Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Picasso From Kuwait Museum, Recovered !!

Stolen Picasso painting 'The Naked Woman' found in Iraq

A Picasso painting stolen from Kuwait during Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion has been discovered in southern Iraq.

Iraqi police arrested a man who was planning to sell "The Naked Woman" during a raid on his house in southern Iraq, officials said on Wednesday.

The painting was apparently among the artwork looted from Kuwait by Iraqi forces, said police spokesman Maj. Muthana Khalid.

It was seized on Tuesday during a raid near the mainly Shia city of Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Mr Khalid said the man was trying to sell the painting for $450,000 (£275,000), but some Iraqi experts who saw the painting said it was worth as much as $10 million.

The painting, which was signed by Pablo Picasso and bore inscriptions from "The Museum of Kuwait", was being held as evidence while the suspected was interrogated, Mr Khalid said.

Goods and artwork from the neighbouring country's wealthy homes and its national museum were hauled back to Iraq after the invasion, which led to the 1991 Gulf War.
It is not the first time that this work by Picasso has drawn attention.
In the year 2,000 on 15 November the Turkish police located what was believed as the same piece, in a car in which were four people who had come to this country from Iraq.
Five months later, the Turkish deputy Mustafa Bayram was arrested trying to sell "naked woman" and "clown", works which, he said, he had sold to a woman who in turn obtained it from an Iraqi general.
Subsequent testing indicated that these pieces were fakes.
Art Hostage Comments:
The Jury remains out as to the authenticity of this Picasso.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Smash and Grab Back in Vogue !!!

Gone in 39 seconds: £2m of gems stolen after brazen gang smash their way into jewellers with sledgehammer

This was the dramatic moment when a smash-and-grab gang stole jewellery worth nearly £2million in just 39 seconds.
Three motorbikes pulled up outside the Mozaferain jewellers opposite Harrods in central London.

Staff inside took no notice until six men approached the store and smashed the front window with a sledgehammer.

The robbers, wearing motorcycle helmets, barged in, broke open display cabinets and grabbed handfuls of diamonds before running out of the jewellers.

Manager Sokol Salia said: 'It was crowded on the street, as usual, and the motorbikes pulled up off the street on the pavement, which is not unusual.

'Then six guys, big guys, English guys, they had huge helmets, jumped off the bikes, then they smashed the window and came inside.

'The staff were two ladies and two guys, and they just took all the jewellery and that's it.

'They made a huge panic, such a scare all over, all the people on the street just running around.'

Staff were left shaken and in tears after the robbery last Wednesday. The elderly mother of one of the staff was also in the shop, and feared the robbers were going to take her hostage.

Mr Salia said: 'She was just standing there crying, she was very scared, she thought they were going to grab her, take her as a hostage. She was petrified.
'People on the street were too scared to get involved. There should be so much security around because it is near Harrods, but there was nothing.
'You don't know if they have guns or anything, like what happened at Graffs. It was just terrifying you know.
'We were just worried about the ladies, we didn't want them to hurt anyone, so let them take what they want, as long as the ladies were protected.
'They were big guys, so even if you have security there is nothing you can do, unless you have weapons.
'They didn't even need to pull a gun, they just smashed a window and we were so scared they might have weapons that no one did anything.'
The gang escaped with between £1.5million and £2million of jewellery, including a heart-shaped 1.5 carat diamond necklace worth £500,000.
As they fled the store, the robbers dropped some of the jewellery on the pavement in Brompton Road.
Mr Salia added: 'People were collecting up the jewellery on the street and brought it back to us, people were very nice.'
It comes less than two weeks after £40million of jewellery and gems were stolen in an unconnected heist at Graff in Mayfair.
Mozaferain jewellers, which is fitted with extra-tough glass, was targeted in a similar raid in June.
Mr Salia said: 'We just heard about Graffs and the guns, that's what comes into your head, you are unprotected.
'Even if I have security, what could I do to them? I don't have a gun, we're not allowed to.
'This is my life, I have to work, I have to pay taxes, now I wait for the police to come and I will say I need to be able to protect myself.
'Not a gun, but some safety should be in every jewellery shop, otherwise they have to protect the streets, they have to be there. What are we supposed to do, how will we protect ourselves?
'The area is not safe at all, banks and jewellery shops not safe, even if they have security, there is nothing they can do.'
Police believe the gang is newly-formed and struck after a North London crew behind more than 70 raids in the West End were recently caught.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers Inc Franchise Strike's Again !!

Bandits nab millions in gems, flee on scooters

Four armed thieves have held up a jewellery store on Geneva's most prestigious shopping street, grabbing millions of francs worth of gems before escaping on scooters.

The store's Lebanese owner said the men, wearing hats and wigs and speaking in Russian or another Slavic language, smashed display cases in the daring daytime robbery on Monday afternoon.

An employee set off an alarm but police arrived after the thieves had fled, police said in a statement.

"Despite my age, I struggled with one of them," 75-year-old Elie Chatila, who estimated his loss at several million francs, told the daily Tribune de Genève. "Look at this, they left a ring worth more than SFr500,000".

He described the shop as being in a "catastrophic state".

A police spokesman said that detectives were analysing finger prints and DNA found at the crime scene.

No clear link had been established to the "Pink Panthers", an international gang of jewels thieves who have carried out attacks on luxury stores in Paris, London and other European cities in recent years, police said.

Geneva is a popular summer destination for wealthy tourists from Gulf countries, who flock to the lakeside city to escape the heat and shop at luxury boutiques along the smart Rue du Rhône.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Diamonds, Not a Best Friend for this British Girl !!

A British woman has been arrested for allegedly smuggling over £6m worth of diamonds into the Philippines.

Alpha Kwok was arrested in Manila on Tuesday by the country's anti-smuggling group.

The agency's head Antonio Villar Jr said officials seized 160 carats of diamonds along with other precious stones - some of which were already made into jewellery.

A Foreign Office spokesperson told Sky News Online: "We are aware of the reports and are investigating the matter further."

Kwok, who was born in China and lives in Hong Kong, remains in custody pending a review of the case by the Filipino justice department.

Mr Villar alleged the woman may have been part of a smuggling syndicate.

"She doesn't have any permit to import, and she has no working permit," he said.

About 130 million carats of diamonds are mined across the world every year, and illegal trade plagues the sector.

In February 2009, the Chinese government reduced VAT on diamonds to make smuggling less attractive.

One carat of diamond is equivalent to about 200 miligrams in weight, suggesting the amount seized was close to 32g

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime Wave 2009, Expensive for Insurers, Rare Success for Police !!!

Westonbirt School targeted again by antique raiders

BURGLARS raided Westonbirt School last night and stole £60,000 worth of ivory figures.

Police received a report of a break-in at 6.10am this morning and it is believed the crooks carried out the raid at some time overnight.

The independent girl's school near Tetbury was hosting an antiques fair and the items stolen were Japanese ivory figures worth £60,000, which had been displayed.

Scene of Crime officers have been at the school all day and have launched an investigation.

Sgt Alex Lattimore from Cirencester police said no other items were stolen and it appeared the thieves knew what they were looking for.

In August 2004 masked raiders stole £650,000 worth of jewellery after breaking into the school when it hosted the annual South Cotswolds antique fair.

If anyone has any information about this incident call police on 0845 090 1234 quoting incident number 85 of August 14.

Burglar 'wanted to be caught'

A BURGLAR stole thousands of pounds of antiques and crockery from homes in west Oxfordshire because he wanted to go back to prison, a court heard.

Dino Lawrence, 49, was jailed for three years yesterday at Oxford Crown Court after admitting two burglaries and asking for a further six break-ins to be taken into account.

Andrew Morgan, prosecuting, said Lawrence forced his way into a house in Stonesfield in May and stole about £17,000-worth of collectable Clarice Cliff china belonging to retired teacher Rosemary Harris.

Two weeks later a neighbour spotted Lawrence breaking into a house in High Street, Ramsden, near Charlbury, where he stole antiques and money totalling £1,000. Police found him hiding in a nearby garden.

Mr Morgan said: “On the second occasion he knew he was being watched. He was very candid (with police) about the nature of his offending.”

Paul O’Keeffe, defending, said Lawrence, of Ibstock, Leicestershire, went out with the intention of being caught for burglary. He added: “A witness told him he was calling police, but he carried on regardless.

“He wanted to get arrested. He knew full well he wasn’t going to cope as a member of public without receiving help and wanted to be locked away from society while he faces the demons and addresses his issues.”

Lawrence, who has previous convictions for robbery, handling stolen goods and burglary, is now receiving psychiatric help.

Stolen Art Watch, Diamonds, Flavour of the Month, Inside and Outside !!!


Gems gang’s haul is £1m in Perth robbery


A GANG of thieves stole jewellery worth more than £1million from a travelling salesman as he browsed in an Oxfam shop.
The blue canvas bag containing the gems was snatched as the salesman looked at books in the charity store.
A young woman was seen acting suspiciously in the premises in South Street, Perth, shortly before the theft – and was later spotted getting into an old-model BMW car just before it sped off.
The 62-year-old salesman – who works for a prominent diamond merchant based in London’s Hatton Garden district – had visited a local jeweller’s shop shortly before the thieves struck.
Police believe he may have been followed from the Timothy Hardie shop in St John Street.
Mr Hardie said yesterday the gems had a wholesale value of £600,000 but their retail value was more than £1million.
The collection was a combination of new and antique jewellery.
One diamond necklace had been priced at £90,000.
Mr Hardie said: “The company are diamond wholesalers and I’ve been dealing with them for about 20 years.
“He came in at about 2.30pm and there were no customers in the shop at the time.
“A girl did come in and have a look around and the police are now saying they have CCTV footage of her in South Street, where the robbery took place.
“I didn’t notice her acting differently from any other customer.
“Shortly after 3pm, he came running back because his mobile phone was in the bag and he couldn’t call the police, so he phoned from here. He was in a hell of a state.
“There was nothing to mark him out as a salesman. Some of the bigger companies now have a minder with them, but he was on his own.”
Oxfam shop manager Walter Lindsay said the salesman had been “distraught” when he realised the bag had been stolen.
He said: “I wasn’t in yesterday and didn’t know what it was about or the extent of it until the police statement.
“I’ve spoken to both staff members who were on to get an update and they said the man was absolutely distraught and just ran out of the shop.
“It just took my breath away when I heard. We’ve never had anything like that before.”
A Tayside Police spokes-woman said a woman was seen acting suspiciously in the Oxfam shop on Tuesday afternoon.
She was aged 20-25, about 5ft 2in and slim.
The woman had long, dark-brown, wavy hair tied back in a ponytail and was wearing jeans, black trainers with white toes, a black jacket and a light-coloured top.
She was also carrying a light-coloured shopping bag with a pattern on it.
A woman matching her description was also seen with two men shortly after the theft.
One of the men was about 6ft and of Asian appearance, with thick, dark hair. He was wearing a black suit.
He was seen in South Street standing beside a four-door, dark saloon car, possibly a blue or black old-model BMW.
The second man was about 5ft 9in, of “dark European” appearance with thinning grey hair. He was seen running across South Street carrying a blue bag, closely followed by the woman.
All three got into the car, which then sped off.
Detective Inspector Mike Pirie said: ‘‘We’re very keen to hear from anyone who was in the area on Tuesday afternoon who may have seen any of these individuals either before or after the theft took place.
‘‘Detectives are in the process of examining both public and private CCTV footage from the area in a bid to identify those responsible.”
Police have urged anyone with information on the theft to contact them on 0300 1112222.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Graff Jewel Heist, Latex Larry Déjà vu, Update !!!

£40m gem Mayfair raiders hid faces in latex masks

The two men who carried out the £40 million Mayfair jewellery robbery hired a make-up artist to give them latex disguises, it was revealed today.

The professional artist thought he was preparing them for a pop video as he covered their faces with liquid latex at his Covent Garden studio.

But within hours the men changed into suits, walked into Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street and held staff at gunpoint after bluffing their way through the “airlock” security door.

The 29-year-old artist, who is now under police protection, was asked to make the two men look older. Using techniques featured in films such as the Mission: Impossible series he also tinted their hair and darkened their skin tone in a four-hour session.

The two men stole 43 items in last Thursday's raid, Britain's biggest jewels theft. The robbery took just two minutes and the pair fired warning shots as they fled.

Experts believe the exquisite stones, including a yellow diamond flower necklace were smuggled out of the country within hours of the robbery.

Jeweller Nick Fitch of Hatton Garden said: “They were undoubtedly after the gems themselves but they are so distinctive they will have to re-polish them to give them a new identity. They will be lucky to get 20 per cent of their retail value — around £8 million.”

The freelance make-up artist received £450 in cash for the session which lasted from 11am to 3pm. The pair changed from T-shirts and shorts into suits and are believed to have gone straight to Graff's store in New Bond Street which they entered at 4.40pm.

A friend of the artist told the Sun: “He thought they hired him because they were starring in a music video, not the biggest jewellery robbery in history.

“They asked him to make them look older. He used special latex material to change the way they looked and was really pleased with the result.

“The studio does lots of work for films, TV and the West End but these two chaps didn't appear at all theatrical. He said they were arrogant and cool and not at all chatty.”

Detectives have removed hairbrushes and gowns from the make-up studio to gather DNA clues to the identity of the men — one white, one black. Banknotes used to pay are also being examined. Artists from the same studio also unwittingly provided disguises for a gang which carried out the £53 million cash raid on the Securitas depot in Tonbridge in Kent in 2006.

Several members of the public have called police with names for the smartly-dressed Mayfair raiders after a CCTV appeal.

A 50-year-old man was arrested in Ilford in connection with the robbery and police have raided several addresses in London and the South-East. The arrested man has been released on bail.

It emerged today that a Graff security guard challenged the men as they took a woman employee hostage. He ran to confront them as they led her down the street. When they turned and fired a shot he was able to grab the woman.

A witness said: “They had a gun in her back. The gunman turned and fired. God knows how he missed, but it allowed the security guard to save the girl.”

It is understood the two robbers had made an appointment to visit the store, which was how they were allowed through the airlock door.

Police say there were at least three getaway vehicles and a motorbike parked nearby.

Another Jewel Heist

A BAG containing gems worth £1million was stolen from an absent-minded jewellery rep as he browsed through books in an Oxfam shop.

The 62-year-old, from a firm in London's Hatton Garden, was taking a break from selling to stores in Perth, Scotland. It is thought Eastern European gangsters had been tracking him for weeks.
Graff Update:
Police have revealed they found a loaded gun in one of the cars used to make good the thieves escape, BMW.
However, it is not one of the guns used in the actual raid.
Indications are the Graff diamond raid is like the current British marijuana trade, "Home Grown" with roots in a Modus Vivendi !!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Graff's Diamond Robbery, Predictable, Whose Next ????

Graff Diamonds £40 million jewellery robbery is Britain's biggest gem heist.

A £40 million raid on Graff Diamonds, the Mayfair jewellers, is thought to be the biggest ever gems heist in Britain.

Scotland Yard have issued CCTV images of two men dressed in suits, concealing handguns, who escaped with 43 rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches from the central London store last week.
They threatened staff at Graff’s with handguns, briefly seized a woman employee as a hostage, and fired warning shots as they made a getaway in a series of cars.

The extent of the heist had been kept secret but police have now disclosed that the items stolen had a retail value of $65 million (£40 million). Britain’s previous biggest diamond jewellery robbery is believed to be a £23 million raid, which also took place at Graff's, in 2003.

The two men, thought to be Londoners, arrived in a taxi at 4.40pm on August 6 and were only in the New Bond Street jewellers for a matter of minutes.

After being let in through the security doors both men produced handguns and threatened staff. They selected a total of 43 items and placed them into a bag before briefly seizing a woman employee hostage.

She was taken outside but released when the raiders made their getaway in a blue BMW, having fired a warning shot above their heads.

Their escape was nearly foiled when the car crashed into a black cab in Dover Street. As the driver and punters from a nearby pub gave chase, one of the men fired another round into the ground to warn them off.

The men then switched to a silver Mercedes, and later again into a black vehicle, possibly a Ford Galaxy or VW Sharan.

It is suspected that the jewels, meanwhile, were transferred to a waiting motorcyclist who was able to escape quickly.

Police believe there were at least two other men who were acting as getaway drivers for three cars.

Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace from Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad said: “This was a well planned robbery with a number of vehicles used to help the robbers escape. These men are extremely dangerous and fired at least two shots in busy London streets as they made their getaway.

“Someone knows who these men are, they would undoubtedly have spoken about it beforehand or boasted about it afterwards. I would urge anyone who recognises them, knows the whereabouts of the jewellery or has any other information to contact us.”

The first suspect is described as white, about 30, with a slim build, dark hair with a well-combed side parting, light stubble on his face and 5ft 10 - 6 ft tall. He was wearing a grey suit, white shirt and tie.

The second is described as black, also in his 30s, 6ft tall, more well built than the first suspect, and with very short Afro hair. He was also wearing a grey suit, white shirt and tie.

Detectives believe the raiders targeted the most expensive items in the store. One officer said: “They knew exactly what they were looking for and we suspect they already have a market for the jewels. “

The suspects details have been circulated to all ports and airports but police believe they would have organised an escape route and may already have left the country.

Anyone with information should call Barnes Flying Squad on 020 8247 4804 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Art Hostage Comments:

Police will have to earn their daily bread for once, and as there is no multi-million pound sterling reward, 10% of £40 million is £4 million at the very minimum, information will be thin on the ground !!!!

The two robbers have already been identified and Police are hot on their tails.

Arresting the two robbers captured on CCTV will not get the diamonds back.

The journey some of the stolen Graff diamonds will be a diplomatic route !!!

The Graff watches will adorn the wrists of high profile European figures ????

Next target is the question ????

Before anyone thinks about trying to predict the next target, remember there is no money, I repeat no money, for preventing any further jewel heists !!!!

More to follow...............................

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Chopard Jewel Thief Arrested

French police: Jewel heist suspect detained

PARIS —French police say Belgian authorities have detained and handed over a man accused of stealing jewels worth several million euros (dollars) from a luxury Paris jewelry house.

They say the 52-year-old suspect was detained in the Belgian port city of Antwerp in mid-July at the request of French justice authorities. He was extradited to France several weeks later and put in custody here.

Investigators say the man, wearing a suit and a hat, walked into the Chopard jewelry boutique on the chic Place Vendome on May 30. He threatened employees with a gun and, minutes later, walked calmly out of the store with loot worth up to €6.5 million.

No other details about the suspect have been released. Police have not said whether the jewelry was recovered.

Art Hostage Comments:

Art Hostage was well aware of this arrest at the time but was sworn to secrecy.

Many other things have been happening, not least high profile arrests, embarrassing political intrigue, but again, Art Hostage has been sworn to secrecy.

Keep you posted as soon as it is safe to do so........................................

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Saudi Princess Loses $16 million in Cash and Jewels, Update !!

Italian police are investigating the theft of some $16m (£10m) in cash and jewellery from a Saudi princess staying on the Italian island of Sardinia.

The thieves used a master key to gain entry to her luxury hotel suite in Porto Cervo before ripping a safe from the wall, Italian media reports say.

They said the safe was only fixed with silicon to the wall in the suite.

Officials have not named the princess but say Italian and Saudi diplomats have had talks about the incident.

"The thieves used a master key. In 10 minutes at dinner time, without making any noise, they managed to remove the safe from a suite occupied by the Saudi princess," Italy's La Stampa newspaper reported.

The hotel is located in one of the most chic resort areas on the Italian island.

It is the biggest heist from Saudi royalty since Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai worker stole a fabled blue diamond and a 90kg bag of other jewellery from the wife of the future king of the country.
Sardinia is a large island belonging to Italy, and about 200km off the west coast of the country. It has many luxury resorts, and Premier Silvio Berlusconi owns property on the island.
"The thieves used a master key. In 10 minutes at dinner time, without making any noise, they managed to remove the safe from a suite occupied by the Saudi princess," who was not named, the daily La Stampa reported.
The safe was only fixed with silicon to the wall into which it was embedded, it said.
According to the daily La Repubblica, the burglary sparked a diplomatic incident.
"A military official from the Saudi embassy arrived in Sardinia and the Italian secret services and diplomats from both countries have been involved."
A Moroccan businessman also had his room burgled in another luxury hotel on the Costa Smeralda, the most chic resort area on the island, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also owns a luxury villa.
Using a similar technique, thieves pulled the safe out of the wall and got away with around 150,000 euros worth of jewels and money.
Both burglaries were carried out this week. The two hotels belong to the same chain, Iti Hotels.
Investigators suspect they were the work of an expert gang, probably from abroad, helped by someone with inside knowledge, who had worked in both establishments.
A third burglary was carried out in a hotel in Portofino, on Italy's northwest coast, where a German businessman had the safe stolen from his room, containing a million euros worth of
jewellery and 3,000 in cash, according to Il Corriere della Sera.
Art Hostage Comments:
One thing's for sure, the thieves smoke smuggled cigarettes !!!

Stolen Art Watch, Graff Diamonds Robbery August 2009, Modus Vivendi Completes the Circle !!!

Jewelry Robbers Raid London's Graff Diamonds, Again !!

Two men robbed Graff Diamonds located on New Bond Street, in the Mayfair district of London. Described as smartly dressed, the men stepped out of a cab and walked into the store.

Once in the store, they brandished a handgun, threatening employees with it and grabbing gems and jewelry worth an estimated £30 million/$50 million.

As they exited the store, they took a woman hostage, firing warning shots at police and drinkers in a nearby pub chasing to the robbers.

Once out, the robbers climbed into a blue BMW only to ditch the car when it collided into a taxi. They then sped off in a silver Mercedes.

A 2003 robbery at Graff Diamonds in London netted the robbers merchandise worth £23 million ($38.37 million) from the shop.
Art Hostage Comments:
The two Graff robbers were last seen smoking smuggled cigarettes !!!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Harry Hyams, The Nightmare Continues !!!!

Antiques stolen from Ramsbury Manor still at large

IT was described as Britain’s biggest-ever domestic burglary – the £30m raid on Ramsbury Manor, Wiltshire, the 17th century home of property tycoon and discerning collector Harry Hyams.

The raid took place in February 2006 when the burglars negotiated sophisticated security systems to break in through a ground-floor window and left the scene in two vehicles with their substantial haul.

Detectives from five police forces took part in the investigation. Two months later items from the haul were discovered in black bin bags in an underground bunker in a field near Stratford-upon-Avon.

The items – some of them damaged – amounted to one third of the items taken at Ramsbury but represented only a small fraction of the total value.

Members of the Johnson family, who were based at a caravan park in Evesham, Worcestershire, were convicted for multiple raids on stately homes in the South of England, including that at Ramsbury, in January 2008.

Although a few items stolen during the Johnsons' spree have emerged at provincial auctions and been subsequently withdrawn from sales, art and antiques valued at tens of millions of pounds still remain at large.

Some pieces represent relatively recent acquisitions but others had been acquired as long ago as the 1960s when Mr Hyams, a self-made millionaire by his 20s, first began to buy outstanding antiques.

Images of well over 100 items formally identified as stolen from Ramsbury can be viewed from the link below: