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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Antiques Mafia Godfather, Rotten in Denmark !!

Five years jail for dealer involved in Aldsworth robbery

AN ANTIQUES dealer found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen goods from a robbery in Aldsworth was sent to five years in prison today (April 25).

Philip Capewell (64) must serve at least half of the sentence before being released on licence after the jury at Hove Crown Court found him guilty of the offence.

The stolen items were taken from a violent robbery where an elderly couple were threatened to have their fingernails removed by pliers if they did not hand over antiques to a gang of robbers in balaclavas.

Wolfgang Schmelz (57) and Christopher Doughty (48) who are charged with robbery pleaded guilty to conspiring with Capewell to handle the stolen goods from the Aldsworth robbery.

After the sentence was dealt Detective Sergeant Paul Sellings, of the Major Crime Branch at Sussex Police said:

"Philip Capewell is a sophisticated, professional handler of stolen goods. "Within hours of receiving the stolen property from the Aldsworth house robbery he disappeared then through out the south of England.

"Without such people, thieves are unable to make a profit for their crimes. The sentence handed down today sets a clear message that men like Philip Capewell will be treated seriously by the courts."

During the trial Capewell was found guilty for handling stolen goods on four counts but was found not guilty for the same offence on four counts.

He was also acquitted for conspiring with Daniel Brummer to handle stolen goods.

Walton Hornsby, prosecuting, said that items worth £77,000 were recovered from the Aldsworth robbery which took place in June 2006.

Capewell has appeared in court on five occasions in the past for thirteen offences of handling stolen goods between 1975 to 1987.

Richard Cherrill, defending, said of Capewell 'This man has good in him and not all bad'. He also said that Capewell had been suffering from depression for the last six years.

Judge Guy Anthony said: "You are a professional handler of stolen goods and if there were no handlers there would be few thiefs. I bear in mind your age and less than perfect health.

"You demonstrated no remorse whatsoever and gave no assistance to the police. You are the sort of person that gives antique dealers a bad name."

The jury at Hove Crown Court were unable to give a verdict for the charge of robbery for Schmelz and Doughty and was discharged on Friday (April 24).

The trial will commence again on Jan 5, 2009.

Art Hostage comments:

Note that Phillip Capewell has convictions for handling stolen property going back to 1975 through 1987. Thirteen convictions in all before these latest five.

The fact Capewell dragged out the trial at great cost to the taxpayer, ten weeks, is another factor against Capewell.

Richard "Tricky Dicky" Cherrill could only offer mitigation of:

Richard Cherrill, defending, said of Capewell 'This man has good in him and not all bad'. He also said that Capewell had been suffering from depression for the last six years."

Depression, depression, Well, how about poor Mr and Mrs Williams, Tom and Sarah, whose ordeal has been traumatic to say the least.

Phillip Capewell has, for the last twenty years made enormous amounts of money on the suffering of people like the Williams.

The Judge in this case should, using current sentencing guidelines, given Capewell 1 year for each of the four handling charges, but 10 years for the handling of the Aldsworth House antiques, with an order to pay the Williams at least the £382,000 value of the stolen property, less the £77,000 for the recovered property.

The aggravating factor coupled with the career criminal status justifies a 10 year sentence.
The violence used is the main factor and the five years shows there is something Rotten in Denmark.

I am counting the days until Phillip Capewell is moved to Ford Open Prison, where there is a job vacancy looking after the Cats, as Terry "The Commander" Dickens passed away last year.

Phil, when you see the ghost of Terry "The Commander" Dickens down at Ford, whilst you look after the Cats, don't forget Shakespeare's, Hamlet, act 1, scene 4, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,"

Getting shipped out to Ford Open Prison is a luxury and would normally take several months or a year.

But as Phillip Capewell has a long-standing history of "Body-Trading" he will be in Ford Open Prison tending the little pussies within the next four weeks, perhaps sooner if he decides not to appeal.

It is rumoured when Phillip Capewell dies, his grave will be dug to 50 feet, because deep down he is a nice person.

The driver of the funeral hearse will certainly get caught speeding !!

Upon another note, I wonder if there is going to be a hearing to seize any assets held by Phillip Capewell under the 2002 Proceeds of crime act ??

The moral of this tale is:

"When a Brighton Antiques Dealer is down, kick him harder !!"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Sewer Rat's Revenge Sends Brighton Antiques Mafia Godfather Phillip Capewell to Jail for 5 Years, 30 Months in Reality !!

Antiques Dealer sent to Prison !!

By Nigel Freedman

A crook who was caught with antiques from a violent country house robbery has been jailed for five years.

Phillip Capewell, 64, was arrested by armed police waiting for antiques from the raid at Aldsworth House, near Chichester, to be delivered to his home. They were tipped of (by Bernard Lyons) that Wolfgang Schmeltz and Christopher Doughty were on their way from Southampton to Capewell's flat at Warnham Court in Grand avenue, Hove.

All three men were forced to the ground at gunpoint as police seized part of the £382,000 Aldsworth House haul.

It included silver, medals, swords and guns awarded to five generations of retired Major Tom Williams' family since 1790.

Mr Williams, 73, and his wife Sarah, 68, were tied up after three men burst into their home on June 4th, 2006.

Mr Williams tried to fight back but was coshed with a truncheon and kicked and punched by two of the raiders.

The terrified couple were bound with gaffer tape and blindfolded as the robbers spent six hours ransacking their home.

During the ordeal one of the robbers threatened to pull Mr Williams' fingernails out with pliers if he did not tell them where to find the keys to the safe.

Mrs Williams described how the raiders burst into their home as they watched television.

She said: "I screamed rather pointlessly but it was terrifying."

Mrs Williams said one robber held her back while the others went to the drawing room where Mr Williams was half-asleep.

She said: "By the time I got there they were attacking my husband.

"One had a truncheon which he hit Tom with. The other was kicking him in the ribs."

The robbers eventually found the main safe and demanded the keys for it but the couple tried to stall them.

Schmeltz and Doughty made two trips from Southampton to Hove over the next four days to sell part of the haul to Capewell.

They face a retrial after a jury failed to reach verdicts on charges they staged the robbery at Aldsworth House.

Both men denied robbery but admitted one charge of handling stolen antiques from Aldsworth House.

Schmeltz claimed a man he refused to name had brought them to his home in Southampton.

Doughty claimed he was with Schmeltz because the German-born lorry driver owed him 32,000 for jewellery he had sold him.

After they were arrested police found an Aladdin's cave of stolen antiques in Capewell's garage at Warnham Court as well as a lock-up he rented in Suffolk.

The goods were taken in a series of raids across Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Essex, the jury at Hove Crown Court was told during a ten week trial.

Capewell was found guilty of handing antiques stolen from four of the raids but was cleared of handling charges on three more burglaries.

Capewell has previous convictions for handling and for stealing antiques from a walk-in theft at the home of an elderly victim for which he was jailed for two years in 1987.

Judge Guy Anthony told Capewell: "You are a thoroughly dishonest person who is prepared to act as an outlet for stolen antiques of high value."

"You are the sort of person who gives many antiques dealers a bad name."

"You are a professional handler of stolen goods willing to make yourself available to other criminals handling the proceeds of burglaries."

Judge Anthony said he was prepared to accept Capewell did not know antiques from Aldsworth House were the result of a violent robbery.

Richard Cherrill, defending, said Capewell had to accept the jury's verdict but still protested his innocence.

Mr and Mrs Williams were in court to see Capewell sentenced.

Mr Williams said "As there is a retrial to be held it would not be appropriate to comment at the moment."

Detective Sergeant Paul Sellings of Sussex Police Major crime branch, welcomed the sentence.

He said: "Phillip Capewell is a sophisticated, professional handler of stolen property.

"Within hours of recieving stolen property from Aldsworth House he had dispersed it throughout the South of England.

"Without such people thieves would be unable to realise the profits of their crimes.

"The sentence handed down today sends a clear message that men like Capewell will be treated seriously by the courts."

Brighton and Hove Antiques Mafia having a drink
Art Hostage comments:

Brace yourself for what Art Hostage has discovered, collating now.

First of all, Police did not get tipped off Schmeltz and Doughty were on their way from Southampton to deliver the stolen Aldsworth House antiques to Phillip Capewell, Police were tipped off Capewell was going to receive the stolen Aldsworth House antiques from Schmeltz and Doughty.

This is important because it shows the Police informant came from Brighton, connected to Capewell, rather than from Southampton, connected to Schmeltz and Doughty.

The Sussex Police informant on this case was a man called Bernard Lyons, who, similar to Capewell, has a long history of handling high value stolen antiques, but has had a longstanding feud with Capewell and his gang, Mechin, Rami, Wife beater coward David Gore etc.

This feud stems from the time back in the early 1990’s when there was a country house burglary in Norfolk, and two Dutch Seascape paintings, valued at £90,000 were stolen.

The paintings made their way to Brighton, where they were sold, knowingly to a stolen antiques handler called Rammi.

Now Bernard Lyons got to hear of this and informed Sussex Police Arts and antiques squad, ***** *********, his Police handler.

Rammi was duly arrested in a similar vein to Capewell and was charged with handling the two stolen Dutch seascapes from Norfolk.

Bernard Lyons tried, in vein to claim the reward offered, £9,000, but was thwarted because, as it turned out the Dutch Seascape paintings were only copies and therefore not worth anything like £90,000, Bernard Lyons was given £6,000 from Sussex Police Informant fund.

In revenge, Rammi enlisted the help of the Phillip Capewell gang to inform on Bernard Lyons and get him arrested when he was in possession of high value stolen antiques.

Can you see a pattern developing here ?

Some time later there was a Burglary at Hassocks, near Brighton, where a Minton Majolica garden statue of a Peacock by the famous Minton modeller Paul Comolera was stolen, ironically, the lady owner did have a pair of the valuable Peacocks and they were displayed in her garden, until one was stolen.

This one was kept in the bathroom of her house for safekeeping, although this two was stolen on the orders of Bernard Lyons.

These Minton Peacocks are highly collectible and would be worth up to £500,000 each, a cool £1 million for a pair if sold to an American collector.
Rammi found out Bernard Lyons had taken possession of the Minton Peacock and informed Phillip Capewell, who in turn contacted the Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad.

Capewell had a long-standing relationship as a Sussex Police informer, he then gave his Police handler details of when and where Bernard Lyons would be in possession of the stolen Minton Peacock.
Now an internal Sussex Police battle developed between ***** ********* and ***** *********** about arresting Bernard Lyons, as he was a Police Informant of ***** *********'s.
However, ***** won the day and Bernard Lyons was duly arrested with the Minton Peacock in his car.

The follow up at the home of Bernard Lyons was much more intriguing, Phillip Capewell had learnt that Bernard Lyons had built a false wall in his home, behind which was stored the stolen ceramics taken from the Worthing home of the worlds leading English ceramic authority Geoffrey Godden.

Phillip Capewell had learnt this from the actual burglar, Andrew Ball, who used to sell his stolen antiques to Bernard Lyons, but was poached by Phillip Capewell with the promise of better prices.

Bernard Lyons was tried and convicted in a similar vein to Capewell and received 2 years jail time for a variety of stolen antiques handling charges.

Harbouring his desire for revenge, Bernard Lyons waited for his time until 2006, when he learnt about Capewell being ready to receive the stolen Aldsworth House antiques.

This was the moment when Bernard Lyons struck back, and the rest, as they say, is history, 5 years jail time for Phillip Capewell.

The sheer ruthlessness of the Brighton Antiques Mafia knows no bounds, why back in the early to mid 1980’s Bernard Lyons informed on his childhood friend David Henty, who was engaged in counterfeit passports.

When Police arrested David Henty they discovered 250 forged passports ready for sale at £1,000 each, £250,000 total, quite big money back then.

However, even if David Henty had not been informed upon he would not have succeeded because he misspelled the word Britannic, spelling it Britanic.

As in "Her Britannic Majesty's" written on the inside cover of a British passport. Check it out you will see, if you have a British passport, it is still there on the European British Passport.

Simple mistake you may think, well truth is David Henty is not the sharpest tool in the box, not one of God’s brightest children, so it is not surprising he made a spelling mistake.

Even to this day David Henty still thinks Itchy Fanny is a Japanese motorbike !!

When asked what happened to Jesus when he went to Mount Olive ?

David Henty replied "Popeye punched Jesus in the mouth"

Upon a much more sinister and disgusting note, Phillip Capewell has a particular liking for under-age pre-pubescent girls and when Phillip Capewell gets drunk he starts shouting out loud:

“I like e’m young and tender, then I shove it up their ass”

which he has done many times over the years.

A particularly nasty tale is that of Phillip Capewells step-daughter, a girl called Sierra, who whilst living with Phillip Capewell and her mother in the 1980’s, was sexually abused and sodomized

over a long period of time by Phillip Capewell.

Perhaps Sussex Police should investigate this matter, it is well known amongst the Brighton Antiques Mafia, Capewell even boasted about it when drunk in the Seafield pub, as well as many other times when Capewell got drunk.

So, you see, behind the facade, Brighton and Hove has a dark shadow hanging over it, emanating from the Art and Antiques trade.

To those who say:

“If the world needed an enema, they'd stick it in Brighton and Hove”

it seems you are correct.

Art Hostage would like to thank the ex-law enforcement Police officers, current Antiques dealers and ex-Brighton Knocker Boys, now wealthy property developers, for their assistance in this story.

Keep it coming guys my readers love it

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Re-Trial Keeps Aldsworth House Accused off the Streets till 2009, at the Very Least !!

Antiques raid suspects to face retrial

By Nigel Freedman

Two men face a retrial over allegations they staged a violent country house antiques robbery.

Retired major Tom Williams, 73, and his wife Sarah, 68, were tied up during the raid at Aldsworth House, Chichester, in June 2006.

The robbers coshed Mr Williams and threatened to pull his fingernails out with pliers unless he gave them the keys to the safe.

The three balaclava-masked robbers escaped with antiques and jewellery worth £382,000.

Wolfgang Schmelz, 57, and Christopher Doughty, 48, both from Southampton, were arrested in Hove four days after the raid.

They admitted one charge of handling stolen property from Aldsworth but denied robbery.

The jury was discharged today when it was unable to reach a verdict on the robbery charges after eight days.

Walton Hornsby, prosecuting, said the Crown Prosecution Service would seek a retrial.

Doughty and Schmelz were remanded in custody until the trial takes place on January 5 next year.

7:28pm today

Stolen Art Watch, Convicted Brighton Antiques Mafia Godfather in the Morning, Sewer Rat in the Afternoon !!

The Crown Court

at Lewes

Daily List for Friday 25 April 2008 at HOVE TRIAL CENTRE, LANSDOWNE ROAD, HOVE

Court 4 - sitting at 10:00 AM



For Sentence
T20060797 CAPEWELL Phillip M

Art Hostage comments:

Sussex Police F.I.B. pin-up, Detective Sgt Phil Carter could do worse than get to speak to Phil Capewell before his sentencing Friday 25th April 2008.

Using his charm, Police Poster Boy Sgt Phil Carter can offer a letter to the judge if Capewell wants to return to informing for the Sussex Police.

Oh didn't you know, Phil Capewell has done his fair share of body-trading over the years.

A possible adjournment could be in the offing if Capewell starts singing like a Canary, again !!

Stolen antiques are being moved from their hiding places all over Sussex as a result of the Capewell conviction.

If Sussex Police watch the usual suspects, they will definitely recover much more stolen antiques than just watching on a Friday !!

Many High profile Brighton Antiques Mafia Godfathers are wondering if they are next to be arrested as a result of Sewer Rat's Old and New !!

Pro-active Policing from Sussex Police, Glamour Boy Detective Phil Carter, in particular, would result in the recovery of many outstanding stolen high value antiques.

Too much to ask, you decide !!

Stolen Art Watch,Breaking news.. Aldsworth House Robbery, Jury Deadlocked

Art Hostage has learnt that the two remaining accused Wolfy Schmeltz and Christopher Doughty have not, I repeat, have not been convicted of the actual Aldsworth House robbery.

The jury was split 6/5 and 5/6 so the Judge dismissed the jury.

Now, will the prosecution go for a re-trial ??

Will the Judge sentence Wolfy and Doughty as if they were convicted, i.e. 10 years for just the handling of some Aldsworth House stolen antiques ??

However, Phil Capewell has been convicted of four other handling charges as well as the Aldsworth House handling.

As Phil Capewell is a repeat offender, he has antiques related convictions going back 30 years, one of which was a sentence of 6 years jail for another tie up robbery involving jewellery, Capewell could get 10 years + and may find it difficult to launch an appeal.

On the other hand, if Wolfy and Doughty get 10 years an appeal would certainly be successful and reduced, in my opinion to around 2-4 years, even less if we look at similar convictions.

No need to turn Sewer Rat for Wolfy or Doughty, Capewell on the other hand will have to think very hard !!

More to follow.......

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, History Provides Clue to Court Appearence !!

Art dealers jailed for Lowry theft

From August 7th 1998

Two art dealers who stole valuable L S Lowry oil paintings from their 94-year-old owner have each been jailed for four years.

Michael Openshaw and Robert Barrett ignored the protests of the pictures' owner Dr Percy Thompson-Hancock as they took the two canvasses - 'Children on a Promenade' and 'Family of Three' - from his living room wall, leaving a £10,400 cash 'payment' behind.

They sent Dr Thompson-Hancock £6,000 in the post a few days later but it still came nowhere near the true values of paintings, the jury at Southwark Crown Court were told.

The distraught doctor and his family desperately tried to retrieve the paintings, unaware that they had been auctioned off by Bonhams for £78,000.

Eight months after the theft, the two appeared - with a price tag of £215,000 - at a Bond Street art gallery where they were spotted by Dr Thompson-Hancock's granddaughter.

'Despicable' act

Neither of the two men showed any reaction as the jury convicted them of two counts of theft. They rejected their claims that they had been victimised by the former doctor's "greedy" relatives after they had realised how much the oils were worth.

Passing sentence, Judge David Elfer QC told them: "What you men did was despicable. It was in fact a determined crusade by you to get from the doctor the best pieces that he had."

He said they had pestered their elderly victim repeatedly to part with the paintings, until finally they decided to take no more notice of his refusal to sell.

The court later heard that Mr Openshaw had only one previous conviction against him, but that Mr Barrett had a list of court appearances dating back 28 years.

They included stealing £9,000-worth of antique furniture from the home of a 90-year-old deaf and bed-ridden man.

Police believe the pair had spent years preying on elderly people across southern England.

Case officer Detective Constable Tim Snuggs said: "This case highlights the danger waiting for the old and frail, who should receive respect but don't, who cannot defend their homes and valuables and who don't know whom to trust."

He said it was difficult to gauge the extent of this sort of crime as victims were often too old and scared to come to court.

The five-day trial heard that Dr Hancock and his wife had built up a small collection of antiques and works of art including the two Lowrys over a number of years.

About five years ago, Robert Barrett and Michael Openshaw called round expressing an interest in some of the items.

They seemed "nice and sociable and appeared genuine" the doctor recalled, and he sold them a number of his pieces.

However, he always made it clear that the paintings, which he intended to leave to his two daughters, were not for sale.

It now seems likely that the two oils will eventually be returned to Dr Thompson-Hancock and his wife.

Fast forward to the Court listings for April 23rd 2008, see below:

The Crown Court

at Lewes

Daily List for Wednesday 23 April 2008 at LAW COURTS, EDWARD STREET, BRIGHTON.


Court 3 - sitting at 10:00 AM



For Mention
T20087048 BLOK Anthony H

Re:trial date
T20080064 UNDERWOOD Michael D


Published: 22 April 2008 at 16:17 MLK/246883
Page No: 10 of 11

Art Hostage comments:

The link between the two cases.

A certain Anthony Hershal Blok was the solicitor, from Sears Blok and co, representing Barrett and Openshaw in the 1998 Lowry case.

Barratt and Openshaw complained about the £30,000 fee charged to them by Sears Blok for which they still got 4 years jail.

Michael David Underwood is a notorious Brighton Antiques Knocker Boy, nicknamed "The Ambassador" who was jailed, along with another Brighton Knocker called Lee O'Donnall for duping an elderly woman out of a porcelain plaque and was jailed for around 2 years.

The appearance together at the Court April 23rd 2008 as defendants leaves me wondering if the Brighton Antiques Mafia Lawyer has been caught up some kind of Art related criminal activity ??

Perhaps someone out there could clarify why these two, Anthony Hershal Blok and Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood are appearing together ??

Heart attack on the way ????

Sounds like a job for Owen Thomas QC

Hope it is not the same Owen Thomas who passed away last April, as Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood got 10 "Not Guilties" on the spin, when represented by Owen Thomas, Ironically, the one time Owen Thomas was not representing Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood he was found guilty, on the plaque charge and recieved 2 years jail.

Heard the other day Michael (Mickey) Underwood bought a Plane...... and for the other leg he bought a Razor !!!

Stolen Art Watch, Aldsworth House Violent Robbery Mastermind, Phil Capewell, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty !!

Jury finds Antiques Plot Dealer Guilty

An Antiques dealer has been found guilty of conspiracy to handle stolen family heirlooms.

Phillip Capewell, 64, was one of three men caught with antiques stolen during a 3382,000 country house robbery.

Capewell was arrested after Christopher Doughty, 48, and Wolfgang Schmeltz, 57, arrived at his flat in Grand Avenue, Hove, on June 8, 2006.

They were carrying antiques, silver, swords and medals stolen four days earlier in a robbery at Aldsworth House, near Chichester.

Doughty and Schmeltz had driven from their homes in Southampton after Capewell agreed to buy some of the haul from them.

A jury at Hove Crown court yesterday found Capewell guilty by a majority of ten to one of conspiracy to handle the antiques knowing or believing them to be stolen.

Schmeltz and Doughty pleaded guilty to handling the antiques but deny being part of the masked gang that staged the Aldsworth House robbery.

Capewell has also been found guilty of handling antiques from four more country house raids across Sussex and the South East.

He has been cleared of handling charges after stolen antiques from three more burglaries were found at his lock up garages in Hove and Suffolk.

Capewell told the jury during the ten week trial that he bought them legitimately from other antiques dealers.

Capewell and fellow antiques dealer Daniel Brummer, 56, of Furze Hill, Hove, were cleared of conspiring to handle stolen property.

Motorway worker William Johnson, 47, from Southampton, was found not guilty of the robbery at Aldsworth House.

The trial continues...

Violent country house robbery: antiques dealer guilty of handling conspiracy

AN ANTIQUES dealer from Hove was found guilty of conspiring to handle stolen goods taken from an elderly couple during a violent robbery.

Philip Capewell (64) of Hove was convicted of conspiring with Wolfgang Schmelz and Christopher Doughty at Hove Crown Court on Monday (April 21).

Doughty and Schmelz, both of Southampton, pleaded guilty to the offence but both still stand accused of robbery.

William Johnson, also of Southampton, was charged with robbery alongside Schmelz and Doughty but was found not guilty by the jury last Friday (April 18).

During the trial, Capewell was cleared of conspiring with Daniel Brummer in handling a quantity of stolen goods including antiques taken from the robbery atAldsworth, near Emsworth. Brummer was acquitted of the offence.

Antiques were stolen from Thomas and Sarah Williams' house during the robbery between June 3 and June 9, 2006.

Mr and Mrs Williams were told they would have their fingernails taken off with pliers if they did not co-operate with the robbers.

On entering the house, the men hit Mr Williams over the head with a truncheon and then bound the couple by their ankles and wrists.

A gang took possessions worth £380,000 including medals, swords, guns silver and porcelain.

As well as taking the antiques, the men made off in the couple's dark blue Vauxhall Vectra.

Capewell was found guilty of four counts of handling stolen goods from other robberies and found not guilty for the same offence on four counts.

The jury is still deliberating on the verdicts for Doughty and Schmelz for robbery. The trial continues.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Less Jail-time if you Sing Like a Canary, become a Sewer Rat !!

2 readers have commented on this story.

BY STAFF REPORTER 15th April 2008


A 71-YEAR-old Torquay antiques dealer who acted as a fence for a gang of professional jewel thieves he nicknamed 'The Firm' has been given a 112-day jail sentence.At Exeter Crown Court Recorder Richard Stead told Kenneth Paterson that the sentence was 'very lenient'.

But the Recorder also told the pensioner: "Given the mitigating factors I do not see any purpose being served by keeping you in custody any longer."

At an earlier hearing Paterson was convicted by a jury on two charges of possessing criminal property.

Paterson was covertly filmed by an undercover police officer trying to buy two stolen rings and he was also recording dealing with the same officer who was posing as a criminal from Belfast.

The officer know only as 'John' had infiltrated an antiques business in Torquay which was being used as a front for buying and disposing of gems, heirlooms and treasures stolen in raids on properties throughout Devon.

In Operation Moonstone Linda Nichols, the owner of Upstairs Downstairs in St Marychurch, was flushed out as a major fence for stolen property in Torbay.

Paterson was a regular at the shop and it was while he was there he was introduced to John and started dealing with him.

The undercover police operation led officers to raid Paterson's home and there in a storeroom they found display cabinets full of jewellery, watches and other sentimental items stolen in the house raids.

During the trial the jury listened to victims tell how they were devastated and traumatised at being burgled and having their lifelong treasures stolen. Police found 34 stolen items worth many thousands of pounds in Paterson's storeroom.

Paterson told the court that he had acted 'foolishly' when dealing with John but was trying to get rid of items he thought were 'dodgy' because of the price he had paid for them. Of other jewellery found at his premises he said he did not know the items were stolen. He used to buy at car boot sales and markets and did not ask questions because most of his purchases were 'run of the mill' stock for his stall.

Paterson was convicted on the two charges by 10-2 majority verdicts after the jury had retired for more than seven hours spread over two days. He was cleared of three other similar charges.

Prosecutor Malcolm Galloway said Paterson had previous convictions for handling stolen goods and a burglary in Truro where he and another forced their way into a bungalow and stolen clocks, jewellery and other antiques worth £6,000.

At a previous court hearing Paterson had pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and had received a six-months prison sentence suspended for 12 months because at the time he was looking after his wife who was terminally ill with cancer.

Mr Galloway said 56-year-old Linda Nichols who ran Upstairs Downstairs in St Marychurch, Torquay had played a pivotal role in acting as a fence for gems and other valuables stolen in house raids across Devon.

It was estimated she had benefited to the tune more than £911,000 and when she admitted conspiracy to handle stolen goods and handling stolen goods she was jailed for three years.

Following his convictions on the two charges in February, Paterson was remanded in custody for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. That means that he will be released immediately from the sentence imposed yesterday. Sewer Rat !!

Reader comments
Let's not forget that in Torquay two years ago an elderly lady died from shock after a burglary instigated by theis firm - see HE reports from then. This sentence hardly refects the damage that such greedy, selfish criminals extact on our society. So he's 71? How long has he been organising and encourageing burglaries at houses of the elderly? Well done to the police for taking the sort of action that actually traps these devious people. Not community policing or putting bobbies on the beat but it needs doing all the same. What a great idea. Who was responsible for catching these people?
Frank James, Torquay

The law clearly has no regard for peoples property or he suffering caused when it is stolen from them. If this is not sending a message that it is OK to steal, I don't know what is! the sentence is as shameful as the crime.
Dee, Paignton

Man jailed for possession of stolen Royal antiques

A man has been jailed for handling stolen goods that once belonged to a relative of the Queen.

Tracey William Woods, 51 from Chislett Close in Sellindge near Ashford, was sentenced to six months behind bars after he was found in possession of more than 200 stolen antiques.

Some of the items were found to have once belonged to Lady Brabourne, daughter of the late Louis Mountbatten and cousin to the Queen.

It was discovered that many of the items were stolen during burglaries in 1998 and 2000 from her home in Mersham, near Ashford.

The antiques were seized after a search of Woods’ home was carried out in 2004.

Police then tried to find their owners, including placing them on a lost and stolen website organised by Greater Manchester Police and liaising with over 50 victims of crime who had reported similar items stolen both in Kent and Sussex.

Art Hostage comments:

Kenny Paterson gets 112 days jail-time because he is 71.

Real reason and cleverly disguised by the Judge, is because Kenny Paterson turned Sewer Rat and sung like a Canary to Police, who in turn gave the Judge a secret letter acknowledging Paterson was a Police Informant.

Tracey Woods get 6 months for 200 stolen antiques, some Royal, same reason as Paterson, Singing like a Canary for Tracey Woods, Sewer Rat number two.

Now we have Phil Capewell convicted of four charges so far, see two previous blogs, below.

Wonder if there will be a delay in sentencing Phil Capewell ?

This will allow Phil Capewell to Sing like a Canary, become a Sewer Rat, prompting Police to hand the Judge a letter ??

Upon another note, do you want to know who informed on Phil Capewell and his gang ???
Don't worry, this is already known in Brighton Underworld Antiques Mafia circles.
Consequences are the risk reward factor is so good for the Art and Antiques criminals, no wonder Art and Antiques theft is now the crime of choice for all manner of criminals, be they drugged up burglars right up to former armed robbers, who see the risk reward factor much higher than robbing "Cash in Transit" Security vans.

All will be revealed this week.........

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, This Johnson Gets Justice, Unlike Cotswold Counterparts !!

One man is cleared in antiques robbery trial

A motorway worker has been cleared of taking part in a violent robbery.

William "Billy" Johnson, 47, was accused of being one of the three men who raided Aldsworth House, near Chichester, on June 4, 2006.

Owners Tom and Sarah Williams' were tied up and held prisoner as the raiders spent six hours ransacking their home.

One of the intruders threatened to pull out Mr Williams' fingernails with pliers unless he co-operated.

The gang escaped with antiques worth £382,000 including the retired Army Major's treasured medals.

Walter Hornsby, prosecuting, told the court that Johnson, of Oxford Avenue, Southampton used Mr Williams' bank card hours after the raid.

It was claimed that grainy images from CCTV cameras showed him at a One Stop shop cashpoint in Salisbury Green, Southampton. Johnson said he was asleep at his mothers home where he had been all night when the raid took place.

Jurors found him not-guilty of robbery yesterday after a nine-week trial at Hove Crown Court.

They are still considering verdicts in respect of Wolfgang Schmelz, 57 and Christopher Doughty, 48, both from Southampton, who deny robbery.

Former Brighton Knocker Boy, now described as an Antiques dealer, Phillip Capewell, 64, has been found guilty of four charges of handling stolen property from burglaries across Sussex and the South East.

Capewell, of Grand Avenue, Hove, was cleared of five further charges of handling stolen antiques.

He and fellow Antiques dealer Daniel Brummer, 56, of Furze Hill, Hove, were cleared of conspiracy to handle stolen property.

The jury is still considering its verdict on a charge that Capewell conspired with Schmelz and Doughty to handle stolen antiques from Aldsworth House.

Schmelz and Doughty have admitted one charge of handling stolen antiques from the raid.

Art Hostage comments:
I will go further after the final verdicts, but for now I want to say that Daniel Brummer was innocent all along and it is good to see him cleared of any wrongdoing.

The only thing Daniel Brummer is guilty of is being too trusting and I wish him well in the future.

"Hang on a minute Art Hostage, you said all Antiques dealers are dishonest"

I hear coming from the stalls.

Well, not all, there is a rare breed of Antiques dealer, accounting for less than 10% of the Antiques trade, who play by the rules and work very hard to make a living. Daniel Brummer is just such a chap, straight as a gun barrel, but a little too trusting, hence why he has been caught up in this whole nightmare.

As for Billy Johnson, after considering the evidence against him, the jury acquitted him because there was sufficient reasonable doubt.

The other Johnson trial ended with a different verdict, even though the evidence was less than convincing, and large chunks were denied to to the defence, see link and comments at end of story:

Postcode Justice ???
Anyway, more to come when the final verdicts are in.
Memo to Bonnie Johnson:
I have not recieved any contact from you, however, if you decide to seek my advice you can contact me at

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, South Coast Brighton Antiques Mafia, Capewell Guilty, More Verdicts coming in, Antiques Mafia Relatives react !!


Antiques dealer guilty over terror robbery case

AN antiques dealer has been found guilty of three counts of conspiracy to handle stolen goods in the trial of a violent robbery, which happened near Emsworth.
Philip Capewell (64), of Hove, was acquitted of four other counts for the same offence. The jury failed to find a verdict on two other counts of conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

It is the first verdict to be delivered by the jury in the trial of three men following a robbery at Aldsworth House, in June 2006.

Wolfgang Schmeltz (57), William Johnson (47) and Christopher Doughty (48), all from Southampton, are accused of tying up the elderly homeowners and threatening to pull out their fingernails with pliers if they were not told the whereabouts of the jewellery.

In the nine-week trial, the jury has heard how the men are alleged to have stolen £380,000-worth of antiques, including guns, medals, and jewellery from the house.

The jury was sent out on Tuesday morning and are continuing their deliberations on Friday April 18.

Art Hostage comments:

Boy, have I got news for you on the South Coast Antiques Mafia, especially Phil Capewell, who has more form than Arkle.

More verdicts are due so I will wait before revealing the truth about these so-called Brighton Antiques Mafia figures.

I want you to consider the chronology of art and antiques theft, from the intelligence gathered by Brighton Knocker Boy's to the End Art collectors in America, Asia and Europe.

From top to bottom there is a dishonest chalk-line running through the Art and Antiques trade, therefore one could come to the valid conclusion, the whole Art and Antiques trade is rotten to the core.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Hobbs Hung Out to Dry by Establishment !!

BADA suspend member pending inquiry
14 April 2008

The British Antique Dealers’ Association have suspended the membership of John Hobbs pending an inquiry into the allegations made against the Pimlico Road dealer in a national newspaper.

In an article that made the front page of April 6's Sunday Times, it was alleged that Mr Hobbs had sold as genuine antiques, objects that were largely the creation of his restorer Dennis Buggins. Photographs appeared in the paper of a parquetry wardrobe and four lion-carved monopedia legs that were cannibalised to produce a side table described as Italian, early 19th century on John Hobbs' website.

Mr Hobbs, who says the table was not for sale and should not have been on his site, strongly denies any wrong-doing or ever knowingly selling a fake.

The information for the article came from Mr Buggins, a Kent-based restorer who also traded in architectural salvage as Extreme Architecture and recently sold much of his stock at auction.

Mr Buggins, who is currently involved in a legal dispute with Mr Hobbs, told the paper he only recently discovered that the replica and revamped antiques he says he produced had been offered for sale as original pieces.

The BADA's code of practice says that for an item to be sold as antique it should be "in substantially the same condition as when originally made" and "not added to or altered to any material extent". Mark Dodgson, deputy secretary general of the association, told ATG it has been more than a decade since the BADA faced such potentially damaging allegations about one of their members. "The article is not good publicity for the trade but we want to be fair. These are, as The Sunday Times conceded, simply allegations at this stage," he said.

A panel has not yet been formulated nor is it clear how the investigation will be carried out.

Art Hostage comments:

John Hobbs, now read this very carefully and consider this in your future decisions.

John Hobbs, your spectacular fall from grace is certain and the speed of fall will be up to you.

You must realise that this whole thing is going to take on a life of its own and there will be criminal investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.

O'h yes, FBI Icon Robert Wittman is watching carefully and will strike when the time is right.

Denice Buggins is about to sing like a Canary for immunity and will implicate everyone he has had contact with, also pointing authorities in the right direction of stolen high value antiques housed in collections in America as well as Europe the far East and Australia, not to mention the Middle East.

Top end Antiques dealers will be falling like domino's and be prosecuted for their dishonest dealings.

Now most of these guys are not that staunch so will start singing like Canaries to save their skin.

John Hobbs, before you go back to selling Soiled Beds from the North End Road, London, you should consider being the first to sing like a Canary to the FBI Art Crime Team, FBI Agent Robert Wittman in particular. Bob will catch the Red Eye from Philly and meet you in New York to firm up things.

John Hobbs, you will need to be straight as a gun barrel with Bob Wittman and tell him where all the stolen and altered antiques are housed across America.

Sorry to be brutal John Hobbs, but You ARE going down, so take them all with you, you know where the bodies are buried !!!

Trust me when I say this is going to be the Mother of all scandals that will rock the High End antiques trade to its foundations.

John Hobbs, you are in the driving seat, trick is to reserve a seat for when the music stops.

Who knows, this could, in the end, endear you to the New York Female socialite set and you can claim to bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "Faking it in the Bedroom"

John Hobbs, don't take this lying down, if you will excuse the pun, especially if it's on one of those Soiled, Pissy, second-hand beds you used to sell !!

John Hobbs, Rumour has it you sold Tracey Emin her soiled bed !!

John Hobbs, your new business awaits:

John Hobbs Soiled Beds

London & New York

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Hobbs Head on a Plate, Wake up Bagpuss Rapley !!

Above, Second-hand Pissy bed salesman John Hobbs, Ghislaine Maxwell and son Rupert Hobbs

Whistleblower reveals £30m antiques scam

Christopher Owen and Jon Ungoed-Thomas

ONE of Britain’s leading furniture restorers has blown the whistle on the antique trade - revealing that he has fabricated pieces that have been offered for sale for up to £525,000 each.

Dennis Buggins, 48, has revealed that his Kent farmhouse has been operating as a production line for £30m of replica and revamped antiques for more than two decades. He claims he only recently discovered some of his work had been offered for sale as original pieces.

“We have turned out hundreds of pieces from carcasses or from scratch,” he said last week. “They have been misrepresented and a line has been crossed.”

Last week Buggins was offered £200,000 by one of his clients partly on condition that he sign a document claiming all his allegations to The Sunday Times were false. He refused.

One of the principal sellers of Buggins’s work is the London antique dealer John Hobbs, who at one stage was paying about £10,000 a week to the Kent workshop. Buggins said a number of items promoted on Hobbs’s website have been seriously misrepresented. Hobbs denies any wrongdoing. His client list is believed to have included the American billionaire collector Les Wexner, owner of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie label, the Getty family and the New York interior designer Tony Ingrao.

Much of Buggins’s work has been crafted in the exact styles of the great cabinetmakers, including Thomas Chippendale and Christian Meyer, a Russian craftsman.

In testimony to The Sunday Times, Buggins says: He has used barn planks, old furniture and brass mouldings to create or revamp antiques on sale for up to £525,000. He was commissioned to assemble a pair of “18th-cen-tury” commodes from “flat pack” components provided by Hobbs. He used plywood templates of Chippendale desks to make replicas virtually indistinguishable from the genuine item. One of his pieces – described to potential buyers as an Italian “19th-century gilt centre table” – was crafted from an old wardrobe and four old table legs. If it were authentic, it could fetch up to £100,000.

“Most people think 18th or 19th-century craftsmanship is dead, but we’ve been doing it here,” Buggins said last week.

His disclosures will cause ructions at the top of London’s antique market, where pieces can sell for more than £1m. “These pieces are like works of art and collectors insist on originality,” said one antiques expert.

Buggins says his pieces are unlikely to be detected because they are often made by cannibalising parts from genuine but low-priced antiques.

Hobbs is one of his key clients and Buggins said he recently discovered that items assembled or radically altered in the workshop were being described as original on the website for Hobbs’s gallery in Pimlico. Other outlets cannot be identified for legal reasons. Hobbs said an Italian-style table assembled by Buggins was mistakenly put on his website and described as “19th-century”. He said other pieces had been “expensively restored” and he rejected Buggins’s claims that the descriptions would mislead clients.

Hammonds, the legal firm representing Hobbs, said in a statement: “Our client has never dishonestly sold items as genuine antiques which he knew were fakes.” The Sunday Times has no evidence that Hobbs knowingly sold fakes, but he faces allegations of misrepresentation. He denies this.

Georgian furniture 'made from barn planks'

Jon Ungoed-Thomas and Christopher Owen

A SHORT drive along a muddy track from the Tudor village of Chilham in Kent, a small farm lies hidden in a dip of the landscape. The imposing oast houses where hops were once stored now harbour the secrets of another lucrative industry — the manufacture and fabrication of mock antiques.

Inside is a now silent production line where up to 30 craftsmen once worked. Unfinished “antiques” lie on the sawdust-covered floors alongside their plywood templates, while laser-cut veneer and ornate brasswork lie in packages waiting to be fixed into place.

The man who headed this highly skilled operation, Dennis Buggins, says his production line has been churning out furniture in the style of the great

cabinet-makers for two decades. He revealed last week that his pieces of furniture had been offered for sale as genuine items for up to £525,000 each

Last week he identified four items recently offered for sale in London and variously described as “Italian, early 19th century” or “George II circa 1740”. He claims these were assembled or revamped at his workshops from materials including old wardrobes, salvaged panelling and barn planks.

“Sometimes I build from scratch or I use an original piece as a blank canvas,” Buggins said last week. “It’s like cladding a building.”

One of Buggins’s main clients has been the prominent London dealer John Hobbs. He strongly denies any wrongdoing or ever knowingly selling a fake.

Buggins began as an apprentice to a Canterbury cabinetmaker at 14, and has since become a successful restorer and architectural salvage expert. His most spectacular purchase was the remnants of the Baltic Exchange, the City building bombed by the IRA in 1992, which he sold to two Estonian businessmen last year for £800,000 and shipped to Tallinn for rebuilding. He also owns the former royal box from Ascot racecourse.

For the past two decades the bulk of his income has been from his furniture restoration business based at his farm, which neighbours the Chilham Castle estate, home of spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler.

Over the years Buggins has specialised in copying the work of the great cabinet-makers, including Chippendale, and Russian craftsmen such as Christian Meyer.

He now claims this work has been seriously misrepresented and described to potential buyers as original antiques. “I would call them inventions or fakes,” he said.

A barn on another farm five miles away was rented to store hundreds of items of period furniture belonging to Buggins and his clients, which provided the raw materials — or “breakers” — for the sophisticated new creations.

A legal dispute with Hobbs forced Buggins to halt work and he is in the process of vacating the farm. Buggins claims he is owed money by Hobbs, but has become so exasperated by the legal battle that he is now exposing what he considers to be the misrepresentation of his work.

In a conservatory office, Buggins showed The Sunday Times pictures on a laptop of how his work has been offered for sale by Hobbs.

- One item is described as “a walnut and parcel gilt centre table, Italian early 19th century”. With the accompanying description, it is estimated it could have fetched £120,000. Buggins said he made it from an Italian wardrobe and four carved lion legs.

- Two mirrors are described as “a pair of looking glasses, George II circa 1740, in the manner of William Jones”. The estimated price for a genuine pair is £100,000. Buggins says he made them from panels, believed to have come from a church, with old mirrors from France. Wings were chopped off the cherubs to make them look less religious.

- A “small mahogany breakfront library bookcase, George II circa 1745” has an estimated price of £100,000. Buggins claims to have created it out of

a plain bookcase. He transformed it with a carved pediment, a band of “Vitruvian scrolls”, mahogany mouldings and rosettes.

- Buggins recently “loaded up” an old desk in Russian-style fittings, including gilded brasswork and new veneer. The desk has recently been offered for sale for £525,000 and described in Hobbs’s promotional literature as a “highly important mahogany desk” probably built in 1790 by the Russian cabinet-maker Christian Meyer.

The British Antique Dealers’ Association, which estimates the annual turnover among its dealers at £650m, says for an item to be sold as antique it should be “in substantially the same condition as when originally made” and “not added to or altered to any material extent”. Hobbs is now expected to face an investigation by the association.

One aspect of the Kent operation is revealed in a fax dated December 4, 2002. In it Hobbs states: “One important thing that I’d like to get going on are the pair of blue painted commodes. I saw in our storeroom that I have most of the components here. They are ‘flat pack’ so shouldn’t be a problem.”

Buggins claims the components he used included wall panelling and wood from an old door. He used the materials to assemble the “18th century” commodes. Hobbs denies this and says the antique commodes were genuine and had only been stored as “flat pack”.

Hobbs said this description was quite proper. “It not infrequently happens that genuine pieces are dismantled and stored in a way that could lightheartedly be described as ‘flat pack’,” he said in a statement.

Among Buggins’s claimed creations were a pair of “Irish sabre leg” commodes. Buggins said they were in fact manufactured from two old wardrobes and newly carved legs.

The commodes were displayed for a time in the gallery of Christopher Gibbs, the bon vivant art collector who is a friend of the Rolling Stones. He said last week that he had looked after the commodes temporarily but had not examined them in detail.

In an “appreciation” written by Gibbs for a Hobbs sale in New York in 2002, he wrote that the dealer’s collection was “constantly replenished with remarkable treasures gathered in from all over the globe”.

A fax written the following year, however, suggested Hobbs was more interested in producing revamped furniture. He wrote to Buggins: “My buying of items that need straightforward restoration will decrease dramatically. However, my buying of lower-priced items that need a great deal of work will be as strong as ever.”

Buggins claims that among Hobbs’s clients were the Getty family, the retail billionaire Les Wexner, and the New York interior designer Tony Ingrao. Ingrao confirmed that he had bought pieces from Hobbs, but The Sunday Times was unable to confirm whether Wexner and the Getty family were clients.

Buggins denies he was party to any wrongdoing, insisting that he was never involved in the sale process. He says he was “absolutely stunned” by the descriptions of his work.

Hobbs says the Italian-style table — which he admits was a replica — was never intended for sale. It was put on his website “by accident” and he still owns it. He says he believed the painted mirrors were genuine and had been restored to their original state by Buggins. He said some “later additions” to the mirrors were removed.

Hobbs also says the George II bookcase was in bad condition which was expensively restored. He denies it was a “radically altered piece”. Hobbs says he bought the original Russian desk for a “six-figure” sum and it required extensive restoration. He believes it was originally made by Meyer and “spent a lot of time sourcing the right veneer and mounts to restore the desk to its former glory”.

Hobbs said last week that he had never “dishonestly sold antiques” which he knew were fakes. The Sunday Times has no evidence that Hobbs has knowingly sold fakes, but it is claimed that he misrepresented to potential buyers items that were fake or substantially revamped. He denies this.

He said he was aware that Buggins made replicas, but they were accurately represented as imitations when sold.

Last week Hobbs’s lawyers offered Buggins £200,000 to settle the dispute on the condition that he sign a two-page statement — which had not been written by him — retracting all the allegations he had made to The Sunday Times. Buggins refused.

Art Hostage comments:

What Buggins fails to admit is he also changed the appearance of stolen antiques before they were then sold through the Antiques trade.

Dennis the menace has a long history of facilitating the seedy side of the Art and Antiques trade and this is a case of sour grapes because he is owed money from Hobbs.

Many dealers are wondering if Buggins will blow the whistle on their dealings and how Buggins has altered stolen high value antiques thereby allowing it to be sold to unsuspecting collectors.

Time to wake up Det Sgt Vernon "Bagpuss Bookkeeper" Rapley from his slumber.

Wake up Vernon, no it's not time for your pension, there is still work to be done.

If you apply pressure on Buggins he will provide you with details of high value stolen antiques he has worked on in the past. Ask him about the **** theft and how the said items were disguised before being sold to an American collector, who now has them displayed in his Texas home ?

Not forgetting the ***** and the ***** also the **** now housed in New York and the Hamptons.

This should be like taking candy from a baby Vernon, any problems consult Dick Ellis, who will direct you how to launch a successful prosecution, having done this before against Freddie boy Schultz and Closet Queen Jonathan Tokeley-Parry, see links below:

Those who have dealt with Dennis the Menace Buggins over the years, don't be afraid, be very very afraid !!!

Upon another note, John Hobbs has come a long way since selling Pissy beds from the North End Road.

This link shows John Hobbs being introduced to potential suckers for his made up, altered and stolen antiques

Wonder what New York society will think, knowing they have been sold either altered or stolen antiques ??

Looks like Buggins wants to be living High on the Hobb !!

Just another example of a morally repugnant antiquated trade.
Update !!!!!!!
Look carefully at the Early 19th century Italian Mantle Fireplace, below, it was taken from a house unlawfully before being sold to John Hobbs. Hobbs, after getting the Mantle cleaned and disquised, sold the Mantle to a New York socialite and it now sits in the living room of a West Side New York apartment, below !!!

As Jimmy Cricket would say "and there's more, allot more"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, For the Truth, Call Their Bluff !!

Allegory of Gluttony and Lust, we'll call it a Michael Marks/Robin Symes moment !!

Art Loss Register react to concern over ‘sting’ tactics
The Art Loss Register (ALR) have defended their decision to mislead Kent dealer Michael Marks in the Souza paintings case after members of the trade expressed strong concern at the agency’s actions.

In a statement to ATG, ALR chairman Julian Radcliffe says it was the “extraordinary circumstances” of this particular case that led to the decision not to inform Mr Marks that the paintings he enquired about at the ALR were known to be the subject of an ownership dispute.

Mr Radcliffe points out that the circumstances were so extraordinary that it was only the second time in 15 years and five million provenance searches that it had been deemed necessary to mislead an enquirer.

The ALR’s decision to mislead Mr Marks emerged during the High Court dispute between Mr Marks and the art collector Aziz Kurtha over the ownership of two paintings by Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002), valued at £300,000, that went missing from Dr Kurtha’s collection while in storage.

The judge ruled in Dr Kurtha’s favour last month, citing poor record keeping and insufficient documentation as significant factors in his finding against Mr Marks.

Although Mr Justice Tugendhat states that he does not set out the ALR’s reasons in the judgment, Mr Radcliffe says that the decision to mislead Mr Marks is fully explained in paragraphs 74-79, which detail the exchanges between Mr Marks and the ALR and how the latter’s suspicions were aroused by the urgency of the calls and other factors.

Mr Radcliffe’s more detailed explanation of the ALR’s actions comes in the wake of strong concern and criticism. Sandy Cooke, a dealer of Long Melford in Suffolk, was appalled at what he saw as the ALR’s attempt at an “entrapment sting”.

He called on Mr Radcliffe to resign, saying: “How can anybody now go to the Art Loss Register and get a truthful and honest answer to the question: ‘Is this picture unencumbered for me to proceed to purchase it?’”. That concern was echoed by art market commentator Tom Flynn who in a letter to ATG questioned whether an organisation that had a commercial interest in the recovery of stolen property was a suitable arbiter of due diligence.

LAPADA, the antiques dealers association, also expressed concern, but have since declared themselves satisfied by Mr Radcliffe’s explanation.

In the meantime, Mr Marks has written to ATG, criticising our coverage, taking issue with the High Court judgment and attacking the ALR.

It was the judgment’s detailing of what happened when Mr Marks contacted the ALR that caused much controversy when it came to light in a report in ATG No 1832, March 22. The judgment explained that Mr Marks phoned the ALR in order to check the provenance and title of Francis Newton Souza’Still Life with Chalice with Host (1953) and Head of a Portuguese Navigator (1961).

He was told there was no problem with the title of the two paintings, although, in fact, there was. Mr Radcliffe told ATG that he misled Mr Marks as he was attempting to keep lines of communication open in a bid to recover the works.

The judgment further explains: “There were features of Mr Marks’ telephone calls which were unusual from the point of view of the ALR, and caused those at the ALR to pay particular attention to his requests.”

Mr Marks disagrees with the judge’s view that his paperwork was inadequate: “The suggestion is that I had little or no documentation as to my purchase of these two paintings, whereas, in fact, I obtained a signed receipt and invoice from the dealer I bought them from on the day I collected them and paid the deposit.”

He believes the judge was more concerned “that I paid a deposit for the paintings in cash. It would seem that in these days of ever-growing fears over money laundering, the coin of the realm is now not a ‘proper’ way to conduct business”.

Mr Marks reserves particular criticism for the ALR, who he blames for much of the predicament he later found himself in. He dismisses their decision to mislead him in order to keep lines of communication open as unnecessary: “They had every detail of my business before they were asked to do the search, so any idea that I was going to run away and hide if he [Julian Radcliffe] had told me the truth was absolutely ridiculous.”

But Mr Radcliffe says that on both occasions when the ALR has had to mislead the enquirer, “our decision was justified by the information we already had”. In the former, unconnected case, he said that the decision was further justified because it led to “a lawyer’s arrest and the recovery of $1m of pictures”.

He also sets out to reassure ALR subscribers, stating that: “Bona Fide clients of the Register can search without fearing that they will be misled. The far greater risk arises if they do not search and become involved in trying to sell stolen art.”

His explanation has persuaded LAPADA chief executive Sarah Percy-Davis, who told ATG: “We initially expressed concern about a dealer being misled, but with these exceptional circumstances we now feel satisfied to recommend our members that use the ALR for their due diligence to continue to do so.”

Mr Marks is not persuaded, however: “This has been a very painful, and expensive experience, which will probably cost me my business, and a reputation which has taken 30 years of hard work to build up, and the laughable thing is that if I hadn’t contacted the ALR at all, and simply bought and sold these paintings, I would now be blissfully ignorant of the workings of the great British ‘Justice’ system, and sitting counting my profits.”

He concludes: “I will happily stand judged by my peers who, having read this, may well think ‘there, but by the grace of God…’”
Art Hostage comments:

First of all I don't blame Julian Radcliffe for trying to hoodwink Marks so that the Art Loss Register could profit from the recovery.

The whole area of stolen art recovery is Grey to say the least.

Mr Marks however, has only himself to blame for being naive.

What Marks should have done is to accept the initial Art Loss Register clean bill of health, asked for it in writing, and then called their bluff by saying he was going to sell the painting within a week to a very private collector.

Now, faced with being party to the sale of stolen art, the Art Loss Register would be forced to come clean to Mr Marks, otherwise they too would be in the frame, so to speak.

If, as I suspect, Mr Marks knew full well the status of the two stolen paintings were doggy, then he deserves everything subsequent.

Come on, Art Hostage knows, he was there for two decades, the term Honest Art and Antiques Dealer is an Oxy Moron of the highest order. Dishonesty runs right through the art and antiques trade like a historic chalk line.

From the supposed honest dealer who never reveals the true mark up on his art and antiques, up to seven, eight times price paid, to the burglar, dishonesty is the by-word for the Art and Antiques trade.

Of course Mr Marks knew there were problems with these paintings, price told him that.

If everything was clear and lawful the price would not have been so low.

Even burglars know the true trade prices so it is price that tells the dealer if an artwork is stolen or not.

Enough already with the hiding behind the cloak of respectability, historically, criminals, Art and Antiques dealers in particular, crave respectability when they become successful, therefore Mr Marks cry's foul from his Ivory Tower.

What is not revealed and what several high profile art dealers have conveyed to Art Hostage is Mr Marks has not been adverse to buying and selling stolen art and antiques over the years by using the "Blind Eye trick" a bit like Gays in the military, don't ask, don't tell, so if the said artwork comes up stolen the likes of Mr Marks can inform on the seller. These folks want it all ways. Again, price tells you if an artwork is stolen.

Sorry, how much was Mr Marks going to mark up the stolen paintings ??

You can't kid a kidder Mr Marks, Art Hostage, during his criminal career was not only one step ahead, but a whole Zip Code !!

You see this would not have happened to Art Hostage during his Deliciously Dishonest era, because when Julian Radcliffe said the paintings were not listed as stolen, Art Hostage would have called his bluff thereby revealing the true status.

Julian, I am right yeah !! this Marks guy knew the paintings were stolen and got caught out because his lack of cunning, and you managed to hook him because of his sheer greed !!

No good crying now Mr Marks, you came unstuck through your own blind greed that led you to the Art Loss Slaughter like a meek Lamb.

Memo to those wanting to use the Art Loss Register:

If you get a clean bill of health from the Art Loss Register and you want to test it out, tell them you intend to sell the said artwork in a week to a very private collector, quoting the Art Loss Register clean bill of health, this will soon call their bluff and you will certainly be notified of the true status within hours !!

As for cash dealings, there is no excuse if the deal is lawful to use cash.
Cash is only used in today's world by those seeking to hide the purchase or sale, be it from the Police, Customs or the taxman.

The Judge was correct in his assessment of those who deal in cash leave themselves open to loss of money and Liberty in some cases.

Cash dealings in 2008 represent dishonest dealings, get used to it and face the consequences if caught !!

So, today's side swipe goes to the Art and Antiques Dealers, rotten to the core !!

Anyone think a Seven fold mark up is fair for retail art and antiques ?

Alternatively, this could be a morally repugnant symptom of a morally repugnant antiquated trade.