Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Joy at $10m violin gift in land of beer and cricket

The Sydney Morning Herald

Clara Iaccarino Arts Writer

January 31, 2007

IT IS one of the finest instruments in the world, but Richard Tognetti has admitted he is a little cautious playing a violin worth $10 million.

"Rather than my best, it can bring out my worst," the Australian Chamber Orchestra's artistic director said yesterday. "I'm in awe of it, but it's rapidly becoming part of me."

The Carrodus, a violin made in 1743 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, is a gift to Tognetti and the ACO from an Australian benefactor who does not want to be named. One of only 100 made by del Gesu, it has been described as "one of the four or five finest of the finest" violins in the world, by the respected London dealer Charles Beare.

"It's so special," said Tognetti. "Apart from the fact that it sounds so beautiful, it hasn't been played since 1953. [The sound] is darker and richer. The weeping violin suits my style."

The world's best violins were made in northern Italy in the 18th century and Antonio Stradivari and del Gesu were the kings of the violin-making world. Del Gesu was the "maker of choice" for some of the greatest virtuosi of the 19th and 20th centuries including Nicolo Paganini.

Tognetti would not reveal the identity of the benefactor, but let it slip that he was a prominent businessman.

"He wants the focus to be on the violin and music, not him," he said. "Australia is not used to spending money on art. To put it into perspective it's one quarter of a Monet, or a decent-sized mansion in Vaucluse."

Before he acquired the Carrodus, named after John Carrodus, a leading English violinist of the Victorian era, Tognetti played on a 1759 J.B Guadagnini violin valued at $1.2 million. He never dreamed he would play on a del Gesu. "It has regal majesty," he said.

Tognetti never lets the violin out of his sight and keeps it in a safe when he's not playing it. He does not think it will be stolen - "it's essentially priceless" - but the risk of damage means he treats it with extreme respect.

Tognetti is full of praise for the investment the unnamed benefactor has made in cultivating Australian culture.

"It's an example of the European style of philanthropy," he said. "It's all too rare in this country of beer and cricket."

Art Hostage comments:

A good news story, something quite touching about it.
I wonder if the Violin is Tax Deductable ?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Historically, British Police are the Cream of British Society, "They are White, Thick, and Rise to the Top" !!

Who Let the Cat Out of the Bag ???????

The media have been mistaken as to the painting stolen from Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire. Last week, I wrote about the theft of a Joseph Farquharson from a private residence. I posted an image of the painting, but I posted the wrong painting because The Herald incorrectly stated the name of the painting. I received a kind email from Grizelda Graham, daughter of the 89 year-old theft victim. She wrote , "We don't know why the media have entitled our stolen painting 'sunlight and shade' - the title on the back of my painting is 'where snow the pastures sheets.' It is very beautiful, and we are keen to publicise its theft widely in the hope that someone will spot it and return it to us." This is the image of the stolen painting she gave me.

Hopefully the media will correct their mistake soon, and continue to publish the theft. I suggested she contact the Art Loss Register in her attempts to get the painting back.


Art Hostage comments:

Way to go Derek, good story, glad you have put the record straight.

Only problem is the Police are using a classic tactic about revealing the wrong title and image for the picture and allowing the thieves to think they have got a picture that will pass through the trade because the one listed is incorrect.

Before you revealed all, Police were hoping the picture may turn up because of the deliberate mistake.

Now the thieves/Handlers are aware of the correct listing the painting will go further underground, unless a dealer bought the picture thinking he could make a fast buck, or a dealer has paid good money for a previously unlisted picture and perhaps this dealer may want to hand it back.

However, to smoke out the current person in possession of 'where snow the pastures sheets.'

Grizelda Graham should consider offering a reward and then can get authorities to waive conditions, the dealer may come forward with the painting.

Furthermore, as outlined below in previous articles the strict conditions of paying a reward make it impossible for the money ever to be paid in reality, the 2002 proceeds of crime act prevents rewards being paid.

Until then Grizelda Graham, I am sorry to say, "Don't hold your breath"

The British Police are the Cream of British Society, they are mostly:

"White, Thick, and rise to the top."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Keystone Cops Plead With Criminal For Return of Stolen Art !!

Hopeless Dawn By Frank Bramley, above, a reflection of the Hopeless British Police !!!

If the World is a Circus, then the British Police are the Clowns !!

Dick Ellis, ex head and founder of Scotland Yards Art and Antiques Squad is incandescent with rage at the complete incompetence of both Hampshire and Sussex Police.

Detective Richard Skillan of Hampshire Police is the investigating officer into a spate of high value art robberies that have taken place in Hampshire, Southern England, in the last year or so.

Among the stolen items are a number of high value Silver items that have been traced (not recovered) by Dick Ellis to a Brighton, Sussex, Antiques Dealer.

Dick Ellis passed this information to Det Richard Skillan.

Det Richard Skillan duly contacted Sussex Police and requested permission and co-operation in executing a search warrant.

Sussex police replied that:

"We (Sussex Police) are not interested in solving art crime, and any other type of crime, committed outside of the borders of Sussex and by refusing to co-operate with Hampshire Police we can prevent art thefts in Sussex."

"Furthermore, we (Sussex Police) have made it clear to the Brighton Antiques Mafia, that as long as they do not target high value art and antiques in Sussex, we will not be bothered by their criminality elsewhere"

So, left without any help from Sussex Police, Hampshire detective Richard Skillan came up with the bright idea to take it upon himself to pay a visit to the sussex Antiques Dealers house, without a search warrant, to request his help in recovering the stolen art from Hampshire.

Detective Richard Skillan revealed all to the sussex antiques dealer and told him that is was Dick Ellis who named him.

The antiques dealer could not believe his luck, faced with the prospect of losing the high value stolen art he has accumulated he denied everything and Hampshire detective Richard Skillan left, tail between his legs, humiliated, and with the knowledge that the antiques dealer was aware of the close attention police were paying to him.

The Antiques dealer has duly moved all the high value stolen art from his homes and is now taking precautions to prevent him from being caught with stolen art and Dick Ellis has been made to look a complete fool.
The word on the street is Brighton Art criminals can act with impunity, if outside Sussex, and that's official !!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Evidence, Who needs it ??????????????

'Super-asbos' to target gangsters

Up to 30 major criminals a year could be given new civil orders restricting their involvement in organised crime, the Home Office has said.

The orders, dubbed "super-asbos", would target those suspected of drug dealing, money-laundering and human trafficking.

They form part of the government's proposed Serious Crime Bill which aims to hit the UK's "Mr Bigs" before trial.

Civil rights group Liberty has dismissed the proposed orders as "unfair and ineffective".

The Serious Crime Bill is also expected to strengthen powers to seize assets such as cash, properties and cars from criminals.

Breaching the new orders could lead to a five-year prison term.

Home Secretary John Reid called for cross-party support for the new laws.

"We are bringing in reforms to get the Mr Bigs of the organised crime world," he said.

"We hope this will have a huge impact, and we hope opposition parties will give the support necessary rather than what they have done every time we have tried to bring in strong powers to tackle crime and terrorism, which is vote against them and claim they aren't strong enough."

Analysis: Targeting Mr Bigs

This is sort of an Al Capone bill - you know, if we can't get you on one, we'll get you on another.
Former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police John Stalker
But critics warned the measures would see individuals targeted without their guilt being proven.

Jago Russell, policy officer for civil rights group Liberty, said: "We used to believe in hard evidence and fair trials in this country - now we dispense rapid-fire justice as quickly as the government can develop a catchy four-letter acronym for it.

"These new orders targeted at the 'Mr Bigs' of the criminal world will likely be as unfair and ineffective as Asbos and control orders before them."

'Not the answer'

And former deputy chief constable of Greater Manchester Police John Stalker told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that the government was going down a dangerous route.

He added: "My view is that criminals should be dealt with under the criminal law and that Asbos, super-asbos as these are being called, are not the answer to heavyweight criminals. They maybe OK for hoodies on the street but they are not for heavyweight criminals.

"This is sort of an Al Capone bill - you know, if we can't get you on one, we'll get you on another."

But Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said the measures would be a major weapon in combating "untouchable" criminals.

Financial, property or business dealings
Working arrangements
People who can be associated or communicated with
Access to premises
Travel in the UK or abroad

He said: "There are people who try to stay remote from crime, who try to encourage crime but never get their hands dirty.

"We want to ensure that, while our methods are proportionate, we can get to them.

"People who believe they are beyond the law and untouchable will know that the government is on the side of the ordinary law-abiding majority."

The serious crime prevention orders would be applied for by the Crown Prosecution Service, Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office or the Serious Fraud Office.

An order could be imposed by the courts if they believed, on the balance of probability, that the suspect had acted in a way which helped or was likely to help a serious crime.

Orders would also be used if courts felt it was necessary and proportionate to prevent such criminal harm in the future.

It would be a High Court civil order that could be challenged in the Court of Appeal.

Targeting 'Mr Bigs' of serious crime

Perhaps they're not untouchable - but they are very hard to reach.

They are the serious criminals leading the gangs responsible for drug dealing, human trafficking and fraud.

They don't get their hands dirty selling crack, cocaine or heroin on street corners or driving the lorries bringing in illegal immigrants.

But they give out the orders and rake in the proceeds of the illicit activities, remaining at arms length from the crimes, thus evading prosecution.

They're the ones the Home Office is after. The roots of the crime tree, rather than the twigs at the top.

Achieving successful prosecutions against these "Mr Bigs" is a long haul.

Evidence they've made phone calls or emailed associates won't be enough to guarantee a conviction. Nor will a large stash of cash underneath the sofa, a flash car, a yacht or even a villa in Marbella.

It may point to their involvement but what's needed in a criminal trial is 99.9% proof.

That will arrive only if an insider gives information to police or if extensive surveillance of a suspect reveals something incriminating. And that's time consuming, expensive and extremely complicated.

Travel restrictions

So ministers are now trying another tack - disruption - to make life so difficult for the individuals suspected of criminality that they can't operate their illegal enterprises.

To do that, an order from the High Court will be obtained restricting their travel, communications and business dealings.

The High Court will grant the request if it's satisfied that the individual is involved in criminality on the balance of probabilities - 51% proof.

The measure is similar to an Asbo but may prove to be harder to enforce.

The suspects to be targeted will probably be able to instruct the best lawyers around and they'll rake over the details of the legislation and the court orders looking for loopholes.

They'll be able to make representations to the High Court and take their case to the Court of Appeal if they lose.

False passports

Don't rule out further appeals to the House of Lords and the European Courts, either, to query important legal principles.

Even if the courts come down against them and impose an order, it still has to be enforced, without the use of electronic tags - the government has ruled that out.

Bear in mind, these people can probably get hold of a false passport at a snap of their fingers.

Of course, as more orders are made the room for legal argument may diminish while the prospect of a five-year prison term for breaching an order will make some suspects toe the line.

But history suggests that applying civil powers to tackle organised crime is fraught with problems - look how hard it's been for the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to confiscate illegal earnings and property from suspects.

It's an irony that may not be lost on those responsible for tackling organised crime that the Bill proposing serious crime prevention orders also paves the way for the abolition of the ARA - its functions to be taken over by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Art Hostage comments:

This yet another example of the Brit govt admitting defeat in the war against organised crime.
The only way they think they can disrupt criminality is to undermine the British legal system and move to a more authoritarian model as seen in dictatorships.

The presumption of innocence has been thrown out of the window and this like many other headline grabs will falter as soon as the publicity finishes.

If the govt were to properly fund law enforcement they would be able to operate in a productive manner.
It reminds me of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the Dyke.

The way things are going Britain will have an honest trustworthy police force who do not make deals, never pay rewards, and best of all, cannot solve any serious crime, even if fell on them.

Intelligence down 90%, solving of serious crime down drastically, criminals acting with impunity.

I wonder if lawyers went to the High court and said that it is 51% certain that Tony Blair did have involvement in the cash for questions scandal and he should be given a super ASBO to restrict him from committing further white collar crime, would the Judge agree,using the new criteria I really think the Judge would???????
So, John Reid, Tony Blair, be careful what you wish for, it may come back to haunt you and bite your arse !!No Gold Watch for Tony Blair on his retirement, just a pair of steel bracelets !!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Art Thieves beware: museum curators are after you, Only part-time !!

Thieves beware: museum curators are after you

By Lucian Harris | Posted 03 January 2007

LONDON. Faced with the prospect of dissolution, the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police has come up with a new idea—to recruit curators and art historians as special constables. The scheme, dubbed Art Beat, is set to start in April. This is the first time the police has attempted to recruit such specialist volunteers.

Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley told The Art Newspaper that the scheme was devised after the Art squad was told by the Metropolitan Police Authority that it could be disbanded if it did not become 50% self-financing by 2008.

Art Beat Special Constables are being recruited from museums such as the Victoria & Albert and the British Museum, universities, insurance companies and other cultural organisations. After four weeks training in police procedure as well as specialist art squad techniques, volunteers will be sponsored by their employers to work as Special Constables for 200 hours a year or one day a fortnight. They will be uniformed and will have full police powers.

“The aim is to build bridges between the police and the art world and maintain a high visibility presence in areas with a high level of art sales,” said DS Rapley. “This could include patrolling antiques markets like Bermondsey or areas with clusters of art dealers like Kensington Church Street, Bond Street or Camden Passage, or undercover intelligence work.”

The Art and Antiquities Unit currently consists of only four full time officers. “At the moment we are not receiving as much information as we would like from the art trade,” said DS Rapley. “We have tried to recruit from areas with the kind of specialist knowledge that will benefit from our work.” So far the police have recruited archaeology and antiquities experts, and hope to have 14 constables trained by April.

Art Hostage comments:

Policing on the cheap, this is unpaid work that will do nothing to stop the lack of good quality intelligence received by Police in the last two years.

Information received from the art trade is down 90% in the last two years, the reason is the disgusting manner in which informants are treated.

A classic example of negligence by the Police.
One month before Harry Hyams was robbed last year an Antiques dealer from Cheltenham offered to provide details, via a third party, of the plans to target Harry Hyams.

This potential informant would provide times, names and how the robbery would be carried out.
Police could, and should of been lying in wait for the Hyams robbers, so when they struck, at Ramsbury Manor they would be caught red-handed.
The price for this crucial information was £100,000, to be given to a trusted third party, a lawyer, to be handed back to authorities if the sting did not prove fruitful. If successful, the Cheltenham Antiques dealer would receive the £100,000.
Police responded by saying:

"We would not sanction £100 pounds, let alone £100,000 pounds."

"We, the Police, require everything from informants, they in return get nothing from us, other than a few pounds expenses"

Within Two weeks Harry Hyams was robbed of £80 million worth of artworks.

Subsequently, via the private sector, some items were handed back, without pre-condition.
Authorities promised a convicted criminal a lighter sentence if he could facilitate the return of the Harry Hyams artworks, unfortunately this criminal did not get any support and received four years jail time.

Dismayed, the private sector involved in Art Loss Recovery is sitting on its hands, not being able to act on inside information.
For the moment all that is left is to shake one's head in disbelief.

The notion that these unpaid museum curators, civil servants, misguided antiques dealers will get any relevant information about art related crime is pure folly.

Those engaged in the panorama of art related crime will not only see these keystone cops coming, but also use these antiques dealer/Policemen to get inside information about law enforcement.

This will end in violence, corruption and tears for all concerned.

There are already enough ex-Art Squad policemen investigating art related crime in the private sector, the last thing needed is some half trained, half baked curator thinking he is Hercule Poirot, someone is going to get hurt.

I cannot wait to hear what Dick Ellis, Malcolm Kenwood, Mark Dalrymple and Charlie Hill have to say about this one.

Scotland Yard Art Squad Detective Vernon Rapley is nicknamed
"The Book-keeper" for good reason.