Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, To Live & Die In L.A. Encino Art Heist Cracked Courtesy Of "The Donald" Hrycyk That Is !!



Paintings in $10-million Encino heist recovered


Nine of 12 paintings stolen from a Los Angeles home in 2008 are recovered by authorities
Paintings worth $10 million were quietly taken from the home of an elderly Los Angeles couple
For six years, the mystery surrounding one of the largest art heists in Los Angeles history baffled police. Then, a shadowy figure by the name of "Darko" surfaced in Europe.
Darko held himself out as a fixer for someone in California wanting to peddle the paintings. The items, police knew, had been stolen from an Encino home in summer 2008. The collection included works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera and was worth an estimated $10 million.
The discovery led undercover FBI agents to pretend to be interested in buying the art. They arranged for a meeting at a Brentwood hotel.

There appeared Raul Espinoza, who was arrested after he tried to sell the agents the artworks, according to a search warrant filed in court this month. Authorities recovered nine of the 12 paintings, the warrant said.
The return of the stolen works — no small feat in the world of art theft, where recovery rates are low — marks a significant victory for investigators. The burglary had been swift, and there were few clues.


At the home where the dozen works were part of a multimillion-dollar art collection owned by an elderly couple, caretakers normally shuffled through on a round-the-clock basis.
The couple, one of whom was 88 at the time of the theft, had gained their wealth through real estate investments.
On the morning of Aug. 23, 2008, the caretaker on duty had left for what she said was a 49-minute period to buy groceries at Gelson's.
The home was equipped with a security system, but the couple's children told investigators that the alarm wasn't functioning. Every entryway was locked except for the kitchen door on the side of the home.
When the caretaker returned just after noon, the paintings that had hung on the hallway and living room walls were gone, frames and all.
The couple, inside their bedrooms, hadn't heard the thief or thieves. And police weren't called to the home until the following morning, according to a police report.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.

Several works of art and paintings worth millions of dollars were left behind.
What led investigators to Darko is unclear. Reached Wednesday, Det. Donald Hrycyk of the Los Angeles Police Department's art theft detail declined to say whether anyone else had been arrested or if the remaining artworks had been found.
But in the search warrant, filed Dec. 5, Hrycyk said he suspected "the original burglary could not have been accomplished without the assistance of inside help from one of the employees who worked for the victims at the time of the crime."
Hrycyk wrote that he believed Espinoza, who also goes by the alias Jorge Lara, knew the insider.
During the Oct. 23 meeting in the hotel, Hrycyk watched and listened to the negotiation between Espinoza and undercover agents through a hidden camera in the hotel room, he wrote in the warrant.
The agents were offering $700,000 for nine pieces. Espinoza tried to peddle three additional artworks to the agents, including one painting that matched the description of an Endre Szasz piece taken from the Encino home, the search warrant said. Espinoza used "his cellphone to call confederates to signal them during the operation," Hrycyk wrote in the document.
Espinoza, 45, was arrested at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, according to arrest records. He has been charged with one count of receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty at an Oct. 27 arraignment and remains jailed at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. His bail is $5 million.
Espinoza's relationship to Darko is unclear, authorities said.
This month, investigators sought the warrant to search Espinoza's cellphone, believing that photos and electronic communications could bring the long-running investigation closer to an end.
matt.hamilton@latimes.com
Twitter: @MattHjourno

Major L.A. art heist: Recovered art worth over $12 million, FBI says

Art worth more than $12 million was recovered in one of the biggest art heists in Los Angeles history, the FBI said Friday.
The works were stolen in 2008 from an Encino couple, who did not live to see the recovery of the works. The husband died within four months of the crime, authorities said, and his wife died earlier this year.

A dozen paintings were stolen from the elderly couple's multimillion-dollar collection. The works were taken from the couple's home in broad daylight while they were in their bedrooms nearby.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.
See more on the news conference below.
In a news conference Friday, agents said there are three pieces yet to be recovered. One of them is believed to be by Hungarian artist Endre Szasz. The FBI said the value of the artwork ranks as the greatest recovered in recent history.
A reward of $25,000 was offered for any more information regarding the rest of the stolen art.

Nine paintings worth $10 million that were stolen in one of the 'largest art heists in Los Angeles history' are recovered as the thief tried to sell them

  • The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the works to undercover FBI agents
  • The stolen paintings included works by Hans Hofmann, Chaim Soutine, Arshile Gorky, Emil Nolde, Lyonel Feininger and Kess van Dongen
  • The artwork, including pieces by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, is worth millions and was taken while the couple was at home
  • Both art experts and authorities described the art theft as one of the largest in Los Angeles history 
Authorities have recovered $10 million worth of art — including paintings by Chagall and Diego Rivera — that were stolen in one of Los Angeles' largest art heists.
The FBI and Los Angeles Art Cop Donald Hrycyk recovered nine pieces of art at a West LA hotel in October, and a man was arrested, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The works, including Chagall's 'Les Paysans' and Diego Rivera's 'Mexican Peasant,' were among a dozen swiped from the Encino home of a wealthy real estate investor on the morning of Aug. 24, 2008, by a crook or crooks who entered through the unlocked kitchen door, police said.
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera.

Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
The elderly residents were in their bedrooms and heard nothing, police said.
The case grew cold until this September, when Detective Donald Hrycyk of the LAPD's art theft detail received a tip that a man in Europe known as 'Darko' was seeking buyers for the stolen art, the Times said.
Darko 'indicated that he was merely a middleman for an unknown person in possession of the art in California,' Hrycyk wrote in a search warrant.
During the ensuing undercover operation, Raul Espinoza, 45, was contacted at the hotel, where he tried to sell the estimated $10 million worth of paintings for $700,000 cash, prosecutors contend.
Three stolen paintings remain missing.
Espinoza pleaded not guilty in October to receiving stolen property and remains jailed on $5 million bail.
Messages seeking comment were left for his public defender, Aparna Voleti, on Wednesday.
The Times said Hrycyk sought permission this month to search Espinoza's cellphone for possible photos or communications that could reveal the identities of the thieves involved in the original burglary.
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Paul (Gauguin) The Other One, As $50 Million Stolen Art Returned To Handler, Buon Natale !!

Italian pensioner awarded ownership of Gauguin stolen from London flat

Rome authorities declare Italian pensioner can keep £28 million Gauguin masterpiece stolen from London flat of Marks and Spencer heiress more than 40 years ago

A Carabinieri stands next to the two paintings stolen in London in the 1970s by French artists Paul Gauguin  
A Carabinieri stands next to the two paintings stolen in London in the 1970s by French artist Paul Gauguin "Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien", (L) and Pierre Bonnard "La femme aux deux fauteuils"

An Italian pensioner who unknowingly acquired a Gauguin masterpiece after it was stolen from a London flat more than 40 years ago has been awarded ownership of the painting, which is estimated to be worth £28 million (35 million euros) by Rome authorities.
The man, who has requested anonymity out of fear that the painting could attract thieves, now plans to sell it and hopes his life will be transformed after decades of working gruelling night shifts in a Fiat factory.
The pensioner bought the 1889 Gauguin painting, entitled "Fruits on a table or still life with a small dog", at an auction in Turin in 1975, along with a work by another French artist, Pierre Bonnard, entitled "Woman with two armchairs", now thought to be worth around 600,000 euros.
Identified only as Nicolo, he plans to take his wife on the honeymoon they could never afford – a journey between Trieste, in Italy's north-east, and Vienna.
"I'm already in negotiations over the sale of the Gauguin," the 70-year-old told La Repubblica newspaper. "Lots of private collectors have contacted me and I'm considering the offers along with my family."
He said he would keep the Bonnard because it had great sentimental value.
He also plans to buy a farm outside his home town of Syracuse in Sicily and hopes to use the rest of his anticipated fortune to assure a comfortable future for his children and grandchildren.
He admitted that it had been "a stroke of luck" that he had bought the paintings, which auctioneers had told him were worthless "rubbish" 40 years ago.
"Maybe I had an intuition. I just liked them. When I took them home I said to myself, 'I don't care who painted them, I find them beautiful,'" he said.
The paintings were originally owned by Mathilda Marks, an heiress to the Marks and Spencer empire, but were stolen by con men from the flat she shared with her American husband in Chester Terrace, near Regent's Park in London, in 1970.
The thieves smuggled the paintings by train through France, intending to enter Italy, but panicked while waiting to cross the border and left them on a train heading towards Turin.
They were found by railway inspectors and languished for years in a dusty lost property office before being put up for auction by Italy's national railway network in 1975.
The Fiat worker, who regularly attended the railway auctions as a hobby, bought the two masterpieces for 45,000 lire – just £19 in today's money.
Not realising how valuable they were, he hung them on the wall of his kitchen, first in Turin and later, after he retired, at his home in Syracuse.
It was the curiosity of his son, who had a keen interest in art history, that eventually made him think that the paintings might be more than worthless daubings.
By comparing a dedication on the Gauguin painting with examples of the artist's handwriting, they realised that they had a masterpiece by one of the world's best known artists on their hands.
They contacted a special unit of the Italian police that deals with art and antiquities, who along with art experts confirmed earlier this year that the works were by Gauguin and Bonnard.
The two paintings were then sequestered by the police, who set about trying to establish their rightful ownership.
They liaised with the Metropolitan Police in London to try to discover whether anyone in the UK might have a legitimate claim to the artworks.
But Mrs Marks and her American husband, Terence Kennedy, had no children and no claimants came forward.
"I acquired the painting in good faith and that has been recognised by the authorities in Rome," Nicolo said.
The decision to award the paintings to the pensioner was made by a court in Rome, based on information provided by a special unit of the Carabinieri police that specialises in art and antiquities.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that had any claimants in the UK come forward, the information would have been passed to the Italian police.
But none did, so the force had no objections to the paintings being returned to the ex-factory worker.#
Backstory:
 http://arthostage.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/stolen-art-watch-italian-law-used-to.html

TV antiques expert's £200,000 collection of vintage watches, jewellery and diamonds stolen by gang of thieves in balaclavas

  • Tom Keane's antiques business was robbed by a gang of thieves
  • Expert has appeared on Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic
  • Stole contents of a jewellery cabinet from Oxfordshire business 
A television antiques expert told of his anger yesterday after thieves escaped with up to £200,000 worth of watches, diamonds and jewellery in a ram raid on his business.
Tom Keane, who has featured in programmes such as Cash in the Attic, Bargain Hunt and Dickinson's Real Deal, said a masked and gloved gang broke in to the village antiques centre in the early hours of the morning.
The four-strong gang - all wearing balaclavas - were caught on CCTV attempting to drag a safe off the premises using the stolen Land Rover they used as a getaway car.

Tom Keane, an antiques expert who has appeared on Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt, had his business plundered by raiders wearing balaclavas
Tom Keane, an antiques expert who has appeared on Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt, had his business plundered by raiders wearing balaclavas
They escaped with the contents of a jewellery cabinet in the reception area of his Oxfordshire business, The Swan at Tetsworth - based in a converted coaching inn - during the early hours of Friday.
Yesterday Mr Keane, who lives in West London, told how police missed the gang by just three minutes after they were automatically summoned to the village by the antique centre's alarm system.
He said: 'One glass cabinet had over £100,000 of watches in it.

'The police have told us that this is the fifth or sixth antiques business to be hit across Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the last few months - although we did not find out about the other raids until after we were hit.
'It is organised crime. The gang stole the Land Rover from North Oxfordshire and dumped it up the road after the raid.' Mr Keane, a father-of-three and grandfather of five, said he was still working to establish exactly what had been taken in the raid.
'Smoke bombs went off as part of the security system and there is stuff all over the floor', he said, adding that Rolex watches from the 1970s and 1980s, jewellery and diamonds were known to be amongst the haul taken.

The auctioneer said the items stolen had a combined value of between £150,000 and £200,000 

The auctioneer said the items stolen had a combined value of between £150,000 and £200,000

Mr Keane (seen in the ITV programme Auction Party in 2010) said police were examining CCTV footage from the night in question
Mr Keane (seen in the ITV programme Auction Party in 2010) said police were examining CCTV footage from the night in question
Some of the timepieces were solid gold with custom-made diamond faces, he said.
He estimated the total value of the items to be between £150,000 to £200,000.
He said officers were now studying CCTV of the raid, as well as earlier footage from the system to see if any potential gang members can be identified 'casing out' the premises.
'We have already found images of a man in a balaclava looking through the windows two nights before the raid', he added.
Thames Valley Police spokesman said: 'We were called after an alarm went off. A side door was forced and a glass cabinet containing jewellery and antiques was smashed. Items are missing.' 
Mr Keane has spent 25 years in the antiques business, beginning as a car boot sale trader before eventually taking over Chiswick Auctions in west London.
He specialises in art and antiques from the 17th to the 20th Century and acts as a consultant valuer for television companies and clients including interior designers and dealers.
The Swan at Tetsworth, near Thame, represents 80 antique dealers in 40 showrooms of top quality English, French and country furniture, as well as smaller decorative antiques.
Pink Panthers' female member jailed ten years

Pink Panthers' female member jailed ten years
Verbier, where the convicted woman rented a chalet for accomplice robbers to hide out. Photo: Switzerland Tourism
The Serb woman, regarded as a “professional criminal”, was convicted of participating in five armed robberies of boutiques in the cantons of Vaud and Valais between 2009 and 2011, according to media reports.
An economist by training, she played a key role in all the robberies, which resulted in losses of several million francs’ worth of jewellery, the court heard.
In the case of the Verbier holdup, she rented a chalet in the upscale Valais resort to shelter armed crooks who made off with booty valued at close to four million francs ($4.16 million) from a boutique in the village on November 3rd 2009, the ATS news agency said.
Afterward she planned, supported and physically participated in other heists from shops at Crans-Montana (another ski resort area in Valais), Lausanne and Rolle in the canton of Vaud, the news agency said.
The corpulent woman, who went by the nickname “Monstro”, admitted her role in the robbery of a Lausanne jewellery shop on April 20th 2011 and another one in Rolle In July the same year but otherwise provided confusing testimony, 24heures newspaper reported.
She was arrested on August 8th 2011 as she was planning another robbery and has been kept in preventive detention ever since.
An accomplice, also a Serb, who is currently imprisoned in France, which refuses to extradite him. was sentenced in absentia to four and a half years in jail, 24heures said.
The woman’s court appearance took place under high security.
In May 2013, a couple of members of the Pink Panthers gang made a sensational escape from a prison near Lausanne with three other prisoners.
Two of the inmates were rounded up the next day and one of the Pink Panthers, a 47-year-old Macedonian with French citizenship, was later arrested in August at his home near Avignon.
The other two escapees, including one alleged member of the gang, remained at large.
The Pink Panthers emerged from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to become the most successful jewel thieves in the world, AFP reported last year.
According to Interpol, they have since 1999 snatched jewels with a value in excess of 330 million euros ($440 million) in heists that are often executed with breathtaking speed and precision.
They gained their nickname with a raid on a London branch of Graff Diamonds in 2003, in which two of them posed as wealthy would-be customers, persuading staff to open doors for them before helping themselves to diamonds worth millions.
Although one of the robbers was overpowered at the scene and another later arrested, only a fraction of the diamonds were recovered, one of them hidden in a pot of face cream.
That was reminiscent of a scene from the 1975 film "The Return of the Pink Panther" and resulted in a nickname that the gang members themselves adopted, wearing pink shirts for a subsequent raid in Zurich.