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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Lawyer Guilty, Tony's Head on the Blok, Update, 4, Four Years Jail time !!

Breaking News

The Bruce Cutler of the British Underworld, Anthony Herschel Blok, former senior partner of solicitors firm Sears Blok, was today found guilty on six charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the first three charges relating to the painting 'Girls on the Beach' by Sir William Orpen.

Prosecuting council Ms. Amanda Pinto QC, council for the defence Mr. Michael Wolkind QC.
Art Hostage comments:
Back-story here:
more to follow.........................
Tony Blok will be sentenced today, Wednesday 1st July 2009 at 3.00pm by the Honourable Mr Justice Bean at Croydon crown court.
Word coming through Anthony Hershel Blok today received a Prison sentence of Four years .

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Mission Accomplished or Premature Ejaculation ???

Net closes on the Pink Panther robbery gang

Formed in the wilds of Balkans bandit country in the aftermath of the Yugoslav civil war, an elite gang of jewel thieves have become a target for Interpol, reports Colin Freeman

Ribboned with limestone peaks and glistening lakes, the wooded valleys of Montenegro are well known as the setting for the remake of James Bond film Casino Royale. But for Vladimir Lekic, a well-known face in local gambling joints, it seemed the local roulette wheel may not have provided enough of a jackpot.

The jobless 34-year-old was arrested two weeks ago near his home in the 15th century town of Cetinje, suspected of stealing watches worth EU 1 million from a jeweller in Germany in 2003. Neighbours describe him as an unremarkable character who usually lost more than he won - yet if detectives are to be believed, he was just the kind of shady, well-heeled gambler that 007 might meet at the blackjack table.

He stands accused of belonging to the Pink Panthers - an elite Balkans robbery crew suspected of stealing around £100 million in daring jewellery store raids worldwide.

Operating from London through to Tokyo, the Panthers' exploits read like a compendium of heist-movie scripts, combining the ingenuity of Oceans 11, the ruthlessness of Reservoir Dogs, and the snazzy Riviera locations of Inspector Clouseau's crime capers.

Believed to have been formed by smugglers and militiamen from the Balkan civil wars, they have used every trick in the jewel thief's handbook - and added several new ones.

In Paris in 2004, they waited until store staff were distracted by a visit from the French prime minister's wife before sneaking gems worth 11m euros from an unguarded safe. In Cannes, meanwhile, they put fresh paint on a public bench opposite the jewellery store to deter potential witnesses from sitting there. No less spectacular have been their getaways. In St Tropez, they headed to a waiting speedboat, while pursuing police cars remained stuck in traffic.

"I hate using the term 'professional', but you have to give them some grudging respect," said John Shaw, of Paris-based loss adjusters SW Associates, which is involved in asset recovery efforts for stolen jewellery. "We have seen some robberies where they have certainly shown some skill."

Now, though, after a decade in which they have notched up some of the biggest robberies on record - their 2003 raid on Graffs in London's New Bond Street was Britain's biggest successful diamond heist - the net finally seems to be closing in.

Mr Lekic's arrest was followed by another raid a week ago, when a 30-strong squad of armed police pounced on three suspected Panthers as they sat in a black Audi 4x4 outside Monaco's Monte Carlo Casino. "They were hard-looking men, but dressed in designer casual wear and sunglasses," said a source in the principality. ""The square is full of jewellery shops, and it seemed they were planning an armed raid."

The trio are now in Monaco's Maison d'Arrêt prison, where they are being held in the "Category A" unit. French officials are mindful of how a previous Panther, ex-soldier Dragan Mikic, escaped from a Lyon jail in 2005 after accomplices raked a watchtower with machinegun fire. While the guards' attention was turned, Mikic fled out of a window using a fold-up ladder.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that the Monaco swoop was launched on a tip-off from gang members arrested elsewhere and intelligence pooled by detectives Europe-wide. Just days before, a Russian suspected of "casing" Monaco targets for the Panthers was arrested on the roof of Zegg et Cerlati, another jewellers in the main Monte Carlo square.

And last month, two more suspected gang members, Zoran Kostic, 38, and Nicolai Ivanovic, 36, were arrested at a cheap hotel in Paris's Pigalle red-light district. Mr Kostic, whose "wanted" photo shows him dressed as a businessman, is described by police as a "big fish" in the organisation. He too, hails from Cetinje, as did the men convicted of the New Bond Street raid.

The Paris arrests came just two months after detectives from 16 different countries met in Monaco as part of "Project Pink Panthers", a working group set up by Interpol in 2007.

"The criminal gang is a transnational crime group believed to include at least 200 individuals responsible for more than 90 robberies in 19 countries since 1999, with the value of stolen jewellery estimated at well over 100 million Euros," said an Interpol spokesman.

While Mr Kostic and Mr Ivanovic are being quizzed over raids in Monte Carlo, Le Touquet and Geneva, police also hope they may also be to shed light on alleged Panther robberies in Dubai, the US and Japan.

Among the detectives' priorities is locating the Panther's most spectacular prize to date, the Comtesse de Vendome, a 125-carat necklace of 116 diamonds worth around £20 million. It was stolen from a Tokyo jewellers in 2004, where raiders arrived on bicycles and disguised themselves with anti-pollution masks, using tear-gas to subdue store staff.

The Panthers got their nickname after a £500,000 diamond stolen during the New Bond Street raid was later found hidden in a jar of face cream, copying a tactic used in the original 1963 Pink Panther film, starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Legend has it that the robbers liked the comparison, and have occasionally carryied out raids dressed in trademark pink shirts.

Admittedly, as with most good crime capers, this is where the fact begins to blur with fiction. Indeed, some claim that the Pink Panther gang as such exists purely in the minds of Flying Squads who have watched too many heist movies, and suspect it is nothing more than individual Balkans criminals acting entirely alone.

Yet frequently, the trail seems to lead back to Cetinje, which, for a town with a population of only 17.000, appears to have a surprisingly large alumni of armed robbers.

Some investigators believe that up to 30 of the original gang members hailed from Cetinje, having turned to armed robberies after the demise of smuggling rackets during the United Nations embargo on neighbouring Serbia. The area has long had a reputation as bandit country, with Robin Hood figures revered in local folklore.

In the 1990s there was even a local expression coined for them. A "saner" (pronounced "shaner") was a thief who only robbed abroad, returning home to spend his booty and take advantage of Montenegro's lack of extradition treaties.

"Certainly the first Panthers I knew were from Montenegro," said Mr Shaw. "I would guess they got into it because they had some experience of firearms and were ballsy. Now, though, I think it has spread across the Balkans, rather than just being a particular gang."

All the same, as more Panthers end up behind bars, there may be one consolation. Russia's gangster and nouveau riche class, whose tattoed forearms and necks once provided much of the market for Panther booty, can no longer afford the stuff. "We suspect some pieces ended up being sold in Russian nightclubs," said Mr Shaw. "But now that Russia is suffering from the economic crash, that market is drying up rather."

Art Hostage Comments:

This writing off, declaring victory over the Pink Panthers reminds me of the premature ejaculation President George Bush exclaimed when he ejaculated the war in Iraq was won and it was "Mission Accomplished"

Whilst some corks have been suppressed in the barrel of water, others will pop up, such as those nearing the end of prison sentences.

Remember, the prison sentences handed out over the last few years to Pink Panthers range from a few years to the fifteen years given to Dragan Mikic in absentia.

Whilst those on point within the Pink Panthers take the hits and serve jail time, those behind the curtain remain untouched.

So, whilst these latest arrests may provide a lull, the Doldrums will not last forever, unless of course some of the potential EU membership loans given to Montenegro and Serbia are slipped sideways to the Pink Panthers, via their political paymasters as a deliciously dishonest payment of Danegeld.
Or put another way by Butch Cassidy in film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
"It would be cheaper for the Railway to pay me not to rob their trains"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Harry Winston Paris, Smoke and Mirrors, Update !!!!

'World's Best Robbers' Arrested in Paris

PARIS—It took just a little more than six months to the French Brigade for the Repression of Banditry (BRB) to track down the gang that stole 85-million euros (US$120 million) worth of jewels on December 4, 2008, in Paris.
Nicknamed the “World’s best robbers” and “Gentlemen robbers” by a sometimes easy-worded press, the gang’s loose and relaxed mode of action had created a sensation: in broad daylight, the robbers quietly raided the prestigious Harry Winston story near the Champs Elysees—some of them dressed as women.

They knew precisely the name of the employees, their personal address, the location of the most valuable jewels, and they cared little about operating in the most heavily guarded district of French capital city.

British insurance company Lloyd's of London had offered US$1 million to anyone who would help recover the stolen jewels.

80% of all jewels—rings, necklaces, luxury watches—have been retrieved, announced Helene Dupif, head of the BRB, at a press conference, while 22 suspects, aged 23 to 65, remain in custody.

“Most of these people have a very heavy [judiciary] past, they are suspected to have committed other thefts and to gradually have taken more and more guts,” AFP quoted Dupif. “The good point however is that in the long run they have been making mistakes, and we did exploit these.”
The starting point of the “jackpot” discovery by French police was the surveillance of one of Harry Winston’s security agents suspected to have taken part in the theft. After months of surveillance, the French police decided to act upon authorization from Judge Corinne Goetzmann right when a deal was to be made between the robbers and a buyer arriving from Israel.

During their raid on Monday, June 22, BRB forces also found nearly 1 million euros in 50 and 100 euro bills, meaning that part of the jewels have already been sold. An AK-47 assault rifle and several guns were also found in the Paris 18th district apartment used by the gang.

Le Monde newspaper reports that the owner of the house where most jewels were found is a 45 year-old French citizen, probably the group’s leader. This comes to most as a surprise since the Pink Panthers, a gang from the Balkans, was widely suspected since Winston employees had testified that the cross-dressed gang members had a foreign accent. In the end, according to currently available information, all would be French natives.

“Let us acknowledge the quality of their work,” said Christian Flaesch, head of the Paris judiciary police, interviewed by Le Monde newspaper. “These may be the same guys, or be part of the same network as those who committed the first robbery at Winston,” he said, referring to a previous US$20 million theft in the same Harry Winston story in October 2007.

It is a new success for the BRB. In the past months, the elite squad successfully arrested suspects of previous spectacular robberies. In March, they caught a woman who had stolen a prestigious ring from The Maison Cartier and replaced it by a fake one in a luxury store at Place Vendome in Paris, and in May, two suspected members of the Pink Panthers gang were arrested.

The December 2008 Harry Winston robbery is the most important in French history, only second to the world record—a US$100 million diamond theft in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2003.

Art Hostage Comments:

Don't be too quick to dissmiss a Modus Vivendi between these guys and the Pink Panthers.

When the truth comes out about the circumstances of this heist and the recovery process it will leave the public wondering "who are the good guys and who are the bad guys !!!"
Fourteen people have been referred to prosecutors in Paris Thursday and Friday in the investigation into the robbery record (85 million euros) to the Harry Winston jewelry in Paris, it was learned from a judicial source.

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers Treated as Financial Terrorists, Rather Than Financial Nationalists !!

Manhunt yields arrest of Eastern European criminal
Apprehended suspect in 'Pink Panther' style heist

Monaco police arrested at least one suspected member of the "Pink Panther" international jewel thieves, investigators said. And two other men arrested with him are also suspected to be members of an Eastern European crime syndicate involved in thefts, drug and human trafficking, murder and kidnappings.

Officials at Monaco's ministry of public security refused to comment on what progress they were making in their questioning of the Eastern Europeans citing the ongoing investigation across the border of 8 countries.

The three were picked up on Thursday as they were parking in Monte Carlo's Place du Casino, where several jewellery shops are located. Police threw the men to the ground and had to use taser guns to subdue the thugs. The police action, which appeared to have come just in time to prevent yet another robbery in the Principality, drew huge crowds of spectators who ostensibly applauded the police conduct and success.

Interpol has been coordinating the work of several police forces to track down the gang, thought to number around 60 members.

The group is suspected of having carried out raids in the Mediterranean millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo, the French Channel resort of Le Touquet, as well as in Germany and the Swiss cities of Lausanne and Geneva. It has also been linked to robberies as far afield as the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, where the 'Panthers' carried out a spectacular heist.

In October 2008, Monaco police arrested two suspected members of the "Pink Panther" in the same square. Two Montenegrins, suspected "Pink Panther" members, were jailed for 14 years each by a French court earlier this month on charges relating to forged papers.

And on Sunday, Montenegrin police, acting on an Interpol warrant, arrested Vladimir Lekic, another suspected member of the gang, at his home in the central town of Cetinje.
Art Hostage Comments:
Dragan Mikic and the Pink Panthers are not financial Terrorists they are are Financial Nationalists.
If proof of this were needed then one only has to ask the question
"Why would Dragan Mikic and the Pink Panthers carry on with these jewel and art heists as they already have accumulated considerable wealth ??"
There are much easier ways to make millions from drugs and arms, especially as these guys have military training.
No, the real reason why the Pink Panthers carry out these heists is to draw attention to the fact Serbia and Montenegro should be allowed to join the EU.
Rather than send suicide bombers to highlight the Serbian and Montenegrin cause, these guys are much more subtle and act in a manner that makes the general public sort of admire the sheer audacity and cunning of these Pink Panthers.
Art Hostage has said it many times, allow Serbia and Montenegro into the EU and all Pink Panther activity will cease.
On the subject of the stolen Swiss paintings, Cezanne, Degas and two Picasso's, they were not taken for profit they were taken to highlight the injustice of both Serbia and Montenegro being denied entry into the EU and they will appear once EU membership is forthcoming.
To be continued....................................

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Harry Winston, Thieves and Handlers Rounded Up, Swiss Picasso's, Degas and Cezanne Next, Update, Dragan Mikic Monaco Man !!

French police arrest 25 suspects linked to Harry Winston jewel robbery in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French police arrested 25 suspects Monday in connection with last year's multimillion-dollar robbery at Harry Winston jewelers and recovered some of the stolen rings, necklaces and watches.

The robbers, some dressed as women and wearing wigs, had grabbed euro85 million ($118 million) worth of loot Dec. 5 at the store on a fashionable street off the Champs-Elysees. It was one of France's largest jewelry thefts.

French investigators and police had been watching suspects in and around Paris for months. On Sunday, they learned foreigners were on their way to collect some of the booty, police said Monday on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about current cases.

Police decided to swoop in the suspects and arrested them Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, police said.

The robbery had taken place several weeks before Christmas when thieves, some of them dressed as women and wearing wigs, had nabbed the jewels at the store on a fashionable Paris avenue that is lined with fashion shops, a luxury hotel and fancy cafes.

The suspects range in age from 22 to 67 and include some women. Police also recovered shoulder weapons, as well as euro250,000 ($345,000) in cash.

Members of the Pink Panthers gang that operates out of the Balkans and have been involved in some other high-profile jewel thefts were originally suspects, but they appear to have been ruled out, police said.

Interior Minister Michele Alliot-Marie congratulated the police involved in the operation.

The theft lasted just a few minutes, when the armed robbers entered Harry Winston through the front door before scooping up rings, necklaces, earrings among other jewels and escaping down the Avenue Montaigne. The store, on the same street as Dior, Armani, Prada and other boutiques, has been the target of thieves on several other occasions.

Art Hostage Comments:
Remember Art Hostage said look in the South Suburbs of Paris for the Harry Winston haul ??
French Police pulled out all the stops and were given a free reign by none other than French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
The Pink Panthers pissed off Nicholas Sarkozy in January 2009 when they robbed his ex-wife Cecilia Attias of her jewels, bad move guys !!!
Art Hostage tried to warn the Pink Panthers back in January they had gone too far and they should have returned the jewels stolen from Nicholas Sarkozy's ex-wife.
The French Police approached this as if they were investigating a terrorist organisation and seemed to have come up trumps. A security guard at Harry Winston was among those arrested as well as local gangsters with affiliations to Pink Panthers.

The news blackout on the identity of those arrested in Monaco played a part and it was only when leaks started to emerge French Police were forced to move in.

Exactly how much of the Harry Winston haul was recovered will emerge over the next few days.

Also, expect a breakthrough on the paintings stolen in Switzerland February 2008 which include Cezanne's Boy in the Red Vest a Degas and the two Picasso's on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hanover.

Those trying to deal for these stolen paintings will discover they are about to be arrested as they show the paintings to a potential buyer.

As soon as any of the stolen Swiss paintings see the light of day Police will swoop and arrests will be made.

Don't say you were not warned, no good crying when you are under arrest, it's your own fault for not consulting Art Hostage.
Should have stuck to making a deal in Belgrade, Serbia !!!
Update: Word From Serbia, Dragan Mikic is Monaco Man !!!!
P.S. Temple Newsam clock,
Recovered, arrests to follow !!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Dragan or Jelly, Sacrificed by Political Paymasters ???

Three suspected Pink Panther gang members arrested in Monaco

Three suspected members of the "Pink Panther" gang of international jewel thieves were in custody on Saturday following a daring police swoop outside the Monte Carlo Casino.

By Peter Allen in Paris
Published: 4:00PM BST 20 Jun 2009

Police said one of the men was a Serb on the group's "Most Wanted" list, prompting speculation that he could be Dragan Mikic, the gang's fugitive boss who escaped from prison in 2005.

The Pink Panther group is believed to be behind the theft of some £150 million worth of goods from luxury stores around the world during the past two decades.

Many of the group's members are ex-soldiers from eastern Europe with past convictions for violence - and a reputation for some of the most glamorous heists in criminal history.

Specialist police carrying machine guns and stun grenades surrounded the men's 4x4 Porsche on Thursday after it pulled up outside the world famous casino in the billionaire's playground of Monaco .

"It was broad daylight when their vehicle pulled up in Casino Square late in the morning," said a source in the principality.

"They were hard-looking men, but very well dressed in designer casual wear and sunglasses.

"The square is full of jewellery shops, and it appeared that the men were planning an armed raid. Their 4x4 parked alongside Ferraris and Bentleys, whose owners were shopping or visiting the casino.

"But as soon as one of the men got out of the car all hell broke lose. Armed police appeared from everywhere, shouting orders and telling the men to lie on the ground.

"There could have been a shoot-out but the police did a brilliant job. The men were handcuffed and whisked away to a secure prison within minutes."

The gang made its name in 1993 after stealing a £500,000 diamond from a jewellers in London's Mayfair and hiding it in a jar of face cream, copying a tactic used in the 1963 Pink Panther film, tarring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, and earning the group its nickname.

The sophisticated members - all are said to speak several languages and travel on genuine passports issued to other people - have since carried out around 120 heists across the globe, including further thefts in London, as well as in Paris , Dubai , Geneva , Monaco and Tokyo .

Last year a court in Chambéry, south-eastern France, found three Serb members of the Pink Panthers guilty of robberies in Biarritz, Cannes, Courchevel and Saint-Tropez.

Boban Stojkovic, 35, and Goran Drazic, 35, were respectively handed down six-year and ten-year sentences.

The gang's mastermind, Dragan Mikic, 33, who could be among the three alleged members captured on Saturday, was sentenced in absentia to 15 years.

Mikic, who is said to carry a .375 Magnum hand gun at all times, has been on the run since escaping via a ladder from a French prison in 2005, as accomplices peppered the compound's watch tower with machinegun fire.

The Pink Panthers' attention to detail led one criminologist describing their work as "artistry".

In Biarritz , for example, they applied fresh paint to a bench opposite the jewellery store they were about to rob to deter potential witnesses from sitting on it.

In 2005, they raided a Saint-Tropez jewellers dresssed in flowery T-Shirts before escaping in a speed boat.

In 2008, eight Pink Panthers rammed two limousines through the front window of a luxury shopping mall in Dubai to break into the Graff jewellers, escaping with £8 millon worth of watches and gems.

Christophe Haget, judicial police chief in Monaco, said: "Their cold determination is only matched by their highly meticulous mode of operation. No fortress scares them."

Interpol, the international police organisation, said there may be as many as 200 Pink Panther criminals, most Serb or Montenegrin nationals with military experience.

A Monaco police spokesman said: "Following a police raid on Thursday, three suspected jewel thieves are in custody. They are being questioned pending charges."

Art Hostage Comments:

Art Hostage cannot get confirmation if it is Dragan Mikic or Radovan Jelusic.

Art Hostage has been told however, the main suspect is believed to be the armed robber of Chopards in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

Ironically, these recent arrests have been made possible with the co-operation of authorities in Montenegro, and to a lesser extent Belgrade, Serbia, who previously gave cover for the Pink Panthers.

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Banksy and Hitlers Bookmark !!!

'Pink Panther jewellery thief' suspect arrested in Monaco
At least one suspected member of the "Pink Panther" international jewel thieves has been arrested in Monaco.

Two other men arrested with him could also be members of the gang, investigators said.

The three, who have not been identified, were picked up on Thursday as they were parking in Monte Carlo's Place du Casino, where several jewellery shops are located.

The Pink Panthers are estimated to have staged some 120 attacks on luxury stores in around 20 countries since their first robbery in London's exclusive Mayfair district in 2003.

Interpol, the international police organisation, has said there may be as many as 200 "Pink Panther" criminals, many of whom are believed to be Serbian and Montenegrin nationals with military experience.

The group was given its nickname, a reference to the debonair gentleman diamond robber from the 1960s Pink Panther film, by British police after the 2003 robbery.

Interpol has been coordinating the work of several police forces to track down the gang, which is suspected of having carried out raids in the Mediterranean millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo, the French Channel resort of Le Touquet, as well as in Germany and the Swiss cities of Lausanne and Geneva.

It has also been linked to robberies as far afield as the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

In October 2008, Monaco police arrested two suspected members of the "Pink Panther" in the same square.

Two Montenegrins, suspected "Pink Panther" members, were jailed by a French court earlier this month on charges relating to forged papers.

And on Sunday, Montenegrin police, acting on an Interpol warrant, arrested Vladimir Lekic, another suspected member of the gang, at his home in the central town of Cetinje.

Fake Banksy art work court battle

Three people have appeared in court accused of selling fake Banksy prints and punk designer clothing.

The trio allegedly made and sold bogus art as well as what they claimed was clothing designed by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.

Grant Howard, 43, of Birdhurst Rise, South Croydon, south London, and Lee Parker, 44, of Caroline Way, Eastbourne, East Sussex, appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court yesterday charged with conspiracy to defraud.

Vesna Grandes-Howard, 32, of Birdhurst Rise, South Croydon, appeared at the same court charged with money laundering.

They are all also accused of possessing articles for use in fraud.

Howard was remanded in custody and Parker and Grandes-Howard were remanded on bail.

The trio will appear at Southwark Crown Court on August 18.

SEATTLE – A Romanian immigrant who tried to sell a stolen gold bookmark that purportedly once belonged to Adolf Hitler will spend 30 days in prison.

Christian Popescu, 38, of Kenmore was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle. He pleaded guilty in March.

Popescu will also have three years of supervised release and 90 days electronic home monitoring. He could have received up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Popescu was arrested by immigration officials in Bellevue in November 2008 after he set up a clandestine meeting with an undercover agent to sell the bookmark for $100,000.

The bookmark, believed to have been given to Hitler by his mistress, Eva Braun, was stolen from an auction house in Madrid, Spain in 2002 along with several pieces of jewelry.

It is believed Braun gave Hitler the bookmark in 1943 as consolation for his army's defeat in the battle of Stalingrad. It is inscribed, in part, with the following words from Braun: "My Adolf, don't worry … (the defeat) … was only an inconvenience that will not break your certainty of victory."

Some antiques experts have questioned its authenticity.

The bookmark is believed to have previously belonged to the family of Wilhelm Keitel. He was an armed forces chief under Hitler who was executed following the Nuremberg trials.

The Spanish auction house had paid the owner of the bookmark about $10,000 to compensate for its loss. Most of the other items stolen that day have been recovered.

At sentencing, Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said the bookmark has "great historical value for better or for worse. You had no qualms about selling it to someone who would hide it from the world.”

Popescu is a legal U.S. resident.

Art Hostage Comments:
Pink Panthers, three finger salute is key to stopping Pink Panther Gang from further heists.

Banksy forgers, whoopee, a potential scalp for Scotland Yards Art Squad whilst art theft in general soars !!!
Banksy back-story:
Hitler Bookmark, no doubt this tough jail sentence will deter others from handling stolen artifacts, not !!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Bulmer Paintings, Where Are You ???

Art Hostage wonders what happened to the stolen paintings taken from the Bulmer family earlier this year ?

Rumours aplenty.
Art Hostage values this stolen painting above, by Watts at £2 million let alone the other 14 paintings and the £1.2 million in diamonds and jewellery from the safe.
Total value of this haul was between £5 million and £10 million rather than published figure of £2 million.
To those who may have information about the whereabouts of these paintings, beware, there is no reward, no fee, just a pre-planned sting operation ready to swing into action when anyone steps forward and they will come under close scrutiny and surveillance by Police and as soon as any of these paintings see the light of day, Police will swoop and arrest all and sundry. If anyone expresses interest in buying these paintings they are an undercover police officer or they are liaising with Police to sting and no monies will ever be paid, got that !!

More to follow................................................

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Meissen Monkey Teapot Sells for Five Times Lower Estimate !!!

Remember the recent article in which Art Hostage found a near identical Monkey Teapot to that stolen from Sir Reggie Sheffield, coming up for sale at Bonhams and Butterfields in San Franscisco on June 15th ?


Well, the said Meissen Monkey Teapot Sold for $20,740 inclusive of Buyer's Premium against the estimate of $4,000-$6,000, five times lower estimate.

I'll let you know if Sir Reggie Sheffield was the buyer or if it was it Sir Elton John?
The Meissen Monkey Teapot stolen from Sir Reggie Sheffield, below, is a much more true, crisp, perfect version.
Perhaps one day both Meissen Monkey Teapots can live side by side in peace to be enjoyed by all !!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Fairfax House Barometer Recovered !!!

A RARE 300-year-old barometer is back at the finest Georgian townhouse in England after the thief who snatched it from display was arrested by police.
The historic barometer was returned to Fairfax House in York on Monday after a man who stole it appeared before the city's magistrates and admitted the theft.

Director of Fairfax House Peter Brown said the barometer, which dates from 1695, would be checked for damage by a conservator before being put back on display.

Mr Brown praised the North Yorkshire Police investigation which led to the return of the barometer, and confirmed a security review had been launched.

He said: "It is not in too bad a condition on the surface, but we are getting a conservator in to check. The barometer contains mercury and we are having that looked at and we are obviously going to upgrade our security."

The theft was only the second in the 25-year history of the museum, which is the home of the Noel Terry collection of English furniture and clocks. The exact value of the barometer has not been disclosed, although it is believed to be worth several tens of thousands of pounds.

Mr Brown said: "It is still distressing and there are lessons to be learned. We are just so pleased to have got it back. It is such an important part of the Noel Terry collection. It is one of a very small and unique group of barometers made by Daniel Quare."

The barometer was stolen by a visitor who was recorded on closed circuit television cameras at Fairfax House on May 18. He will be sentenced at York Crown Court in July.

Quare's customers included the Royal Family and his work can still be seen in Windsor Castle, the Science Museum and other high-profile venues.

Fairfax House, which was restored by York Civic Trust between 1982 and 1984, was created in 1762 as a dowry for Anne Fairfax, the only surviving chid of Viscount Fairfax.

Update: Woman quizzed over stolen antique
A woman has been arrested over the theft of an antique barometer from a historic house in North Yorkshire.

The £150,000 barometer, which was taken from Fairfax House in York in May, dates back to the 18th Century and is used to measure atmospheric pressure.

North Yorkshire Police said a 20-year-old woman from West Yorkshire had been arrested and was in custody.

The barometer was returned to Fairfax House this week after a 38-year-old man was charged with theft. He is due to appear at York Crown Court next month.
Art Hostage Comments:
Art Hostage will explain after the sentencing next Month........

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers, Merely Window Dressing, Pandering to EU !!

Police arrest 'Pink Panther'

Podgorica - A suspected member of a gang of jewel thieves dubbed the Pink Panthers, who is suspected of being involved in a series of daring robberies throughout the world, has been arrested in Montenegro, police said on Monday.

Vladimir Lekic was arrested on an Interpol warrant at his home in the Montenegrin town of Cetinje.

Police said Lekic was suspected of taking part in a robbery in Frankfurt, Germany, in December 2003, when watches worth about $1.4m were stolen from a jewellery store.

Lekic allegedly carried out the robbery together with two fellow Montenegrins, who are already in jail in France, police said.

The police statement said that Germany would allow Montenegro to try Lekic. Local laws in Montenegro do not allow for the extradition of Montenegrin citizens.

The Pink Panthers are believed to be mainly from countries in the Balkans. They are the prime suspects in a series of jewel thefts worth over $150m over the past decade in Europe, Asia and the Persian Gulf.

They are suspected of carrying out a robbery shortly before Christmas at the glamorous Harry Winston jewellery shop on one of Paris' fanciest streets. Thieves walked into the store and made off with jewels worth $108m.

Some Pink Panther members already are serving time in jail. Three Serbs were convicted in 2005 for a robbery in Japan, which included a necklace worth $27m.

Art Hostage Comments:

The main purpose of this arrest is to stop Vladimir Lekic travelling abroad to commit and organise further heists.
Also it is being used as a show of good faith to the Germans for their support in the EU membership application Montenegro submitted in April 2009.

It will be interesting to see how much jail time is handed out, if indeed there is a conviction in this case.

Those behind the curtain, including some leading SRS members, who direct the Pink Panthers, can order a stop to all Jewel and art heists if they feel the desire to do so.

Serbia & Montenegro within the EU will make the antics of the Pink Panthers a thing of the past, as the Pink Panthers will be stood down from jewel and art heists.

EU membership for Serbia & Montenegro and the following loans will be the pay off needed to put an end to the antics of the Pink Panthers.
Montenegro is taking the lead and will become an EU member leaving the Pink Panthers to retreat to their headquarters in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia.
When Serbia gets EU membership all Pink Panther activity will cease, for a time that is !!!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Irish Pink Panthers Strike Again !!!

Staff at Holker Hall discovered on June 2 that two 19th century Ormolu ring holders worth a combined total of £1,600 had been taken from a dressing room during the estate’s Garden Festival between May 29 and 31.

And a second theft was reported on June 3 after staff noticed a bronze model of a goat had been swiped from another room open to the public.

Karen Seaman, press officer for Holker Hall, home to Lord and Lady Cavendish, says such incidents are “rare”, but regrets it has prompted tighter surveillance with more cameras and further training for staff.

She said: “We are quite lucky here in that we rarely have anything like this happen, but obviously now this has happened we have upgraded a lot of our security operation and are being extra vigilant now.

“At Holker Hall there are no barriers so there is nothing to stop the public looking round the room. Lord and Lady Cavendish would hate to have barriers, but it is not something we are considering at the moment.”

The ring holders are mounted on square malachite plinths. One was 10 inches tall and surmounted by an eagle, the other 11 inches tall and surmounted by a swan and had some damage to the plinth.

The goat model, found to be missing on June 3, is eight inches wide and also dates from the 19th century.

Ms Seaman said: “We are quite convinced the second item was there after the weekend because we had a sweep round to check if anything else was missing. The cleaner was convinced that she had seen it the day before.

“It’s a real shame. They are lovely things. They are property of the family and they are really disappointed and quite upset about it.”

Police are appealing for any potential witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 0845 3300 247.

Art Hostage Comments:

Totally Predictable !!!
The value given, £1600 should read £16,000.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Picasso Sketchbook Theft Proves Museum Display Cases are Weak Point !!

So, the display case was locked with an Allen key device after all.

However, these Allen key devices are normally universal because museums can have 20 or 30 display cases and they need to be able to access them without having 20-30 different Allen key devices.

So, the thieves just contact the display makers and either order a duplicate Allen key device on the pretext of owning a display case and they have lost their Allen key.

Better still, the thieves order and pay for an identical display case and they will receive their own set of Allen key devices.

Then the thieves can steal their prey at their leisure as in this case with the Picasso sketchbook.

It is a hole in security that museums have one or two universal Allen key devices to access the whole collection of display cases in their museum.

As a consequence display cases in museums are vulnerable and museums have been lulled into a false sense of security because they think their display cases are locked with the Allen key device therefore they don't focus other security measures on areas where display cases house iconic artifacts. CCTV cameras and security guards are focused on areas where artworks are on open display therefore exposing display cases that house iconic artifacts.

Still, this is all very well but does not help recover the Picasso sketchbook.

The destination of the Picasso sketchbook is what should be the focus and Art Hostage has already narrowed down the likely path which the Picasso sketchbook will take.

How Easy is it to Learn About Museum Security and Display Case Locking Devices ???

Abloy provide museum display cases and they give inside information at this link below which could be invaluable to thieves wanting to have access to museum display cases.

Cam locks can be fitted into almost any basic
display case design. Whether surface mounted
or concealed, they can be used to secure and
control access through glass doors, panels and
where appropriate into lighting compartments
and plinths.
Cam locks are available in various lenghts and
can provide key retention in the unlocked
position as an option.
Full technical information including
accessories can be found in ABLOY®
Cam Locks brochure.

Furniture locks can be surface mounted or
recessed to secure metal or timber display
cases with a choice of latch, straight or
hooked bolts.
The OF205 Security claw deadlock
illustrated here provides that extra level of
anti lift protection to deter attack against
hinged glass framed display cases.
Full technical information including
accessories can be found in ABLOY®
Office Furniture Locks brochure.

T-Handle locks are mounted internally
within free standing and wall mounted glass
display cases. They are designed to discreetly
secure removable doors. Similar measures are
used to secure smaller lift off glass topped and
hinged glass framed cabinets.
Only when locks are removed can access be
Deadlocking and latching variants are available.
Full technical information including
accessories can be found in ABLOY®
Cam Locks brochure.

Push Button locks provide the capability to
lock sliding timber or glass doors in variety
of storage cabinets or display cases.
The ABLOY®3421 shown here is part of the
extensive push button range and is designed
to secure tracked sliding doors.
Full technical information including
accessories can be found in ABLOY®
Office Furniture Locks brochure.

Should ABLOY® range not have a lock to
answer the needs of the customer it will
endeavour to design a product to meet the
specific requirements. Any such co-operation
is made with close contact between the
customer and the ABLOY® design team

Still think museum display cases are not at risk ????

How about this little investment for thieves:

The Manuel of Museum Planning gives insights into security that makes it easy for thieves to counter.

The preview of this book is free and contains valuable insights that could be useful to thieves.

The Picasso sketchbook theft was either done by an insider who had access to the Allen key device, or by cunning thieves who had done their homework well and executed their plan with daring, cunning and sheer audacity, in other words, Pink Panthers.
Picassos found at Zurich airport
October 15th 2008
A sketchbook containing 14 original Picasso drawings has been found in a spot check by customs officers at Zurich airport.
The Federal Culture Office said on the total market value of the sketches, dated May and June 1971, had been put at between SFr1.2 and 1.7 million ($1.06 million and $1.5 million).

Since there were no papers accompanying the sketchbook, it was sent to an auction house for valuation.

No details were given about the nationality of the passenger, or where he had come from. He was passing through the Nothing to Declare channel when he was asked to open his bags.

The Culture Office said the incident occurred two or three weeks ago.

The passenger violated three laws at once. He faces fines for trying to avoid paying customs duty and VAT, and he also broke the law on the international transfer of cultural property, under which cultural items must be declared even when they are in the possession of their rightful owner.

Meanwhile, the book has been returned to the passenger.
to be continued......................

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Picasso, Pink Panthers, Predictable !!!

Sketchbook of Picasso drawings stolen from Paris museum

A sketchbook containing some 33 drawings by Pablo Picasso worth about 8m euros has been reported stolen from a museum in Paris.
The exact time and how the theft was carried out are not yet known but the sketchbook has been taken from the Picasso Museum. The sketchbook is valued at more than £10million.

The BRB which is a special unit of the interior ministry is in charge of the investigation.

It is likely the theft was carried out between Monday evening and noon on Tuesday.

The initial investigation shows there was no sign of a break-in. This suggests professional art criminals could well be behind the crime.

Alarms in the fortified museum were somehow switched off, and no windows were smashed or doors broken open.

Apparently, the sketchbook, which was once the property of one of the world's best known artists, was kept in an unlocked display case on the first floor.

The museum's management are not yet commenting.have so far refused to comment on the theft.

The Picasso museum is set to close this summer for at least two years for renovation work put at 20m euros.

The museum contains more than 250 paintings and 1,500 drawings by the Spanish artist.

June 9, 2009
Picasso Book of Sketches stolen from Paris Museum

Paris, France - June 9, 2009 - A notebook of sketches by Pablo Picasso has been stolen from the Picasso Museum in Paris, France. The folio, which includes 33 drawings, was discovered missing on Tuesday morning. Sources report that the book is work several million euros.

The book has been registered on the Art Loss Register's database of lost and stolen artwork. Picasso is the ALR's most stolen artist, with 710 items currently missing. The ALR added 93 stolen Picassos in the last year alone. The Art Loss Register believes the reasons for Picasso's popularity among thieves are the artist's widespread name recognition, as well as the fact that he was extremely prolific. The high prices reported in the press following record-breaking auction sales also fuel thefts of artwork. Recently, for example, a Picasso painting sold in New York at Christie's for $14.6 million dollars.

To Contact the Art Loss Register:

In London:
Julian Radcliffe
Office: +44 (0) 20 7841 5780

In New York:
Christopher A. Marinello
Office: +1 212 297 0941

Art Hostage comments:
Unlocked, unlocked, they left the bloody display case unlocked !!
The credibility of the BRB is as wobbly as cafeteria jello !!!
An unlocked display case, what was the museum thinking of ???

Small, priceless and portable, worth more than its weight in gold, this Picasso sketch book is a huge loss for the art world.

Pink Panthers, with a little help from their friends.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Meissen Memo To Sir Reginald Sheffield !!

Dear Sir Reginald Sheffield,

It must be a nightmare to lose such rare items as your Bronze Cordier and Meissen Monkey.

However, good news, if you take a look at the Bonhams and Butterfields auction website you will observe they have another Meissen Ape Teapot by Kandler coming up for sale in their June 15th 2009 sale to be held in San Francisco. This may be an inferior version, but it is 18th century, by Kandler and only a fraction of the insurence payout.

See link:

The lot number you are looking for is 1353.

Lot No: 1353

A Meissen porcelain monkey teapot (affenmutter als teekanne)
modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler
circa 1740-45
The mother crouching wearing buckled belt on an oval base molded with leaf fringe, cradling youngster forming the spout another on her back as the handle also belted (lacking cover, monkey forming handle with firing crack to rear leg and lacking tail, monkey forming spout with partly filled firing crack to front paw)
height 6 3/4in (17.2cm)

Estimate: $4,000 - 6,000

Kändler's work records for July 1735 note: "Einen Thee Pott in Gestalt eines Affens Welcher einen Jungen auf dem rücken und einen Vornen in den Händen hält, Woraus der Thee lauffen thut, geändert und in gehörige Gestalt gebracht, sitzet auf einem kleinen postamentgen Woran er mit einer Kette under Vorlege Schloß befestiget ist"
[A teapot in the form of an ape which has a baby on its back and holds another in front in its hands, from which the tea pours, altered and rendered in appropriate form, seated on a small base to which he is secured with a chain and lock]

Notice the tempting estimate of only $4,000-$6,000.

You can leave a bid and if you are successful you will have a replacement and some money left from the $40,000 insurence payout.

If by some chance Police recover your stolen Meissen Monkey you will then have a pair and a story to tell about how they became a pair.
The insurance company will realise they could only get a trade price for your recovered Meissen monkey and would let you buy it back for a nominal fee.

This will not only be a good story for dinner but will also increase the value of a now pair of Meissen Monkey teapots by Kandler.

I shall watch to see how much the Meissen Monkey fetches at Bonhams and Butterfields on June 15th 2009.
P.S. Don't let Sir Elton John know because he would like another Kandler Monkey teapot for his huge Meissen collection.