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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Chris Marinello Throws His Employer Hiscox, Robert Read & Dick Ellis Under The Bus

 ImageEvening Standard Art Prize in association with Hiscox

Art thieves repeatedly 'kidnapping' high-profile paintings for cash, prestige and bargaining power

World-famous works being stolen by thieves in return for cash rewards and so they can be used as bargaining chips in case they are caught

Art thieves are targeting the same high-profile paintings in the hope of ransoming them for their safe return, experts have warned.

The growing number of cases of world-famous paintings being stolen more than once has raised concerns that museums are failing to learn the lessons of previous thefts.

But it has also raised the prospect that thieves are targeting the same paintings over and over again not for their own worth but to be used as a bargaining chip in the future.

In some cases gangs are thought to use brokers or intermediaries to obtain cash rewards from insurance firms for their return.

In others paintings of high artistic and financial value are being deployed as a means of reducing any jail sentences if members of organised criminal gangs are caught and brought to trial.

Gangs are also thought to be using the theft of paintings to enhance their prestige and reputation in criminal circles.

Art recovery investigator and lawyer Chris Marinello (below) has warned that collectors and art retrieval services need to stop agreeing to pay large sums for the return of stolen paintings.

He told The Telegraph: “There are some unscrupulous operators who hold themselves out as art recovery experts who will pay criminals, or more usually middle-men, for the return of stolen objects.

“Unfortunately this creates a market for further thefts, sometimes of the very same paintings, down the line.”

There is no suggestion the world’s established art museums are engaging in such practices, says Mr Marinello. However, private collectors are less likely to ask questions in return for their beloved pieces.

The repeated theft of a number of high-profile paintings in recent years has raised concerns over the tactics of organised gangs and the response of the international art market.

Frans Hals’s Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer was stolen for the third time in as many decades, making it the latest high-profile work to become a repeat victim of seemingly targeted thefts. 

In the most recent theft the 1626 painting was taken in August from the Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden museum, in Leerdam, during an overnight raid by thieves who forced their way into the back of the building in the western Netherlands. 

It had previously been stolen from the museum in 1988 and 2011, along with - on both occasions - another 17th-century work, Forest View with Flowering Elderberry by Jacob van Ruisdael.

Edvard Munch’s The Scream has been stolen twice from its Oslo museum and Ruisdael’s The Cornfield, was stolen three times between 1974 and 2002.

Mr Marinello, the chief executive and founder of Art Recovery International, says that in some cases police will approve the payment of rewards for the return of stolen art, though this is illegal in some jurisdictions, if the ‘finder’ of the painting is vetted and found to be legitimate. 

In rare cases government agencies approve the payment of rewards  for information leading to the return of national treasures, such as the Turner paintings owned by the Tate - Light and Colour and Shade and Darkness - stolen from a Frankfurt museum in 1994.

But Mr Marinello, who has worked with foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims to recover stolen and looted artwork and cultural property, added: “There are some unscrupulous people on the fringes who broker deals with insurance companies and this only serves to encourage repeated thefts of paintings. If we as a firm refuse to pay for say, a stolen Picasso - as we have in the past -  someone else will unfortunately do so.

“I get calls all the time offering to sell me something that is clearly stolen, but I don’t pay criminals.”

Mr Marinello says that as well as being exchanged for cash for their safe return stolen works can be used as leverage to obtain reduced criminal sentences.

“A criminal gang or fence will obtain a painting from a thief to be used down the line in order to plea bargain, allowing them to offer up the work of art so it can be taken into account when it comes to sentencing.”

Robert Read, the head of art and private clients at Hiscox insurers, added. “One thing I’m seeing more of is the use of such stolen works as a bargaining chip for [reducing] sentences, particularly in Italy, France and the US, where there is a culture of plea bargaining. The more publicity and better known a work is, the better.”

In some cases stolen paintings are traded in the underworld for other commodities, such as guns or drugs. In the seventies the IRA attempted to use 19 paintings worth £8 million stolen from the Alfred Beit collection at Russborough House, in Blessington, south of Dublin, as collateral to buy arms. The collection has been subsequently targeted by criminal gangs on at least three other occasions.

Art Recovery International has urged museums to avoid slipping into complacency over the strength of their security systems, warning that a painting stolen once could be targeted again.

“Many museums don’t necessarily beef up security after a theft and hope that ‘lightning won’t strike twice,” said Mr Marinello.

“That is obviously not the case and they need to learn from these repeat offences.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Van Gogh Discovered In Oz, Perhaps?

Victorian art buyer may have snapped up Vincent Van Gogh painting worth tens of millions for $60

 
A Victorian who bought a painting from a Geelong market for just $60 may have unknowingly pocketed an artwork worth tens of millions created by iconic artist Vincent Van Gogh.
The painting of a windmill, which bears a striking resemblance to other artworks confirmed as being created by Van Gogh, was picked up by an anonymous buyer and is now being kept under lock and key somewhere in Melbourne.
Art historian Andrew Mackenzie is now investigating the curious art case under the belief that Australian artist John Peter Russell — an arts school friend of Van Gogh himself — may have brought some of the famous works home with him.
"Van Gogh said 'choose a couple from my studio before you go back to Australia', so it could well be that this is one of those," Mr Mackenzie said.
The historian says he has already shown the painting to the National Gallery of Victoria and it has undergone a "macro photography analysis" at Monash University.
"It also showed up the way it was built underneath, which was very much in the style of Vincent Van Gogh," Mr Mackenzie said.

"It it is proved to be a Van Gogh, it will be probably one of the most valuable works in Australia."
Pocket watch recovered from Titanic passenger sells for over $78,000
The discovery comes years after a previously unknown Van Gogh artwork was found stowed away in a Norwegian attic.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, The Rise & Rise of Arthur Brand, Life on the Edge

 Arthur Brand third from right, next to Martin Finckelnberg, orange tie, 40 yrs veteran chief of Dutch Art Police, retired 2020

Arthur Brand has a new Season of his successful TV seriers Kunstdetective on Dutch channel NPO2 starting Tuesday September 1st 2020 for six weeks.

 https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=https://www.arthurbrand.com/&prev=search&pto=aue

Confessions of an art detective

When a priceless painting goes missing, the art world doesn’t call the FBI — they ring Arthur Brand
 https://www.thegentlemansjournal.com/article/confessions-of-an-art-detective-arthur-brand/

On the night art detective Arthur Brand finally laid his hands on the long lost painting Buste de Femme, his apartment became the most expensive in Amsterdam. The piece, a favourite of Picasso’s that had hung in the artist’s own home, had gone missing 20 years earlier, pinched from a yacht off the coast of Antibes. For two decades, the canvas had zigzagged across the underworld, bouncing between terrorists, the mafia and the international jet-set — and now it was in Arthur Brand’s home.
“Only a few people in the world have laid eyes on this Picasso”, says Brand. “And for one night, I had it. So what did I do? I hung it on my wall and I sat and looked at it and smoked.”
Picasso, Brand, cigarette. That cosy trio tells you almost everything you need to know about the world’s most successful art detective — the charming, compelling saviour of lost causes. By the time the insurance company came to remove the painting in an armoured car the next day, the empty space on his wall was priceless. “I’ve fallen in love with art,” he tells us, “My one mission is to get stolen art back where it belongs.”
Here, Brand tells us how he came to be the world’s foremost finder of lost art and antiquities, in his own words…
“Only a few people in the world have laid eyes on this Picasso. And for one night, I had it. So what did I do? I hung it on my wall and I sat and looked at it and smoked.”
The first artefact that really blew me away was in Leiden in the Netherlands. I was eight years old, and I was taken to see this child mummy. One of its toes was still visible. I remember looking at this child, my age, from 3,000 years ago, just lying there — and it blew my mind.
Later, I started to collect ancient coins. I fell in love with the mystery of them — these ancient cities that don’t exist, these plants that are now extinct. But as soon as I started to learn more about coins, I found that there were fakes around, and good ones, too. I also found that there was this omerta, this silence, around the black market.
The CIA believes that the illegal art market is the fourth largest criminal enterprise in the world. We’re talking big money here. But it’s not only money at stake. As soon as you start to mess with art and antiquities, you mess with our understanding of the past. You may as well be tearing pages out of a book.
About 30% of all art on the market is either fake or has been tampered with. As soon as I realised that, I thought: ‘I’ve got to do something about this.’ I’ve always been interested in crime, and I love art and history, and I wanted to weaponise myself against these forces. So I looked to the underworld.
The first person I contacted was a notorious Dutchman called Michel Van Rijn. Scotland Yard once declared that Michel was responsible for 90% of art crime in the world — and that he wanted the world to believe that he was also responsible for the other 10%. Most criminals deny everything. But Michel was confessing to everything — even the things he didn’t do.
Michel had gone to work for Scotland Yard as an informant, and he invited me to work with him. Over the next few years, he introduced me to anybody who’s anybody in the world of stolen art — people in the FBI, Scotland Yard; conmen, forgers, thieves. Every week, I saw people put things on Michel’s desk that, had they been found by an archaeologist, would have made headlines around the world. And yet there they were, on the black market, probably about to disappear forever. I was there with Michel when he found a manuscript of the Gospel of Judas that had been forbidden by the church for 2,000 years, and all copies had been destroyed. Except one. That was the year that Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code. We were living it.
I should have left the first day I met Michel. I was at his house in Park Lane and somebody knocked at the door. It was the postman. Michel said: ‘Arthur, I have to make a call. Can you wait in the hallway because I don’t want you to hear it. Oh, by the way, open the package while you wait.’ I later found out it could have been a bomb. There was no phone call — he just wanted me to explode and not him. But I knew I could learn so
much, so I worked with him for six years.
“Artknapping is a lot easier than kidnapping — and you don’t have to feed a painting”
Here’s how it works. Normally, when a museum is robbed, the thieves try to sell the work of art the next day. But they soon find out that they can’t sell it because nobody wants to touch it. So then they destroy it. But in some cases they use it as payment in the underworld, usually for drugs or arms.
Worldwide, only eight per cent of stolen art ever returns to its owners. Within two years of a piece going missing, the police give up. And that’s when I step in. My goal is to get the art back — and quickly, because I know there are gangsters driving around with priceless paintings in the boots of their cars, which isn’t exactly the best place to keep them.
I usually start by studying the modus operandi of the theft, to see if there are any ‘marks’ or ‘tells’ I recognise — most thieves repeat the same trick over and over again. Then I start to ask around and I call all the people I know. That’s not always as straightforward as it seems — these people don’t tend to be in the Yellow Pages.
Finally, when I’m certain that somebody has the piece — and it could be a mafioso, it could be an IRA member, it could be a drug lord — I call them and listen to their reaction. Usually they say: ‘What are you talking about?’ and then they hang up. And that’s suspicious, because that’s not the reaction if you’re innocent. But in a couple of days, when they’ve had time to think about it, they’ll call me back. Then they send a middle man. And then the talks begin.
I work seven days a week. From nine till six I work with the police. Then when the police go home, the criminal world awakens. At nine o’clock I’ll get a call that says — “Mr Brand, I’m not going to tell you who I am but I need to speak to you tonight at 1am”, usually in a parking lot. I’m always on, and I must always be available. At any moment, when you’re walking down the street, someone might come up to you who’s been tailing you for three days, and say, ‘Please get in this car, Mr Brand — we have a problem.’
I deal with dangerous people. But the most important thing is to explain that you’re not there to make trouble. You might be a drug lord with a Rembrandt which you took for a drug deal — and now you’ve just found out that it’s stolen. So now you have a new problem and I’m here to take that away. It’s not personal, I don’t care about you — I just need to get this piece back to where it belongs.
It’s sometimes scary, but it’s also great fun in these situations. Most of these people have a pretty good sense of humour. This isn’t about murder, after all — it’s about stolen art.
“I contacted Nazis, Stasi, ex-KGB. We found half of Hitler’s priceless art collection in a big house in the countryside”
My biggest breakthrough was the discovery of Hitler’s horses. These were some of the most significant statues in the world — two giant horses by Josef Thorak that stood at the doors of the Reich Chancellery. It was said that they were destroyed during the Battle of Berlin, but they had seen everything. Hitler declared war just 100 yards away from them — and six years later, just beneath their hooves, he committed suicide in a bunker.
Michel and I were sent a colour picture of these horses, and we laughed — these were obviously fake, as the originals had been destroyed by Russian artillery. I thought: ‘Which idiot is making these 3m high horses and trying to sell them for €8m?’ But then everything changed. One day I was watching that famous footage from the second world war — the time you see Hitler coming out of the Reich Chancellery, walking in the garden, and giving medals to the last soldiers of the Hitler Youth. This was just a few days before the Battle of Berlin. And then I saw it, in the background — where one of the horses should have been, there was one of Hitler’s guards. That meant that Hitler, before the Battle of Berlin, must have moved these statues.
Suddenly I thought — ‘Oh my God, the horses in the picture could be real.’ So straight away I started contacting Stasi agents, ex-KGB, Nazis. Eventually, we tracked down half of the artworks from Hitler’s quarters after 75 years — it was ridiculous. Everything was
stored in a cellar in a huge house in the German countryside. The guy even had a V1 rocket, a torpedo, a tank, and more artwork in an industrial hanger.
The case I’d really like to solve is the mystery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner robbery [the Boston museum heist in 1990 that has baffled the FBI ever since]. We’re talking at least a half a billion dollars of art here.
The thieves stole a Vermeer, who only made 34 paintings in his life. Then they stole quite a few Rembrandts — including Rembrandt’s only seascape. The FBI has been searching for the hoard for 29 years without result, and they think the thieves themselves were probably murdered long ago to cover the trail.
Everyone has a theory, but I think the paintings are in the hands of the IRA. The IRA has a history of being involved in art thefts — it’s called artknapping. Artknapping is much easier than kidnapping, and you don’t have to feed a painting. Some day in the future, if they have a problem with the law, they can say — listen, give our guy five years instead of ten years, and you might get some priceless paintings back.
Boston is well connected to Ireland historically. During the Troubles, a great deal of arms went from the United States to Ireland, and there is an Irish mob in Boston. So my theory is that they’re in a barn somewhere in Ireland. I just have to find out which one.
"We found a manuscript of the Gospel of Judas that had been forbidden by the church for 2,000 years, and all copies had been destroyed. Except one."
The Picasso I found is considered to be one of his very best —he kept it in his own home. Then it was sold to an art dealer who sold it to a sheikh who put it on his boat, and it was stolen from there. Only a few people have ever set eyes on it.
I started to ask around, and after four years of work I found the current possessor — a businessman, who got it as a payment, and had no idea it had been stolen. He was very nervous. Eventually I managed, through several intermediaries, to get it back. And for one night, I put it on my wall before handing it over.
I wanted to share it with someone, so I called Octave Durham, the world’s most famous art thief, who I happen to sometimes cross paths with. We know each other — I’m the art hunter and he’s the art thief. But that doesn’t mean that once in a while we can’t have a beer together. Besides, he’s the only other person who knew how it would feel to have these important and expensive paintings on your wall.
At the time, I said to the press that Buste de Femme might be worth $25m. An auction house then told me it could be worth more than $70m. But I don’t make any money on these big cases. The Reich Chancellery pieces I found were worth tens and tens of millions. But who should I send my invoice to? Shall I send it to Angela Merkel? She’d tell me to go and buy a lottery ticket.
Nobody hired me, after all — I do it myself, off my own back. But I don’t do it for the money. I do it for the love of art. And the love of the job. I stopped watching action movies as soon as I became an art detective. Nothing is as exciting as real life.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Knocker Boys Tony "Fingers" Wadey & Micky Maccracken Depart The Stage


Tony "Fingers" Wadey died back on March 15th 2019 and £170 out of £5,000 target was raised for his send off.

 https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tracy-dixon-1

 His website still exists and is an interesting insight into how Brighton Knocker Boys have evolved with the internet and shows their spiel to lure in people.
 http://dixonsfineart.co.uk/

Interesting story about Tony "Fingers" Wadey. I was working with him in Manchester 1985 and he bought an Oyster Walnut Grandfather clock, with 10 inch dial, silver chapter ring and eight inch case, attributed to Joseph Knibbs.
He said he paid £700 for it but it later transpired he only paid £200 and trousered, (binned out) the other £500.

I took it to the London Auction salerooms and they estimated it at £4,000-£6,000 and I bought it out for £4,000. I then put the clock in Auction and low and behold it sold for £20,000, so his deceit in binning the £500, (Monkey) was in vain.

However, the collector who bought the clock had it resigned and it would be worth several hundred thousand pounds today.

Another story, In 1985 Tony Fingers Wadey bought a Georgian sofa table with a makers label inside one of the drawers, I bought it out for £2,500, then sold it at auction for £25,000.


Micky Mccraken passed recently away in Thailand.
He was a successful Brighton Knocker Boy for many years.


Brian Groves, above, committed a buglary and sold the parcel of stolen art and antiques to Micky Mccraken for £11,000. The stolen art included a painting by Joseph Vernet and the burglary hit the headlines in the newspaper. Micky Mccraken was so freaked out he demanded Brian Groves take it all back free of charge lol. Brian Groves duly did and sold it elsewhere, which is whole different tale.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton "Bubbles" Pops & Passes Into Brighton Antiques Folklore


Ray Ives, aka Bubbles, passed away recently.
He never went hungry to say the least.
Seen above with a freshly caught snack, which he ate whole, whilst waiting for his 12 course dinner.

True story from 1984.

Turbo Paul Hendry was working on the knocker with Stephen "Mr Magoo" Boyle and bought a small Dutch oil on panel of an interior Tavern scene with name plaque on the frame "Hendrik Martinez Sorgh".
It was then Valued at the London auctioneers Phillips at £300-£500

Stephen "Mr Magoo" Boyle demanded Turbo Paul pay £500 to buy it out.

Boyle family always want it all their own way, greedy bastards.

Well, Turbo Paul Hendry went to "Bubbles" and asked £500 for the Dutch oil on panel, "Bubbles" turned it down.

Turbo Paul Hendry then went to london and put it in Phillips auctioneers with an estimate of £300-£500.
On the day of the sale it turned out to be a "Sleeper" and realized, sold for, £28,000, yes, twenty eight grand lol

Knowing Stephen "Mr Magoo" Boyle would scream like a stuffed pig, cry like a baby, Turbo Paul Hendry said it only made £2,800 to soften the blow, even then, Stephen "Mr Magoo" Boyle demanded £1,000, to which Turbo Paul Hendry replied with,

"Sorry Stephen, you can't win em all" 

followed by never working with him again.

True story from 1988

Back in 1982 Stephen Wadey was working with Alan "Dobby" Friend in London.
They bought a first period Worcester Dr Walls meatplate.

They sold it to Bubbles for £400.
Bubbles sold it on to Tony Margiotta for £800.

Six years later in 1988 Tony Margiotta was moving his jewelry shop from the Lanes into Prince Albert  Street and Turbo Paul noticed the Worcester Dr Walls meatplate on the bottom shelf in the window.

Remembering it was sold to Tony Margiotta for £800 by Bubbles back in 1982 Turbo Paul asked Tony Margiotta how much he wanted for it, he replied £400, which Turbo Paul thought was good and paid him in cash.

Turbo Paul then took the meatplate to Sotheby's in London who estimated it at £600-£800.

On the day of the sale two collectors of Worcester battled it out to £14,000
Happy days

Monday, May 11, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Terry "Olive" Boyle, 24.08.43 - 06.05.2020, Brighton's Baddest, Badass, Becomes Central Part of Art & Antiques Folklore.


There is so much to say about Terry Boyle, some good, some great and some indifferent.
I shall take time to review my archives to give the whole story of how Terry Boyle went from the Whitehawk gutter to Brighton Antiques trade Hall of Fame.

One quick story:

Back in 1987, at Richards Restaurant Western road Brighton, Terry Boyle, whilst protecting his younger brother Stephan, recieved a Stanley Knife wound to his stomach, which needed 48 stitches for the deep cut. Terry Boyle suffered many years of pain from this Stanley Knife wound, reminding him he was not invincible.

Another story:
When Terry Boyle and his loyal wife Georgina were landlords of the Blue House pub in Brighton when a local bully and gormless thug Micky Douglas was being loud and aggressive.
Terry Boyle stepped in and knocked out Micky Douglas with one punch, causing him to slide down the wall, bang, lights out Micky Douglas.
From then on Terry Boyle was called, amongst other names, Terry "One Punch" Boyle.

Lets go back to May 1984, Terry Boyle was getting ready for his annual four weeks in Lindos Rhodes Greece, when Brian "Herpes" Groves and Danny "The Mong" King burgled a house near Brighton and escaped with several paintings including a Joshua Reynolds. Terry Boyle bought them, offering £5,000 now or £9,000 later, "Herpes" Groves & "The Mong" King took the £5,000 now lol

News report of art theft comitted by Herpes Groves and The Mong King

Brian "Herpes" Groves

Terry Boyle sold them on quickly for £10,000, doubling his money,  to, wait for it, guess who lol

These paintings were later sold, the Joshua Reynolds sold in 1988 for £135,000, then sold on by Colnaghi art dealers for £500,000 and now hangs in Japan in a museum who refuse the hand it back to the rightful owners heirs.

Anyone with stories to tell about Terry Boyle can message me in confidence on twitter:

Art Hostage on twitter: @ArtHostage

or e-mail me at:

turbopaul@btinternet.com


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Justin Rohrlich, Van Gogh & the Art Crime World



 
AP Photo/Peter Dejong
The damaged front door of the Singer Laren Museum, where Van Gogh’s “Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring” was recently pilfered.
VAN GONE

Art detectives go deep inside the criminal underworld on hunt for stolen Van Gogh


When a thief stole a multimillion-dollar painting by Vincent van Gogh from a small museum in the Netherlands last month, Octave Durham almost immediately found himself a person of interest.
“It’s not a coincidence, because most of the time I did it,” Durham, who spent 25 months in prison for his own Van Gogh heist, told Quartz. “But now I’m retired.”
The nighttime smash-and-grab robbery at the Singer Laren Museum, committed in late March after it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, bore many of the hallmarks of Durham’s infamous 2002 burglary at the nearby Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, during which he stole two priceless paintings by the renowned artist. This time, the bandit broke through a pane of glass with a sledgehammer and was in and out in minutes.
“They knew what they were doing, going straight for the famous master,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, the Singer Laren’s director, told reporters.
The thief escaped the museum with Van Gogh’s Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring, a painting valued at about $6 million. Dutch authorities this week released security video taken the night of the burglary, which shows the thief arriving by motorbike.
Roughly $6 billion worth of art is stolen each year, according to an FBI estimate, making it the third-most lucrative criminal enterprise in the world after narcotics and the arms trade. Some 30 Van Gogh paintings alone have been stolen in the Netherlands since 1988. Police and insurance agents have recovered all but the most recent. Parsonage Garden, which was on loan from another Dutch museum about two hours away, was stolen on what would have been the painter’s 167th birthday.
“Octave was the first thing I checked,” Arthur Brand, a freelance art crime detective known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world,” told Quartz. He is now helping Dutch police with the investigation. Brand had tracked Durham for years and after Durham left prison in 2006, the two struck up an unlikely friendship. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, Octave—where the fuck are you?’ I gave him a call and couldn’t reach him and thought, ‘Oh fuck.’”
Durham swears he had nothing to do with it, and Brand says he has a strong alibi: Durham was in the hospital when the painting was taken. Durham says he’s been out of the game for about seven years. The risk-reward ratio for stolen art is just not worth it anymore, he told Quartz. He is presently pursuing movie deals and planning a speaking tour with Brand across Europe. There will be no US leg because Durham, 47, is barred from entering the country.


 
Courtesy Octave Durham
Octave Durham

In search of the Parsonage Garden, Dutch authorities are now combing the dark corners of a criminal underground where stolen art can be used to feed egos and leverage power. Where the thief went next, and the painting’s intended destination, remains unknown. But Durham, Brand, and others who are intimately familiar with the world of art theft have some ideas.

What they know

Dutch police are still on duty during the coronavirus lockdown, but museum staff are not and there were few potential witnesses on the streets. Even before the pandemic, security guards at the Singer Laren never worked overnight. A central alarm system instead flags a nearby police station, which gives a thief some time to get in, get out, and get away.
Robert Wittman, a retired FBI agent who started the bureau’s Art Crime Team in 2004, said criminals are always on the lookout for such weaknesses. In the early morning hours of March 30—about two weeks after museums in the Netherlands closed to slow the spread of coronavirus—circumstances were pretty much ideal for a burglary.
“It gives an opportunity for certain individuals…to go after certain high-value assets, and that Van Gogh is certainly a high-value asset,” Wittman told Quartz.



REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
A picture of Van Gogh’s Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring.

For law enforcement, the investigation always begins with the basics, Wittman said. Once any fingerprints are lifted, and security camera footage reviewed, museum staff and other insiders are brought in for interviews. About 90% of art thefts in the US are inside jobs, he noted.
“You’re [usually] going to find that somewhere along the line, somebody tipped somebody off or was involved in some way,” Wittman said.
Museums generally tend to “have terrible security” because it’s expensive and “people like to donate to sexy things like buying new paintings, not upgrading the security camera system,” Erin Thompson, a professor of art crime at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told Quartz. Being located in historic buildings can make it difficult for many museums to meet modern security standards.
A Van Gogh watercolor stolen in 2003 from the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, England—along with works by Picasso and Gauguin—turned up three days later with a note saying the heist was simply an attempt to expose the space’s “woeful security.”
“Turbo” Paul Hendry, a British stolen-art-handler-turned-consultant who today advises buyers, insurers, and investigators, told Quartz the thief “must have done their homework to know the Van Gogh was there,” as it was on loan and not a permanent fixture at the Singer Laren. “Loan paintings are protected, but not in a permanent manner, so gaps appear,” he said.
So far, Thompson said, there are few obvious clues as to why the thief targeted Parsonage Garden, a little-known work from Van Gogh’s early period. If you’re going to risk of stealing something that will grab international headlines and be hard to sell, “at least do it for Starry Night and have a really great one instead of this murky, bottom-of-the-garden, depressing one,” she said.


 
Courtesy "Turbo" Paul Hendry
“Turbo” Paul Hendry

Where to look

Stealing priceless art is the easy part, Durham says. In his words, it’s “like taking candy from a kid.” The hard part is selling the piece for even a tiny fraction of its value when the whole world knows it’s stolen, he said.
“The big problem in all these situations is not the stealing, it’s the selling,” Wittman agreed. “What do you do with it once you have it? […] What are you going to do with a Van Gogh that’s famous, that’s stolen from a museum in the Netherlands? Is that worth 10 kilos of heroin? You can sell [drugs] on the street and make some money. A Van Gogh? What good is that?”
For some, it’s not about money. It’s about leverage.
After the murder of his original buyer on the day of the planned sale, Durham managed to offload his pair of stolen Van Goghs to Neapolitan mobster Raffaele Imperiale, who paid less than $400,000 for the two paintings—a tiny fraction of their estimated market value.


 
AP Photo/Peter Dejong
People outside the closed Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam after Durham’s 2002 theft.

Imperiale, who claimed he bought them because he was fond of art, stashed them away in the country house where his mother lived. When Italian police finally caught up with him for drug trafficking, he offered the paintings’ location as a trade for a lighter punishment. Cops found the paintings wrapped in cloth, stuffed in a hidden wall space near the kitchen. Prosecutors agreed to a deal, reducing Imperiale’s sentence from 18 years to nine. He is reportedly now in Dubai fighting extradition. The Dutch drug lord Kees Houtman also tried in 2002 to trade three Van Goghs stolen a decade earlier for less time behind bars.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility, Brand said, that the latest Van Gogh theft was ordered by someone with a similar plan. Some criminals view paintings simply as “get-out-of-jail-free” cards, and so commission thieves to steal them. “If these guys who stole the Van Gogh have a buyer already, it’s most likely a drug lord or mobster—maybe someday he’ll need it to make a deal,” he said. “But it could also be they [did] it like Octave did: they just steal it and then they try to find someone willing to buy it.”


 
AP Photo/Peter Dejong
The two Van Gogh masterpieces stolen by Durham, after their return in 2017.

Drug traffickers have also used stolen artwork as collateral. When ordering a shipment of cocaine from Colombia, the Dutch mafia might send their narco counterparts a masterpiece as a guarantee that they’re good for the money, Durham said. “They know you want that painting back because if you are in legal problems, this painting can help you. There is no money that can help you but this painting will, so just make sure you pay your bills and if you’ve paid them all, you get the painting back.”
This has actually spawned a new market for fakes, according to Brand, who says shady art handlers have begun offering counterfeits of stolen masterworks to underworld buyers looking to ease future legal troubles.
“It’s a crazy business,” Brand said.


 
Courtesy Robert Wittman
A Rembrandt valued at $35 million that Wittman recovered, pictured with $250,000 used to lure the suspects.

Wittman scoffs at the idea that a super-criminal might be trying to get their hands on a stolen masterpiece to add to their own collection. He argues that the last thing rich gangsters want is something on their wall that can add years onto a criminal sentence if found in a police raid.
Some, however, disagree. For crime bosses, ego can overcome cold logic, Hendry said. “I think you will find [the] human nature of wanting to own beautiful trophy things is universal,” Hendry said. “Authorities always like to play down art crime as a haphazard crime of opportunity, with no structure, when the opposite is true in many cases.”
French businessman Jean Michel Corvez is now doing time for his role in ordering a major 2010 Paris heist. And Durham says he knows of wealthy criminals who fill hidden rooms with pilfered treasures. “Now and then, they smoke a big cigar and [look at] all these paintings and stuff they have, and say, ‘You fuckers, you’ve been looking for this all over the world—I’ve got it,’” he said.
While the typical buyer “may not be a reclusive billionaire on an island like Dr. No,” Hendry said stolen art has turned up in the collections of apparently unwitting buyers like film director Steven Spielberg, singer Boy George, Swiss industrialist Baron Heini Thyssen, and late designer Gianni Versace. Earlier this year, authorities fined Spanish billionaire Jaime Botín, the largest shareholder in Santander bank, $58 million for trying to smuggle an “unexportable” Picasso out of the country.



REUTERS/Piroschka Van De Wouw
The Singer Laren Museum, where the latest Van Gogh heist took place.

A stolen artwork usually passes through many hands, Hendry said. It can be smuggled in various ways, whether hidden inside a shipping container, sent through the mail, or helped by corrupt customs officials. Wittman once recovered a stolen Renoir—called “Young Parisienne”—that had been sewn into a coat and smuggled into the US through Los Angeles International Airport.
Stolen art is typically “laid down” for a couple of weeks, then taken across the nearest border, Hendry said. But he believes the Van Gogh stolen from the Singer Laren is still in the area due to the coronavirus lockdown. With checkpoints in place and regional security tightened, Hendry thinks moving it now would be “foolhardy, to say the least.”
But the Singer Laren theft was unusual, Thompson said—thieves rarely target museum galleries. Normally, stolen art is lifted less dramatically from the homes of private collectors or museum storage, which may not be inventoried for years.
“It’s tricky because people have to know that something is missing,” Thompson said. “So if you’re a museum and you haven’t gotten into that storeroom for a couple of decades, you might not have any idea—which happens more often than you might think.”


 
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

Recovering art stolen in this way is often more difficult. A private owner might not keep strong documentation, or even a photograph of the work to publicize in a recovery attempt. “You have to be really careful in recovering art to make sure you’re not getting sold a forgery,” Thompson said. “And that’s why it’s important for museums to always have photographs of the backs of paintings.”
If the painting was taken on a whim, and not by a sophisticated criminal, there’s a chance it will meet a more tragic end. “[You] get the sort of clueless thief who knows that art is valuable and takes it and then panics,” Thompson said. “Sadly, sometimes they destroy the paintings to get rid of the evidence.”
In 2006, Mireille Breitwieser took extreme measures in an apparent attempt to protect her son, prolific French art thief Stephane Breitwieser, whose personal stash was valued at $1.4 billion. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2006 for throwing dozens of old masters, including works by Brueghel, Cranach, Watteau, and Boucher, into the Rhine-Rhone canal.

The insurance angle

In his 2011 memoir, Wittman described posing as a corrupt art broker to make deals with international drug kingpins on mega-yachts in Miami and well-connected Corsican mobsters in Geneva. A likelier outcome for the Singer Laren’s Van Gogh, Thompson argued, is that it will be recovered in a more prosaic fashion—by its insurer.
“It’s always the least exciting thing to say that the art world is about taxes or insurance, but it’s true in this case,” she said.
Many European museums have insurance policies offering about 15% of the value of a stolen painting to anyone who returns it, with no questions asked, she said. “You steal a Van Gogh. You know that if you ever need to recover 10% or 15% of its value, you can give it to your girlfriend or your mom or something, and they can be like, ‘I found this on the street,’ to the insurance company,” Thompson said. “And then you get that money.”
American museums tend to eschew the policy because they think it encourages theft—and it’s not always a sure thing in Europe since museums don’t tend to advertise having this insurance clause. “You must be taking a risk. Either that or you have cultivated some sort of insider information on who has what policy,” Thompson said.
The insurance companies themselves tend to pay out fairly fast once they’ve confirmed the policy was properly followed and there was no “hanky panky,” said William Fleischer, principal of Art Insurance Now, a New York-based broker. “There’s a small amount of insurers that do art, so if you do something in a negative way, people will find about that and say, ‘We don’t want that carrier.’” Fleischer estimated the annual insurance premium for the recently stolen Van Gogh would have been somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000.
Insurance firms usually keep paintings that are recovered. “There are a lot of companies that have amazing collections,” Fleischer told Quartz.
In some cases, the original owner can do some arbitrage once their painting is found. A Picasso that Brand recovered last year in the Netherlands was insured at the time of its theft in 1999 for $4.5 million, the purchase price paid 20 years prior by Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh of Saudi Arabia. After it turned up again, Hendry said Al-Sheikh used a clause written into his insurance policy to buy the Picasso back from his insurer for the original $4.5 million, plus expenses. In the two decades that passed, the Picasso had increased in value dramatically. “The sheik now has a $70 million Picasso, a real happy ending for him,” Hendry said.

What comes next

Wittman is certain Parsonage Garden will eventually resurface, most likely when someone tries to bring it to market. Whether that will be during an undercover police operation, with a cop posing as a buyer, or a sharp-eyed gallery owner who calls authorities after being approached for a sale, no one knows.
Durham believes the police already have a solid lead, declining to provide further details for fear of interfering with the investigation. “These guys made a big mistake,” he said. “When I heard it, I was laughing.”
For Brand, the Van Gogh theft at the Singer Laren is almost something of a “personal attack,” since it was swiped virtually in his own backyard.
“Sooner or later—it can take one year or it can take 10 years—somebody’s going to talk,” Brand said. “I have people in the criminal underworld all over the world from mobsters in Italy to drug lords and other people and sooner or later I might get a call.”
Incredibly, this isn’t a movie plot: A Van Gogh was stolen in a late-night smash-and-grab job. The most obvious suspect says he’s retired from the art heist game. So whodunit? Justin Rohrlich and Max de Haldevang take us on a wild ride through a world inhabited by thieves, drug traffickers, counterfeiters, rich gangsters, art detectives, museum security, and insurance companies. My question is, who will option this article for the screen?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Casey Sherman Destroys Gardner Art Heist Myth

It’s now been thirty years since two thieves dressed as police officers stole 13 artworks worth $500 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on March 18, 1990 and we are still no closer to solving this enduring mystery.
But there’s always a story within the story and that is certainly the case with the Gardner heist which has more layers than a Russian nesting doll.
The investigation gets curiouser and curiouser with a cast of characters that appears to have jumped off the screen from a Guy Ritchie film.
First, there's "Turbo" Paul Hendry, a former art thief turned sleuth living in England who has been following the case since it broke three decades ago when Vermeer’s “The Concert” and Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” vanished into thin air. 

Hendry is a popular voice in the Gardner Heist community, having been featured in the 2005 documentary Stolen. He had a bone to pick with me when I gave celebrated Dutch art investigator
sole credit for a proposal to offer individual rewards for the missing pieces in my
column. He's right...  Turbo Paul came up with the original idea years ago. 

Nevertheless, he shared my article on social media He's been working this case like a dog with a bone for years and has been a vocal critic of Anthony Amore, the museum's longtime director of security.

This criticism reportedly prompted an angry phone call from *******, . Hendry alleges that ******* threatened to “destroy” him if he didn’t remove more than 30 tweets from his Twitter profile “Art Hostage” criticizing Amore’s lack of results.
Is the museum security director using a proxy to crush any dissent of his investigation? I asked that question to ****** himself by phone. He calls Hendry’s accusations “ridiculous”. I also reached out to the museum for comment. “The allegations that the Gardner Museum or Mr. Amore are encouraging or condoning any intimidation or pressure efforts by ***** toward the recipient are categorically false," said Griff McNerney, Museum Communications Manager. 
The museum’s cocksure declaration was curious as no one at the institution ever even asked to speak to the alleged victim in this case.
If this is the way the investigation into the stolen artwork is being conducted also, it’s no wonder they haven’t recovered anything in thirty years.
Is this the image the Gardner Museum wishes to project to the world?
If thuggery and intimidation are tactics being used to quash criticism of the Gardner investigation, museum director Peggy Fogelman should step in and make changes immediately. 
First, it’s time to fire security director Anthony Amore who has been leading the museum’s investigation for the past 15 years. He’s never recovered a piece of stolen art in his life.
Imagine if Bill Belichick had never won a playoff game in 15 years? He’d have been out of a job a long time ago.
Instead of chasing leads, Amore spends more time on social media on any given work day than Perez Hilton. 
He’s also used his position to launch a disastrous run for Massachusetts Secretary of State and has published four books about stolen art including two coloring books. It seems that the only person that has profited from the art heist, outside of the thieves, is Anthony Amore.
Arthur Brand, dubbed “The Indiana Jones of the Art World”, has taken to social media calling for Amore to “move over” and let more seasoned investigators take the lead on recovering the stolen art. Brand made headlines last year for finding and returning a $68 million Picasso that was stolen twenty years ago from a luxury yacht in the French Riviera.

 Amore’s dismissed Brand, telling me during an online conversation, 
“We have no comment on some guy’s (bleeping) twitter.” This institutional arrogance is one of the many reasons that not one stolen art work has been recovered on Amore’s watch.
It’s like Inspector Clouseau thumbing his nose at Hercule Poirot. 
Is Anthony Amore the person we want leading the charge to return 13 artworks to its rightful place here in Boston as we mark the 30th anniversary of the notorious heist? I think not.
Casey Sherman is a New York Times bestselling author of 11 books including the upcoming Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture and Killing of America's Most Wanted Mob Boss. Follow him on Twitter @caseysherman123

Friday, February 21, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, Short, Sharp, Shock, Pyrrhic Victory in Gold Coin Case, Dresden Jewels Elusive

The Bumbling Thieves Who Pilfered a $4.3 Million, 221-Pound Gold Coin From a Berlin Museum—and Probably Melted It Down—Are Heading to Prison

The high-profile heist involved a skateboard and a wheelbarrow.
Picture taken on December 8, 2010 shows the gold coin "Big Maple Leaf" on display at Berlin's Bode Museum. Courtesy MARCEL METTELSIEFEN/AFP/Getty Images.
Three men who made away with one of the world’s largest gold coins from a Berlin Museum have been sentenced to prison. 
Cousins Ahmed and Wissam Remmo broke into Berlin’s Bode Museum on the night of March 27, 2017, with the assistance of an inside man: Denis W., a childhood friend who had been hired as a security guard at the institution earlier that month. Using a skateboard and wheelbarrow, the crafty thieves absconded with “Big Maple Leaf,” a commemorative coin weighing in at a whopping 221 pounds that had been issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007.
After a trial that lasted 41 days in court over the span of a year, Ahmed, 21, and Wissam, 23, were each sentenced to four-and-a-half-year prison sentences. (Because the Remmos were, respectively, 18 and 20 years old when the crime occurred, they were sentenced as juveniles.) Denis W. received a sentence of three years and four months. A fourth defendant was acquitted. 
The Bode Museum in Berlin. Photo: Thomas Wolf via Wikimedia Commons.
The Bode Museum in Berlin. Photo: Thomas Wolf via Wikimedia Commons.
The 99% pure gold coin, valued at roughly €3.3 million ($4.3 million), was on loan from a private collector at the time of the theft. It hasn’t been seen since. Gold particles in the convicts’ getaway car and on their clothes led experts to believe it was broken down, melted, and sold soon after the incident. Another dead giveaway: Investigators also found a history of detailed searches on how to break down pieces of gold on Wissam’s phone.
Other evidence that led to the arrest of the men included security footage of three black-clad figures who matched their measurements walking the escape route outside of the Bode on a night prior to the theft. A rare Armani jacket identified in the footage was found in Wissam’s apartment, as was a pair of gloves that contained shards of glass matching those of the window through which the thieves entered the building. 
Two of the defendants sit next to their lawyers in the courtroom and cover their faces on February 20, 2020 in Berlin. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa via Getty Images.
Two of the defendants sit next to their lawyers in the courtroom and cover their faces on February 20, 2020 in Berlin. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa via Getty Images.
Denis W., who worked the night shift on the days leading up to the robbery, was seen shopping for high-end cars and jewelry shortly thereafter. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined €100,000 ($108,000)—the amount of money authorities believe he was paid for abetting the crime. The Remmos were each fined €3.3 million—the price of the coin.
A fourth defendant, Wayci Remmo, was acquitted of all charges after the judge ruled the evidence against him to be inconclusive. 
Following the case’s conclusion, lead prosecutor Thomas Schulz-Spirohn promised to continue his investigation into the Remmo family, which is believed to be connected to one of Germany’s largest organized crime operations.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Stolen Art Watch, "Victory is mine, victory is mine, great day in the morning, people, victory is mine ... I drink from the keg of glory, Turbo. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land"



Dutch art sleuth finds rare stolen copy of 'Prince of Persian poets'

A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international "race against time" that drew the alleged interest of Iran's secret service.
The gold-leafed volume worth around one million euros ($1.1 million) was found to be missing from the collection of an Iranian antiques dealer after his death in Germany in 2007.
It sparked a decade-long search for one of the oldest surviving copies of the "Divan of Hafez" -- the collected works of the poet who remains extremely popular in Iran and has inspired artists worldwide.
But Arthur Brand, dubbed the "Indiana Jones of the Art World" for tracing a series of lost works, finally tracked down the tome via the murky stolen arts underworld.
"This is a hugely important find for me, because this is such an important book," Brand said as he showed AFP the recovered book at an Amsterdam apartment.
Along with Rumi, Hafez -- full name Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafiz Shirazi -- is one of the best known mystical bards. American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson called him the "Prince of Persian poets".
Hafez's Divan can still be found in most Iranian homes where it is traditionally read out during family celebrations for the Persian New Year.
- 'Scared and threatened' -
The theft of the manuscript, which dates from 1462 to 1463, was discovered by the family of book dealer Djafar Ghazy after he died in an old people's home in Munich in 2007.
While going through Ghazy's computer, they realised the reclusive pensioner had in fact collected hundreds of ancient manuscripts -- but that they were all gone.
In 2011 German police recovered 174 of them raiding the home of another Iranian pensioner who had befriended Ghazy.
"But the most important piece, one of the earliest and most accurate copies of the famous 'Divan of Hafez', was still missing," said Brand.
German police announced a 50,000-euro reward and issued a flyer describing the book in 2016 but there was still no trace of it, until late 2018.
Brand then received a phone call from an Iranian dealer, asking the Dutchman to "urgently" meet him in Germany.
"The man told me he was visited by two officials who said they were 'linked to the Iranian embassy'." The men -- alleged by the dealer to be Iranian secret agents -- told him to "report any news of the missing Divan", Brand said.
"My informant was clearly scared, felt threatened and decided to call me into the case," Brand told AFP.
Iran had already shown an interest in the case, saying it would take "all legal means" to get back the manuscripts that were found in 2011, after Germany gave two back but decided most of the rest were legally owned by the collector, German news reports said.
"After my informant was contacted, I knew that the Iran was also looking for the missing Divan and I started a race against time to see if I could find it first, as the book belonged to Ghazy's family," Brand said.
- 'Rare and valuable' -
The Dutchman then flew to London to meet an unnamed man "who became extremely nervous" when shown the flyer of the missing book, and confessed he had seen it as a friend of his had sold it to a major buyer.
By then Iranian agents were also in London asking questions about the manuscript, Brand said.
"The buyer was shocked and furious. After all, he was sold a stolen book and now everybody including the Iranian government was looking for it," Brand said.
By now afraid, the buyer flew to Paris to demand his money back from the original seller.
But Brand persuaded him to go back to London and finally the collector handed over the book via an intermediary in late 2019.
Brand said he will travel to Munich next Wednesday to return the Divan to German police.
"The next steps are currently being discussed together with the heirs" of Ghazy, police spokesman Ludwig Waldinger told AFP.
Experts said this edition could be of great historical and literary value for scholars and admirers of Hafez, whose works were published after his death.
The recovered book is "one of a handful still in existence," said Dominic Parviz Brookshaw, assistant professor of Persian literature at Oxford University.
"It's an extremely early edition -- although not the earliest -- which would make it very rare and valuable," Brookshaw told AFP.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Anthony Amore Called Out By Casey Sherman & Arthur Brand, Gardner Art Reward Price List, Olive Branch For Recovery

Art sleuth says it’s time to change strategy on Gardner heist

Indiana Jones of the Art World says offer individual rewards

Art detective Arthur Brand next to a Picasso he recovered. (Courtesy Arthur Brand.)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:
Like Rembrandt’s stolen seascape, there is a storm brewing over the direction of the decades-old investigation to recover masterpieces missing from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

The first shot across the bow was fired by celebrated Dutch art detective Arthur Brand who took to Twitter last week to call out investigators while making a direct plea to the thieves who may still be in possession of some of the 13 artworks stolen from Gardner Museum in March 1990.

“Still working on the Isabella Stewart Gardner theft,” Brand wrote. “And don’t believe those who say you can only deal with them. You can always talk with me. The FBI and the museum and their allies are not going to solve this case after 30 years. Move over …”

Brand, dubbed “The Indiana Jones of the Art World,” made international headlines last year for finding and returning a $28 million Picasso painting that was stolen 20 years ago from a luxury yacht in the French Riviera.

Speaking to Brand by phone in Europe, he told me that he fired off the tweet in frustration and has since deleted the message.

Although he praises the FBI and the museum for doing everything they can to recover the stolen works, which include Vermeer’s “The Concert” and Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” he believes that investigators are sending the wrong message to anyone with knowledge of the notorious heist.
Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee
According to the museum’s website, a $10 million reward is still being offered for information leading to the recovery of all 13 works in good condition.

“But what if thieves only have two or three of the stolen art works?” Brand asks. “They are being dissuaded from coming forward because they don’t have the entire collection. The museum is giving them an all-or-nothing proposition.”

The art detective is calling on the museum to provide separate rewards for the individual art pieces. Brand believes this change in strategy could break the case.

“I’m also concerned about how the museum defines the “good condition” of the art, that’s a very arbitrary statement,” Brand says. “I know how the criminal mind works and language like that sends a big red flag to the thieves.”

The FBI won’t comment on the art detective’s theory but when I reached out to Anthony Amore, the museum’s director of security, during an online conversation, he told me; “We have no comment on some guy’s (bleeping) twitter.”

That no comment speaks volumes and I can understand his frustration. Amore’s been working on the case since 2005, chasing leads around the globe and he’s found nothing.
Now he’s got one of the world’s leading art detectives breathing down his neck and demanding results.

But to call Arthur Brand “some guy” speaks to Amore’s institutional arrogance

As we approach the 30th anniversary of the heist this year, the museum would be better served if it brings in new investigators with fresh ideas and new perspectives.

Brand tells me that he’s spoken with sources in direct contact with the IRA. They have convinced him some of the missing paintings are stashed away in Ireland.

This theory has been dismissed by Amore.

“He (Amore) calls me “some guy,” but I have recovered six stolen art pieces in the past year alone, and what has he found?” Brand says. “I always place myself in the minds of the thieves. I have a track record of success while after nearly 30 years; the museum is still sitting on nothing.”

Casey Sherman is a New York Times best-selling author of 11 books. His latest is the upcoming “Hunting Whitey: The Inside Story of the Capture and Killing of America’s Most Wanted Crime Boss.” Follow him on Twitter @caseysherman123.