea to check watch registries for the serial number of any secondhand watch you’re thinking of purchasing. While such a basic search isn’t foolproof, it should turn up any obvious problems.

In Europe, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency based in The Hague, offers similar help to businesses and it works with International Jeweller Security, a registry site.
After the robbery, Mr. Harris posted descriptions of his watches and their serial numbers online. That information was picked up by MyStolenWatch, a specialized theft-check website that, like Watch CSA or WatchFacts, lists stolen watches by serial numbers. “My watches and their serial numbers are now listed on several registers and they also come up in a Google search if anyone checks,” Mr. Harris said.
The theft-check company with the largest global database of stolen watches is Watch Register, a London-based site operated by the Art Loss Register, a well-known stolen art tracking service founded in 1990. The Watch Register provides both identification and recovery services of lost and stolen watches across borders.
“We had been registering watches since 1991 when we first started collecting information about stolen artworks as a service to auction houses,” Katya Hills, managing director of the Watch Register, said. “By 2014, we had sufficient data on watches to provide a targeted service.”
Today, the Watch Register has details about more than 60,000 lost and stolen watches, involving more than 850 brands. One third, according to Ms. Hill, are stolen or lost Rolexes and, while most of the timepieces are modern, there also are vintage ones as well as pocket watches. Users must pay a fee of 10 pounds plus tax (about $13.75) to check the provenance or status of a watch; subscriptions for dealers and pawnshops that need multiple searches also are available.
“Last year alone, we added 10,000 more watches to our database,” Ms. Hills said. “We get between 80,000 to 100,000 search requests per year.”

The Watch Register also deals with older timepieces. “We treat vintage or pocket watches like antiques,” Ms. Hills said. “We use keywords from the description and the image, and the search becomes more sophisticated.” Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Unlike modern high-end watches, each of which has a unique serial number, vintage timepieces or pocket watches can only be registered by descriptions of their distinctive features. “We treat vintage or pocket watches like antiques,” Ms. Hills said. “We use keywords from the description and the image, and the search becomes more sophisticated.”
The site has had its successes. In 2016, for example, the Watch Register helped recover a Patek Philippe stolen in Naples, Italy, that had turned up in an auction in New York.
When auction houses are preparing an art or watch event, they typically check their lots against both the Art Loss and Watch registers. “All our worldwide catalogs, including online sales, are checked by the Art Loss Register,” said Sabine Kegel, international senior watch specialist at Christie’s in Geneva.
While auction houses, pawnshops and dealers can check such sites before reselling a watch, Mr. Harris said he feared that such online tracking just pushed opportunistic watch thieves further underground.
“People can still buy a stolen watch and wear it, without ever looking up the serial number,” Mr. Harris said. “Also now there are places that can change the serial number on some watches.”
Because his stolen watches were mostly one-of-a-kind or limited editions, Mr. Harris is optimistic that they will be recovered. “My watches are so unique that they can be immediately identified if they ever turn up,” he said. “There are very few buyers in the world for these watches. The best option at this point may be for the thieves to ‘sell’ them back to me.”

More than £100,000 of jewellery stolen from antiques shop after burglars cut a hole in the roo

Police have launched an investigation after thieves entered a Harrogate antiques shop through a hole in the roof and stole more than £100,000 of jewellery and other valuable items.
Hundreds of objects were taken, including a number of highly-distinctive bespoke pieces. The incident took place on Tuesday, 13 February at 27 West Park, opposite the Stray.

Police believe the thieves cut a hole in the roof of the building and climbed through it at around 9.50pm. They broke into a number of cabinets, probably using a jemmy, and emptied them.
Due to the quantity of items taken from a number of different antique and jewellery dealers, police are still in the process of itemising the thefts as part of their ongoing investigation.
However, stolen items include rings; bracelets; earrings; silver, gold and bespoke necklaces; antique pocket watches and high-value designer watches.
Initial estimates put the value of the stolen stock at more than £100,000.
Police have released images of some of the more distinctive pieces in the hope they will be recognised by members of the public.
They include:
  •  An 18-carat gold ring featuring ruby, diamonds and sapphire.
  • A silver Maurice Lacroix wrist watch
  • A distinctive tiered silver necklace with gemstone setting
  • A number of silver and gem-based items of jewellery, including bespoke hand jewellery worn across the palm of the hand with a highly-distinctive leaf effect on the knuckles

Officers have released CCTV images of a person they want to trace as part of their investigation, which has also seen police carry out forensic tests at the scene and extensive enquiries around the area.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “While the face of the person captured on CCTV is covered, we’re hoping that members of the public who were in the area at the time may remember seeing someone wearing similar items of clothing – a quilted jacket, possibly light in colour, jeans with a long belt, sporty trainers and a small Nike rucksack.
“We also believe there were quite a few members of the public in and around Roberts Street, which is to the rear of the Maplin store, and the surrounding streets and ginnels around the time of the break-in.
“If you were in this area at around 9.50pm on Tuesday and saw a person or group of people acting suspiciously, please let us know – the information may seem trivial to you but it may be important to our investigation.”
Anyone who has any information about the incident or the person pictured on CCTV, or witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Amanda Hanusch-Moore.
You can also email PC Moore on Amanda.Hanusch-Moore@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12180024704 when sharing information.

Art Theft: Munch’s Oslo Museum ‘Scream’

On the 12 of February 1994, the day of the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, two men broke into Oslo’s National Gallery and lifted its version of The Scream. The painting had been moved down to a second-level gallery in honour of the Olympic festivities, presumably to become more accessible to the growing number of visitors. It took the thieves 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash through a window and cut the uninsured artwork from the wall with wire cutters. They left their tools behind to make a swift exit, but not before writing a note reading “Thanks for the poor security”. The entire episode was filmed by security cameras. The international mass media covering the games sensationalised the incident, as expected.
In Lost Art, Jennifer Mundy writes, “In most cases it is clear why a work of art is lost. It can be wilfully destroyed or accidentally mislaid. It may never have been intended to endure; or the materials used may have proved ephemeral. But sometimes the loss can be the result of a cause or a motive that is more difficult to discern or understand. When a work of art is stolen it is usually obvious that the thieves knew what they were taking and why: to use as collateral in criminal activities, to resell on a black market and make major financial gain, or, occasionally, to grace the home of a private collector. (…) there may be an initial flurry of press reports, but a blanket of official silence quickly descends, as the police undertake their enquiries and, more often than not, owners await a ransom demand or contact from an intermediary. Typically, it may be several months or even several years before those holding a stolen artwork make any attempt to contact its owners.”  
This was the case with Munch’s work too. After a month of laying low, the thieves demanded a US$1 million ransom from the gallery, but the latter refused to pay it. Instead, the Norwegian police set up a sting operation in collaboration with the British police and the Getty Museum and the painting was recovered undamaged on the 7th of May 1994. Two Metropolitan Police officers trapped the thieves by pretending they would buy the painting for £250,000. Apparently, it is quite common practice for British police to be involved in recuperating stolen art in Europe, partly because about 60% of it ends up trafficked or clandestinely auctioned in London.
Except for a tiny pinprick, The Scream was indeed found intact in Aasgaarstrand, a seaside town outside Oslo in south Norway where Munch painted many of his well-known works. Two years later, four men were convicted, including one who had already stolen Munch’s The Vampire years earlier, yet they were released on legal grounds as the British agents had operated in Norway under fake identities.
 The extent and gravity of art theft is little known to the general public. “Art theft and the trafficking of stolen works of art is a major criminal business, perhaps the largest in terms of financial value after the illegal trade in arms and drugs. The FBI currently values criminal income from art theft at $6-8 billion a year. The Art Loss Register – a private company that documents and helps trace stolen or lost artworks, antiques and collectables – has over 300,000 items listed in its database and adds a further 10,000 each year. The theft of artworks is commonplace, but it becomes a news item, and lodged in the public’s memory, when the works are by major artists or when they are taken from museums. The loss in these cases is shared and public, and interest may be piqued by the enormous value of the artworks and by details of exactly how they were taken – particularly if there are echoes of well-known films.” (Jennifer Mundy,  Lost Art). It is true that the cinema frequently glorifies the daring of art thieves. Macho art-heist films such as The Thomas Crown Affair (Steve McQueen), Entrapment (Sean Connery), Ocean’s 12 (Brad Pitt) and many more, revel the thrill of the cleverly orchestrated operation of removing a priceless item from the most securely guarded environments.
However, Hollywood perpetuates a flawed myth. Alastair Sooke of The Telegraph researched a far from glamorous, dark side of art theft: “pilfered art will accrue value on the black market. Typically, a stolen painting’s underworld currency will be between three and 10 per cent of its estimated legitimate value, as quoted in the media. (…) It could then be used as collateral, helping to finance drug deals, gun-running, tobacco trafficking, and other illicit activities. (…) “Since the introduction of money-laundering regulations, it has become unsafe for criminals to pay for their operations in cash,” says Dick Ellis, who set up the Art and Antiques Squad at New Scotland Yard. “With its black-market value, stolen art can easily be carried across international borders.” Keep that in mind next time you cheer the art thief in your favourite heist.

'Grey Gardens' estate sues Long Island gallery for owning stolen Jackie Kennedy painting

An East Hampton art gallery is being sued for owning a stolen portrait of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The painting was featured in a 1998 Hamptons Magazine article.

An East Hampton art gallery is being sued for owning a stolen portrait of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. The painting was featured in a 1998 Hamptons Magazine article.

It’s the highest of high-society legal battles.
The estate of one of the “Grey Gardens” socialites has filed suit against an East Hampton art gallery, claiming that a decades-old portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is in fact a stolen family heirloom.
Representatives of the late Edith (Little Edie) Bouvier Beale — one half of the reclusive, formerly wealthy mother-daughter duo whose lives were chronicled in the 1976 documentary — insist they have the rightful claim on the painting that went missing in the late 1960s.
Edith (Little Edie) Beale and Onassis were first cousins.
The target of the suit is Terry Wallace, an established East End art dealer who insists the painting legitimately belongs to him.
Wallace told the Daily News he has no intention of turning over the prized portrait without a fight.
“I have clear title to the painting and I have clear ownership of the painting,” he said.
Wallace says he bought the work in the “late 1980s from a very reputable antiques dealer.” But he stopped short of identifying the dealer.
The piece of art at the center of the high-brow legal brawl in Long Island federal court was painted in 1950 long before then-19-year-old Jacqueline Lee Bouvier met John F. Kennedy.
It was commissioned by the future First Lady’s father, John Vernou Bouvier III — a well-heeled stockbroker nicknamed “Black Jack” — and painted by Irwin Hoffman.
Neither side would put a price tag on the painting but that’s perhaps the only thing they agree on.
Before he died, Black Jack gave the portrait to his sister Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, known as “Big Edie.”
Big Edie and Little Edie lived together at a decaying mansion in East Hampton known as Grey Gardens.

A 1941 photo shows Onassis walking down East Hampton and One Gracie Square in New York City.

A 1941 photo shows Onassis walking down East Hampton and One Gracie Square in New York City.

The lawsuit said there was at least one burglary in the 1960s or 1970s. But the Beales, who feuded with local officials, didn’t report the theft.
Before Little Edie's 2002 death in Florida at age 84, she reminded her nephew and future estate executor, that valuables like the painting were filched from Grey Gardens.
The suit said a 1998 Hamptons Magazine article showcased the portrait. Then in 2004, Beale’s nephew’s wife, Eva, spotted it at Wallace Gallery.
When she asked Wallace about the portrait's origins, he told her the same thing he would later tell The News — that it came from a dealer he refused to identify who had since died.
In 2016, Eva Beale found the 1998 article in Little Edie’s records and determined it was the stolen painting she was referring to years ago.
The suit was filed Thursday after Wallace rebuffed Beale's request to hand over the painting or at least provide information on its provenance.
“After the gallery repeatedly denied its requests for return of the Jackie portrait and for information about its provenance — information regularly provided to art buyers in the ordinary course of business — the Estate was forced to commence this action,” said Megan Noh, one of the estate's lawyers.
Noh called the portrait “a long-lost heirloom, a piece of the Bouvier family's legacy and, indeed, of American history.
“The family is very much looking forward to being reunited with it,” she added.
But Wallace said he wouldn't risk wrecking his business or reputation with questionable works after running his gallery for the past 25 years.
“If the painting was stolen, I would be the first one to give it back to them,” he said.

A Long-Lost Nigerian Masterpiece Found in a London Apartment Just Set a Record at Bonhams

Lost for decades, the rediscovered portrait was a hit at auction.
Ben Enwonwu, Tutu (1974). Courtesy of Bonhams London.
A long-lost masterpiece by Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu sold yesterday for £1.2 million ($1.67 million) at “Africa Now,” the first-ever evening sale of contemporary African art at Bonhams London. The 1974 painting, titled Tutu, depicts Adetutu Ademiluyi, a Nigerian royal princess. Hammered down to an anonymous phone bidder after a 20-minute bidding war, it is now the most expensive Nigerian Modernist work ever sold at auction.
The painting had been assumed lost for decades before the family that owned it invited a Bonhams specialist to appraise it late last year. “I was absolutely staggered when I first saw the piece. The owners, who had inherited it, had no idea of its current value,” Giles Peppiatt, the director of African art at Bonhams, told Nigerian novelist Ben Okri in the Financial Times.
The painting is “the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years,” Okri wrote. “It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find.”
Ben Enwonwu, <em>Tutu</em> (1973). The first of three <em>Tutu</em> paintings was stolen in 1994 and its whereabouts remain unknown. Courtesy of Bonhams London.
Ben Enwonwu, Tutu (1973). The first of three Tutu paintings was stolen in 1994 and its whereabouts remain unknown. Courtesy of Bonhams London.
Enwonwu tracked down the princess in the town of Ile-Ife and convinced the royal family to let him paint her portrait in 1974. The painting became a Nigerian icon, a sort of African Mona Lisa; poster reproductions hang on walls all over the country, according to the FT.
The pre-sale estimate for the work topped out at just £300,000 ($266,000). According to the artnet Price Database, the artist’s previous record at auction was £361,250 ($544,042) for a set of seven wooden sculptures commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960 and sold at Bonhams London in 2013.
These seven wooden sculptures commissioned from Ben Enwonwu by the <em>Daily Mirror</em> in 1960 previously held the artist's auction record. Photo courtesy of Bonhams London.
These seven wooden sculptures commissioned from Ben Enwonwu by the Daily Mirror
in 1960 previously held the artist’s auction record. Photo courtesy of Bonhams London.
Tutu was last publicly exhibited in 1975 at the Italian embassy in Lagos, and its whereabouts were unknown for decades. Enwonwu made three original Tutu works featuring Asemiluyi, of which this is the second. The other two have since been lost; the first version was stolen shortly before the artist’s death in 1994. (The sitter is believed to still be alive and living in Lagos, although members of her family are reportedly unsure of her exact whereabouts.)
“The portrait of Tutu is a national icon in Nigeria and of huge cultural significance. It is very exciting to have played a part in the discovery and sale of this remarkable work,” Peppiatt said in a statement. He said he has often been asked to examine Tutu works, but up until now they had all been prints.
Ben Enwonwu, <em>Tutu</em> (1974). Courtesy of Bonhams London.
Ben Enwonwu, Tutu (1974). Courtesy of Bonhams London.
Painted three years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, Tutu was intended as an expression of national unity—the artist and the princess’s tribes had been on opposite sides of the conflict—and Enwonwu’s way of celebrating his country’s cultural identity. “He thought she epitomized what he was trying to push about Africa,” Oliver Enwonwu, the artist’s son, told the Guardian

'Stolen works' sentence of Picasso's electrician overturned

France's highest appeal court has overturned the conviction of Pablo Picasso's former electrician and his wife, who were given suspended sentences for keeping 271 of his works in their garage for four decades.
'Stolen works' sentence of Picasso's electrician overturned
'Stolen works' sentence of Picasso's electrician overturned
Pierre and Danielle Le Guennec were given two-year suspended jail sentences in 2015 for possession of stolen goods, in a case that made headlines worldwide.
A higher court upheld the verdict in 2016 but the Cour de Cassation, in a ruling seen by AFP Thursday, overturned it.
Ruling there was insufficient evidence that "the goods held by the suspects had been stolen" the court ordered a retrial.
The couple's lawyer Antoine Vey hailed the ruling.
"It's a great decision which reinforces the line that Le Guennecs have always upheld -- that there was no theft whatsoever."
The retrial will offer them "a huge opportunity to finally establish the truth", Vey said.
The collection, whose value has not been assessed, includes drawings of women and horses, nine rare Cubist collages from the time Picasso was working with fellow French artist Georges Braque and a work from his famous "blue period".
At his original trial Le Guennec, who is in his late seventies, claimed that Picasso had presented him with the artworks towards the end of his life to reward him for his loyal service.
But he later changed his account, telling the appeal court that the works were part of a huge trove of art that Picasso's widow Jacqueline asked him to conceal after the artist's death in 1973.
Le Guennec said he stored more than a dozen garbage bags of unsigned works which Jacqueline later retrieved, except for one which she left him saying: "Keep this, it's for you."
The affair came to light when Pierre Le Guennec attempted to get the works authenticated by Picasso's son Claude Ruiz-Picasso in 2010.
The artist's heirs promptly filed a complaint against him, triggering an investigation.