Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Goodnight Vienna, As Boeckl and Berg Go Missing !!

Art heist in Carinthia

Precious paintings by two Carinthian modern art trailblazers have been stolen from a pensioner’s apartment, police have said.

The works by late painters Herbert Boeckl and Werner Berg were nicked from the living room of the flat in Maria Wörth just outside provincial capital Klagenfurt yesterday or on Monday, officials said today (Weds).

The two pieces of art are valued at 40,000 Euros in all.

The theft occurred around half a year after a painting by late Polish artist Wojciech Kossak worth around 30,000 Euros disappeared from the hallway of Vienna’s five-star Hotel Bristol.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Toronto Smash and Grab Art Heist, Sherman Tanked !!

Arrest made in Yorkville art theft

Police have arrested one suspect and are searching for another two weeks after a pair of thieves smashed their way into a Yorkville art gallery, stealing three paintings worth an estimated $73,000.

Aaron Sherman, 43, has been charged with break-and-enter, mischief and two counts of failing to comply with probation.

Toronto police have released a surveillance image of the remaining suspect.

The artwork, meanwhile, is still missing.

The heist occurred, in the early morning of April 7, at 196 Davenport Rd. Two men smashed the front windows, entered the gallery and removed the framed paintings from the walls.

Security cameras recorded images of a man casing the gallery days before the theft. An officer recognized the suspect in the security image and was able to make the arrest, said Constable Wendy Drummond, spokesperson for Toronto Police.

The widespread use of security cameras should have deterred the criminals, she said. “Yet people continue to commit criminal offence knowing full well their images have been captured.”

Raphael Wagner, president of Odon Wagner Gallery, said this was the company’s greatest loss in 42 years of business, “but we’re very pleased an arrest has been made. Obviously, if the paintings are findable, of course I would want them back.”

The stolen paintings are: Wild Fields by Greg Harris, Still Life with Flowers by Weidong Wang, and Seated Lady with Fan by Zhao Kaolin.

Odon Wagner Gallery specializes in 18th and 19th Century European Paintings.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Nazi Medal and Dagger Collector Raided !!

Thieves ransack collector’s military hoard

A WIDOWER was left devastated when callous thieves broke into his home stealing thousands of pounds worth of military memorabilia, including Nazi medals and daggers.

Brian Morgan, who returned home to find it ransacked, said: “It was a huge shock – I did not know what to do with myself. The living room was a complete mess. They had smashed up everything including my 4ft fish tank.

“I just cannot understand why anyone would do such a thing.”

Among the rare World War Two items stolen are two Iron Cross medals, a German rapier, dress knives, plus an 8ins bronze statue of a Japanese Samurai warrior and three 18th-century rapiers.

The 71-year-old said: “I have always had an interest in military things since I was a young boy and I am now a member of Tondu Shooting Club.

“I have collected a lot of memorabilia over the past 25 to 30 years.

“They did not take everything but they did take the items that I liked the most.

“Some of the daggers alone were worth £500 to £600 – luckily they are all insured because their value could run into a few thousand pounds.

“One statue was of a civilian soldier signed by Japanese manufacturer Yamamoto. I should imagine it would be very difficult to get hold of something like that.”

Three money boxes were also smashed open in the burglary, one of which contained £390.

Mr Morgan said he had received calls in the last month from a man who specifically inquired about the antiques, which were on display in a glass cabinet in the living room of his home in South Street, Bridgend, while others were hanging from the walls.

The pensioner, who lives alone after his wife died two years ago, discovered burglars had struck when he returned home on Friday afternoon.

“As I arrived home I could see that I had been broken into,” he said.

“The wood around the lock at the back door had come loose. They must have used some kind of tool to break it apart.”

But he managed to save the shattered tank’s three tropical discus fish.

“They were on their side but I quickly transferred them to a smaller tank I have in the kitchen,” Mr Morgan said.

Detective Constable Tristan Evans, of Porthcawl CID, said: “The stolen property is very unusual and we are appealing for any information regarding this burglary.”

Art Hostage Comments:

Why anyone would want to collect Nazi medals, daggers etc is beyond me. Something morbid and distasteful that leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth.

Every Nazi associated thing has the blood of six million innocent people dripping from them.

In other news, French Police BRB investigating an art raid on an apartment in Paris where artworks valued at $500,000 were taken.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Egypt Van Gogh, Officials Fall on Sword, Jailed, Year and Six Months !

Egypt court jails officials over Van Gogh theft

CAIRO, April 21 (Reuters) - An Egyptian court on Thursday jailed five officials, including a former head of the state's fine arts department, over the theft of a Van Gogh painting worth an estimated $55 million, state media said.

"Vase with Viscaria" was stolen in August from Cairo's Mahmoud Khalil museum, home to one of the Middle East's finest collections of 19th and 20th-century art.

The state MENA news agency and court officials said the five had been found guilty of "causing the theft of the painting," without giving further details.

The painting has not been recovered.

A police investigation soon after the theft found that security measures at the museum were extremely lax, raising fears about the safety of the treasure trove of art and antiquities on display in Egypt.

Legal sources said the court sentenced Mohsen Shaalan, who was head of the culture ministry's fine arts department, to one year in jail and ordered him to perform community service.

Four other employees at the museum were given six-month prison terms, said the sources.

The museum houses works assembled by Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil, a politician who died in 1953, including paintings by Gauguin, Monet, Manet and Renoir, as well as the Dutch post-Impressionist master Vincent Van Gogh.

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris offered a 1-million pound ($168,000) reward for information leading to the recovery of the painting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, John Hobbs, Contemporary Jonathan Wild !!

John Hobbs

John Hobbs , who has died aged 64, emerged from the demi-monde of postwar west London to become one of the most successful antique dealers of his generation ; when his restorer accused him of selling fakes, however, he faced professional disgrace and financial ruin.

John Edmund Hobbs was born in St Albans on May 8 1946, the second of four children of Sidney Hobbs and his wife Beatrice, known as Kitty. The family soon moved to Fulham where Sid was, until 1968, the proprietor of Odds & Hobbs, a junk shop at which he held court to a circle of local characters, many of a roguish stripe.

John worked with his father from the age of 14 and was later apprenticed to a local tallyman. There he became a “knocker” – knocking on doors to charm from the occupants furniture which could be sold on to the trade at great profit. This was a time when many grand town houses were disgorging their contents before being sliced into flats.

A youth of striking beauty – described by the society antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs as looking “as if he’d strayed from a band of angels in a quattrocento painting” – Hobbs soon found himself, during a period when rigid class barriers were disintegrating, to be something of an adornment in the Chelsea hinterlands. This presented a variety of unlikely opportunities, and he was taken up by Nell Dunn, then married to the writer Jeremy Sandford, who had moved across the river from fashionable Cheyne Walk to working-class Battersea.

There was much of Hobbs in the book she wrote of her experiences, Up The Junction (1963), and even more in the film version that followed in 1968; but it was not until a paternity test nearly 30 years later that Hobbs was to discover that, as a 17-year-old, he had fathered Dunn’s first child, Reuben, born in 1964.

For a period Hobbs was close with John Bindon, the notorious Fulham tough who had been his senior at St Mark’s School, and together they discovered many interests in common – not least gambling, recreational stimulants and women . Like Bindon, Hobbs was prone to stray . By his own account, his younger self was no stranger to fencing stolen goods and housebreaking. One such foray, he claimed, was to the home of the politician and journalist Woodrow Wyatt. In the newspapers the next day, Wyatt trumpeted that he had seen off the intruders – but in reality, Hobbs asserted, he had hidden under the bedcovers shouting: “Take what you want but don’t touch me.”

Other misdemeanours included lending Nicholas Van Hoogstraten his car, which the vengeful property baron used (without Hobbs’s knowledge) in a hand-grenade attack on the home of a former business associate. Hobbs also ran into trouble after a weekend in France with the gossip columnist Nigel Dempster’s new wife. His cover was blown when his clothes went missing in transit, only to be mistakenly delivered by Heathrow staff to Dempster at his office. Fisticuffs followed; the marriage headed swiftly to divorce.

Meanwhile Hobbs was still “running furniture”, and had been joined by his brother Carlton, who was nine years younger . In 1974 they set up business in the newly-established Kings Road Furniture Cave, supplying pieces, at a modest markup, mainly to the trade. The early days at the “Cave” were perhaps Hobbs’s happiest. The place had the air of a club – albeit a thoroughly disreputable one whose membership embraced an eclectic mix of dealers, housebreakers and pimps, not to mention a smattering of Old Etonians – where work often took a back seat to the serious business of poker and backgammon. Hobbs, invariably dressed in an ankle-length leather overcoat with the collar up, was the frontman, while Carlton preferred to stay in the background.

The brothers’ ambitions eventually outgrew the “Cave”. A crucial decision was to widen the international horizons of their buying. Carlton began to trawl Europe buying up “stale” stock there which was still “fresh” to the English market. Biedermeier furniture, in particular, was beginning to be appreciated, and the brothers bought boldly and well, made big profits, and met new clients.

In 1987 they managed to secure, on the flip of a coin, a lease on premises at 107 Pimlico Road in Chelsea. Soon they became major players, travelling through Scandinavia, then awash with Russian furniture, which they brought back to London. They also began to make a splash in the salerooms, outgunning established dealers to bag some notable trophy lots at auction.

“To Pimlico”, wrote Gibbs, “the Hobbs brothers brought a refreshing glamour and a flamboyant European sense of theatre.” Their regular clients included Valentino, Mercedes Bass, Edmund Safra, Elton John and Leslie Wexner, as well as decorators such as Renzo Mongiardino, Juan Pablo Molyneux, Peter Marino and Brian McCarthy. But this meteoric transformation did not go unremarked. Competitors speculated about a shadowy millionaire backer or accused them of selling to undiscriminating celebrity clients. What the critics did not know about was the discreet arrangement the Hobbs brothers had made for the exclusive services of a Kent-based restorer, Dennis Buggins.

Despite their success, tensions between the brothers forced a split in 1993. Hobbs, under his own name for the first time, moved to a cavernous gallery behind Chelsea Barracks. Here – despite a disastrous joint venture with Ariane Dandois, the long-term mistress of Elie de Rothschild, that led to years of rancour and legal expense – his business continued to flourish, his stock constantly replenished with remarkable treasures, which were sold to an ever-increasing clientele lured in by “ the drop dead bezazz” of what was on offer.

Many of his clients became friends, in particular Jeffrey Steiner, the billionaire head of the Fairchild Corporation, who had wandered into the original Pimlico Road shop one Saturday in 1988 and breezily dropped over £1 million.

When staying at Steiner’s villa in the South of France, Hobbs claimed he was prevailed upon to supply a reefer to an elderly guest. The recipient collapsed after partaking and, it was assumed, had died. Panic ensued with Steiner insisting that the body be taken off his premises. But as Hobbs helped his host bundle the “cadaver” into the boot of a car, it revived, to inquire, not unreasonably: “What the hell do you think you’re playing at?”

In 2002 Hobbs hit the professional jackpot when he negotiated a £7 million guarantee to sell much of his stock at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg in New York. Meanwhile, by 2005, Carlton had moved his business to Manhattan, having acquired and refurbished a mansion that was originally home to the socialite Birdie Vanderbilt. Then disaster struck.

Buggins had continued to work exclusively for both brothers even after their demerger. But in 2007 Carlton filed a multi-million-dollar suit against the restorer, claiming that some pieces had not been delivered and that others were damaged. Fearful of the repercussions of this dispute, Hobbs attempted to broker a settlement, but failed. Soon, he too was in litigation with the restorer. It was an act of professional suicide. After losing both his major clients — and after being forced to shut down his workshop and sell his home — Buggins decided to go public with allegations against Hobbs, even if an injunction prevented him from discussing Carlton.

A last-minute attempt to convince Buggins to retract failed and, in April 2008, The Sunday Times ran a front-page article entitled: “Whistleblower reveals £30m antiques scam”. Buggins claimed that since 1992 his workshop has handled 1,875 items for Hobbs, more than half of which involved major alterations or outright inventions. Photographs and records provided by Buggins showed how he had transformed ordinary pieces of furniture into high-end antiques. Such had been Hobbs’s demand for period wardrobes, he alleged, that it had even been necessary to rent a barn in which to store them.

The embellished items were then attributed by Hobbs to the great cabinetmakers of the past, and described as “rare” and “significant”. One such invention, described by Hobbs as a “large and important gilt metal mounted mahogany pedestal partners desk, early 19th-century in the manner of Marsh and Tatham”, had an asking price of £1.2 million. Buggins claimed he had designed the desk himself and the cost for labour and materials had been £100,000.

Fearing the attentions of the law and his clients, Hobbs shipped much of his stock over to Switzerland and closed up the gallery, insisting that the timing was incidental: “We’re taking this opportunity to redecorate, that’s all.” But it never reopened. The British Antique Dealers’ Association suspended him. Carlton, back in the States, swiftly reached an undisclosed settlement with Buggins, understood to involve a payment of more than a million pounds to the restorer.

The restorer’s revelations provoked great anxiety among decorators – and their clients – around the world. That June, a pair of commodes that Hobbs had sold to a Swedish businessman for £395,000 in 1997 was withdrawn from a Sotheby’s sale in New York after a tip-off from a journalist. The catalogue described them as German neo-Classical, circa 1800, with a high estimate of $300,000: but Buggins produced evidence that he had made them out of a few old wardrobes and cedar from a local timber merchant.

For Hobbs, the impact was ruinous. His stock, when he could sell it, was now worth only a fraction of its previous value. He faced escalating legal bills and a large unanticipated tax demand. Worse, his health – he had been diagnosed with cancer in 2004 – was fast deteriorating. He finally reached a settlement with Buggins at the High Court last November, moments before he was due to be cross-examined. The agreement involved a substantial cash payment, again to the restorer, and the legal costs of both sides were thought to have reached more than £1 million.

A tall, well-built man and snappy dresser – he favoured the Fulham tailor Dimi Major – Hobbs always wore his hair “over the collar”. He was charismatic and capable of attracting real loyalty. But he understood when and how to apply menace, and was a doughty litigant, whose long-running disputes with Jacob Rothschild , the French and Italian authorities, and Buggins kept many lawyers in clover. He also had a self-destructive personality and a gambler’s disregard for consequences. He spent most of his life battling addictions to drink and drugs and was prone to depression.

He married first, in 1987 (dissolved 2002), Lola Wigan, the daughter of the Dorset racehorse breeder Dare Wigan. He married secondly, in 2003 (dissolved 2008), Dolores King. He also fathered two further children, a daughter, Rebecca, with Loretta Land in 1967, and a son, Rupert, with Sonia Dean in 1970 (he also assumed paternal responsibilities for her daughter, Elly).

John Hobbs died on March 13 at his flat in Putney. He was working on his memoirs, to be titled Honest John.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Two for the Price of One !!

Pink Panther gang strikes again and again?

An armed gang have raided two casinos in two hours in the south of France, stealing £90,000, prompting fears the notorious Pink Panthers gang have struck again.

In the first case, the meticulously planned attack saw six men in face masks brandishing Kalashnikovs and stun grenades arriving at the Partouche Casino in Aix-en-Provence in stolen sports cars soon after 2am on Monday morning.

They then led a croupier to a safe and, threatening him with a rifle butt, emptied it of around £90,000 pounds in front of terrified customers.

Two hours later they raided another Partouche Casino 50 miles away in La Ciotatas it was closing, threatening staff customers before escaping with an undisclosed sum.

The Pink Panther gang, usually known for their audacious jewwellery heists, are now thought to have been responsible for all 11 casino raids in France in the past year.

A spokesman for the Marseille anti-banditry brigade investigating the latest robberies said: “In the first raid, the men emptied the casino of all its funds and then made off at high speed on to the motorway towards Marseilles.

“Both robberies showed the typical modus operandi of the Pink Panthers, swift, meticulously planned, brutally efficient and using heavy weapons.”

Prosecutors from the Anti-Banditry Brigade in Marseilles are connecting the raid with nine carried out since April 2010, including one on the Lucien Barriere Casino in nearby Cassis in February.

The Pink Panthers earned their name in 1993 after stealing a £500,000 diamond from a jewellers in London's Mayfair and hiding it in a jar of face cream.

It was a tactic copied from the 1963 Pink Panther film, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau.

The Pink Panthers are said to speak several languages and travel on genuine passports issued to other people, but with the photos changed.

They have carried out around 120 heists across the globe, including further thefts in London, as well as in Paris, Dubai, Geneva, Monaco and Tokyo.

In all they have got away with some £150 million worth of goods from luxury stores, and millions of pounds worth of cash from casinos, during the past two decades.

Nowadays France, and especially the Riviera, has become their favoured place to carry out their crimes.

In 2008 a court in Chambery, south-eastern France, found three Serb members of the Pink Panthers guilty of robberies in Biarritz, Cannes, Courchevel and Saint-Tropez.

Art Hostage Comments:

Lets not be too hasty as this is a Modus Vivendi between Pink Panthers and the de la Brise de Mer, with a sprinkling of Marseille Crime and Separatist groups.

The worst area for crime is the Mediterranean coast (one of the most corrupt and crime-ridden regions in Europe), particularly around Marseille and Nice, where most crime is attributable to a vicious underworld of racketeers and drug dealers. Marseille is notorious as the centre of organised crime such as drug-trafficking, money-laundering, robbery and prostitution. There’s a growing use of guns in urban crime, and gang killings are fairly frequent in Marseille and Corsica, where separatist groups such as the Front Libéral National Corse ( FLNC), Cuncolta Naziunalist and the Mouvement pour l’Autodétermination ( MPA) have become increasingly violent in recent years.

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Sun is Shining, The Boys Are Back In Town !!!

Have the Pink Panthers struck again? Gang uses Kalashnikovs and stun grenades to steal £90k in daring raid on French casino

An armed gang brandishing Kalashnikovs and stun grenades have raided a casino in the south of France - sparking fears the infamous Pink Panther crime mob may have struck again.

The meticulously planned attack saw six men in face masks arriving at the Partouche Casino in Aix-en-Provence in stolen sports cars soon after 2am.

They then led a croupier to a safe and, threatening him with a rifle butt, emptied it of around £90,000 in euros in front of terrified customers.

It was the 10th raid on a casino in France over the past year, with the Pink Panthers suspected on almost every occasion.

The Pink Panthers are one of Europe's most feared criminal outfits and are thought to be behind many of the most audacious jewellery heists in recent history.

‘Nobody was hurt this time around, but it was an extremely brutal raid,’ said a police source investigating the raid in Aix, a city hugely popular with British tourists and expatriates.

Confirming that the raid had all the hallmarks of a Pink Panther hit, the source said: ‘The men emptied the casino of all its funds and then made off at high speed on to the motorway towards Marseilles.

‘They were clearly experienced criminals who had done this type of thing before. They were armed to the teeth with weapons from eastern Europe.’

Prosecutors from the Anti-Banditry Brigade in Marseilles are connecting the raid with 10 carried out since April 2010, including one on the Lucien Barriere Casino in nearby Cassis in February.

The Pink Panthers earned their name in 1993 after stealing a £500,000 diamond from a jewellers in London's Mayfair and hiding it in a jar of face cream.

It was a tactic copied from the 1963 Pink Panther film, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Closeau.

The Pink Panthers are said to speak several languages and travel on genuine passports issued to other people, but with the photos changed.

They have carried out around 120 heists across the globe, including further thefts in London, as well as in Paris, Dubai , Geneva , Monaco and Tokyo.

In all they have got away with some 150 million pounds worth of goods from luxury stores, and millions of pounds worth of cash from casinos, during the past two decades.

Nowadays France, and especially the Riviera, has become their favoured place to carry out their crimes.

In 2008 a court in Chambery, south-eastern France, found three Serb members of the Pink Panthers guilty of robberies in Biarritz, Cannes, Courchevel and Saint-Tropez.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Hamptons Art Heists Solved !!

Suspect Arraigned For East End Art Thefts

A Medford man was indicted and more than 40 works of art totaling about $600,000 have been recovered in connection with a recent rash of art thefts throughout the East End.

The investigation is ongoing, however, as the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and multiple East End police departments search for accomplices and additional missing art.

The D.A.’s office, along with detectives from various police agencies, have been investigating the theft of nearly 40 paintings, lithographs and other valuables from homes on Shelter Island, in Southold and in the villages of East Hampton and Southampton.

Angel Giovanni Palencia, 24, was arraigned on a grand jury indictment Friday morning in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead where he pleaded not guilty to six counts of burglary in the second degree and one count of grand larceny in the second degree, both felonies that have a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Mr. Palencia was arrested on Thursday, April 6, by Southold Town Police after a North Fork art dealer alerted officers that the man had tried to sell him stolen artwork, District Attorney Thomas A. Spota said during a press conference Friday morning in the D.A.’s office in Riverhead, where some of the stolen art was displayed.

Mr. Palencia first contacted the dealer—who requested that authorities not release his name—in December, telling him he had acquired several works of art in return for cleaning someone’s basement, but the dealer declined to purchase anything, Mr. Spota said. In January, Mr. Palencia contacted the dealer again with an offer to sell a $4,000 oil painting of a seated woman—which had been stolen from a Southold home—and said he had a companion painting of a man, but the dealer again declined to make a purchase, Mr. Spota said.

On April 5, Mr. Palencia reached out to the dealer a third time, offering to sell him five paintings, Mr. Spota said, including a $35,000 painting of a woman knitting in a garden that had been stolen from an East Hampton Village home. The dealer learned the paintings had been reported stolen when he contacted an appraiser, the district attorney said. The dealer then contacted Southold Police. Detectives had the dealer record a conversation with Mr. Palencia and invite him to the dealer’s business, where the arrest was made.

Mr. Spota said the defendant has been cooperative with police, but has insisted that he acted alone in the burglaries.

“Quite frankly, our detectives are a little too sophisticated for that,” Mr. Spota said, adding that the authorities believe there are accomplices. He said other individuals have been interviewed, but he stopped short of saying there would be further arrests.

Mr. Palencia is accused of burglarizing two Southampton Village homes—one on Captains Neck Lane and one at the corner of Gin Lane and First Neck Lane—one on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton Village, two Shelter Island homes—both on Rocky Point Road—and one Southold home on Soundview Avenue—all in January and February.

Mr. Palencia admitted he had some familiarity with some of the burglarized homes, Mr. Spota said. He did carpentry work on a home police said he burglarized in Southold, and on Shelter Island, he was employed by a painting contractor who had done work on one of the homes and knew there was a spare key in a particular outside location, Mr. Spota said. Mr. Palencia told the authorities he picked the East Hampton Village home at random after glimpsing valuables through a window, the district attorney said.

There were no signs of a forced entry at any of the homes, which were all unoccupied.

Works have been recovered at Mr. Palencia’s home, as well as at art businesses in Westbury and Mineola, where some had been purchased.

“I don’t believe he has the sophistication he thought he had,” Mr. Spota, said, noting that Mr. Palencia grabbed some items, but left untouched other pieces that were more nearby and more valuable.

Mr. Palencia is being held at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $500,000 bail.

Mr. Spota praised the “outstanding police work” by Southampton Village Police, East Hampton Village Police, Southold Town Police and Shelter Island Town Police, as well as Suffolk County Police detectives and D.A. investigators.

Some of the recovered pieces have not been associated with any of the known burglaries, leading the authorities to believe that more homeowners may discover missing art from their homes in the future.

“We suspect that once folks who live elsewhere return to their summer homes out in the Hamptons or out in Southold, the North Fork or South Fork, they are going to probably discover that their homes have been burglarized and items of art have been taken,” Mr. Spota said.

Mystery North Fork art dealer helped crack theft case

Who is he? Who is the mystery man who investigators say played a critical role in breaking the case of the theft of more than $500,000 in artwork and other valuables from unoccupied East End homes during the winter?

He’s a North Fork art dealer, said District Attorney Tom Spota, who declined to give the man’s name. Mr. Spota said the art dealer was contacted three times by Angel Giovanni Palencia, 24, of Medford, trying to sell the stolen art. Mr. Palencia was indicted Friday on felony burglary and grand larceny charges connected to a string of art thefts in Southold, Shelter Island, Southampton and East Hampton. He is being held on $500,000 bail.

The North Fork dealer grew suspicious, and after he learned through a fellow dealer that some of the art was reported stolen in East Hampton, he contacted the Southold Town Police.

Southold Police arrested Mr. Palencia on April 6 after recording a conversation between him and the art dealer, the district attorney said during a Friday morning press conference at the County Criminal Court Building in Riverside.

Mr. Palencia is alleged to have taken a painting and a silver tea set from a house on Soundview Avenue in Southold, and a painting and a stamp collection from a Rocky Point Road residence on Shelter Island.

Flanked by samples of the stolen art recovered by investigators and joined by area law enforcement officers, the DA said Mr. Palencia had admitted to the thefts, but said he was working on his own.

But police think otherwise.

“Nobody believes that this defendant was working by himself,” said Mr. Spota. “He certainly wasn’t running around to houses in East Hampton and looking in windows.”

Police said there’s no evidence of forced entry at any of the burglarized homes and the property owners said the windows were locked and the alarms set.

Mr. Spota stopped short of describing the crimes as part of an organized art theft ring. He did say, “The police are looking at a number of individuals they believe may have participated.”

Mr. Palencia is accused of taking 30 works of art and other valuables worth between $550,000 and $600,000 during January and February.

The defendant is no stranger to the East End, the DA added. He’s worked as a carpenter on Shelter Island and for a painting contractor on the North Fork. While working on Shelter Island, he had knowledge of an extra house key kept outside which “he found to be very handy,” said the DA

Southold police said Mr. Palencia, an undocumented worker, was arrested on a DWI charge in Southold several years ago.

Investigators said some of the stolen artwork is still missing, but they’ve also recovered pieces that have not been reported stolen. Southold Police Chief Ty Cochran said the owners are most likely second-home owners unaware of the thefts.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, El Greco Announces Goya Adored !!

Stolen Goya and El Greco Recovered in Spain

Police officers with the Civil Guard in Spain have uncovered two priceless paintings. The "La Anunciación" by El Greco and "La Aparición de la Virgen del Pilar" by Francisco de Goya. They were found in a house in Alicante, both have been missing since the end of the 1990s.

The two works of art are an important part of Spain's art heritage. They belonged to a private collection but have been loaned to international art exhibitions for the last two decades. The paintings were well known to art lovers and historians and have been displayed on the Arts Loss Register an international organization set up to trace stolen art since the theft. It is always a huge relief when works are recovered in an undamaged state and it looks like these two paintings have been unscathed and well looked after. They were reported missing by their owners after their return to Spain in the late 1990s. The police report lodged after after their disappearance was filed locally as well as with Interpol to alert police forces in the region as well as the global community of art professionals. This process makes it difficult for the thieves to sell works of art on to prospective buyers and produces a subculture of collectors willing to hang the stolen works..

Last Autumn, October, investigators received information in the region after a tip off of a possible sale of the two paintings. The investigation was intensified recently, and this led to the discovery of both paintings at a private address in the province of Alicante.

Everyone at the villa was arrested, even the family pets.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Cut and Thrust of Stealing History !!

Sword collection from Russia's imperial past is stolen

Thieves have stolen a rare collection of antique Russian swords.

The thieves struck overnight Saturday or during the day on Sunday, forcing their way into a storeroom in Common Road, Eton Wick, where the swords were kept.

The 25 swords from Russia's imperial past are worth about £100,000.

They belong to Tony Oliver, 75, who runs the History on Wheels museum in Eton Wick. The museum's unique collection of wartime and veteran vehicles is world famous.

Anyone with information that could lead to the recovery of the stolen swords is asked to contact Slough CID on 0845 8 505 505 and ask for PC Marsh, or email

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Strad Violin Thieves Jailed

Man jailed for Stradivarius violin theft at Euston

A Gypsy Traveller has been jailed for four-and-a-half years for stealing a £1.2m Stradivarius violin at Euston station.

John Michael Maughan, 30, of no fixed address, but originally from Dublin, and two Gypsy Traveller boys, aged 15 and 16, took the instrument from a Korean-born classical musician, Min-Jin Kym.

The 16-year-old was detained for 10 months. The younger boy will be sentenced at a later date.

Maughan and the boys, from Tottenham, admitted the theft at Blackfriars Crown Court in March.

All the defendants - who were arrested after an appeal on BBC1's Crimewatch - blamed each other for the theft and the instrument's disappearance.

The case containing the 1696 violin, a £62,000 Peccatte bow and another bow worth £5,000, were taken on 29 November 2010 when their 32-year-old owner stopped to eat at a cafe outside the central London station.

They have not been recovered.

'Low resale value'

Following the sentencing, a spokesperson for the violinist said: "Ms Kym has suffered greatly from the theft of her beloved violin on a personal level and, naturally, it has also affected her professionally."

The court heard the thieves were spotted in an internet cafe in Tottenham, north London, trying to sell the violin to a man sitting next to them for £100.

Maughan has 123 previous offences against his name.

British Transport Police said the violin would be almost impossible to resell because it has several unique marks and a unique chin rest.

Det Insp Andy Rose said: "The recovery and return of these extremely precious items remains the chief focus of our investigation, with the reward for their return now up to £30,000. This case is far from closed.

"Although the items are extremely valuable, I want to re-emphasise that their sell-on value, in monetary terms, is low because they are unique.

"It would be very easy for an arts and antiques or instrument dealer to recognise them as stolen property.

"We believe the items could still be held within the travelling community and it is also possible they will be offered for sale within the antique or musical trade, either in England or in Ireland."

Friday, April 08, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Toronto Art Heist, Dukes of Yorkville Strike Again !!

Three paintings stolen from Toronto gallery

Police are searching for three paintings valued at $73,000 after a smash-and-grab theft from a Yorkville gallery.

Officers found the front window broken when they responded to an alarm early Thursday at the Odon Wagner Gallery.

The missing paintings are “Wild Fields” by Greg Harris, “Still Life With Flowers” by Weidong Wang, and “Seated Lady With Fan” by Zhao Kaolin.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-5306, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Art Hostage Comments:

Ray Hobin and Darryl Vincent, doing a bit of late night shopping !!!

Ira Hussey waiting in the car !!