Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, December 2015

Mysterious Thief Surfaces and Demands Ransom for Klimt Painting Stolen in 1997

Gustav Klimt Portrait of a Woman (detail) (1916/1917) Photo: The Srt Archive/Galleria d'Arte Moderna Piacenza/Dagli Orti via The Guardian
Gustav Klimt Portrait of a Woman (detail) (1916/1917)
Photo: The Srt Archive/Galleria d'Arte Moderna Piacenza/Dagli Orti via The Guardian
An unknown Italian man identifying himself as a retired art thief has contacted the police in the northern city of Piacenza demanding €150,000 ($163,000) for the safe return of a Gustav Klimt painting.
According to Der Standard, the demand was made several days ago.
The artwork disappeared from the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Piacenza in February 1997 while the alarm system was incapacitated due to ongoing renovation work.
The man reportedly said he knew the location of the missing artwork created in 1916-1917, adding that he was a former art thief who had withdrawn from the “business" a long time ago.
The painting disappeared from the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Piacenza 18 years ago. Photo: piacenzamusei.it
The painting disappeared from the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Piacenza 18 years ago.
In light of new detection technology, local police has revisited the case recently. Authorities reportedly found a fingerprint on the frame of the painting, which was left behind after the artwork had been removed.
Although the Carabinieri ruled out paying the ransom, a group of the city's art associations and institutions announced their willingness to raise the necessary funds to facilitate the return of the modern masterpiece to the museum.
The oil painting—part of a series of late women's portraits that Klimt painted between 1916 and 1918—is considered unsellable due to its recognizability.
An unidentified man called Piacenza police demanding ransom money for the painting. Photo: allworldtowns.com
An unidentified man called Piacenza police demanding ransom money for the painting.
"Artnapping"—the stealing of art for ransom—has gained popularity in the criminal world. This past March, the Vatican announced that it received a ransom request of €100,000 for the return of two stolen documents by the Renaissance master Michelangelo 20 years after the documents had disappeared.
In April, the van Buuren Museum in Belgium negotiated a ransom with thieves for the return of a group of ten stolen paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, James Ensor, and others.
“It happens more and more," Belgian art expert Jacques Lust told TV Brussels at the time. “Not all details make it to the media, of course. If a case is solved there's no mention of the amounts paid, nor of the works having been stolen. But there's an increase in such cases," he said.

Spanish police arrest two 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves

Men suspected of being part of notorious gang of former paramilitaries who specialise in spectacular heists
Two suspected members of the notorious “Pink Panther” group of international jewel thieves have been arrested, Spanish police have announced.
Police also recovered valuables worth more than €1m (£700,000) stolen from a jewellery shop on the island of Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, as part of the operation, they said in a statement.
The authorities declined to give further information, saying full details would be provided at a press conference on Thursday in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.
Members of the Pink Panthers, a loosely aligned network of criminals, are drawn from paramilitary circles in the former Yugoslavia. The group, who have a weakness for expensive watches, have staged more than 380 robberies on luxury stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US since 1999, making off with booty worth more than €330m, according to Interpol.
Renowned for its spectacular heists, the gang drove two cars into a Dubai shopping mall and through the window of a jewellery store in 2007, taking goods worth €11m in a raid lasting less than a minute.
The following year, the group walked away with up to €85m-worth of valuables after entering the Harry Winston jewellers in Paris disguised as women.
Once seemingly untouchable, the gang has faced setbacks in recent years, with members arrested in a number of other countries, including France, Greece, Italy and Japan, as well as Switzerland.
The gang was given its name after British detectives found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream, echoing an incident in Peter Sellers’ 1963 comedy The Pink Panther.
This article was amended on 5 November 2015. An earlier version described Las Palmas as “the capital of the archipelago”. In fact that city – in full Las Palmas de Gran Canaria – is one of two co-capitals of the Canary Islands, the other being Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Burglars raided property tycoon's north London mansion and got away with his £500,000 vintage watch collection

  • Sir John Ritblat kept £500,000 collection of watches at Regent Park home
  • Stolen watches include Rolex, Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre models
  • Police released CCTV images of the two suspects appealing for witnesses
  • Magnate, who wasn't home during the theft, is worth an estimated £180m
Two men broke into the luxury London home of a multi-millionaire property tycoon before escaping with his £500,000 vintage watch collection.
Property magnate Sir John Ritblat’s collection, which was kept at his multi-million-pound Regent Park home, included rare Rolex, Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre models.
Police have released CCTV images of the two suspects, who are believed to have staked out the property before pocketing some 47 of the vintage watches, worth £500,000.
Police have released CCTV images of the two suspects, who are believed to have staked out the property before pocketing some 47 of the vintage watches, worth £500,000
Police have released CCTV images of the two suspects, who are believed to have staked out the property before pocketing some 47 of the vintage watches, worth £500,000
Police have released CCTV images of the two suspects, who are believed to have staked out the property before pocketing some 47 of the vintage watches, worth £500,000
Detectives are appealing for anyone who recognises either of the two men to come forward, as well as any antiques or watch dealers who may have been offered a rare model in recent weeks.
Neither the 80-year-old businessman, nor his wife Jill, are believed to have been at home during the raid, which took place at 9pm on October 23.
The couple’s home is at the heart of the exclusive London borough of Westminster, which is popular with the capital city’s elite.
The house next door to the home belongs to fashion designer Tom Ford. Neighbours reported that building work has been going on for months and workmen ‘coming and going’, giving the thieves the ideal opportunity to remain ‘inconspicuous’.
Neither the 80-year-old property tycoon Sir John Ritblat (left, in 1999), nor his wife Jill (right), are believed to have been at home during the raid, which took place at 9pm on October 23
Neither the 80-year-old property tycoon Sir John Ritblat (left, in 1999), nor his wife Jill (right), are believed to have been at home during the raid, which took place at 9pm on October 23
Detectives are appealing for anyone who recognises either of the two men to come forward, as well as any antiques or watch dealers who may have been offered a rare model in recent weeks
Detectives are appealing for anyone who recognises either of the two men to come forward, as well as any antiques or watch dealers who may have been offered a rare model in recent weeks
‘They don’t want to shout about what happened,’ a friend told the Evening Standard.
‘They don’t want to shout about what happened. These watches will not be sold on the secondary market and hopefully will be recovered.’
Police believe that the two men broke into the property specifically to target the watch collection.
The property tycoon is worth an estimated £180million, and the Ritblat family was ranked No-539 in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List.
After buying British Land for £1million in 1970, Sir John served as its chairman for 36 years. He reportedly received £57million for his stake in the firm when he stepped down in 2006.
His 48-year-old son Jamie is managing director of the Delancey group, and Sir John is a member of the advisory board.
Sir John, who is also a well-known arts benefactor, began collecting vintage watches in the Fifties when he was given a ‘magnificent’ gold model.
The watch is thought to be among those stolen.

Monaco gives go-ahead to million-dollar art fraud trial

The fraud case against a Swiss art dealer accused of swindling up to a billion dollars from the owner of Monaco football club should go ahead, a court ruled Thursday.
Russian billionaire and club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev bought a total of 37 masterpieces worth two billion euros ($2.1 billion) through art dealer Yves Bouvier over the space of a decade.
But their relationship disintegrated last year after he accused Bouvier of inflating prices, rather than finding him the best price, and taking a commission.
Rybolovlev's lawyers say Bouvier pocketed "between $500 million and $1 billion" from the inflated prices.
On Thursday, the Monaco appeals court rejected Bouvier's request that the case be dismissed, and ruled he should face fraud and money-laundering charges.
The woman who introduced the two, Tania Rappo, Rybolovlev's translator and godmother to his youngest daughter, will also face prosecution for taking a commission on the sales, her lawyer confirmed.
"I have been betrayed," Rybolovlev told Le Parisien in September.
"(Bouvier) made us believe he was negotiating the price in our interest... while today he claims he was negotiating for himself as a salesman."
- 'I'm not crazy' -
Rybolovlev's lawyers say he became aware of the problem over dinner in New York, when an art consultant told him he had overpaid by $15 million for a Modigliani painting.
In another twist, Bouvier was in September charged with handling stolen goods for selling two Picasso watercolours to Rybolovlev.
Picasso's daughter-in-law, Catherine Hutin-Blay, claims that "Woman Arranging her Hair" and "Spanish Woman with a Fan" were stolen from her collection and never approved for sale.
Rybolovlev handed them over to authorities, saying he was unaware they were stolen.
But Bouvier has maintained his innocence, saying he bought the watercolours, along with 58 drawings, from a trust in Liechtenstein that claimed to represent Hutin-Blay.
"I am not crazy," he told the New York Times. "I'm not going to sell stolen art to someone who has bought two billion in art from me. He was my biggest client."
Bouvier is not only an art dealer, but also one of the leading organisers of offshore storage facilities for wealthy collectors, shuttling masterpieces between high-tech storage facilities in low-tax countries such as Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore.
Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in the fertiliser business after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has an art collection to rival major museums, featuring works by artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Rodin, Matisse and da Vinci.

Art masterpieces worth €15m stolen from gallery in Italy

Portrait of a Lady by Peter Paul Rubens and Male Portrait by Tintoretto among paintings taken in raid on Castelvecchio museum, Verona
Masterpieces by Rubens and Tintoretto were among 15 artworks stolen to order by masked robbers from a museum in Verona, the city’s mayor has said.
Three men dressed in black entered the Castelvecchio museum in northern Italy at the evening change of guard on Thursday, tying up and gagging the site’s security officer and a cashier before taking the paintings.
Their haul included Portrait of a Lady by Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens and Male Portrait by Venetian artist Tintoretto, as well as works by Pisanello, Jacopo Bellini, Giovanni Francesco Caroto and Hans de Jode.
The museum told art investigators the works were worth an estimated €15m (£10.5m), adding that it was likely that the job had been masterminded by a private collector.
“Someone sent them, they were skilled, they knew exactly where they were going,” mayor Flavio Tosi said, adding that 11 of the stolen paintings had been masterpieces while others were more minor works.
Council spokesman Roberto Bolis said the museum had 24-hour security, but the robbery had been planned so that the thieves arrived after the building emptied but before the alarms had been activated. “We don’t yet know if they were armed, or whether they took the security officer’s weapon,” he said, adding that the guard and cashier were in shock and were being debriefed by investigators.
“They tied up the security officer as well and took his keys so they could get away in his car,” he said. One of the men watched over the hostages while the other two raided the exhibition rooms. “It was only once they were able to untie themselves that the alarm was raised,” Bolis added.
Footage from the 48 cameras installed in and around the premises has been handed over to police.

Burglary victims find stolen Rolex watch listed on website

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) — Jenny and Dave Siggins nearly gave up on ever seeing any of their jewelry and an expensive Rolex watch again taken in a home burglary nearly ten years ago.
But then Thursday evening, Jenny does another web search for the Rolex watch.
She says, "I had this feeling to go online and look."
Of all places, she says, the watch comes up on Christie's Art Auction website.
"There it was. Christie's of New York, of all places. Like the auction house."
Dave says he received the watch from his former employer Big Dog Motorcycles. He says the company gave it to him for ten year's of service in May, 2006.
The website's photo shows a close up of the watch sitting on Big Dog Motorcycles purchase receipt from Barrier's Jewelry in Wichita. Christie's listing details say the watch has Dave Siggins name engraved on the watch.
Dave says, "We're just absolutely stunned that we're looking at this watch on the website. We're, you know, hopeful that there's something we can do."
Something, he says, they can do to get the watch back or get compensated.
The auction's listing says the watch sold for nearly $92,000.
The Siggins filed a case report with the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office after the burglary. A Sheriff's spokesman says the statute of limitations has ended on pursuing a criminal case but says the Siggins could pursue a civil case.
The Siggins have contacted Christie's Auction but haven't heard back from their legal department. KAKE TV has also reached out to Christie's but haven't heard back.

We remember the biggest art heist of Palm Beach County history

Fifty years ago, thieves raided the Norton Museum in what is the county’s most brazen art robbery.

Editor’s Note: This is probably an anniversary the Norton Museum would prefer to forget.
On this date 50 years ago, the museum was the center of an outrageous art theft. Call it The Norton Affair. It’s a fascinating story of culture and thievery, featuring insurance investigators, the FBI, mysterious phone calls and a character with the delicious name of Odin Eichelberger.
Did they catch the crooks? Was the art ever recovered? From our story in 2004, we’ll let the Post’s former art writer Gary Schwan tell you the tale …
A decent art theft should display the same creativity as the works being swiped.
Both panache and politesse were evident in Palm Beach County’s biggest art caper — the Nov. 23, 1965 theft from the Norton Museum of Art of priceless Oriental jade objects, and a pile of antique jewelry that belonged to the first wife of the museum’s late founder Ralph Norton.
Stolen art is always priceless to the press, at least in the first edition. The magic figure of a million dollars was tossed around in headlines. It was finally agreed the 100 jade objects were worth about $600,000; the jewelry about $35,000.
No small sums, of course. But it was enough to return the national spotlight to this area, which hadn’t seen this much attention since the Winter White House in Palm Beach was shuttered after the assassination of President Kennedy.
The Norton Affair began shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 23. The press reported that up to four men tiptoed through a construction area and gained entrance to the museum through a back door. (By knocking?)
They were greeted by Odin Eichelberger, the museum’s lone caretaker/night watchman. Rather, they greeted Odin by slipping some cloth over his head, and telling him to stay put while they selected a few baubles from the museum showcases.
On their way out, the cool thieves tied up Odin, but not before spreading some newspapers on the floor so he wouldn’t get too dirty. Ah, gentlemen!
Then-museum director Robert Hunter got a phone call from police in the early morning hours.
“I went flying down there and talked my way into the building,” Hunter, who died in 2011, recalled. “They busted glass and made an awful mess. I just looked around and went home. It was at least a month before we heard anything more.”
Looking back, it’s telling that the thieves ignored fine paintings by well-known artists in favor of small objects that could be easily fenced. This doesn’t seem the M.O. of amateur mooks who might swipe whatever they could lay hands on. Professional knaves would load up on booty that could be easily unloaded.
Yet the goods weren’t unloaded. The FBI was called in, and a $10,000 reward posted. A Miami insurance executive named Richard Andrews was also on the scent, presumably contacting underworld types that he had the unfortunate honor to deal with over the years.
Months passed, filled with rumors. There was a mysterious phone call to the widow of the man who sold the jade to museum founder Ralph Norton, and a complaint from Andrews about being tailed by a creepy white car. Things are getting a little spooky, he told reporters.
Finally, in February, four months after the heist, the case cracked open like a museum’s glass case. The Feds found the loot down south in the garage of a Hollywood residence owned by one bewildered fellow named Edward Bruce. He was quickly cleared. Seems he had rented the garage to some nice folks, and assumed the trailer that contained the art was filled with household goods. He couldn’t remember the folks very well.
All but three of the stolen jade pieces were found in Hollywood. Another work was later recovered in Washington, D.C. The jewelry simply went missing for good.
“We actually got more pieces returned than were stolen,” Hunter joked, noting that several objects were broken. The Hollywood cache also inexplicably included a model of a Spanish galleon. “They asked me If I wanted it, and I said no. It wasn’t mine.”
No arrests were made, although Hunter said an FBI agent told him the bureau was pretty sure it knew whodunit.
“They told me they were convinced the theft was a buy-steal, but the buyer welshed on the thieves,” Hunter said. In other words, a buyer from the Bahamas had agreed to pay for the Norton’s jade objects, which was why the crooks went straight for them. But he backed out of the deal, and the burglars had some very hot property on their hands.
Hunter also recalled that after the jade was recovered, the Norton received a phone call offering to return the jewelry for a price, but the board wasn’t interested because the objects, while expensive, weren’t really art.
How was the jade tracked down? The Feds apparently weren’t talking, and Andrews would only say he received a few tips from people working on the case. Hunter said insurance investigators heard a few squeaks on the street.
It’s possible the insurance company simply paid to get the work back, although that’s something neither the museum nor their insurers would want made public.
The good news is that some of those stolen jades can still be seen today at the museum, under glass, but no doubt protected by more security than poor Odin Eichelberger was able to supply back in 1965.

Cuban Art Thief Suspect Arrested in Greece

Police in Greece say a Cuban man has been arrested near Athens on suspicion of stealing 71 paintings and artwork from the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.
Greek police said Wednesday the 36-year-old man was arrested following a notice from the international police organization, Interpol. They didn't identify the suspect and provided no immediate information about the whereabouts of the artwork.
The man was staying in the town of Koropi, near Athens, with a 40-year-old Greek man who was also arrested, for illegal weapons possession.
The heist at the Havana museum was announced last year, and the stolen art included pieces by Cuban painter Leopoldo Romanach.

Philippine website to seek tips on missing Marcos paintings

Katrina Camille Pena of the Presidential Commission on Good Government holds a set of jewelry from the so-called Hawaii Collection, one of three sets of the Marcos Jewelry Collection, during appraisal by Sotheby's at the Central Bank of the Philippines Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The Hawaii Collection was seized by the US Bureau of Customs upon the Marcos' arrival in Hawaii in 1986 and is now under the custody of the Philippine Commission on Good Government or PCGG. The appraisal was made to determine its current value which was put at $5 to $7 million dollars in 1988 and 1991.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

— The Philippine government will launch a website to crowd-source tips on the whereabouts of some 200 missing art works, including paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Rembrandt that were owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos, an official said Friday.
The family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos allegedly amassed billions of dollars' worth of ill-gotten wealth. His widow, now 86 and a member of Congress, became notorious for excesses, symbolized by her huge shoe collection and staggering jewelry collection.
Experts from Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses are concluding Friday a week-long appraisal of jewelry seized after the family fled to Hawaii in 1986, following a popular revolt that ended Marcos' two-decade rule.
Andrew de Castro, a member of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which is tasked with recovering the ill-gotten wealth, said that the agency would launch a website in a week or two to seek public assistance in locating at least 200 paintings.
A former head of the agency, Andres Bautista, last year said that the missing paintings include works by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and Michelangelo. He said the list was compiled from various documents after the Marcoses fled, and had been registered with the Art Loss Register, the world's largest private database of lost and stolen art.
Among the paintings not on the list is one by Claude Monet that was sold for $32 million in 2010 by former Marcos aide Vilma Bautista. She was sentenced last year by a New York court to up to six years' imprisonment for conspiring to sell the art work and tax fraud.
De Castro said Friday that litigation was ongoing on the Philippine government's lawsuit in New York to recover the proceeds from the sale and three other art works she attempted to sell.
Journalists were again allowed Friday to view and take pictures of the jewelry being appraised, including a rare, barrel-shaped pink Indian diamond that a Christie's representative said was worth at least $5 million.
Other jewelry included complete sets of diamond encrusted rubies with a brooch whose single ruby stone is bigger than a dollar coin. A Sotheby's representative said they appear to be Burmese rubies. There were also diamond-studded tiaras, including a Cartier tiara with paisley-shaped design.
The jewelry collection, comprising three sets seized in various locations, was valued at $5 million to $7 million when it was last appraised in 1988 and 1991. But it is likely to have significantly risen in value, De Castro said.
The jewels have been stored for nearly three decades in the central bank's vault in Manila.

Where's This Painting? 30 Years After Its Theft, Nobody Knows

Willem de Kooning's Woman — Ochre (oil on canvas, 1954-55) has been missing for 30 years. i
Willem de Kooning's Woman — Ochre (oil on canvas, 1954-55) has been missing for 30 years.
University of Arizona Museum of Art
Thirty years ago, one of the most valuable paintings of the 20th century vanished. It wasn't an accident and it wasn't some elaborate movie heist. It was a simple theft — and it's still a mystery.
It was the day after Thanksgiving in 1985. Staff at the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson were getting to work, just like any other day.
"It was almost 9 o'clock so the museum was gearing up to open the doors," says museum curator Olivia Miller. "The security guards opened the doors for one of the staff members, and two people followed behind."
It was close enough to opening time that the guards let the man and woman come in. They started climbing a flight of stairs to the second floor, and the guard followed. In the middle of the stairwell, the woman stopped and turned to chat with the guard. Her partner continued on up.
"A short time later the man came back down the stairs and he and the woman left," Miller says.
A little odd, the guard thought. Then he walked up to the second floor gallery to discover any guard's worst nightmare: an empty frame where one of the institution's most prized pieces had hung. Willem de Kooning's painting Woman — Ochre had been sliced out of its frame.
The painting is part of the abstract expressionist's celebrated "Woman" series. Another work in the series sold about a decade ago for more than $137 million. The museum estimates that today Ochre could be worth as much as $160 million. It was a huge loss.
University of Arizona police chief Brian Seastone, a campus cop 30 years ago, was one of the first investigators to arrive at the scene.
"It was almost a hollow experience because it was so empty," Seastone recalls. "Not only is this painting missing on this wall, it was just a very quiet scene."
To make matters worse, there were basically no leads: no fingerprints, no license plate from the getaway car, just a description of how the couple looked.
"The woman was a bit older," Miller says. "She had a scarf around her head, was wearing glasses. The man had dark hair, had a mustache."
That's all the cops had to work with, because it turns out, in 1985, the museum didn't have any security cameras. No one who was working at the museum that day wanted to be interviewed for this story. So the question remains: Where is the painting?
Irene Romano, a professor at the University of Arizona and an expert on art plunder, says in general, people who steal works like this are not art lovers.
"They're common thieves who are hired by others to do the dirty work, and then the works of art pass into the underworld and are traded for drugs and arms and cash," Romano says.
So the University of Arizona's painting might have been sold on the black market and may be hidden away in a vault somewhere ... or it could even be hanging in someone's home.
Today, all the public can see of Woman — Ochre are the frayed edges of the canvas in its empty frame.
"We'll always keep hope that the painting will come back," says Miller. "And at the same time we're always going to know that our collection isn't complete, and that's the sad part about it."
The University of Arizona Museum of Art got just $400,000 in insurance money for the painting, which it used to install cameras and beef up security. These days, it stays closed the day after Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, Remember, Remember, Art Crime November, 2015

Banksy's 'Dismal Aid' Sign Stolen by Enterprising Thieves

This re-purposed Dismaland sign was intended to highlight the "Dismal Aid" offered to refugees. <br>Photo: Lee McGrath/Lincolnshire Aid 2 Calais</br>

This re-purposed Dismaland sign was intended to highlight the "Dismal Aid" offered to refugees. Instead, it was stolen.
Photo: Lee McGrath/Lincolnshire Aid 2 Calais
Building accommodations for migrants in France was an admirable way to re-purpose the raw materials of Banksy's Dismaland. But was the new signage, intended to draw attention to the “Dismal Aid" provided in these makeshift camps, just making a difficult situation worse?
Onlookers at the notorious camp in Calais criticized the ostentatious lettering last week by taking it down—but perhaps less out of protest and more out of opportunism.
One aid worker, Lee McGrath from Lincolnshire, took part in dismantling the letters. "I hear they're going to try and sell it on eBay, but they can't because I went and took an 'i,'" McGrath told NBC News.
Aid worker Lee McGrath claims he took this "i" from the Dismal Aid sign. <br>Photo: Lee McGrath/Licolnshire Aid 2 Calais</br>
Aid worker Lee McGrath claims he took this "i" from the Dismal Aid sign.
Photo: Lee McGrath/Licolnshire Aid 2 Calais
"If anyone wants to sell the sign to make a profit, they can't because I've got part of it," McGrath said. "I'm not telling you where it is, but it is secure."
(If the anonymous thieves really do attempt an eBay auction, they might first want to watch the film "How to Sell a Banksy".)
Speaking of anonymity, it seems the art world's next mystery philanthropist might be someone who already has quite a bit of fame: Jaden Smith. The 17-year-old Renaissance teen recently told GQ of his plans to disappear in order to become an anonymous artist.
“No one will know where I am in ten years…It'll be kind of like Banksy," he said. "But in a different way. More of a social impact. Helping people. But through art installations. It'll be like, ‘This just happened that helped a bunch of people over here. We don't know who did it, but these symbols and things were left around, so we can only guess that it's Jaden and the squad.'"

Canal killing not linked to organised crime: police

A detective has said the reasons why an Italian art thief was found dead bound and tied to a shopping trolley in a London canal are known by people living close to the murder scene, and have nothing to do with his alleged links to organised crime or travels around the world.
The body of Sebastiano Magnanini, 46, was found last Thursday in the Regent’s canal near Kings Cross, north London, after it came to the surface of the shallow waterway.
Detective chief inspector Rebecca Reeves, who is leading the investigation, said she did not believe the death was linked to his past conviction for art theft or to organised crime.
“The people who know how he died are living locally,” she said. Reeves would not say whether the victim was known to police in the UK.
Magnanini’s family in Italy and friends in London described him as a gentle man. Reeves said: “This has been devastating for Sebastiano’s family. He was a much-loved son and saw his family regularly as he travelled between Italy and London for work.
“His life in Italy, before coming to London, will inevitably form part of the investigation, but at this early stage we are not looking at organised crime as a motive.”
Police believe Magnanini was weighed down with the shopping trolley to conceal his body below the surface. They do not yet know how he died, but he was not shot or stabbed.
He was last seen alive on September 22, two days before his body was discovered. He was found in the same clothes he had worn when finishing a day of working as a carpenter in south London. Police say he specialised in stage construction.
Magnanini’s body was recovered yards from where twins were found murdered 19 years earlier. Their bodies had been wheeled there in a shopping trolley before being dumped in the canal.
Reeves said that after leaving work on September 22 Magnanini was seen in a pub opposite Victoria station, then in Euston and finally around Kings Cross at just before 7pm. Witnesses say there was nothing to suggest he was anxious or in trouble.
Friends and family of Magnanini, who grew up in Venice before moving to London and travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia, have spoken out against his portrayal as an art thief and a criminal, saying he had turned his life around.
Magnanini was jailed for 18 months in the late 1990s after stealing an 18th-century painting worth nearly 2bn lire (then about £1mn) from a church.
But friends from his time as a tour guide with an Italian company in Cambodia in 2009 said he was not a criminal and was “a wonderful human being”.
Luke MacKenzie, who became friends with Magnanini when he arrived in Cambodia, said he and the Italian’s family were devastated at how he was being characterised.
“Sebastiano’s friends here in Cambodia are very worried about the media painting him in a bad light, he is so far from a bad person,” he told the Guardian. “He stole an art piece, but I met him after all that happened and he wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“This is horrible for his family. I’m determined for his name to go down in history as a quality, standup guy. He didn’t talk about what happened in the past, he had told a few friends what he’d done, but just by knowing him you knew he was genuinely trying to turn over a new leaf. He was a new man and a wonderful human being who will be sorely missed.”

Is the Bührle art collection in Zurich, one of Europe’s most highly regarded private repositories, doing enough to locate the owners of works of art that the Nazis may have stolen?

Emile George Bührle in his Zurich gallery in 1954, between paintings by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Derain and Degas (Getty Images/Time & Life Pictures)
Emile George Bührle in his Zurich gallery in 1954, between paintings by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Derain and Degas
(Getty Images/Time & Life Pictures)

A new book has rekindled the controversy, while the Zurich Museum of Fine Arts, or Kunsthaus, is preparing to display a large number of the collection's paintings.
Meanwhile, the Swiss government wants to boost efforts by museums to research the ownership history of the works they house.
The very title of the new book is slightly sulphurous. “The Bührle Black Book” (in German), co-authored by Thomas Buomberger, historian and journalist, and the art historian Guido Magnaguagno, aims to reopen the debate on the art collection of German-born industrialist Emil Bührle (1890-1956), who made a fortune selling arms to Nazis and the Allies during the Second World War.
The timing of the publication is significant. Subtitled “Art stolen for the Zurich Kunsthaus?”, the book has appeared just as the art museum is starting construction of a new wing.
Much of the Bührle collection – which includes paintings by Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh among its 190 masterpieces – will be housed in the extension, which should be completed by 2020.
The conditions under which Bührle (pictured opposite) purchased the works are already widely known, thanks in particular to the Bergier Commission, whose research into Switzerland's relations with the Nazi regime was published between 1998 and 2002.

‘Gurlitt effect’

So why has this book appeared now?
In the view of Tim Guldimann, a former Swiss ambassador to Berlin who took part in a public debate on the work, the renewed interest is mainly due to the so-called Gurlitt affair.
Cornelius Gurlitt was a German art dealer who bequeathed his estate, including some possibly looted works, to the Bern Museum of Fine Arts.
The book's authors, meanwhile, say they felt it was important to draw attention to the fact that an institution that receives public subsidies, the Kunsthaus, was preparing to host works of possibly unsure origin.
According to them, not enough research has been done into the provenance of all the paintings. Nineteen cases are detailed in the “Black Book”.

The foundation reacts

In a position paper issued following the book's publication, the Bührle Collection Foundation reiterated that provenance of 15 of the works is certain.
“The authors (of the book) are willfully turning a blind eye to the fact that gaps concerning changes of ownership that occurred 70 years ago do not automatically and necessarily mean that they were the result of unlawful expropriation," it said.
The Zurich Kunsthaus vehemently disputes the book’s allegations. “At no point in the past two years did the authors consult the archives of the Bührle Collection Foundation or those of the Kunsthaus, which are public,” says the art museum's spokesman, Björn Quellenberg.

Expanding the concept of stolen art

“The facts already known about the provenance of the works were presented during the Bührle Collection exhibition in 2010. They can also be found on the collection's website,” adds the spokesman.
Another part of the collection, never shown to the public, is currently being digitised, a process expected to be completed by 2020.
The authors of the “Black Book” call for a broader debate on plundered art. In their view, Switzerland should recognise the category of works “whose loss was a consequence of persecution by the national-socialist regime.”
This includes intentional sales made under duress by owners of artworks who were facing persecution and possibly fleeing for their lives.
“The fact that these changes of ownership are considered legal is totally foreign to reality,” says Thomas Buomberger.
He believes that Switzerland should follow the example of Germany, which “allocates considerable resources to provenance research, as, in many cases, the heirs have not yet requested restitution.”

Recognised only in Germany

The international community does not yet recognise this category of looted art. A study commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture found that Germany is the only country that has included this concept in its legal standards.
“The particular history of Germany, where the property of Jewish families was systematically looted and many works were placed in public museums, gives it a special responsibility,” said Benno Widmer, head of a Swiss office on looted art.
The Swiss cabient has nonetheless said it is “open” to recognising this kind of work, but only if the situation changes within the international community.

New federal aid

The Swiss Confederation hopes to boost research into provenance of artworks by museums. A report published in 2010 showed many gaps remained in the efforts of 551 institutions between 2008 and 2010.
The government considers it “very important that such research is conducted and published and that fair and equitable solutions are found quickly for the looted works,” Widmer said.
Yet many museums complain that that they do not have the necessary resources to carry out long and difficult research into the ownership history of the works in their collections.
From next year, however, they will no longer have grounds to complain about lack of support from the Confederation. Last May, the Federal Council announced plans to provide financial support for such research projects.
“We are currently preparing the support concept, which should be ready by the end of the year,” Widmer said. The exact amount of the support has not yet been established.

CIA documents 

The Zurich Kunsthaus welcomes the new measure and emphasizes that the work carried out by the Bührle Collection is already “in all respects exemplary.”
Some restitution claims were withdrawn following the publication of CIA archives showing the works in question had not been “contaminated” by unlawful purchases linked to Nazism.
In September 2014, Widmer said, the Jewish Claims Conference gave high marks to Switzerland for its “substantial” progress in this area.
 A chapter called “The Bührle Paradox,” written by Hans Ulrich Jost, historian and professor emeritus of the University of Lausanne, describes Bührle as a non-ideological student of art history, literature and philosophy before the First World War.
His machine tool company owed its flourishing trade with Germany during the war in large part to the Swiss government, which “decided to offer economic and financial services to the Nazi regime so that the country would be left alone”, according to Jost.
“But once the Nazi defeat was imminent, the Swiss authorities dropped Bührle, who was a perfect scapegoat,” Jost added, though Bührle got “around ten times richer during the Second World War” than his direct Swiss competitors.

European art, held hostage by capital

There is a global network of airport-based duty-free depots that buy and sell works of art that might never again see the light of day. Chances are you’re not among their customers.
In 1990, Japanese paper magnate and art collector Ryōei Saitō purchased a Van Gogh at a Christie’s auction. He paid 82.5 million US dollars, making “the Portrait of Dr. Gachet” the world’s most expensive painting at that time. Saitō died six years later. In his will, he ordered the portrait to be placed in the coffin along with his body and cremated. Since then, nothing is known about the whereabouts of the masterpiece.
Art in no-man’s-land
International art markets are booming. This often makes speculation on works of art less risky and more profitable than investing in stocks. And a booming international market needs an international infrastructure.
Le Freeport is a 22,000-square-meter storage facility adjacent to Luxembourg’s Findel airport. Around 60% of the space is rented to firms that deal with art. They sell, buy, and store it — all at the free-port zone. According to The Economist, Le Freeport is well equipped to handle works of art. Among others, it features temperature and humidity control and an array of on-site services, such as valuation and renovation.
Additionally, the facility offers wealthy art collectors and traders a triple protection: high security, maximal discretion, and minimal taxes. Works of art that are stored in Le Freeport are exempt from both VAT and customs duty. Art sales that are conducted inside the facility can also be done tax-free.
Free-ports are being used as a long-term storage of wealth and a tax-free space for doing business. There is a network of such warehouses around the world. It’s a fiscal no-man’s-land.
Free-ports are an offshoot of bonded warehouses, where goods in international transit can be stored temporarily without payment of duty. But, increasingly, free-ports are being used as a long-term storage of wealth and a tax-free space for doing business. There is a network of such warehouses around the world. It’s a fiscal no-man’s-land.
But it is also an integral part of the infrastructure of the global capital that occupies the seam between nation-states and their rule of law, widening these cracks.
State authorities are increasingly concerned over their lack of knowledge about what is being stored in free-ports, and who the owners are. The suspicions are that free-ports might be playing an important role in international money laundering and in dealing with stolen goods.
Yves Bouvier is the Luxembourg free-port’s largest investor. Bouvier has also invested in a free-port in Geneva and in Le Freeport’s branch at the international airport of Singapore. “The Freeport King” has recently come under scrutiny for selling works of art — among others, several Rothkos and Picassos — to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for a total amount of 2 billion US dollars. Bouvier was arrested on suspicion of selling the paintings for inflated prices and allegations that some of them had doubtful origins.
Billionaires’ melancholy whims
“I’ve done the portrait of M. Gachet with a melancholy expression. There are modern heads that may perhaps be looked back on with longing a hundred years later,” wrote Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his sister in 1890. He was wrong. Exactly a hundred years later the painting’s fate was sealed and it was doomed to extinction.
The painting’s provenance is intimately intertwined with European history. When National Socialists ruled in Germany, it went through the hands of the Reich’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. They wanted to purge Germany of the so-called “degenerate” art, removed it from the city gallery in Frankfurt and sold it to a private collector.
More often than not, invaluable artifacts of European cultural heritage that are stored in free-ports were never meant to be displayed in living rooms. They increasingly become tenders of global capital and its hostages.
No wonder there was shock and a wave of loud protests surrounding Saitō’s decision to take the portrait of the melancholy head with him to the netherworld. A painting that survived the Nazis is now lost to humanity at the whim of a billionaire.
However, that was a burial of a single painting. A network of free-ports around the world is scaling up the graveyard business. More often than not, invaluable artifacts of European cultural heritage that are stored there were never meant to be displayed in living rooms. They increasingly become tenders of global capital and its hostages.
Forget the Louvre in Paris, forget London’s National Gallery or Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie. The Wall Street Journal estimates that the free-port in Geneva “may house the most valuable art collection in the world.” But, of course, one cannot say for sure which Picassos, Van Goghs, or Monets are in the vaults, as these are, as a rule, secret.

Burglars face prison after pleading guilty to stealing antiques worth more than £75,000

FATHER and son burglars and a trader trawled wealthy villages to steal antiques worth more than £75,000 from vulnerable elderly residents.
Businessman Paul Ansbro knocked on doors at rural homes to find victims before Steven Abberley and his teenage son Mason Abberley broke in and stole treasured possessions ranging from silverware to wooden cabinets.
Antiques dealer Ansbro would knock the doors under the ruse of buying and selling antiques and then arrange for the father and son duo to burgle the homes.
They would either enter the homes while people were away or while the occupiers were asleep at night.
The trio, all from Hove, targeted homes in Goring, Washington, West Chiltington, Cowfold, Friston, Glynde and North Chailey as well properties in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire.
At Hove Crown Court Steven Abberley, 42, of Findon Close, admitted 12 charges of burglary.
His son Mason, 19, of Ventnor Villas, admitted eight burglary charges. Ansbro, 54, of Westbourne Gardens, pleaded guilty to four burglary charges. The 12 burglaries took place between December 31, 2013, and February 4, 2014.
Ansbro also pleaded guilty to two additional counts of handling stolen goods, on December 31, 2013, and on January 7, 2014.
Two other men, also appearing as part of the same hearing, were Keith Mollon, 59, of Nicolson Drive, Shoreham, and Timothy Delay, 59, of The Drive, Hove. The prosecution offered no evidence against Delay and he was discharged. Mollon pleaded guilty to possessing a small amount of cocaine and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Charmaine Wilson, defending Steven Abberley, told the court: “This is a man who has a number of health difficulties at the moment.” She added that he was undergoing counselling for suicidal thoughts and was a carer for his mother.
Mark Kessler, defending Mason Abberley, reminded the court that he was 18 when the offences occurred.
Jeffrey Lamb, defending Ansbro, said: “He’s a businessman and he wants the chance to put his house in order. He’s also involved in two charities.”
Judge Anthony Niblett said: “All these are very serious matters. Only immediate custodial sentences can follow.
“Given the fact that each of them has had the courage and good sense on the best legal advice to enter guilty pleas, I consider that it’s right to renew bail.
“The outcome is a satisfactory one in the public interest. None of you should be under any illusion. These are serious matters and a custodial sentence is inevitable.”
David Smith, prosecuting for the Crown, is now preparing impact statements from the victims, who are all elderly and some of whom had dementia or were vulnerable.
The three men will be sentenced on Friday, November 20.

Sentencing guidelines address heritage and emotional loss

19 October 2015Written by ATG Reporter
Thieves who target cultural property or items of great sentimental value will face tougher sentences under new rules.
Guidelines introduced by the Sentencing Council on October 6 mean that for the first time judges and magistrates will take into account whether a theft caused damage to heritage structures or great emotional distress when calculating a sentence.
Central to the spirit of the new guidelines is the understanding that the value of stolen items to victims is not just financial - something absent from the previous, more 'matter-of-fact' system.
The council also recognises the impact that shop or stall thefts can have. In the shop theft guideline, it emphasises not only loss of business but also takes into account that the size or type of business can make the shop owner particularly hard hit by thieves.
- See more at: http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2015/oct/19/sentencing-guidelines-address-heritage-and-emotional-loss/#sthash.xcNawoE7.dpuf

Sentencing guidelines address heritage and emotional loss

19 October 2015Written by ATG Reporter
Thieves who target cultural property or items of great sentimental value will face tougher sentences under new rules.
Guidelines introduced by the Sentencing Council on October 6 mean that for the first time judges and magistrates will take into account whether a theft caused damage to heritage structures or great emotional distress when calculating a sentence.
Central to the spirit of the new guidelines is the understanding that the value of stolen items to victims is not just financial - something absent from the previous, more 'matter-of-fact' system.
The council also recognises the impact that shop or stall thefts can have. In the shop theft guideline, it emphasises not only loss of business but also takes into account that the size or type of business can make the shop owner particularly hard hit by thieves.
- See more at: http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2015/oct/19/sentencing-guidelines-address-heritage-and-emotional-loss/#sthash.xcNawoE7.dpuf

Europe, US, then Pink Panthers hit Wafi… How Dubai cops busted gang

Dubai Police thanks Sheikh Saif bin Zayed for support following arrest of mastermind

In a press conference on Monday, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, thanked Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, for his confidence in Dubai Police and UAE security forces.

Al Mazeina also expressed his sincere gratitude to the Minster of the Interior for praising Dubai Police's efforts in the arrest of the fourth suspect and the brains behind the Wafi Centre heist, which dates back to 2007.

"All thanks to Sheikh Saif, for the support and diligent follow-up on the case," Al Mazeina said. "After eluding justice for eight years, we caught the fourth member of the Pink Panther gang as promised."
34-year old Serbian, Borko Ilincic, latest arrest in case. (Supplied)

Al Mazeina added that Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Police and General Security, has dedicated special attention to maintaining the levels of security and safety achieved by the MoI in the quest to make the Dubai one of the best cities in the world in terms of safety and security.

"We at Dubai Police are proud of this unique achievement, and we shall maintain the highest levels of perseverance and commitment to crime prevention.
“Dubai Police are keen on fulfilling the UAE 2021 Vision to become one of the safest countries in the world," he added.

Al Maziena said, "In April 2007, a group of robbers brazenly drove two vehicles into the Wafi Centre, smashed the front window of the Graff store, and escaped with jewellery and watches worth approximately Dh15 million, stolen in less than a minute.
"Afterwards, the getaway cars were found burned out in the desert and the culprits simply vanished. The Pink Panthers had struck again."

Al Mazeina added, "Two suspects, both Serbian nationals, were apprehended within weeks of the robbery, while a third was captured last year in the Spanish city of Alcala de Henares. Nicola Milat, 33 a Serbian company proprietor, was sentenced to a 10-year jail term for aiding and abetting the robbery, and deported in 2013.

"The second suspect, Milan Mitlic, 52, a Serbian visitor, was set to walk free as the court acquitted him of the charge of possession of stolen items. The third, Martin Sofboda, was extradited to the UAE from The Netherlands."

Al Mazeina continued, "Meanwhile, Dragan Nikolic is serving a seven-year jail term in Liechtenstein where he has been since 2010 after being arrested in France in 2008. Similarly, after being arrested in Monaco and deported to Liechtenstein, Marinko Marick is serving time in jail until 2019.

"Dubai Police's CID received a fourth suspect on October 14, the 34-year old Serbian, Borko Ilincic, who was arrested early last year in Alcala de Henares.
“He was using a false name and fraudulent Bosnian passport.

"Meanwhile, Interpol Red Notices have been issued for Nicolas Zivkovic and Bojana Mitic as they are wanted for justice," Al Mazeina added.

Towards the end of the conference, Al Mazeina thanked the international community for their confidence in Dubai Police. Quoting Ronald K. Noble, the Interpol former Secretary-General, who said, "Interpol lauds Dubai Police work in unravelling the Pink Panther case.

“The Dubai Police investigation into the Wafi Centre heist has helped Interpol identify the methods of the international jewel thief gang, the Pink Panthers, which has carried out 90 daring robberies in Europe, the USA and Asia, including the Middle East, Serbia and Japan."

Swan Antiques Centre raided with stolen forklift

A gang of burglars used a forklift truck to ram-raid an Oxfordshire antiques shop causing thousands of pounds of damage.
The forklift, taken from a farm in Pyrton, was used to smash into Swan Antiques Centre in Tetsworth after 03:00 GMT on Saturday.
It is not yet known what was stolen due to the amount of debris at the shop, said Thames Valley Police.
Owner Tom Keane told BBC Radio Oxford it looked like a "bomb had gone off".
He added: "The term 'break-in' is an understatement, we were rammed with a bulldozer through the wall.
"At the moment we can't find anything that's been taken but there's thousands of pounds worth of items damaged or lost, totally obliterated."
Mr Keane, whose shop was targeted in a raid last December where an estimated £150,000 worth of goods was taken, said this raid was "a lot more serious" and he was unsure when he would reopen.
The suspects, described as three men wearing dark clothing, drove away in a convoy of vehicles towards Postcombe.
PC Jason Walsh said: "Unfortunately the owner of the shop has been a victim in other burglaries previously in which high value antiques and jewellery were stolen.
"The offenders knew what they were doing and went to extreme lengths to enter the building at all costs."

Art thief sentenced over luxury bike grab

The man who stole a two million dollar French painting at gunpoint in 1998 has been sentenced for stealing a rare motorbike, described as a mechanical piece of art.
Ricardo Romanov stood in the dock of the Auckland District Court and hid his head behind paper and his jacket, before turning away from Judge Charles Blackie as he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson
Romanov had only just been released from prison after stealing a James Tissot painting from the Auckland Art Gallery.
Judge Charles Blackie said Romanov used computers to track down owners of a limited edition Ducati Desmosedici and then traced them to a rural address north of Auckland.
He had also drew up plans of how to re-paint and modify the rare $130,000 bike once he got it.
On a night in 2013, Romanov and another man drove out to a house, disarmed a security gate and got into a garage where they found the bike.
But Romanov left behind a balaclava. Police were able to test the garment for DNA and link the crime back to Romanov.
Keys to the bike were also later found at his home, but the bike itself was never recovered.
Romanov's partner in crime has already been sentenced to 250 hours of community work.
The Crown prosecutor Bruce Northwood asked the judge to sentence Romanov to the maximum 10 years.
Mr Northwood compared the planning in the case to the theft of the war medals from the Waiouru museum and said the public had to be protected from Romanov, who has a criminal history that goes back to the 1970s.
A victim impact statement from the owner of the Ducati said his children couldn't sleep at night and they've had to move from their home.
Romanov's lawyer Quentin Duff argued for a sentence comparable to Romanov's co-offender, and called it a common burglary.
Judge Blackie disagreed. He used a sporting metaphor and said if Romanov was the captain of the football team, then his co-offender was just the ball boy.
During sentencing, the judge had to tell Romanov to remove paper, from his face.
Romoanov also used his jacket to shield his face from view.
Judge Blackie said he found that disrespectful and reminded the career criminal he was in a public place.
The judge told Romanov to remove his jacket and his hands from his face.
Romonov did as he was told but turned away and faced the cell door as Judge Blackie sentenced him for stealing the rare bike, which he described as a mechanical work of art
Romanov has also stolen a conventional piece of art. In 1998 he stole a painting by James Tissot from the Auckland Art Gallery at gunpoint.
He got away on a high-powered motorbike and fired a warning shot at a passer-by.
When police caught up with him, they found the artwork torn and rolled up under his bed.
Romanov has also gone by several names, including Ricardo Sands.
In 1984 he was involved in the largest aggravated robbery of its time. He was one of three men who held up an armoured guard security van at the Birkenhead Foodtown.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, October Surprise 2015

Hatton Garden Raider's Loot Buried In Cemetery

The jewel thief wrote to Sky News claiming police were ignoring his offer to show them where he hid his share of the haul.
One of the Hatton Garden raiders has been taken from prison under armed guard to show detectives where he buried his share of the loot in a cemetery.
Danny Jones, 58, had complained in a letter to Sky News that his offer to reveal the hiding place had been ignored by Scotland Yard.
At midday on Thursday an armed convoy, with a police helicopter flying above it, took him from Belmarsh prison to a north London cemetery when he showed them where to dig.
Daniel Jones
Jones has admitted his part in the £20m heist
He was taken straight back to jail, as a team of a dozen officers in forensic suites began an excavation while 10 more stood guard.
Jones' solicitor was present to witness the operation and police took photographs which may form part of the evidence against him.
Visitors to the cemetery were allowed to lay flowers on nearby graves but were kept away from the dig which lasted around four hours.
I understand that stolen properly was recovered and taken away in several boxes.
In a letter from his prison cell before the excavation, Jones told me: "I've instructed my solicitor to tell the police Flying Squad that I want to give back my share of the Hatton Garden burglary. They said it's in motion.
"I now understand that the police said that the prison Belmarsh won't release me to the police. What a load of bull.
"The police can't want it back, as I'm the only person in the world to know where it is deep down. I want to do the right thing and give it back."
He added: "If I don't get the chance to go out under armed escort, I hope some poor sod who's having it hard out there with his or her family find the lot and have a nice life, as you never know, Martin, people do find things, don't they?"
Jones is one of four men who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit centre in London over the Easter weekend. Five others pleaded not guilty and are to stand trial next month.
A gang were let into the premises, then drilled through the vault wall before ransacking more than 70 boxes of jewellery, gems and cash.
Police originally said £10m worth of property had been stolen, then revised the figure to £20m.
In a court hearing last week prosecutor Philip Evans said police had just recovered a significant amount of property, but there were still many millions missing.

Hatton Garden Raider: I'll Show Where Loot Is

A man who admits taking part in the £20m jewel heist offers to reveal where he hid his share of the haul in a letter to Sky News
One of the Hatton Garden raiders claims police have ignored his offer to show them where he has hidden his share of the loot.
Danny Jones, 58, has admitted his part in the £20m heist and says he wants to be taken out of his high security jail to hand back what he stole.
He fears if he is not allowed to reveal where he hid the haul, someone else might find it.
Jones wrote to me in a letter from his prison cell: "I've instructed my solicitor...to tell the police Flying Squad that I want to give back my share of (the) Hatton Garden burglary, they said it's in motion.
"I now understand that the police said that the prison Belmarsh won't release me to the police. What a load of bull.
"The police can't want it back, as I'm the only person in the world to no (know) where it is, deep down. I want to do the right thing and give it back."
Jones is one of four men who have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle the Hatton Garden safe deposit centre in London over the Easter bank holiday weekend. They are awaiting sentence.
Five others have denied involvement and are to stand trial next month.
Four others are accused of money laundering and have yet to enter pleas.
This week a pre-trial hearing heard that police now believed that up to £20m worth of jewellery, gems and cash was stolen in the raid and "a significant amount" had still not been recovered.
Previously they said the haul was "in excess of £10m".
Jones wrote: "They are trying to make me look a bad person.
"I'm trying my best to put things right and for some reason they don't want me to give it back.
"If I don't get the chance to go out under armed escort, I hope some poor sod who's having it hard out there with his or her family find the lot and have a nice life, as you never know, Martin, people do find things, don't they?"
Prisoners are allowed to be taken from their cells to help police investigations, but under strict rules and security.
Jones is held in the high-risk wing of Belmarsh jail and subject to more restrictions than most prisoners, but other high-profile inmates have been taken out briefly for a variety of reasons.
He wrote: "You would have thought the police would have jumped with joy, but for some reason which I don't know, they are not that interested.
"They took that sex killer Levi Belfour (Bellfield) a few years ago, he showed the police where he killed those women.
"So, there you go, Martin, a sex killer and there's me, a 58-year-old burnt-out burglar. Maybe they think I'm going to get (a) hit squad to get me out, my God how stupid."
In a second letter, three weeks later, Jones wrote: "I haven't heard from the police concerning the stuff I want to give back.
"I'm just waiting for the police to take me out giving them back part of the stolen goods.
"They won't let me know if they (are) coming to take me out. Security reasons.
"They better hurry up, we don't want anyone finding it, do we?"
The Ministry of Justice said the issue was one for Scotland Yard to answer.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We are not prepared to discuss an ongoing investigation."


More Loot From Hatton Garden Raid Recovered

A court hears detectives have found more of the stolen jewellery from the central London raid but "many millions" remain missing.

Detectives have recovered more of the stolen jewellery from the £20m Hatton Garden raid.
But there are still "many millions" missing, a judge was told.
The development emerged at a bail hearing for plumber Hugh Doyle, one of the 13 defendants charged over the heist at the safe deposit centre in London.
Prosecutor Philip Evans told Woolwich Crown Court: "Earlier this week officers investigating the crime recovered a significant amount of additional stolen property.
"But there remains many millions of pounds of jewellery still outstanding. A very significant quantity of stolen property remains outstanding."
Originally police estimated the value of the stolen jewellery, gems and cash at £10m, but earlier the week Mr Evans said it was now thought to be between £15m and £20m.
Mr Doyle, 48, is one of five men who are to stand trial next month after denying charges of conspiracy to burgle and disposing of stolen goods.
He was refused bail.
Four other men have admitted burglary and are awaiting sentence.
Four more defendants have been charged with handling stolen property but have yet to enter pleas.

U.S. offers $5 million reward to stop Islamic State from stealing antiques

In this image made from video posted on a social media account affiliated with the Islamic State group on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a militant topples an ancient artifact in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant social media account) ** FILE **
In this image made from video posted on a social media account affiliated with the Islamic State group on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a militant topples an ancient artifact
- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 30, 2015
The U.S. announced a new campaign on Tuesday to stop Islamic State militants from smuggling priceless artifacts out of the region to be sold at auctions, by offering a $5 million reward for information that could thwart such activities.
The State Department announced the effort, known as the “Reward for Justice” program at an event at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The department will work with other nations to ensure the extremist group does not erase Iraq and Syria’s rich cultural history.
“ISIL’s damage and looting of historic sites in Syria and Iraq have not only destroyed irreplaceable evidence of ancient life and society but have also helped fund its reign of terror inside those countries,” the State Department said in a press release, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State.
Last month the FBI issued a warning urging art dealers in the U.S. to take extra precautions when buying artifacts from the Middle East, citing evidence that collectors may have been offered stolen antiques plundered by the terrorist group.
The militants have used the money form sales of stolen antiquities to fund terrorist activities.
In June, the House passed a bill to stop the militants from profiting off the sale of stolen artifacts. The bill would give the Obama administration the authority to impose import restrictions on antiquities coming in from Syria. The bill is still awaiting a vote in the Senate.
The stolen antiques have been dubbed “blood antiques,” adapted from the term “blood diamonds” used to refer to gems that financed fighters in African wars from Angola to Sierra Leone.

Gardaí probing theft of art from stately home's collection

Killarney House 
Killarney House
More than €500,000 worth of historical artefacts have been stolen from a stately home's collection.

Some 39 items, including 26 paintings, were found to have been taken from the Killarney House collection.
Seamus McCarthy, the Comptroller & Auditor General, revealed gardaí were investigating the disappearance of the artefacts.
A wider review found that 173 items on loan from the State art collection to locations around the country had also gone missing.
Killarney House in Co Kerry was once home to the Earl of Kenmare and hosted Queen Victoria in 1861.
It has been in State ownership since 1978 and is currently undergoing an €8.5m restoration, with the house and gardens due to open next year.
The contents of the house, including 81 artworks valued at €920,000, were catalogued and placed in storage in 1999 pending the restoration work.
According to Mr McCarthy, the loss of a number of items was discovered in October 2012 after two paintings appeared at an auction and were recognised by staff from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Each painting was valued at around €32,000.
It was subsequently discovered that 39 items were missing, with a combined value of €520,000.
Mr McCarthy said a Garda investigation had been ongoing for three years. It is unclear if any of the missing art has been recovered.

Top Nazi’s vast collection of stolen art revealed

PARIS — France’s World War II archives have helped produce an unusual art book: a catalog of more than 1,000 paintings, tapestries and sculptures amassed by senior Nazi official Hermann Goering — many of them stolen from Jews deported to death camps.
It’s an effort to remind modern readers of Nazi crimes, as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles and European far right groups are stirring up nationalist sentiment. The publication Wednesday could also revive efforts to return artworks stolen by the Nazis to Jewish families.

Nazi Hermann Goering after his arrest in May 1945. Goering was tried for war crimes and sentenced to hang, but took a cyanide pill and died while in jail
“Artworks should never be quarry,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius wrote in a preface to the new book. “They constitute a common good of humanity. This truth is timeless; the publication of this work is an occasion to remember it.”
A portrait by Goya and a landscape by Sisley are among 1,376 works by Italian, Dutch, French and German masters that adorned Goering’s home in Carinhall near Berlin.
It also includes Goering’s carefully maintained ledger, with handwritten comments about the quality of the work and notes from Nazi officials about where they were taken and when. The ledger was among documents seized by French forces from Germany at the end of the war, according to the French Foreign Ministry.
With guidance from art historians, Goering gathered a museum-worthy collection spanning leading genres of Western European art. He repeatedly visited occupied Paris, a prominent global art market, during the war.
At the end of the war, some of the works were found by American troops, and the French government worked to recover artworks pillaged from France. Many works were restored to Jewish families, but others remain in government collections, their original owners never found.
Historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus, who compiled the catalog, is now resuscitating efforts to restore the artworks to their owners.
Fabius described the collection as “an odious hunting trophy.”

The Billionaire, the Picassos and a $30 Million Gift to Shame a Middleman

“Femme se Coiffant,” left, and “Espagnole à l’Éventail,” Picasso portraits of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, are to be returned to her daughter. Credit 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
MONACO — In what appears at first glance to be a simple, magnanimous act, a Russian billionaire is poised this week to return two Picassos, valued at $30 million, to the artist’s stepdaughter, who says the works, both portraits of her mother — Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s second wife — were stolen from her.
The businessman, Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, owner of one of the world’s most valuable art collections, said in an interview last week that he bought the works in good faith in 2013, without any hint that there was a question about their title.
“I feel solidarity with her, especially because there is a strong emotional link between the portraits of her and her mother,” Mr. Rybolovlev said in the interview from his penthouse apartment here overlooking the Mediterranean.

But Mr. Rybolovlev’s decision is much more than just a chivalrous, expensive gesture. The man from whom he bought the portraits, Yves Bouvier, is also Mr. Rybolovlev’s adversary in what has become perhaps the largest feud in the art world today. And by returning the art in such a public fashion, he is drawing attention to their broader fight.

Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, the buyer, at his apartment in Monaco. Credit Benjamin Bechet for The New York Times

For the past year, Mr. Rybolovlev has been battling Mr. Bouvier in courtrooms in Paris, Monaco, Singapore and Hong Kong in a dispute that has shed light on some of the murkier corners of the international art market. He has accused Mr. Bouvier, who helped him amass his collection, of fraud by overcharging him as much as $1 billion for multiple pieces of art.
Karen Boyer, a New York art adviser, said the dispute was “being watched pretty widely.”
“A movie could be made out of it,” she added.
The feud began last year, Mr. Rybolovlev said, when by chance he met an art adviser over lunch during a Caribbean vacation and discovered that — in a purchase arranged by Mr. Bouvier — he had paid $118 million for a Modigliani painting that a hedge fund billionaire, Steven A. Cohen, had sold for only $93.5 million.
Now, by returning the Picassos as planned in Paris on Thursday, Mr. Rybolovlev is supporting Picasso’s stepdaughter, Catherine Hutin-Blay, whose theft claim is being investigated by French officials.
But Mr. Bouvier complains he is being unfairly attacked by an art-world insider who understands the rules completely. He says he believed he had legally purchased the Picasso works, and their return, he said, is being staged only to embarrass him.
“It’s a pure media show,” said Mr. Bouvier, 52, who nonetheless was ordered by the French court to deposit the price of the portraits while the inquiry progresses.
Though it is his work as an art dealer and adviser that has drawn fire from Mr. Rybolovlev, Mr. Bouvier, a Swiss businessman, is better known as a man who runs an expanding network of freeports, the largely tax-free storage depots where wealthy collectors now store so many of their treasures.
The dispute would be noteworthy if it were only a clash of giant egos. But Mr. Rybolovlev says his goal is larger. Sitting in his Monte Carlo home, Mr. Rybolovlev, a trim, reserved man of 48, announced with clinical detachment his hope of focusing attention on the often opaque nature of transactions in the art market, where buyers often do not know the identity of sellers.
“If the market were more transparent, these things wouldn’t happen,” he said.
The two men met in 2003, when Mr. Bouvier began helping Mr. Rybolovlev with his collection. Trained as a physician, Mr. Rybolovlev made his fortune in the production and export of potash fertilizer after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Forbes currently estimates his worth at more than $8 billion. Through family trusts, he has bought a Greek island, Monaco’s soccer team and real estate around the world, including Donald Trump’s former oceanfront home in Florida.
He has also spent nearly $2 billion on art, relying often on Mr. Bouvier’s contacts to obtain works by El Greco, van Gogh, Matisse and others.
Mr. Bouvier is known as the “king of the freeports” because he is the main operator or lead private investor in three of the half-dozen or so major freeports that are known to specialize in art. His private transportation company and high-tech warehouses in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore draw business from wealthy collectors who want to store and trade their possessions privately with tax advantages.
In these roles, he circulates on the global art circuit, building a network of contacts that he puts to work for his art-buying clients, like Mr. Rybolovlev, who was his biggest. “That is the way of the art market,” said Mr. Bouvier, a wiry man who wore sneakers to an interview at a Geneva steakhouse. “It’s a hunt for information.” And those who collect it, he said, expect to be paid.
Larry Gagosian, the New York art dealer, is among those who question whether Mr. Bouvier should be both storing and selling art since running a warehouse gives him privileged information about collectors’ art holdings.
“I’d consider it a terrible conflict of interest and would never keep art long term in the warehouse of a dealer,” Mr. Gagosian said.


Yves Bouvier, the dealer, at his office in Geneva. Credit Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone

Mr. Rybolovlev acknowledges, though, that he had full confidence in Mr. Bouvier during a period when, by his account, they spent much time together on his private Greek island or in the soccer stands at Monaco.
Though Mr. Bouvier acknowledges socializing with Mr. Rybolovlev, he says the two were not close. “I never spoke to him directly for more than two minutes on the ski lift,” said Mr. Bouvier, who noted that they communicated through translators because the Russian businessman spoke little French or English.
Everyone agrees their relationship suddenly soured late last year as they argued over payments and disputed the terms under which they were doing business. Mr. Rybolovlev says he had believed Mr. Bouvier was acting as his intermediary in their transactions, negotiating the best price and taking a 2 percent fee, based on the purchase price.
In emails to the Russian’s adviser, Mr. Bouvier appeared to portray himself as negotiating hard terms or, in one example, urging Mr. Rybolovlev to make a speedy purchase because “the seller is very old and has a heart condition.” Mr. Bouvier, though, said it was always clear that he was operating as an independent seller who could buy the art and resell on his own terms and charge Mr. Rybolovlev what the market would bear.

Last January, Mr. Rybolovlev filed a criminal complaint in Monaco, asserting that his trusted adviser had been secretly marking up the works that he obtained on the collector’s behalf. Mr. Bouvier was arrested but released on bail, and the case is still unresolved.
Mr. Rybolovlev also went to court in Singapore, where Mr. Bouvier lives, to freeze $1.1 billion of Mr. Bouvier’s assets. But a court there lifted the freeze.
“It is at least doubtful, even if not wholly incredible, that the respondents genuinely believed that the remuneration for Mr. Bouvier’s services was limited to the 2 percent fee that the respondents plainly knew they were paying him,” the judge in the case wrote.
Their latest skirmish involves the two portraits of Roque, who committed suicide in 1986. In testimony to French investigators earlier this year, Ms. Hutin-Blay, 67, said she had entrusted the gouache portraits of her mother and other works to a business partner of Mr. Bouvier’s to store for her in a vault outside Paris.
Several years later, she said, an art restorer who worked for Mr. Bouvier’s company in the Geneva Freeport, told her that the painting had been brought there, restored and sold to Mr. Rybolovlev.
In March, Ms. Hutin-Blay filed a legal complaint asserting that her property had been stolen.
For his part, Mr. Bouvier said that while he never met Ms. Hutin-Blay, he had believed intermediaries were representing her in the sale. Documents show he wired $8 million for the Picasso portraits in 2010 to the Nobilo Trust, of which, he said, he believed she was a beneficiary.
“I am not crazy,” he said. “I’m not going to sell stolen art to someone who has bought 2 billion in art from me. He was my biggest client. I am not a fool.”
But Ms. Hutin-Blay’s lawyer in Paris, Anne-Sophie Nardon, said that Ms. Hutin-Blay had never authorized the sale of the paintings or received the money. She declined further comment and would not discuss whether Ms. Hutin-Blay did have a relationship to the Nobilo Trust.
After they turn over the paintings on Thursday to Ms. Hutin-Blay’s lawyer, Mr. Rybolovlev’s representatives said, they expect French police investigators to take custody of them to authenticate the paintings and await the outcome of the judicial proceedings. But he said he was taking this step now because “I understand her emotional state.”
“It was a personal act of betrayal,” he said.
Mr. Bouvier’s French lawyer, Ron Soffer, pointed out that Mr. Bouvier had not been charged with a crime. Mr. Bouvier himself seemed unbowed during the interview last week, as he rummaged through a shopping bag full of documents that he said showed how unfair it was to suggest he had sold Mr. Rybolovlev stolen Picassos.
“Just till now, I have been a gentleman,” he said. “But from now on, I am the resistance and I will reveal the truth.”
Irish National Extradited on Rhino Horn Charges
(CN) - An Irish national was extradited to the United States and appeared in court this week on charges of rhinoceros horn trafficking, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
     Patrick Sheridan was arrested in the United Kingdom in January after a request by the United States. The federal government sought Sheridan's extradition over his alleged role in trafficking black rhinoceros horns, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice.
     A Waco, Texas, federal grand jury indicted Sheridan and a co-defendant last year on charges they conspired to buy and sell the rhinoceros horns and on violations of the Lacey Act. Sheridan, the co-defendant and Michael Slattery Jr. bought the horns from a Texas taxidermist and then sold them in New York, according to the indictment.
     Slattery pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. He was described by the Justice Department as a member of The Rathkeale Rovers.
     Also known as Irish Travelers, Europol says this nomadic, tight-knit extended family group has been involved in an epidemic of raids on museums in Europe involving the theft of rhinoceros horns. The group allegedly leverages the rising price for rhinoceros horns on the black market to be used for traditional medicines and carving.
     Slattery admitted that he traveled within the United States between May 2010 and April 2011 to purchase rhinoceros horns, and then resold them to private individuals or consigned them to auction houses in the United States.
     Sheridan and his unnamed co-defendant are also charged with making a fraudulent bill of sale in an attempt to make their purchase of the rhinoceros horns appear legal. Sheridan appeared in Federal Court on Monday and his arraignment and detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday, the government said.
     If convicted, Sheridan and the co-defendant face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
     "Rhino horn trafficking is having a devastating effect on the rhino and the allegations facing this individual are just the type of illegal behavior that is fueling an international market for horns. We must stop it in its tracks," John Cruden, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement Tuesday.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Art Theft

How much do you know about stolen art? Theft and forgery in the world of art is actually big business. Read our article to find out nine things you didn't know about art theft.

Art theft and forgery is big business. In actual fact, as reported by the Telegraph newspaper on art crime news and also shown in Printerinks' latest interactive art data graphic on Theft and Forgery in the World of Art, art-related crimes in places like the United Kingdom total an average of over 300 million pounds annually, with six to eight billion dollars’ worth of art stolen (or forged) worldwide each year.
So what happens to a piece of art when it’s stolen? It’s estimated that only five to ten percent of stolen artworks are ever recovered, and many great masterpieces (such as those stolen by the Nazis during World War II) have never resurfaced again.
Some stolen artworks journey the world over and over. The interactive graphic shows the journey of stolen paintings, and lists some of the most audacious and memorable art heists in world history. You’ll also find out about some of the most infamous forgers in history, many of whom managed to fool museums and private collectors for decades. Here are nine things you may not have known:

Most art is stolen from private homes

When people think of art theft, they often think of museums, but 52 percent of stolen artwork disappears from the homes of private collectors, while another eight percent is stolen from places of worship. 95 percent of this stolen art never returns to its country of origin.

A total of 50,000 to 100,000 works of art are taken by art thieves each year

40 percent of all art thefts take place within the United Kingdom, while 19 percent of art thefts occur in the United States.

The United States and the UK each employ an “Art Crime Team”

In 2004, the FBI established a team of special agents responsible for investigating art theft and forgery cases. To date, the team has recovered more than 2,600 items, worth over $150 million. The U.S. Art Crime Team consists of 16 people, one for every 21 million people in the country, whereas the United Kingdom’s team employs only two full-time agents and one part-time agent.

Michelangelo is among the world’s most famous forgers

Renowned artist Michelangelo used to make copies of major works, age them artificially, and secretly swap them for the originals. The most prolific forger of art was Mark Landis, a diagnosed schizophrenic born in 1955 who tricked over 60 museums into believing his replicas were authentic.

A family now famous for their art forgeries lived in abject poverty

The British Greenhalgh family produced forgeries worth up to 11 million dollars between 1989 and 2006. Despite the value of their forgeries, they lived frugally and laundered most of the money. They were eventually sentenced to four years in prison by Scotland Yard.

The largest art heist in United States history ended in no arrests

Over 500 million dollars in art, including five Degas and three Rembrandts, was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. No arrests were ever made, and there is an outstanding five million dollars reward for information on the case.

One of the most famous art heists in history took place in broad daylight

Stéphane Breitweiser was given only 26 months for stealing over two hundred works of art

Over a period of six years, Breitweiser admitted to stealing artwork from museums all across Europe. The stolen works were valued at over a billion dollars, and only about half were ever recovered.

Buyers can take steps to protect themselves against forged or stolen art

Obtaining a certificate of authenticity or using digital authentication techniques, a buyer can prevent themselves from being defrauded. Buyers can also detect forgeries by familiarizing themselves with the artist and understanding their techniques and subject matter.

Police arrested the robbers, who stole the 73-year-old Muscovite service fabergé and his sword

Moscow police detained three accomplices in the robbery, during which the pensioner was stolen antique dinnerware, made world-famous jewelry house fabergé.
On Thursday simultaneously in two locations, the staff of the 18th division of the Moscow criminal investigation Department detained the two suspects are 30-year and 50-year-old residents of Moscow, reports the official website of the Ministry of internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
One of the detainees had been convicted for committing robberies. Later in his apartment and found the stolen property.
And on Friday around noon at the intersection of Nametkin and Union operatives together with the crew of the traffic police and employees of private security GU MVD detained the third suspect is 45-year-old Muscovite.
The investigation began on August 27, when the police asked the 73-year-old resident of the capital, a statement about the robbery. He said that when he heard the doorbell, opened the front door. Immediately after that, his apartment was raided by four intruders in masks.
«Threatening with a knife to the victim and his cousin, the robbers tied them up with duct tape, cracked the safe and took money, jewelry and personal belongings worth about three million rubles,» — said in a press release.
In addition, criminals have stolen Antiques: tea set, Faberge, silver service of the XVIII century, a sword and a pistol, inlaid with precious stones and silver, and antique paintings. The exact cost of the Antiques are difficult to determine, approximately several tens of millions of rubles, reports «Interfax».
In fact the incident a criminal case under item 162 of the criminal code («Robbery»).

Antique cups and saucers stolen from Osterley Park House

Two 300-year-old cups with saucers have been stolen from a country house.
The antiques, valued at between £2,000 and £3,000, were taken from Osterley Park House in Twickenham, south-west London, on 16 July.
They were taken from a locked cabinet in a room that was closed to the public due to a wedding at the house.
The pieces have images of Russian ruler Catherine the Great and Prussian king Frederick William II, and were made between 1770 and 1775.
The cups and saucers, which are made of Berlin porcelain, are described as dark blue and painted 'en grisaille' with heavy gilding, flower sprays, finials and branch handles.
Det Con Ray Swan, from the Mets Art's and Antiques Unit, said: "The cups and saucers are of significant historical value, we believe that whoever took them specifically targeted these pieces.
"We would urge anyone who may know of their whereabouts to come forward as they may hold vital information to help us catch whoever was responsible for this burglary.