Twitter share

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Cavalier Attitude Towards Recovery, Benghazi Booty, Hidden Not Lost

Hopes linger for stolen old master

IN 2007, Art Gallery of NSW director Edmund Capon said he had an intuition that he would never again see a tiny, 350-year-old Dutch masterpiece, which was stolen from the gallery on a winter's day that year.

So far, he's been proven right.

A Cavalier, by Dutch artist Frans van Mieris, valued at $1 million, is on the FBI's Top 10 list of art crimes.

One man who always keeps an eye out for news of the missing painting is New York scholar and art dealer Otto Naumann, who is regarded as the world expert on van Mieris paintings.

Sadly, says Mr Naumann, the chances of some Dr No figure selfishly caring for A Cavalier in some climate-controlled shagpile penthouse are almost non-existent.

The reality is there's a 50-50 chance the painting has been destroyed. Mr Naumann says there is no single documented case of a wealthy individual commissioning an art theft.

"It's not human psyche to have something that important and not tell anybody," he says. "We make it up because it sounds like a nice story."

Australia's biggest art heist involved one very small painting, just 16cm x 20cm, which was apparently removed from a wall with a Philips head screwdriver on a Sunday morning, when the gallery was full of people.

That part of the gallery had no CCTV and its disappearance remains a mystery.

"You could just put it in your pocket," says Mr Naumann, who had seen the painting numerous times, including in the Sydney gallery and in London before it was bought by James Fairfax, who donated it to the gallery.

Mr Naumann believes if the painting still exists, chances are it will come to his attention because someone may need his expertise to assess its authenticity.

Priceless Treasure Looted from Benghazi Bank Vault

Part of The Treasure of Benghazi collection that has been looted contained Silver didrachm

A priceless collection of nearly 8,000 ancient gold, silver and bronze coins much of which dates from the time of Alexander the Great, was stolen by robbers who broke into a bank vault in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Robbers reportedly made off with the priceless Treasure of Benghazi after drilling through a concrete ceiling into an underground vault at the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi where the collection had been kept, waiting for the opening of a museum that was never built.. The raid has been described by an expert as 'one of the greatest thefts in archeological history.'

The treasure included more than 10,000 pieces, with 7,700 coins dating back to Greek, Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times, several artefacts, including monuments and figurines of bronze, glass and ivory, as well as jewellery, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, earrings, precious stones, rings, gold armbands and medallions, are also believed to have been stolen by the thieves. Most had been discovered during the Italian occupation of Libya and were taken out of the country.

Dr Saleh Algab, the chairman of the Tripoli Museum, has said that the coins were never photographed or documented and seemed to have been forgotten. He added that although not the only collection of ancient coins in Libya, they were a hugely valuable representation of the mosaic of Libyan history

Whilst the break-in was initially believed to have been part of the uprising against Muammar Al Qathafi early in the conflict that managed to overthrow the former dictator, Fadel al-Hasi, Libya's acting minister for antiquities, told the BBC there were suspicions the robbery could have been an inside job. The bank's employees have been questioned several times.

Hafed Walada, a Libyan archeologist working at King's College London seems to agree with the theory that it might have been “an inside job”, adding that it appears to have been carried out by people who knew what they were looking for.'

He went on to say that the treasure had been there for many years, and not many people knew about it. The robbers even ignored cash that was in the vault. They just concentrated on the ancient treasures, leaving items of lesser value untouched. He said that in terms of Libya’s historical heritage, “this was a major theft.”

Most of the Benghazi treasures had been on Libyan soil following a mass recovery of the collection between 1917 and 1922 from the temple of Artemis, in Cyrene - an ancient Roman city, now Libyan territory and otherwise known as Shahat.

During the Second World War, much of the treasure was on display at the Museum of Italian Africa in Rome, but eventually returned to Libyan soil in 1961 and was kept at the bank.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova described the theft as a "disaster", while Italian archeologist, Serenella Ensoli, from the Second University of Naples insisted the treasure was priceless given its historical value. She has been reported saying that the collection is not well studied and is a huge loss for Libyan heritage.

Mr al-Hasi alerted Interpol about the theft that took place in March, in July. He said international antiquities markets were being monitored. Libya's National Transitional Council is believed to have kept it quiet perhaps for fear it could tarnish the uprising's image in the fight to oust Muammar Al Qathafi from power.

Details of the robbery emerged at a conference held by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, or UNESCO, held in Paris last week.

Metal storage cupboards at the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi were smashed open and the red wax seals on the wooden trunks housing the collection were broken after the gang drilled through a concrete ceiling.

Since the robbery, ancient gold coins have turned up repeatedly in Benghazi's gold market, and early leads had initially pointed to neighbouring Egypt, where a farmer was caught with a three-inch high gold figurine and 503 coins which may have come from the collection and that he had been attempting attempted to smuggle through the port city of Alexandria,

UNESCO has now warned art dealers and police forces around the world to look out for pieces from the Treasure of Benghazi.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Sunday Global Review, Everyday Bread & Butter Art crime

Thieves steal £25,000 worth of antiques from mansion house

Middlefield House near Cupar was targeted at some point in the past three weeks.

Thieves made off with £25,000 worth of antiques from a mansion house in north-east Fife.

Middlefield House near Cupar was targeted at some point in the past three weeks after the theft was discovered on Thursday.

Large bronze ornaments were stolen from the fireplace in the drawing room of the stately home, including a sculpture of a horse and jockey.

Two large painted vases were also taken by the thieves, which owners claim have sentimental value.

Fife Constabulary is investigating the theft from the home and are appealing for information regarding the taken items.

Commonwealth gold medal stolen in £20,000 burglary

Jewellery worth almost £20,000 including an antique Commonwealth Games gold medal was stolen in a burglary at a house in Bath Road, Thatcham, on Tuesday.

The intruders removed a door from its hinges to get into the house and stole a range of items with a total value of £17,800 between 11.30am and 12.15pm.

Among the pieces stolen was the antique medal which is oval, two inches long and one-and-a-half inches wide, a Breitling Colt Super Ocean watch with an orange face and a blue leather strap and a men's steel and gold Rolex watch along with the box and guarantee papers which have a stamp from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

ANTIQUES worth thousands of pounds were stolen in a burglary in Shepperton.

Images have been released in a bid to help trace the valuable items, that include around 70 ceramic Staffordshire figurines, (photo, above) antique silver candlesticks, and a silver candle snuffer.

The items, thought to be worth up to £20,000, were taken during a burglary at a home in Russell Road between 10pm on Monday (October 3) and 7am on Tuesday (October 4).

A silver sugar shaker, a carriage clock and a Georgian barometer were also taken.

Detective Constable Brett Harris, of Staines CID, said: “Many of the stolen items are collectables and I am appealing to the public, in particular collectors and businesses owners in the antiques trade, who may have seen them or been offered them for sale.

“These items are of great personal value to the owner who was understandably upset to have had them stolen and we are doing everything we can to try and recover them."

$23,000 Worth of Art Stolen From Castroville Home - Central Coast News KION/KCBA


A big Central Coast art heist. It's not at a home in Pebble Beach or at a gallery in Carmel or even in Monterey. It was at a mobile home in Castroville.

The Monterey County Sheriff's Department said someone broke into a home at the Monte Del Lago mobile home park and stole six paintings totaling $23,700.

Teresa Gilbert lived at the mobile home park for 10 years and said while stolen art work might be new to the neighborhood, robberies aren't.

"We have a lot of day time robberies, mostly jewelry, not so much artwork," said Gilbert. "I don't think there's that many people that have expensive artwork."

But somebody living here claims they did, and someone broke into their home while they were away to take it.

"To think somebody is that brazen just to walk right up and clean people out while their not home," said Gilbert.

Clifford Morrison also lives in the area and said crime seems to be on the rise. "There's been a lot of thieving going on here. Cars getting broken into and houses, and vandalism and a lot of painting like spray painting on the walls and cars and stuff and breaking windows," he said.

The victim told Monterey County Sheriff Deputies someone stole 3 prints by Peter Mack, 2 by Alex Pauker and 1 by Thomas Kinkaid.

And while high end art work may sound odd to you at a mobile home park, Gilbert said she owns some too and is now on guard.

"You get people that come to the door, trying to, you know, we want to clean your carpet or we want to do this or that, " she said. "They're looking around and you never know if it's somebody that's going to come back later."

The Monterey County Sheriff's Department said it happened between October 21-25 while the homeowners were out of town. Deputies said nothing else was reported missing and it remains under investigation.

Central Coast News talked to the manager on duty at Monte Del Lago, Thursday night, and she said she wasn't aware of this incident but would be getting in contact with the department.

Austria, Eighteen Paintings Stolen In Art Raid

The pros came at night, cracked the door, knew exactly what they searched for: Presto, they cut 18 valuable paintings from the framework, escaped unrecognized! The millions coup in Vienna: According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (case: 2688517) captured a burglar gang in a targeted operation in September the same 18 masterpieces at one stroke. Although the investigators deliberately conceal the crime scene, art experts come from a rich private collector. Alone seven masterpieces of Vienna star artist and enjoy Muse Soshana (84), but also oil paintings were stolen by Kokoschka-student Georg Eisler (1928-1998), Ernst Fuchs disciples EROL Denec (70), the Bregenzer painter RudolfWacker (1893-1939), or the Tyrolean artists Hans Joseph Weaver-Tyrol (1874-1957).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Saturday Snapshot Into The Revolving World Of Stolen Art

Burglar Graham Harkin has appeal turned down

A burglar who targeted country houses in Cumbria, Sussex and Shropshire has had an appeal against his sentence turned down.

Graham Harkin was jailed for nine years in March 2011 after admitting the theft of antiques worth more than £1.2m.

The 59-year-old from West Yorkshire was caught when he tried to claim a reward for a stolen clock.

Mr Justice Parker told London's Criminal Appeal Court the sentence was "not manifestly excessive".

The court was told Harkin, from Chestnut Walk in Wakefield, had pleaded guilty to two burglaries and one count of handling stolen goods.

The National Trust member had taken a nationally important collection of porcelain from Firle Place in East Sussex which has never been recovered. He also stole porcelain valued at £27,000 from Longnor Hall near Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

He was arrested after meeting undercover police officers at services on the M62 near Rochdale in Greater Manchester to claim a £20,000 reward for a Thomas Tompion clock valued at £200,000 which had been stolen from Levens Hall near Kendal in Cumbria.

Dismissing the appeal, Judge Parker said Harker had deliberately targeted high value items.

"He did guided tours first, posing as an ordinary visitor. These items were cherished not just by their owners, but by members of the public.

"He could have given police information that would have led to the recovery of the stolen items, but he chose not to do so. He was playing for high stakes and he lost," he said.

Stolen antique table returned safely to Newby Hall

A unique and highly valuable Chippendale table that was stolen from Newby Hall, near Ripon, four years ago has been returned to its rightful owners.

The twin-leaf Pembroke table, which has world-wide importance, was commissioned by estate owner Richard Compton’s ancestor William Weddell in 1775.

It was stolen from the stately home in June 2007.

A painstaking investigation was launched by North Yorkshire Police and subsequently taken on by the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Intelligence and Special Operations Units.

This effort culminated in the recovery of the table and 13 other antiques – worth an estimated £5m in total – following raids at two residential properties in South and West Yorkshire last month.

The table was returned to Newby Hall at the beginning of October and is now back in its original place after being cleaned and polished.

Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell was invited to Newby Hall by Mr Compton to view the return of the antique table.

Mr Maxwell said:

It is very pleasing that the substantial amount of police work to track down the Chippendale table and the other stolen antiques has resulted in the safe return of these historically important and valuable items.

This effort has highlighted the strength of specialist policing units working in collaboration in the Yorkshire and Humber region. The sheer tenacity and determination of the teams to locate the items and seek justice on behalf of Mr Compton and the other owners is very commendable indeed.

Mr Compton said:

As a family, we are very relieved and delighted that the table is back in its rightful place. It has been in our family since 1775 and is unique. I simply do not know why anybody would want to steal such a thing as it is unsaleable on the open market.

When a piece like this is stolen from a house that is open to the public, the real loss is a public one, as it has been seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors. Thanks to the work of the police, it will once again be on public display when Newby Hall re-opens after the winter break.

As well as the Chippendale table from Newby Hall, another of the recovered antiques was an embellished bracket clock made by Daniel Delander of London in around 1710. It is believed to be the same clock that was reported as stolen from Sion Hill Hall near Thirsk in February 2009. The remaining antiques are believed to have been stolen from Firle Place in Sussex.

A 68-year-old man from Tankersley, South Yorkshire and a 44-year-old man from Middleton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, have been arrested and bailed in connection with the investigation.

French billionaire, 76, shot dead in 'professional hit' in his Paris mansion

  • Claude Dray's body was found in home in suburb where Nicolas Sarkozy forged his political career
  • Police said gunman used silencer
  • Wife Simone was away in the U.S.

A billionaire French hotelier has been shot dead 'in a professional hit' in the Paris mansion he bought to showcase his Art Deco collection.

Claude Dray, 76, was found with three bullet holes in the neck in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the Paris suburb where President Nicolas Sarkozy built his career and still owns property.

He was found by his butler dressed only in a T-shirt and shorts, in his bedroom at 9am on Tuesday.

Bullet cartridges were found next to Mr Dray, with detectives saying they were fired from a pistol which was around 15 years old. No weapon was found.

There were no signs of a struggle and nothing was stolen from the palatial 'Villa Madrid’, which is considered to be one of the most secure houses the French capital.

Police said it had the hallmarks of a ‘professional hit.'

‘Somebody got in and fired three bullets into the victim's neck,’ said one detective at the scene, adding that a silencer had likely been used as domestic staff heard nothing.

His wife, Simone, was in the US, where four years ago her husband bought the famous National Hotel in South Beach, Miami.

Mr Dray, one of the most prominent Jews in France, also owned the Hotel de Paris in St Tropez, one of the most popular celebrity institutions on the French Riviera, as well as a string of other hotels around the world.

He had bought Villa Madrid in 1990 as he and his wife built up a vast Art Deco collection of furniture and other objects, which featured some 25 pieces by Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann alone.

Most of it was sold at auction in 2007, fetching a record-breaking £55million. The couple said all the proceeds were for their four daughters and seven grandchildren.

Mr Dray had been the subject of threats in the past, and his home, which was equipped with anti-intruder measures including cameras and infra-red alarms, was regularly surrounded by police and private security guards.

The most recent extortion threats were in 2009, into which the Paris Prosecutor's Office opened an inquiry.

An autopsy on Mr Dray’s body was today being carried out at the Medical-Legal institute in Paris, with results expected to be made public within the next few days.

Mr Dray was born and brought up in Oran, Algeria, before founding the Cidotel hotel chain in the 1960s.

Mr Sarkozy was the mayor of Neuilly for many years, and built up close friendships with its super-rich residents, who, along with Mr Dray, include Liliane Bettencourt, the L'Oreal heiress who is France's wealthiest woman. Mr Sarkozy has lived in Neuilly for most of his life.

He still owns flats there, but now divides his time between his quarters at the Elysee Palace and a town house belonging to his third wife, the Italian heiress Carla Bruni.

The Art Deco design style began in Paris in the 1920s, and soon spread abroad to countries including Britain and America.

Man who stole Picasso sketch sentenced

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A former New York City wine sommelier has pleaded guilty to walking out of a San Francisco gallery with a Pablo Picasso sketch under his arm.

Mark Lugo was sentenced to 16 months in state prison Thursday, with credit for time already served, as part of a plea agreement. He will be sent to New York in November to face additional theft charges, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Lugo was arrested in San Francisco July 6, the day after he stole a 1965 Picasso sketch, "Tete de Femme (Head of a Woman)," from the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco.

A police raid on Lugo's apartment in Hoboken, N.J., following his arrest turned up 11 pieces of art allegedly stolen from galleries and hotels in Manhattan, including a Picasso etching from 1933, a Jean-Michel Basquiat photo and a Fernand Leger sketch. The art was estimated to be worth about $500,000, the newspaper said.

He had been charged in April with stealing three bottles of wine worth $6,000 from a store in New Jersey.

Document thief's bail reduced after guilty plea

Jason Savedoff's bail was reduced and his travel restrictions were eased after he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court this week to conspiracy and theft of major art, according to a court order made public Friday.

Savedoff, 24, was indicted in July along with Barry Landau, 63, on charges that they stole dozens of historic documents worth more than $1 million from museums along the East Coast, including the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. Landau is still awaiting trial, but Savedoff pleaded guilty Thursday. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Feb. 10.

According to a court order signed after his plea, but filed Friday, Savedoff's bond has been reduced from $250,000 to $150,000, with the difference to be paid to his mother, Antonia Schang, who has acted as her son's custodian during the court proceedings.
The order said Savedoff can also live with his father, Charles Savedoff, or an unidentified woman named Jill Franklin. His travel and residences are restricted to Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia. Savedoff has been co-operatring with authorities and will become the prosecutions star witness if Landau pleads not guilty.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Sprengel Museum Picasso's Serbian Adventure Over, Back-Story Like Swiss Cheese

Serbia returns stolen Picasso works to Switzerland

Serbian authorities have returned two stolen Pablo Picasso paintings recently found in Belgrade to Switzerland, Serbian newspaper Blitz reported on Friday.

The works, Tête de cheval (Head of a Horse), created by Picasso in 1962, and Verre et pichet (Glass and Pitcher), painted in 1944, were stolen from an exhibition in the town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich, in February 2008. The paintings, worth millions of dollars, were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany, at the time of the theft.

The paintings were discovered in Belgrade in the beginning of October by Serbian police as a result of a joint investigation with Swiss authorities.

According to unconfirmed reports, they were hidden in a safe deposit box in a Serbian bank.

No arrests have been made so far in connection with the theft, but police are trying to ascertain who brought the paintings into Serbia, when and how, the Blitz said citing an unidentified police source.

The Swiss authorities cooperating with the Serbian police have turned over a large amount of evidence that could help with the investigation, the paper said.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Sprengel Picasso Duo Recovered Belgrade, Serbia by Dick Ellis of QUINTONS FARM HOUSE GROVE LANE ASHFIELD STOWMARKET IP146LZ

Serbian police recover two Picasso paintings

BELGRADE -- Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić said Wednesday that the Serbian Counter-Organized Crime Service (SBPOK) had recovered two stolen Pablo Picasso paintings.

The stolen paintings “Head of horse” and “Glass and pitcher” were found in Belgrade.
According to Dačić, the paintings were found in cooperation with the Swiss police.

The works created by Picasso in 1962 (Head of horse) and 1944 (Glass and pitcher) are worth millions of dollars. They were stolen from an exhibition in the town of Pfaeffikon near Zurich in February 2008, and they were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany, at the time of the theft.

According to earlier announcements of Swiss State prosecutor Charles Faessler, Switzerland had sent an official request to Serbia for the paintings to be returned

2 stolen Picassos found in Serbia

Two Picasso paintings owned by a German museum and stolen from a Swiss exhibition have been found in Belgrade, Serbia's interior minister said Wednesday.
Ivica Dacic provided no information on the exact location of the paintings or possible suspects in the theft.
The works - "Tete de Cheval" ("Head of Horse") from 1962 and "Verre et Pichet" ("Glass and Pitcher") from 1944 - were stolen from an exhibition in the small Swiss town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich, in February 2008. They belong to the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.
Police director Milorad Veljovic said authorities are still investigating who and when brought the paintings to Serbia and where they were hidden before discovery.
Belgrade media said no arrests have been made.
Dacic said the paintings were discovered in close cooperation with Swiss police. Switzerland has submitted a request to Serbia for the paintings to be returned.
Art Hostage Comments:
On this day when two stolen Picasso paintings are recovered in Belgrade Serbia, involving Ex Scotland Yard Art Detective Dick Ellis, Art Hostage has some troubling news about the other icon from Scotland Yards Art squad Charlie Hill.
There is, as yet unconfirmed, reports that Ex-Scotland Yard Art Detective Charles Hill, (Charlie Hill) has passed away, which is sad indeed if true.

Stolen Art Watch, Columbia $65,000 Stolen Picasso Not To Be Sniffed At

Picasso painting stolen in Colombia

A Pablo Picasso etching valued at $65,000 was stolen from a museum in southwestern Colombia, the institution said today.

The painting, untitled and dated 1930, disappeared Friday afternoon from the wall where it was hanging at the Casa Museo Negret and MIAMP museum in Popayan, museum director Oscar Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that the engraving depicted the Greek god of wine Dionysus with a woman in his arms was last seen before two foreigners entered the museum.

Popayan authorities offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to recovery of the work.

The engraving was donated to the museum in 2004 by Colombian sculptor Edgar Negret, who was born in Popayan in 1920

Ramiro Nadia, mayor of Popayan, told reporters the museum under the jurisdiction of the city hall does not have "the technical equipment to protect these art works" due to high security cost.

Joy Hawken country scene watercolours stolen

Original and "distinctive" watercolours by Joy Hawken have been stolen in a burglary in Northamptonshire.

A dozen paintings, all signed and unframed, were taken in the Ravensthorpe area between midday on 27 September and the night of 23 October.

Police said the paintings feature country scenes of horses, cockerels and hounds.

Art dealers, auction houses and picture galleries have been alerted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Brise de Mer, the Valinco gang, the Venzolasca gang, and the Corsican mob of Marseille Have Vast Stock Of Stolen Art

Eleven suspects examined for Musée des Beaux-Arts robbery in Ajaccio

Ajaccio, 20 October 2011, Art Media Agency, (AMA).

Investigators from Office Central de lutte contre le trafic des Biens Culturels (OCBC) have questioned eleven suspects, including important Corsicans, in the Ajaccio and Porto-Vecchio regions on Tuesday 18 October. All suspects were accused of participating in a robbery committed at Palais Fesch- Musée des Beaux-Arts in Ajaccio last February, and are all being kept in custody at the police station.

Four paintings including Mariotto di Nardo, Bellini and Poussin pieces, were stolen. Antoine Mocellini, the night guard of the museum, was arrested immediately after the incident. Mocellini stated that he acted alone in order to put pressure on police chiefs because he was about to be evicted and was looking for a place to stay. The pieces, believed to be hidden in his car, disappeared when police arrived and Mocellini has been examined for attempted robbery and robbery committed by an organised gang and to date, is detained in the Ajaccio prison. This new progress concerning the investigation gives new hopes to find the stolen paintings.


February 2011

A GUARD at one of France’s top art museums was charged with organised theft yesterday (Feb 2011).

He admitted on television that he had spirited away four priceless masterpieces as a protest, then appeared to lose them to thieves.

Prosecutors in Corsica did not believe Antoine Mocellini, a divorced father in his early 40s, who walked out of the Palais Fesch in Ajaccio on Saturday morning with renowned art from the 15th to 17th centuries.

The stolen paintings were Midas at the Source of the River Pactole by Poussin, Virgin and Child by Bellini, Pentecost by Di Nardo and another Virgin and Child by a 17th-century Umbrian painter.

No one had noticed their absence from the Fesch until Mr Mocellini appeared at a police station early on Saturday with a television crew.

“I am turning myself in. I have stolen art works. I will given (sic) them back once I have talked to the mayor and the prefect,” he said. He wanted them to rescind an order to leave his museum lodgings.

Mr Mocellini led police to a hillside where he said he had left his car with the paintings inside. However, the rear window was broken and there were no paintings.

“I swear I left them there,” Mr Mocellini said.

“This affair lacks clarity,” said Thomas Pison, the chief prosecutor.

After questioning Mr Mocellini for two days and giving him a psychiatric evaluation, he was charged with theft with an organised gang as well as attempted theft. The charges also applied to the L’Homme au Gant by Titian, which someone had tried to unhook from a wall in the gallery.

The paintings could be worth millions of euros on the black market or in ransom from an insurance company. Police said that if the theft were professional the art could have left on an early morning ferry.

Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said he was appalled and vowed to solve the case. Philippe Costamagna, the director of the museum, said: “These works are unsellable because they are catalogued throughout the whole world.”

The Palais Fesch has the biggest French collection of Italian art outside the Louvre.

Mr Mocellini took three of its four most prized works.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Stately Homes Targeted, Winter Of Discontent Ahead...Maybe

Police release pictures of valuables stolen from stately home in Shropshire

Police investigating a burglary at a Shropshire stately home in which property worth thousands of pounds was stolen, have issued pictures of some of the more unusual items.

Paintings, antique furniture and fine wines were among the hoard of valuables stolen from the home earlier this month.

The address has not been disclosed for security reasons but police investigating the raid believe the offenders could be traced through some of the distinctive items stolen.

They have released pictures of three paintings and a mantle clock in the hope they will be identified.

Detective Constable Dave Bettison, the investigating officer, said: “I am appealing for information from fine art galleries and others who may be approached and offered these items for sale.

“Anyone with information about the burglary or the whereabouts of any of the stolen goods, should contact Shrewsbury police station on 0300 333 3000.”

Photographs released by the police are of a Zoetelief Tromp 8in by 10in painting of a Breton fisherman with his children; a signed watercolour by the artist Albert Neuhuys measuring 18in by 12in of a woman reading a letter; a landscape painting by Adrian Van der Velde showing cattle, sheep and a carousing couple beside a rustic cottage measuring 9in by 16in; and 19-inch tall mantle clock.

DC Bettison said the owner was still in the process of working out the full value of stolen property, but it ran into many thousands of pounds.

Tromp fisherman painting

Tromp fisherman painting

The burglars also stole more than 100 bottles of fine wines from the cellar, including Carpentier champagne, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut champagne, 2004 Marcarini Brunate Barolo and Bird in the Hand shiraz.

It’s thought that at least one vehicle was used to load the haul. The burglary happened between 11pm on October 3 and 6am the following day with entry gained through a ground floor window.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild Gold Boxes, The Only Way Is Essex !!

Rothschild Gold Boxes, The Only Way Is Essex

Seems the Gold Boxes taken from Waddesdon Manor are back in play and all roads seem to lead to the Essex Traveller Community.

Checks have been made as to the status of the ownership of said Rothschild Gold Boxes and what, if any, insurance payouts have been made.

Allegedly, Mr Sheridan has stepped forward as a proxy to deliver the goods and perhaps Charlie Hill might be back in the limelight.

Whispers of Danny McLaughlin wanting to cash up and flee to sunnier climbs, whispers Danny Boy already in Hawaii but needing cash, whispers aplenty.

Lord Rothschild/Insurers offered a reward of £50,000 for the safe return of his gold boxes, subject to specific conditions, and one wonders if that is the basis of the current efforts.

However, if Mr Sheridan gains useful employment from Lord Rothschild, via an employment contract, he may negotiate his own fee based upon the recovery of the gold boxes. This would not be illegal according to Marshal Ronald, the acquitted lawyer on the Da Vinci Madonna case.

Marshall Ronald had this to say about Buying back ones own stolen property:

The Buyback Explained By Marshall Ronald

"Lets spell out in clear terms the truth behind buybacks.

The insurance industry would have you believe that buybacks are unlawful and that the owner and those involved in the buyback become susceptible to arrest.

Dick Ellis and Mark Dalrymple would have you believe that you could be charged with conspiracy to launder money.

The insurance industry has a valid concern that they do not wish to encourage thieves to steal art simply to claim the rewards offered. That is a matter of public policy the public policy of protecting the interests of insurers.

Rewards are in the gift of the insurers and they are notoriously secretive of what they actually pay out as opposed to what they advertise as the offer of the reward prefaced with the clause subject to the usual conditions, which is basically a get out clause to make payment, shall we say, somewhat difficult.

If a piece of art is insured then when the insurance company pays out under the terms of the policy then they acquire legal title to the artwork. Often there is an arrangement whereby the owner can reacquire title if they repay the insurance company back together with interest.

Insurance companies are spectacularly disinterested in whether the artwork is returned or not which is in sharp contrast to that of the original owner of the artwork. The loss adjuster is appointed to protect their interests however their track record of recovery is poor.

The private sector has specialist companies often headed up by ex police officers and they work with the like of the Art Loss Register to see whether the art work surfaces. Mark Dalrymple, Dick Ellis and Julian Radcliffe are all prominent players.

A fear of the Proceeds of Crime Act has made everyone very wary however the real issue is has the law been correctly understood. The Proceeds of Crime Act has not featured in any prosecutions involving art recovery and there is a good reason for this. In art recovery the Proceeds of Crime Act is a red herring.

No one wishes to be an apologist for thieves or handlers. It is the job of the police to apprehend people who break the law but only those who break the law.

The owner of the artwork is whoever has legal title and they are the people who can enter into commercial arrangements for the safe recovery of the artwork. The owner is sovereign and can deal with anyone of their choosing including if they so choose the original thieves. It is not an offence for an owner to enter into a commercial arrangement to recover or procure the return of their own property.

The owners are governed by private law and the state is governed by public law. If the owner wishes to enter a private arrangement to recover property then that is an end to the matter. Owners are not paid for law enforcement and if they elect to act privately they can do so with impunity. There is a big difference between advertising a reward and entering into a private treaty."

To be continued...............................

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Sarkozy Paymaster, Guy Wildenstein's Alter Ego Really Is Dr No

Art Dealer Guy Wildenstein Faces New Charges of Hiding Billions Across the Globe

The assets of the storied


family of art dealers are vast, including 19th-century paintings, a private island in the Virgin Islands, and a ranch in Kenya where the movie "Out of Africa" was filmed. Now the French budget ministry has demanded an investigation into the family's dealings, and scion

Guy Wildenstein

stands accused of hiding his true wealth from the French government.

The state's intervention is only the latest development in the legal drama swirling around New York-based megadealer. The heir to the storied Wildenstein and Company gallery, which was founded in Paris in the 19th century and now has branches in New York, London, and Tokyo, was already accused of fraud by his stepmother,Sylvia Roth, for allegedly concealing the majority of his father's fortune in offshore trusts in places including Ireland, the island of Guernsey, and the Cayman Islands when administering his estate. Roth died in November 2010, but her lawyer, Claude Dumont-Beghi, has pursued the case in accordance with her client's dying wishes.

According to French news magazine Le Point, Wildenstein is suspected of having declared "only a minuscule portion" of his father's estate, which Le Nouvel Observateur estimates at €4 billion ($5.5 billion). A preliminary investigation began last week into charges of breach of trust and money laundering.

Judge Guillaume Daief is now in charge of both Roth's suit against Wildenstein and the government's case, and the two investigations have been combined. Le Point also reports that the police raided the office of a tax lawyer who is suspected of having helped Wildenstein cover up large sums of money brought back into France from offshore trusts.

The state's slow response to the accusations of tax fraud has raised suspicions of cronyism and preferential treatment within the government of Nicolas Sarkozy. Wildenstein was a generous contributor to Sarkozy's election campaign, becoming a member of the "premier cercle" of donors established by the politician as well as receiving the elite distinction of Commander of the Legion of Honor, which was conferred by Sarkozy personally in 2009. Guy Wildenstein's father, Daniel Wildenstein, died in 2001, and starting in 2009 Roth's lawyer informed the government multiple times of his widow's suspicions of tax fraud.

Even now that the investigation has been formally launched, suspicions remain that the government will not vigorously pursue the case. When current budget minister Valérie Pécresse was questioned about it by the National Assembly last week, she refused to discuss the Wildenstein tax burden. "Just as a family doctor does not have the right to reveal information about a patient, a budget minister does not have the right to reveal tax information about the situation of one of our countrymen," Pécresse said, according to Le Nouvel Observateur.

Earlier this year, Wildenstein was also charged with possession of stolen goods and breach of trust in a separate case which is still ongoing. While investigating Roth's lawsuit, police found 30 artworks in the Wildenstein Institute by artists including Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, and Rembrandt Bugatti that had disappeared from the estates of noted collectors with whom Daniel Wildenstein was associated.

The great art robbery

The great art robbery
Kishore Singh / New Delhi October 15, 2011, 0:21 IST

News that two paintings by Nicholas Roerich stolen from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute were auctioned recently in London became widely reported. The IARI said it would investigate the missing paintings, trustees cried out for an audit of Roerich’s works, there has been the suggestion that CBI and Interpol will look into the matter. Yet, despite claims that the paintings fetched $2 million, no one seems to know the auction house where the sale was conducted, no buyers have been mentioned, and no one knows who (stupidly — if they were indeed “stolen”) consigned them for auction.

This is not the first time that Roerich’s paintings have been stolen. In 2009, two small works valued at $30,000 were reported missing from the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York. It was suggested that the Russian art market might have been responsible for the episode.

The Russian-born Roerich is widely acknowledged as an intellectual giant in the land of his birth, and though he is respected in India where he lived for the last two decades of his life (from 1927 to 1947), he is perhaps somewhat less regarded despite a museum of his works in Naggar, Himachal. A prolific artist in his lifetime, many of these later works deal with the Himalayas — his Lao-Tse was auctioned in 2006 for a record $2.2 million.

Such prices alone could be a reason for the theft of Roerich’s works, given the poor security at many of our institutions, but one would hardly expect them to surface at auctions. Art does go unaccounted in India, as much from willful negligence as for culpable complicity, but this is as yet a small enough percentage, probably because markets for the sale of high-value art are limited. Collectors of a certain kind would rather shell out cheaply for fakes than for pricier stolen paintings, given that their visibility — a necessary condition for buying art in the first place — could invite unwanted, unwelcome attention.

Much more art gets stolen in the West because collectors are willing to risk the secret pleasure that stolen but cherished art brings them, while the principal concern in India remains a problem of fakes. But the missing Roerichs are a pointer to the possibility of a growing nexus between those familiar with the value of art gifted to or purchased by institutions that, for reasons of bureaucratic indifference and the lack of auditing processes, remain neglected by those who do not concern themselves with modern art.

Till a few decades ago, artists gave away works to select institutions, including hotels, either inexpensively, or gratis, for the prestige it brought them. Today, when the value of art has soared, it is these institutions that must be held accountable — and auditable — for the art that they have cared so little about. Sometimes buildings have been sold lock, stock and art, even in the private sector, with the new buyer consigning the old art unknowingly to kabariwallahs; as often, renovations have resulted in commissioned works being replaced by shinier but inferior works — the result of organisations not taking the trouble to document and value their art collections. As information on the purloined Roerichs trickles in, institutions must attempt to ensure that such neglect, and thefts, remain the exception rather than the rule.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Sunday Art Crime News

Stolen Masterpiece Discovered: ‘Fisherman’s Daughter’ Returned to France After 90+ Years

Missing for more than 90 years, the beautiful and enigmatic “Fisherman’s Daughter” is finally on her way home to France.

The Jules Breton painting was stolen from the Douai Beaux Art Museum in Northern France by German troops during the First World War and its fate was a mystery that haunted the art world for nearly a century.

Then last year, there was a break in the case. French officials and Interpol were alerted that the painting, valued today at about $150,000, had been imported by an art dealer in New York. The painting was recovered, but the mystery was not yet solved. Officials discovered the painting had been heavily restored. Was this “Fisherman’s Daughter,” the authentic realist masterpiece, or a skillful fake?

Art experts, curators and historians from France and the United States were called in to examine the painting and investigate its long and clandestine history. After a close examination of records and documentation, both in the United States and in France, and visits to museums and key witnesses, the story of the painting emerged.

It was indeed the same painting stolen from the Douai museum in 1918 – the authentic “Fisherman’s Daughter.”

The back story investigators discovered about “Fisherman’s Daughter” theft turned out to be a engaging yarn.

It was discovered that during the German occupation of the northern part of the country. German troops confiscated artwork from the Douai Beaux Art Museum and sent the artwork to Mons, Belgium, and then to Brussels.

In 1919, the Belgian government organized the return of the French collection to France. However, “Fisherman’s Daughter” was not among the works.

No one is certain, but apparently the painting was stolen from the Belgian government prior to the collection being returned to France.

No one knows what happened to the painting after that, except for the fact that it was professionally restored. The painting was apparently in private hands recently, then turned up being imported to an art dealer in New York last year.

Today, U.S. officials returned the masterpiece to the French people at a ceremony in Washington attended by the French ambassador, ending the nearly century-long art mystery.

“Returning a painting to a museum is a significant contribution to the celebration of our cultural heritage and a gift to all future visitors who will enjoy the work of art, but it is also yet another symbol of Franco-American cooperation,” said French Ambassador to the United States François Delattre. “We are celebrating today a gesture of friendship by the United States toward the French Republic.”

The American portion of the investigation was led by a little-known office inside the Department of Homeland Security — the Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Unit, based in New York.
The unit plays a leading role in criminal investigations that involve the illicit importation and distribution of cultural property, as well as the illegal trafficking of artwork. The agency specializes in recovering works that have been reported lost or stolen.

“As the foremost agency investigating the plundering of cultural property, we are pleased to return a piece of French heritage that was stolen during World War I,” said ICE Director John Morton. “We remain committed to combating cultural heritage crimes, which are one of the oldest forms of organized cross-border illicit activity.”

Since 2007, the ICE Art and Antiquities Unit has repatriated more than 2,500 items to more than 22 countries, including paintings from France, Germany and Austria; an 18th century manuscript from Italy; a bookmark belonging to Adolph Hitler and cultural artifacts from Iraq, including Babylonian, Sumerian and neo-Assyrian items.

Stolen Heirlooms Recovered

A NUMBER of heirlooms which were stolen from the Earl of Chichester’s Salisbury home in 2002 have been recovered.

Thieves broke in to Little Durnford Manor on June 17 and stole property worth £1million, which included fine china and porcelain.

Following a complex investigation that has led to auction houses across Europe items continue to be found and returned.

A French Ormolou gold clock and a Louis XV porcelain and Ormolou Meissen mounted clock have been found with the help of Europe’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

And negotiations are ongoing to secure the return of a pair of Meissen elephants mounted on gilt bronze candelabra from a dealer in Germany.

Police had already recovered four antique snuff boxes after being alerted by a trader in London shortly after the burglary.

And in December 2009 a rare candlestick taken from the burglary had been put up for sale at an auction house in London, expecting to reach £50,000.

As a result of police intervention the candlestick was removed from the auction and its return is currently under negotiation.

DS Nigel Porter of Wiltshire Police said: “This is a complex and detailed investigation and our inquiries are ongoing. I am delighted we were able to help recover such important heirlooms.”

The Earl of Chichester said: “There is a shady side to the antiques trade which is not easy to penetrate and it is especially gratifying to see that even nine years after the event stolen artworks can still be recovered.”

Fourth raid at Haslemere family-run jewellery shop

Thieves have targeted a Surrey jewellers for the fourth time this year.

In the latest raid, Objets D'Art, in High Street, Haslemere, was ram-raided by thieves using a 4x4 vehicle. It caused £4,000 damage in addition to stolen stock.

Owner Angela French said she felt she could not rely on police to help protect her business.

Police said the town continued to enjoy a relatively low crime rate.

The shop was targeted twice in June, with the thieves taking £20,000 worth of silver in the first raid.

The second attempt was a failure, as was a third raid in July.

Mrs French said the after the first burglary, it took 25 minutes for the police to arrive.

'Lack of cover'

She praised the officers who had helped her, but she said they were constrained by a lack of support.

"I don't feel I can rely on the police at all," she said.

"We've been moaning about the lack of police cover in Haslemere because we feel we've been abandoned.

"I'm really angry. Every time someone comes into the shop you're suspicious."

Police said four men forced their way into the shop after using a vehicle to smash open the front door.

'Extremely unfortunate'

They are believed to have made off towards Chiddingfold, possibly accompanied by a second vehicle.

Waverley Neighbourhood Inspector Tom Budd said: "This break-in is particularly unfortunate for the owners as this is the fourth time the shop has been targeted by thieves this year.

"A number of officers attended the incident, with the first unit reaching the scene within 10 minutes of the call coming in.

"Other officers were dispatched to carry out extensive searches of the area but to no avail.

"While it is extremely unfortunate that the jewellery shop has been targeted for the fourth time, this is not a reflection of other crime being committed in Haslemere, and the town continues to enjoy a relatively low crime rate.

"In fact, the level of crime in across the Waverley borough has seen a 1.9% reduction compared to the same period last year."

Asian art stolen valued at £25,000 from Stroud Auction Rooms

Asian art worth about £25,000 has been stolen from an auction house in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

Police believe the thieves used a ladder to get to a window, which they think they then smashed to get into the building.

Among the items taken were a bamboo libation cup valued at £8,000 and a blue and white porcelain figure of a goddess worth £4,500.

No-one from Stroud Auction Rooms Ltd was available to comment on the theft.

A Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman said the items stolen were mainly made from jade but also porcelain and wood.

She urged anyone with information about the theft, which happened some time between 20:00 BST on Tuesday 11th October 2011 and 08:15 on Wednesday 12th October, to contact police.

Gold Necklaces Reported Stolen from College Twp. Antiques Store

Ten 18-karat gold necklaces were reported stolen Thursday from Apple Hill Antiques, 169 Gerald St., State College police said.

The theft was reported to police at 2:30 p.m., according to a police report. Police said someone broke a display-case latch to remove the necklaces.

They included various pendants with man-made stones, according to the police report. The value of the necklaces was not immediately released. The antiques store is in College Township.

In a separate incident Thursday, borough authorities arrested a man found to be in possession of brass knuckles, a prohibited weapon, police said.

The man was initially stopped for being intoxicated and causing a disturbance, according to a police report. Apparently confused, he had been knocking on the doors of a private residence on the 100 block of West Prospect Avenue, police said.

The brass knuckles were found on his person when he was taken into custody, according to the report. He was transported to Mount Nittany Medical Center for treatment related to his alcohol consumption, police said.

His name was not immediately available for publication Friday afternoon.

Art teacher jailed for selling Picasso and Lowry forgeries for £180,000

A rogue dealer has been jailed after engineering a £180,000 scam where he told fine art fakes to galleries across Britain.

Rizvan Rahman, a respected former art teacher, flogged more than 30 forgeries including one by LS Lowry for £35,000 and 13 imitating work by Mary Fedden.

The 40-year-old kept literature entitled Confessions of a Master Forger and The Art Forger's Handbook at his home in Leicester - but maintains that he didn't paint the fakes.

Leicester Crown Court heard how police raided the house in December 2009 and seized 19 paintings - some purportedly by Picasso, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said: "Between January 2008 and October 2009, Rahman defrauded galleries and members of the public by selling paintings he falsely claimed were genuine and original works of art.

"His motive was to make money at the expense of innocent purchasers and the amount involved was £179,450.

"When some of the frauds were discovered he would express surprise and refund the gallery involved.

"Taking refunds into account his net profit was at least £61,950."

Mr Aspden said in December 2009 police searched his home and third-floor art studio, where they seized 19 paintings from a collection of 168.

He said more than 30 fakes were sold through well known auction houses and respectable galleries.

The court heard how Rahman's cover story was that he had been given the paintings by his father or bought them for his private collection.

Mr Aspden said: "He occasionally produced fake documents as proof of provenance. The forgeries were mainly in the style of post-war British artists including Jack Pender, Mary Fedden, Sandra Blow, Terry Frost and Wilhelmina Barns-Graham."

In interview, Rahman admitted Sothebys was pursuing him for a refund over the sale of a £65,000 George Leslie Hunter work - although he was not prosecuted in relation to this.

He said paintings in the style of world famous artists at his home were nothing more than decorative items he bought for £80.

Mr Aspden said: "The defendant had been dealing in fake works of art on a significant scale."

Rahman sold 13 forgeries of work by Mary Fedden, described in court as one Britain's greatest living artists, whose Royal College of Art pupils included a young David Hockney.

Now in her 90s, she was shown one of the fakes.

"She was less than impressed by the forger's work, saying it was a very bad painting," Mr Aspden said.

Owners of galleries all over the country including Cornwall, London and Uppingham, Leicestershire, were initially taken in by the defendant, but soon became suspicious.

Rahman now faces a proceeds of crime hearing to seize his assets and faces losing his home.

Steven Newcombe, mitigating, said Rahman repaid most of the cash as soon as there was a complaint.

He set up his art dealing business in 2004 and made many genuine sales adding: "It wasn't fraudulent from the outset."

Rahman, a married father of three, who traded under the name of Haslam and Purdy, admitted two counts of fraudulent trading, eight counts of selling false works and two of possessing articles (documents) for use in fraud.

India blinks as art treasures disappear
By Neeta Lal

NEW DELHI - The Indian art world received a hi-voltage jolt recently when two paintings by legendary Russian artist Nicholas Roerich worth US$2 million, earlier filched from the premises of the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, resurfaced at an auction-exhibition in London.

Depicting the incandescent Himalayas, both paintings were a part of a cachet of the prized works of Roerich, a brilliant artist who went to India in 1923 and stayed until his death in 1947.

Ironically, the heist came to light only when London authorities contacted IARI, whose officials were until then clueless about how the works had been pinched from under their noses and smuggled out of the country. The institute is now scrambling to "catch the culprits and bring the works back to India".

The case is just one among countless others of priceless Indian antiques "disappearing" from government offices and museums, with the Indian government seemingly apathetic to theft of priceless heritage, despite the millions of dollars being spent on historical preservation.

Thousands of Buddhist and other antiques are smuggled out of the country each year to museums and private collections overseas. Even the Nobel prize medallion of late Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore wasn't spared when the museum in his hometown, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, was looted in 2004. Along with the medal, Tagore's priceless collections of antique jewelry, watches, paintings, citations and memorabilia were stolen. None was ever traced.

There was a similar uproar to this week's scandal in 2008 when a bronze figurine of the Goddess Parvati worth millions of dollars turned up at a New York auction. The rare antique - crafted in 1400 BC during the reign of King Harihara II - was considered a masterpiece of the Vijayanagar dynasty.

Historically important sites and under-guarded museums in India have been a fertile playground for antique smugglers for decades. In September 2006, 18 antique pieces disappeared from Patna museum in the the Indian state of Bihar while 200 antiques, including rare Jain statues, were recovered from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the same year as cops nabbed smugglers preparing to leave the country.

Experts blame lackadaisical implementation of laws, the connivance of authorities, inadequate security and the lack of genuine documentation for the rampant theft.

Indian laws define any piece of art that is over 100 years old as "antique". The export and sale of such antiques is banned and punishable by law. However, it has become a thriving industry gnawing at the cultural roots of the country.

"The blanket rule is that all things over 100 years old qualify as antiques, and have to be registered with the Indian government," says Dr Prakash Nene, formerly with the National Museum, New Delhi. "But where are the technically-equipped professionals to undertake such a task? India is seriously deficient in such wherewithal. Besides, antiques are grossly undervalued in government priorities," he says.

"The problem with Indian laws governing antique thefts is that they are ridden with loopholes," says historian Radhika Ramseshan.

He cites the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 as an example. Under the law anyone caught stealing from an ancient monument or archaeological site can get away with being fined a pittance - a meager 5,000 rupees (US$90) and imprisonment for up to three months or both. Similarly, says Ramseshan, the Antiquities Act 1972 proposes three years imprisonment for such crimes.

"Invariably, lawyers play up discrepancies between the two acts to get the guilty off the hook," she says. "These laws are ludicrous in their punition considering many stolen artefacts fetch far more staggering sums for the culprits. The culprits obviously don't mind paying the paltry fines. "

Art aficionados also partly blame the exponential growth of the Indian art industry. The domestic art market - teeming with talented artists whose works now routinely fetch astronomical prices worldwide - has witnessed remarkable growth in the past decade. Works by Indian maestros like F N Souza, Raza, Tyeb Mehta, M F Husain, Atul Dodiya and Anjolie Ela Menon can fetch prices in the millions of dollars.

The scramble for acquisitions has never been so aggressive. "There's awesome money chasing Indian art. It is a recession-proof industry," says Prateek Goyal, a Mumbai-based art buyer planning to launch a gallery soon. "Fueled by coverage in the global media, everybody wants a share in the Indian art pie," he says.

A report by arts institution OSIAN's Connoisseurs of Art released last June estimated the Indian market would be worth $400 million in 2010.

According to experts, trade in stolen art is the fastest-growing crime in the United States and the third-largest international criminal activity. Reports estimate some 30,000 pieces of art are stolen per year in Italy, with the 6,000 taken in France costing insurance companies some $3 billion and $5 billion per year.

Experts say art insiders are often involved in these illegal operations, as they have the technical knowledge and contacts to link with a demand.

Delhi-based art curator Shreya Juneja says museum employees are also usually hand-in-glove with the thieves.

More than anything else, the illicit trade in stolen antiquities is able to flourish with the connivance of dealers, collectors and museum curators, says Shreya. "They form a powerful lobby to dissuade the government from taking any punitive action. Besides, government bodies - like the Archeological Survey of India [ASI] and the National Crime Record Bureau - have little synergy on the issue. This makes non-compliance easier."

The problem isn't isolated to India. Heritage theft is also rampant across Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Iran, Pakistan and African countries.

In a more high-profile case of international art theft, India's former colonial masters Britain is home to numerous Indian artefacts, with ancient Indian art smuggled out of the country appearing in the catalogues of prestigious auction houses. India and Pakistan have been asking the British government for decades to return the purportedly cursed Kohinoor diamond, which is included in Britain's crown jewels.

The architecture of art theft, say experts, is different from other crimes as the items are relatively small and can be easily smuggled in or out of countries. Aggravating the problem is that most thefts are never even reported to the police.

"Victims of art theft fear that if the theft is publicized, other thieves will try to capitalize on their lack of security. Many also believe that publicity about the theft will have a domino effect on their sales," elaborates Goyal.

India also suffers from a lack of a proper bookkeeping. There are fewer critics, curators and catalogues than in the West, as well as no indices and or inventories. No inventory exists for Roerich's works in India and the Central Bureau of Investigation has found that several other works by the legendary painter are lying around the IARI in a state of neglect.

Given paltry state budgets for museum security, staff can hardly be blamed. Security measures like sophisticated CCTV cameras and other electronic surveillance equipment rarely feature in government's budgets.

One step forward would be following America's lead and creating an art theft department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Art Theft Program is located at FBI headquarters in Washington DC. Agents are coached in art and cultural property investigations and assisted in art-related investigations worldwide with foreign law-enforcement officials.

Delhi could also plug legal loopholes to put pressure on auction houses abroad. Since many stolen antiquities find their way into the storerooms of international auction houses, it is critical that the Indian government use its international influence.

It is also a well-known fact that auction websites sell Indian antiques while keeping the sellers' identities private. This anonymity offers the perfect camouflage to culprits while making it simultaneously difficult for investigators.

Conservators say the real problem with India is an insouciance towards the country's rich history. Add porous laws and laughable budgetary allocations for art preservation and it is hardly a mystery why the jewels of Indian heritage continue to fall into the wrong hands.

Neeta Lal is a Delhi-based journalist.

Ex-exec's trial on AGH art theft delayed

BEVERLY — The trial of the former Beverly Hospital vice president charged with orchestrating a $500,000 bribery and kickback scheme — and stealing antiques and paintings, including art work that had been displayed at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester — has been delayed until February.

Paul Galzerano, 59, a former Groveland resident, had been set to stand trial on Nov. 9 on bribery and larceny charges,.

But, during a hearing Friday. his attorney, Scott Gleason, told a Salem Superior Court judge that he had underestimated how long the trial would take.

Gleason told Judge Timothy Feeley that he had anticipated the trial would take about a week.

"Quite frankly, I was dead wrong," Gleason told the judge.

He said the volume of evidence in the case, which involved three contractors who later admitted paying bribes or kickbacks to Galzerano, was more than he had anticipated and now believes the trial could take up to three weeks. And he's already scheduled a vacation for mid-November, he said.

Assistant attorney general Margaret Parks, who is prosecuting the case, agreed to the delay, which was approved by Feeley.

The new trial date is Feb. 27.

Galzerano was overseeing a $55 million Northeast Health System renovation project at Beverly Hospital when he allegedly coerced contractors to take part in a variety of schemes, including submitting doctored invoices to cover the expenses of work that was actually done at his Groveland home and paying Galzerano's personal bills.

Galzerano is also charged with stealing more than $200,000 worth of antiques and paintings from the hospitals, items that he told co-workers were in storage during the renovation.

Borja and Tita tussle over Baron Heinirich von Thyssen’s money

LEGACIES cause even more family rifts than money and Spain’s extremely rich Thyssens are no different from anyone else.
Borja Thyssen, adopted 31-year-old son of the late Baron Heinrich von Thyssen, was left an annual income of $300,000 plus three payments of $1.5 million to be handed over at five-yearly intervals.
His inheritance, agreed after fierce infighting inside the extended Thyssen family, is administered by Borja’s mother, Carmen Cervera, Baroness Thyssen.
Borja, say those close to the family, has cash-flow problems and wants to control his fortune himself.
Now 68, the Baroness remains Tita to those who remember her as a beauty queen and then an actress who after two advantageous marriages met Heinrich von Thyssen in 1982 and eventually married him.
Borja, fruit of Carmen’s relationship with Spartaco Santoni, was immensely spoilt by his mother and adoptive father. However, since his 2007 marriage to Blanca Cuesta, a model five years his senior who was then five months pregnant, his relationship with his mother veers between farce and tragedy.
Their ups and downs, reconciliations and ruptures of the triangle, to which must be added the young couple’s two children, are notoriously well documented, but at the heart of the conflict lies Borja’s inheritance. Tita refuses to comment. “That’s something we don’t discuss. It was a decision we all took and I keep strictly to what was agreed,” is all she will say.
Borja’s camp is less tight-lipped. “We want an overall agreement spelling out that Borja owns assets to which he does not have complete access. It’s an administrative problem,” explained a source close to the family. Last May Borja tried to take matters into his own hands by removing two pictures from the Carmen Thyssen collection in Madrid, temporarily on loan to the nation.
The pictures – a Goya and a Giaquinto worth €7 million –were his, claimed Borja who was politely but firmly invited to leave the Thyssen Museum.
Lawyers are now attempting to repossess the pictures but the last word goes to the Baroness. “It’s all mine. Exclusively mine. Letting lawyers take money is something else. Borja doesn’t realise what he’s getting into,” she said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stolen Art Watch Sprengel Picasso's, Buy-Back From Thieves, Handlers & Serbian Officials

Investigators track down stolen Picasso paintings from Hanover

Johanna Di Blasi

The news came as a surprise: The on 6
February 2008 in Switzerland, Picasso paintings stolen from the Sprengel Museum Hannover - "Verre et Pichet" (1944) and the late work "Tete de cheval" (1962) - have been "secured" in Serbia.

Hanover. This message is sent to the senior prosecutor of the Swiss law enforcement authorities, Charles Fässler, on the screen - on Friday evening in the show "10 to 10" on Swiss television.

After three and a half years' hard work determine "whether the prosecutor's office, authorities and" third party "succeeded in making the images identified. The value of the still life and the horse's head are now estimated at 4.8 million francs (the equivalent of € 3.88 million). The pictures are befänden unharmed at a "safe place". Among the offenders, the prosecutor made so far but no details.

The apparent breakthrough came only in recent days. According to the information Fässler the Swiss prosecutor investigating Christina Mueller had recently traveled with representatives of the cantonal police to Belgrade to negotiate. When international wanted also the prominent British art detective Dick Ellis has been active. The former Scotland Yard sergeant will also be traveling to Serbia and Montenegro. He was involved in the past on numerous spectacular searches, such as the search for Edvard Munch's "Scream" from the National Gallery in Oslo. In connection with the search for the stolen Picasso paintings is Ellis also came to Hanover for talks, said Ulrich Krempel, Director of the Sprengel Museum.

The fact that the Hanoverian art in the former Yugoslavia have appeared, invites speculation. Tried to sell the underworld bosses, the museum works to wealthy collectors in Eastern Europe? Do the investigators for the return of the photos "ransom" to pay? Infected as in the case of the spectacular 1994 robbery Schirn even the Serb mafia behind the theft in the cultural center in Pfäffikon causeway, where the loans from Hanover in a Picasso exhibition hung?

Stefan Horsthemke, to charge recently at Axa Art, where the Picasso works were insured, said on request ". Are up to no pictures arrives back safely to Hanover, it is too early to talk about the background" The insurance has been before some time to the victims - the city of Hanover and the Sprengel Foundation - a total of around three million euros paid. Typically, in exchange for the emergence of looted paintings, the sum insured against art.

Clutter on the weekend showed confidence that the works are soon back in the museum. "We are pleased that the investigators have been able to find the Picasso painting. We know that it's the pictures well. The most important thing now is that they are quickly back, "said the museum director. The artworks were intact, showing only one frame damage. The take-back should be handled by Switzerland. The Swiss prosecutor's office has asked the Serbian authorities for legal assistance.

Angela Kriesel talked of the Sprengel Foundation on Sunday from a "wonderful news". There was absolutely correct, do not invest the sum insured in other arts. Hanover Kulturdezernentin Marlis Drevermann said they had always planned for the sum of the restitution of works of art.

After speculations, which specializes in art crime, the Internet platform nail-biter is not yet endured. After such a "deal" it was important that all sides kept their word. Previous cases have shown, that is to recover stolen art in Serbia and Montenegro, sometimes only if payments were made to dealers and thieves. Fässler prosecutor said: "Whether money is flowing, we do not know."

"There have been various theories, such as the rich billionaire who has given the theft in order," said Clutter. "We have always assumed that it is an absurd step, things to steal from the public domain. . The images are known and listed in the Art Loss Register, "The likelihood that the works appeared again, whether from the beginning been considered to be high:" All the people who deal professionally with the subject of art theft, told us that the chance that the images are found, is big. "he had more background, the Swiss prosecutor does not reveal, said Carding. The circumstances remind the museum director at the Schirn robbery of 1994. The author and art theft expert Stefan Koldehoff ("Aktenzeichen art") also sees parallels between Pfäffikon-robbery and the Frankfurt case, as he told this newspaper on request.

Even when prey are Schirn art - two and a Spitzweg Turner from the Tate in London and the Hamburger Kunsthalle - returned from the former Yugoslavia. However, there were only five years after the first serious evidence.

Art museum professionals from London and detectives then went to work smart - and they succeeded. The individual quibbles, however, are not without controversy. The Tate in London is said to have earned the coup, a 20-million-euro surplus, at the expense of art insurer. Meanwhile, there are books on the Frankfurt case, but many details remained silent until today.

Shortly after Picasso theft in 2008 Pfäffikon had been stolen in Zurich's Buehrle collection of four paintings with an estimated value of 180 million francs (145 million €). Two appeared again soon after. Of two other works - a Cézanne and Degas - remain missing without trace. It is still unclear whether the perpetrators of Pfäffikon for the robbery in Zurich are responsible.

A successful result was recently the case in 2010 from the then inadequately secured Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris reported stolen works of art with an estimated value of around 100 million €. A few days ago were arrested three suspects in Paris - the art works were not yet tracked down.

Art Hostage Comments:

Marshall Ronald, the aquitted Lawyer who recovered the Da Vinci Madonna of the Yarnwinder offers this as a breakdown of the Buy-back:

The Buyback Explained

"Lets spell out in clear terms the truth behind buybacks.

The insurance industry would have you believe that buybacks are unlawful and that the owner and those involved in the buyback become susceptible to arrest.

Dick Ellis and Mark Dalrymple would have you believe that you could be charged with conspiracy to launder money.

The insurance industry has a valid concern that they do not wish to encourage thieves to steal art simply to claim the rewards offered. That is a matter of public policy the public policy of protecting the interests of insurers.

Rewards are in the gift of the insurers and they are notoriously secretive of what they actually pay out as opposed to what they advertise as the offer of the reward prefaced with the clause subject to the usual conditions, which is basically a get out clause to make payment, shall we say, somewhat difficult.

If a piece of art is insured then when the insurance company pays out under the terms of the policy then they acquire legal title to the artwork. Often there is an arrangement whereby the owner can reacquire title if they repay the insurance company back together with interest.

Insurance companies are spectacularly disinterested in whether the artwork is returned or not which is in sharp contrast to that of the original owner of the artwork. The loss adjustor is appointed to protect their interests however their track record of recovery is poor.

The private sector has specialist companies often headed up by ex police officers and they work with the like of the Art Loss Register to see whether the art work surfaces. Mark Dalrymple, Dick Ellis and Julian Radcliffe are all prominent players.

A fear of the Proceeds of Crime Act has made everyone very wary however the real issue is has the law been correctly understood. The Proceeds of Crime Act has not featured in any prosecutions involving art recovery and there is a good reason for this. In art recovery the Proceeds of Crime Act is a red herring.

No one wishes to be an apologist for thieves or handlers. It is the job of the police to apprehend people who break the law but only those who break the law.

The owner of the artwork is whoever has legal title and they are the people who can enter into commercial arrangements for the safe recovery of the artwork. The owner is sovereign and can deal with anyone of their choosing including if they so choose the original thieves. It is not an offence for an owner to enter into a commercial arrangement to recover or procure the return of their own property.

The owners are governed by private law and the state is governed by public law. If the owner wishes to enter a private arrangement to recover property then that is an end to the matter. Owners are not paid for law enforcement and if they elect to act privately they can do so with impunity. There is a big difference between advertising a reward and entering into a private treaty."