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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Dublin Saint O'Toole's Heart Ripped Out As Greek Police Hunt Museum Hauls



Serb Marko Arrested in Vienna

Thieves steal preserved heart of St Laurence O'Toole

THE 12th-Century preserved heart of of the patron saint of Dublin, St Laurence O'Toole, was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral yesterday.

Shocked staff at the cathedral discovered the theft yesterday and said they were "absolutely devastated".

Gardai are now hunting for the missing relic.

"It has been a major site of pilgrimage and a major tourist attraction," said Nuala Kavanagh, director of operations at the cathedral.

The heart -- which has been in the cathedral for 800 years -- was kept in a wooden container sealed within a small iron-barred case.

It is understood three security guards were on duty and CCTV footage was being examined by gardai last night.

Gardai said they believed the theft from Saint Laud's Chapel in Christ Church Cathedral happened sometime between Friday evening and 12.30pm yesterday.

The small iron-barred case was forced open by the thieves who left it behind and escaped with the saint's heart.

No alarms were activated and there was no sign of a break-in at the cathedral when it was opened at 9.30am yesterday.

Staff said they had never seen the heart, which is kept in the wooden heart-shaped container, which is itself sealed within the iron case.

The one-time archbishop St Laurence O'Toole, born Lorcan Ua Tuathail in Castledermot, County Kildare, in 1128 and who became known as Laurence O'Toole, died in November 1180 in Normandy, France.

Staff said O'Toole was known as an ascetic. He wore a hairshirt, never ate meat and fasted every Friday on bread and water.

When he entertained, his guests lacked for nothing while he coloured his water to look like wine so as not to spoil the feast. Each Lent he went to Glendalough where he lived in St Kevin's Cell, a sort of cave over the Upper Lake, for 40 days.

Due to the number of miracles that occurred at his tomb, he was canonised in 1225 by Pope Honorius III.

In 1442, his skull was brought back to Britain by Rowland Standish (a relative of Captain Myles Standish, the British military adviser to the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony arriving off the Mayflower) who fought at Agincourt. His bones were interred at the Parish Church of Chorley, now called the Church of St Laurence.

However, the bones disappeared in the Reformation under Henry VIII's rule.

His heart has been preserved in Christ Church Cathedral since the 13th Century and has been a major pilgrimage site since the medieval period.

The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral and the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, the Most Reverend Dermot Dunne, said: "I am devastated that one of the treasured artefacts of the cathedral is stolen.

"It has no economic value but it is a priceless treasure that links our present foundation with its founding father, St Laurence O'Toole."

Staff at the cathedral appealed to the thieves to return the relic.

Arrests Antiquities Smuggling Ring

Greek police investigating antiquities smuggling have arrested 35 people and recovered thousands of ancient coins and other artifacts.
One of the suspects was found with more than 4,000 coins in his possession.
Metal detectors were also found during the raids, which took place in northern and central Greece.
The country’s archaeological heritage means it has long been a target for illegal traders. Last month dozens of artifacts were stolen from a museum. Two masked men took more than 60 objects after overpowering a female guard at the site, dedicated to the history of the ancient Olympic Games in Olympia.
Those items, mostly bronze and clay statuettes, were of “incalculable” value, according to the town’s mayor.

Greece: Antiquities Safer in the Ground

After an antiquities theft ring was rounded up and stolen items recovered, exasperated officials are reburying treasures to keep them safe.

After a weekend in which an antiquities theft ring was rounded up and thousands of stolen items recovered, exasperated officials have decided to rebury the treasures to keep them safe.

Greek police arrested a gang of 35 thieves Saturday night, and recovered literally thousands of stolen items in the process. Reportedly one of the members of the gang alone had in his possession 4,000 ancient coins.

Some of the booty had been stolen from antiquities sites, a phenomenon that is sometimes also seen in the State of Israel although vigorously battled by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which along with Israel's Nature and Parks Authority works to prevent such thefts.

Others were traced to the robbery of the Greek Museum in Olympia on February 17.

Approximately 76 objects d'art were stolen in the armed robbery, including bronze, pottery and gold items, and a 3,200-year-old gold ring. The theft came on the heels of a similar robbery in January at the National Gallery in Athens that resulted in the loss of two paintings, a Picasso and a Mondrian.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund have forced Greece into major spending cuts in return for loans to help it recover from a massive debt crisis, the worst the country has faced in decades.

Those cuts have been responsible for the breakdown in security, according to Illicit Cultural Property blogger Derek Fincham, an assistant professor at South Texas College of Law. He cited Yiannis Mavrikopoulos, head of the culture ministry museum and site guards' union, who said the cutbacks imposed by the EU and IMF had forced nearly half of the museum and cultural heritage staff to take early retirement, leaving inadequate security to guard the antiquities.

Greece meanwhile announced Friday that it would stop excavating some antiquities, and intends to rebury some items that have already been uncovered. “Mother Earth is the best protector of our antiquities,” Thessaloniki's Aristotelio University archaeology professor Michalis Tiverios told the Ta Nea daily newspaper.

“Let us leave our antiquities in the soil, to be found by archaeologists in 10,000 CE, when Greeks and their politicians will perhaps show more respect to their history,” he said.

It is unclear what effect such an action will have on the country's tourism industry, since much of the attraction of Greece is connected to its ancient history and to its display of the wealth of antiquities discovered beneath its soil.

Back-story:

From Feb 24th 2012

Police have detained a suspect in connection with the recent robbery at the Ancient Olympia museum.

Officers said they have detained a foreign national who they suspect was part of a group that raided jewellery shops in the area. Police believe this gang may have been involved in the museum heist as well.

The guard on duty at the museum at the time of the raid is due to inform police whether she recognizes the suspect.

Police studied seven minutes of CCTV footage before bringing the suspect in for questioning.

The thieves stole between 60 and 70 items from the museum.

Art Hostage Comments:

It was from the above arrest of a Croatian national Greek police got information that led to the current raids and recovery of said items.

Artworks seized in Vienna
http://www.vienna.at/kunstdieb-in-wien-gefasst/3184643

March 4, 2012
[Image: Cobra combines 41-year-old art thief in the 15th District.] Cobra summarizes
41-year-old art thief in the 15th District -. © apa / Federal

As part of a co-police action was a 41-year-old caught in Vienna
and several works of art can be ensured. Now, after the owners
sought.

The 41-year-old Serb, Marko G. was using European arrest warrant
sought after in January at a traffic stop in Milan by
Carabinieri had run over and killed this came from. Officials
Cobra discovered the suspect in his car at the Schoenbrunn
Street in the 15th District. After his arrest, was over
Investigate two works of art will be ensured in the suspect: A
Paintings and reliefs of unknown origin. "The value is not
quantifiable, "said a spokesman for the Federal Criminal Police Office.

There was a strong suspicion that he both works of art as part of a
Offense has taken it. You go from a theft, burglary or
Robbery in Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland
from. The Federal Criminal Police Office now calls on to the appropriate instructions
Origin of art and of possible further offenses of
41-year-olds.

It's A Mitzvah! NY1 Viewer Helps Police Recover Stolen Synagogue Items

An astute NY1 viewer recognized a collection of religious items from a story the newschannel aired last week about a burglary at the Queens synagogue, and her tip led police to recover the artifacts. Borough Reporter Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

Devout NY1 viewer Janet Medina says it was a good thing she was watching the newschannel Tuesday morning when NY1 aired a story about religious artifacts stolen from a synagogue in Kew Gardens.

"I was like – 'Oh my God, I've seen those items," she recalled Friday.

Medina saw them last week when she was going though the inventory at the Gold Standard pawn shop in Forest Hills where she works. After seeing the story on NY1, Medina went to the store and called her boss.

"At that point I Googled the NY1 story and I saw it," explained Gold Standard operations director Scott Simon. "I pulled the items out of our inventory and checked them out against the pictures."

After recognizing some of the pieces, Simon immediately notified the police.

"One piece that was really clear that we had is called the Torah crown," he said. "It has a lot of detail work."

Armed with that information, investigators arrested Efram Sanders for stealing several items from Congregation Degel Israel between February 18th and the 25th. Sanders was charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

"He seemed like a regular nice Jewish man," Simon explained of his dealings with Sanders. "One of the questions that we always ask is, 'Do these items belong to you?' And his explanation was that he had inherited the items – that he got the items during his Bar Mitzvah."

Sanders was arraigned on Wednesday, with bail set at $20 thousand. He did not enter a plea, but he is due back in court on March 14.

As for the synagogue, members said they were happy to get their items back.

"I don't think that in their wildest dreams they thought they were ever going to see them again," said Simon.

However the folks at the Gold Standard may not get back the thousands of dollars they paid for the items.

"We'll try to take the appropriate measures to recoup some of the money," said Simon. "But the likelihood is that we'll take the loss on this one."

Nevertheless, they feel like winners for doing the right thing.

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