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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Iconic Works of Art Targeted, Then Gone in Sixty Seconds, by the Fast and the Furious!

The slang name for table is "Betty Grable"

Stately homes gang snatches £500,000 table

A gang targeting stately homes in Yorkshire for valuable antiques is thought to be behind yesterday's theft of a £500,000 Chippendale table.

The burglary at Newby Hall, Ripon, is the sixth of its kind in the region since February, with a total of £700,000 in precious items stolen to date.

Security experts believe thieves are using spotters to locate specific artefacts during public open days and passing this information on to criminal associates.

By targeting just one or two items the gang can escape within minutes, before security guards or police can respond.

Yesterday's theft at the 17th century mansion, the setting for recent ITV drama Mansfield Park, was from the drawing room. The culprits drilled into its thick wooden shutters and took them off their hinges.

They then cut through the sash windows, setting off the alarm. They snatched the Chippendale masterpiece - one of the finest tables made by the 18th century master craftsman - and escaped minutes before the in-house security guard arrived.

Estate owner Richard Compton, 50, his wife Lucinda, a furniture restorer, and son Orlando were asleep upstairs at the time.

Mr Compton said: "This is very distressing. The table was among the finest pieces of Chippendale in the collection. I just love it. It could not ever be sold, it is too well known. I don't care who stole it. I just want it back as soon as possible."

The twin-leaf Pembroke table is famed for its elegant lines, colour and exquisite inlaid mosaic of rosewood, satin and ebony pieces.

It was commissioned by Mr Compton's ancestor William Weddell in 1775. Experts say it would easily fetch £500,000 on the open market.

Most of the other five break-ins at Yorkshire estates have used similar techniques to drill into security shutters. There have also been two attempted burglaries.

The first theft was from Sir Tatton Sykes' home, Sledmere House, near Driffield, North Yorkshire, in February. Others targeted include Cusworth Hall, near Doncaster, and Burton Agnes Hall, near Driffield.

Charles Hill, former Met Police officer and adviser to the Historic Houses Association, said the crimes were almost certainly linked. "Although not stolen to order, the gang would know other criminals who will take any valuable art and antiques off their hands," he said.

A North Yorkshire police spokesman said it was too early to connect the burglaries.

Antique table stolen
By Mark Foster

A UNIQUE piece of antique furniture, worth more than £100,000, has been stolen in a daring early morning raid on a famous stately home.

The Chippendale table was taken after thieves broke their way into Newby Hall, near Ripon, through a shuttered and locked window.

Despite setting off the alarms they made straight for the table and were able to get away from house before startled staff arrived.

There have been a number of other high-value art thefts elsewhere in the country in recent months - but detectives insist it is too early to link the crimes.

The table was designed and made specifically for Newby in 1775 by Thomas Chippendale and is of worldwide significance.

It has featured in many papers and books on fine furniture - making it virtually unsaleable on the open market - and, as the table was the only item targeted by the thieves, police believe it may have been stolen to order.

Distraught house owner Richard Compton said "This is a devastating blow for all of us and a terrible loss. It has been in the house for over 230 years and was commissioned by one of my ancestors."

" It is one of the finest examples of Chippendale's work and has been internationally studied."

The raiders struck at about 2.20am yesterday, smashing their way in through the window of a ground-floor drawing room at the front of the hall.

Mr Compton added: "They obviously knew exactly what they wanted. They appear to have gone into the wrong room first and then found the correct one. They had gone within five minutes."

The George III rosewood and marquetry table was 41ins wide, 28ins high and 30ins deep.

The president of the Historic Houses Association, James Hervey-Bathurst said: "Last night's theft makes it all the more important that there is greater collaboration between British police forces and their counterparts overseas to try and stem the rising instances of thefts and the trafficking of stolen chattels.

"Last night's robbery is not just a tragedy for Newby, but cheats many thousands of visitors from seeing a pre-eminent work. This was a theft from Britain's cultural and artistic heritage and needs to be seen in that context."

Now, before you fall about laughing, Anyone who saw anything suspicious is asked to contact police on 01845-6060247 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111 you will receive no reward or credit and your name will leak out if there are criminal charges.

Art Hostage comments:

The initial underworld price for this table from the thieves £5,000-£10,000.

Once in the possession of a High value Stolen Art Handler the price will be £25,000-£50,000.

No doubt it will be offered as a buy back and that price would be £100,000.

Anyone giving information that may lead to this gang, one of many, being caught red handed and taken off the streets, will receive no favours, and end up disillusioned, disappointed and being regarded as an outcast, pariah within their community.

In days of old when gangs like these were becoming prolific and embarrassing for the Establishment, an informant, normally a Mr Big criminal Godfather not involved in art related crime, would use his/her contacts to have this gang caught red-handed on a raid, therefore they would be taken off the streets for at least a year awaiting trial and longer if convicted.

For the inside sting operation the Criminals Godfather would receive at least £100,000 as payment to stem the negative publicity generated by this gangs antics.

The Godfather would then also trace some high value stolen art and receive a reward for that even if there are no arrests.

Added to these benefits, if the criminal godfather was ever targeted he could call in favours and get a deal to spare him from jail time.

Distasteful as this may appear, it has proved effective time and time again over decades.

These covert deals were always kept strictly secret and the public were only told about the huge successes Police had in dealing with High Value Art Theft.

Sometimes Art and Antiques Detectives like Dick Ellis would go to the Art trade and confront those who deal in stolen artworks and say:

"This work of art has to go back, no rewards, no questions, if it is not returned the police will start to conduct random raids in pursuit, disrupting your everyday stolen art dealings"

Within a week the said work of art was recovered and things went on as normal.

Now, Art and Antiques Police Officers, like Vernon Rapley of Scotland Yard would not dare to visit a known stolen art handler, let alone request warrants to search premises.

Any reward offered is impossible to collect because of the 2002 proceeds of Crime Act.

All quality intelligence is being withheld, down by 90% in the last two years.

This art theft will go down as a domestic burglary added to the stats.

It is not Rocket Science, the current system is clearly broken, how many more high profile art thefts will it take before some gets killed after disturbing these criminals?

The day a Citizen at home loses their life during an art robbery will be the day re-active policing is exposed as truly a deadly mantra, time to switch to pro-active policing, prevention is better than cure.

To be continued..............................................

Just another day in the regular theft of iconic works of art, thieves act with impunity, art theft has become mainstream !!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Tale of Two Icons, Pearl Buck Back, Bob Wittman Walking !!

Pearl Buck getting her Nobel Prize

Who's that with Pearl Buck, its JFK looking dapour, rumour has it JFK could read 1200 words a minute, that's some going !!

Pearl Buck classic manuscript recovered after 40 years

By Jon Hurdle
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; 1:59 PM

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A long-lost manuscript of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck has been recovered, federal officials said on Wednesday.

The 400-page, typewritten manuscript of the novel, widely regarded as an American classic, was given to the Freeman auction house in Philadelphia by the daughter of Buck's now-deceased secretary to establish its authenticity, said Patrick Meehan, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

It was then given to the FBI because it was apparently stolen.

"These may very well have been inappropriately obtained," said Meehan at a news conference. He added that no criminal charges would be filed. The identity of the woman who may have taken the document to the auction house was not revealed.

Buck, who wrote some 70 novels and died in 1973, drew on her experiences living in China to write "The Good Earth," describing the life of a Chinese family at a time when the country was a mystery to most Americans.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and helped Buck win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1938.

The writer wrote in a 1966 book that "The Good Earth" manuscript had gone missing.

It was delivered to the auction house in a red box adorned with Chinese designs. The box was inside a small suitcase that also contained letters to Buck from famous contemporaries including Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry Truman.

With the exception of the front page, which is yellowed and slightly torn at the edges, the document is in "excellent" condition, said Robert Wittman, senior investigator in the FBI's art crime team brought in to assess the document.

Wittman said it was hard to place a value on the document but it would likely fetch at least $150,000 if it was sold at auction.

The document will soon be subject to negotiations between the Connecticut-based Pearl S. Buck Family Trust and Pearl S. Buck International, an organization near Doylestown, Pennsylvania, that is dedicated to commemorating the writer's work.

Her daughter Janice Walsh said at the news conference she had for years used the typewriter on which her mother had written the book, and that recently was used to authenticate the document.

Art Hostage comments:
As one American Iconic Treasure is recovered, America is about to lose another.

Senior FBI Agent Robert Wittman, spiritual leader of the FBI Art Crime Team is reputed to be retiring this coming October.

By using the title Senior investigator, FBI top brass are preparing the public for the shock of losing its finest, honest, decent, straight as a gun barrel FBI Agent extraordinaire.

How about a "Stop Bob Wittman Retiring" campaign ?

Upon another note, as I was reading some research material about Pearl Buck I wondered about another genius Buck, no not Arthur Buck played by Dudley Moore, that of Uncle Buck, John Candy to be specific.

I must say that even after all these years the loss of John Candy was such a blow.

I have not met anyone who had anything other than good thoughts about this comedy genius.

I finish with a smile on my face recalling hours of wonderful pleasure Pearl Buck and Uncle Buck, John Candy, gave to the world.

On that note, memo to number one G-Man the Honourable FBI Art Crime Team Guru Robert Wittman:

"Four more years, Four more years, Four more years!"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Busted, Middle Class Responsible for Fueling Vacuous, Crime Ridden Society, its Official !!

Darling, look at this new piece of stolen jewelry, 10% of the real price, makes us look richer than we are !!

Pay taxes, OH no that is for the little people, you know, the working, Lower classes !!

Behind the Cloak of respectability the Middle Class are among the most dishonest groups in society, now a fact !!

Middle-class is on the take

Jun 25 2007
Western Mail

MIDDLE-CLASS crime is rife with more than six out of 10 people regularly committing offences against their employers and the Government, a survey claims today.

Researchers at Keele University claim their findings expose the image of a “law-abiding majority” to be a myth.

Crimes that many consider “harmless” including stealing from work or claiming illicit refunds are some of the most common.

And the researchers said that while these crimes are not anti-social as such they can certainly be classed as “anti-civil”.

A poll of 1,807 people in England and Wales found 61% had committed one of a series of offences including paying “cash in hand”, keeping money when given too much change and stealing from work.

A large number of offenders in the poll were classed as middle class and the “respectable” by the academics.

Author Professor Suzanna Karstedt said, “Contempt for the law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant among specific marginal groups.

“Anti-social behaviour by the few is mirrored by anti-civil behaviour by the many.

“Neither greed nor need can explain why respectable citizens cheat on insurance claims or in second-hand sales, and do not hesitate to discuss their exploits with friends in pubs.”

The survey found:

A third (34%) paid cash in hand to avoid taxation;

Just under a third (32%) kept money when given too much change;

Around one in five (18%) had taken something from work;

Around one in 10 (11%) avoided paying their TV licence;

Around one in 10 (11%) wrongly used identity cards for their own gain;

Just under one in 10 (8%) did not disclose faulty goods in second hand sales;

Some 7% padded an insurance claim;

6% asked a friend in bureaucracy to bend the rules;

And 5% claimed for refunds they were not entitled to.

Of those who admitted to an offence nearly two-thirds (62%) committed an offence on up to three occasions and 10% admitted to nine or more offences.

The survey of people aged between 25 and 65 was carried out by Professor Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall, and published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College, London.

Dr Farrall said, “It is the values and the behaviour of those at the centre of society that are indicative of the moral state of our society, perhaps much more so than violent and other street crimes.”

CCJS director Richard Garside said, “Politicians from across the political spectrum regularly claim that most crime is committed by offenders largely drawn from low-income groups.

“This research demonstrates that the middle class is responsible for a wide range of illegal activities.

“The reasons for this are complex, and relate to the fundamental social changes in British society over the past 30 years.”

Whose pockets are we picking today, then?
The middle classes regard theft as a crime - unless it involves nicking stuff from the office. It's time to take a look at ourselves and face up to our hypocrisy, says Hannah Jones

“It doesn’t matter if you pinch from a factory or from work or from some big business,” a friend once said to me.

“They won’t miss it. But it’s wrong to steal from your own. Never, ever pinch from someone’s house.”

It seems that when it comes to taking things that aren’t yours, selective morality is more important than the most basic tenet of law – that stealing is a crime.

Yet more than six out of 10 of us regularly commit crimes against their employers, businesses and the Government.

Don’t be mistaken in thinking that the majority of people committing “harmless” infractions live in the Chavtastic underbelly of society.

Apparently a large number of offenders in the poll were classed as middle class and “respectable”.

Most people, it seems, are content to commit what they would consider as “minor crimes” if nobody is hurt in the deal.

I heard of a man who was offered a move from a senior job in retail to an office position.

But it wasn’t the salary (an increase of £4,000) or holiday entitlement (a week more and no working on weekends) which made him think twice about the move.

It was because his retail position enabled him to treat the racks of goods in his shop like an all-you-can-take-for-free buffet.

When he was offered his new job, he told a mutual acquaintance, “I don’t know if I should take it. What am I going to do about presents now? I saved a fortune in that job.

“I can’t wrap up any more notebooks and Tippex for someone’s birthday, can I?”

The acquaintance in question was famed in certain circles for saving money on a new bathroom suite, fitted for £150 all in.

So what if she couldn’t stretch out in the bath and the sink was off-white instead of pearl.

She got it on the cheap because she knew someone who knew someone who knew another man who worked for a council’s storeroom and was able to lay his hands on bathroom suites. No questions asked (apart from how a woman of 5ft 8ins managed to stretch out in a 4ft bath).

The survey also says 7% of us pad out an insurance claim – you know, like dropping a tin of paint on your old TV just because you fancy a swanky new plasma set. Come on, you’ve never done something similar? Just pushed the boundaries an inch or two? Just under a third (32%) kept money when given too much change.

And around one in five (18%) had taken something from work.

Apparently it is wrong to “borrow” an envelope or 28 from your office stores.

To say nothing of going home with a few new pens for company.

It’s obvious, then, that the law- abiding majority is a myth and we really are a nation of Fagins – even if the only pockets we’re picking happen to be those of the people paying our wages.

This criminal unlawful behaviour is not just mainstream in Britain but a global problem with the nasty, dogmatic, pedantic, disingenuous, dishonest, duplicitous, greedy, miserly, tight fisted, mean, self-serving hypocrites that are the Middle classes, read on....

Crime is a class act as Britain hits back at rip-off culture

Spot the honest Middle class person above, answer, none of them !!

By Roger Highfield and David Derbyshire

Crime has become respectable, according to a survey that suggests almost two thirds of middle class people fiddle insurance claims, return new clothes after wearing them to a party and keep money when "overchanged".

The findings of the study were presented to the British Association's annual science festival at Salford University yesterday by Dr Stephen Farrall and Prof Susanne Karstedt of Keele University.

They asked 4,000 people aged 25 to 65 in England and Wales and Germany about their involvement in "shady", "unfair" or "downright illegal" activities. They found that around two thirds had committed one of the offences they were questioned about. Generally, the Germans emerged as the most dishonest.

Middle class rip-offs are significant: figures suggest that burglary costs the nation £2.7 billion, around one fifth the cost of fraud and forgery, said Prof Karstedt.

There was evidence that this kind of crime is increasing, she said, notably among young people. And there was also evidence of police indifference.

While corporate and street crime were well known, Prof Karstedt said there were many other crimes "committed at the kitchen table, on the settee and from the home computer, from desks and call centres, at cash points in supermarkets or in restaurants".

They were committed by "respectable" members of the middle classes who would reject the labels of "criminals" and "crime" for themselves and their actions.

The survey revealed that the offences were not committed by the conventional stereotype: "a young man in his early 20s".

Instead, the study of "everyday life crimes" revealed that typical offenders tended to be from a higher social class (70 per cent of ABs had offended, as opposed to 53 per cent of Ds and Es) and high earners (75 per cent of the top 20 per cent earners had offended, in contrast to 58 per cent of the bottom 20 per cent).

But at the same time, these groups were also among the most victimised. "This section of society is - or at the very least sees itself to be - preyed upon by insurers, travel agents, restaurants, 'repair men', supermarkets and, perhaps most troubling of all, one another," said the researchers.

This set up a "vicious circle", since customers were often retaliating against businesses for spoilt supermarket food, useless insurance policies, charges for undelivered services or bogus repairs.

"Is a predatory society emerging here?" asked Prof Karstedt, in which "every loophole is exploited, every opportunity taken, every advantage - fair or unfair - grabbed?" The survey found that 75 per cent of the interviewees had experienced at least one type of "victimisation" while "two out of three of our interviewees said that they had committed one of the 'offences' that we asked them about", said Dr Farrall.

"In terms of the types of offending we asked about, we found that the Germans nearly always outdid the British," he added. "So much, then, for the English being a nation of shopkeepers, and the proverbial 'Prussian virtues'."

In Germany, for example, 20 per cent of respondents said that they had padded their insurance claim. In England and Wales this figure was seven per cent. Half of the Germans had paid cash in hand to avoid taxes, while in England and Wales this was only one third.

Fifteen per cent of Germans had claimed refunds they knew they were not entitled to, while in England and Wales only five per cent had done so. "It would appear that the German government need worry more about benefit frauds then the UK government. In Germany three times as many respondents as in England and Wales had reported cheating while claiming state benefits [nine per cent v three per cent]," he said.

The research "turns on its head contemporary ideas about the most common forms of victimisation, who commits these crimes and the arenas in which such behaviour takes place".

Art Hostage comments:

Such is my glee at finally being vindicated about how truly dishonest the Middle Classes are, I will keep adding to this entry as and when I get the chance.

The same Middle class who complain about drug dealers, gang violence, art and antiques theft and burglary, are the same people who consume Cocaine on a Friday and Saturday night, fraudulently claim excess amounts off their insurance, as well as criminally defraud the Inland Revenue and V.A.T. Customs and IRS.

These same middle class, pretentious, so-called moral do-gooders also purchase high value stolen art and jewelery to impress their piers, but try and hide behind a cloak of respectability.

If you want to know why there is a rising drug problem, or why art and antiques theft continue to rise, then look no further than the Middle Class who fuel these things by their consumption and regular dishonesty.

That is not to say there is still crime committed and encouraged within poorer groups in society, but without the demand of the middle class there would be less art crime and less demand for drugs.

OH what a Vacuous world we live in, and now it's Official !!

From The TimesJune 25, 2007

Why Middle England is the new criminal class

Richard Ford and Dominic Kennedy
They look down on council-estate dwellers as welfare-fiddling, light-fingered hoodies and chavs but it is the middle classes who are exposed today as Britain’s real habitual criminals.

Mr and Mrs Middle England may plot their crimes from the comfort of their conservatories but, if anything, they are more dishonest than those they regard as the lower orders.

The presumed “law-abiding majority” is nothing but a cosy myth, an extensive crime poll shows. Most Britons admit that they only obey the laws they want, when they want.

A survey found an everyday crimewave in smart suburbs and picture-postcard villages with not a mobile-phone snatcher or drug dealer in sight.

More than a third of people admitted that they had paid in cash to a cleaner, plumber or other tradesman to avoid paying tax.

One in five has taken something from work and just under a third, if handed too much change in a shop or business transaction, would just keep it.

One in ten avoids paying their television licence. About 6 per cent have padded out an insurance claim.

Corruption is alive and well as 6 per cent say that they have asked a friend working in a bureaucracy to bend the rules for them.

Stephen Farrall, co-author of the report, told The Times: “There’s a lot more of it going on than people thought. The people doing this are the people who otherwise would think of themselves as the law-abiding middle classes.”

The worst perpetrators are said to be highly paid people facing temporary financial difficulties, perhaps because they have overstretched themselves.

“The higher up the income scales you went, the more people were doing more of these things,” Dr Farrall said.

“What was interesting was it was those people who earned a lot but felt they weren’t doing that well financially in that year or so who were more likely to engage in these behaviours.”

Measured according to the money and numbers involved, fraud and similar white-collar crime is now on course to outstrip the cost to the nation of offences such as burglary.

The guilty would certainly reject the label of criminal. Many are likely to feel that they have been ripped off in the past and see nothing wrong in behaving the same way. “It gives a completely different picture of what crime is and who commits it,” Dr Farrall said. “Typical images of crime are burglaries or getting punched in the face. This suggests there is a whole different kind of miasma of ethically dubious offences.”

The report, Law Abiding Majority?, is co-authored by Dr Farrall and Suzanne Karstedt, a criminologist, both from Keele University.

Professor Karstedt said: “Contempt for the law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant at the margins and among specific marginal groups. Antisocial behaviour by the few is mirrored by anticivil behaviour by the many.

“Neither greed nor need can explain why respectable citizens cheat on insurance claims or in secondhand sales, and do not hesitate to discuss their exploits in pubs.”

Many of the crimes are committed by those who are better educated and in employment, the report for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London said.

“Politicians refer to them as the ‘law-abiding majority’, ignoring the fact that the majority do not abide by the law, or at least are highly selective about when and when not to comply,” it says.

“These are the crimes and unfair practices committed at the kitchen table, on the settee and from home computers, from desks and call centres, at cashpoints, in supermarkets and restaurants, and in interactions with builders and other tradespeople.”

The report found that 61 per cent of 1,807 people in England and Wales aged between 25 and 65 had committed at least one of a number of offences against business, government or their employers.

Of those who admitted committing any of the crimes, 62 per cent had carried out up to three, and 10 per cent had committed nine or more offences.

One reason suggested is the growth of self-interest in the past two decades. “Self-interest-ed people distrust large and small businesses, are more fearful of victimisation in the marketplace, and generally nourish cynical attitudes towards rules and regulations.”

Have your say

What about excessive taxation and no value for money in return? Trash bin story (every 2 weeks), no police on the streets, no response when incidents reported by phone, all the NHS blunders etc. And we all pay for it through our nose. Mainly middle class.
Let me tell you a story that shocked me. On my street , one night, I had a gang of teenagers damaging the parked cars. I called what I believed is the police. First question from the other end was "Which city are you in?". I just hang up. Useless.
What about tax money (our money) waisted on Milennium dome, touring the world as a farewell, going to war for no reason, MPs personal expenses etc etc.

Wigo Bernhard, Aberdeen, UK

It also forms part of the Marxist theories of crime and crime prevention; ask who in society draws up the laws and enforces them, and you may find that the emphasis is on criminalising the working classes.

The point made by the report is welcome - it may not be "new" as such but at least it is new research to evidence that white collar crime is a problem, but not one as well policed as blue collar crime.

Simon W, Rossendale, UK

Middle England are the new criminal class because they see everyone else doing it and think "oh well, I might as well". And where do they see everyone else doing it? Why, in your excerable rag, amongst other places. If the media concentrated on the news, as opposed to trying to grab attention (and therefore sales) through fear, we'd have a far more honest society, I'd wager

Scott, London, London

We also give more to charity than the middle and upper classes. I am so proud to be working class.

And let's not forget that the majority of crime is down to deprivation, as Martin in Leigh pointed out, the real criminals are those that force others to pay for their comforts.

We make your money for you, we drive your ambulances, we cook your food, we watch over you while you sleep. Who is ripping who off here? If it wasn't for the working class, Britain would never have been great, so its no surprise that the middle classes are this way. It's historic tradition, ripping other people off.

Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, England

Not sure I'd couple this with self-interest. Perhaps people out there view it as their own moral code, in lieu of what they see around them?

I know for a fact there are many people upset with things like council taxes, and what they view as not getting what they are paying for. While local authorities provide a wealth of services, the narrow view is that its £1000 a year (or more) for garbage collection and nothing else.

Frankly, the nanny state is perpetuating much of this, and there needs to be careful thought given to how benefits are accessed.

I honestly believe a more American style system is needed. If you're able to work, then you do, otherwise you get nothing. And let the benefits flow back to the rest of the community that actually does work. Give them tax breaks, and they will spend their money, and propagate the economy.

The best solution is a robust economy. I dont believe in public spending (inefficient). Private is far more efficient.

Roberto Maietta, London, England

String us up, I say. It's the only language we understand.

Alex, London,

Here we go again! Another load of bleating salaried lefty meusli-munching academics whining about people avoiding tax etc etc. Problem for them is that they can't – which is one of the reasons they hate those who can. Actually they're a bit like our useless police 'force' who find it much easier to deal with this kind of crime than REAL crime.

Malcolm, Maidenhead, UK

So, the 'middle classes' are being demonised for avoiding a bit of tax by paying plumbers in cash, are they? Perhaps that's because we are all taxed on everything we do and take any opportunity to avoid giving the Government even more of our money to waste.

Also, what about the super rich avoiding tax by using off-shore trusts, non-resident status and non-domicile status? Roman Abromovic, for example, is based in Britain, yet it is suspected that he pays no tax on overseas earnings.

Until this innequality is sorted out, we will continue paying for services in cash.

Olly, Cambridge, England

I thought Labour had classified being middle class as a crime in itself.

Stephen Berry, Birmingham,

I had not realised that paying in cash was now a crime, though I have to admit that with 3000 new categories of crime having been added to the statute books over the last ten years I should not be surprised. Up until now I had always thought it was the person providing the service who was committing an offence if they did not declare their true earnings to the tax authorities. Must make sure I use my credit card on my next trip to John Lewis !
This does reinforce my determination to get out of this country as soon as possible. Better do it soon though before that becomes a criminal offence as well.

J. Mackay, London, UK

Well at leat they can rest soundly that they wont be going to our over crowded prisons. They can afford good legal advice to make sure fo that! I also bet that the police wont be trawling around the wealthy areas to cut these petty crimes. After all we need somewhere to bang up all the 'council estate scum' who are struggling to make ends meet with earnings often well below the average.

Victoria, Tunbridge Wells, UK

"More than a third of people admitted that they had paid in cash to a cleaner, plumber or other tradesman to avoid paying tax."

Surely it's the cleaner or plumber who is commiting the crime by not declaring the income for tax purposes? Or doesn't this count becaue they are working class?

Andy Gill, London, UK

Terry Pratchett said this years ago. Your considered a criminal if your poor, but it's criminal to own slums.
This isn't news, this is olds.

Martin, Leigh, Lancs,

Years ago I was tolled by some-one that the higher up society you go the more corrupted people become.
The lower class commit petty crime, when the upper class commit Large-scale crime.
I think this is quite correct, and this report goes to confirm it.

James hallyburton, Pickering, uk

This is such a non-story: Show me the person who hasn't 'accidentally' lifted some stationery from work and I'll show you someone who is morbidly unemployed.

Mikey, Bromley, Kent

Why do academics waste so much time and money on useless research?

Richard cox, Birmingham,

Surely these so called crimes are committed by all people irrespective of income of financial means - not just middle england!

John Doe, Chonburi , Thailand

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dilatory Police Leaves Public With No Faith in Law and Order !!

£10,000 art thief fled with a parking ticket

A THIEF who took £10,000 paintings from a Holloway art shop is still on the run – two years after he received a parking ticket while his getaway car was parked outside the shop.

The audacious theft happened on a busy weekday afternoon in March 2005 as a courier collection was due to be made at Leonard Villa framers, in Caledonian Road.

Owner Lenny Villa believes he was the victim of a carefully planned sting, with the thief impersonating a courier.

“I had ordered a courier van to deliver four paintings and frames to customers in the West End,” he said. “They were collected by a man disguised as a courier employee. The man got away before I could get his number plate.”

Four paintings by artist Susan MacArthur, all with white gold frames, were stolen.
While talking to Mr Villa, the thief, who was in his 20s, received a parking ticket for his silver Series 5 BMW, which was illegally parked on the opposite side of Caledonian Road.

Mr Villa said: “I brought this to the attention of Islington Council, who told me that fines could only be revealed to the police.
“They assured me it was being looked into but, after weeks of chasing them up, the council told me they knew nothing about it.”

Police confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that no one had been arrested for the theft.
Mr Villa had taken out full insurance for the frames but when he made a claim he was offered nothing because it was a case of theft by deception and not a break-in.

Art Hostage comments:

Yet another case of Dilatory, incompetent actions of Police and Authorities.

No wonder the public have completely lost faith in Law and Order and now just walk on by when they witness, or have information about crime.

Collecting Art Will Prove Fatal Very Soon, Sinister Turn towards Art Theft !!

Five men carry out art burglary

Several oil paintings have been stolen from a house in Godstone, Surrey, by five balaclava-clad men.
One of the works on canvas, called Shooting Party, by George White, is valued at about £15,800, police said.

And another painting, Portrait of Lydia Harvey, by John Heins Senior, is thought to be worth about £14,000.

In an appeal for information on Thursday, officers said the break-in, at a property in Leigh Place Lane, happened between 30 and 31 May.

Art Hostage comments:

This is worrying as former armed robbers are now turning to High Value Art theft as an easier way to make a quick few thousand than holding up a cash security van or other armed thefts that attract the attention of Police Robbery Squads.

Museum's and private art collectors are in the firing line for many more armed robberies in the future and added to that, Amateur, Moronic thieves are also turning to art theft.

Unless there is a concerted effort to come up with a co-ordinated strategy, art theft will go on growing and the day of the first fatality during one of these raids will come sooner rather than later.

Stealing art has become a must for the Criminal Gangster C.V.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Stolen Warhol, Wing's its Way to Cool £1.25 Million, Wao !!

Stolen Warhol picture raises £1.25m

A picture by Andy Warhol that had been missing for 27 years after being stolen has sold for £1.25 million at auction, Sotheby's said.
The 30 Coloured Maos (Reversal Series) silkscreen went under the hammer as part of the auction house's Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in London yesterday, which included works by Damien Hirst, Banksy, Francis Bacon and Bridget Riley.

The Warhol was stolen in 1980 while on exhibition in Paris, and its whereabouts remained unknown for almost three decades.

The acrylic silkscreen and ink on canvas picture was recovered earlier this year by the Art Loss Register after it was brought into Sotheby's in London for valuation in November 2006.

The specialist who received the work noted gaps in the work's provenance and contacted the ALR - the world's largest private international database of lost and stolen art - who tracked the history of the missing picture.

The work was sold on Thursday by the ALR on behalf of insurers.

Julian Radcliffe, chairman of the Art Loss Register, said: "The recovery of this silkscreen after 27 years demonstrates the importance of the Art Loss Register's central database of stolen art and the rigorous checking of all artworks offered for sale against the database pre-sale.

"We are thrilled to have played a part in bringing to light this long lost work and we were delighted to see it sell so successfully at Sotheby's last night."

The 30 Coloured Maos is one of six works by Warhol sold in the auction at Sotheby's which together fetched a total of £4,432,000 including premiums.

The rare masterpiece from Warhol's Reversals series was commissioned by Brun Bischofberger for an exhibition at his gallery in Zurich in 1980. It revisits the images of Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse Tung painted by Warhol in the early 1970s.

Art Hostage comments:

This must have been sold very cheap in the underworld and been in the possession of a naive fool.

A quick check with the art loss register would have told the stolen art handler it was listed.

To have covered their back, they would have got a digital reproduction print made up and if the Police came calling the reproduction could have been shown and proved incorrect, not the original.

Thereby the the original is retained by the handler with the knowledge it cannot be sold on the open market.

It is then a less trade-able item and could be given back in some sort of deal for lesser jail time if the need arose.

To be frankly honest, it is not Police recovering stolen art, it is the thieves and handlers making mistakes.

As these are far and few between in the bigger stolen art picture, then we can only expect the odd moron getting caught with stolen art, and the recovery rate sticking at around 5%, even less on high value stolen art.

Julian Radcliffe must be smiling with his 15% of the proceeds, not a bad days work, a couple of hundred thousand pounds sterling.
Julian Radcliffe apparently has an O.B.E. this is due to his benefiting from Other Buggers Efforts in stolen Art Recovery.
If a Weasel featured little turd like the slimy Julian Radcliffe can receive an O.B.E. then there is hope for the rest of us.

Stolen Art Mysteriously Surfaces, Deal or no Deal?????

Missing Magritte painting located

A painting by Rene Magritte valued at £350,000 and stolen last year from a south London storeroom has been recovered.
A member of the public contacted the Art & Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police on Thursday to say he thought he had found the painting.

The 1927 picture Les Reflets du Temps had been reported missing from storage in August 2006.

The man had checked the painting against the London Stolen Art Database.

The picture, which features a surrealist scene of a beach, sea and hat, is being kept by the Art & Antiques Unit while they investigate its disappearance, and will be returned to its owner, police said.

Det Supt Vernon Rapley, head of the unit, said: "For anyone considering buying art, antiquities or cultural property the database is an invaluable resource to help buyers check that they aren't being sold stolen items.

"I am really pleased that the database has enabled this Magritte to be found so that the victim can have it returned to them."

The Art & Antiques Unit stores details and images of some 58,000 pieces of stolen art.

Rene Magritte, who died in 1967, was one of the best known artists of the 20th Century, creating dream-like surreal images which have become iconic.

Born in Belgium in 1898, Magritte became a leading members of the surrealist art community in Paris in the 1920s.

Stolen art recovered, Met Police Press Release

The Met has recovered of a Rene Magritte painting worth £350,000 which had been reported stolen from London in 2006.

A private individual contacted the Art and Antiques Unit on 21 June to say that he believed that he had found the missing 1927 Les Reflets du Temps picture, an oil on canvas depicting a surrealist scene of a beach, sea and hat.

The man had checked the painting against the Met's London Stolen Art Database and had found it featured there. The painting's owner reported it missing In August 2006 from where it was being stored in South London.

The painting is currently with the Art and Antiques Unit whilst they investigate the circumstances surrounding its return, but will be returned to its owner in due course.

The database is run by the Met's Art and Antiques Unit and stores details and images of over 58,000 items of art, antiques and cultural property that has been reported stolen. A selection of these are publicised on the MPS website:

Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, below, head of the Art and Antiques Unit, said:
"For anyone considering buying art, antiquities or cultural property the database is an invaluable resource to help buyers check that they aren't being sold stolen items.

"I am really pleased that the database has enabled this Magritte to be found so that the victim can have it returned to them."
Vernon Rapley went on to ask:
"Can I go back to sleep now and wait for my pension?"

Art Hostage comments:

So, we are supposed to believe that a member of the public just stumbled on this stolen £350,000 painting???

Or, they were offered this painting and duly checked the Met Police stolen art database????

More likely, the handler of this stolen painting has used a "patsy" with a clean record to try and collect a reward for handing this painting back.

Detective Sgt Vernon "the book keeper" Rapley, (who can only dream of being a Superintendent, although as the British Police are regarded as the Cream of British Society, White Thick and Rise to the top, it would be only fitting for Vernon Rapley to reach the rank of Commander), has always said that no money will be paid if there are no arrests and convictions.

I am going to do some checking to get to the bottom of this "too good to be true" stoke of luck.

If this member of the public was offered this painting and then, finding out it was stolen, handed it to Police, then they will still be liable for the asking price from the criminals.

In this event, I hope the member of the public has a hard hat, because he will need one.

The word from the Underworld will be:

"You handed back the Magritte, Fuck you, pay me"

"You did not get any reward, Fuck you, pay me"

Time will tell if this is a truly lucky recovery, or if the member of the Public has bitten off more than he can chew !!

What ever happened to "Police recover stolen art by doing their job" or is that just a mere Pipe Dream???

To be continued..........................................

Monday, June 18, 2007

Holocaust Eye-Opener Beggers Belief !!

The Holocaust's defrauded survivors

By Thane Rosenbaum Published: June 17, 2007

The Holocaust has always been marked by numbers. There was the numbering of arms in death camps and the staggering death toll where the words six million became both a body count and a synonym for an unspeakable crime.

After the Holocaust, Germany performed the necessary long division in paying token reparations to survivors. More recently, Swiss banks and European insurance companies have concealed bank account and policy numbers belonging to dead Jews.

Only with the Holocaust have dehumanization and death been as much a moral mystery as a tragic game of arithmetic. And the numbers continue, although now largely in reverse.

After 60 years, Holocaust survivors are inching toward extinction. According to Ira Sheskin, director of the Jewish Demography Project at the University of Miami, fewer than 900,000 remain, residing primarily in the United States, Israel and the former Soviet Union. Most are in their 80s and 90s. Unless immediate measures are taken, many of those who survived the Nazi evil will soon die without a proper measure of dignity.

According to Sheskin's data, more than 87,000 American Holocaust survivors - roughly half the American total - qualify as poor, meaning they have annual incomes below $15,000. The United Jewish Communities, the umbrella organization of the American Jewish Federations, determined that 25 percent of the American survivors live at or below the official federal poverty line. (The poverty figure in New York City is even higher.) Many are without sufficient food, shelter, heat, health care, medicine, dentures, eyeglasses, even hearing aids.

Conditions worldwide are similar. It's a sad twist that the teenagers who mastered the art of survival so long ago have been forced, in their old age, to call on their survival instincts once again.

It doesn't have to be this way. Although the various global financial settlements represent only a small fraction of the Jewish property that was plundered during the Holocaust, they still amount to billions of dollars.

Which raises questions: Why aren't the funds being used to care for Holocaust survivors in whose name and for whose benefit these restitution initiatives were undertaken? Why weren't survivors permitted to speak for themselves in the very negotiations that led to the recovery and distribution of their stolen assets?

Take the Swiss bank settlement, for instance. A federal judge in Brooklyn distributed 75 percent of the looted assets to survivors in the former Soviet Union, leaving only 4 percent for destitute survivors in the United States, even though roughly 20 percent of the world's Holocaust survivors live in America.

Assets that had been stolen by the Swiss were once again diverted, this time by the charitable inclinations of a judge who, ignoring the voices of survivors, severed the connection between the victims of the theft and the proceeds of the recovery.

On the matter of insurance, a federal judge in Manhattan recently approved a settlement in which fewer than 5 percent of the life insurance policies that had been sold to Jews would be restituted, allowing the Italian insurer, Generali, to escape with more than $2 billion in unjust enrichment. By not requiring Generali to disclose the names of policyholders, the settlement amounts to a cover-up. Tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors are being kept from the truth and will likely be foreclosed from bringing individual claims against the corporation that defrauded them.

The Jewish Claims Conference, an organization established in the 1950s to recover and distribute Jewish property, has assets under its care estimated at $1.3 billion to $3 billion, which includes a vast inventory of cash, real estate and artwork. Despite the urgency of human suffering, the conference insists that it cannot respond to the unmet needs of Holocaust survivors.

Meanwhile, it spent about $32 million last year on programs dedicated to "research, documentation and education." Some of those millions went to a program that paid $700,000 to a "consultant" - a friend of the organization's president - who, in an interview with The Jewish Week, couldn't recall what he had been asked to consult on. While the conference supports many worthy projects, it is controlled not by survivors but by surrogates, and operates with limited oversight and financial accountability.

The Holocaust, so large an atrocity, has a way of overshadowing everything, including its survivors. In focusing on the past in order to prevent history from repeating itself, we have forgotten those who are the direct casualties of this crime. Amid all the Holocaust hoopla the survivors have become secondary.

This neglect is widespread. Even the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has regarded itself as primarily a home for historians and a monument to history, but not as an institution that places survivors first. Yet without their anguished presence the museum would not exist.

One demonstration of its inattentiveness involves the imminent transfer to the museum of electronic copies of Germany's Bad Arolsen archives, which hold 50 million documents pertaining to the fate of more than 17.5 million victims. Unfortunately, the museum has failed to commit to making the archives accessible on the Internet so that they can be accessed as easily by Holocaust survivors as by visiting scholars.

So what can be done to honor those who survived but who seem to have been forgotten?

First, all traceable assets held by the claims conference and the negotiated settlements with Swiss bankers and European insurance companies must be returned to their owners, with the remainder used for survivor needs.

Second, Congress should pass the proposed Holocaust Insurance Accountability bill, which would require insurers to publish the names of policyholders and allow survivors to resolve claims on fair and truthful terms.

Third, all Holocaust documentation, like the Bad Arolsen archives and the recently disclosed Austrian war records, must be made readily accessible. Survivors and their families must have easy access so family histories can be recovered and property claims verified. These archives cannot be just the province of scholars.

Finally, if both the World Jewish Congress and the claims conference fail to achieve transparency in their operations, then Congress or law enforcement should publicly account for the funds that have been controlled by institutions that survivors never elected and did not authorize.

Surviving the Holocaust, which was against all odds, is still a numbers game. The percentages are always against the survivors. Nearly murdered, shamefully defrauded and with the clock ticking, they wait for justice, accountability and, most of all, respect.

Thane Rosenbaum, a professor of law at Fordham, is the author of "The Myth of Moral Justice."

Art Hostage comments:

For once I am left open-mouthed, in a state of shock, horror at this soon to be award winning article.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Stealing High Value Art, Even Morons are Getting in on the Act !!

I stole this statue, will you value it for me?

An "idiotic" thief who stole a 17th century porcelain figurine of national importance was caught out when he wrote to a ceramics expert asking for a valuation.

Jason Cochlin, 32, was part of a gang who took the figure of Ignis - the personification of fire - and 11 others from the Allen Gallery in Alton, Hampshire, in 2002.

The 1679 tin-glazed figure, described in court as a piece of Britain's heritage, was worth up to £160,000.

Cochlin, who has not named his fellow thieves, was found guilty of conspiracy to steal the pieces at Winchester Crown Court and jailed for 12 months.

His barrister Robert Pawson said Cochlin, from Southampton, had been forced to take part in the conspiracy because he owed a debt to someone.

He said Cochlin had used a loan of £20,000 to buy Ignis back from the criminal who had it, and told the court the married father of three could not name him otherwise he would be shot.

"Mr Cochlin was idiotic enough to write to a world expert on English earthenware, Jonathan Horne, giving the insignia of the figure and asking for a valuation," said Mr Pawson.

Mr Horne knew the treasure - made in London as a commission for a client interested in alchemy and science - was stolen. He contacted the museum and they called the police.

After he was caught, Cochlin handed the undamaged figure, which he had kept wrapped in towels inside a shoebox, back to police.

Art Hostage comments:

A catalogue of Moronic behaviour.

First this moron sends a letter to have the stolen figure valued.

Then he gets arrested and questioned about this.

The Police still only have a photo.

This Moron could of said he was asked if he wanted to buy this figure and was getting it valued for that purpose, furthermore he was going to get it check out to see if was stolen before he bought it.

The Police would only be able to bail this man, then if they do not recover the actual figure they would be forced to take no further action.

No, not this moron, he only goes and gives the Police the actual figure, and instead of a reward he gets charged and now convicted and serving 12 months.

However, this all seems too convenient, how about this moron approached the Police via an art recovery expert, then during the negotiations to return the figure the moron tries to get it valued, so to work out what kind of reward he wants.

The Moron hands back the figure thinking he will rewarded, only to find out rewards are bogus because of the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act, then the Moron is arrested, charged, and now convicted.#

Moral of this tale is:

"If you have possession of, or access to, High Value Stolen Art and want to be rewarded for the recovery, forget it, it is illegal, unlawful, and impossible to collect rewards, unless you are an Ex cop, promise not to share the reward and registered as an informant with Police.
It must be said however, Charlie Hill is an ex-cop, but is forbidden to collect rewards under threat of prosecution because he had the audacity to pay a reward of £100,000 to get back the Titian stolen From the Marquis of Bath's home Longleat

However, if you want to hand back High Value Stolen Art from a moral/public duty perspective without reward, credit or otherwise, then just contact Art Hostage with location and we will pass this on to authorities and we will not receive reward, credit, or otherwise.

We here at Art Hostage are not holding our breath so to speak and realise it is only Morons who end up getting caught while the serious stolen art handlers act with impunity.

A complete re-think is needed to combat art theft, until then Art will be held Art Hostage.

Although this may raise a smile it does prove that High Value Art Theft has become mainstream with Morons like this complete thicko getting involved.

There will always be the highly sophisticated art criminals who cover their tracks and never get caught because of a lack of investigation by Police, but the emergence of everyday moronic petty crooks turning their hands to art theft will only increase the likelihood of further art thefts in the future.

If this is the only way art crooks can be caught then it does not say much about the competence of law enforcement.

Imagine if this moron had been caught with £160,000 of fake DVD's, or drugs, or other contraband, his sentence would far exceed the 12 months he received for this offence.

High value Art theft is the crime of choice for criminals of all shades not least because the penalties are nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and the returns are huge for little risk.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Will Stolen Old Master end up in the Bath with FBI Agent Robert Wittman ??

Dutch master stolen

Richard Jinman and Clare Morgan
June 14, 2007

A VALUABLE self-portrait by the Dutch master Frans van Mieris has been stolen from the Art Gallery of NSW.

It is unclear when the small painting, 20 centimetres by 16 centimetres, was plucked from the gallery's walls or how it was taken from the building without alerting security officers.

The gallery's director, Edmund Capon, declined last night to put a value on it, but described it as "a valuable picture, a known picture", and said it would be "completely unmarketable".

Mr Capon, who was preparing to fly home from London, said he was "extremely shocked" by the theft. He believes it is the first time an artwork has been stolen from the gallery in about 15 years.

"It's not something that we're accustomed to," he said. "It's not an easy thing to remove the security screws and take it out of the building.

"It makes you very aware of two things: the extraordinary extent we depend on the goodwill of our patrons and how diligent you have to be."

It is understood that The Rocks police were notified on Monday. Police sources said they suspected it was an inside job. Police have spent three days interviewing gallery staff and examining security footage.

The stolen painting, an oil on oak panel, was painted between 1657 and 1659. It was donated by the art patron and philanthropist James Fairfax in 1993.

The space the painting occupied has already been filled by another work from the collection, a gallery source said.

The robbery comes at an embarrassing time for the gallery, which recently revealed details of the biggest security operation in its history for an Islamic arts exhibition opening in eight days. The exhibition is believed to be tighter than at previous shows featuring key works by Renoir, Picasso, Pissarro and Van Gogh, according to gallery sources.

While Aboriginal art is a popular target for thieves, the theft of European works from public art institutions in Australia is rare. The nation's most famous art theft was more protest than profit-driven.

In 1986, a group calling itself the Australian Cultural Terrorists unscrewed Pablo Picasso's Weeping Woman from the wall of the National Gallery of Victoria.

The thieves brazenly put an official-looking, typewritten card in the painting's place which, in an embarrassing security lapse, nobody noticed for almost two days. The gallery's embarrassment was compounded by the fact Weeping Woman was its most expensive painting, with a value of $1.6 million.

Apparently fed up with the poor treatment of arts by the state government of the day, the group's ransom was a demand that an art prize for young artists be established.

Police recovered the work, which shows Picasso's lover Dora Maar mourning the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, in a locker at the Spencer Street station a few days later. The thieves were never caught.

Picasso also proved a magnet for thieves in the most recent high-profile art theft. In February, burglars slipped into the Paris apartment of the artist's granddaughter and stole two paintings - one of his daughter Maya and another of his second wife Jacqueline - with a combined value of $85 million.

Perhaps the most high-profile theft was in August 2004 when gun-toting thieves staged a daring daylight raid at Oslo's Munch Museum, ripping Edvard Munch's The Scream and another of his works, Madonna. Three men were found guilty last year of charges relating to the theft, and the paintings were recovered.

Art Hostage comments:

The most tragic high profile art heist has to be the Gardner Art Heist in Boston 1990, then I would say that wouldn't I.

The last time a small Old Master was stolen from a museum, Rembrandt's small self portrait, below,
it ended up being cradled by FBI Art Crime Team Special Agent Robert Wittman in the Bath of a hotel room in Copenhagen, during a sting operation to get it back.

Let's hope FBI Agent Robert Wittman will find himself in the same situation with this stolen Old Master.

Don't forget Bob, it's "G/day Mate," rather than "Its a Done Deal" then flee to the bathroom as Australian police burst in the room.


Art heist overshadows Whiteley record

Matthew Westwood and Corrie Perkin

The Australian

June 14, 2007
POLICE are investigating a major art heist after a $1.3 million painting was stolen from the Art Gallery of NSW.

The painting - a small self-portrait called A Cavalier (Self Portrait) by 17th-century Dutch artist Frans van Mieris I - was stolen in the past few days.

The theft took the gloss off a new record for an Australian art auction, with a Brett Whiteley painting selling for $3.48 million last night.

The Olgas for Ernest Giles - a lush Whiteley painting in which the outback is depicted as a series of buttocks, breasts and other sexual body parts - was bought by art consultant John Playfoot.

He was thought to be acting on behalf of Melbourne businessman Morry Fraid, co-owner of the Spotlight haberdashery store chain. The painting, which was the gem of the Deutscher-Menzies auction, pipped the previous Australian art auction record of $3.36 million, set at Sotheby's May sale by John Brack's The Old Time.

The missing Dutch painting was one of a number of works donated to the gallery by philanthropist James Fairfax.

Gallery director Edmund Capon said he had been told about the theft on Monday and had cut short a trip to Europe. He flew in from London last night and said he would not make any further comment until he received all the details from gallery staff this morning. In one of the small exhibition spaces at the AGNSW last night, six paintings were missing from the walls. Screw-holes showed where the paintings would have been.

According to AGNSW provenance records, Mr Fairfax purchased the oil-on-oak painting from distinguished London dealer Agnew's in 1988. He gave it to the AGNSW in 1993, where until recently it was displayed in the Fairfax Galleries along with paintings by Rubens and Bronzino. The picture, dated 1657-59, has been displayed in themed exhibitions at the AGNSW and loaned to other Australian galleries in the exhibition The Golden Age of Dutch Art.
Mr Fairfax is in London and could not be reached last night.

Deutscher-Menzies proprietor Rod Menzies said last night he was "exhilarated" by the sale of the Whiteley.
"I always felt the picture was going to break the record," he told The Australian. "I'm extremely pleased with tonight's result - not just with that picture, but with the results on all the other pictures." He added that the night's result was likely to exceed the $10 million mark.
For more than a decade, The Olgas for Ernest Giles hung in the home of Melbourne fashion designer Sally Browne. In recent months, Browne was courted by art dealers and auction houses keen to secure the Whiteley.
Mr Menzies made an offer - believed to be between $2.25 million and $2.5 million - to buy the work. It was a high-risk and audacious offer, but Browne agreed and the painting was secured for last night's auction.
Mr Menzies also had another personal success last night when his 1969 John Brack Backs and Fronts sold for the under-the-hammer price of $1.7 million. Adding on the 20 per cent buyer's premium means it is a win-win for Mr Menzies and his auction house. A painting by Italian-based Australian artist Jeffrey Smart - The City Bus Station, painted in 1985-86 - achieved a record price for the artist when it sold for $900,000.
Experts considered this to be one of the finest Smart paintings to come on to the secondary market in recent years. Its sale is expected to prompt other owners of Smart works to consider selling in the current lively market.
Despite having to compete with the State of Origin rugby league match, last night's auction attracted a big crowd.
And there was no evidence of end-of-financial-year wobbles either, as bidding was vigorous on many major lots.
How long will the boom last? After last night's lusty results, dealers and buyers would be unwilling to speculate for fear of putting the mozz on the market. Even international experts are reluctant to say.
Only last month, veteran New York art dealer Richard Feigen, who witnessed the market collapse after the 1980s boom, told Britain's The Times: "I cannot speculate on how long it's going to last because it has nothing to do with the art any more.
"You could be talking about tulip bulbs," he added, referring to the tulip boom of the 1600s.

Dutch Master Stolen In Million Dollar Theft From NSW Art Gallery

June 13, 2007 4:41 p.m. EST
Richard Bowden - AHN News Writer

Sydney, NSW (AHN) - A valuable self-portrait by Dutch master Frans van Mieris is one of six works believed to have been stolen from the NSW Art Gallery over the last few days.
The tiny 20cm X 16cm (7.8in X 6.2in) "A Cavalier" - painted between 1657 and 1659 - was removed without alerting security from a small exhibition space. Art Gallery director Edmund Capon, who was preparing to return from a trip to London said he was "extremely shocked" by the theft.
Speaking to reporters Mr Capon said, "It's not something that we're accustomed to. It's not an easy thing to remove the security screws and take it out of the building. It makes you very aware of two things: the extraordinary extent we depend on the goodwill of our patrons and how diligent you have to be."
It is believed police were notified of the theft on Monday and have spent three days interviewing gallery staff and checking security footage.

The Sydney Morning Herald today quoted police sources as saying investigators suspect the heist was an inside job.

The painting was donated to the Art Gallery by James Fairfax, below.

Art Hostage comments:

U'm, an inside job, where have we heard that before??

At this rate the case will be solved before FBI Agent Robert Wittman has time to pack his Rubber Duck and head to Australia.

Never Forget,Germans enjoyed Holidays While Jews Endured the Holocaust !!

Above, contrasting portraits, German Opulence, against Jewish persecution.

For Germans it was the joy of Holidays, for Jewish people is was the nightmare of the Holocaust. An eye-opener for those who seek the truth about Nazi Looted Art.

Stern estate wins court order in looted art case

Staff Reporter

MONTREAL - The estate of the late Montreal art dealer Max Stern has won a round in its legal case against an elderly Rhode Island woman in possession of a painting that the estate’s lawyers say Stern was forced to sell under duress from the Nazis 70 years ago.

In Providence, R.I., U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi granted a request earlier this month by the estate that ordered German-born Maria-Luise Bissonnette to stop moving the painting, the 19th-century Girl From the Sabiner Mountains by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

It came to light last September that Bissonnette had sent the artwork to Germany in April 2006, shortly before the Stern estate launched a suit in a Rhode Island federal court for the painting’s restitution.

The two sides negotiated for months to try to reach a settlement before the estate took the case to court.

Lisi also ordered Bissonnette to permit representatives of the estate to see the painting at its current location to determine its condition and to ensure that it is being stored properly. Bissonnette can only move the painting again with the court’s permission.

The two sides had tried unsuccessfully to work out a deal that would have allowed the estate to inspect the painting without seeking a court order. Bissonnette had originally agreed only to allow the estate representatives to view the painting at her German lawyers’ offices.

Stern, a Dusseldorf gallery owner, was ordered by the Gestapo to sell the Winterhalter, along with about 200 other artworks, at an auction conducted by Lempertz in Cologne in 1937. The estate claims he received only a small fraction of their value, which was largely taxed away.

He fled to England after this final liquidation of his inventory.

Stern, who owned the Dominion Gallery in Montreal for more than 40 years, died in 1987 and left his estate to Concordia and McGill universities and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which have created a foundation in his name.

More than two years ago, Concordia launched a worldwide search, headed by Clarence Epstein, to find the confiscated Stern collection, which includes possibly another 200 works that the dealer was forced to sell after 1935.

The Stern estate’s legal team, headed by Washington, D.C.-based Thomas Kline, claim that the Winterhalter rightfully belongs to the estate, because it was effectively stolen under the Nazi government’s laws excluding Jews from trade in art.

The estate told the Rhode Island court that a German court recognized in 1964 that the Lempertz auction was coerced. Girl From the Sabiner Mountains is also listed as confiscated by the Art Loss Register in London.

Bissonnette, 83, who has lived in Providence for many years, says she inherited the work from her stepfather, physician Karl Wilharm. She says he paid for it and she has the receipt to prove it.

The estate’s own research found that Lempertz recorded that it sold the Winterhalter to Wilharm for the equivalent of $3,600, but Stern probably receive only two to five per cent of that, Epstein said.

The estate alleges that Wilharm was a “high-ranking member” of the storm troopers and a Nazi party member.

The painting’s whereabouts came to Epstein’s attention when it was put up for sale on the eBay website in January 2005 by a Rhode Island auction house, to which Bissonnette had consigned it.

Although she holds the hereditary title of baroness, the widowed Bissonnette said she tried to sell the painting to pay for cancer treatment.

The estate’s lawyers charge that she spirited the painting out of the United States to an unknown location in Germany to pre-empt litigation here. They surmise that she hoped to get a German court to act, and possibly receive a more sympathetic hearing. The Sonderweg still lives in German Society

The estates say there had been an understanding that the painting would be left at the Rhode Island auction house until the dispute was resolved.

Among the evidence filed in court was a postal receipt showing that Bissonnette put the painting’s value at $50 (US), which the estate’s lawyers say may have violated U.S. customs laws.

The Rhode Island auctioneer has said it was worth between $50,000 and $75,000 (US). Bissonnette had earlier said through her lawyer that she would only sell the painting to the Stern estate for $150,000.

Bissonnette told the Boston Globe that she didn’t know the painting’s value and underestimated it to discourage theft during shipment.

Montreal lawyer Robert Vineberg, executor of the estate, said the foundation had offered Bissonnette “a relatively small sum” as a goodwill gesture, considering her modest means and health, although legally, he maintains, she is owed nothing.

In the Globe interview published before the court upheld the estate’s request, Bissonnette insisted she and her parents had done nothing wrong.

She said her stepfather was a country doctor during World War II and did not support the Nazi regime. She said the Nazi police demanded use of a former bookbinding factory he owned outside Munich.

After the U.S. District Court decision, Bissonnette’s lawyer, John Weltman of Boston, reportedly withdrew from the case over differences with his client. He claimed he had never counselled her to send the painting to Germany and only knew about its movement after the fact.

Art Hostage comments:
It is interesting to note that a country doctor, who was wealthy enough to own a bookbinding factory in Munich, a rarity in itself, and allegedly did not support the Nazi regime, stayed in Germany throughout the war.

With his wealth this Doctor could, and should, if he really was against the Nazi's, have left the country and only returned when the sub-human Nazi regime was defeated.

It does seem strange however, whenever a person, who has benefited from the Nazi regime is exposed they always claim they did not support the Nazi's.

If true then then how on earth did the Nazi's achieve power?

Surely there was massive support for the Nazi regime within Germany, even if those who supported the Nazi's were brainwashed.

To admit to being indoctrinated by the Nazi's and expressing regret subsequently would be an honourable act, rather than just spinning the line,

"We did not support the Nazi's, but benefited from their murderous tenure."

Personally, anyone who stayed in Germany and claims they were against the Nazi's, in spite of considerable wealth, acted in a meek manner and in reality did support the Nazi's indirectly by their sheer presence.

Whether or not the current handler of this stolen, looted, artwork that was sold under duress, supported the Nazi's or not is irrelevant, the fact remains this painting is unclean, it should be returned to its rightful owners forthwith.

You can wriggle like a slimy Snake as much as you like, the fact will still remain you are handling an artwork that has the blood of millions of innocent men, women and children dripping from it.

If this woman has any semblance of humanity, decency, and even one fibre of morality she would give up this painting and apologise for allowing herself to be blinded by the monetary value of this bloodstained artwork.
Please excuse me while I leave the room in tears, thoughts of the Holocaust overwhelm me with emotion.

Never, ever forget the Darkest days of the Twentieth century.
An invaluable source for those who wish to learn more about Nazi Looted art

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rare Coins Appear, Must be Harry Potter, Not !!!

£100,000 coins hoard mystery

12/ 6/2007

Manchester Evening News

RARE coins worth an estimated £100,000 have been seized by police in an abandoned car near Rochdale.

The eight coins - dating back to 1637 - are each believed to be worth £10,000, and could potentially reach a six-figure sum if sold as a set.

They were discovered by police when they searched a vehicle in Smallbridge.

The coins were part of an antiques haul that also included crockery, cutlery, an old camera and a statuette.

They had been taken in a number of different burglaries, police said.

Insp Lin Houldershaw, from Littleborough, said: "When we first discovered the coins, we didn't realise quite how valuable they are.

"One of my officers did some research and found that they are worth about £10,000 each, and probably more for the collection as a whole.

"If anybody recognises the coins, which we think may have been stolen from an elderly person, they should phone or call into Littleborough station.

"I would be delighted if we could get these coins, which are obviously extremely valuable, but may also be of great sentimental value, back to the rightful owners."

Anyone who can help should phone Littleborough police on 0161 856 8575. #

Art Hostage comments;

Sounds too good to be true.
Spinning a Yarn to protect an informant perhaps?

More like a deal whereby someone may get a reduced sentence or criminal charges dropped.

Any notion of a reward is pure folly, the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act has put paid to that, unless you are an ex-cop, who promises not to share the reward !!