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Friday, July 06, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Glamorous picture of art thieves is far from truth

British Detective demonstrates the official Police approach to investigating Art Theft !!

All Talk, No Action !!

Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words, so, until there are collectible fee's to provide the crucial information that will lead to arrests and recovery of high value stolen art we will just have to bear witness to evermore incidents of this nature.

The way forward is based on the American FBI Art Crime Team model, whereby those who give information leading to arrests and recovery of high value stolen art get generous payments amounting to millions of dollars in some cases.

All the time that £50 and a pat on the head, before being sent on their way is the best British authorites can offer, then Art will continue to be held Hostage, not just by the thieves, but by dilatory Police as well.

If Police can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen, and allow the private sector to recover stolen art and prevent this sort of crime from happening in the future.

Yorkshire Post

With Newby Hall fearing it may have to close following two raids in less than a week, Sarah Freeman reports on the growing trade in stolen arts and antiques.

Steve McQueen has a lot to answer for.When he starred in the Thomas Crown Affair back in 1968, he confirmed what everyone had already suspected – those who steal art and antiques are not proper criminals, more gentleman thieves, who, by wearing impeccable suits set off with pristine white gloves and being blessed with an unmistakable air of glamour, are somehow above the law.

It's an image which constantly frustrates those whose job it is to secure prosecutions and return the items to their rightful owners."It is entirely unjustified," says Julian Radcliffe, of the Arts Loss Register, which has a list of 180,00 missing or stolen sculptures, books, stamps and works of art. "I really don't know how these people came to be glamorised, but let's be clear, a lot of them are very unpleasant."

Earlier this week, Newby Hall admitted it may close its doors to visitors after thieves forced their way through a shuttered and locked door and made off with a £500,000 Chippendale table in a second raid in less than a week.The incident at the property near Ripon, which provided the backdrop for the recent television version of Mansfield Park, is the latest in a recent string of actual or attempted burglaries at Yorkshire's stately homes.

Two years ago, Stephane Breitwieser admitted stealing hundreds of paintings worth £1bn from galleries and museums across Europe to hang on his own walls, but the majority of thieves don't profess to have any particular love of art."There is not some criminal sitting in Switzerland with a wonderful collection on his wall," says Julian, whose company has helped to track down paintings by Manet and Constable, a Queen Anne cabinet and a Roman marble head of Dionysius.

"People only steal art and antiques when they believe the risk-to-reward ratio is in their favour, if it's not, they will probably resort to something easier like forging passports, however, I don't think such a thing as the stereotypical art thief exists.

"There are times when specific pieces are stolen to order, but other times it's simply a question of someone with a drug habit to feed who sees it as a way to get cash quickly.

"The Government has signed up to a UN convention banning the illicit trade in cultural property, which makes it easier for countries to reclaim stolen works, however, in the UK, work valued at £500m is still stolen each year and with many of the items instantly recognisable, websites like eBay have proved a lucrative marketplace.

"It has made a major difference to the way the trade in stolen art operates," adds Julian. "If you need to get rid of a painting or a piece of furniture, going to somewhere like Sotheby's or Christie's is not an option as they will quickly discover it has been stolen.

"In the past, people used to sell them as 'good copies' or to smaller auction houses which didn't have access to a register of stolen goods, but sites like eBay have made their job so much easier.

"We do have people trawling the web to track down items, but as you can imagine it's a much harder job to pin someone down.

Even with all our experts, the recovery rate for really good paintings is only about 20 per cent and owners may have wait around 30 years."Following the theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream and Madonna from a museum in Oslo three years ago there were calls for an international amnesty to encourage dealers in possession of stolen goods to come forward without fear of prosecution.

However, the idea never got off the ground and it is the likes of Newby Hall owner Richard Compton who are still counting the cost."People in charge of these properties are becoming increasingly reluctant to open their doors and it's easy to see why," adds Julian.

"There is no such thing as 100 per cent security, but one thing museums and stately homes can do is make sure everything they have is pre-recorded, and give someone like us a full itinerary.

"Often these places are vast and have so many things on display that it's impossible to check them each and every night and often it may be some weeks before they notice an item is missing.

"No one wants to let the criminals win, but if it's your livelihood under threat sometimes it feels like there's no option but to take drastic action."

Art Hostage,London 06/07/2007 13:22:52

To obtain the information to apprehend these criminals, Police and the private sector must be prepared to pay fee's to those who take great risk. until then when you pay peanuts you get Monkey's, and art theft will continue unabated and art thieves will act with impunity.

Art Hostage,London 06/07/2007 14:36:33

An Underworld source has claimed to be able to obtain the names of the thieves targeting these Homes In Yorkshire as well as other mansions all over the UK.

This Underworld source also claims to be able to provide the next target enabling Police to be lying in wait to catch this gang red-handed.

For this service, the Underworld source requires £100,000 to be placed with a lawyer on a contingency basis, to be handed to the Underworld source if Police are successful at arresting this art crime gang.

Distasteful as this may be, what other way can Police tempt sources to reveal crucial inside information?

Some say it is a public duty to give information, the Underworld source says, when Police work for minimum wage because of the Public duty aspect of their job, informants will accept minimum wage for their information.

While this Mexican stand-off continues, householders up and down the country who have valuable artworks will continue to be targeted and robbed with impunity.

Time for Police to come down off the fence before the inevitable fatality that will occur sooner rather than later, as these Art Crime Gangs are Cocaine fueled and carry guns during the raids, mainly for bravado, but would be used to make good an escape if confronted by a householder or staff. Very very sad, but true.

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