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Monday, December 24, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, De Morgan Pottery Handed Back/Recovered !!

Antiques recovered from De Morgan theft

Antique ceramics stolen from the De Morgan Centre in Wandsworth have been recovered by detectives.

Police believe burglars broke into the museum in West Hill, Wandsworth, on July 29 after climbing a ladder and getting in through a first floor toilet window.

Six plates and a vase - valued at £200,000 - were taken during the break in.

Another plate was smashed into pieces and a vase damaged after the burglars broke a glass display cabinet holding the antiques.

A £15,000 reward was offered for information leading to the return of the ceramics.

The recovered art works were all William de Morgan pieces, some comprising unique pieces of art.

This included a red and gold lustre dish of a snake wrapped around the body of a winged dragon; a red and gold lustre dish with three peacocks; and a two handled lustre urn with snakes and cherubs playing musical instruments.

The ceramics were found in south London on Friday.

Police say no arrests have been made and inquiries are continuing.

Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley of the Met's Art and Antiques Unit, said: "We are really pleased to have been able to return these beautiful objects in time for Christmas.

"We have been assured by the De Morgan Centre that they will be put back on display so that public can once again enjoy them."

Art Hostage comments:

What a wonderful Christmas present for the people of London.

Well done to **** ********* for enabling this recovery to happen.

However, as with all recoveries of stolen art, the sting in tail is whether any of the reward money is paid ??

That decision is wholly for the investigating Police to make.

Anyone claiming the reward must satisfy Police, who then will give a letter of absolute discretion to the Loss Adjuster, who can then pay the reward.

Alternatively, if the reward claimant is a registered Police Informant/Sewer Rat, the reward will be paid backwards, Loss Adjuster to Police, who pass the money to their Informant/Sewer Rat.

I must say it is really gratifying to see these ceramics returned for the public to enjoy.

Looking forward to 2008, the Chinese year of the Rat, perhaps we may see many more important stolen art recoveries.

However, 2008 could also turn out to be the year when iconic art is stolen with more vigour and regularity than ever seen.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, Picasso Pinched, Anyone Fu-Coffee !!

Picasso stolen from Brazil museum

Thieves in Brazil have stolen two paintings said to be worth $100m (£252m) in a dawn raid on Latin America's most renowned museum.

Police said Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Suzanne Bloch, and The Coffee Worker by Brazil's Candido Portinari, were taken from the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo.

The operation, which lasted about three minutes, was caught on security cameras, officials said.

Police investigating the theft are due to give a news conference.

Valuable pieces

The theft took place shortly after 0500 (0700 GMT).

The thieves left behind some of their tools, and police have shut down the museum to search for clues, officials said.

The Portrait of Suzanne Bloch, painted in 1904, is among the most valuable pieces in the museum's collection.

The Coffee Worker (O Lavrador de Cafe) was painted in 1939 and is one of Portinari's most famous works.

O Globo newspaper said that the museum's press service had estimated their joint worth at more than $100m.

However, museum spokesman Eduardo Cosomano told the Associated Press news agency that it was difficult to judge their exact monetary value.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, You've Grassed on me, Well, you're a Fence !!

Fence sold loot at auction houses

By Megi Rychlikova
A FENCE who used auction houses to dispose of a burglar's loot from North Yorkshire properties has been jailed for three years.

Lynden Yates Kitchen, 40, tried to sell a £3,000 painting which had been stolen from Hutton Wandesley, near Rufforth, through a London auctioneer, but the deceit was discovered, said Chris Smith, prosecuting.

Kitchen also took several thousand pounds worth of antiques and other loot from Settrington House, near Malton, and Great Broughton, north of the North York Moors, to a Darlington auctioneer.

Last month, Michael Edward Kenny was convicted by a jury of six burglaries. After Kenny's trial ended, Kitchen admitted he knew he was fencing loot from Kenny's raids.

"I have come to the conclusion that you are a professional criminal," Judge Jim Spencer QC told Kitchen.

Kitchen, no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three offences of handling stolen goods and was jailed for three years.

Kenny, of Finchley, London, is on the run after skipping bail halfway through his trial. He had previous convictions for burglary and was jailed for eight years in his absence after the verdicts.

The Press reported last Friday how Kenny had now been named as one of the UK's most wanted criminals.

For Kitchen, James Robinson said he had already suffered some punishment because the handling charges had prevented him being released early from a four-year sentence for drug dealing.

It had also prevented him from attending a rehabilitation course for gamblers.

The barrister suggested that Kenny was the main man in the crimes.

Mr Smith said the police had received information that suggested Kenny may have threatened a third man in the case and accused him of being a "grass".

The burglaries occurred in 2004, York Crown Court heard.

Kitchen had attempted to sell the painting in July 2004 and the other stolen items in February 2005.

Art Hostage comments:

When criminals fall-out, Police get success, divide and rule, food for thought !!
If no-one Snitched/grassed, Police would be left high and dry, as 85% of Police success comes from informants, Snitches, Sewer Rats !!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Stolen Art Watch, We'll Give You a Medal of Honour for Recovering the Stolen VC's !!

Prime Minister Helen Clark says all hopes are on an effective police operation to stop stolen military medals being moved out of New Zealand.

Interpol has been alerted to the theft of nine Victoria Crosses and a Bar, and two George Crosses.

The Victoria Cross and Bar awarded to Charles Upham were among the medals taken in the break-in at the Army Museum at Waiouru early on Sunday morning.

Miss Clark says her best guess is that it was a "steal-to-order" theft.

She says a law passed last year enabled New Zealand to sign up to international conventions on stolen cultural items.

Miss Clark says if the medals turn up in countries that are parties to the conventions, New Zealand will have legal means to have them returned.

Border alert
Customs has issued a border alert in case of an attempt to take the medals out of New Zealand.

Ruapehu Inspector Steve Mastrovich says police are looking at CCTV footage from inside the museum, and also plan to look at footage from service stations within two hours' driving distance of Waiouru, in the central North Island.

Inspector Mastrovich told Checkpoint police have several weeks worth of security footage.

He says police and ESR forensic scientists have recovered items outside the museum but whether they are germane to the inquiry remains to be seen. He says at this stage nothing appears to have been left behind by the offenders.

He also says the scene examination may be finished by midday on Tuesday.

The thieves gained entry to the Valour Alcove, where the medals were kept, and left the museum via a fire escape at the back of the building.

Inspector Mastrovich says the theft is a 'stupid' crime and says those responsible will find it difficult to sell such well-known national treasures.

Director devastated
Museum director Raymond Seymour told Checkpoint the "gutwrenching" theft has left him "absolutely devastated".

"This crime is a crime against every New Zealander. What they have done is taken the heartbeat out of every New Zealander. These medals .... were awarded to such brave men."

Colonel Seymour described the theft as a "well-planned mission", saying the perpetrators must have been in the museum previously to observe what was going on.

He says a patrol was in the area at the time the alarm was set off and the building's own security guard was on the scene within three minutes.

Colonel Seymour says security cameras are mounted over the display cabinets that held the medals, and in many other parts of the museum.

The museum remains closed, with the commander of the Waiouru Army base, Colonel Roger McElwain, saying security will be progressively updated, although some action will be taken immediately..

Ransom theory
A Victoria Cross expert says he believes the stolen medals are likely to be held for ransom.

Michael Maxton is the curator for The Michael Ashcroft Trust in England, which cares for a tenth of the 1357 VCs awarded since 1856.

He told Nine to Noon the fact that relatively few medals were taken showed the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for.

Mr Maxton says those responsible would have known the medals would not be able to be sold, meaning they would likely be held for ransom.

He says a theft of this scale from an historical institution is unprecedented.

Reward suggested
Charley Hill, a former detective from Scotland Yard's art and antiques unit who recovered The Scream by Edvard Munch, says the most realistic way of getting the medals back is for the police to offer a reward and wait for someone to surface.

Police have said it is unlikely a reward will be offered.

The Army says the collection of medals would be valued in the millions, but its importance to the country is immeasurable.

Chief of Army, Major General Lou Gardiner, told Morning Report the Army feels violated by the theft and it will have to review security.

Highest honour
The Victoria Cross, inscribed "For valour", is the highest honour in the British and Commonwealth military.

The BBC reports a total of 1,355 VCs have been awarded since the award was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 following the Crimean War. Only 12 have been awarded since 1946.

Twenty-one VCs and one Bar were awarded to New Zealanders before the Victoria Cross for New Zealand was instituted in 1999.

Amongst the VCs taken in the raid were the VC and Bar awarded to New Zealand's most decorated soldier, Captain Charles Upham, for valour in Crete and North Africa during World War II.

Captain Upham, who died in 1994, was only the third person, as well as the only combatant soldier, to have been awarded the medal twice.

Two George Medals, awarded to civilians for great bravery, and an Albert Medal, awarded for lifesaving, were also stolen.

National treasures
Defence Minister Phil Goff says the medals are national treasures.

Only 22 New Zealanders have been awarded Victoria Crosses.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Major General Gardiner said the value of the medals is what they symbolise:

"This theft is not just from Defence and Army, it is from the nation. New Zealand's history and heritage is closely interwoven with its military history and heritage.

"These medals were awarded to their recipients for their extraordinary valour and have come to symbolise the huge sacrifices that all New Zealanders made in the many conflicts fought for the freedoms we have come to accept."

Major General Gardiner said the theft of the medals is a theft from New Zealand.

Medals list
The list of medals is:

Samuel Frickleton VC; Leslie Andrew VC; Randolph Ridling (Albert Medal); Reginald Judson VC, DCM, MM; John Grant VC; Henry Laurent VC; Jack Hinton VC; Clive Hulme VC; Keith Elliot VC; Charles Upham VC and Bar; David Russell GC and Ken Hudson GC.

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand medal recently awarded to Corporal Willie Apiata is not among them.

Police are appealing to anyone who was in the Waiouru area, or passing through, between midnight and 2am Sunday to call 0800 VALOUR, or 0800 825 687, from Tuesday morning.

Art Hostage comments:

By refusing to offer any reward for recovery or arrests, authorities are making further iconic art thefts less likely and attractive to thieves.

This does not help recover the stolen iconic medals, or the stolen Cavalier painting taken this year in Australia.

However, our Antipodean friends are leading the courageous fight against high value art theft by refusing to offer rewards, false or not.

It is about time Law Enforcement were banned from accepting information from public and informants, this will show how competent Police are using their own initiative and talent.

Currently, 85% of Police Detective work is done by public and informant information, giving some Police Officers the ability to serve their time in a Dilatory, lazy, and incompetent manner, just waiting to collect their pension.

Upon another note, as the medals stolen were awarded for Valour, then it is only right to offer a Medal of Honour for recovering them, rather than some false promise of reward money.

The recipient of this Medal of Honour for recovering the stolen VC's, etc, can then use the kudos surrounding their medal award to make money with the story.

One to watch !!