Friday, September 29, 2006

Official Warning!!


In order to prevent a gun battle, and the potential loss of life, the gangs who have high value stolen art in their possession,or their control.

(You know who you are, and so does Law enforcement, Gardai, FBI, Scotland Yard Art Squad!!)

i.e.:
Da Vinci stolen from Scotland,£30-50 million

Paintings, including Vermeer stolen from Gardner Museum Boston, St Patrick's day 1990 £300 million

Cezanne stolen from Oxford 2000 £4-6 million

White Duck stolen from Norfolk 1994??
£5 million

Harry Hyams stolen art collection £40 million

Waddesten Manor Rothschild gold boxes.£100million

Henry Moore bronze £3.5 million
Many other stolen high value artworks.

Any attempt to hand back any of these high value art works for any, I repeat any, reward money will result in either arrests, or at the very least not a single dime, penny, euro will be paid.

My advice to you Handlers of High Value Stolen Art is to either hand the artworks back for free, or wrap them up and wait until their is a change of heart and law that will allow these artworks to be handed back in an honest way, without the set up's being planned as we speak.

My warning is because if a set up is carried through there will be a shoot out that could result in innocent people being caught in the crossfire.

Remember:
"No reward money will ever be paid for stolen high value artworks and anyone who says otherwise is lying."


*********************************************************

Stolen £5m Titian found in carrier bag after seven-year hunt

Nicholas Pyke
Friday August 23, 2002
The Guardian



The seven-year hunt for a stolen Titian masterpiece worth more than £5m has ended with the discovery of the painting, safe inside a plastic carrier bag.
The work, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, by the 16th century Venetian master, was taken from the first floor state drawing room of Lord Bath's Longleat estate in Wiltshire in January 1995.

Yesterday it emerged that the painting, which has lost its frame but is otherwise intact, had been discovered in the Greater London area in a plastic shopping bag after a search led by the leading art detective and former Scotland Yard officer Charles Hill, who is now security adviser to the Historic Houses Association.



A £100,000 reward was offered for information leading to its safe return following the theft. But details of what has happened with the reward and the recovery itself have not been revealed until now for what are described as operational reasons. Two years after the theft it was reported that Longleat received a ransom demand for the painting.
Painted on a wooden panel 2ft wide, the picture is one of Titian's most famous and depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus as an infant with Joseph looking on.

It was bought by the 4th Marquis of Bath at auction from Christie's in 1878.

Speaking yesterday, Longleat's general manager Tim Moore said he was delighted the work had been found intact. "It has been a long and difficult process but we are all extremely pleased that the painting is finally safe," he said.

"Mr Hill is the leading expert in his field and he has remained confident throughout that the picture would eventually turn up.

"He was appointed to recover the painting, he has succeeded and we are extremely grateful for all his hard work."

The painting will undergo conservation work before being returned to its country home, but it is not thought to be badly damaged.

Lord Bath, who is in France, was said to be delighted at the news of the painting's safe recovery. He said: "I will wait until I have been able to see it with my own eyes before I get too excited or make any further comments."


What Charlie Hill actually did was to go to the Marquis directly and obtain £15,000 cash as deposit.

This was given to David Dudon, who passed it on.

The Titian was then returned, via coach stop, then the other £85,000 was escrowed to Dudon.


Law Enforcement was so upset at Charlie Hill the Metropolitan Police commissioner David Verness issued a fatwa against Charlie Hill and he was told that if he ever tried to recover stolen art in this way again he would be arrested.

Charlie Hill has been dropped by AXA and all the other art loss firms because he would not be party to set ups.

As you will read below Charlie tried to recover the Gold boxes in the same way as the Titian but failed because law enforcement threatened to metaphorically, "Fuck him in the ass" if he did, if you will excuse the vernacular.




The lord, the lag and the stolen antiques

Rich man Lord Rothschild joins thief in attempt to recover family treasures

Sandra Leville
Saturday August 28, 2004
The Guardian

It is a tale of the lord, the lag and the search for the lost antiques. In an unlikely alliance, one of the world's richest and most privileged men has joined forces with a notorious thief, a man who graduated from approved school to commit his life to plundering the treasures of the wealthy.

More than a year on from an audacious smash and grab raid on his family home at Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury, Lord Jacob Rothschild, a member of one of the most influential dynasties in modern Europe, has accepted the services of a well known criminal in a final attempt to recover the tens of millions of pounds worth of his heritage which was stolen in the burglary.

For the Old Etonian philanthropist, whose family influence stretches from merchant banking to the upmarket Baron de Rothschild wines, it is a last resort, an effort to succeed where the police and private investigators have failed and track down one of the world's rarest collections of 18th-century miniature gold boxes.

For Alan "Jimmy" Johnson, the product of a north Wales children's home whose roots trace back to Irish Gypsy travelling stock, it is a chance to clear his name.

When five masked men smashed a 4x4 vehicle into the walls of Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust-run stately home, and made off with the antiques in just four minutes last summer, the burglary made headlines across the world. Although there are similar collections at the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Waddesdon collection was considered the rarest, and a devastated Lord Rothschild offered a reward of £50,000 for its return.

Detectives blamed one man for the burglary; Jimmy Johnson, a 51-year-old Traveller, "antiques expert" and criminal. Johnson is known to police across the country. He has been arrested for everything from murder, to armed robbery and stealing caravans and admits he has targeted country homes for antiques.

But this time there was one problem with the police theory - Johnson was in prison at the time of the burglary, something he told detectives when they interviewed him several times in jail.

As police continued their hunt for the antiques the Johnson family were mentioned in a House of Lords debate on rural crime, Jimmy Johnson's name was passed to Lord Rothschild as the man responsible for his burglary and 200 police officers raided the family's caravan encampment in the Cotswolds.

"I sat in my cell and thought, 'How do you say this is nothing to do with me?'" Johnson told the Guardian.

"It seemed to me that certain villains were using my name to take the dairy [blame] off themselves. (Apprently, the gang responsible were a rival Irish Gang from the West of Ireland, Limerick??)

"I decided that I had to fight back. I have never informed on anyone in my life, never grassed anyone up, but the only thing I could do was find out who actually did this, get the stuff and give it back to Lord Rothschild."

On his release from prison eight weeks ago, Johnson turned up at Waddesdon Manor asking to see Lord Rothschild.

"He was covered in gold chains and tattoos and still had his probation tag on, he caused quite a stir I can tell you," a Waddesdon source said.

Despite his incongruous presence in the genteel surroundings, Lord Rothschild's aides offered him tea in bone china cups and over several meetings listened as he protested his innocence and promised to find their antiques.

"What he offered was to get our property back, 100% legitimately with the knowledge of the police," said the source.

"He told us he has been wrongly accused and he wanted to make sure that we were helped. At first we were very wary, but he is an extremely charming human being. He is well read and yes, cultured, and really he is probably our last hope."

Armed with a letter showing that what he was doing was with the full knowledge of Lord Rothschild and senior Thames Valley police officers, Johnson's search led him to the back streets of Catford, the stalls of Bermondsey market in south-east London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Yorkshire and Alicante in Spain. A dealer in India was also offered some gold boxes as well as certain Russian Mafia figures in Spain.

Scotland Yard pulled the plug and slapped down Thames Valley Police, threatening to arrest anyone recovering the gold boxes.

Along the way he was accused of being a grass but rationalised his breaching of the criminal code. "People like Lord Rothschild and every judge in the country were thinking that I am some sort of Don Corleone," he said. "I thought I would rather have villains as enemies."

This suposed code between criminals is a myth, the only "Stand up" guys who never trade info with law enforcement go to jail for a long time.

Johnson now believes he is within days of returning the boxes to Lord Rothschild and is likely to receive a substantial reward if he does so.

Charlie Hill, one of the leading private investigators into stolen art who is working with him and Waddesdon Manor, said there might be disquiet within some at the National Trust at paying money to the likes of Jimmy Johnson.

But he said: "There is a big difference between a reward and a ransom. It is reasonable for him to be paid a reward to cover his outlay, he is not the thief and he is not the handler. And without a doubt he is the best hope we have."

Exploits of a family business

Descendants of Albert Johnson, an Irish Gypsy and Muriel Slender, the Johnson clan numbers around 60, most of whom live in caravans in the Cotswolds.

At their head is Jimmy Johnson, father of five and grandfather of seven. His exploits include a rooftop demonstration at Horfield prison and an 18-hour protest at the top of a 10-metre tree during a severe gale to complain about his wrongful conviction for stealing a caravan. He was cleared at the court of appeal a year later. Recently released after serving four years for burglary, he lives in a caravan outside Reading with his wife, Sharon.

Ricky Johnson, Jimmy's brother, was jailed for conning pensioners out of £160,000 by persuading them to pay for work carried out by his building company.

When convicted he blamed Jesus. "I hope these people (pensioners) can find it in their hearts to understand that Christ works in mysterious ways and I follow his guiding voice."

When Judge Gabriel Hutton retired from the bench at Gloucester crown court, the Johnson's watched from the gallery as barristers paid tribute. At the end Ricky stood up to add: "May I say, from this side m'Lord, thank you for fairness."

Lord Rothschild, Jimmy Johnson and Charlie Hill were told by Law enforcement that if they recovered any high value stolen art such as the Gold boxes from Rothschild without arrests, no money would be paid and both would face arrest and charges brought against both Hill and Johnson., and even charges against Lord Rothschild for paying a reward.




August 28, 2003
Leonardo stolen in Scottish raid

What a year for brazen thefts of major masterpieces! Quite aside from archaeological artefacts, there's been Cellini's saltcellar, and now Leonardo's Madonna of the Yarnwinder. Here are some links: Telegraph, BBC, Independent, along with further Google News listings.

And in case you've forgotten, it's Leonardo, not "Da Vinci".

UPDATE: Looks like the thieves were caught on video. Here are some pictures.

THE Sunday Times offers a progress report:

Martin Kemp, professor of art history at Oxford University, yesterday confirmed that following recent x-ray research, he believed [the] Madonna with the Yarnwinder was a “prime original” .

His authentication of the work elevates its status and consequently its price [read: "value" -- D.]. Many had believed the painting was started by da Vinci [sic] but completed by one of his students.

Insurers believe the painting, which could now sell on the open market for between £80m and £150m, was stolen from the Duke’s Dumfriesshire home, Drumlanrig Castle, by an Irish gang who had no idea of its true value. They say the gang may have planned the theft to upstage rivals responsible for the theft of art worth £50m from Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, in June.

The “Johnson Gang”, who are originally from Co Longford, are also thought to have stolen Titian’s Rest on the Flight to Egypt from the Marquis of Bath’s Longleat home in 1995. The £5m painting was recovered after a £100,000 reward was paid last year.

“We believe it is a gang of Irish gypsies from Limerick area, who are known to us,” said a source close to the insurance company. Charles Hill, a fine art detective and the former head of Scotland Yard’s fine art unit, said the Madonna theft had the characteristics of a gang of travellers that have been known to police and investigators for some time. “Their style is quite unmistakeable,” said Hill. “They have adopted the style of the Johnson Gang and are quite daring. They have progressed from DSS fraud to car crime and now to this. They do it because it is so easy. It earns them notoriety and is a trophy crime.”

Irish gang jailed in UK for £1.5m social security fraud



By MELVYN HOWE and MARTINA DEVLIN

A GANG of Irish fraudsters who turned welfare benefit crime into a career, swindling around £1.5m, were jailed in London yesterday for a massive social security scam.

The Limerick men including a father and three sons used dozens of bogus identities and spent most days visiting post offices across the city pocketing their haul in one of Britain's biggest benefit frauds.

Jobseekers' allowances, Income Support and sickness, housing and invalidity benefits were all targeted in what the judge branded an ``extensive, well organised, professional fraud that struck at the heart of the welfare system''.

It took investigators an intensive 10-month surveillance operation to track down the team.

Some of the gang used so many different names they needed ``crib sheets'' to remind themselves who they were supposed to be on a given day, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

Ringleader Thomas Augustine Sheehy (61), imprisoned for four years after being described as a ``principal'', frequently returned to Ireland to spend his ill-gotten gains before going back to Britain for more booty. Altogether he pocketed stg£48,996.

After he and his sons plus the other gang members were arrested in simultaneous raids across east London last June, investigators noticed more than 100 claims ``suddenly stopped''.

Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Coleman said: ``You saw the welfare system, realised how simple it was to defraud it and decided to live high on the hog of the dishonestly-obtained benefits. I am told that this is the largest investigation undertaken by the DSS.

``In your own individual ways you were professional fraudsmen. To a greater or lesser extent you were engaged in the full-time occupation of making fraudulent claims.''

The six, together with another man not before the court, variously pleaded guilty to 73 charges of false accounting involving stg£115,000. But investigators believed total losses could amount to stg£1.2m.

Sheehy senior's three sons Denis (26) who lived with his father in Romford Road, Manor Park, east London; Kevin (28) of Withenshaw Road, Dagenham; and Thomas Christopher (35) of Bigland Street, Whitechapel, who also admitted one count of money laundering were each jailed for three years.

Thomas Whelan (30) of Sherwood Gardens, Isle of Dogs, received three years for the false accounting offences, with 18 months to run consecutively for possessing a handgun and three rounds of ammunition.

Thomas Patterson (29) of Goresbrook Road, Dagenham was imprisoned for two years. James Mulqueen (22) of Barking Road, Plaistow who skipped bail after admitting two charges of false accounting involving stg£194 of bogus claims was jailed for a year in his absence.

There are reports of up to £1 million reward offered for the Da Vinci, Mark Dalrymple, who has never stated exactly how much reward, is the loss adjuster on the Da Vinci case, unfortunetly the reward is uncollectable for me.

I was offered the Da Vinci if I put my marker on it for £100,000, then handed it back for the reward, in the same fashion as Charlie Hill recovered the Titian.

I declined, as I intend to stay within the law, however bad those laws are.

Mark Dalrymple told me not to bother as Law enforcement would not sanction any payment of reward monies without arrests and convictions, even then the likelyhood is law enforcement would not sanction a reward payment at all!

When a reward is offered there are the "Subject to" conditions, which concern condition of returned work of art and value, the primary condition is a so-called "COMFORT LETTER" from the police, stating that the person claiming the reward may be paid by the insurers/losers with the express consent of law enforcement. In order for anyone claiming a reward to get a "Comfort Letter" from police they first have to be registered as an "Informant", or "Human Source", as they are now called.

Rules on Registered Informants/Human Sources

Those who wish to destroy their lives and become informants are treated in the following manner.

First the potential Informant/Human Source meets two police officers from the "Source Unit" they only identify themselves by a psydenum such as Dick, or Bill, this prevents any fall back when the Informant gets "Hung out to Dry" The Informant never knows the real identity of his Handling officers.

Second, Police officers always make the following statement to potential Informants:
"You (the Informant) give us everything, we, (Police) give you nothing"

Third, and most importantly, when information is given to the Police by the Informant, they must tell the Police who gave them that information.

The police then duly go to that source and try and recruit that source, negating the previous informant, hence "Hung out to dry".

The Police Officers then bulldoze their way through informants getting information along the way leaving a trail of shattered lives for those who become sewer rats, Informants.

The current life expectencey for an informant is one year, the police will argue that the brief use of informants prevents corruption of its officers.

However, the amount of good quality intelligence recieved by law enforcement has been reduced by 90% in the last two years.

Losing £100,000 wouldn't hurt as much as being arrested for handing back the Da Vinci in good faith!
So, from the horses mouth, the reward for the Da Vinci, is ,uncollectable Fact!!!!

The 2002 Proceeds of Crime act in Britain has put paid to any hand backs.

Even if someone followed instructions from Law Enforcement and set up those with the Da Vinci, then Law Enforcement arrested those handling the Da Vinci, the informant would not be paid very much and would be "Hung out to Dry" by Law Enforcement once Da Vinci is recovered.

Law Enforcement in Britain is the same as the U.S. dishonest, duplicitous, and disingenuous.


Whether in America, Ireland, Europe, those of us trying to honourably facilitate the return of stolen high value art have all come to the conclusion that we will either get Fucked, Arrested, or Both by Law Enforcement in the present climate.

Until there is a real change of heart, art lovers will be held Art Hostage by the criminals, but especially by Law Enforcement.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Art Smuggler Offers Italy Mystery Masterpiece `X' to End Trial

By Vernon Silver

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- A convicted antiquities smuggler has offered to return a previously unknown ancient masterpiece known as ``Object X'' to Italy in exchange for reducing the jail time and fines he faces for supplying loot to U.S. museums.

A famous artist from the ancient world whose work compares to that of Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci created Object X, says the convicted art dealer, Giacomo Medici, who is free while awaiting appeal. The object, which may be a statue, vase, or something else -- he's not saying -- is worth millions, he says.

``It's something they can only dream about,'' Medici, 68, says of the Italian officials with whom he's negotiating to cut his 10-year prison sentence and 10-million euro ($12.8 million) fine. ``And only I can bring it to them.''

Medici's case is part of a broader prosecution that includes Marion True, the former antiquities curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, who is on trial in Rome for conspiracy and receiving smuggled art. She denies the charges.

The mystery masterpiece, if it exists, risks never coming to light if Medici and prosecutor Paolo Ferri fail to reach an agreement by Oct. 4, when a Rome court is scheduled to hear Medici's appeal. Italian law bars plea bargaining after an appeal starts, Ferri says.

A sticking point is that Medici wants a guarantee that the market value of the work, referred to as Object X by both sides in the talks, will wipe out his fine. The prosecutor says he wants to see the object before making promises.

Dubious Prosecutor

``It could be a bluff,'' says Ferri, who says he'd rather lose Medici's masterpiece than get duped. ``I'm sorry if it's important.''

Medici, describing the proposal over a lunch of grilled calamari in Rome, refuses to say where the object is or how quickly he can get his hands on it. ``It could be a flight from Australia or three hours by train from Naples,'' he says.

The Getty, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston's Museum of Fine Arts agreed this year to return antiquities to Italy based in part on evidence from Medici's December 2004 conviction for conspiracy, smuggling and receiving stolen antiquities.

Among the objects Medici was convicted for smuggling is a 2,500-year-old krater vase for mixing wine, painted by the Greek artist Euphronios, purchased by the Met in 1972 for $1 million. The Met agreed in February to give the pot and 20 other antiquities back to Italy.

Medici, a stocky, balding man, says the object he's offering is worth as much as the Euphronios krater, which the Met considered the finest Greek vase in its collection.

Ancient Goddess?

He says he's leaving Italian officials to wonder if Object X is another painted vase or a bronze by Lysippos, the personal sculptor of Alexander the Great, an ivory head or a 2,300-year- old goddess carved by the Greek master Praxiteles.

Equivalent objects have been valued at more than 10 million euros in the international antiquities market. Such a masterpiece has eluded Italian police who've searched Medici's homes over the past decade, breaking down walls in search of hidden compartments.

On Sept. 20, prosecutor Ferri offered to reduce Medici's sentence to six years and to use Object X to offset the 10- million euro fine, but he wouldn't guarantee that it would wipe out the whole debt, Medici says. In return, Medici would drop his appeal, letting the conviction stand.

Ferri says he can't comment on details of continuing talks but doesn't dispute Medici's general account. A six-year sentence would likely result in probation with no jail time, Ferri and Medici say.

Medici's Appeal

For Italy, such a deal would eliminate the risk of the court overturning Medici's conviction and endangering future talks with museums and other smuggling prosecutions.

Medici's lawyers have filed a 78-page appeal at the Rome Tribunal that says the evidence doesn't prove Medici handled the objects or that the antiquities were stolen from archaeological sites in Italy. The appeal, obtained by Bloomberg News, also says procedural violations should lead to the case's dismissal.

Ferri has filed a point-by-point rebuttal of the appeal, which by law he cannot make public, he says. The prosecutor says Medici's appeal is based mostly on technical issues and not on the substance of the charges.

Medici argues that he'll be exonerated by a rational look at the case, which consists mostly of photographs seized from his Geneva warehouse. The photos depict antiquities in various states of restoration before they arrived at the Met, Getty and other museums.

He says people often sent him photos of objects to appraise as an art expert.

``It's unjust to convict someone for trafficking in an object just because he has photos,'' says Medici, who traveled the world buying and selling antiquities before the court seized his passport in 2004.

The prosecutor says Medici's latest promise to come up with a masterpiece shows the conviction hasn't kept the Roman dealer from the antiquities trade.

``It means he's continuing to traffic,'' Ferri says.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vernon Silver in Rome at vtsilver@bloomberg.net

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ripped from the Walls (and the Headlines)

By Robert M. Poole

www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2005/july/ripped.

At 1:24 a.m. on March 18, 1990, as St. Patrick’s Day stragglers wobbled home for the night, a buzzer sounded inside the IsabellaStewartGardnerMuseum. One of two hapless museum guards answered it, saw what he thought were two Boston policemen outside the Palace Road entrance, and opened the door on the biggest art theft in U.S. history.

The intruders, who had apparently filched the uniforms, overpowered the guards and handcuffed them. They wrapped the guards’ heads in duct tape, leaving nose holes for breathing, and secured the men to posts in the basement. After disarming the museum’s video cameras, the thieves proceeded to take apart one of this country’s finest private art collections, one painstakingly assembled by the flamboyant Boston socialite Isabella Gardner at the end of the 19th century and housed since 1903 in the Venetian-style palazzo she built to display her treasures “for the education and enjoyment of the public forever.”

But as the poet Robert Burns warned long ago, the best laid schemes of mice and men “gang aft agley”—an insight no less applicable to heiresses. Less than a century elapsed before Mrs. Gardner’s high-minded plans for eternity began to crumble. Up a flight of marble stairs on the second floor, the thieves went to work in the Dutch Room, where they yanked one of Rembrandt’s earliest (1629) self-portraits off the wall. They tried to pry the painted wooden panel out of its heavy gilded frame, but when Rembrandt refused to budge, they left him on the floor, a little roughed up but remarkably sturdy at age 376. They crossed worn brown tiles to the south side of the room and cut two other Rembrandts out of their frames, including the Dutch master’s only known seascape, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee (opposite), and a double portrait titled A Lady and Gentleman in Black (Table of Contents, p. 6). From an easel by the windows, they lifted The Concert (p. 97), a much-loved oil by Johannes Vermeer, and a Govaert Flinck landscape, long thought to have been painted by Rembrandt, whose monogram had been forged on the canvas. Before the intruders departed, they snapped up a bronze Chinese beaker from the Shang era (1200-1100 b.c.) and a Rembrandt etching, a self-portrait the size of a postage stamp.

A hundred paces down the corridor and through two galleries brimming with works by Fra Angelico, Bellini, Botticelli and Raphael, the thieves stopped in a narrow hallway known as the Short Gallery. There, under the painted gaze of Isabella Stewart Gardner herself, they helped themselves to five Degas drawings. And in a move that still baffles most investigators, they tried to wrestle a flag of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard from its frame and, failing, settled for its bronze eagle finial. Then, back on the ground floor, the thieves made one last acquisition, a jaunty Manet oil portrait of a man in a top hat, titled Chez Tortoni (p. 103). By some miracle, they left what is possibly the most valuable painting in the collection, Titian’s Europa, untouched in its third-floor gallery

The raiders’ leisurely assault had taken nearly 90 minutes. Before departing the museum that night, they left the guards with a promise: “You’ll be hearing from us in about a year.”

But the guards never heard a word, and 16 years later the case remains unsolved, despite wide-ranging probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assists from Scotland Yard, museum directors, friendly dealers, Japanese and French au- thorities, and a posse of private investigators; despite hundreds of interviews and new offers of immunity; despite the Gardner Museum’s promise of a $5 million reward; despite a coded message the museum flashed to an anonymous tipster through the financial pages of the Boston Globe; despite oceans of ink and miles of film devoted to the subject; despite advice from psychics and a tip from an informant who claims that one of the works, Vermeer is rumbling around in a trailer in the West of Ireland to avoid detection.

There have been enough false sightings of the paintings— in furniture stores, seedy antiques marts and tiny apartments— to turn Elvis green with envy. In the most tantalizing of these, a Boston Herald reporter was driven to a warehouse in the middle of the night in 1997 to see what purported to be Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee. The reporter, Tom Mashberg, had been covering the theft and was allowed to view the painting briefly by flashlight. When he asked for proof of authenticity, he was given a vial of paint chips that were later confirmed by experts to be Dutch fragments from the 17th century—but not from the Rembrandt seascape. Then the painting, whether real or fake, melted from view again. Since then, there has been no sign of the missing works, no arrests, no plausible demands for ransom. It is as if the missing stash—now valued as high as $500 million— simply vanished into the chilly Boston night, swallowed up in the shadowy world of stolen art.

That world, peopled by small-time crooks, big-time gangsters, unscrupulous art dealers, convicted felons, money launderers, drug merchants, gunrunners and organized criminals, contributes to an underground market of an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion a year. While the trade in stolen art does not rival the black market in drugs and guns, it has become a significant part of the illicit global economy.

Some 160,000 items—including paintings, sculptures and other cultural objects—are currently listed by the Art Loss Register, an international organization established in 1991 to track lost or stolen art around the world. Among the objects on their list today are the 13 items snatched from the GardnerMuseum as well as 42 other Rembrandt paintings, 83 Rembrandt prints and an untitled painting attributed to Vermeer that has been missing since World War II. The register records more than 600 stolen Picassos and some 300 Chagalls, most of them prints. An additional 10,000 to 12,000 items are added each year, according to Alexandra Smith, operations director for the London-based registry, a company financed by insurers, leading auction houses, art dealers and trade associations.

Such registries, along with computer-based inventories maintained by the FBI and Interpol, the international police agency, make it virtually impossible for thieves or dealers to sell a purloined Van Gogh, Rembrandt or any other wellknown work on the open market. Yet the trade in stolen art remains a brisk one.

In recent years, big-ticket paintings have become a substitute for cash, passing from hand to hand as collateral for arms, drugs or other contraband, or for laundering money from criminal enterprises. “It would appear that changes in the banking laws have driven the professional thieves into the art world,” says Smith of the Art Loss Register. “With tighter banking regulations, it has become difficult for people to put big chunks of money in financial institutions without getting noticed,” she explains. “So now thieves go out and steal a painting.”

Although the theft of a Vermeer or a C├ęzanne may generate the headlines, the illicit art market is sustained by amateurs and minor criminals who grab targets of opportunity— the small, unspectacular watercolor, the silver inkstand, the antique vase or teapot—most from private homes.These small objects are devilishly hard to trace, easy to transport and relatively painless to fence, though the returns are low. “If you have three watercolors worth £3,000,” Smith says, “you are likely to get only £300 for them on the black market.” Even so, that market brings more money to thieves than stolen radios, laptops and similar gear. “Electronics have become so affordable that the market for them has dried up,” Smith adds, “and those who go after these things have learned that art is better money than computers.”


Smith and others who track stolen art are clearly irritated by the public’s misconception that their world is populated by swashbucklers in black turtlenecks who slip through skylights to procure paintings for secretive collectors. “I’m afraid it’s a lot more mundane than that,” says Lynne Richardson, former manager of the FBI’s National Art Crime Team. “Most things get stolen without much fanfare. In museums it’s usually somebody with access who sees something in storage, thinks it’s not being used and walks off with it.”

Glamorous or not, today’s art crooks are motivated by a complex of urges. In addition to stealing for the oldest reason of all—money—they may also be drawn by the thrill of the challenge, the hope of a ransom, the prospect of leverage in plea bargaining and the yearning for status within the criminal community. A few even do it for love, as evidenced by the case of an obsessed art connoisseur named Stephane Breitwieser. Before he was arrested in 2001, the French waiter went on a seven-year spree in Europe’s museums, amassing a collection valued as high as $1.9 billion. He reframed some of the works, cleaned them up and kept them in his mother’s small house in eastern France; there, according to court testimony, he would close the door and glory in his private collection, which included works by Bruegel, Watteau, Boucher and many others. He never sold a single piece. Finally collared in Switzerland for stealing an old bugle, he attempted suicide in jail when informed that his mother had destroyed some of his paintings to hide his crimes. Breitwieser spent two years jailed in Switzerland before being extradited to France, where he was sentenced to a 26- month prison term in January 2005.

What continues to perplex those investigating the Gardner mystery is that no single motive or pattern seems to emerge from the thousands of pages of evidence gathered over the past 15 years. Were the works taken for love, money, ransom, glory, barter, or for some tangled combination of them all? Were the raiders professionals or amateurs? Did those who pulled off the heist hang on to their booty, or has it passed into new hands in the underground economy? “I would be happy to knock it down to one or two theories,” says FBI special agent Geoffrey J. Kelly, who has been in charge of the Gardner investigation for three years. He acknowledges that the bureau has left the book open on a maddening array of possibilities, among them: that the Gardner theft was arranged by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to raise money or to bargain for the release of jailed comrades; that it was organized by James J. “Whitey” Bulger, who was Boston’s ruling crime boss and a top-echelon FBI informant at the time of the heist; that it was inspired by Myles J. Connor Jr., an aging rocker who performed with Roy Orbison before he gained fame as New England’s leading art thief.


Connor, who claims to have pulled off no less than 30 art thefts in his career, was in jail when the GardnerMuseum was raided; but he boasts that he and a now deceased friend, Bobby Donati, cased the place several years before, and that Donati did the deed. Connor came forward after the museum increased its reward from $1 million to $5 million in 1997, saying he could find the missing artwork in exchange for immunity, part of the reward and release from prison. Authorities considered but ultimately rejected his offer. Connor believes that the Gardner spoils have passed into other, unknown hands. “I was probably told, but I don’t remember,” he says, citing a heart attack that affected his memory


Some investigators speculate that the theft may have been carried out by amateurs who devoted more time to planning the heist than they did to marketing the booty; when the goods got too hot to handle, they may have panicked and destroyed everything. It is a prospect few wish to consider, but it could explain why the paintings have gone unseen for so long. It would also be a depressingly typical denouement: most art stolen in the United States never reappears—the recovery rate is estimated to be less than 5 percent. In Europe, where the problem has been around longer and specialized law enforcement agencies have been in place, it is about 10 percent

Meanwhile, the FBI has managed to eliminate a few lines of inquiry into the Gardner caper. The two guards on duty at the time of the theft were interviewed and deemed too unimaginative to have pulled it off; another guard, who disappeared from work without picking up his last paycheck, had other reasons to skip town in a hurry; a former museum director who lived in the Gardner, entertaining visitors at all hours, was also questioned. He died of a heart attack in 1992, removing himself from further interrogation. Agents also interviewed a bumbling armored truck robber, as well as an exconvict from California who arrived in Boston before the theft and flew home just after it, disguised as a woman; it turned out that he had been visiting a mistress.

Special agent Kelly offers a tight smile: “There have been a lot of interesting stories associated with the case,” he says. “We try to investigate every one that seems promising.” Just the week before, in fact, he had traveled to Paris with another agent to probe rumors that a former chief of the financially troubled entertainment conglomerate Vivendi Universal had acquired the Gardner paintings, an allegation the official denies.

“In a bank robbery or an armored car robbery, the motivation is fairly easy to decipher,” says Kelly. “They want the money. The motivation in an art theft can be much more difficult to figure out.” The Gardner thieves were professional in some ways, amateurish in others: spending 90 minutes inside the museum seems unnecessarily risky, but the way they got in was clever. “It shows good planning,” says Kelly. “They had the police uniforms. They treated the guards well. That’s professional.” The thieves also knew the museum well enough to recognize that its most famous paintings were in the Dutch Room. Once there, though, they betrayed a bushleague crudeness in slashing the paintings from their frames, devaluing them in the process. “Given that they were in the museum for an hour and a half, why did they do that?” Kelly wonders.

And what of the wildly uneven range of works taken? “There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it,” he adds. Why bother with the Degas sketches? “And to overlook Titian’s Europa? And to spend such an inordinate amount of time trying to get the Napoleonic flag off the wall and then to settle for the finial?”

Perhaps most telling—and in some ways most unsettling— is the ominous silence since March 18, 1990. Kelly believes, and most other investigators agree, that the long hush suggests professional thieves who moved their stash with efficiency and who now control it with disciplined discretion. If the thieves had been amateurs, Kelly posits, “somebody would have talked by now or somehow those paintings would have turned up.”

It is not unusual for art thieves to hang on to prominent paintings for a few years, allowing time for the public excitement and investigative fervor to fade, for the artwork to gain in value and for both federal and state statutes of limitation to run their course. As a result of the Gardner case, Senator Edward M. Kennedy introduced the “Theft of Major Artwork” provision to the 1994 Crime Act, a new law making it a federal offense to obtain by theft or fraud any object more than 100 years old and worth $5,000 or more; the law also covers any object worth at least $100,000, regardless of its age, and prohibits possession of such objects if the owner knows them to be stolen. Even with such laws in force, the FBI’s Kelly says that some criminals keep paintings indefinitely as an investment against future trouble and to bargain down charges against them, or, as he puts it, as a get-out-ofjail- free card.


“It’s quite possible the paintings are still being held as collateral in an arms deal, a drug deal or some other criminal venture,” says Dick Ellis, a prominent investigator who retired in 1999 from Scotland Yard’s highly regarded Art and Antiques Unit. “Until the debt is paid off, they will remain buried. That is why nobody has heard of the paintings for 15 years. That is a long time, but it may be a big debt.”

Wherever the paintings may be, GardnerMuseum director Anne Hawley hopes that they are being well cared for. “It is so important that the art is kept in safe condition,” she says. “The works should be kept at a steady humidity of 50 percent—not more or less—and a steady temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They need a stable environment,” she adds, sounding like the concerned mother of a kidnapped child. “They should be kept away from light and they should be wrapped in acid-free paper.” While it is common practice for art thieves to roll up canvases for easy transport, Hawley pleads that the works be unrolled for storage to avoid flaking or cracking the paint. “Otherwise the paintings will be compromised and their value decreased. The more repainting that needs to be done when they are returned, the worse it will be for the integrity of the paintings.” (The museum had no theft insurance at the time of the heist, largely because the premiums were too high. Today the museum has not only insurance but an upgraded security and fire system.)


Like others who work in the palace Isabella Gardner built, Hawley, who had been on the job for just five months at the time of the theft, takes the loss personally. “For us, it’s like a death in the family,” she says. “Think of what it would mean to civilization if you could never hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony again. Think if you lost access to a crucial piece of literature like Plato’s Republic. Removing these works by Rembrandt and Vermeer is ripping something from the very fabric of civilization.”

In 1998—eight years into the investigation—Hawley and all of Boston woke up to the news that the local FBI office had been corrupted by a long partnership with Whitey Bulger, the crime boss and FBI informant who had been a suspect all along. Because Bulger and his associates had helped the FBI bring down Boston’s leading Italian crime family (which incidentally opened up new turf for Bulger), he was offered protection. Bulger happily took advantage of the opportunity to expand his criminal empire, co-opting some of his FBI handlers in the process. Abureau supervisor took payments from him, and a star agent named John Connolly warned him of impending wiretaps and shielded him from investigation by other police agencies


When an honest prosecutor and a grand jury secretly charged Bulger in 1995 with racketeering and other crimes, Connolly tipped Bulger that an arrest was imminent, and the gangster skipped town. He has been on the run ever since. Connolly is now serving a ten-year prison sentence for conspiring with Bulger, and some 18 agents have been implicated in the scandal. As new details emerged in court proceedings, begun in 1998, the charges against Bulger have multiplied to include conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and 18 counts of murder.





http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/issues/2005/july/ripped.php?page=1

Against this sordid background, it is easy to understand why some critics remain skeptical about the bureau’s ability to solve the case. “Their investigation was possibly corrupted and compromised from the start,” says the Gardner’s Hawley. “We assumed that things were proceeding according to schedule—then this came up!” While she praises Geoffrey Kelly as a diligent investigator and allows that the FBI’s Boston office has cleaned itself up, she has taken the remarkable step of inviting those with information about the Gardner theft to contact her—not the FBI. “If people are afraid to step forward or hesitant to speak with the FBI, I encourage them to contact me directly, and I will promise anonymity,” she says. “I know that there’s a child, a mother, a grandmother, or a lover—someone out there—who knows where the pieces are. Anyone who knows this has an ethical and moral responsibility to come forward.The most important thing is to get the art back, not to prosecute the people who took it.”

With that, at least, the FBI’s Kelly agrees. “The primary importance is to get the paintings back,” he says. “The secondary importance is to know where they’ve been since March 18, 1990. We want to get the message out that there is a $5 million reward, that the U.S. attorney for the district of Massachusetts has stated that he would entertain immunity negotiations for the return of the paintings. The reward, coupled with the immunity offer, really make this a good time to get these paintings back to the museum, where they belong.”

Meanwhile, the specter of Whitey Bulger continues to haunt the case. Just outside Kelly’s office, a photograph of the gangster hangs on the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted list. The possibility of Bulger’s complicity “has been around since day one,” says Kelly. “But we haven’t come across any evidence relevant to that theory.”

Might rogue agent John Connolly have tipped Bulger off about the Gardner investigation? “I am not aware of that,” Kelly answers


With or without Connolly’s involvement, there have been reports that two Bulger associates—Joseph Murray of Charleston and Patrick Nee of South Boston—claimed they had access to the stolen paintings in the early 1990s. Both Murray and Nee, who were convicted in 1987 of attempting to smuggle guns from New England to the Irish Republican Army, have been linked to the Gardner theft by informants, but Kelly says that no evidence supports those claims. Murray is dead now, shot by his wife in 1992. And Nee, who returned to South Boston on his release from prison in 2000, denies any involvement in the theft.

“The paintings are in the West of Ireland,” says British investigator Charles Hill, “and the people holding them are a group of criminals—about the hardest, the most violent and the most difficult cases you are ever likely to encounter. They have the paintings, and they don’t know what to do with them. All we need to do is convince them to return them. I see that as my job.” Although Hill stresses that his comments are speculative, they are informed by his knowledge of the case and the characters involved.

It would be easy to dismiss Charles Hill were it not for his experience and his track record at solving hard-to-crack art cases. The son of an English mother and an American father, Hill went to work as a London constable in 1976 and rose to the rank of detective chief inspector in Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit. After a 20-year career at the yard, he retired and became a private investigator specializing in stolen art. He has been involved in a string of high-profile cases, helping to recover Titian’s Rest on the Flight into Egypt, which had been missing for seven years; Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid; Goya’s Portrait of Dona Antonia Zarate; and Edvard Munch’s The Scream, among other works. (Another version of The Scream, stolen from Oslo’s MunchMuseum last year, is still missing.)


Hill believes that the Gardner paintings arrived in Ireland sometime between 1990 and 1995, shipped there by none other than Whitey Bulger. “Being extremely clever, knowing that he could negotiate the paintings for money or for a bargaining chip, he took them,” says Hill. “Only Bulger could have done it at the time. Only Bulger had the bureau protecting him. Moving the pictures was easy—most probably in a shipping container with no explosives or drugs for a dog to sniff. He thought Ireland meant safety for him and the museum’s stuff.”

But Bulger had not bargained on being charged with multiple murders, which made him less than welcome in Ireland’s West Country and helpless to bargain down the charges against him. “He went to Ireland hoping to hide out there,” says Hill. “When they threw him out, they hung on to his things, not knowing what to do with them.”

Hill says he is in delicate negotiations that may lead him to the Irish group holding the paintings. “I have someone who says he can arrange for me to visit them,” he explains. “If you will forgive me, I would rather not tell you their names right now.” Hill adds that the group, while not part of the IRA, has links with it.


A few scraps of evidence support an Irish connection. On the night of the theft—St. Patrick’s Day—one of the intruders casually addressed a guard as “mate,” as in: “Let me have your hand, mate.” Hill thinks it unlikely that a Boston thug or any other American would use that term; it would more likely come from an Irishman, Australian or Briton. Hill also connects the eclectic array of objects stolen to the Irish love of the horse. Most of the Degas sketches were equestrian subjects, “an iconic Irish image,” he says. As for the Napoleonic flag, they settled for the finial—perhaps as a tribute of sorts to the French general who tried to link up with Irish rebels against Britain


So in Hill’s view, all roads lead to Ireland. “It’s awful for the FBI,” he says. “When the paintings are found here, it is going to be another terrible embarrassment for them. It will show that Whitey pulled off the largest robbery of a museum in modern history—right under their noses.” Hill pauses for a moment. “Don’t be too hard on them, now.”



Back in Mrs. Gardner’s museum, the crowds come and go. On a late winter day, sunlight splashes the mottled pink walls of the palazzo’s inner court, where orchids bloom and schoolchildren sit with their sketchbooks, serenaded by water tumbling into an old stone pool placed there by Isabella Stewart Gardner. In her instructions for the museum that bears her name, she decreed that within the marble halls of her palace, each Roman statue, each French tapestry, each German silver tankard, each folding Japanese screen, and each of the hundreds of glorious paintings she loved so well should remain forever just as she had left them


That is why today, upstairs on the second floor in the Dutch Room, where Rembrandt’s roughed up 1629 self-portrait has been returned to its rightful place on the north wall, the painter stares out across the room, his eyes wide and brows arched, regarding a ghastly blank space where his paintings ought to be. All that’s left are the empty frames.

Friday, September 22, 2006

FBI Collusion Prevents Stolen Vermeer Being Recovered Summer 2002

Dear Alex Jones

please find below my latest efforts in trying to recover the stolen Vermeer from Boston.


Dick Ellis, ex head of Scotland Yards Art Squad, mentioned below, has been using Brig Gordon Kerr as his man with Irish experience to try and convince those with the Vermeer to hand it back.

I am sure your new contributor, an expert on the seedier side of the Irish Republican movement, especially those who have been duplicitous, to say the least, can enlighten you to Gordon Kerr's history.

The direct control of the stolen Vermeer being held by Thomas Slab Murphy has been confirmed by three sources of mine, three from Dick Ellis, Brigadier Gordon Kerr, Peter Watson the art crime writer and one other.

Three sources of Charlie Hill, Jimmy Johnson, David Dudon, and one other in America have also confirmed that Thomas Slab Murphy has control of the Vermeer from his South Armagh enclave.

All of these sources also confirm that the FBI are continuing to be complicit in pursuing Whitey Bulger, however, when Bob Mueller retires the impetus may increase, although the FBI would relish the death of Whitey Bulger in exile.

Whitey Bulger has been writing a diary about his criminal life and if this can be retrieved from the safety deposit box, (Whitey may try and get it to his family), it will finally expose the real truth of the FBI collusion in Boston and beyond.


Whitey Bulger has always maintained that if he is captured he will never make a courtroom, he will be murdered before he gets to tell the truth about how deep the FBI collusion went, and still goes.

27 E-mails sent to FBI Headquarters about the dealings with Whitey Bulger, they knew all along about Whitey Bulger's murderous crime spree.

Feel free to drop a dime to the Feds, ask for their comment on Mike Wilson and how he allowed the stolen Vermeer to escape.

Your attention in this will be greatly appreciated.
Sincerely



Copy of E-mails sent to President, Vice- President, Ted Kennedy, Peter King, Anne Hawley (Director, Gardner Museum, Boston)

Dear Mr President,

Oh what webs they weave, in your name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The FBI Actions in the Gardner and Whitey Bulger cases appear to be a case of

"The Foxes guarding the hen house"

After consulting with certain law enforcement officials in Europe and within the U.S. my assessment, based upon their opinions, is perhaps it may be time for FBI Director Robert Mueller to retire.

Your consideration in this matter is greatly appreciated.

A job for KR!!!!!!!!


Yours






Gardner Art Heist Latest

Dear Anne,
I am known by the name ************ and appear alongside the late Harold Smith in the film Stolen.

Although FBI Agent Mike Wilson described me to you as "Not being a credible witness" in 2002, this was because Dick Ellis and I had met him at the London American Embassy and were not very happy at FBI Agent Mike Wilson's failure to secure the Vermeer from the Dublin hotel room where it was shown to him and Colin (the informant)

I am sure you have not been made aware of the blatant failure of FBI Agent Michael Wilson to recover the Vermeer in summer 2002 and I do want you to know of my continuing efforts to bring the Vermeer home to Boston.

I have been negotiating with the IRA, namely Thomas Slab Murphy's man who runs the real estate portfolio for Slab, and just lately have had my findings confirmed by an ex-British Intelligence officer who has been directly connected to Irish Republican activities for many years.


The assessment below is done with an honesty that has gained me credit within the underworld because I have refused to offer false promises of rewards.

The people who I am talking to are fully aware that any monies paid would be post recovery of Vermeer and it is other favours that will allow the Vermeer to surface.



I thought my latest assessment of the Gardner Case may interest you.

For those interested in the great Gardner Art Heist St Patrick's Day 1990, Whitey Bulger, FBI collusion preventing Gardner art being recovered!!!!!!!!!

The Gardner Art Heist is rather more sad because the stolen art, Vermeer in particular were not insured. The $5 million reward offered is bogus as the Gardner does not have $5 million waiting to be collected.

Anne Hawley, director of Gardner museum is adamant and not one dime will ever be paid for the return of said art. Relayed to ex-Scotland Yard Art Chief Dick Ellis and Fine art loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple.

However, there was an opportunity to recover the Vermeer in 2002, when it was shown to FBI Agent Mike Wilson and a senior Irish official in a Dublin hotel room. After being totally satisfied they were looking at the real deal, they checked certain things to verify its authenticity.

No deal could be reached,(Whitey Bulger,'s spectre lurking in the background) (Irish govt refused to sanction Vermeer being recovered on Irish soil) Then, to add insult to injury, the criminals were allowed to leave , WITH, the Vermeer, which remains outstanding.

FBI Agent Michael Wilson was castigated by FBI bosses upon his return to the U.S. late summer 2002 and was moved off the Gardner case before retiring!!!! (Check with Feds, they will not deny this, also Charlie Hill, who facilitated Colin the informer to arrange the meeting in the Dublin hotel room.)

Gardner art was sent to Ireland by Whitey Bulger and Joseph Murray before Whitey Bulger fled murder charges in Dec 1994. Whitey Bulger then gave the Vermeer to a lifelong friend of Joe Murray (Whitey's host in Ireland) and leader of the INLA, who has since died. Monies were lent against the Vermeer from a West of Ireland gangster group, or Clan as they like to be called.

Currently the Vermeer is in the control of Thomas Slab Murphy, IRA Chief of Staff, (confirmed by ex-senior Brit Intelligence Officer) who is willing to facilitate the return of the Vermeer in exchange for Sinn Fein being allowed to fund raise in America again, as well as Tom Murphy being allowed to pay some back-taxes, tax demand 5.4 million euros, and retire. I have always advocated favours other than money will be the way to recover the stolen Gardner art and will prevent the Gardner museum from being held liable for $5 million, although a "Subject to" clause in the reward offer does give Anne Hawley a get out. This will also prevent Whitey Bulger from collecting on the stolen Gardner Art!!!!

So, if FBI Agent Robert Wittman, Mitchell Reiss and Ted Kennedy are sincere about recovering the Vermeer and also sincere in prompting Sinn Fein towards supporting Policing, then they should contact Thomas Slab Murphy at Home Place, Larkin's Road, Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, South Armagh/County Louth, Republic of Ireland. Until then the American people are denied one of Vermeer's best pictures, "The Concert", "The art of painting" being his best!!!!! For back-story see: www.stolenthefilm.com for details.


Another important dividend of the Vermeer being returned courtesy of the Irish Republican Movement, as a thankyou for all the support given by Irish America during the struggle, is Malachy McAllister is allowed to remain in the United States with his family. Hope the delay in reaching a decision about Malachy is due to his co-operation in helping facilitate the return of the Vermeer to Boston.

Whitey Bulger meeting his brother William in Ireland, which military intelligence have photo's of is yet another example of duplicitous actions of the Feds.

However, the Brits may not have shared this info with the Feds, to be fair.

The lack of impetus in arresting Whitey Bulger comes from the perceived fear that Whitey Bulger will implicate Robert Mueller as being complicit about murders that happened in the 1980's when he was a D.A. in Boston.

Everytime the FBI Bulger Squad are set to leave Boston for Ireland in pursuit of Whitey Bulger, Whitey is tipped off so he can leave Ireland only to return when the coast is clear. Whitey spends time in France as they will not extradite him because of the death penalty if he is ever captured in France.

With regards FBI Agent Mike Wilson, Dick Ellis and I met with him at the London American embassy during summer 2002.

Perhaps the Gardner Museum may be interested to know of the chance missed by Feds to recover the Vermeer Summer 2002?????

Makes one wonder "Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys"


Anne, I beg you to consider writing to General Thomas Slab Murphy at Home Place, Larkin's road, Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth/South Armagh to seek his intercession in the recovery of the Vermeer and to inform him that you are going to arrive in Ireland( In True Belle Gardner fashion) immanently and will be staying at the Ballymascanlon Hotel Dundalk, where you will be seeking an audience with Mr Tom Slab Murphy.

If you display Belle Gardner traits you will, I am sure, be granted an audience with Tom Slab Murphy, who will I am sure, be pragmatic, and sympathetic, then offer to make enquiries in the facilitating of the Vermeer being discovered in a confession box before returning to the Museum.

To set the wheels in motion you will then have to report to Senator Kennedy in his role as trustee, who will in turn contact Martin Ferris and see what kind of reward may be appropriate for Tom Slab Murphy.

As stated before, something arranged about reducing the tax demand against Slab, Sinn Fein allowed to fund raise( this is going to happen soon anyway it is on the agenda for Congress)

The Vermeer will I am sure appear just like the Scream and Madonna, only this time the symbolism of the Confession box will add to the incredible journey of the Vermeer.

Before you dismiss my request out of hand I want you to consider what practical plans have others offered???

Although outrageous, your pro-active action in going to Ireland will only serve as a constant reminder of the pioneering spirit of Belle Gardner lives on through her museum and the staff who work there.

Furthermore, In my opinion FBI Agent Robert Wittman is "Straight as a gun barrel" and would be the best person to liaise with in your future dealings about the Gardner theft.

I am not acquainted with Geoff Kelly but Harold Smith described Bob Wittman as "One of the finest FBI Agents I have come across"

Sure, pass this to Bob Wittman and ask him about FBI Agent Michael Wilson, his assessment of the Vermeer being in the control of Tom Slab Murphy, and his thoughts on you "Taking the Bull by the horns"

Before making a decision on what your course of action will be, go to the Sergeant portrait and pause, ask yourself what Belle Gardner would advise you to do, then, in the words of Nike, "Just do it"

Kind regards