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Monday, November 26, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Dilatory Delay, Makes Stolen Antiques Harder to Trace !!

Raiders steal antiques worth nearly £100,000

By Pat Smith

NEARLY £100,000 worth of antiques have been stolen from a house in Bromsgrove.

Police are appealing for help in locating the large quantity of valuables, believed to have been taken from a house in the Slideslow area sometime since August.

The stolen property includes paintings, furniture, chinaware, glassware, jewellery and electrical items, and is estimated to be worth around £95,000.

The haul includes an oil painting in a gold frame of a boy playing a flute with a Cavalier dog, worth £20,000; another oil painting of cows in a gold frame, worth £15,000; an oblong wooden cabinet with glass frontage and a drawer at the bottom, worth £10,000; and a set of oriental porcelain dishes and small cups, valued at £5,000.

In addition the thieves took a light wood glass fronted china display cabinet with hand carved shelves, worth £20,000; a light wood glass fronted cupboard with bow shaped doors with light coloured wood panels, worth £3,000; and a Queen Anne-style desk made of dark wood with side and centre drawers, worth around £1,500.

A wealth of smaller items also went missing during the raid including a Chinese plate, worth £50; silver dishes, worth £1,000; a silver tea set, worth £1,500; and a set of oriental porcelain dishes and small cups, worth £5,000.

A large amount of modern valuables were also stolen including a Sony music centre, a 32 inch TV and a DVD machine together worth thousands of pounds.

PC Jamie Weaver, of Bromsgrove police, said: "These items will probably be sold through auction or local antique dealers and I am appealing for people to look out for them."

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Weaver on 08457 444888 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Art Hostage comments:

Stolen in August and only publicised now, three months later !!

If an Antiques dealer has bought these items unwittingly, who is going to compensate the Antiques dealer ???

What incentive is offered to Antiques dealers to come forward, I'll tel you, none what so ever.

So, these stolen antiques, like thousands of other stolen artworks, will stay out of the reach of investigators, unless they stumble across them when investigating other criminality.

Rolls eyes, leaves room in disgust !!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen in Sussex, Sold in the States, Art Crime is Mainstream !!

With the help of investigators both sides of the Atlantic, stolen paintings which belonged to an elderly man, who died shortly after they were taken, have been recovered.

Peter Crook, who lived in Granville Road and was 90 when he died, was conned by a man offering to restore and clean items of silverware and paintings.

A number of paintings and silverware which had sentimental value were stolen. Amongst these were two paintings by his grandfather, GF Wetherbee.

Dr John Crook, the victim's son, said, "I felt anger that my parents were taken for a ride by an unscrupulous individual.

"He came back on several occasions to gain their confidence. Elderly people should be suspicious of individuals coming knocking on their door asking to look at items."

Dr Crook registered the items on the Art Loss Register (ALR), the world's leading database of stolen art.

The Art Loss Register is a team of art loss investigators who have helped in the recovery of more than 1,000 artworks, with a combined estimated value in the region of £100 million.

The group is best known for high-profile recoveries such as Cezanne, Picasso, Warhol and Nolde, but dedicate just as much effort to recovering items stolen from family homes.

Dr Crook kept up his search for the paintings.

Through chance and persistence he happened to come across an image of two of the stolen Wetherbee paintings on an American website and asked ALR to investigate.

The ALR's team worked hard to pursue the paintingsand traced the artworks through eBay and a Maryland auction house.

After months of work, assisted by the police and the auction house, which relinquished its claim to the paintings when it discovered their history, culminated in the paintings being recovered.

Earlier this year they were returned to Dr Crook at the ALR's offices, in London.

The Crook family is delighted to have the paintings — which are of a river landscape with children and children feeding hens — back. The characters in the paintings are members of the family.

Mr Crook said, "I did a search for the painting's artist and saw they had been put up for sale in America, so naturally I was very excited. ALR worked very hard in recovering them, it wasn't easy."

Art Hostage comments:

What happened to the man who stole these paintings ??

Just shows the Sussex stolen art market is thriving, just as House prices seem to be falling.

Perhaps the Sussex new money property tycoons will revert back to stolen art if property is a bad investment ????????

Worth noting and food for thought, for every two stolen paintings recovered, there are 48 that remain outstanding, working on a recovery rate of around 4-5%.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, This is not the Begining of the End, it is just the End of the Begining !!

Dumped oil painting fetches $1m

A painting stolen 20 years ago then found lying in a pile of rubbish on a New York City street has sold at auction for just over $1m (£484,000).

The 1970 painting Tres Personajes (Three People) by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo was taken from a warehouse where the owners had placed it while moving.

It was found by Elizabeth Gibson as she took her morning walk four years ago on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

After discovering the painting's value, she returned it to its original owner.

It sold for $1,049,000 (£507,900) to a telephone bidder at Sotheby's New York auction house.

Sotheby's describes the painting as an important work from Rufino Tamayo's mature period.

Website clue

Elizabeth Gibson said she was drawn to the painting when she spotted it on the street.

"I know nothing of modern art but it didn't seem right for any piece of art to be discarded like that," she said.

It hung on a wall in her home for several months before a friend suggested it might be valuable.

An internet search revealed that the missing painting had been the subject of an appeal for information on the Antiques Roadshow TV programme.

Ms Gibson has already received a $15,000 reward the couple put up when it was stolen, plus an undisclosed percentage of the sale of the painting.

It is still not known how the painting ended up on the street.

The owners - a couple from Houston whose names have not been disclosed - bought the oil on canvas, with marble dust and sand worked into the paint, in 1977 at Sotheby's.

August Uribe, Sotheby's senior vice-president of impressionist and modern art, said that the husband had paid $55,000 for it as a gift for his wife. The husband later died.

At the time of the theft in 1987, the couple alerted local and federal authorities.

Information on the painting was posted on the databases of the International Foundation for Art Research, and the Art Loss Register.

The FBI is still investigating the theft.

Art Hostage comments:

It appears, at least for the moment, Ms Gibson is in line for a windfall.

I would imagine Ms Gibson's cut of the sale price would be around 10-15%, giving her around $90,000 to add to the $15,000 already paid to her.

However, as with all these things, the FBI have not gone away, you know !!

Don't be surprised to hear of Ms Gibson being arrested sometime in the future,if the FBI can join the dots of how,in reality,Ms Gibson came into possession of this purloined artwork.

The secret to returning stolen art and making a valid claim for any reward offered is:

"The person claiming the reward must stand up to public and law enforcement scrutiny."

Currently, this can only be achieved if the reward claimant is a Man of the Cloth, a Catholic Priest.


"Forgive me Father for I have sinned"

Father **** to confessioner:

"Go on my son, the Boston Vermeer, yes, yes, now what about Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee, OK my son."

Soon after:

Hello, is that the Garda/Police/Boston Police Department?,

"This is Father *****, I have found the stolen Gardner art in one of my confession boxes and would like to return them forthwith, oh yes, and claim the reward."

"That's the only way to do it !"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Meet the Fakers !!

How garden shed fakers fooled the art world

· Talented son and aged parents admit fraud
· Museum paid £440,000 for Egyptian princess,,2212590,00.html

David Ward
Saturday November 17, 2007
The Guardian

A man was jailed for four years and eight months yesterday after earning £850,000 from making fake art treasures with the help of his parents in their 80s in their terraced house in Bolton.

Shaun Greenhalgh's biggest triumph was the sale for £440,000 of a statue which he claimed was 3,300 years old and represented the Princess Amarna, daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti.

It had, in fact, been "knocked up" in a garden shed. But he and his parents fooled the museum and art gallery of the town in Greater Manchester, which bought the piece and put it on display.

Greenhalgh, 47, his father, George, 84, and mother, Olive, 83, admitted conspiring to defraud art institutions between June 1989 and March 2006. She was given a suspended jail term of 12 months, while her husband will be sentenced later.

Their cottage industry did not confine itself to Egyptology, but produced artifacts ranging from a Roman plate to a goose supposedly sculpted by Barbara Hepworth. According to the Metropolitan police arts and antiques unit, the trio may have worked less for profit than to shame the art world.

"We believe Shaun is a failed creator who had no success selling his work because, as he saw it, he had not been to art school and did not know the right people," said Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley. "He realised he could make more money conning the art market. He wanted to show them up, and to a degree he succeeded."

"The antiquities and art were produced by Shaun Greenhalgh and sold by George Greenhalgh with, from time to time, the assistance of his mother Olive," said Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, at Bolton crown court.

"It appears that, although gifted as an artist, Shaun Greenhalgh was not a salesman. His father, in particular, fulfilled that role admirably, and fooled experts from all the great auction houses and other experts from Leeds to Vienna and from London to New York."

The business began in 1989 when George Greenhalgh took to Manchester University a small silver object bearing an alleged Old English inscription and containing a relic of the true cross. Experts at the British Museum and English Heritage concluded it was not an original but that the wood was possibly genuine. It was bought for £100, and later made the subject of an academic thesis.

The court heard that the family business was exposed when three "Assyrian" stone reliefs, taken to the British Museum, were proved to be fakes. Outside court, detectives said experts spotted a spelling mistake in their cuneiform script.

"It will be never known the full extent of the enterprise or the monies that were made," said Mr Cadwallader. "As to bank accounts, the records only go back for six years, which is only a little over a third of the whole period."

For Shaun Greenhalgh, Andrew Nuttall said: "Mr Greenhalgh discovered many years ago he has no style of his own ... He had one outlook and that was his garden shed. The Amarna Princess was knocked up in three weeks in this garden shed.

"He was trying to perfect the love he had for such arts. That talent was misdirected."

The Greenhalghs also pleaded guilty to laundering the money made from the fakes. Rapley said: "Despite their talent and ability to reproduce these artworks and the false provenances that accompanied them, they were still living a relatively frugal life on the proceeds of their crime.

"Whilst numerous forged items have been recovered and every effort has been made to trace all the Greenhalgh forgeries, there can be little doubt that there are a number of forgeries still circulating within the art market."
Below, Copy of The Meeting House by L.S. Lowry
Art Hostage comments:
The current art market is so competitive that people get intoxicated by Provenance, they fail to spot the obvious.
Interesting to note there was a spelling mistake in the Syrian relief, simple mistakes have undone many a sophisticated cunning plan.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, If You Vant a Vatch, Buy a Vatch, Stop Vatching the Vatches in the Vindow !!

Hickory, dickory dock: Stolen museum loot found

By Danny Rubinstein

Dozens of rare and priceless clocks stolen from the L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem 24 years ago, in a theft that has mystified investigators, have returned home and are soon to be presented to the public.

Among the items, located in August, 2006, after the museum's director received a telephone tip from a Tel Aviv watchmaker, the rarest and most expensive clock is a gold and rock-crystal pocket-watch made over a number of years for Marie Antoinette by the French watchmaker Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823).

The theft of 40 items from the original collection of 100 clocks, one of the most important in the world, occured on Friday night, April 15, 1983, when thieves managed to bend the bars on a back window of the museum and use a ladder to get inside, covering their presence with a large truck, which they parked in the back, taking advantage of the fact that the alarm system was broken, and the guard was stationed in the front. On Sunday morning when the theft was discovered, police said it had clearly been "commissioned" because the thieves knew to take only the most expensive items in the collection.

The rarer items were known to dealers and galleries the world over, and the search was intense and wide-reaching, but fruitless. Monetary rewards posted by the museum and its insurers went unclaimed.

Then, in August 2006, a break came in the notorious case: The museum's veteran director, Rachel Hasson, received a phone call from a Tel Aviv watchmaker who told her a young lawyer had phoned and invited him to her office to appraise 40 clocks she had in her possession. The watchmaker immediately realized these were some of the clocks stolen from the L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art. The lawyer told him that the clocks belonged to a foreign client of hers.

Hasson immediately reported the information to the museum's board of directors, and a few hours later they arrived at the lawyer's office, only to find that the clocks had been returned to their bank vault. They showed the lawyer a catalog of the clocks and she identified some of them and confirmed that they belonged to her client, a resident of the U.K., who had inherited them following the death of her partner. The lawyer said she would be willing to return them if she were compensated financially.

The board set up a meeting with the lawyer for the next day, when she was to show them the clocks so they could confirm which items from the collection were included. But on the way back to Jerusalem, she called the board chairman, Eli Kahan and said she wanted to finish up the deal in one day and that her client had one condition: to keep her name out of it and do everything through her attorney.

The next day, the attorney showed the board three worn cardboard boxes, with the 40 rare clocks, wrapped in newspaper, including the Breguet creation for Marie Antoinette and another Breguet creation from 1819, known as the "Sympathique," which ran on a system in which a watch placed in a recess of the clock was automatically set and reset, and an 11 cm-long "pistol clock" created at the beginning of the 19th century in France.

Excitedly, the board members spent hours going over the collection. Most of the items were fairly well preserved, but some where damaged. After a brief negotiation, Kahan gave the lawyer a check of not a large amount in return for her assistance. The clocks were brought to Jerusalem and placed secretly in a safe so the story would not get out, and the police were informed of the developments.

The months that followed saw negotiations with the insurance company, which had meanwhile paid the museum's claim on the lost clocks, and work to restore the damaged clocks and prepare them for exhibition once again.

Meanwhile, the identity of the thieves remains a mystery. However they are believed unlikely to have been inveterate watch collectors, but rather local operators, at least two in number. They apparently dismantled some of the clocks, removing and selling gold and jewels. The most expensive clocks were apparently too familiar to be sold and thus remained in their possession over the years.

The clocks, which are unconnected to Islamic culture, are part of the collection of Sir David Lionel Salomons, who in 1855 became the first Jewish mayor of London. They were donated by his daughter, Mrs. Vera Francis Salomons, a British philanthropist who founded the L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art and named it after her professor of Islamic studies and rector of the Hebrew University, who was also a collector of rare clocks.

Art Hostage M.A. B.A. (Hons) A.H.E.C. Comments:

In some ways this is a similar case to the Da Vinci Madonna, however, authorities in Israel seem to have taken a softer line with the Lawyers.

Alternatively, Israeli law may be different and allow this kind of buy back and also allow a ransom to be paid.

The Israeli clock case shows the Museum working without informing authorities until it had already recovered its stolen property, something illegal in the UK.

It is only after the event that Israeli authorities have the chance to consider if any laws were broken and if any criminal charges should be sought.

Here in the UK, Scotland in the Da Vinci case, the private investigators, as soon as they were contacted about the stolen Da Vinci Madonna, went running at breakneck speed to "Tell the Teacher" sorry, snitch, sorry, inform authorities.

Do you remember the Weasel featured little turds at school, who would run to the teacher and snitch, opinion was always that the Little Turds would grow up without friends and become Police officers, still without friends, other than their fellow little turds in the Police.

It must be said however, that there have been attempts to recruit decent considerate popular and competent people into the Police, but there is still an element of the Weasel featured little turd syndrome at the core of all aspects of law enforcement.

This means the public are even more reluctant to come forward and help, if those requesting help are the very same Weasel featured Little Snitching Turds, who were hated universally at School.

The law enforcement reaction to recovering stolen art varies from country to country and depends on how powerful those negotiating the return of stolen art are.

The Turner case in point, where the players were establishment figures who clearly paid a multi-million pound ransom. Then a media back-out followed.

The Titian recovery by the much maligned Charlie Hill, where he paid David Dudden £15,000 deposit, then £85,000 post recovery, who in turn paid the money backwards, another buy-back. Charlie Hill was warned he would be arrested if he did this kind of recovery again. Since the Titian how much stolen art has Charlie Hill recovered, none, zero, zilch !!

The Da Vinci case has thrown down the Gauntlet to the legal profession and is asking questions about client attorney privilege.

This is not personal, it is a considered campaign to undermined lawyers and make defending accused that much harder.

The issue of legal aid has been another way to put out of reach, competent lawyers for most defendants, giving Prosecutors an unwarranted advantage.

This march to tip the scales of justice in the prosecution's favour is fraught with danger and will inevitably lead to the increase of unsafe and corrupt convictions.

There is a rumour that the use of underworld supergrasses in on the agenda, so keep an eye out for that !!

Upon another note

When Art Hostage was a lad, he used to go and stare at the expensive watches displayed in a jewellers window.

The Jewish owner came out one day and exclaimed:

"If you Vant a Vatch, buy a Vatch, stop Vatching the Vatches in the Vindow !!"

Subsequent to this first meeting, Art Hostage was taught a great deal by this wise man, who became somewhat of a mentor and good friend.

This Jewish jeweller took Art Hostage under his wing and allow him to learn about buying and selling of jewellery and watches.

Art Hostage used to "run" items on a sale or return basis, even dined with the family.

When the Jewish Jeweller died, he left Art Hostage a Rolex Gold pocket watch and Gold watch chain, the very same one Art Hostage used to look at as a young lad in the Vindow !!

Art Hostage, when asked if he is Jewish replies:

"Unfortunately, that is an Honour for which God has failed to Bestow upon me"

(Allegedly, Art Hostage's natural father was a Polish Jew, (natural mother Irish Catholic), which, I am told, doesn't count !!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Morons of the Week !!


11/07/07 6:30 PST


Santa Rosa police have arrested five people suspected of stealing more than $25,000 of jewelry and antique items from a southwest Santa Rosa residence last month.

Sgt. Eric Litchfield said the suspects sold the stolen items to several pawnshops and jewelry stores including one owned by the burglary victim.

"The suspects were apparently unaware they were selling the victim his own stolen property," Litchfield said.

The burglary occurred on Oct. 27 and police served search warrants at six Santa Rosa homes Monday. The suspects and the stolen property were found at four of the residences, Litchfield said.

Police recovered most of the stolen property that included jewelry, furniture, paintings, cameras, sterling silver and bronze items and other antique items. Other items were found at pawnshops, Litchfield said.

Tony Cuellar, 30; Brandan Rhoades, 28; Karissa Amante, 30; and Sophia Martinez, 25, all of Santa Rosa, were arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime, Litchfield said.

Heather Tressel, 22, of Santa Rosa, was arrested for possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime and police are looking for Malee Molly Samphan, 26, Litchfield said.

Police are still looking for several antique ivory statues similar to Confucius in appearance, a 3-foot long antique sword with "Solingen" on the blade, a steel scabbard and two Knights of Columbus/Masonic antique swords with Masonic symbols engraved on ivory handles.

Anyone with information about the stolen property still outstanding is asked to call Detective Shacklett at (707) 543-3575.

Art Hostage comments:

Thankfully, these morons have brains the size of Olive's.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Art Hostage Passes Masters Degree !!

Art Hostage has passed !!

Got the results at noon today.

Interesting to note, during the Queens Speech to Parliament, Her Majesty broke from the script to announce Art Hostage had passed his Masters Degree, a roar went up from both sides of the House.

So, now its Art Hostage M.A. B.A. (Hons) A.H.E.C.

A very humbling experience.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Theft Arrests, A Pyrrhic Victory !!

Lowry theft suspect being led away !!

Four people have been arrested by police investigating the theft of five LS Lowry paintings worth more than £1m in Greater Manchester.
Officers raided several addresses in Tameside after receiving information from the public.

A 31-year-old man from Hyde, along with three men from Denton, aged 36, 22 and 24, were arrested on suspicion of robbery, police said.

The paintings were stolen from a house in Cheadle Hulme in May.

Art collector Ivan Aird was tied up and his wife and two-year-old daughter threatened during the robbery at their home.

Five artworks were taken, together with Lowry's palette and brushes.

So unique

The most valuable works are the Viaduct, at about £700,000 and The Tanker Entering The Tyne, which is worth between £500,000 and £600,000.

The others are pencil sketches - The Bridge at Ringley and The Street Market.

The value of the palette and paintbrushes is not known, because they are said to be so unique.

Det Con Chris Barnes said: "We have had a number of people come forward, both as a result of the media appeals and the recent Crimewatch appeal.

"A £70,000 reward remains available to anyone who provides information leading to the recovery and return of these paintings."

The raids were carried out in Audenshaw, Denton, Houghton Green, Hyde and Gorton.

Art Hostage comments:

A Pyrrhic victory and we still have the stolen Lowry artworks outstanding.

Police could, and should have devoted more resources to this case from the get go.

Then, subsequent victims would not have been robbed.

Still, better late than never, or are these arrests just window dressing ??

It is Police who have jumped the gun for quick headlines, rather than wait and recover the stolen artworks before arresting these men.

Police already knew the identies of these men, but public pressure has allowed the Lowry paintings to remain outstanding, or have they been recovered already ??

Right, who is going to be the first to become a "Sewer Rat" ??

The offer of a reduced sentence is the lure to get one or more of these accused men to reveal the whereabouts of the stolen Lowry paintings.

To the current handler of the stolen Lowry paintings, before Police storm your house/work/shop and recover the paintings, hand them back by placing them in a certain place and then telephoning the police anonymously.

If you get caught in possession of the stolen Lowry's some-time soon, don't say you weren't warned !!

The Lowry's are a millstone around your neck and will disrupt any other business dealings.

Will you lose money, of course, but better lose money on the Lowry's than lose the whole lot.

Oh, to be continued..............


Expect some good news from Yorkshire Police/London Met Police about the spate of art thefts this summer.

I cannot say too much, but hopefully the Newby table and Doncaster silver cups will be recovered before Yorkshire Police arrest the gangs they are watching !!

Not forgetting the De Morgan, tick tock, etc which the current handlers are contemplating handing back !!

Guys, get rid of these stolen artworks before you get arrested, placed, then fetch and collect by Police.

The clock is ticking and before long, Yorkshire Police and the London Met Police will be told to

"Round them up, and Collar the lot" to quote Churchill.