Monday, July 30, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Fitzwilliam & Durham Museum Jade Heists, Jail Looming, Recovery Partial !!

Four admit part in museum raid - but precious items 'may never be recovered'

A boy aged 15 is among four people who have admitted a role in the daylight raid of up to £15 million worth of Chinese artefacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Marvin Simos, from London, has admitted breaking into the Trumpington Street museum and taking valuable Chinese art worth between £5 million and £15 million – none of which has been recovered.

He appeared at Cambridge Crown Court yesterday jointly charged with Patrick Kiely, 29, Steven Coughlan, 25, both of Eleanor Street, London, and Robert Smith, 24, of Rosedale Stables, Swanley, Kent.

Kiely, Coughlan and Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle the museum – after they were caught on CCTV casing the joint the day before the raid.

They were seen examining two cabinets containing the Chinese artefacts as well as the window that was smashed to get into the building.

Simos, of Victoria Dock, London, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to burgle – which was accepted by the Crown.

The break-in occurred at about 7.30pm, on Friday, April 13, taking just a matter of minutes.

CCTV footage showed Simos arriving at the museum with three other men in a white VW Caddy van, which was parked near the museum and thought to have been stolen from Tower Hamlets in London on April 7.

The gang walked around the back to a ground floor window and used cutting equipment to cut through metal shutters before breaking the window and entering.

They then smashed through two strengthened glass cabinets before leaving with the artefacts, which are mostly jade, and driving off in the van, which was seen near the Hotel du Vin at 7.38pm.

The artwork was part of the museum’s permanent collection – none of which has been recovered despite police forces being alerted worldwide.

Taxi drivers and diners were initially called upon by police in the hunt for the suspects as 25 dedicated officers and staff undertook the high-profile investigation, called Operation Tundra.

Specialist officers from the fine art and antiques division of the Metropolitan Police assisted Cambridgeshire detectives in the case.

CCTV images were shown on BBC1’s Crimewatch programme in an appeal for information.

Det Ch Insp Jim McCrorie yesterday praised officers who worked on the operation for their “hard work” and said they would continue to search for the stolen art.

He said: “Today’s guilty pleas follow a large-scale police operation and a lot of hard work to ensure those involved in this burglary were caught and convicted.”

The defendants have been remanded in police custody and will be sentenced on or around September 28.

>> ART experts say the artefacts were probably stolen “to order” and are unlikely to ever be recovered.

Guy Schooling, managing director of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Stansted Mountfitchet, thinks they are likely to be in China – bought by buyers determined to see their heritage repatriated.

He said: “The end market for these objects is mainland China.

“The increase in values of Chinese works of art is driven by Chinese buyers themselves.

“I think they see it as a matter of honour to buy back their heritage which is now in the West and quite a lot of this was acquired during our occupation of China during various military campaigns.”

The haul of 18 artefacts included Qing, Qianlong and Ming artworks, including a jade 16th century carved buffalo which alone could be worth £4 million.

Jade is supposed to bring good fortune in Chinese culture.

The majority of the stolen treasure was bequeathed to the museum by Oscar Raphael in the 1940s and included six pieces made during the Ming dynasty.

Peter Crabbe, an expert in oriental antiques, has a shop in Pembroke Street opposite the museum and estimated that most of the pieces are “probably worth £250,000” adding a similar recumbent buffalo “went for £4 million at auction”.

He added: “They have obviously gone for the high quality stuff and probably to order.”

David Battie, a British expert in Chinese and Japanese ceramics, who has worked for Sworders as well, said the objects would have been made for the Chinese Literati – scholars who ran China and developed works of art, poetry and calligraphy.

The items would have been designed to use on a writing table – brush pads to hold brushes and recumbent animals to rest brushes on.

The BBC’s Antiques Roadshow star previously told the News “without a doubt these have been clearly stolen to order for the Chinese market”.

However, Mr Schooling disagrees as he thinks it was more of an “opportunistic crime”.

He said: “The defendants have seen the items there, realised that it would be possible to steal them now that there is a pretty ready market for these things and not too many questions asked.

“I would have thought they (artefacts) would have been out of the country very quickly but you never know how well organised these men are.”

Fitzwilliam Museum Jade art theft: Four plead guilty

A 15-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to stealing "culturally significant" art from a Cambridge museum.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted burgling "ancient Chinese antiques" from the Fitzwilliam Museum in April.

Three men - Patrick Kiely, 29, Steven Coughlan, 25, both from east London, and Robert Smith, 24, from Swanley in Kent - admitted conspiracy to burgle.

All four will return to Cambridge Crown Court in September to be sentenced.

Kiley and Coughlan, both of Gypsies Residential Site, in Eleanor Street, Bow, east London, and Smith, of Rosedale Stables, Swanley, were remanded in custody, as was the boy.

'Great blow'

Eighteen items, mostly jade and from the Fitzwilliam Museum's permanent collection, were stolen.

No value was placed on the haul during the latest court hearing but it was estimated to be worth several million pounds by police.

The University of Cambridge museum described their loss as a "great blow".

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire Police said the "culturally significant" art had not been recovered.

Among the stolen items in Cambridge were six pieces from the Ming dynasty, including a jade 16th Century carved buffalo, a carved horse from the 17th Century and a green and brown jade carved elephant.

A jade cup and vase which is carved with bronze designs was also stolen along with an opaque jade brush washer.

A Volkswagen Caddy van stolen from the Tower Hamlets area of east London on 7 April was used in the raid, which happened at about 19:30 BST on 13 April.

The gang entered the museum via a back entrance after using a disc cutter to create a hole in a back wall.

Cambridge News Names Teenage Fitzwilliam Burglar

Three men and a teenage boy have admitted their involvement in a burglary which saw millions of pounds worth of ancient Chinese artefacts stolen from a Cambridge museum.

Marvin Simos, 15, of Hanameel Street, Victoria Dock, London, has admitted breaking into the Fitzwilliam Museum on April 13 this year and taking items worth between £5 million and £15 million.

He appeared at Cambridge Crown Court today jointly charged with Patrick Kiely, 29, Steven Coughlan, 25, both of Gypsies Residential Site, Eleanor Street, London and Robert Smith, 24, of Rosedale Stables, Swanley.

Kiely, Coughlan and Smith pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle the museum.

They have been remanded in police custody and will be sentenced on or around September 28.

Det Chief Insp Jim McCrorie said: "Today’s guilty pleas follow a large scale police operation and a lot of hard work to ensure those involved in this burglary were caught and convicted. Sadly the items, which are of huge cultural significance, have still not been traced but we remain committed to pursuing new lines of enquiry that could lead to us recovering them.”

Six admit part in Oriental Museum raid

SIX people have admitted their part in the theft of rare artefacts from Durham University’s Oriental Museum.

The gang, from Walsall in the West Midlands, smashed a hole in the wall of the museum in Elvet 
Hill and snatched a jade bowl and porcelain ornament valued at £2million.

Police used CCTV footage and number plate recognition cameras to track the gang, first to Meadowfield on the outskirts of Durham City and then to Walsall.

The stolen ornaments were found by a member of the public under bushes on waste ground at Browney, a small settlement near Durham City.

They had been lying unwrapped for eight days.

At Durham Crown Court yesterday, Adrian Stanton, 32, of Telford Road and Lee Wildman 35, of Remmington Road, admitted conspiracy to burgle between January 1 and April 6.

Justin Oliver Clarke, 32, of Tamar Close, admitted two charges of assisting an offender.

The court heard he was 
in Durham when the theft took place on April 5 and helped the others by driving cars.

Fallon Arrowsmith, 19, of Walker Road, Charmaine Wilkes, 27, of Cornwall Close, and Natasha Partridge, 21, of Remmington Place, also admitted assisting an offender, between April 5 and May 11.

Judge Paul Sloan adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports and told the gang: “You will all have been advised that the circumstances of this case make custody extremely likely.”

Stanton and Wildman were remanded in custody. The other four were bailed to return to the court to be dealt with on August 31.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Montreal Molinari, Cops Hot For Hobin

Police looking for stolen Molinari paintings

Worth $800,000; Only 10 people knew location of pieces, which were not insured


Guido Molinari's son believes whoever stole eight of his late father's paintings - worth a total of $800,000 - last week must have been pretty frustrated during the heist, since they had to cut some of the large canvases to get them out of the building.

The thief or thieves snatched the only remaining works Guy Molinari had from his dad's hypnotic, diamond-shaped series, painted not long before he died in 2004. Because his father was an acknowledged giant of Quebec abstract art, the theft also tore a hole in our collective artistic heritage, he said.

"The canvases they cut into can never be restored to the way he created them," Molinari, 52, added.

"He created a unique pictorial space," Molinari said about his father's contribution to the art world during a 45-year career starting in 1954. His abstract minimalist paintings proposed a new way to perceive foreground and background, he explained, by blending them to create alternate layers and trick the eye.

"It is similar to the space of your imagination," he said.

The heist took place on the night of July 17 to 18 in Notre Dame de la Merci, about 110 kilometres north of Montreal, where Molinari lives and stored the works. The stolen canvases include some as large as two metres by three metres, he said.

Based on recommendations Molinari got from police to reinforce the security of the storage space, a few years ago he installed metal bars on all the doors to the room. The doors were also padlocked behind metal plates. The thief or thieves got in through a window and could not take away large framed pieces. That is probably why they had to cut them out, Molinari said.

Only about 10 people knew the elder Molinari's works were stored in the room, which is adjacent to a print shop. The works were not insured because when Molinari inherited them in 2008 there were 50 of them worth $4 million and the cost of insuring the lot was exorbitant, he said.

Guido Molinari also taught art at Concordia University for nearly 20 years, his son noted.

"When you're the son of someone like that you always admire them," Molinari said. "Now that he's gone I need to still protect him, and his image and his work."

The Sûreté du Québec's art theft specialists are actively hunting for the canvases, SQ Sgt. Gino Paré said. He declined to provide details of the investigation.

Alain Lacoursière, a former Montreal police officer and a consultant who specializes in artwork security, told The Gazette this year there is a demand on the global black market for well-known Quebec and Canadian art.

"It is sometimes given instead of cash to crime bosses to pay for drug debts," Lacoursière said. "The art could be used in a new hotel" in South America or the Middle East, for example.

Julian Cargnello, a 24-year-old Montreal painter having his third gallery show, said Molinari has been a huge influence on generations of artists.

"It takes a lot of work and a lot of perseverance to build a career," Cargnello said. Someone who steals art "isn't only taking away something that can be sold and make money. They're also taking away something that is part of your legacy."

Police recover 8 stolen paintings, worth $800K

Suspected thief from Saint-Sauveur, about an hour's drive south of the workshop.

Police have recovered eight stolen paintings by Montreal artist Guido Molinari.

Last week, thieves stole the pieces from Molinari's former workshop in Saint Donat, about 150km north of Montreal.

Police said the suspected thief is a man in his 40s, from Saint-Sauveur, about an hour's drive south of the workshop.

He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 17 on charges of possession of stolen goods.

The artist's son, Guy Molinari, will examine the state of the eight works, the value of which is estimated at $800,000.

The abstract artist died in 2004. He is well known for his use of contrasting colours and geometry in paintings.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Henry Moore Sundial, Reward Claim Led To Criminal Charges

Two men charged with theft of Henry Moore sundial sculpture

Liam Hughes, 22, and Jason Parker, 19, accused of taking artwork, worth up to £500,00, from artist's former home in Hertforshire

Two men have been charged with the theft of a sculpture taken from the former home of British artist Henry Moore.

Hertfordshire police said Liam Hughes, 22, and 19-year-old Jason Parker had both been charged with stealing the sundial sculpture and a bronze plinth.

The sundial, created by Moore in 1965 as a working model for a larger sculpture, was taken from the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, overnight between 10 and 11 July.

Said to be worth up to £500,000, the distinctive artwork was found at an undisclosed location after a televised appeal for information last Thursday.

Hughes and Parker, both of Coltsfield, Stansted, Essex, have been bailed to appear before magistrates in Stevenage on 3 August. A third man, aged 22 and also from Stansted, has been released without charge

Stolen Art Watch, Moore The Merrier As Travellers Stung By One Of Their Own

Stolen bronze Henry Moore sculpture worth £500,000 recovered following TV appeal

A bronze sculpture worth £500,000 stolen from the former home of British artist and sculptor Henry Moore has been recovered by detectives after a televised appeal for information.

The Sundial, created by Moore in 1965 as a working model for a larger sculpture, was found at an undisclosed location after an inquiry by Hertfordshire Police led to the arrest of three men on suspicion of theft.

A bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, valued at up to £500,000, was stolen from the grounds of a Hertfordshire museum dedicated to the artist

A bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, valued at up to £500,000, was stolen from the grounds of a Hertfordshire museum dedicated to the artist

The distinctive 22in-high artwork was taken from the grounds of The Henry Moore Foundation, near Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, overnight between July 10 and July 11.

A senior officer appeared on BBC1’s Crimewatch on Thursday to appeal for information about the theft.

British artist Henry Moore, who died in 1986, became well known for his large-scale abstract cast bronze and carved marble sculptures.

British artist Henry Moore, who died in 1986, became well known for his large-scale abstract cast bronze and carved marble sculptures.

Following the programme, a member of the public called in regarding the sculpture, which was recovered along with a bronze plinth taken from the foundation last Sunday.

Three men, two aged 22 and one 19, all from Essex, have been arrested on suspicion of two counts of theft and are in police custody.

Lesley Wake, chief operating officer at The Henry Moore Foundation, said: ‘The foundation is thrilled about the return of model for Sundial.

'We are hugely grateful to Crimewatch, the public and Hertfordshire Police.’

The Sundial is the latest work by Moore, who died in 1986 aged 88, to be targeted by thieves.

The foundation carried out a security review after the theft of the two-ton Reclining Figure in December 2005.

In 2010, Moore’s £45,000 painting Three Reclining Figures On Pedestals was stolen from a gallery in Broadway, Worcestershire.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Matisse Malaise Solved In Miami

Matisse On Menu

Miami is known as an up-and-coming art town thanks to local art stars, vibrant Wynwood galleries, and Art Basel Miami Beach. But as it turns out, it's also home to black market art dealing as well.

Two people were arrested Tuesday on Miami Beach after trying to sell what is believed to be Henri Matisse's 1925 painting "Odalisque in Red Pants" to undercover agents for $740,000, according to the FBI. The painting has been missing from the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum in Caracas, Venezuela since 2002, having famously been swapped for a fake that went unnoticed for what some speculate might have been several years.

The FBI identified the accused as Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami, and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo, 50, of Mexico City, Mexico. According to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wilfredo Ferrer, Marcuello admitted to the agents during a meeting that he knew the $3 million painting was stolen before negotiating a deal.

Once the price was agreed upon, Ornelas carried the painting in a red tube from Mexico through Miami International Airport before she and Marcuello met the undercover agents to transfer possession. According to Local10, the two were arrested after the deal was completed at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach.

It is not yet known if Marcuello and Ornelas were involved in the original theft of the painting, details of which have never been pinned down despite intense work from Interpol and police from the Americas to Europe.

In 2002, Miami art collector Genaro Ambrosino, who is originally from Venezuela, contacted SICAM after hearing that the painting was for sale. Director Rita Salvestrini told him "Odalisque in Red Pants" wasn't on the market, and that's when museum officials discovered that the one in their collection had been swapped for a fake.

One Venezuelan newspaper argued the Matisse may have been swapped during an exhibition loan in Spain in 1997, according to the Daily Mail, while other evidence points to the exchange having happened in 2000.

Either way, “Odalisque in Red Pants” had been a fixture on Art Loss Register's list of most valuable missing artwork. If convicted, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, Marcuello and Ornelas each face a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to ten years in prison.

Unfortunately, most stolen artwork is rarely recovered. According to the Christian Science Monitor, only about 15 percent of missing or stolen art returns to its rightful owner.

In 2004, the FBI created an Art Crime Team and set up a National Stolen Art File database. In the past 9 years, they have recovered over 2,650 items that amount to over $150 million, according to the Daily Mail.

"Generally speaking, art thieves are fairly good criminals, but they're terrible businessmen," Robert Wittman, an art-security consultant and former investigator for the FBI's national Art Crime Team, told the Associated Press. "And the true art is not the stealing, it's the selling."

Undercover FBI agents recover stolen Matisse painting worth £2m in Florida 'sting'

A Matisse painting stolen more than ten years ago has been recovered in a sting by FBI agents.

Yesterday a man and a woman tried to sell the 1925 painting ‘Odalisque in Red Pants’ to undercover federal agents posing as art collectors at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.

The masterpiece, worth nearly £2million, had been on display in the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum in Caracas, Venezuela, but in 2003 it was discovered to be a fake.

Recovered: Odalisque in Pants, painted by Henri Matisse in 1925, left and the fake, right

Recovered: Odalisque in Pants, painted by Henri Matisse in 1925, had been missing for over 10 years when it was discovered the painting in the museum in Caracas, Venezuela was a forgery

The FBI have not yet named the pair, or revealed whether they are implicated in the theft of the painting, but its recovery is big news for those in the art world.

Agents from Interpol, the FBI and Venezuelan, British, Spanish and French police have been searching for the 1925 Henri Matisse painting for nearly 10 years, but no one knew where it was.

'Odalisque in Red Pants’ had been on tour to other museums several years previously and at some point been switched with a forgery.

The Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum had bought the original painting in 1981, but how and when the painting was replaced with a replica, and by whom are questions still unanswered.

Scene of the sting: The swanky Loews hotel on Ocean Drive, Florida, where undercover FBI agents posing as art collectors nabbed a man and a woman selling the Matisse painting that had been missing for over 10 years

Scene of the sting: The swanky Loews hotel on Ocean Drive, Florida, where undercover FBI agents posing as art collectors nabbed a man and a woman selling the Matisse painting that had been missing for over 10 years

The director of Caracas Museum, Rita Salvestrini, suggested that the switch many years ago had been done by an insider. She said in 2003, when the forgery was first discovered, ‘There had to be inside complicity. You can't just make the switch freely inside the museum.’

There are clear differences between the original and the replica, which Salvestrini explained at a press conference: The fake has a dark shadow behind the dancer, while the original does not. In the lower right hand corner, the genuine painting has seven green stripes. The fake has six.

The Sofia Imber museum purchased the painting from the Marlborough Gallery in New York in 1981 for $400,000. It has been on display ever since, except for a brief loan for a Spanish exhibition in 1997.

Recovered: Odalisque in Pants, painted by Henri Matisse in 1925, left and the fake, right

Spot the difference: The fake, right, has a dark shadow behind the dancer, while the original, left, does not. In the lower right hand corner of the genuine painting there are seven green stripes. The fake has six.

Portrait of the artist: Henri Matisse (1869 ¿ 1954) was a French artist known for his use of vibrant colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship

Portrait of the artist: Henri Matisse (1869 ¿ 1954) was a French artist known for his use of vibrant colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship

Caracas newspaper El Mundo speculated that the Matisse may have been swapped during the 1997 Spanish exhibition loan. Other clues suggest the painting may have been stolen in 2000.

In November 2002, Miami art collector Genaro Ambrosino heard the piece was up for sale and contacted Rita Salvestrini.

She pointed out that the painting was in the museum and was not for sale, but after experts examined it they declared it a forgery.

Salvestrini has subsequently discovered that over the years a handful of people in the art world had heard rumours that 'Odalisque in Red Pants' was being offered for sale.

Some gallery owners had been approached and been offered the painting but investigators have yet to name anyone thought to be complicit in the painting's theft and recent reappearance.

'The people who knew that the piece was being circulated around the world never informed us,' said Salvestrini. 'The thing is, it didn't occur to anyone the piece could have been authentic.'

‘Odalisque in Red Pants' is not the only painting by Henri Matisse to have been logged in the FBI's National Stolen Art File (NSAF) database of stolen art and cultural property:

In 2006 the French painter's 1904 masterpiece Luxembourg Gardens was stolen from a Rio de Janeiro museum during the carnival, along with paintings by Picasso, Dali and Monet.


The FBI's rapid deployment Art Crime Team was created in 2004 and is composed of 14 special agents, each responsible for art and cultural property crime cases in specific geographic regions.

The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI’s Art Theft Program in Washington, D.C. where agents receive specialized training in art and cultural property investigations.

Once trained they can assist in art-related investigations worldwide in alongside foreign law enforcement officials and FBI legal attaché offices.

Stolen objects are submitted for entry to the National Stolen Art File (NSAF) by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. When an object is recovered, it is removed from the database.

Since its inception, the Art Crime Team has recovered more than 2,650 items valued at over $150 million including:

Francisco de Goya’s 1778 painting Children With a Cart. The painting was stolen while being transported from the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio to the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Around 100 paintings stolen from a Florida family’s art collection in a fine art storage facility, including works by Picasso, Rothko, Matisse and others, were recovered from Chicago, New York and Tokyo.

Rembrandt’s Self Portrait (1630) was recovered in a sting operation in Copenhagen carried out in cooperation with ICE and law enforcement agencies in Sweden and Denmark. The FBI had also previously recovered Renoir’s The Young Parisian. Both paintings had been stolen from the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm in 2000.

700 pre-Colombian artifacts were recovered in Miami in a sting operation in coordination with the Ecuadorian authorities.

Three paintings by the German painter Heinrich Buerkel (1802-1869), stolen at the conclusion of World War II and consigned for sale at an auction house near Philadelphia in 2005.

Read more:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime Has No Borders

Brazilian masterminds art thefts from behind bars

Rio de Janeiro: A convicted art thief was found by the Brazilian police to be running an international ring from a prison in Rio de Janeiro, selling stolen art works in neighbouring countries, a media report said.

Laessio Rodrigues de Oliveira, who studied information science, began serving a 12-year prison sentence in 2007 for stealing and falsifying art works, a newspaper reported on its website.

Rodrigues de Oliveira, 39, has been running the ring from the Bangu prison in Rio de Janeiro.

The ring stole art works from museums and libraries in the Brazilian states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, selling them to collectors in Argentina, Uruguay and even Brazil.

Rodrigues de Oliveira, who staged robberies at the request of collectors, "is the biggest thief of rare works in the country", police said.

The convicted art thief used cell phones, letters and messages carried by visitors to run the ring.

Rodrigues de Oliveira first gained notoriety in 1998, when he stole 14 antiquarian magazines and newspapers worth $750,000 from the National Library in Sao Paulo.

Lady on the Terrace replaces damaged Monet painting

This is the painting that has replaced the Monet masterpiece damaged after an alleged attack in the National Gallery.

The work, called Lady On The Terrace, is by another French artist who was inspired by Monet himself.

Paul Signac was so impressed by Monet that he gave up his training in architecture to pursue a career as a painter after attending an exhibition of Monet's work.

The damaged Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin With A Single Sailboat, is currently with gardai as they investigate an alleged attack on it on June 29.

It will have to undergo extensive examination and restoration by the gallery's conservation department before it can be put on view again.

Andrew Shannon (47) of Willans Way, Ongar, was remanded in custody after he was charged with causing criminal damage to the valuable Monet oil-painting.

The Signac painting chosen to replace the Monet in the Millennium Wing of the National Gallery is proving popular among visitors and tourists.

Signac's uses dots of colour which are blended by the eye of the viewer, rather then the broad brushstrokes favoured by Monet.

The painting from 1898 depicts a scene in St Tropez.

"We have tried to replace the Monet with another European painting in a similar style," said Valerie Keogh of the National Gallery.

Antiques thefts in Brighton and Hove could be work of organised gang

An organised gang could be behind a series of linked antique burglaries.

Homes across Brighton and Hove have been targeted.

On one occasion a widower in his 90s was targeted. As he slept a large number of antiques were stolen.

A thief or thieves forced the window of his home in Roedean Road open and stole two-inch brass clocks, a solid silver tea set, solid silver greyhound and brass candlesticks.

They also took a vintage Mercedes car from his garage which had belonged to his wife who had died.

Police said the man was devastated by the loss of such a sentimental item.

The man’s home was targeted during the early hours of Sunday, July 8.

Distressing On Friday, July 6, at around 10.30am a high value Georgian clock along with solid silver items thatincluded rose vases, coasters, bowls and an Edwardian silver sweet dish plus an original Staffordshire figure were stolen from a house in Vale Avenue, Patcham, Brighton, while the owner had popped to the shops.

On this occasion entry was gained via the back door.

Around the same time an antique charmbracelet with a little fork and trowel charm, was stolen from a property nearby in King George VI Avenue, Hove.

Detective Sergeant KateWitt said it was likely there was more than one offender because of the “bulk and weight” of the items stolen.

She said: “We don’t have any specific intelligence as to why these houses have been targeted.

“It is likely an organised group.

“The offendersmight have been looking in the area in the run-up to the offences.”

She said the elderlyman was “very, very upset”. “He associates the car with his wife,” she said.

“These burglaries have been incredibly distressing for all three victims. The antiques were not only of high monetary value but also incredibly sentimental to their owners.

“We are not ruling out that all three burglaries may be linked and that the homes were specifically targeted.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Henry Moore Sundial, Hotter Than July

Henry Moore sculpture stolen from Hertfordshire museum

A bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, valued at up to £500,000, has been stolen from the grounds of a Hertfordshire museum.

The 22in-high Sundial, 1965, was taken from The Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham on Tuesday night.

Seven years ago, a bronze statue worth £3m was stolen from the same museum - the sculptor's former home - and was never recovered.

Police later said they believed it had been melted down for its scrap value.

CCTV pictures of the 2005 theft showed three men loading the statue of "a reclining figure" on to the back of a Mercedes lorry using a crane.

Police are appealing for anyone with information about the latest incident to come forward.

Detective Inspector Paul Watts said: "This Sundial sculpture is a valuable piece and we are very keen to speak to anyone who may have seen it since 16:30 on 10 July."

The son of a coalminer, Castleford-born Henry Moore (1898-1986) is regarded as the UK's most famous sculptor.

Picasso and Renoir paintings worth $21 million stolen from Czech businessman

Czech police are searching for Picasso and Renoir paintings stolen from a local businessman in the town of Olomouc. The art is reportedly worth $21 million.

The robbers got away with a Renoir and ten Picasso drawings in mid June. The police have only released the information as part of their investigation, the Ria Novosti news agency reports.

"Unknown suspects broke into the house of the 51-year-old businessman in Olomouc and after resorting to violence forced him to hand over the keys for his safe-deposit," the local police spokesperson said. “He was seriously injured, but managed to call the police.”

The businessman was reportedly tied and beaten up.

Apart from the art the criminals also stole other valuables.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Dublin Monet, A Hole Lotta Trouble

Man in court over damage to painting

A 47-YEAR-OLD man has been refused an application to have independent analysis carried out on a Monet oil painting that he is accused of damaging.

Andrew Shannon, of Willans Way, Ongar, Co Dublin, is charged with criminal damage to the painting at the National Gallery in Dublin on June 29.

Gardai arrested him after damage had been inflicted to Claude Monet's 'Argenteuil Basin With A Single Sailboat', which is believed to be insured for up to €7m.

Mr Shannon was before Cloverhill District Court yesterday, having been remanded in custody on Monday.

His solicitor, Eleanor Leane, requested independent analysis of the painting.

Judge McHugh refused the application but said it could be made again when Mr Shannon is next in court.

Mr Shannon has not yet indicated how he will plead to the charge.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Codex Liberated From Disgruntled Handyman

Santiago Codex Calixtinus, Priceless Stolen Book, Found In Handyman's Garage

A priceless 12th-century illuminated manuscript stolen from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, and considered one of Spain's most treasured cultural and religious treasures, was found in the garage of a former employee, according to news reports.

The Codex Calixtinus, believed to be the first guidebook for religious pilgrims to Santiago, disappeared almost exactly a year ago from the cathedral in Galicia in northern Spain, according to the BBC. It had been locked in a closely guarded room accessible by only a few people.

A collection of sermons and liturgical passages, the codex was used by pilgrims to Santiago, the reputed burial place of St. James the Greater, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Tradition says that he went to Spain to preach Christianity and is buried in Santiago. The codex, which is comprised of five volumes, tells how the apostle's remains were transferred to Santiago de Compostela, and also outlines for pilgrims the various routes to the city.

The stolen codex is thought to date from around 1150 and is so famous that it would have been unsellable on the open market without alerting the police.

The Guardian reports that police arrested a freelance handyman and electrician who worked at the cathedral for 25 years before being fired for forging a work contract. The man claimed he was owed more than $50,000 for unfair dismissal. His name has not been released; three of his relatives also were arrested.

Besides the codex, police also found other old books stolen from the cathedral, including its book of hours, a popular type of devotional book in the Middle Ages. Also recovered were keys to nearby buildings, documents related to church officials and the equivalent of at least $1.5 million in euros.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Monet Damage Dublin Was Dry Run

Shannon Brothers, Andrew left, William right

Man accused of damaging painting is remanded in custody

A 47-year-old man was remanded in custody this evening - and is to get medical treatment - after he was charged with causing criminal damage to a valuable Claude Monet oil painting at the National Gallery of Ireland last week.

Gardaí arrested him after damage was inflicted last Friday to Monet's Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat painting, which is believed to be insured for up to €7m.

Andrew Shannon with an address at Willans Way, Ongar, was charged with criminal damage to the painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, in Dublin city-centre, on June 29 last.

The 1874 impressionist oil-painting had been exhibited at the gallery's room 10 but has since been removed for examination.

Dublin District Court was told this morning that Mr Shannon was charged at 8.14pm on Saturday.

Detective Conor O'Braonain of Pearse St Garda station told the court that after caution Mr Shannon replied: “My solicitor has all the details.”

On Sunday evening, while in garda in custody, he complained that he was feeling ill and was brought to St James's Hospital.

Judge Cormac Dunne had been told that Mr Shannon was taken into the care of a cardiologist at the hospital and could not be brought to court this morning.

The case was adjourned until a late sitting of the court and Mr Shannon was then brought before Judge Denis McLoughlin.

The presiding judge was told that there would be an objection to bail. However, defence solicitor Aine Flynn said Mr Shannon was not making a bail application at this stage.

Mr Shannon, who did not address the court, was wearing a black “Pubs of Dublin” T-Shirt, blue jeans and black shoes.

Ms Flynn asked the judge to grant free legal aid to him and explained that he was in receipt of a disability payment. The judge agreed after noting that there was no garda objection.

He remanded Mr Shannon, who has not yet indicated how he will plead to the charge, in custody to appear again at Cloverhill District Court on Friday.

A second charge was also brought against Mr Shannon for trespassing and attempted theft at a house on Merrion Square, in central Dublin, on February 24 last. Garda Shane Noone said Mr Shannon made no comment when that charge was also put to him on Saturday.

Judge McLoughlin agreed to a request from the defence solicitor to direct medical attention for Mr Shannon, which Ms Flynn said he has required since the time of his arrest.

Man charged for damaging Monet painting

A MAN arrested on Friday on suspicion of seriously damaging the National Gallery of Ireland’s only painting by French impressionist Claude Monet has convictions relating to the theft of collectable artefacts.

A large hole was made in the 1874 painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat, when a man lunged at it in the gallery between 11.30am and noon. The man then fell to the ground, telling security guards he had chest pains. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and was discharged after being assessed.

Gardaí confirmed last night a man had been arrested in connection with the attack and taken to Pearse Street station.

The incident at the gallery was captured on CCTV while a number of people in the room at the time are believed to have witnessed it. Gardaí said some of them had not yet been traced and they were asking them to contact the investigating team at Pearse Street station.

The arrested man, who is Andrew Shannon 47 of Willans’ Way in Clonsilla , is originally from Ballymun, Dublin. He has convictions in Britain relating to thefts from stately homes in which rare books, paintings and antiques were stolen.

He had travelled to Britain with an accomplice and, when caught in a private section of a stately home in Yorkshire he was found to have a walkie-talkie, which he was believed to be using to communicate with the other man. A sat-nav unit with the addresses of other stately homes was also found in his possession.

He was being questioned last night under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The damaged painting was bequeathed to the National Gallery by the musicologist – and one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre – Edward Martyn, along with six other works by Degas, Corot and others, in 1924.

Martyn was a cousin of George Moore. On a visit to Paris, Moore took him to art dealer Durand-Ruel’s and, according to Peter Somerville-Large, “persuaded him to buy a sparkling river scene by Claude Monet and two pastels by Edgar Degas”.

The painting is the epitome of serenity. Bathed in soft sunlight, a boat sails close to a leafy bank of the Seine, the suburban town of Argenteuil visible in outline in the distance.

National Gallery director Seán Rainbird said: “It is a shocking and very regrettable incident and I would like to praise the Garda Síochána and the NGI staff in dealing promptly with the matter.”

Market values for substantial works by Monet are now well into the tens of millions. A Water Lilies painting exceeded £40 million at auction in 2008. Smaller, less iconic works of quality are unlikely to fetch below the £10 million mark.

Shannon History Back-story :