Mandela painting stolen from SA-born artist in New York
The theft of a painting of Nelson Mandela by South Africa-born artist Conor Mccreedy remains a mystery after it was stolen from a New York gallery.The Johannesburg-born Mccreedy told the Mail & Guardian that 31 pieces of his artwork worth more than R2-million were also stolen, calling it "a bizarre" incident.
"It makes me very unsettled that this piece would go missing at this time, it's completely bizarre," he said referring to the fact that former president Nelson Mandela is fighting for his life in hospital. "It is sad that I can never re-paint an original."
Mccreedy, an artist and entrepreneur, arrived in New York last month to take part in Frieze Art Week, a large contemporary art fair.
Thieves broke into a private storage at the gallery and stole pieces that include Mccreedy's Mandela portrait worth R100 000, which he had already sold to a collector. The collector's insurance had the painting insured only if it was stolen in South Africa and not in transit. Mccreedy has since refunded the buyer.
Interpol has declared the Mandela artwork "priceless" until returned to the owner. It took him four years to complete the painting.
The perpetrators left in their place a number of personal archives which included original photographs of famous musicians, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Mick Jagger. There are also images of the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. The New York Police Department is working with Interpol to trace the artwork.
"I have also hired a private investigator to speed up the process," said Mccreedy from New York.
Mccreedy is the youngest artist to have held a solo exhibition at the National Arts Club in New York City. A chance meeting with comedian Chris Rock's uncle got him an introduction to the president of the National Arts Club, where he later held a solo exhibition.
Mccreedy recently stirred up controversy with his "African Shack" Installation. Named the Mccreedy Mandela Shack, it uses the original fencing from Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela remained for18 of his 27 years in prison. The controversial shack is on display this summer in Southampton, New York.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, art and cultural property crime is a booming criminal enterprise with estimated losses of the billions of dollars annually in the United States.
Mccreedy was last year rumoured to be dating American socialite and actress Paris Hilton. The two have been seen together in New York. He declined, however, to comment on this.
Church's stolen Stations of the Cross paintings are part of €500,000 set
SIX pieces of artwork stolen from a church were part of a set worth half a million euro.
A garda forensics team carried out an examination of the scene yesterday but it is understood the thieves left few traces.
Parish priest Fr Martin McNamara discovered the break-in at 9.15pm on Saturday. He told the Irish Independent that he had feared the church was being targeted after a key was stolen from the back door a week before.
Fr McNamara secured the door and used a dummy key in the lock to ensure thieves could not gain entry from outside.
"They obviously sussed that out, because they waited until they could get in the front door – but used the stolen key to go out the back door, " he said.
Fr McNamara described the paintings as "priceless".
"We would be talking about half a million euro for the set, maybe more," he said.
Evie Hone was a Dublin-born painter and stained-glass artist. Her most important works are the East Window for the Chapel at Eton College in Windsor and 'My Four Green Fields', which is now at Government Buildings.
She painted the 14 Stations of the Cross for Kiltullagh church in 1945 after being commissioned by a local benefactor.
Meanwhile, religious art dealer Stephen Bird Flanagan said he believed the theft was "opportunistic. A set of stations is of no use without the entire set. It would seem that they didn't know what they were doing."
Mr Flanagan, who runs the Crypt religious items store in Dublin, said that while some collectors may be interested in the pieces, they would never consider buying just six stations as they were only valuable as a complete set.
Thieves in North Yorkshire steal £25,000 bronze statue
Police said it was stolen near Harrogate last week.
PC Charlie Ferguson said appealed for art or scrap metal dealers who may have been offered the item to contact the North Yorkshire Police.
$50M diamond heist soon turned comic
Since the theft on the windblown tarmac of the Brussels airport in February, though, the episode has veered from thriller to comedy, featuring a roundup of unusual suspects who, naturally, came together in Casablanca, Morocco.
The robbery was marked by meticulous planning, inside information and swift execution — eight armed men in 11 minutes — that left investigators marveling. As the investigation has deepened in Morocco, Belgian officials conceded last week that the value of the cargo stolen might be far higher than the $50 million first estimated.
But the frantic effort to sell the diamonds afterward was so ham-handed that some who watch the industry have begun to doubt that the robbers were after diamonds at all, but were instead seeking hard cash.
Since they were arrested after trying to sell the diamonds, most suspects have denied involvement, while others offered a defense rarely employed by the suave celluloid jewel thieves or their conspirators: stupidity.
The flawed second stage of the robbery is emerging in various legal proceedings since more than 30 people were detained in dawn raids last month by investigators in Belgium, France and Switzerland. The suspects include a French former convict with a restaurant in Casablanca called Key West and a wealthy Geneva real estate investor who insists that he was conned into hiding a paper sack of gems.
“Today he can’t understand himself why he was so stupid," said Shahram Dini, the lawyer for Pascal Pont, 56, the real estate investor, who has been released from prison but remains under investigation on suspicion of receiving stolen property. “He was naïve. He is someone who has a thriving real estate business, doesn’t need more money and has a family and children. It wasn’t for himself. It was a favor for someone who charmed him and also scared him."
The key relationship, which helped crack the case, is the tie between Pont and Marc Bertoldi, 43, the Casablanca restaurateur, with a sideline exporting luxury cars and a prior conviction in France for trafficking in stolen cars. Bertoldi’s name first surfaced in an unrelated Swiss inquiry, prompting a wiretap that connected him to the robbery in Belgium, according to the Swiss prosecutor, Marc Rossier.
Last month, a grim Bertoldi was rushed into a courtroom in Metz, France, for an extradition hearing. Wearing jeans and a pink Ralph Lauren sweater, with his cuffed hands covered by a yellow blanket, he denied involvement in the robbery.
The judges nonetheless agreed to send him to Belgium, based on information from wiretaps and GPS tracking that placed his car near the robbery. Prosecutors said that Bertoldi also warned a friend that he would be unreachable on the day of the theft. Two days later, according to the Belgian authorities, he was overheard boasting about his part in the robbery and urging his friend to “watch television."
His lawyers appealed the ruling, arguing that Pont had falsely implicated Bertoldi in exchange for his release.
Dini said that Pont was aware of his friend’s checkered past, but that Bertoldi was so droll that Pont came to admire and fear him. Handed bags of diamonds, Pont just took them. “In my line of work," Dini said, “there are people who do things that are really stupid, because they don’t have the force of character to say no."
Frenchman Staves Off Extradition in Diamond Theft
Inside the Minds Of The Mysterious Pink Panther Diamond Thieves
VIENNA - It's 11:45 a.m. on March 5, 2004 when two men enter the Maki diamond and jewelry store in Tokyo, set to commit the biggest theft in Japanese history.
One of the men has brown leather gloves and a bag with the Cartier logo, the other is in all dark clothes. They are shown the Comtesse de Vendome necklace, a jewelry masterpiece adorned with 116 diamonds and worth 24 million euros.
At 11:46 a.m. the surveillance cameras show the following scene: One of the men gets a piece of paper out of his bag, as if he wants to write something down for the salesperson. As the employee bends over, the man sprays him in the face with pepper spray. His accomplice breaks the glass with a hammer, grabs the necklace and some other diamonds, and the two thieves run out of the store and flee on motorcycles. The whole thing lasts less than 40 seconds.
The Comtesse de Vendome necklace has not been seen since.
It was the most lucrative theft for a criminal gang so renowned that the police have given it a nickname: the Pink Panthers, named after the eponymous 1964 Blake Edwards comedy film about a famous jewel thief and the bumbling French police inspector on his trail.
The thieves have obviously taken inspiration from the film: In a police raid in London, inspectors found a 600,000-euro diamond ring hidden in a lotion container, just like in the movie. Lately the gang, which according to Interpol has made off with more than 330 million euros worth of loot, has become a kind of myth: The most successful criminals in the world, who rob jewelry stores with a mixture of creativity and audacity and always seem to be a few minutes ahead of the police.
Though Interpol continues to struggle with penetrating the network, the Pink Panthers don't have a perfect record of police evasion. Over the years, authorities have managed to arrest various members and runners that the gang recruited to do their dirty work. In fact, on June 18, one member was arrested in Charenton-le-Pont, just southeast of Paris, after being convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in Germany, according to the Belgian news agency Belga.
The getaway has been studied in advance, and they have also worked out the distance from the closest police station. They put briefcases in the door to prevent the doors from locking when the alarm goes off. They outwit the surveillance cameras with their attire: Wigs, sunglasses and make-up are as much their tools as the hammer they use to break the glass. There are other ways their tactics seem to be taken straight from a Hollywood script.
In Rome, an attractive woman wooed the son of a jeweler in order to find out where the most expensive diamonds were located. After a theft, the Panthers often flee on foot, going the opposite direction of traffic on a one-way street, which makes pursuit difficult. In Dubai, they crashed a stolen Audi A8 into a jewelry store’s display window and cleaned the store out in less than two minutes; in Saint-Tropez they dressed as tourists and fled on a motorboat.
The stolen goods are then often smuggled into other countries – hidden in a sandwich, for instance – given false certificates and, in many cases, circulated on the regular market.
Somebody is making a fortune from these hold-ups. But who? According to Ewald Ebner, one of the head “Panther-hunters” at Interpol in Vienna, the risk and payoff don’t make sense. “Most of the criminals we catch are unemployed guys who rob stores for a little spending money,” he said. He proudly tells of successful arrests, even if they are only for the lowest-rung gang members. The jails are full of the so-called runners, who are given a couple hundred euros for breaking the glass and running away quickly. They are promised promotions in the gang’s hierarchy, but most end up in jail. There are more than 50 of them in jail in Germany and Austria, almost all of them from the former Yugoslavia. Hardly any of them talk, the loot has still not been found and there is no trace of the people behind the operation.
Joachim Kledtke, an organized crime expert in Dusseldorf, has interrogated a couple of Panthers. “They seem smart, often speak many languages and are somewhat shy.” The lawyer of one of the Panthers likes to tell the story of how some Panthers were fleeing a crime and knocked over an old lady: They excused themselves and helped her up. When the man behind the Dubai heist was finally arrested in France in 2008, he gave himself up with the words, “good work.”
Interpol has a special working group dedicated to the Panthers, and they met recently to discuss new strategies in Vienna. Kledtke says that cracking the gang’s secrets will require close international cooperation. Many of the criminals that have been caught use fake or stolen passports.
Another investigator who was present in Vienna admitted that even the investigators were a bit fascinated by the Panthers – especially over beers after the conference, investigators keep coming back to the Hollywood influence. He also named one place the investigators have to look at a little closer: Centinje in Montenegro. Many of the runners that have been caught, like the one recently arrested in Paris, hail from the town of less than 14,000 inhabitants near the Adriatic sea. It may very well be the Pink Panther’s den.
Pink Panther suspect arrested near Paris
A suspected member of the notorious Pink Panther gang of international jewel thieves has been arrested near Paris, according to police sources.
Telling the story of a ring of Balkan jewel thieves dubbed ‘The Pink Panthers’ Havana Marking’s fascinating and innovative documentary Smash and Grab stylishly captures the slick, seductive world of real-life diamond heists.
A story that sashays across Europe and beyond, from war-torn Yugoslavia to the sparkling jewellery shops of Geneva, Antwerp, Biarritz and Dubai, this factual gangster movie is a born crowd-pleaser and enjoys considerable support from sponsors and production companies all too aware of its appeal.
The smooth efficiency of the Pink Panthers’ operations seems to have permeated through the film, from the slick story-telling to the seductive PR operation. Powered by amaretto, Smash and Grab is being taken around the world as they try and build up the film’s profile before it is aired on BBC Storyville in the Autumn.
Their partnership with Disaronno seems a match made in heaven and one can only imagine the excitement in both parties’ press teams as they realised the marketing possibilities of a gangster documentary watched by an audience plied with amaretto sours.
It seemed fitting to be drinking free cocktails before a film with serious crime credentials and the pre-premiere drinks was a very nice touch, maybe the free bottle of Disaronno on each seat was greasing the palm slightly but how else are you going to toast the Panthers successes with a triumphant ‘na zdrove’ during the film?
The film itself was enticing, detailed and made an effort not to fall into the trap of cashing in on the gangster element too much. The Pink Panthers’ creation in war-torn, sanction-ridden Yugoslavia was explored at length and for me was the most interesting part of the story. The General Tito years were swiftly yet comprehensively explained with amazing archive footage found in a ‘rotting building in Belgrade’, as the director explained afterwards.
The dissolution of Yugoslavia following Slobadan Milosevic’s appointment and the desperate Serbian cruelty in Bosnia and Croatia led to international sanctions and in turn led to an explosion in smuggling carried out by an unemployed generation deprived of normality, trying to escape the barbarity of the war.
“This was the start of the Pink Panthers,” explains ‘Mike’ the male Panther interviewed in the film and who, along with the female interviewee ‘Lela’, gives the film its credibility. As the names, faces and voices had to be changed Mike is played by a Balkan musician living in London called Tomislav Benzon and for someone with no real acting experience he gives a very good performance as a loveable diamond thief. Jasmin Topalusic’s performance as ‘Lela’ isn’t as strong but the animation techniques used to present the two criminals hides this well.
The innovative and extremely effective idea of animating the Panthers’ interviews succeeds in acknowledging that their identities have been hidden – normal footage of an actor talking could have caused confusion and affected credibility – but also allows the audience to use their imagination to build a picture of the real person, as well as creating a gorgeous stylised effect that is a pleasure to watch. The technique used is called rotoscoping, where every frame is traced over by hand, famously used in films such as A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life.
These shimmering, colourful representations of ‘Mike’ and ‘Lela’ explain how they fell into a life of crime, through smuggling and glamorous boyfriends, and explain the methods they used to scope out potential targets and eventually smash their way into vaults where the loot lay hidden.
They give detailed accounts of two heists, one in Spain and the other in Dubai, where impressive CCTV footage shows the smash and grab technique that gave the film its name, and unintentionally gave Audi a reputation for strong, reliable cars in the Emirate.
Other voices in the film are not acted and include those that have made a living following the Panthers around Europe. Investigative journalist Milena Miletic was the key for access to the Panthers for Havana Marking and along with Swiss detective, Inspector Yan Glassey, they give candid accounts of their fascination and admiration of the gang’s operations, as well as stern-faced warnings of their inherently criminal nature.
The film has chosen to be sympathetic to the Panthers without a doubt, but I wonder how much of a choice the director had when even the police have a twinkle in their eye when they’re talking about the jewel thieves. The interview with Inspector Glassey takes place at his desk in front of a large cuddly Pink Panther that has been hung by a gibbet erected in his office, and despite explaining that they break the law and routinely carry guns he is jovial about their success, smiling happily throughout.
‘Lela’ is almost the most critical voice of them all and her story as an incredibly attractive woman that is used to scope out jewellery shops leads to alienation and depression as the forced ‘transformations’ and disguises makes her feel like ‘someone’s doll’. She eventually escaped back to her village and has found religion.
More could have been done to interview jewellery shop owners and workers who have been caught up in a Panther raid. Some of the CCTV footage shows terrified cashiers cowering in fear as they are faced with masked gunmen and a robbery in Tokyo involved the use of tear-gas on shop workers which proves that the crimes are not completely victimless.
The Panthers have recently recommenced their role as Robin Hood media darlings after being accused of stealing £656,000 worth of jewellery from a hotel in Cannes during the film festival this year; taking jewels about to be worn by Carey Mulligan and Cheryl Cole! However, it must be said this robbery is still under investigation.
On a darker note, as the director explained afterwards, their policy of ‘no violence, only intimidation’ could have been broken as they may have killed a security guard since the film has been made. She is considering putting in a note explaining this recent activity in the end credits.
All in all though Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers is a very well made, exciting and incredibly interesting documentary that, because of the shiny subject matter, will appeal to all.
I’m sure it would be as enjoyable sober but amaretto sours are highly recommended as the perfect accompaniment.
A Haida carved mask worth thousands of dollars has been stolen in New Westminster and police are asking for the public’s help to locate the work of art.
New Westminster police spokeswoman Sgt. Diana McDaniel says a man left a bag containing the masks unattended for a few minutes at the New Westminster Quay on April 27.
When he returned the bag was missing, along with an alder beaver transformation mask carved by the late Haida artist Wayne Young valued between $10,000 and $12,000.
Also in the bag, McDaniel said was a baton made for the Commonwealth Games of Victoria and a print of Young’s art worth $1,600
Sword Stolen Decades Ago on Way Back to Brown U.PROVIDENCE, R.I.— A Brown University spokesman says a Virginia antiques collector has turned over a Civil War-era sword that was stolen from the Ivy League school in the 1970s.
Last week, a federal judge in Virginia ordered Williamsburg collector Donald Tharpe to surrender the Tiffany silver sword to Brown. Tharpe bought it for $35,000 in 1992 after it had passed among dealers for years.
A Brown spokesman told The Providence Journal on Monday that Tharpe has given the sword to a Virginia attorney who represented the university, and it’s being shipped to Providence.
Brown officials say the sword was stolen from the Annmary Brown Memorial at the school. The sword was given to her husband, Col. Rush Hawkins, in 1863 for his service to the Union during the Civil War.
Asian art stolen from specialist Scots dealer
Also taken in the raid was cash from a charity box.
Mr Stewart believes the items were stolen to order in a targeted raid as computers and a camera were left behind.
Among the 16 artworks taken are a Khmer sandstone figure of a female goddess worth around £900 and a teak carving valued at £1500.
Mr Stewart said: "These are not items you would find in a typical Asian art shop, so I think we were targeted.
"The carvings would require very delicate handling.
"We won't close because of this but I will have to replace the metal shutters and the shop is currently boarded up until that can be down."
Police Scotland are investigating the theft.
Russia, Germany Fight Over Looted Art
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to return to Germany the art the Red Army had stolen in 1945, it showed how bad the relations between the two leaders have become.
Merkel and Putin had at first canceled the joint opening of a controversial exhibition of looted German art at a St. Petersburg museum. The Kremlin said there was not enough time for Merkel to give her remarks. The chancellor was prepared to stay away. Sensing this diplomatic faux pas, Putin changed his mind. The two leaders would be speaking after all.
Ever since Putin became president again two years ago, Merkel has not shied away from criticizing his clampdown on nongovernmental organizations and his treatment of opposition movements.
This has immense implications for Europe’s strategy toward Russia. For decades, the EU’s approach was influenced by Berlin’s belief that tighter economic and political ties with Russia would increase the chances of modernizing Russia’s economy and political system.
The Chancellery no longer subscribes to that belief—even if German industry doggedly tries to pursue that policy, regardless of Putin’s authoritarian style and his unwillingness to diversify the economy. Because of this shift by Merkel, she was prepared to speak out about wanting Russia to return the looted art.
At the end of World War II, when Stalin’s Red Army entered Berlin, it raided the museums and galleries along the way. Over 2.5 million items were sent back to the Soviet Union. In a gesture of friendship with Communist East Germany, the Kremlin returned some of the stolen art to its Communist allies in 1958. The rest remained in storage.
Now, for the first time since 1945, the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg has opened an exhibition of plundered artifacts. Called “Bronze Age: Europe Without Borders,” it has on show 600 items that were taken from Germany to Russia after 1945. Despite repeated attempts by Berlin to get the art back, Russia considers the items state property and not subject to international law.
Besides, leading Russian museum directors believe the booty is legitimate compensation for Soviet works of art that had been looted or destroyed by the Nazis.
“It is our opinion that these exhibition pieces should be returned to Germany,” Merkel said during the opening ceremony. Putin replied: “We probably should not start a discussion now because people will appear on the Russian side who would evaluate the damage done to our art during World War II.”
Of course, Merkel was doing some electioneering as well.
With less than three months to go before the next federal election, she has been much more critical of Putin. However, Merkel has yet to formulate what kind of long-term strategy Germany—and, by implication, the EU—needs toward Russia.
Looted art is just one issue that dogs the relationship between Berlin and Moscow. It is a highly sensitive and political topic because it is one of the last chapters of World War II that is still open. When it is made a public issue, as in the spat between Merkel and Putin, it shows how this past haunts many countries across Europe.
The cultural damage wrought by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 was immense. Paintings, drawings, silver, books, and manuscripts were either stolen or destroyed. Under pressure, many Jewish families who were desperate to flee and needed the money to do so sold works well below their value.
The Nazis, too, raided museums as the Wehrmacht invaded Poland and Czechoslovakia and other countries to the east. Some of these countries are still negotiating with German museums to return art plundered during World War II.
And some of these countries have also stolen art once owned by Jews. To this day, the national museum in Budapest, for example, houses pictures that the Commission on Looted Art in Europe claims is not rightfully theirs.
Very slowly, museums on both sides of the Atlantic that work closely with commission are examining their collections to establish if they were obtained in good faith.
Many museum curators, who want to hold on to paintings and other works of art, continue to resist restituting them. This is not only about wanting to keep such fine works. It is about decency and honor.
Dealing with restitution claims will be a long and difficult process. But it will finally close this ignominious chapter of World War II, something that Russia does not even consider needs addressing. And if Russia under Putin is not prepared to confront this part of its past, how far can Germany and Europe move forward with Moscow?
Art detective warns of missing checks that let stolen works go undiscovered
Christopher A Marinello, who specialises in recovering stolen art and resolving title disputes, said: "We do find a lot of stolen and looted artwork in civil law countries such as Italy, France and Germany. Consigners of tainted works of art often try to hide behind the good-faith purchase laws of these countries while performing little or no due diligence."
He spoke to the Observer after negotiating the return from Italy of a landscape painting by Jan van Goyen, a 17th-century Dutch painter, which was stolen in 1979. Negotiations were particularly delicate because, under Italian law, if someone buys a stolen work in good faith the buyer is sometimes entitled to keep it. Marinello was able to prove to the Italian auctioneer that the painting was one of nine pictures stolen at night by criminals who broke into the home of Paul Mitchell, an antique picture frame specialist in London.
The loss of the pictures was also painful because of their sentimental value. They belonged to his father, but had become so valuable that Mitchell could not afford to insure them for their full worth. Back in 1979, the paintings were valued at £400,000. Today the amount is well into seven figures. After the theft, Mitchell tried in vain to track down the paintings, offering a £5,000 reward for their recovery, placing advertisements in international journals and approaching a specialist art detective. But the trail went cold.
He was overwhelmed with emotion at being reunited with the Van Goyen, a beautiful beach scene painted in 1643 by a pioneer of naturalistic landscape painting. It surfaced by chance a few weeks ago after a Dutch dealer tried to buy it in Italy. Before paying for it, he decided to check the database of the Art Loss Register (ALR), which tracks down the world's stolen art from its headquarters in London.
Unless more dealers, collectors and auctioneers make such checks, he added, other stolen items will remain undetected. "It's the same concept as having a survey done prior to purchasing a home. Considering the values involved, why wouldn't you want to know if there were serious title issues before purchasing fine art?"
A reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of the other eight lost paintings, including Still Life with Oyster Shells (1646) by Pieter Claesz, and Lake of Nemi at Sunset (1780) by Joseph Wright of Derby.
Mitchell said his experience of being reunited with the Van Goyen after more than three decades will give hope to other people who have suffered thefts of their family's treasured items.
Stolen Trailer Carting Antiques Found
The trailer contained as much as $50,000 worth of antiques
Over 500 artworks stolen from Hungary apartment: policeMore than 500 valuable paintings and works of art have been stolen from a Budapest apartment belonging to a deceased collector, Hungarian police said today, in series of robberies that apparently went undetected for years.
"The police has opened an investigation into a case of theft concerning works of art of exceptional value," a police statement read, adding that it was in the process of determining how much the missing items -- including an untitled sketch by Gustav Klimt -- were worth.
The paintings and artworks were removed from a flat belonging to Dezso Kovacs, a Hungarian art collector who died in 2002.
The robberies took place sometime between 2005 and 2013, the statement said, and have apparently only now come to light.
The valuables were being stored in the apartment while the collector's heirs worked out their share of the inheritance.
Among the stolen paintings were works by Italy's Tintoretto, France's Maurice Utrillo and by Hungarian artists including Laszlo Paal, Gyula Derkovits and Karoly Ferenczy, according to the statement.
World War I cannon stolen
Early Friday morning, as he was about to perform his ritual on the veranda of his home in Riverside Heights, Gordon Town, St Andrew, he realised something was wrong.
The cannon was gone. A cast iron cannon that took four men to lift, valued at approximately $1.5 million, that had been part of his life since 1953, was gone.
"I looked across and noticed my Spanish jar missing, and then I looked across and saw that the cannon was gone. And I said to myself, 'Well, that seemed to be the end of the world'," declared the 80-year-old retired Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) sergeant.
He said after he overcame the shock, he made a report at the Gordon Town Police Station.
Williams said he acquired the cannon from the Clan Carthy family after they were tearing down their old home to begin constructing the Clan Carthy School.
"Shortly after I joined the army in 1952, I was stationed at Harman Barracks, known as Duppy Gate. I used to walk over to the house and sit and talk with the old couple. I saw the cannon and fell in love with it, and they said I could have it," recalled Williams.
In 1978 when he bought the property in Riverside Heights, he constructed a special place for the historic cannon under a gazebo overlooking the river below, where it held pride of place in his scenic garden until it was stolen.
Williams and his cannon has been featured a number of times, including in part of the JDF's Military Tattoo during Jamaica's 50th Independence celebrations last year.
"I never dreamt that anyone would steal it. I thought they would admire it instead," he shared. "I have no idea who could steal it. Who would want to steal such a valuable piece of history?"
Williams declared, "I have hopes to get back my cannon. But if I don't get it back, I'm going to put a big cross right there."
The Gordon Town police are now investigating the theft.
Interpol targets Qaddafi family treasures
Art high on the list of items sought by new Libyan government
Qaddafi is thought to have deposited around $168bn in assets abroad—around $100m in the UK alone—which were frozen by the United Nations Security Council shortly after Qaddafi began a crackdown on anti-government protesters in February 2011. While openly held bank accounts and sovereign wealth funds are more easily located, large sums are also likely to have been hidden in secret accounts, deposit boxes and art collections. “Art was probably bought through other organisations not affiliated with the regime or through investment groups,” says Ghazi Gheblawi, a spokesman for the Libyan embassy in London. “It is something that should be investigated.”
Saif al-Islam, Qaddafi’s second son, who is in custody charged with crimes against humanity, was known to be a keen art collector and reportedly active on the Islamic art circuit. He was due to open a museum of Islamic art in Tripoli in September 2011, but its construction was halted by the uprising. Exhibits destined for the museum had already been bought from London auction houses. “A [criminal] case has been brought against Saif… but his financial dealings will also be scrutinised. Part of that might reveal if there’s an element of corruption that might tie him to his assets abroad,” Gheblawi says.
Last year, the Libyan state seized a London mansion worth more than £10m from Saadi Qaddafi, the third of the late dictator’s sons. It was the first case of a major asset owned by the Qaddafi family being transferred to Libyan ownership. Saadi had owned the north London property through Capitana Seas Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, but ownership was not established until the British Treasury intervened. According to Mohamed Shaban, the lawyer hired by the Libyan Embassy to handle the case, no art was seized last year, but “any valuable works of art that can be linked to Libya will be pursued if I am made aware of their existence”.
"Celebrity jeweler" robbed of up to $500K, workers held hostage during Calif. heist, report says
(CBS) LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. - Three men were reportedly on the loose after an armed robbery Monday morning at a jewelry store that caters to celebrities in the affluent Orange County community of Laguna Niguel, CBS Los Angeles reported.Brian Hassine, the owner of Nuggets & Carats Fine Jewelry & Art, said a gunman, wearing no disguise, held him and his three employees hostage while two other men smashed his showcases.
Police said the alleged thieves stole several hundred thousand dollars in jewelry, according to CBS Los Angeles.
"All our rings and our watches are gone," said Hassine.
Hassine, who said the gunman threatened to kill everyone, told the station he watched the heist unfold from his security cameras in the back room of the store.
"I kept thinking he's going to have to kill us. We could identify this guy," said Hassine.
Sheriff's deputies said the suspects fled in a white sports utility vehicle, reported stolen out of Lakewood, then abandoned it and escaped in another car. They reportedly left rings behind on the floor of the SUV.
The suspects were described as black men in their early 20s. The gunman was 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing more than 200 pounds, and had short hair.
Store owner Hassine is known for designing the wedding ring of Tamra Barney, who stars on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Orange County."