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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Beware The Ides of March !!

Fifteen works of art were among property worth £2m that was stolen when three masked men forced their way into a house in Somerset.

A 47-year-old woman was tied up by the gang in the raid and was not found until 1600 GMT the following day.

The robbery happened at a home close to Redlynch, near Bruton, on Friday, a police spokesman said.

He added that the woman suffered bruising and was left "extremely shaken and distressed".

The robbers took 15 paintings, which included Endymion by George Frederic Watts and Apple Blossom by George Clausen.

They also stole some antiques, a safe containing jewellery and a green Mercedes 220.

Det Insp Jim Bigger said: "The size of the some of the items, and amount of property, stolen would suggest that a van or some other fairly sizeable vehicle would have been used."

£90,000 seized from jailed Bushey crook

Police officers seized more than £90,000 yesterday from a jailed crook and drug dealer.

Leslie Churchill, 58, of Cooks Mead, was jailed for six-and-a-half years in January for handling stolen artworks and dealing Class A drugs.

When officers raided his home they discovered not only three historic paintings but nearly £36,000 and 65,000 Euros in cash Officers appealing to St Albans Crown Court convinced a judge to order the seizure of the loot under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Two of the paintings, identified as works John Thomas Serres (1821) and Frances Cotes' (1764) have been returned the national art collection and Somerset House.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Lord Maurice Taylor, Jailed for a Carpet, (Three years) !!

A LORD convicted of knowingly selling a fake LS Lowry-style painting has been jailed for three years.
Lord Maurice Taylor, aged 61, of Kermincham, near Congleton, was found guilty of six charges of fraud at Chester Crown Court earlier this month.
The charges related to a Lowry-style mill street scene painting. He was cleared of one charge of forging an invoice relating to the painting.
The lord, who bought his title of Lord Windsor Taylor for £1,000 off the internet, made several hundred thousand pounds and tricked Bonham's auctioneers into believing the painting was genuine.
He was sentenced today at Chester Crown Court.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Versace, Dr No, We Will Never Dr No !!

Painting in Versace sale was 'stolen'
When the list of items offered in the sale catalogue for tonight's auction of the late designer Gianni Versace's possessions was announced, Lot 72 was billed as the star item.

A "newly-discovered" 18th century masterpiece by the German neoclassical artist Johann Zoffany, it was described by Sotheby's experts as "rare", "important" and "exciting".

But, last night, embarrassed organisers withdrew the item from the auction, amid fears it was stolen. The portrait of Major George Maule was one of 550 pieces of furniture and works of art from Versace's Lake Como Villa up for sale.

However, following the publicity, it is understood that descendants of Major Maule contacted the authorities claiming that the painting had been stolen 30 years ago – 15 years before Versace, who it is said did not realise the work was by a celebrated artist, bought it. The relatives telephoned the Art Loss Register, which identifies stolen works, which in turn alerted Sotheby's and itagreed to withdraw it.

A spokeswoman for the Art Loss Register confirmed it was investigating the suggestion that the painting was stolen. A spokesman for Sotheby's simply said: "Lot 72 has been withdrawn with the full agreement of Sotheby's consignor."

The total worth of the items on sale was expected to exceed £2m and the Zoffany painting was considered the centrepiece of the sale.

Zoffany, a favourite of George III, completed the portrait in 1783. The painting had a guide price of £40,000-60,000 but organisers hoped it would fetch more.

Art Hostage comments:

Strange, how every so often stolen art comes to light when a celebrity or public figure dies and their estate is auctioned.

Of course they never knew the art was stolen and they are just mere victims of a dishonest art trade. Enough firewalls to protect integrity.

Or could, the buying of stolen art be something "Deliciously Dishonest" for mega wealthy people to get their rocks off ??

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Robber, Minimum Five Years Jail !!

Thug jailed for Lowry raid
March 17, 2009

A RUTHLESS thug who did not have "the wit" to carry out a £1.7 million raid on an LS Lowry art dealer was jailed indefinitely.

Violent Casey Miller, a career criminal was simply a 'useful piece of muscle' hired by the gang to terrify Ivan Aird, 43, and his family during the raid, Manchester Crown Court was told.

An iron pumping body builder who took steroids to add to his bulk, Miller, 23, pretended to be a postman so Mr Aird's wife, Louise, 42, opened the door carrying their two-year-old daughter Sabrina, at the family home in Cheadle, Cheshire.

Miller, who has a 'shocking record for violence' burst in holding a 10in knife to her face. The family were threatened they would be killed by Miller while three gang members scoured the property taking the 'cream' of Mr Aird's collection of LS Lowry treasures.

These included Tanker Entering The Tyne, and The Viaduct, worth £700,000 alone.

Today Miller, who is already serving a four-year sentence for grievous bodily harm, was given an indeterminate prison sentence for public protection.

It means he will stay in jail until the parole board thinks he is no longer a risk to the public and must serve a minimum of five years and one month before he can be considered for release.


Jailing Miller, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, Recorder of Manchester, described the defendant as a 'ruthless' criminal - but did not have 'the wit' to plan the job alone.

"This was a well planned, brutally executed robbery," he said.

"I do not think you planned the raid, you had a keen interest in body building and were using illegally obtained steroids.

"You have been hired as a useful piece of muscle terrify the householders.

"It was a ruthlessly planned, professional crime in which property valued at £1.7 million was taken.

"They will never be available for anyone else to enjoy, apart form your gang's criminal customers.

"That is a loss to the wider public and especially a loss to this region."

Miller, who has 28 previous convictions for violence and robbery, told police he, 'didn't know Lowry from Adam' and denied involvement, but was convicted by a jury following a trial at Manchester Crown Court last month.

Despite his conviction he has still not told police who hired the gang - or where the paintings are now.

The three other robbers and the mastermind behind the raid are still at large - as are £1.7 million of Lowry's artworks.

Detectives believe the buyer of the stolen paintings, possibly an unscrupulous art dealer, paid the gang to carry out the robbery - then backed out because of the publicity surrounding the raid.

Miller was only arrested because Mrs Aird caught sight of his face during the robbery.

Hours after the raid on May 3, 2007, she provided an e-fit to police with an "exceptionally good likeness".

The case was featured on BBC TV's Crimewatch - and police got a tip-off the man they wanted was Miller.

He was arrested and Mrs Aird picked him out at an identity parade.


Mr's Aird told the court the raid was a 'horrifying and degrading ordeal' in which she feared for the life of her family.

Mr Aird had known LS Lowry as a boy and the artist was a friend of the family.

He became a leading specialist in Lowry's work's and ran a business, Grove Fine Art, from the house.

Although he advertised on the internet, he did not publicise his home address as his home was effectively a gallery.

Detectives suspect whoever put the robbery gang together may have posed as a buyer and decided the Aird's were a soft target.

Mr and Mrs Aird sat in the public gallery today as Miller was jailed.

Outside court, Mr Aird said: "God knows where the paintings are now. It is impossible to say. I just think it has been done to order."

DC Chris Barnes, of Greater Manchester Police, said a £70,000 reward was still on offer for information on the raid.

He added: "It is an ongoing investigation. There are three other dangerous criminals out there and these paintings are national art treasures.

"It was a line of inquiry they were stolen to order and because of the publicity the buyer backed out.

"I personally think they are still in existence. I don't think they have been destroyed. Somebody knows where they are. "Everybody in the art world knows these paintings have been stolen... unless there is an unscrupulous art dealer out there who wants them on his walls."
Art Hostage comments:
Ivan Aird sails very close to the wind and seems to have gotten away with it up until now.
After this terrible robbery Ivan Aird claimed over £800,000 from the insurance company for his lost Lowry paintings.
However, those Lowry paintings are alleged to be fraudulent copies and Ivan Aird turned a nightmare for his family into a profitable enterprise.
To see Ivan Aird interviewed leaves one with the opinion Ivan Aird is a limp-wristed, effeminate, weakling, or is that just an act ??

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Scream just a Bad Memory as Norwegian Police "Quickly" Recover Stolen Cranach !!

Police recover painting by German 15th-century master

Oslo - Norwegian police Thursday continued investigations of a painting by German master Lucas Cranach The Elder, that was recovered on Wednesday after its theft over the weekend. The painting, worth at least 15 million kroner (2.1 million dollars), was stolen over the weekend from Larvik Church, some 105 kilometres southwest of Oslo.

Investigators were trying to secure possible DNA traces from the painting.

Police on Wednesday evening announced the recovery of the painting, hours after they said they had arrested a 51-year-old man on suspicion of involvement in the theft.

Police believe several people were involved in the theft of the painting, titled Let The Children Come To Me.

A Norwegian insurance company Tuesday posted a reward worth 500,000 kroner for information securing the safe return of the over 400-year-old painting.

However, detective Jorn Lier Horst told Norwegian news agency NTB that no reward would be paid since the recovery was the result "of good police work."

Church council chairman Ludvig Levinsen told local media that the congregation was extremely relieved that the painting was recovered so quickly.

The theft has sparked a debate on the need to improve security of valuable art in churches and other public buildings.

Cranach (1472-1553) was a German Renaissance painter who made several portraits of German theologian and church reformer Martin Luther. He also illustrated the Bible that Luther translated into German.

Art Hostage comments:

The Norwegian police reacted quickly having the nasty experience of the Scream thefts as a historical backdrop.

This quick recovery shows by collating information and utilising all resources stolen art can be recovered quite quickly after the initial theft.

If the first month goes by without any firm leads then a cat and mouse game commences, because it is within the first month the stolen art gets passed around before going deep into the Underworld. Then normally within the first year enquires are made as what is on offer for the return of the stolen art.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, FBI Bronco Busters !!

RIVIERA BEACH — Police say they found two stolen sculptures worth nearly $4 million Thursday.

The two statues - a $3 million piece called "The Bronco Buster" by Frederic Remington and a $675,000 sculpture called "The Falling Man" by Auguste Rodin - were stolen from a Singer Island condo in the Tiara condominium building in 2006, according to a Riviera Beach police report.

The owner tried to find the thief on his own and just reported the crime to police on Feb. 26 of this year, said city spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown.

Riviera Beach police and Federal Bureau on Investigations agents investigated the thefts until a tip led them to a home in Palm Beach Gardens, Brown said. There they found both statues. The statues have been taken into police custody.

The home where the statues were found and its occupants were not identified by police. Nobody has been arrested, but Brown said police are still investigating and charges are pending. She would not disclose what the owners of the home told police about how they obtained the multi-million-dollar artwork.

Rodin was a French sculptor who died in 1917 and is most widely known for his "Thinking Man" sculpture. Remington was an American painter and sculptor who died in 1909 and is best known for his artwork on the American West.

Police detain men suspected of Zrzavý, Spála art theft

Hradec Kralove, East Bohemia, March 9 (CTK) - The police have arrested two men suspected of the theft of valuable works by Czech painters Jan Zrzavy and Vaclav Spala from the museum in Novy Bydzov, east Bohemia, last November, and secured the paintings, police told journalists Monday.

One of the men was stealing on the spot, the other one allegedly organised the theft.

The police have also found four out of six stolen books, 18 out of 23 historical coins and most of jewels stolen.

Zrzavy (1890-1977) and Spala (1885-1946) are among the most prominent Czech modern painters.

Detectives did not rule out the possibility that some objects have already ended up abroad.

The two men, both of them unemployed with a criminal record, face up to 12 years in prison, if found guilty. They have been taken into custody.

Pavel Hochman, deputy head of the regional state attorney's office in Hradec Kralove, said if the total value of the objects stolen exceeded five million crowns, the perpetrators may face up to 15 yeas in prison, if found guilty.

Theft of valuable works of art is relatively rare in east Bohemia.

In 2003 thieves stole six paintings by Josef Capek (1887-1945) from the museum in Male Svatonovice, causing a damage of 6.5 million crowns. The thieves were caught and sent to prison for 8.5 to nine years in 2005.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Fake, Lord Windsor Guilty, Ivan Aird next, Hopefully !!

Conman guilty of Lowry fraud

A CONMAN who duped an art dealer into buying a fake LS Lowry painting for £330,000 has been convicted of fraud.

Lord Maurice Taylor, who bought his title on the internet for £1,000, convinced four art experts that the 'Mill Street Scene' was an original oil painting by the Manchester artist.

He told Bonhams Auctioneers he had been given the painting by an industrialist in the late 1960s in payment for a debt.

After examining the painting they valued it at about £400,000.

Art dealer David Smith, managing director of Neptune Fine Arts, which specialises in Lowry, was also convinced of its authenticity and agreed to buy the painting for £330,000 at a meeting with Taylor in The Ritz hotel in London in 2007.


He later learned the 'Mill Street Scene' was a well known fake on the Manchester art scene and phoned the police.

Taylor, 60, had bought the painting, a depiction of a snowy northern industrial landscape with characteristic 'matchstick' figures, for £7,500 just three years before from another Manchester art dealer.

He then invented the story about its origin to fool the art world into believing it had provenance.

Taylor, who lives in a mansion near Congleton, Cheshire, was found guilty of six counts of fraud after a two-week trial at Chester Crown Court.

He was cleared of one count of doctoring a receipt.

Judge Roger Dutton said : "You have been revealed . . . as a fraud, a cheat and a thoroughly dishonest man.

"You will have to be dealt with for a whole series of very serious frauds from which you have benefited very substantially indeed.

"You have gained several hundreds of thousands of pounds out of your deception."


Judge Dutton said Taylor could expect to receive a 'substantial' prison sentence when he returned for sentencing on March 20, after pre-sentence reports had been compiled by the probation service.

He said: "There is a lot about your background I simply don't understand and I would like some help from the probation service because to my mind you are a bit of an enigma."

Taylor, who drives a Range Rover with the registration plate CLA55Y sometimes calls himself Lord Windsor. He bought his title on the internet, complete with an eight-square inch estate in Devon, in 2000 after making money through a cloth business.

The 'Mill Street Scene', complete with forged LS Lowry signature, was examined by two experts from Bonhams, the third largest auctioneers in the world, and two specialist art dealers.

They all believed it was genuine, and Bonhams gave Taylor a note allowing him to insure it for £600,000. That valuation, along with the painting and Taylor's story about being given the painting by Manchester industrialist Eddie Rossenfeld, convinced Mr Smith it was real, the court was told.

But, crucially, meetings to allow experts from The Lowry Centre at Salford Quays to examine the work were cancelled on three occasions.


Former head of galleries at The Lowry, Lindsay Brooks, told the court the painting was not a Lowry. She said by 1964, the date on the canvas, Lowry's style had evolved and questioned the red lampposts, the lack of fluidity in the middle distance and muddy skies.

Taylor had bought the painting from dealer Martin Heaps, through another dealer and friend Ivan Aird, whose father framed Lowry paintings.

Mr Heaps confirmed to the court he sold the work as an 'After Lowry'.

Taylor, who has an art collection at his home, maintained he believed the painting was genuine but admitted telling 'little white lies' about its history.

It was possibly painted in the 1960s by another Manchester artist, Arthur Delany, who was influenced by Lowry and was known to produce paintings in his style and sign them LS Lowry.

Art Hostage comments:

Comments to follow...................