Monday, April 14, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Time Is Of The Essence For Watch Thieves As Napoleon Artefacts Go Walkabout & Jasper Johns Needs Help



Antique 17th century watches worth more than £200,000 in total stolen in evening raid on house in south London

  • More than 16 watches taken from a house in Beckenham, south east London
  • Haul includes a Reeve timepiece which is worth £15,000 alone
  • BMW car also taken in the raid but has since been dumped
  • Timepieces said to be from 'highest end watchmakers out there'
Antique watches worth more than £200,000 which date back to the 17th century have been stolen in an evening raid.
The haul of 16 watches were taken from a house in Beckenham, south east London, along with a BMW car.
The car was founded dumped in south London two days later, but there was no sign of the watches.
This Reeve watch is believed to dat back to 1630 and is valued at approximately £15,000
This watch from 1765, a De St Leu, is worth around £12,000
These two watches alone are said to be worth £27,000. Left, is the Reeve timepiece dating back to 1630 and valued at approximately £15,000. Right, is a De St Leu, valued at approximately £12,000 from 1765
This Breguet watch is valued at £15,000 and was stolen from the house in Beckenham
Another one of the watches that were stolen. This one is valued at £10,000
These are two Breguet watches, with the one on the left worth £15,000 and the one on the right valued at £10,000 
This antique watch is valued at £15,000
Another Breguet watch, this one worth £10,000
Another set of Breguet watches, which were taken. The watch on the left is worth £15,000, while the one on the right is valued at £12,000


The timepieces include a number of French and English watches made by the 'highest end watchmakers out there'.
It also includes a Reeve timepiece, which dates back to 1630, and is worth around £15,000 alone.
Simon Kerby, an antiques watch specialist from the Gerald E. Marsh dealership in Hampshire said: 'This was obviously a very good collection.
'A lot of the watches are classic English and French makers who are also famous clock makers. These are the highest end watchmakers out there.
'The list includes many of the top names. Breguet is going to be up there as one of the best.
Among the watches taken in the haul was this Fromanteel timepiece from 1690, which is valued at £6,000
Among the watches taken in the haul was this Fromanteel timepiece from 1690, which is valued at £6,000
A Quare & Horseman watch, circa 1705, valued at approximately £7,500
A K. J Everell, from 1705, valued at approximately £5,000
A Quare & Horseman watch, from 1705, worth £7,500 and this K. J Everell, valued at £5,000  from 1705 were also taken in the raid
A £8,000 Lampe timepiece stolen from a house in Beckenham
This Lupton watch dates back to  1660 and is valued at approximately £8,500
Together these two watch, a Lampe timepiece, left, and a Lupton watch, right, are worth a total of £16,500. They were both included in the haul taken from the house in Beckenham, south London


'They would have been making watches since the 1700s, and some of their pieces are astonishing.”
He added: “It would be difficult to sell them as a single lot in auction.
'They could possibly be sold abroad. The pocket watch collecting community is very small, there are really very few people who collect them.
'If someone came in here with a collection like that we would really want to know when they were last sold.
'I would also want to know when and how they were acquired. It would be very likely they had come up in an auction like Christie’s or Sotheby’s.
'You would have to be very careful where you sell them if you didn’t want to alert suspicion.'
The Windmill from 1720, valued at approximately £6,500
Boucheret, circa 1730, valued at approximately £6,000
The Windmill, left from 1720, valued at approximately £6,500 while this Boucheret timepiece also from the 1700s is said to be worth £6,000

This timepiece from Tompion dates back to 1710 and is said to be worth £5,000
This timepiece from Tompion dates back to 1710 and is said to be worth £5,000

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that watches had been stolen.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'A burglary was committed at a property in Beckenham, on Tuesday, March 4 between 5.45pm and 10.10pm during which in excess of 16 antique watches were stolen, along with a BMW.
'The car was subsequently recovered in Verney Road, Southwark on March 6.'
Mr Kerby added: 'As an antique watch collector myself, security is a concern.'
'It’s something you do have to be very wary.'
Among some of the items taken were:
• Fromanteel, circa 1690, valued at approximately £6,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £12,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £10,000
• Quare & Horseman, circa 1705, valued at approximately £7,500
• Reeve, circa 1630, valued at approximately £15,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £15,000
• De St Leu, circa 1765, valued at approximately £12,000
• LeRoy, valued at approximately £5,500
• Breguet, valued at approximately £15,000
• Lampe, valued at approximately £8,000
• J Everell, circa 1705, valued at approximately £5,000
• Lupton, circa 1660, valued at approximately £8,500
• Windmill, circa 1720, valued at approximately £6,500
• Boucheret, circa 1730, valued at approximately £6,000
• Tompion, circa 1710, valued at approximately £5,000
• Ellicott, circa 1775, valued at approximately £7,000 

Eight Romanians charged after £1.2 million heist at Lakeside

EIGHT men have been charged with aggravated burglary following a break in at a jewellers in the Lakeside shopping centre where goods totalling £1.2m were stolen.
The Romanian nationals will be appearing before magistrates in Basildon on Monday, April 14, each charged with one count of aggravated burglary.
The men are:
Emanoil CRETU, 26, Mihai CUPTOR, 20, Claudiu-Eugen CRETU, 22, Gheorghe RUSU, 21,
Ion-Alexandru CUPTOR, 22, Costica FERESTRAUARU, 21, Ovidiu CRETU, 18, and
Dimitri SPATARU, 24. They are all of no fixed address.
Detectives are continuing to investigate a burglary at a jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, and ask anyone with information to contact them at Grays CID on 101.
Update: Sunday 1200hrs
DETECTIVES investigating two burglaries in the Thurrock district are now able to release further details.
A total of eight men, aged between 18 and 26-years-old, who have not given addresses, were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning in South Ockendon on suspicion of aggravated burglary and arson.
A dog unit was involved in a coordinated search of the area with other uniformed officers.
The arrests are in connection with a burglary at Ernest Jones jewellers at Lakeside and a burglary at another jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon.
Detectives believe these were well-planned burglaries resulting in jewellery and high-value watches totalling around £1.2m being stolen. Officers have been conducting extensive searches in the area and items have been recovered.
They have also been investigating some road blocks made up of tyres which had been set alight which appear to have been an attempt to distract or impede the police response.
The men remain in custody for questioning today, Sunday, April 13.
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Grays on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Original story
POLICE are investigating a burglary at the Ernest Jones jewellers at Lakeside Thurrock which happened a little after 3am this morning, Saturday, April 12.
With the help of some members of the public, responding officers made a number of arrests and recovered what they believe to property from the crime.
Detectives are also investigating a burglary at another jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, which was reported just before 3.20am.
A number of scene guards are currently in place whilst the crime scene investigators carry out their tasks, including at Lakeside, but police wish to stress to shoppers that the majority of the shopping centre is open as normal.
Superintendent Justin Smith said, “This appears to have been a well planned burglary which has resulted in a number of arrests following some excellent work by the public and police in the early hours of this morning. Evidence is being recovered as quickly as possible from the scenes and we will be allowing areas to be re-opened to the public just as soon as we can.”
Anyone with any information about the burglaries is asked to contact detectives at Grays CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

'Highly organised' jewellery burglars grabbed everything they could carry.




The jeweller's store is only 3m back from the parade road. Photo / Michael Craig
The jeweller's store is only 3m back from the parade road. Photo / Michael Craig
Thieves carried out a jewellery store smash-and-grab on the royal tour route just hours before yesterday's parade.




Ten hours before a silver limo carrying the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drove through Cambridge's main street, a local jewellery store was burgled and more than $100,000 worth of watches, diamond rings and jewels were stolen.
Thieves smashed in the back door of family-owned Cambridge Jewellers around 2.40am, grabbed everything they could carry and were out quickly.
The shop's back door was only 10m from Victoria St, where the royal procession passed huge crowds yesterday.
The store is 100m from the town hall, where the royal couple stopped for lunch, and 60m from the war memorial where William and Kate each laid a rose.
Several monitored alarms were triggered during the break-in.
Witnesses who saw two people wearing hoodies in the store alerted police.
Police say the break-in was coincidental, and not a royal-tour security breach. The store was searched and secured after the break-in.
Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley did not believe the thieves were taking advantage of police attention being focused on the royal tour.
"I think quite the opposite is true, with police able to act quickly because there were so many officers in the area."
Police were investigating reports of a dark-coloured Mitsubishi Galant leaving the scene. A burnt-out car of the same colour and model was found hours later on a rural Cambridge road. Forensic officers were examining the car.
Store owners Andrew and Katrina Haultain said the break-in was highly organised by thieves who knew where expensive jewels were.
"They smashed the back door down and went for higher-value items. They knew where everything was," Andrew Haultain said.
"They took wedding rings, watches, diamond rings, coloured stone rings, Tissot watches, Seiko watches and Pandoro jewellery," he added.
"They smashed and grabbed and only left behind what they couldn't carry."
Katrina Haultain said last night that no one had been arrested but blood was found in the store, probably the result of a thief cutting themselves after smashing a cabinet.
A former head of royal protection for London's Metropolitan police, Dai Davies, caused a furore this week when he blasted Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae for publishing details of Kate and William's itinerary.
Last night, Davies said he would not regard yesterday's Cambridge break-in as a security breach, but he stood by his earlier comments.
"You simply can't secure everywhere — but that's the whole point of not disclosing routes."

UK: Gang of men who wore burkas in huge designer watch robery face the law

Smash and DRAG
By: Kieran Corcoran
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
An ‘audacious’ gang dressed in burkas and posed as wealthy Muslim women to steal designer watches worth more than £1.4million from Selfridges, a court heard Thursday.
Customers and staff in the world famous department store on London’s Oxford Street were left ‘terrified’ by the smash and grab raid, the court was told.
Some of the all-male gang, armed with axes and other equipment, also allegedly wore burkas to fleece a jewellery store in Windsor two months earlier.
Four men are standing trial over the attempted robbery at Kingston Crown Court, a year after four other men were convicted for their part in the event.

Ramela Gordon, 18, Ritchie Graham, 24, Vincent Bellamy, 37 and Leon Wright, 25, all from North Londoner, deny conspiracy to rob.
Gordon and Graham are also accused the £170,000 of watch haul in Windsor.
Roger Smart, prosecuting, told Kingston Crown Court that the gang first carried out a ‘well-planned robbery’ at Robert Gatward jewellers in King Edward Court, Windsor.
Mr Smart said: ‘The robbers, all of whom were male, wore burkas in order to disguise their identities and the equipment that they had taken with them in order to carry out the robbery.
‘They smashed their way into display cabinets whilst staff and customers were inside the premises and bystanders looked on in fear as they carried out their well-executed plan.
‘They stole a total of 19 Rolex watches with a value of between £3,000 and £31,650 per item.
‘The robbers quickly made off, running through the streets of Windsor, one of them with an axe raised above his head, warding off anyone who may have sought to impede their escape, to a nearby parked getaway car that took them and their property back towards London from where they had first come.’
As well as stealing £175,000 of watches, the thieves caused £41,361 worth of damage to the jewellers, meaning it suffered £216,361 worth of loss, the court heard.
Mr Smart said that less than two months later the same gang, along with some new faces, ‘doubtless buoyed by the success of the robbery in Windsor’ targeted Selfridges on Oxford Street in central London on June 6th last year.
He said: ‘The plot to rob was audacious, well-planned and carried out with the same degree of professional execution as the previous robbery.
‘They made their way inside the store and smashed at showcases containing high value watches of a variety of makes.
‘Members of the public and staff were terrified by their actions. The robber used the burka to disguise their identities and hide their equipment.
‘Such was their behaviour and appearance that it crossed the minds of many of those who were forced to witness the robbery that the men dressed in burkas were using them in order to hide their identities while perpetrating a terrorist atrocity.’
The gang escaped using two motorbikes, a motor scooter and a BMW car, all of which were stolen.
Sam Curtin, who was still wearing his burka, and Connor Groake, a getaway driver, were arrested when their moped crashed at the corner of Goodge Street junction with Charlotte Street and they were seized by passers by, the court heard.
Mr Smart said: ‘It was the quick thinking and bravery of members of the public that lead to both of them being detained, some of the watches being recovered and aided the police investigation.’
The thieves stole 143 watches worth £1,496,280 and damaged others worth £1.1million.
Mr Smart added: ‘The Windsor offence was a carefully planned, sophisticated and targeted robbery.
‘The robbers carried out in advance reconnaissance of intended started on April 5 2013, and an aborted attempt on April 11, before the actual robbery on April 12.
‘The sophisticated and targeted planning, the use of new tools and the choice of the disguises at the Selfridges robbery show the same preparation as before.’
Mr Smart then showed the court the telephone cell site analysis of calls made by Murrain and Gordon during the reconnaissance mission on April 5th, together with data generated by automatic number plate recognition devices.
This showed both men had made a journey to Windsor from north London and back at the same time, while remaining in constant contact.
He said: ‘It is more than coincidence the telephones moved with the vehicles from the north London area to Windsor and the cells providing best coverage round Richard Gatward were used.’
A ninth man, Andre Murrain, is also accused of involvement in both crimes, and will appear in court at a later date.
The trial continues.

Who's Looking Out For Jasper Johns?


Two decades ago, Martin Lang paid £100,000 for what he thought was a painting by Marc Chagall—a reclining nude, dated 1909-10. Recently, at his son’s behest, Lang submitted the painting to the producers of the BBC art program "Fake or Fortune?" Unfortunately for Lang, "Fake or Fortune"'s analysis came up fake: it showed that the painting's blues and greens used pigments only developed in the 1930s.
Upon this discovery, Lang was issued a writ by the Chagall Committee—based in Paris and headed by Chagall's two granddaughters—which is the only body with the authority to declare the authenticity of a Chagall. Now that Lang's painting has been shown to be a fake, what does the Chagall Committee want with it?
Well, they want to burn it.
If the committee finds a piece to have been forged it should, according to some magical and arcane and very, very French law, be burned in front of a magistrate. Italy and China also sometimes order the destruction of fakes. It's rarer in America, although already this year work by Richard Prince was ordered destroyed—not because it was fake but because it was said to infringe on copyright.
But sometimes you can't get your hands on your own fakes.
Jasper Johns is now 83 years old, and he lives in Sharon, Connecticut. At the end of January, he came back down to Manhattan to testify in federal court against Brian Ramnarine, a 60-year-old native of Guyana and the former owner of Long Island City's Empire Bronze Art Foundry. Ramnarine is accused of wire fraud. He tried to sell a fake Jasper Johns sculpture that he made, for $11 million.
Johns' first "Flag" painting was done in the mid-1950s, in a fertile period when he was involved with Robert Rauschenberg and they were working in studios down at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge; that "Flag" is now owned by the Museum of Modern Art. "White Flag," done in the late 50s, was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an undisclosed sum in the millions of dollars. "Three Flags" you have probably seen at the Whitney. You have probably not seen the one owned by Steve Cohen.
In 1960, Johns made a "Flag" painting using a material called "sculpt metal." Sculpt metal, as described by Johns in his witness testimony, is a kind of a lacquer that has the consistency of toothpaste. "It can be spread with a knife or with your finger or it can be thinned with a solvent and brushed on some material," he said. "When it dries it can be polished and it resembles metal." That was when Johns was being helpful on the stand. (To defense lawyers, he was less so: Q. "Much of your work is valued in the millions of dollars?" A: "Is that a question?")
Johns gave the sculpt-metal "Flag" to Rauschenberg; shortly thereafter he borrowed it back to use it to make a sculpture. Because he had done the piece using sculpt metal, Johns was able to take a mold of the surface of the painting. He poured plaster into the mold; he then removed the plaster and had a 'positive' of the surface of the painting, which he gave to a foundry. The foundry made four copies of that positive in bronze. One would be given to John F. Kennedy.

Two decades later, Johns had another mold made—this one a negative—by "a very fine mold maker," a woman he said had been working on the restoration of the Statue of Liberty with her father.
(A positive mold—such as the one used to create the first four copies of the sculpt-metal painting—is pressed into the ground, creating a depression which is then filled with metal. A negative mold is one into which metal is poured directly. Now you know!)
Sometime around 1987, Johns brought that mold to the Polich Tallix foundry. They cast a "Flag" sculpture in silver and returned the mold to Johns. A few years later, sometime around 1990, Johns began to consider casting a "Flag" sculpture in gold.
Johns approached Brian Ramnarine with the idea—they had worked together before on "a number of projects," Johns said. Johns lent the mold to Ramnarine, who made a wax cast—a kind of a test run—which he delivered to Johns and which Johns kept in his refrigerator. Ramnarine did not, however, return the mold.
Sometime in the early 90s, an art dealer came to Johns with a bronze copy of "Flag," asking him to authenticate it. Johns refused and sent the man away, though not before crossing out a fake signature on the back of the sculpture.
At the trial, the prosecutor showed Johns this forged sculpture once again.
"Is this your sculpture?" he asked.
"Its source is mine, from my work," said Johns. "But it's not mine."
The art dealer who visited Johns wrote him a series of "increasingly desperate"—Johns' words—letters from 1994 to 1996. In 1995 he even sent Johns a portrait that he (or someone else) had done of the artist. Johns responded twice, denying to authenticate the sculpture both times. At one point he sent his longtime assistant James Meyer to retrieve the mold, but Meyer was unsuccessful.
The identity of this art dealer—now deceased—is unclear. Johns remembers him as a relative of Ramnarine's but didn't use his name in court. During the cross examination, however, one of the defense attorneys used the name "Mike Harpul" to refer to this individual. In its trial coverage the Associated Press declined to use a name, referring only to a "relative" of Ramnarine's; the Wall Street Journal, however, does give this individual a name, albeit in a different form than that recorded in the court's official transcript: "Sendupt Harpaul."
In any event, after spending the previous half-decade denying this man's—and, presumably, by proxy, Brian Ramnarine's—requests to authenticate the bronze "Flag" sculpture, Johns got Ramnarine's wax cast out of his fridge and took it to a woman named Paige Tooker, who used it to cast a "Flag" in white bronze.
At some point in the intervening years, Ramnarine forged a second "Flag" sculpture—a fact of which Johns only became aware after he was informed by the FBI in 2010. This sculpture was not only inscribed with a signature but also identified as an artist proof: "AP 1/1."
Ramnarine (or someone else) also forged Johns' signature on documents purporting to authenticate the sculptures. It's possible that it was someone else because Ramnarine is illiterate.
Four days after Johns testified against him, Ramnarine changed his plea.
Brian Ramnarine faces up to 80 years in prison and as much as nearly a million dollars in fines. He has pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud, and it is up to the judge to decide whether he will serve his sentences for each concurrently or consecutively. The sentencing will take place May 30th at 10 a.m., if you are into that kind of thing.
But why is the penalty so steep? For one thing, wire fraud is a felony—and a federal offense at that—and Ramnarine copped to three counts of it. The feds had offered him a deal in 2012 but he declined. Whatever they offered him then is gone now. Moreover, Ramnarine was already under investigation for the first offense (the charges relating to Johns) when he committed the alleged fraud relevant to the second two counts.
It's odd that Ramnarine turned down the deal offered to him in 2012—after all, he took a deal in 2003, the first time he was staring down federal charges.
"He's a tremendously mean person," one former employee told the Queens Chronicle back in 2003, when Ramnarine was first busted selling fakes. "He has absolutely no shame."
When he changed his plea on the 27th, Ramnarine tried to introduce a new character to the story.
"I met an art broker, Adam Stolpen, and he was trying to sell the American 'Flag,' and I said, 'Fine,'" Ramnarine said.
The judge wasn't having it.
But why would an art broker be interested in a forgery? Particularly when, in Johns' case, there was so much legitimate work on the market already, and what's more, quite a bit of stolen work, as Johns' studio assistant James Meyer—the fellow that Johns had once sent to retrieve the forgery—was accused of sneaking at least 22 works straight out of the studio.
"Profit margin on fakes and stolen art means it comes in handy when business is tough," Paul Hendry told me over Skype. "Turbo Paul," as he is known, is the proprietor of the blog Art Hostage and claims to be a former trafficker of stolen art. The sale of forgeries, fakes, and unauthorized copies, Hendry said, "can be a welcome bonus because those deals are mostly cash oriented, off the books." In other words, fakes cost little, and sell quick.
"Temptation, human nature of something for nothing depicts why the allure of a quick buck overrides sense," he said.
And what's an artist to do? Johns' art dealer, Leo Castelli, died in 1999, and he hasn't had a guiding relationship like that since, though he works in a limited capacity with Matthew Marks Gallery. So when Johns was first approached by Harpul, or Harpaul, or whoever this art dealer was with the forged "Flag" sculpture, he contacted the Art Dealers Association in New York.
"They were not extremely helpful," he said.

Lock of Napoleon's hair among artefacts stolen from historic Victorian homestead


Napoleon Bonaparte artefacts
Priceless artefacts from Napoleon Bonaparte have been stolen from a museum on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
Burglars broke into The Briars historic homestead in Mount Martha on Thursday night and tripped an alarm.
Police believed the thieves had gained access through a bathroom window.

Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Born August 15 1769 in Ajaccio on the island of Corsica
  • Rose to prominence in the final stages of the French Revolution
  • Took political power in a coup d'etat in 1799, installing himself as First Consul
  • Ruled as Emperor of France from 1804 to 1814
  • Fought a series of wars to give France a dominant position in Europe
  • Suffered military failures in the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and the Peninsular war 1807-1814
  • In 1813 a coalition of countries defeated him at Battle of Leipzig and France was invaded
  • Napoleon was banished to the Italian island of Elba
  • He escaped and returned to power but was finally defeated in the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815
  • He spent the final six years of life on the island of Saint Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean
  • Napoleon died on May 5 1821 - there was a theory about arsenic poisoning but an autopsy said he died of stomach cancer
The collection of artefacts was put together by Dame Mable Brooks who was the great-granddaughter of Alexander Balcombe.
"Alexander Balcombe settled here [in Australia] in 1846 and sat on Napoleon's knee as a little boy," said museum coordinator Steve York.
"The family were good friends with the emperor when he was sent into exile on St Helena."
Napoleon stayed with the family while waiting for his own residence to be completed.
Mr York says 10 items were taken from the collection, including locks of Napoleon's hair and a silver inkwell set with three gold Napoleons which were allegedly in his pocket when he died.
Some miniature portraits of Napoleon and Josephine were also taken.
"Really they're priceless because they can't be replaced. We're quite distraught. Irreplaceable," Mr York said.
"We've now relocated the rest of the collection.
"This has proved it's vulnerable and so it's now being relocated to secure it until we look into improving the physical security in the future."
Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Lamb says security was on site within 10 minutes of the alarm going off and the offenders were gone.
"We think this was a fairly targeted theft," he said.
"They will be very difficult to dispose of publicly so we're asking for anybody who has been approached by anyone with these rare artefacts looking to sell them to contact Crime Stoppers."
Detective Lamb says it was a well-planned operation.
"We think they knew what they were looking for," he said.
"We think its probably destined for a private collection. It could well be stolen to order."
Mr York says the collection has become very popular since the major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria last year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Italian Law Used to Launder Stolen Gauguin, Auction Ruse is Load of Bonnards !!


Stolen Gauguin painting 'hung on factory worker's wall'

A pair of stolen masterpiece paintings valued at $50 million have been recovered after being bought at an auction for $25 and hung in an auto worker's kitchen for years.
The masterworks were described as Paul Gaugin's “Still Life of Fruit on a Table With a Small Dog” and Pierre Bonnard’s “The Girl With Two Chairs.” They were stolen from the home of a British couple in 1970.
An unnamed Fiat employee, described by police as a “lover of art,” bought the two paintings in an auction of items left in the lost and found department of the national railway. The paintings were reportedly left behind on a train from Paris to Turin and were never claimed. Railway authorities put them up for auction in 1975.
The Fiat worker was unaware of their value, according to Gen. Mariano Mossa, the head of the police’s Cultural Heritage department. The Fiat employee purchased the two masterpieces for $25 at the auction. He first had the paintings hanging in his kitchen, and after he retired, he brought them back to his native Sicily.
The auto worker's son had decided to sell the paintings last year and that is when they came to the attention of police.
“The present owner of the paintings was circulating pictures of the painting because he decided to sell them. He did so in good faith, as he did not know they were stolen. That is when we became aware of them and started researching,” the spokesman for the Art Theft Squad of the Italian police told ABC News.
The paintings were stolen from the collection of Sir Mark Kennedy in England on June 6, 1970. Kennedy and his wife died without heirs without ever knowing the fate of their paintings. Press reports from that month say that three men, one posing as a policeman and the others as burglar alarm engineers duped the housekeeper, telling her they were checking the alarm system. While she made them a cup of tea, they removed the paintings from the frames.
Authorities will now have to determine who are the rightful owner of the paintings.

Stolen paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard hung on an Italian factory worker's kitchen wall for almost 40 years, police have revealed.
Now worth at least 10.6m euros (£8.8m), they were stolen from a collector's London home in 1970 and left on a train in Italy, with no indication of origin.
At a lost-property auction in 1975, the unsuspecting Fiat worker paid 45,000 Italian lire (23 euros; £19) for them.
He hung them in his Turin home before taking them to Sicily when he retired.
Paul Gauguin painting  
Paul Gauguin's still life is thought to be worth at least 10m euros (£8.3m)
The worker only grew suspicious about their origins when his son saw another Gauguin in a book and noticed similarities with the painting in his father's kitchen.
The man consulted experts and police were eventually alerted.
The Gauguin painting, titled Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien (Fruits on a table or still life with a small dog), had been painted in 1889 and was thought to be worth between 10m and 30m euros (£8.3m-£24.8m), police said.
The Bonnard, La femme aux deux fauteuils (Woman with two armchairs), is valued at 600,000 euros (£500,000).
Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini said: "It's an incredible story, an amazing recovery. A symbol of all the work which Italian art police have put in over the years behind the scenes."
Mariano Mossa, commander of Italy's heritage police, said he believed the paintings had been discarded on a train travelling from Paris to Turin after they were stolen.
"They were bought by an art-loving worker, who hung them for 40 years in his kitchen, first in Turin then in Sicily, after he retired," he added.
Gauguin was a post-impressionist master known for his creative relationship with Vincent van Gogh. His fellow Frenchman Pierre Bonnard is regarded as one of the greatest colourists of modern art.

Art Hostage Comments:
Under Italian law anyone who buys artworks from an auction in Italy gets to keep legal title despite the fact they may have been stolen. Therfore in this case there will be a dispute over legal title and that is why this bullshit story about the so called farmer buying them at auction is being used. The whole ruse would have been to take them to Italy when stolen from London and then put them through an auction thereby gaining legal title.
So don't be surprised to hear of an ongoing dispute about legal title. This has been used many times over the years to launder stolen artworks in countries with similar laws about legal title such as Belgium, Japan and Holland, where after thrirty years the legal title is gained by whomever has possession.
See this for Good Faith & Italian case law:
  http://media.law.stanford.edu/publications/archive/pdf/Merryman%20Good%20Faith.pdf

Art detective warns of missing checks that let stolen works go undiscovered

Case of 17th-century landscape highlights failure of European auction houses, dealers and collectors to carry out searches
Paul Mitchell with the recovered 17th-century painting by Jan van Goyen
Paul Mitchell with the recovered 17th-century painting by Jan van Goyen. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer
European auction houses, dealers and collectors are failing to make adequate checks to avoid handling stolen artworks, an art lawyer has warned after recovering from an Italian auction an old master painting taken from its British owner in a burglary more than 30 years ago.
Christopher A Marinello, who specialises in recovering stolen art and resolving title disputes, said: "We do find a lot of stolen and looted artwork in civil law countries such as Italy, France and Germany. Consigners of tainted works of art often try to hide behind the good-faith purchase laws of these countries while performing little or no due diligence."
He spoke to the Observer after negotiating the return from Italy of a landscape painting by Jan van Goyen, a 17th-century Dutch painter, which was stolen in 1979. Negotiations were particularly delicate because, under Italian law, if someone buys a stolen work in good faith the buyer is sometimes entitled to keep it. Marinello was able to prove to the Italian auctioneer that the painting was one of nine pictures stolen at night by criminals who broke into the home of Paul Mitchell, an antique picture frame specialist in London.
View of Lake Nemi  
View of Lake Nemi by Joseph Wright of Derby, one of the paintings stolen from Paul Mitchell. The thieves forced open a window to enter his house. Mitchell assumed that the slight noise that he heard from downstairs was the family cat. "Police call these people 'creepers', night-time burglars who specialise in burgling people when they are in their house," Mitchell said. Describing waking to discover the theft, he added: "The anguish is a very long, deep-seated thing which never really goes away. Hardly a day goes by when I haven't thought about it."
The loss of the pictures was also painful because of their sentimental value. They belonged to his father, but had become so valuable that Mitchell could not afford to insure them for their full worth. Back in 1979, the paintings were valued at £400,000. Today the amount is well into seven figures. After the theft, Mitchell tried in vain to track down the paintings, offering a £5,000 reward for their recovery, placing advertisements in international journals and approaching a specialist art detective. But the trail went cold.
He was overwhelmed with emotion at being reunited with the Van Goyen, a beautiful beach scene painted in 1643 by a pioneer of naturalistic landscape painting. It surfaced by chance a few weeks ago after a Dutch dealer tried to buy it in Italy. Before paying for it, he decided to check the database of the Art Loss Register (ALR), which tracks down the world's stolen art from its headquarters in London.
Still Life by Pieter Claesz  
Still Life by Pieter Claesz, another of the missing paintings. Marinello, the ALR's general counsel, who has recovered £200m worth of stolen and looted art in seven years, confirmed that it had been stolen: "The Italian auction house involved did not search the work with the ALR, but the dealer did. While losing out on a potential future sale, the [dealer] protected his reputation and saved himself significant sums in legal fees defending a case over title to the painting."
Unless more dealers, collectors and auctioneers make such checks, he added, other stolen items will remain undetected. "It's the same concept as having a survey done prior to purchasing a home. Considering the values involved, why wouldn't you want to know if there were serious title issues before purchasing fine art?"
Pastoral landscape by George Smith  
Pastoral landscape by George Smith of Chichester, which is still missing after 30 years. Asked why they had not made such checks, Marinello stopped short of suggesting that the buyers had not wanted to know about doubts over an artwork's legality: "Perhaps it's the excitement of getting a good deal."
A reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of the other eight lost paintings, including Still Life with Oyster Shells (1646) by Pieter Claesz, and Lake of Nemi at Sunset (1780) by Joseph Wright of Derby.
Mitchell said his experience of being reunited with the Van Goyen after more than three decades will give hope to other people who have suffered thefts of their family's treasured items.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime Snapshot March 2014


Rembrandt Recovered in Southern France

PARIS — Investigators have announced the recovery of a Rembrandt painting 15 years after it was stolen from a museum in Southeastern France in the midst of a passing military parade.
An unidentified man, 43, claimed responsibility last week for the theft, according to the police. He said that it took place in the municipal museum in Draguignan during a break-in timed to a Bastille Day parade that masked the sound of security alarms. He turned himself into police in Southern France last Wednesday, a day after detectives arrested two men in Nice as they tried to sell the stolen painting, the Dutch master’s “Child With a Soap Bubble, ” which is valued at more than 3.2 million euros or almost five million dollars.
Investigators were tipped off by an art dealer who realized that the painting was listed as stolen from the museum of Draguignan. The painting has been returned to the museum.
In a separate case in Serbia last week, local authorities arrested four men and retrieved a Rembrandt painting that had been stolen by masked gunmen in 2006 from the City Museum in Novi Sad. “The Portrait of a Father,” painted in 1630, was stolen once before in 1996 and recovered in Spain. It was one of three paintings, including a Rubens, that was stolen from the Serbian museum.

Stolen Rembrandt painting recovered after 15 years

Colonel Stephane Goffenito with Rembrandt's painting Child with a Soap Bubble  
The recovered painting has been shown to the press

Related Stories

A 17th Century painting by Dutch master Rembrandt has been recovered in France, 15 years after it was stolen.
L'enfant a la bulle de savon (Child with soap bubble), valued at 3.2m euros (£2.7m), was taken from a museum in the southern city of Draguignan in 1999.
Two men were arrested in Nice on Tuesday, according to the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency.
Police said they received information that a transaction was due to take place in a hotel the following day.
The men, aged 46 and 53, one of whom was described as a former insurer, appeared in court in Nice on Thursday, AFP said.
They were reported to be known to police for previous petty crimes. Police are still looking for other suspects.
Rembrandt's painting Child with a Soap Bubble  
The painting measures 60cm by 49cm and was said to be in a good condition
The painting was stolen from Draguignan's Musee Municipal d'art et d'histoire during the city's Bastille Day celebrations in July 1999.
At the time, police said the thieves entered through a back door and escaped before officers responded to the alarm.
The undated painting, which portrays a teenage boy with long dark brown locks, wearing a golden necklace and holding a soap bubble, was said to be in a good condition.

Stolen items returned to Petworth House


JPEt Petworth House ENGSUS00320131126100654

A detective returned a selection of antiques to Petworth House this week, after a prolific thief from London was jailed for stealing them.
The pair of Japanese plates - together with a Derby porcelain plaque from Clandon Park - were recovered from a pawn broker in Hatton Gardens, London.
Paul Whiting, 68, originally from Hammersmith in London, appeared at Guildford Crown Court on February 6 where he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for the theft of two Japanese plates from Petworth in February 2012 and a porcelain plaque from Clandon Park in May 2013.
The sentence is to run concurrent to a sentence he is already serving for a theft at a National Trust property in Hertfordshire.
A key piece of evidence to convict Whiting came from CCTV images of the 68 year old when he took the porcelain plaque to Bonhams Auctioneers in New Bond Street for a valuation.
John Sandon and Fergus Gambon of The Antiques Roadshow fame, were working that day at the auctioneers and carried out an inspection of the item.
A few days later, Mr Sandon read an article in The Antique Trade Gazette regarding the theft of the plaque from Clandon Park and recognised the piece as being the one he had recently examined.
CCTV was produced from Bonhams of the meeting and circulated to other police forces. An officer from Hertfordshire saw the stills and recognised Whiting as someone he had arrested for a burglary at a National Trust House in West Wycombe Park in June 2013.
Officers from Surrey Police interviewed Whiting in prison and subsequently charged him with the two burglaries.
Andrew Loukes, House and Collections Manager at Petworth said: “The National Trust at Petworth are delighted to have the Japanese dishes back, and are very grateful to Surrey and West Sussex Police Forces for all their efforts.
“We are also pleased that our own CCTV coverage was able to link Whiting with the theft from Petworth.”

300 rings stolen during raid at Honiton jewellers


Banwell Antiques in Honiton High Street.
Police are investigating a robbery at a jewellers shop in Honiton.
A lone man attacked a female worker at Banwell Antiques in the High Street as she opened the store at 9am this morning.
The suspect got away with more than 300 rings, pendants and earrings.
He's described as white, of slim build, heavily unshaven, with short dark hair, and aged between 30 – 50 years. He was wearing a blue coat, blue denim jeans, black trainers, a beige coloured flat cap and was carrying a blue rucksack.
The victim is shaken but unhurt.

Police return stolen antiques to National Trust Houses

A detective from Surrey Police had the enjoyable task of returning a selection of antiques to National Trust Properties this week which had been stolen by a prolific thief from London.
The items, a Derby Porcelain Plaque and two Japanese Plates were recovered from a pawn broker in Hatton Gardens, London having been stolen from Clandon Park, Guildford and Petworth House in West Sussex.
Paul Whiting, 68 years, originally from Hammersmith, London appeared at Guildford Crown Court on 6 February 2014 where he was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for the theft of the porcelain plaque from Clandon Park in May 2013 and the theft of two Japanese Plates from Petworth in February 2012. The sentence is to run concurrent to a sentence he is already serving for a theft at a National Trust property in Hertfordshire.
A key piece of evidence to convict Whiting came from CCTV images of the 68 year old when he took the porcelain plaque to Bonhams Auctioneers in New Bond Street for a valuation. John Sandon and Fergus Gambon of The Antiques Roadshow fame, were working that day at the Auctioneers and carried out an inspection of the item. A few days later, Mr Sandon read an article in The Antique Trade Gazette regarding the theft of the plaque from Clandon Park and recognised the piece as being the one he had recently examined. CCTV was produced from Bonhams of the meeting and circulated to other police forces. An officer from Hertfordshire saw the stills and recognised Whiting as someone he had arrested for a burglary at a National Trust House in West Wycombe Park in June 2013. Officers from Surrey Police interviewed Whiting in prison and subsequently charged him with the two burglaries.
DC Dave Pellatt from Surrey Police CID said: "Whiting is a prolific antiques thief who has caused a great deal of heartache and inconvenience to all those affected by his offending. I'm really pleased that we have been able to recover the stolen items and it's equally satisfying to know that he is now behind bars for a lengthy period.”
Caroline Sones, House Manager atClandonParksaid: "Last year staff and volunteers at Clandon were saddened when this beautifulDerbyporcelain plaque was stolen. We are delighted that officers from Surrey Police have recovered it for us and can't wait to have it on display again. The National Trust is one ofEurope's largest conservation charities and looks after historic collections forever for everyone. People come from near and far to enjoyClandonPark's collections of textiles, furniture and ceramics, representing the best in 18th century craftsmanship, in a grand English country house."
Andrew Loukes, House and Collections Manager at Petworth added: "The National Trust at Petworth are delighted to have the Japanese dishes back, and are very grateful to Surrey and West Sussex Police Forces for all their efforts. We are also pleased that our own CCTV coverage was able to link Whiting with the theft from Petworth.”
- See more at: http://www.surrey.police.uk/news/news-stories/full-news-story/article/9013/police-return-stolen-antiques-to-national-trust-houses#sthash.M0xuDPNu.dpuf

Police return stolen antiques to National Trust Houses

A detective from Surrey Police had the enjoyable task of returning a selection of antiques to National Trust Properties this week which had been stolen by a prolific thief from London.
The items, a Derby Porcelain Plaque and two Japanese Plates were recovered from a pawn broker in Hatton Gardens, London having been stolen from Clandon Park, Guildford and Petworth House in West Sussex.
Paul Whiting, 68 years, originally from Hammersmith, London appeared at Guildford Crown Court on 6 February 2014 where he was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for the theft of the porcelain plaque from Clandon Park in May 2013 and the theft of two Japanese Plates from Petworth in February 2012. The sentence is to run concurrent to a sentence he is already serving for a theft at a National Trust property in Hertfordshire.
A key piece of evidence to convict Whiting came from CCTV images of the 68 year old when he took the porcelain plaque to Bonhams Auctioneers in New Bond Street for a valuation. John Sandon and Fergus Gambon of The Antiques Roadshow fame, were working that day at the Auctioneers and carried out an inspection of the item. A few days later, Mr Sandon read an article in The Antique Trade Gazette regarding the theft of the plaque from Clandon Park and recognised the piece as being the one he had recently examined. CCTV was produced from Bonhams of the meeting and circulated to other police forces. An officer from Hertfordshire saw the stills and recognised Whiting as someone he had arrested for a burglary at a National Trust House in West Wycombe Park in June 2013. Officers from Surrey Police interviewed Whiting in prison and subsequently charged him with the two burglaries.
DC Dave Pellatt from Surrey Police CID said: "Whiting is a prolific antiques thief who has caused a great deal of heartache and inconvenience to all those affected by his offending. I'm really pleased that we have been able to recover the stolen items and it's equally satisfying to know that he is now behind bars for a lengthy period.”
Caroline Sones, House Manager atClandonParksaid: "Last year staff and volunteers at Clandon were saddened when this beautifulDerbyporcelain plaque was stolen. We are delighted that officers from Surrey Police have recovered it for us and can't wait to have it on display again. The National Trust is one ofEurope's largest conservation charities and looks after historic collections forever for everyone. People come from near and far to enjoyClandonPark's collections of textiles, furniture and ceramics, representing the best in 18th century craftsmanship, in a grand English country house."
Andrew Loukes, House and Collections Manager at Petworth added: "The National Trust at Petworth are delighted to have the Japanese dishes back, and are very grateful to Surrey and West Sussex Police Forces for all their efforts. We are also pleased that our own CCTV coverage was able to link Whiting with the theft from Petworth.”
- See more at: http://www.surrey.police.uk/news/news-stories/full-news-story/article/9013/police-return-stolen-antiques-to-national-trust-houses#sthash.M0xuDPNu.dpuf

Elderly couple, accomplice held for antiques theft

An elderly couple and an acquaintance have been arrested for stealing antique jewellery items and currency notes worth a few lakhs of rupees from a resident in South Mumbai's Peddar Road area.
The Gamdevi police have managed to recover all the 58 currency notes, which date back to the period of the British rule in India. They said the jewellery stolen is worth Rs17 lakh and they have found some of the items.
The three accused, Deepak Sambare, 63, his wife Smita, 61, and Aryan Patel, 28, have been booked for theft and criminal breach of trust under sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Deepak and Smita are real estate brokers who got to know Neeta Jhaveri in December last year, said Rajaram Prabhu, senior police inspector.
During their visits to Jhaveri's house in Sonarika building, the 65-year-old lady talked to them about her interest in collecting antique jewellery and currency notes, and she even showed them these items.
"She also told them that she wanted to sell the items. So, some days later, the Sambares sent Aryan Patel to her house, introducing him as an antique dealer," the police inspector said.
Jhaveri showed Patel the currency notes and the jewellery. Then he asked her for some water to drink and when she left the room he stepped out of the house with the items.
Jhaveri called the Sambares to tell them what had happened, but they did not answer her calls. Realizing that she was cheated, the woman's son lodged a complaint with the Gamdevi police on February 22.
The police located the three by tracking their phone calls. The Sambare couple were caught near Charni Road station on March 10 and Patel, a resident of Mira Road, was apprehended a couple of days ago.
"It's evident that the Sambares were involved with Patel in the crime. We have recovered the album containing the antique currency notes and some of the jewellery from them," the police official said 
Emil Nolde, Church Altarpiece, stolen
Emil Nolde Church Altarpiece Worth £1m Stolen In Denmark - ArtLyst Article image

Emil Nolde Church Altarpiece Worth £1m Stolen In Denmark

A Church altarpiece painted  by the German / Danish artist Emil Nolde (1867-1956) has been stolen from a church in Denmark. The work of art titled, Christ at Emmaus, painted in1904, was situated in the Ølstrup Church near Ringkøbing, in western Jutland, Denmark.

The masterpiece was found to be missing by the church’s verger on 11 March, Poul Madsen a spokesperson for the Ringkøbing police, stated but it was unclear whether the artwork was taken the previous day. “Churches are unattended at night and even in the day there is often no one there" the police added. "They are places where you have a lot of time on your own,” Madsen said. There wasn't evidence of a break-in and it is thought the robbery may have happened during the day while the church was open to everyone.

“We never thought of our church as an art museum. Everyone should be able to come inside and sit down without being surveyed by video cameras,” says Inge-Dorthe Brønden Kaasgard, the vicar. “We have always been very proud of the painting.”

Nolde was married to the daughter of the church's pastor, in 1904, and the church commissioned him to paint the altarpiece. He was paid 340.57 krone for the painting. The work has been in the church and is now valued at $1.8m at auction.

A major Emil Nolde retrospective opened at the Städel Museum, Frankfurt, opened on 5 March. Nolde’s oeuvre has been represented in numerous special thematic exhibitions, the last retrospective to pay tribute to his work in Germany took place twenty-five years ago. Some 140 works are on view. in 1937 his works were confiscated from public collections, and 47 of his works, including 33 paintings, were subsequently shown in the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich. In 1941, he was moreover barred from the “Reichskammer der bildenden Künste” (Reich Chamber of Visual Arts) and prohibited from practising his profession. Between 1938 and 1945 he executed the Unpainted Pictures workgroup, consisting of oil paintings after his own watercolours. Following World War II he received numerous distinctions, for example an award for his graphic work at the XXVth Venice Biennale. Nolde died in 1956 at the age of eighty-eight.

Police swoop after 'high value' jewellery stolen from antiques shop in Abbotsbury

Police swoop after 'high value' jewellery stolen from antiques shop in Abbotsbury
Police swoop after 'high value' jewellery stolen from antiques shop in Abbotsbury
POLICE dramatically swooped on a car on a busy road as part of an operation to track down suspects after a jewellery raid.
Shocked motorists told how several police vehicles descended on a vehicle on the A35 between Dorchester and Bridport yesterday afternoon.
It came after what police described as ‘high value’ jewellery was stolen from a shop in Abbotsbury.
Police put out a major alert after the theft from Rodden Antiques about 3pm.
Just over an hour later, officers swooped on a car on the A35 close to the Walditch junction.
An eyewitness said: “At first there were four police vehicles, then another car pulled up and then a van.
“I thought there must be something going on as it was quite out of the ordinary.
“From what I could see they took one man out of the car and took him away.
“They had pulled over the car in the bus stop, just before you reach Bridport.”
A Dorset Police spokesman said: “We have got three people in custody helping us with inquiries in relation to the theft.
“I can confirm that the shop involved in the theft was Rodden Antiques.”
It is understood the shop has recently opened up.
A spokesman for Rodden Antiques said they discovered three arrests had been made by reading the Echo’s website.
He said a nine carat Edwardian watch and an Edwardian ring were taken in the theft but he was unable to comment any further.
Residents in Abbotsbury said they were shocked to hear of the theft.
Colin Boxshall, landlord of the Ilchester Arms on Market Street, said: “Abbotsbury is generally a very low crime area so everyone here in the village has been very surprised to hear news of the theft. We never get any problems in Abbotsbury whatsoever so this is just truly shocking; I don’t think anyone was expecting something like this to happen.
“If anyone has any more information please do inform the police.”
Abbotsbury resident Lynne Simonds said said: “I’m very, very sad to hear of this, it’s so sad for a shop that’s just started up. It’s really awful.
“I think everyone will be on high alert after something like this and I’m very sorry for everyone involved.”
Arthur Cartlidge, of Abbotsbury Antiques, said he was shocked to hear of the theft.
He said: “They have only just opened up and it’s awful that this has happened.”

Police return stolen antiques to National Trust Houses

A detective from Surrey Police had the enjoyable task of returning a selection of antiques to National Trust Properties this week which had been stolen by a prolific thief from London.
The items, a Derby Porcelain Plaque and two Japanese Plates were recovered from a pawn broker in Hatton Gardens, London having been stolen from Clandon Park, Guildford and Petworth House in West Sussex.
Paul Whiting, 68 years, originally from Hammersmith, London appeared at Guildford Crown Court on 6 February 2014 where he was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for the theft of the porcelain plaque from Clandon Park in May 2013 and the theft of two Japanese Plates from Petworth in February 2012. The sentence is to run concurrent to a sentence he is already serving for a theft at a National Trust property in Hertfordshire.
A key piece of evidence to convict Whiting came from CCTV images of the 68 year old when he took the porcelain plaque to Bonhams Auctioneers in New Bond Street for a valuation. John Sandon and Fergus Gambon of The Antiques Roadshow fame, were working that day at the Auctioneers and carried out an inspection of the item. A few days later, Mr Sandon read an article in The Antique Trade Gazette regarding the theft of the plaque from Clandon Park and recognised the piece as being the one he had recently examined. CCTV was produced from Bonhams of the meeting and circulated to other police forces. An officer from Hertfordshire saw the stills and recognised Whiting as someone he had arrested for a burglary at a National Trust House in West Wycombe Park in June 2013. Officers from Surrey Police interviewed Whiting in prison and subsequently charged him with the two burglaries.
DC Dave Pellatt from Surrey Police CID said: "Whiting is a prolific antiques thief who has caused a great deal of heartache and inconvenience to all those affected by his offending. I'm really pleased that we have been able to recover the stolen items and it's equally satisfying to know that he is now behind bars for a lengthy period.”
Caroline Sones, House Manager atClandonParksaid: "Last year staff and volunteers at Clandon were saddened when this beautifulDerbyporcelain plaque was stolen. We are delighted that officers from Surrey Police have recovered it for us and can't wait to have it on display again. The National Trust is one ofEurope's largest conservation charities and looks after historic collections forever for everyone. People come from near and far to enjoyClandonPark's collections of textiles, furniture and ceramics, representing the best in 18th century craftsmanship, in a grand English country house."
Andrew Loukes, House and Collections Manager at Petworth added: "The National Trust at Petworth are delighted to have the Japanese dishes back, and are very grateful to Surrey and West Sussex Police Forces for all their efforts. We are also pleased that our own CCTV coverage was able to link Whiting with the theft from Petworth.”
- See more at: http://www.surrey.police.uk/news/news-stories/full-news-story/article/9013/police-return-stolen-antiques-to-national-trust-houses#sthash.M0xuDPNu.dpuf

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Chris Marinello Announces Art Recovery A-Team


The New Stolen-Art Tracker Opens Its Doors

On Monday, Art Recovery Group PLC — the brand-new competitor to Art Loss Register — opened its offices in Kensington, London, and announced an impressive line-up of staff members.

christopher-marinello-2-630x473x80-2

ARG, you’ll recall, was founded last fall after ALR came under intensified scrutiny for its heavy-handed practices. The New York Times laid them all out in an article headlined Tracking Stolen Art, for Profit, and Blurring a Few Lines, published last Sept. 20. In it, Christopher A. Marinello, who was often ALR’s spokeman, said he was quitting and would start his own firm — that happened, with the founding of ARG, last October.
Now Marinello is really open for business. I couldn’t find a website, per se, but it does have a Facebook page entitled Art Recovery International. Among its new staff are Mark Maurice, Executive Director, a corporate/wealth manager who has worked with dealers and collectors  worldwide and “has dealt with a number of high profile restitution and cultural patrimony cases involving complex cross border disputes,” and Dorit Strauss, who has been in the fine art insurance industry for more than 30 years, once as Vice President and Worldwide Specialty Fine Art Manager at Chubb & Son.
Here’s the rest of the press release, including details of the types of work ARG (or ARI?) will do — like “Location and recovery services involving stolen, missing and looted works of art” and “dispute resolution services in cases of defective title, illegal export and unclear authenticity.”
This service, as we know, is sorely needed. Let’s hope it can compete with ALR — competition is good.




Sunday, March 09, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Tony "Gizzy" Gearing, Gentleman Giant, Grandad, Gawd Bless Ya Gizzy !!


Art Hostage was sent this photo of Tony Gizzy Gearing and asked to write a brief obituary in an honest manner about one of the very few Antiques dealers in Brighton that commanded respect from all quarters.

Tony, Gizzy Gearing, it must be said, was a true gentleman, respected by all and never had a bad word to say about anyone.

He rose above all the back biting, rivalry and everyday disputes to take his place as a genuine, decent family man.

His monumentos appetite for life was matched by his appetite for the well being of his beloved family, and he loved his dinner too !!

Gizzy was probably the most staunch of all the antiques dealers in Brighton and never, ever commented to other dealers, Police or anyone in authority.

When Art Hostage makes claims they are based upon facts, so it is a fitting tribute to Tony Gizzy Gearing to express the genuine sadness felt by all those right across the spectrum of the Brighton Antiques trade at the passing of  a true gentleman.

Apparently, when Gizzy got to the Pearly gates he was met by Micky Underwood, who greeted him with open arms, Tony Margiotta offered to buy Gizzy lunch and Ten Grand Stan Nelson was lurking in the background with a tip on the favourite.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Art Of The Steal, Sunday Musings

The Verdict If you’re a fan of Ocean’s Eleven-style heists – capers with a good sense of humor and a high dosage of fun – The Art of the Steal is right up your alley. The characters steal the show, much like they steal some damn fine art in the movie itself.

Amherst College, FBI reopen 1975 Mead Art Museum heist investigation

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Mead Art Museum Director Elizabeth Barker, left, and Director of Security Heath Cummings are seen in front of the Pieter Lastman painting "St. John the Baptist," which was stolen from the museum in February 1975 but recovered in January 1989. 
  • JASON PICARD
    Mead Art Museum Director Elizabeth Barker, left, and Director of Security Heath Cummings are seen in front of the Pieter Lastman painting "St. John the Baptist," which was stolen from the museum in February 1975 but recovered in January 1989.
Two of the paintings were recovered in 1989 following a federal sting operation in Illinois, in which a notorious art thief and bank robber from Massachusetts, Myles Connor Jr., was arrested. He had offered the two paintings as collateral in a drug deal set up by undercover FBI agents.
In a 2009 book, “The Art of the Heist,” in which he details his life of crime, Connor claims he stole both those paintings from the Mead.

But the third painting — a piece by Dutch artist Jan Baptist Lambrechts that is believed to date from the early 18th century — hasn’t been seen since vanishing from the museum Feb. 8, 1975. And Connor doesn’t mention it in his book.

Now museum officials, with the FBI, have reopened the investigation for the missing painting, titled “Interior with Figures Smoking and Drinking.” Though no new information has come to light about the work, museum staff said they have no reason to believe the Lambrechts is not still in decent condition, somewhere, and they hope that by publicly announcing the renewed search they’ll prompt some new leads, including tips from the public.
“I’ve been trying to do this since I came on here,” said Heath Cummings, the Mead’s head of security, who began working at the museum in 2006. “It was basically a matter of going back, looking at all the paperwork on the case, talking to people who had been involved in it, just slowly collecting data about it.”
Cummings examined museum files, college archives, and old newspaper accounts, and he also talked to various art experts and other law enforcement agents. Then he took the information to the FBI, which agreed to take a fresh look at the case, including assigning an agent in the bureau’s Springfield office to review past information on the missing painting to see if anything had been overlooked.
Special agent Greg Comcowich, media coordinator for the bureau’s Boston office, said the FBI is looking to generate additional publicity for the case beyond the Valley and Massachusetts.
“It’s not uncommon for art to resurface years or even decades after it’s been stolen,” Comcowich said. “It can follow some strange paths.”
He said the art can sometimes wind up with people who don’t realize the value of what they have.
“Anytime we get a request like this from the public, we want to do all we can to help out,” said special agent Geoff Kelly, who oversees art theft investigations for the Boston FBI office. “And today we have better resources for tracking stolen art than we did in 1975.”
He noted, for instance, that the bureau maintains a digital national file for looted art, on which the Lambrechts painting has been listed.
Elizabeth Barker, the Mead’s director, credited Cummings with doing all the “heavy lifting” on researching the case of the missing Lambrechts painting. The museum, she added, decided bringing the case forward again and seeking public input outweighed the embarrassment of reminding anyone that the paintings had been stolen in the first place, when museum security was not as tight as it is now.
“I think it’s important that we show we’re making a real good-faith effort to try and find this painting,” Barker said. 

Grim discovery
The theft was discovered in February 1975 after state police at the Northampton barracks got an anonymous tip. They contacted Amherst College police, who tracked footprints still visible in some fresh snow to a broken window at the Mead. Inside the museum, it quickly became evident that three Dutch canvasses — all of which the museum had obtained in the previous few years — had been stripped from their frames.
Aside from the Lambrechts painting, the missing art included “The Interior of the New Church, Delft” by Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet (1611-1675) and “St. John the Baptist” by Pieter Lastman (1583-1633).
Museum officials did what they could, registering the stolen works with the Art Dealers Association of America in case someone tried to sell them, and the college overhauled the Mead’s security system. In 1982, insurance allowed the museum to purchase a replacement painting, another work by van Vliet, “Interior of Nieuwe Kerk, Delft.”
But the trail of the missing art soon went cold — until 1989, when the van Vliet and Lastman paintings were recovered during Connor’s arrest in the FBI drug sting. Both paintings were in pretty good condition, Cummings said, and were back on display in the museum that year.
However, Connor, who once stole a Rembrandt from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in broad daylight — then later used it as a bargaining chip for a reduced prison sentence — gave a new wrinkle to the Mead story in his 2009 book, in which he details his long list of crimes and prison sentences, including one for shooting a police officer.
In the book, co-written by crime novelist Jenny Siler, Connor claims he stole the van Vliet and Lastman paintings from the Mead on a whim after coming to the area with two partners to check out a South Hadley bank they were thinking of robbing. Connor, who enjoyed art and studied it in his spare time, stopped by the museum before heading to the bank.
Connor, now 71 and according to various news reports living in Blackstone, in Worcester County near the Rhode Island border, does not say specifically when he went to the Mead. But judging from the book’s timeline, his visit would appear to be in the mid 1970s, about the time the three paintings were stolen from the museum.
He writes that he didn’t care for the Mead’s atmosphere — “Small yet pretentious, with an overblown sense of itself” — but did appreciate its collection of Dutch oil paintings. Noticing one in the curator’s empty office, he stepped in for a quick look, only to have the curator reappear, irritated to find Connor there and dismissive of his inquiries about the painting, “immediately identifying me as someone of a lower caste.”
Feeling disrespected, and noticing there did not appear to be any alarm system connected to the window in his office, Connor resolved to come back that night with his partners to teach the curator a lesson. He claims the subsequent break-in, through the window of that same office, “wasn’t especially memorable” but personally very satisfying, “on par with the most daring heists of my career.”
Yet, among a number of items he claims he and his partners stole from the museum, Connor does not mention Lambrechts’ “Interior with Figures Smoking and Drinking.”
Asked if Connor had been questioned about that painting, or would be in the future, Geoff Kelly, the FBI agent, said he couldn’t comment on any specifics about the investigation but added, “Typically we will approach anyone who we believe may have knowledge about the case.”
It’s not clear what the Lambrechts painting might be worth today; Barker said that as a museum director, she’s ethically bound not to discuss the monetary value of artwork. But according to artnet.com, an online service provider for the international art market, other works by Lambrechts were sold in the past two decades for the equivalent of anywhere between $22,000 and $43,400.
People get disheartened sometimes with how long it can take to recover stolen art, Kelly said, “but they have to be patient — there can be a break in a case anytime.” He cited a 1978 case in which seven paintings worth millions of dollars were stolen from a private residence in Stockbridge — the largest residential theft in state history — and all the art was finally recovered by about 2010.
“There’s always hope,” said Kelly.
Anyone who may have information relating to the theft or location of the Lambrechts painting is asked to contact the FBI at 617-742-5533 or online at https://tips.fbi.gov

12-page list details drugs seized from apartment where stolen artifact sat for years


12-page list details drugs seized from apartment where stolen artifact sat for years

Simon Metke, 33, kept an ancient artifact worth $1.2-million on a bookshelf for two years.

EDMONTON - An RCMP officer helping in the search for a stolen $1.2 million artifact noticed a strong smell of marijuana within the south Edmonton apartment. In the first kitchen drawer he opened while looking for documents related to the Persian bas-relief sculpture, the officer found containers with what he believed to be marijuana, hash or heroin, psilocybin, and cocaine or methamphetamine inside, court documents say.
Alberta RCMP assisted Quebec RCMP’s Integrated Art Crime Investigation Team on Jan. 22 in recovering the artifact stolen from Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts in September 2011. When RCMP entered the 14th-floor suite shortly before 9 a.m., Simon Metke showed investigators where the stolen artifact was in his bedroom, an application to obtain a search warrant says.
Metke, 33, previously told the Edmonton Journal the artifact, dating from the fifth century BC, sat on an Ikea bookshelf for two years, displayed above a plastic Star Wars spaceship, flanked by crystals and a small collection of stuffed animals. He bought the sculpture from the neighbour of a friend in Montreal for $1,400.
“I’m not really happy with the way that I found out what it was, but ... I’m really honoured to have been able to look after it,” he said.
As Metke and his girlfriend Jana Lang, 25, were escorted out of the apartment and taken to RCMP headquarters, officers began searching the suite for documents related to the stolen artifact. Police sought a second search warrant for drugs and seized what they believed to be 1.072 kilograms of marijuana, 11.1 grams of hash, one gram of heroin, 64.8 grams of psilocybin, 18.1 grams of opium, LSD, “score sheets,” scales, and packaging material.
The items found are detailed in a 12-page list.
Police also seized an undetermined amount of cash in 19 bundles and numerous unidentified drugs, including a plastic margarine container with various suspected drugs inside and unknown plant matter in small plastic baggies.
“I noticed two white coffee grinders on the kitchen counter in plain view,” wrote RCMP Const. Brent Clarke in an application to obtain a search warrant. One coffee grinder contained ground-up marijuana, and a kitchen drawer Clarke opened contained small containers with various drugs, as well as rolling papers, a metal grinder and scissors.
Clarke also noticed two pieces of paper, believed to be score sheets. “Score sheets record how much the drug trafficker is selling the drugs for and the amounts. I noticed code names and prices consistent with that of a cannabis marijuana trafficker,” the document says.
Metke previously told the Journal he had been working on getting his medical marijuana licence, and that the money seized by RCMP were donations and savings to start a business teaching children about ecology.
Metke and Lang have been charged with trafficking marijuana and possession of money obtained by crime. Metke has also been charged with possession of stolen property. They are slated to appear in Edmonton provincial court on March 19.

Man charged over Edinburgh antiques theft

Shapes auction house  
Antiques worth about £100,000 were taken from Shapes auction house in December
A 53-year-old man has been charged in connection with the theft of antiques from an auction house in the west of Edinburgh.
Gordon McIntyre appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court charged with theft by housebreaking.
He made no plea or declaration and was remanded in custody.
Police Scotland said about £100,000 worth of items were taken from Shapes on Bankhead Medway early on 7 December, 2013.
Officers confirmed they are still attempting to trace the stolen goods and have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
The theft was investigated as part of Operation RAC, which was established to target housebreaking and other crimes against property.
Det Insp John Kavanagh said: "Since these items were stolen during a break-in last year, officers in Edinburgh have been pursuing numerous lines of inquiry to identify those responsible.
"These inquiries, undertaken as part of Operation RAC, have culminated in an arrest, while we continue with our efforts to trace the stolen antiques.
"Anyone who believes they have information that can assist with our investigation should contact police immediately."
Kingpin’ of Wafi Mall jewellery heist held



DUBAI: Dubai Police have confirmed the news reported by Kuna news agency from Madrid that the Spanish police arrested on Feb.3 a new member of the “Pink Panther” gang. The gang had robbed jewellery worth three million euros from a shopping mall in Dubai in 2007.

According to Kuna agency, the Spanish TV news quoted the Spanish police that they had arrested a 33-year-old Serbian, Borok Leinshitesh, one of the members of the “Pink Panther” gang, who is wanted in more than 20 countries and purportedly the gang leader.

The Spanish police confirmed that Leinshitesh was arrested in the city of Alkala de Henares in Madrid, while he was driving a rented car checking out of a hotel. They said he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by the Dubai Police.

It is mentioned that this gang consists of 200 people, and they had committed more than 210 robberies all over the world, most recent of which was in the French city of Cannes, during the Cannes Film Festival.

A security source said they had already arrested about two members of the “Pink Panther” gang after their identity was revealed by the Dubai Police for the first time in the world, and they had issued charges against them on the request of Interpol.

An official arrest warrant against the suspects was issued by the Dubai Interpol Police since committing the theft in a famous jewellery store in Wafi Mall. An extradition order has been sent to the Spanish authorities to extradite the accused to the Dubai police.

It was noted that the Dubai Police had a great role to play in detecting the case of the jewellery store theft by four suspects, including a woman.

Dubai Police also revealed the identities of these criminals.

The police confirmed that the suspects were members of a gang which was called the “Pink Panther.”

The police chased them and they were able to detect the place where they hid the jewellery a few days after the theft, and arrested one member of the gang.

Fernando de Szyszlo painting stolen from museum in Arequipa, Peru

Three paintings were taken from the Arequipa Museum of Contemporary Art, among them “Cuadro de Auvers” by Peruvian artist Fernando de Szyszlo.


Fernando de Szyszlo painting stolen from museum in Arequipa, Peru
Three painting have been stolen from the Arequipa Museum of Contemporary Art, say museum officials.
The most well-known work taken by the art thieves is the “Cuadro de Auvers” by Peruvian abstract artist Fernando de Szyszlo. The two other paintings that were taken were “Aves de totorita” by Gerardo Chavez and “Sueño de Fuego” by Venancio Shinki.
Eduardo Ugarte, director of the Arequipa Museum of Contemporary art told EFE “We’re asking for international help in distributing [images] of the paintings so they won’t be sold, as we think what we’re dealing with is an international art trafficking network, because one of the criminals had a foreign accent.”
“These three painting are very important for us,” explained the director.
EFE reports that the burglary appears to have been a well-organized operation. “They studied the routine and [knew] how to do it,” said Ugarte.
According to EFE, the paintings were cut from their frames with a razor blade. Two members of the three-person team worked to distract museum staff while the third went alone to remove the paintings from their frames. They were able to leave before museum security realized what had happened.
EFE reports that Interpol has been notified of the theft.

Theft of $1.8 million in baroque paintings a blow to Guatemalan art world



ANTIGUA, Guatemala – Two weeks ago, thieves made off with six paintings by 18th century master Tomás de Merlo from the colonial-era church of El Calvario in La Antigua. Experts are devastated by the loss.
Late on the afternoon of Feb. 7, two men entered the historic church, tied up groundskeeper Feliciano Chávez hand and foot, and, joined by accomplices, cut the six paintings from their frames, one by one.
Experts have valued the paintings at about $300,000 each, or $1.8 million total. But for Miguel Torres, an academic fellow at the Guatemalan Academy of Geography and History, “it’s impossible to assign a monetary value to any of the paintings.”
“It’s ridiculous,” Torres lamented. “The paintings are part of our history.”

Benjamin Reeves/The Tico Times
The stolen works, which depict the Passion of Christ and were commissioned after the 1717 San Miguel earthquakes to adorn the walls of El Calvario, represent a crucial component of Guatemala’s 18th century art.
In a recent story in the daily Prensa Libre, historian Haroldo Rodas called the theft “intolerable,” while art historian Guillermo Monsanto said the “heart of baroque Guatemala was stolen.”
Art theft is sadly not uncommon in Guatemala, and the Museum of Colonial Art in La Antigua has targeted before. In 2004, a large painting by Cristóbal de Villalpando was stolen and cut into pieces. A museum guard was killed in that heist. Both halves of the painting were later recovered in Mexico.
Guatemala hosts vast quantities of cultural patrimony, from ancient Mayan artifacts to the treasures of the colonial Catholic Church. Much of the Central American country’s fine art, like De Merlo’s paintings in El Calvario, originally was commissioned by the Catholic Church, and it is still largely under the church’s purview.
But the theft of the De Merlo paintings was preventable, Torres said.
“I personally recommended that [they] put in an alarm [on each painting],” Torres said. Security firms were solicited for bids on an alarm system, but in the end, “we never got the money.”
While El Calvario did have an alarm, it was only activated when the church was closed, and individual paintings were not wired.


El Calvario, Antigua, Guatemala.
Benjamin Reeves/The Tico Times
Now, finger-pointing has begun, with the Guatemalan Culture Ministry pinning the blame on the local Catholic Church. According to Eduardo Hernández, who polices the illicit traffic of cultural goods for the ministry, the paintings were stolen because of a “lack of cautiousness” and a “dearth of finances for a new alarm.”
Even Torres has admitted that many experts in the art world, including himself, were naive in thinking the large scale of the paintings would prevent their theft.
Experts say the biggest markets for stolen colonial Guatemalan art are Mexico and Spain, and according to Torres, the De Merlo paintings are likely in the hands of a private collector. Investigators have alerted Interpol and major auction houses and museums.
Meanwhile, the investigation continues, and a crime-scene squad from the Prosecutor’s Office closed the church for a day last week. Investigators also have requested polygraphs for church employees, and the government is offering a $13,000 reward for information leading to the paintings’ safe return.
Police say anyone with information should call +(502) 2239-2100.
Benjamin Reeves is a freelance journalist based in Antigua, Guatemala. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.
More of the stolen paintings: