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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%.

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