Friday, August 31, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Group of Seven Swiped As Joshua Knelman's Hot Art Up For Yet Another Award

Arthur Ellis Award Winner Best Crime Nonfiction, Hot Art Up For Another Award

Group of Seven paintings stolen from Toronto gallery

Also taken was Harbour Scene #2 by late Montreal artist

Two Group of Seven paintings and a painting from a renowned Montreal artist have been stolen during a break-in at a gallery in Toronto's tony Yorkville neighbourhood.

The paintings that are missing are:

  • Group of Birches by Frank Johnston.
  • Beach Litter by Arthur Lismer.
  • Harbour Scene #2 by the late Montreal artist Sylvia Lefkovitz.

Police say the thief or thieves broke the front bay window and entered an art gallery on Hazleton Avenue. The three paintings are valued at about $50,000.

The break-in happened Sunday, but details were only released on Friday morning.

Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction shortlist (Canada)

The shortlist for the 21st annual Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction has been revealed. The $10,000 prize, administered by Wilfrid Laurier University, recognizes a first or second published work of creative non-fiction by a Canadian author that has a Canadian setting or significance. The award was established in 1991 by literary journalist Edna Staebler to encourage Canadian talent:

Joshua Knelman, Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art (Douglas and McIntyre)

Robyn Michele Levy, Most of Me: Surviving My Medical Meltdown (Greystone Books)

Andrew Westoll, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A Canadian Story of Resilience and Recovery (HarperCollins Canada)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Guarnerius Violin Theft Leads To Indictments

Two men charged in connection with the theft of Guarnerius violin in Cricklewood

Two men have been charged in connection with the theft of a Guarnerius violin which was stolen in a Cricklewood burglary.

Dean Barton, 23, of Brassey Road, Kilburn, and John Powles, 24, from Belsize Park, are due to appear in Hendon Magistrates’ Court this morning (Saturday).

Barton is accused of two counts of handling stolen goods including the instrument which is worth £500,000.

Powles is charged with breaking into the Cricklewood property on August 17 from where the violin was stolen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Ex-household staffer sought in $3M Bryn Mawr art theft

For a brief period this summer, Andrea Lawton worked on the housekeeping staff of their home, according to a Bryn Mawr couple. Now, say Lower Merion police, she is suspected of cleaning them out of a rare bust of Benjamin Franklin said to be worth more than $3 million.

Lawton, 46, of Philadelphia, learned her employers' routine during her month working at their residence on the 600 block of Black Rock Road, according to homeowner George A. D'Angelo.

Police responded to a call by the household staff, which reported the burglary about 12:30 p.m. Friday, while he and his wife, Brenda, were not home, D'Angelo said. But the porcelain bust and a small, framed portrait were already gone, he said.

The bust is 28 inches tall and weighs 25 pounds, including its brass supporting structure, D'Angelo said. Made by Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1778, while Franklin was visiting Paris, the bust is one of four in existence, he said.

"It sat on the pedestal and just dominated the drawing room," D'Angelo said.

The three other busts are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Louvre in Paris, according to D'Angelo. The Louvre version is made of terra cotta; the two others are marble.

When the marble bust was donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was valued at about $3 million, said D'Angelo, who believes the stolen work is worth at least as much.

It is unique, he said, because Franklin's expression seems to vary from different angles. The work is part of a collection of historical objects his family has collected, D'Angelo said.

Lawton and another woman were seen leaving the house Friday by a staff member, D'Angelo said. But because both had been recent employees there, their presence did not raise suspicion, he said.

The residence's housekeeper soon realized that the artwork was missing.

"It was a great shock," said D'Angelo, who reported that the intruder or intruders entered through a sun-porch window.

Township spokesman Thomas Walsh said Lower Merion police were working with Philadelphia authorities on the case. It was not known Saturday whether police were searching for a second suspect.

D'Angelo said he was considering offering a reward as an incentive for the safe recovery of the historic Franklin bust.

"I just hope it's returned," he said. "It's our history - American history."

Prince's gifts among £7,000 of stolen Padstow antiques

THIEVES got away with £7,000 worth of antiques when they raided Prideaux Place in Padstow last weekend.

Detectives say the burglary happened in the early hours of last Saturday morning at the home of Peter and Elizabeth Prideaux-Brune.

Bodmin CID are also investigating a burglary at Pencarrow House between Bodmin and Wadebridge that could be connected.

Elizabeth Prideaux-Brune said all the items stolen were of great sentimental value.

"The music box that was taken was a present from my husband on our first wedding anniversary, and the candlesticks and a rose bowl were presents from Prince Chula Chakrabongse of Thailand and his wife, Princess Chula, when they lived at Tredethy,'' she said.

"The antiques were all incredibly special to us, not only sentimentally but historically too.''

Detective Constable Sarah Northcott said 13 items were known to have been stolen from Prideaux Place.

She said: "The alarm was activated at 2.15am on August 18 when the offender or offenders gained entry by forcing a ground floor library window. They removed items from the library and then the dining room."

Items stolen were: A 19th-century skeleton clock 9 inches tall; A mahogany mantle clock 14in tall inscribed on clock face with Squire and Son, Bideford; A silver salver 22in in diameter with the Prideaux Brune coat of arms in the centre; two silver cigarette boxes - one 7in square the other 7in long and both inscribed with Prideaux coat of arms; a silver rose bowl 10in in diameter inscribed inside the bowl in Thai writing and is highly decorated; a silver candle snuffer 9in long with a wooden handle; two silver soldier figures 9in high both dressed in armour one carrying a lance; a silver wine coaster; a music box with a clock on one side and a small bird that comes out of the top, manufactured by Halycon Days; a silver pheasant figurine; two Corinthian candlesticks 10in high; a silver owl and a pepper and salt pots with a grouse design.

Detectives say earlier in the month there was a burglary at Pencarrow House when thieves smashed a rear first floor window to gain entry on August 4. A silver tray and two antique pieces of china were stolen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Theft By Numbers !!

Gallery paintings ‘stolen to order’ for collector

PAINTINGS seized during a heist at an Edinburgh art gallery are believed have been stolen to order for a private collector, the Evening News can reveal.

Works by the acclaimed Scots artist Peter Howson were seized during a late night raid on the Art Mart in May.

Police chased two men seen running from the scene with some of the paintings and apprehended them, recovering the remainder from a white van nearby.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, George Mountford, 27, pleaded guilty to breaking into the London Road store on May 5 this year and stealing the paintings, worth £16,000.

His co-accused, Gary McKenzie, 28, a prisoner in Saughton, admitted reset of one painting.

Today art dealer Douglas Fyfe, proprietor of the store, said it was believed that the paintings had been stolen to order rather than being an opportunistic crime.

He said: “They were organised and the paintings were by Peter Howson, the well-known Scottish painter, so I think they were done to order.

“One painting was hidden behind some of the others and couldn’t have been seen from outside, so I think someone had been in before to check out the place.”

Mr Fyfe, who has operated his art business on London Road for 13 years, said it was extremely rare for paintings to be stolen in such a manner in Scotland.

He added: “I was phoned at 2am by the police and when I went down there were police cars there and they had already been caught.

“I have been there 13 years and its the first time anything like this has happened. It’s very rare, I haven’t heard of anything like this at all in Edinburgh or Scotland even.”

Yesterday, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, fiscal depute Michelle Young told Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC, that Mr Fyfe had secured the building after 6pm on May 4, locking the front door and securing metal gates with two padlocks.

At 2.43am the following morning, a member of the public phoned police to say the front door of the premises was wide open and Mr Fyfe was contacted.

Officers searched the surrounding area and two men were seen in Alva Place carrying paintings. Police followed and found two paintings discarded on the road. Mountford had turned into Rossie Place, where he was arrested.

McKenzie had gone into Easter Road where officers in a police car found him standing outside a Scotmid store “sweating and out of breath”.

Ms Young said a white van, belonging to Mountford, was found in Rossie Place, in which four paintings were found. Also in the van were various items, including gloves, a crow bar, pliers, hammer and bolt cutters.

Ms Young said none of the paintings had been damaged. The glass on one had been broken and two had broken frames. She added that the damage to the premises had cost £135 to repair.

Sheriff O’Grady deferred sentence on both men while reports on their background were carried out.

LS Lowry painting thieves to pay back just £6,500

TWO Merseyside crooks caught with stolen LS Lowry paintings and drugs will pay back less than £6,500 of their ill gotten gains.

Malcolm Shield and Kevin Marlow were jailed in March for their part in a plot involving artwork by the iconic painter, which was stolen in a vicious armed robbery in 2007.

Despite being caught red handed with the original artwork, worth an estimated £1.7m, and a massive cache of drugs at Marlow’s flat they pleaded poverty and will have to pay back a fraction of the cash they were judged to have made.

Shield, 41, was arrested when officers from the north west regional crime team Titan raided his home, in Arncliffe Road, Halewood, last year.

Working on a tip-off, detectives watched a betting shop in Bootle where they saw local men Kevin Marlow, 29, and Gerard Starkey, 50, meet up.

Starkey brought the missing paintings for Marlow who was then tailed back to Halewood and arrested at Shield’s flat with two Lowry classics – The Viaduct and Tanker Entering The Tyne – along with 40,000 ecstasy tablets and amphetamine worth around £250,000.

The rest of the missing paintings stolen from art dealer Ivan Aird were found in Starkey’s lock up in Bootle.

In March Shield received seven and a half years in jail, Marlow got six and a half years, and Starkey was jailed for three years and three months.

At a proceeds of crime hearing at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday Judge Graham Morrow QC found Kevin Marlow, of Halby Road, Bootle, to have benefited to the tune of £851,027 based on a reduced valuation of £450,000 for the two paintings which had been damaged by the way they had been stored, and £393,000 based on a pair of cocaine “tick lists” found in his house showing money owed from drug dealing, plus some cocaine and cannabis.

He will have to pay back £2,430 based on some cash already seized and the resale value of a Renault Scenic.

Shield was judged to have benefited to the amount of £149,839 based on the lowest estimated value of the drugs in the house.

He was said to be “merely a custodian” of the paintings.

He was ordered to pay back £3,960 of his available assets, made up of cash seized by police at the time.

The amount Starkey, of Southport Road, Bootle, has to pay will be decided later today .

Shield’s girlfriend, 33-year-old Erin Edwards, was found guilty of possession of amphetamine and received a suspended prison sentence.

She was ordered to pay back a nominal £1 sum.

LS Lowry, who famously painted scenes of the industrial north with match stick figures, was a friend of Ivan Aird’s parents.

When Mr Aird became an art collector like his dad he hung Lowry’s paintings in his home.

But early in May 2007 a bogus postman and three other thugs tied up his wife and threatened his daughter, then two, with a knife before stealing the paintings.

Hired muscle Casey Miller, from Denton in Manchester, was jailed indefinitely in 2009 was after being convicted of being the fake postman.

None of the rest of his gang, or the mastermind behind the raid, have yet been caught.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Lee Collins The Truth Behind The Myth

Lee Collins, Family Man Trying To Earn A Crust !!!

Art Hostage has discovered the truth behind the myth about Lee Collins.

First of all back in 2006 there was a trial at Southark Crown court where working class Lee Collins was accused of duping high profile, Upper Class people out of high value art and antiques, despite the undisputed fact Lee Collins paid good money for them.

In some instances he paid tens of thousands of pounds for antiques and admittedly doubled his money.

However, throughout the art and antiques trade the accepted profit margin is three-four times or 300-400% profit.

The jury in the Southark crown court case accepted this and acquitted Lee Collins.

Subsequently, Police have been targeting Lee Collins ever since and they, together with prosecutors have over-egged any complaint to try and get convictions against Lee Collins.

The first chance came in 2010 when Lee Collins bought some jewellery from a woman in Portsmouth and she complained he had stolen some articles.

However, this confused elderly lady was encouraged to give evidence against Lee Colllins and he was convicted and sentenced to 10 months jail.

Having served his time Lee Collins went about his business and again another elderly lady, confused, was convinced to make a complaint against Lee Collins that he stolen some jewellery and did not pay her full £80 for jewellery she had agreed to sell to him. Instead she alleged Lee Collins only gave her £60.

There was a first trial in May of this year 2012 and the jury could not reach a verdict and in normal circumstances the Prosecution would have left it at that.

However, because of the pursuit of working class Lee Collins the Prosecution went for a retrial and this week at Harrow Crown Court has seen Lee Collins convicted and given 16 months jail plus 4 months jail for breaching a previous suspended sentence. Total is 20 months jail.

The moral of this tale is when Police/Prosecutors get the bit between their teeth they will move heaven and earth to get a conviction no matter how unsafe and how unjust.

When the banks steal millions from pensioners pension funds they get bailed out by the govt, but when a working class antiques dealer buys antiques from the Upper classes they get pursued until they are convicted and jailed.

There are two sides to every story and this is the one you normally never hear.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Lee Collins, Brighton Antiques Mafia Soldier Guilty After Re-Trial, Jailed 20 Months, HMP Ford Awaits

Lee Herbert Collins, the notorious Brighton Antiques Mafia Soldier was found guilty yesterday at Harrow Crown Court of theft from elderly people regarding high value antiques. He was sentenced to 16 months jail-time and an extra 4 months jail for breaching a previous suspended sentence for antiques theft. 20 months jail in total.

This means Lee Herbert Collins will serve 5 months jail and 5 months on electronic tag and the remainder on license.

Lee Herbert Collins will be released January 2013 from HMP Ford Open jail, where he is headed within the next couple of weeks.

This was a re-trial as the first trial was deadlocked when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on May 4th 2012.


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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Robert Wittman Reward Offer, Miami Nice

Cat burglar steals silver snail, giraffe in Miami Beach art heist

In a scene reminiscent of "The Pink Panther," the cat

burglar sneaked in through a second-floor bathroom window and pounced on the snail and the giraffe.

The silver animals were part of an art collection of many shiny sculptures — possibly valued at more than a half-million dollars.

This is no make-believe case starring Chief Inspector Clouseau.

The burglary is being investigated by Miami Beach police, who are seeking the public's help for clues. A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered by the victim and a security firm for the recovery of the antiques.

Thursday, authorities released photographs of the collectibles stolen in early May from Jean Boulton's pink house on the exclusive La Gorce Island. The heirlooms were gifts from Boulton's husband, Andres Boulton, a millionaire industrialist who died in 1998.

"She got them from her husband, and she's had them for many years," said Robert Wittman, 56, a retired FBI agent serving as a consultant on the case. "They mean a lot to her beyond the monetary value."

The day of the heist, a thief broke a second-floor window to enter Boulton's home. Stolen were two animal-shaped items: A silver giraffe as well as a nautilus shell wrapped with silver adornment. Also purloined were a bowl and soup tureen, each lined with jewel stones and made by Buccellati, a jewelry company.

The collectibles are insured and valued at $400,000, police said. But these days, they could be worth more than $500,000, police said. As detectives investigated, they didn't find fingerprints or witnesses.

Andres Boulton and his family ran companies that included shipping, cement, tile, iron mining and steel, according a 1998 article from The Miami Herald. Andres and Jean Boulton, married for 25 years, were avid travelers and one of their many homes was in Miami Beach. In 1993, Jean Boulton reportedly had $1 million in jewels stolen from her atJohn F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Today, she typically has a full-time staff of eight or nine when living in South Florida. But she was away in Venezuela during the theft in May, causing her staff to be "relieved of the 24-hour-type duties," a police report said.

Detectives must consider all possibilities, so they haven't ruled out Boulton's staff as suspects, said Detective Vivian Hernandez, spokeswoman for Miami Beach police. "You have to explore those avenues," Hernandez said. "Staff do get questioned."

The thief may have a tough time selling the antiques, Wittman said. "These pieces are so unique they're going to be very difficult to move on an open market," he said. "Anyone who sees these, they're going to recognize them right away."

Though the theft of high-value artwork is uncommon in Miami Beach, it does happen with so many rich residents living there, authorities say. There are "affluent residents who have collections," so burglars sometimes "get certain items at those types of prices," Hernandez said.

Wittman, who runs Robert Wittman Inc., a Philadelphia-based security consulting firm, said art thefts have kept him busy across the country. "At any given time I'm probably working 40 of these things," he said. "The criminals watch TV, too. They have an idea of what things are worth, and that's why they're going after them."

Big reward offered for stolen antiques

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A ritzy rip-off at a Miami Beach home has inspired the victim to offer a huge reward.

Police released photos of the four antique sculptures stolen from a Miami Beach home in May. The pieces of art, which include some precious stones, were valued at nearly $500,000.

Police said a subject broke into the home in the gated community of La Gorce to break into the home.

A $25,000 reward has been offered for any information leading to a recovery of the sculptures.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of these items, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Derby Museum Depot Raid, Watching The Detectives

Derby Museum theft: Items worth £53,000 taken from depot

Coins, medals and watches with an estimated value of £53,000 have been stolen from Derby's museum service.

The artefacts were taken from a city storage depot between 2 May and 19 June but the theft only came to light when another museum asked to borrow an item.

The haul included 20 gold and silver watches from the 18th and 19th Century worth up to £3,000 each.

Coins dating back more than 800 years were also taken as well as 19th Century football medals.

Police said watches by renowned clockmaker John Whitehurst, a contemporary of famous Derby artist Joseph Wright, were among the stolen artefacts.

A rare collection of 17th Century trade tokens were also taken along with medals from the 1888 Derbyshire Football Cup.

'Lost forever'

Derbyshire Police, which is investigating alongside the Metropolitan Police Arts Crime Unit, said it was keeping an open mind about the theft.

Det Con Dee Hornblower said: "There has been no sign of a break in at the premises so the possibility that this was carried out with inside knowledge has at this stage not been ruled out.

"We have circulated details of the stolen items to every police force in the county in the hope that they can be traced."

Security at the storage facility, in an undisclosed location, has been stepped up.

Martin Repton, Derby City Council's member for Leisure and Culture, said: "The issue here is not just about the values of the stolen items but also the historical importance of many of the pieces.

"Our ultimate fear is that some of these items could potentially be discarded by the culprit or culprits meaning they would be lost forever."