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Monday, April 30, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Another Fine Mess Stanley

Stanley Spencer painting stolen from gallery in Cookham High StreetLink

THIEVES have stolen a distinctive painting by renowned British artist Sir Stanley Spencer.

The artwork, entitled Cookham from Englefield, was taken from the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham High Street.

The theft happened just before 1am yesterday morning, police revealed this afternoon.

Both the gallery and the private owner who had loaned it are devastated, police said.

The oil on canvas painting, created in 1948, was taken after a window was smashed at the gallery.

Police were alerted by a member of the public.

Investigating officer Det Con Iain Watkinson, of Force CID in Maidenhead, said: “The painting is very distinctive and it holds a great deal of sentimental value to the owners. The owners and the gallery are both devastated by its loss.

“I would like to speak to anyone who saw any suspicious vehicles in the area, or a person or people acting suspiciously, around the time of the burglary.

“I would also urge people working in the art industry to be vigilant and be aware this painting has been stolen.”

Last year the auction record for a painting by Sir Stanley Spencer was broken twice within minutes at Sotheby's in London.

Workmen in the House, which had an upper estimate of £2m, sold for £4.7m before Sunflower and Dog Worship, with a top estimate of £1.5m, fetched £5.4m.

Sir Stanley, described by the auction house as one of the 20th Century's most important UK artists, was born in 1891 and lived and worked in the Berkshire village of Cookham, now home to the gallery of his work.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Fitzwilliam Jade Theft, End Of The Beginning

Chinese Whispers: The Myths and Realities of the Stolen Fitzwilliam Treasures

With police distributing posters and leaflets around Cambridge tonight, and ports and airports alerted to the theft, Varsity examines what has become of the Chinese treasures stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum two weeks ago today.

Police investigating the theft of 18 Chinese artifacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum will tonight be distributing appeal leaflets and posters as they continue to trace a white van believed to have been involved in the burglary. This comes only days after ports and airports were alerted to the theft.

With many contradictory opinions regarding the whereabouts of the artefacts, mainly, with a value estimated at £18 million, it is difficult at present to see through the mist of what has been named 'Operation Tundra'.

Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Daber, of Cambridgeshire Police, said:

“We have contacted enforcement agencies at ports and airports nationwide. It is possible the items have already left the country and we have circulated details to police forces internationally.”

Opinion is divided on whether the objects are still in the UK, but there is only one suspected destination: China. Experts also agree that the theft will not have been on the behalf of one individual collector, condemning the idea as merely fiction.

Noah Charney, editor of 'The Journal of Art Crime', and author of The Art Thief, argues that the objects could already be in China. He wrote for the blog ARTINFO that:

“This theft, and others of Chinese artifacts[sic] in particular, is almost certainly not for one collector (that almost never happens in real life), but rather a harvest of salable[sic] goods to be sent to China, where the objects might already be."

He adds that: “The market for Chinese art is so much greater in China than elsewhere [...] and selling stolen art is so much more difficult in the West, that China is really the only logical destination.”

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Dick Ellis, who headed the Metropolitan Police's Art and Antiques Unit for 10 years, agrees that the idea that an unknown collector is behind the crime is fantasy.

“In 30 years of investigating this type of crime, I've found this type of billionaire collector has been found not to exist- it's a media myth,” he argues.

“The police will be circulating details to the antique trade and that will make it very difficult to pass it on to any legitimate or semi-legitimate dealer”.

However, he disagrees with Charney's speculation that the items may already be in China. He added:

“I would've thought you are looking at this beinga British raid rather than a Chinese group committing these thefts. Therefore, the likelihood is that they are still in the UK.”

The criminals are certainly well organised, with CCTV checks showing the van believed to have been involved arriving in Grove Lane at 7.26pm on Friday April 13, and appears heading out of the city on Trumpington Street at 7.38pm.

With the raid itself taking under 10 minutes, it is no surprise that ports and airports have been warned to be on alert. It is agreed that the destination is in all likelihood China, and that the group is not acting under the instructions of a single collector.

The race is on for Operation Tundra to track the items before they leave the country, if they are in fact still in the UK at all. Once the items are abroad, it will be incredibly difficult for police to continue the search, as Charney makes clear:

“Internet black-outs mean that many in China could not check stolen art databases, even if they were inclined to do so.”

The Fitzwilliam Museum is still planning to host the largest collection of royal Chinese artefacts to travel outside China in the upcoming exhibition 'The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China', which opens on 5 May.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Art Thieves Motto, If At First They Don't Succeed, They Try, Try Again

Attempted raid at Museum of East Asian Art in Bath

A Bath museum was sealed off by police yesterday after a botched attempted break-in.

Police teams have been working at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bennett Street, which houses almost 2,000 art objects.

It follows a wave of high-value burglaries of Chinese art from museums.

Detectives say nothing was taken and nobody was hurt in yesterday’s incident.

Staff at the museum called police after the three men – dressed in white overalls and high-vis tabards – knocked on the door at 11.40am.

The trio – who had arrived in a silver Audi A6 – pushed past the member of staff to get into the building.

Within 30 seconds, they had run out of the museum again after an alarm had sounded.

The museum in a Georgian house contains ceramics, jades, bronzes and other treasures from China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia.

Last week £18 million of jade was stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and earlier in April jade was stolen from the Oriental Museum in Durham.

Up to four people were involved in the theft of Chinese works of art worth at least £18m from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, police believe.

Detectives said the burglars had entered the back of the building at about 19:30 BST on 13 April.

Officers said the group was inside the building for a "matter of minutes" before fleeing in a getaway car.

The 18 items stolen were mostly jade and part of the museum's permanent collection.

A Cambridgeshire police spokeswoman said officers were checking CCTV from local car parks and park-and-ride facilities as part of their inquiries.

Cambridgeshire police have refused to speculate on whether the theft is linked to a break-in earlier this month at the Oriental Museum at Durham University, where Chinese jade and porcelain items were also stolen.

Bath's museums on alert as raiders eye treasures

Bath’s museums packed with historic treasures are on high alert this week after a bizarre attempted break-in.

The incident at the Museum of East Asian Art in the city centre came hard on the heels of the theft of Chinese works of art worth millions of pounds from institutions in Cambridge and Durham.

The small museum in Bennett Street, which houses almost 2,000 art objects, was sealed off by police on Tuesday. Detectives say nothing was taken and no one was hurt in the incident, which involved three offenders.

Staff at the museum called police after the three men, dressed in white overalls and high-vis jackets, knocked on the door at 11.40am.

The trio, who had arrived in a silver Audi A6, pushed past the member of staff to get into the building.

Within 30 seconds, they had run out of the museum again after an alarm had sounded.

The museum in a Georgian house contains ceramics, jades, bronzes and other treasures from China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia and is the only gallery in Britain purely devoted to its subject.

It was opened in 1993 and its collection dates back to the year 5000BC.

In separate incidents earlier this month, Chinese jade and porcelain items were stolen from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Oriental Museum in Durham.

Museum of East Asian Art curator Michel (cor) Lee said it had stepped up its security as a result of the other incidents and a spate of rhino horn thefts from institutions in Europe.

“As a result of recent thefts of rhinoceros horns across Europe and the thefts at the Oriental Museum in Durham and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, we had been preparing for worst case scenarios.

“We have been taking extra precautions and maintaining vigilance, as well as receiving extra training in our emergency procedures. Needless to say, we will continue our extra security measures.”

Bath has one of the highest concentrations of museums – 17 in one square-mile area alone – anywhere outside London.

Alexander Sturgis, director of the Holburne Museum, which has recently emerged from a £11-million expansion scheme, said they were aware of the potential threat and were taking extra security measures.

He said: “We talked to the Museum of East Asian Art after their horrid scare and send our sympathy to them.

“We are also aware of the recent thefts of Chinese material around the country and although we don’t display this kind of material, as always, our staff and volunteers are briefed to be vigilant.

“The care of our collection and its security are of paramount importance to us at the Holburne, and improving both were important elements of our development project.”

A spokesman for Bath and North East Somerset Council, which runs the Victoria Art Gallery and the Roman Baths, said staff at all its sites had been warned to be vigilant.

The Arts Council has been working with museums exhibiting Chinese art to ensure security standards are high.

A spokeswoman said it provided guidance to any museums which had concerns and invited anyone with questions to contact them on

Vernon Rapley, head of security and visitor services at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, told Museums Journal: “We’ve been aware for a while of a number of incidents that have centred around Chinese items. People need to fund criminal activity and they are targeting other objects that appeal to the Chinese market.”

Police have confirmed they are looking into the possibility that the Bath incident is linked to the spate of thefts elsewhere in the country.

Police alerted worldwide after Fitz raid

Police forces worldwide have been alerted in the hunt for Chinese artefacts stolen in a multi-million pound raid on the Fitzwilliam Museum.

And today detectives ruled out any links with a similar burglary of jade treasure in Durham.

It took minutes for a gang of art thieves to plunder the museum in Trumpington Street of 18 works of art valued at about £10 million on Friday, April 13.

Det Chief Sup Karen Daber, who is overseeing the investigation called Operation Tundra, said: “The number one priority for the investigation is recovery of the property so very early on the 18 images of the property were circulated nationally and internationally to alert to what they look like.

“We are looking into any type of market out there for this type of stolen property.”

The detective also ruled out any link with a similar heist which took place just over a week earlier at Durham University.

A gang chiselled into the Oriental Museum through an outside wall on April 5 before stealing two Chinese artefacts, which are thought to have been stolen to order.

Both stolen items are estimated to be worth more than £2 million and were recovered on the same day that the raid on the Fitzwilliam took place.

Mrs Daber said: “At this moment in time we do not believe the burglary at the Fitzwilliam is linked to the burglary at Durham. From our inquiries we have found no link.”

CCTV images of a stolen white VW caddy van which is believed to have been used by art thieves the Fitzwilliam have been released

The van has a dent in the driver’s side panel and tinted windows to the rear. It is believed to have been stolen in the Tower Hamlets area of London on April 7.

It was seen near the museum and spotted at Trumpington park and ride and heading towards the M11.

Stolen Fitz haul 'still in UK', claims expert

The former head of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Squad claims the Fitzwilliam treasures stolen last week should still be in the country and the thieves who took them will have great difficulty selling them on.

Dick Ellis, 63, oversaw some of the Yard’s biggest cases during his decades working for the force, and now runs a consultancy firm specialising in bespoke services to the art and antiquity world.

Police should be looking for home-grown criminals who are still in the country trying to shift the rare items, said the expert, and officers should be looking at the recent theft in Durham, similar to the Cambridge heist.

He believes it is unlikely the 18 Chinese items were stolen under the orders of some international collector: “The idea there is some rich collector out there ordering these is probably not correct. The likelihood is this is a reasonably local gang of criminals following the market who saw that Chinese antiques were fetching high prices.

“The problem they face is that to get rid of them they need access to the Chinese black market to get the best prices. That’s a very difficult market to access so they will probably be looking more locally.

“However, the raid has attracted a lot of publicity so UK dealers will know they are stolen and even unscrupulous ones will not want to handle it. They will have great difficulty attracting a buyer so they will have to look to international markets. Whatever they do it will take time, so I think the items are still in the country.”

The raid happened on April 13 at around 7.40pm at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Trumpington Street and police are appealing for witnesses. They have released images of the 18 artefacts, valued at around £10 million.

Officers are also trying to trace a white van believed to have been used in the raid.

Mr Ellis, director of the Art Management Group, said: “I think the thieves’ expectations will have far exceeded their ability to shift the property. And when they do sell it on they will be looking at getting just 3-10 per cent of their face value.”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Serbia, Bribes Paid, Cezanne Silver Bird, Suspects Slap

Stolen Cezanne handed over to Switzerland

BELGRADE, Serbia — A Serbian police chief says a stolen Paul Cezanne painting worth million ($130 million) has been handed back to Switzerland.

The masterpiece by the famous French impressionist, titled "The Boy in the Red Vest," was discovered in Belgrade on April 12 after police arrested four Serbs suspected of robbing the E. G. Buhrle Collection in Zurich on Feb. 10, 2008.

Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said the painting was flown Monday to Switzerland on a special flight. He says "(I) hope they guard it well" from now on.

The robbery was among the biggest art thefts in Europe in recent history.

The suspects were caught as they were trying to sell the painting to a Serb for a reported euros 5 million ($4.6 million).

Stolen Art Watch, White Van Asian Link, Fitzwilliam Jade Heist

Fitzwilliam Museum theft: White van 'used by raiders'

A white van is thought to have been used in the theft of Chinese "valuable and culturally significant" art from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Police have released images of the VW Caddy van stolen from the Tower Hamlets area of east London on 7 April.

The 18 items - thought to be worth at least £18m - were part of Cambridge University museum's permanent collection.

The burglary at the museum happened at about 19:30 BST on 13 April.

Police said the van had a dent in the driver's side panel and tinted rear windows.

"We know the van we are interested in tracing travelled down Trumpington Street, away from the Fitzwilliam Museum at about 7.40pm on Friday April 13.

"The vehicle has been seen on CCTV going past the Trumpintgon Street Park and Ride and heading in the direction of the M11.

Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Daber said: "We would like to hear from anyone who thinks they may have seen the van in, or around, Cambridge before or after the burglary.

"We are also keen to know where that van is now and anyone who has seen it since 13 April should contact us immediately."

'Great blow'

Police said the work was "valuable and culturally significant".

A university spokesman said: "These works are a highly important part of our collection and their loss is a great blow."

Police believe up to four people could have been involved in the theft. It is thought they broke in via a back entrance.

Among the stolen items in Cambridge were six pieces from the Ming dynasty, including a jade 16th Century carved buffalo, a carved horse from the 17th Century and a green and brown jade carved elephant.

A jade cup and vase which is carved with bronze designs was also stolen along with an opaque jade brush washer.

Eight pieces from the Qing dynasty were taken, and a table screen from the Qianlong period and a jug and vase from the 18th Century make up the rest of the stolen items.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Rise Of The Irish Pink Panthers

Irish rhino-horn gang linked to theft of saint's heart

AN Irish gang, who gardai believe to be members of the Travelling community and which has been linked to the international trade of rhino horns for the Chinese market, is suspected of the theft of the preserved heart of St Laurence O'Toole.

The 890-year-old relic was stolen last month from Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral by two men, who prised open the cage that had protected the relic and had been in place since the Middle Ages.

It follows the theft of a silver press, containing a relic said to be of St Brigid, from the church of the same name in Killester, Dublin, on January 30 and the stealing last October of a piece of the "true Cross" from Holycross Abbey in Thurles. The latter was returned in January.

Gardai investigating possible links between the reliquary thefts in Ireland are understood to have established a connection with a gang suspected of involvement in the highly lucrative theft of rhinoceros horn, which is sold in powdered form as a traditional medicine in China.

As a result of the rhinoceros horn thefts, museums and other institutions around the world have been replacing their exhibits with fake fibreglass replicas, two of which apparently fooled thieves.

There are now growing concerns about the vast amount of religious relics on public display throughout Europe in the light of the theft of St Laurence O'Toole's heart in Dublin. Gardai are trying to establish if the gang have found yet another niche market for stolen relics. They are in contact with other European police forces.

The dean of Christ Church Dublin, the Very Rev Dermot Dunne, said yesterday the theft of the St Laurence relic "felt like part of the fabric of the cathedral has gone". He said it had evoked a lot sympathy among the public who had expressed the hope that it would be returned safely.

Dean Dunne said that while he was mystified as to who might have stolen the relic, he had done some research online and had found there is a market for "class one" relics, which are reputedly the remains of real saints. The markets seems to be in the Americas and the Far East.

Irish gangs have been involved in the theft of antiques for more than two generations, firstly targeting big country houses. During the Eighties and Nineties many Irish houses were stripped of antiques and examples of fine Irish Georgian silver, which were shipped to Britain and then further into Europe to be sold at antique fairs.

Some of these gangs, which target specialist markets in stolen antiques and artefacts, have links with other international gangs catering for collectors who are prepared to buy stolen goods.

A spokesman for Ecclesiastical Insurance in the UK said that the theft of artefacts and more particularly lead roof flashing from churches in England had reached "epidemic proportions" in the past three years.

Irish rhino smugglers had fake €120k

TWO members of a notorious international rhino-horn smuggling gang have been arrested in Switzerland in possession of €120,000 in fake notes.

The two Travellers -- who are originally from the Rathkeale area of Co Limerick -- and their Polish driver remain in police custody as investigators there try to establish why they were travelling to France with the huge fake cash haul.

The rhino-horn gang, whose senior members are all Travellers from Rathkeale, are a major target for Europol's organised crime unit and they have criminal connections all across Europe, Australia and the US.

French police have been investigating if gang members are linked to the gun murders of two unidentified men who were discovered shot in the head and wrapped in plastic bags in a southern French town in November, 2010. Sources believe that these men had been working for the gang who are also involved in dodgy tarmacadam scams across Europe. The gang, nicknamed the Rathkeale Rovers, has developed a sophisticated network of agents and money-laundering vehicles to sell stolen horns and conceal the proceeds of those sales, which can reach up to €200,000 per horn.

The rhino horn is much sought after across the world for decoration, in the production of luxury goods and in traditional medicine, including Chinese medicine. Trading in rhino horns is illegal under UN laws as they are endangered species.


Last summer, the Rathkeale Rovers were suspected of raiding thousands of euro worth of rhino horns from museums in Belgium and France. The valuables were stolen during break-ins at a natural history museum in Brussels and from a collection in Ile d'Aix off France's west coast in July.

The Brussels theft followed a similar but failed break-in attempt in the southern Belgian city of Liege.

There have been no known robberies of rhino horns in Ireland but in January 2010 customs officers confiscated 10 rhino horns at Shannon Airport, suspected of being smuggled by the Rathkeale Rovers.

Meanwhile, sources have revealed that the two Irishmen were arrested by police in Chancy, Switzerland, on March 23.

They were in a van driven by a Polish national. Around €120,000 in counterfeit notes was found in the van when it was searched by police.

The three men were arrested and remain in custody. It is understood the two Irishmen told police they did not know the Polish van driver, and had simply 'thumbed' a lift with him and were heading towards Lyon in France to go on holiday.

However, police do not believe this story. Police suspect that the Polish van driver was working for the two seasoned criminals. Gardai in Ireland have been contacted by the Swiss authorities over the arrests.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Weekend Jade, Picasso, Breguet Tourbillon, Restitution & Evanston Home Invasion

Fitzwilliam Museum theft: Taxi drivers asked to help

Taxi drivers are being asked for help to find thieves who stole Chinese works of art worth millions of pounds from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

The 18 items stolen, thought to be worth at least £18m, were mostly jade and part of the university museum's permanent collection.

Detectives believe the burglars entered through the back of the building at about 19:30 BST on 13 April.

They want taxi drivers who may have been in the area to come forward.

Det Ch Supt Karen Daber said anniversary checks on Friday, a week on from the theft, show taxi drivers use the back of the museum and side streets as a turning point.

"I would ask taxi drivers to cast their minds back and think about whether they saw or heard anything unusual or suspicious in that area," she said.

'Exceptional crime'

"We are keen to hear from any taxi drivers who may have dropped people off in the area of the Fitzwilliam Museum between 18:00 and 20:00 BST on Friday, 13 April, particularly if they used side streets to turn around."

It is thought a group of up to four people were involved in the theft.

Officers believe they were inside the building for a "matter of minutes" before fleeing in a getaway car.

CCTV from local car parks and park-and-ride facilities is also being checked as part of the inquiry.

A team of 25 officers and staff are working on the investigation, called Operation Tundra, to trace the stolen items.

"This is an exceptional crime and this investigation remains a top priority for the force," Det Ch Supt Daber said.

Report blames security flaws for Athens Picasso heist

Untrained guards, faulty equipment and disastrous communications made Athens' National Gallery vulnerable to a January art heist that saw it lose a Picasso and other works, a report said Friday.

The museum "did not fulfill the security conditions needed to protect the institution," the public service inspector general's office said in the report.

The document traces an almost farcical trail of security breakdowns leading to the burglary in the early hours of January 9 of Picasso's 1939 oil-on-canvas "Woman's Head", which the Spanish master had given the Greek state in 1949 as a tribute to the country's resistance of Nazi Germany.

The other stolen works were a 1905 oil painting by Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian and a sketch by 16th-century Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia, better known as Moncalvo.

The National Gallery was an ideal target, the report said, because museum security had not been upgraded since 2000.

Several areas in the museum were out of range of security cameras -- and even if the cameras had caught the whole burglary, their tapes had not been changed because there was no money for new ones.

The museum's alarms were also faulty and prone to ringing gratuitously, the report said, blaming dead or absent batteries.

The night of the heist, the burglar or burglars repeatedly set off an alarm by manipulating an unlocked door, diverting security before sneaking into the building.

The guards had to use their cell phones to communicate because they had no radios. And they had not received any job-specific training.

The report said security had been improved since the heist.

The gallery was on reduced security staffing at the time owing to a three-day strike.

After the heist, Citizen's Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis had biting words for the gallery, calling security arrangements "non-existent."

The sole guard told police a burglar alarm went off shortly before 5:00 am, and that he saw the silhouette of a person running from the building.

He said he ran after the thief, who dropped another Mondrian oil painting.

The break-in lasted only around seven minutes.

Authorities did not specify the value of the stolen works, but Skai television said they were worth about 5.5 million euros ($7.3 million).

The back of the Picasso painting, a cubist portrait, reads in French: "For the Greek people, a tribute by Picasso."

The gallery in the centre of the Greek capital has a vast permanent collection of post-Byzantine Greek art, as well as a small collection of Renaissance works and some El Greco paintings.

Gang snatch £100,000 wristwatch

Police are searching for a gang of thieves who approached a stranger to shake his hand - before stealing his £100,000 watch from his wrist.

The 40-year-old victim was approached by the group of three or four men in Berkeley Street, Mayfair, central London, at about 2.25am on Saturday, April 14, Scotland Yard said.

The men, described as dark skinned Eastern Europeans aged in their mid 20s, shook the victim's hand before one of the suspects managed to remove the watch from his wrist and ran off towards Berkeley Square, Mayfair.

The Breguet Tourbillon watch is one of only 60 in existence and has a rose gold rectangular face and a black crocodile skin strap, with the inscription 'Limited Edition 819AK' on the back.

Police said no one had been arrested following the incident, which is being investigated by officers from the Westminster robbery squad.

Nazi-looted 474-year-old painting returns to heirs

A 474-year-old painting stolen by Nazis during World War II has been returned to the heirs of its Paris-based Italian Jewish owner.

Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged By A Rascal by Girolamo de Romani was one of 70 items stolen from the collection of Frederico Gentili di Giuseppe.

US officials confiscated the work in November as a 15-year effort to return the painting came to a head.

Gentili died of natural causes in 1940, a month before the invasion of France.

His collection was sold by the Vichy French government in 1941.

"Thanks to the tireless efforts of those involved, we are now righting a wrong perpetrated more than 70 years ago," Susan McCormick, a special agent with US Homeland Security investigations told reporters.

"Seventy years is a very long time. But it shows that it is never too late to right a wrong."

The painting was one of 50 works on loan to a museum in Tallahassee, Florida from the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum in Milan, Italy. The Italian museum had purchased the work in 1998.

An employee at Christie's auction house tipped off Interpol investigators last June that the painting may have been stolen.

Gentili's grandchildren filed a suit in 1997 to get his art collection back. A few years later, the Louvre Museum in Paris returned five paintings belonging to the collector to his family.

The paintings are among the estimated hundreds of thousands of works stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis.

Homeland Security officials have repatriated almost 2,500 works to 23 countries since 2007.

Gentili's grandchildren plan to sell the work.

"For a cake, it is relatively easy cutting it into six, not totally easy but quite easily," Lionel Salem, one of the heirs, told the Reuters news agency. "But for a painting, you see, it is more difficult."

Police release photos of art stolen in Evanston

Evanston police say they've obtained two old family photographs showing the two pieces or artwork taken from a home in the 2200 block of Central Street last week.

One photo shows the print of "A Crucifixion in Bovisa" framed on the victim's wall

A photo of the print taken appears above, along with a photo of an untitled oil painting by Giuseppe Guerreschi that was taken from the victim's residence.

The victim describes the oil painting as an painting of a young man’s profile. He has a missing a hand and in place of his hand is a “rod” or stick like object.

Sitting on the rod is a bird. The bird can be located in the middle to lower section of the right side of the picture, although it is hard to see in the family photo. There are blue and cream colors throughout the painting in addition to some other colors.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Fitzwilliam Museum, Deafening Silence Is Golden To Thieves

Museum hit by £10m raid had silent alarm which was not linked to police

The alarm system at the Fitzwilliam Museum – triggered by thieves in a £10 million raid – was silent and not linked to police.
This means those passing nearby may not have been alerted to the drama unfolding as a treasure trove of jade works of art was plundered.
Meanwhile police were unaware until they were contacted by university security guards, who arrived at the museum to find the burglars had fled.
A “thorough review” of the museum’s 24-hour security is now under way after the artefacts valued at more than £10 million were stolen.
Cambridge University last night confirmed a high-profile exhibition of Chinese jade antiques will still go ahead at the gallery from Saturday, May 5.
But questions have been raised about security after the thieves struck in room 28 housing the permanent exhibition Arts of the Far East next to the café.
The alarm was linked to the university’s security team which attended the scene and contacted police, but it “would not have been heard by the public”, police told the News.
Cllr Rob Dryden, a former Cambridge major, said: “This theft is a blow for the city, but you would have thought they would have boosted security after the burglary at Durham – and I am surprised they only had a silent alarm.
“I would have expected them to have a loud alarm and flashing lights so the CCTV could be turned on, but of course it was in broad daylight anyway.
“I think they have to look at this seriously if they are going to keep objects worth millions of pounds safe.”
Silent alarms are used so as not to alert the burglars, but special dispensation is needed from Cambridgeshire police to have a totally silent alarm.
Usually, police recommend the alarm should become audible after 10 minutes.
The break-in happened at about 7.30pm on Friday last week.
Det Chief Supt Karen Daber, who is leading the police investigation in Cambridge, said: “The loss is a great blow to the museum and a thorough review of the museum’s security has taken place and the university is keen for anyone to come forward with information.”
She would not reveal how the thieves broke into the museum.
She added: “At the moment I do not want to go into details as specific as that. What I can say is that entrance was gained out of the view of the public.”

Four people involved in £10 million raid at Fitzwilliam, say police

Detectives believe as many as four art thieves raided the Fitzwilliam Museum plundering £10 million of Chinese treasures.
Police have today released further details of how the works of art were stolen.
It is now believed as many as four people were involved in the burglary and broke in at the rear of the building at about 7.30pm on Friday (April 13).
They would have only been in the museum for a matter of minutes, triggering an alarm.
Police also believe a vehicle was used by the offenders and officers are checking CCTV from local car parks and park-and-ride facilities.
The 18 items stolen were mostly jade and part of the museum's permanent collection.
This evening, officers will be stopping people passing the museum between 6.30pm and 8pm and asking them a series of questions about last Friday.
Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Daber, who is overseeing the investigation, said: “We know these people acted quickly and were into the museum and out within a matter of minutes.
“However, I am still confident people who were in the area between 6pm and 8pm may have seen something significant that could help our inquiries.
“This remains the force’s number one priority and we will be working throughout the weekend and beyond in our efforts to trace those responsible and recover these works of art.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, Jade Haul Worth Millions Gone In Ongoing Museum Heist Spree

Valuable Chinese art stolen in raid on Fitzwilliam Museum

A gang of burglars have raided the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge stealing 18 Chinese works of art.

The “extremely valuable” stolen items are mostly jade and part of the museum’s permanent collection.

They were stolen from the museum in a break-in at about 7.30pm on Friday. (April 13)

Police were alerted by the museum's alarm system.

Forensic tests have been carried out and police are now examining CCTV footage in the search for clues.

The value of the artefacts has not yet been revealed.

A museum spokesman said: "These works are a highly important part of the collection and their loss is a great blow."

Det Chief Supt, Karen Daber, leading the police investigation, said: “The items stolen are very valuable and are of great cultural significance so we are absolutely committed to recovering them and bringing those who stole them to justice.

“We have a team of detectives working hard to achieve these ends and we are working closely with the Fitzwilliam Museum which is doing all it can to

help our enquiries.

"We are following a number of enquiries, but we also need the help of the public and would urge anyone with information that could help our enquiries to call us.”

Police say the public would have heard the alarm and said they are focussing their investigation on the front of the building in Trumpington Street.

Det Chf Supt Daber added: “In particular we are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in or around the museum between 6pm and 8pm and may have heard or seen anything unusual or suspicious."

She added people dining at Browns restaurant, opposite the museum, may have seen something that could help police with their enquiries.

A full list of the items stolen:

  1. Table screen, Qianlong Period, late 18th century, jade carved relief on both sides
  2. Brush washer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, jade carved in high relief.
  3. Incense burner or flower perfumer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, jade carved with openwork.
  4. Jug, 18th century, jade, decorated with a band of archaistic bronze motif around the neck.
  5. Incense burner or flower perfumer, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, Jasper, carved drilled openwork, decorated with two tao-tie on the body and cover.
  6. Vase, 18th century, jade, carved with peonies and rock on one side and plum flower and daffodils on the other.
  7. Recumbent buffalo, Ming Dynasty, 16th century, jade, celadon green, carved.
  8. Imaginary beast, late Ming or early Qing Dynasty, 17th century, jade, carved.
  9. Bowl of trefoil form, Qing Dynasty, 18th century, lapis lazuli, raised moulded bands and pierced handles.
  10. Bowl, Qing Dynasty, 17th century, chalcedony, translucent.
  11. Sleeping elephant, Ming Dynasty, jade boulder of green and brown, carved in the shape of a sleeping elephant.
  12. Recumbent horse, Ming Dynasty, 17th century, jade, carved.
  13. Jade vase, Qing Dynasty, late 18th century, spinach-green jade carved as a vase of archaic form with openwork chains, at the foot of which stands a quail surrounded by rice grains.
  14. Jade lion, Qing Dynasty, 19th century, greyish jade with dark grey and black streaks, carved as a horned lion.
  15. Jade cup, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, ling grass green jade cup with brown areas, carved with fluted and lobed sides with two handles, resting on a short straight foot.
  16. Jade cup, Qing Dynasty, translucent spinach jade with some dark green speckling, hollowed and carved with a chrysanthemum foot.
  17. Archaistic jade vase, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, mottled greenish-grey jade, engraved and carved in low relief with archaic bronze designs, two dragon-head handles.
  18. Brush washer, Ming Dynasty, late 14th/early 15th century, opaque celadon jade, well hollowed and carved with prunus blossoms.

Stolen Art Watch, Durham Museum Duo Found In Brandon Field

Stolen oriental museum artefacts found undamaged in field in Brandon area

A PAIR of Chinese antiques stolen in a museum burglary do not appear to have been damaged, police revealed this morning.

The 18th Century artefacts, valued at more than £2m, were stolen from the Oriental Museum in Durham City on April 5 after intruders chiselled through a wall.

Police this morning revealed that the jade bowl and porcelain figurine had been found concealed in a field in the Brandon area, just a few miles from the museum.

Both pieces were examined by an expert from the museum on Monday afternoon who confirmed they were in excellent condition, with no apparent damage resulting from their removal from the museum.

Four men and one woman, all from the Walsall area of the West Midlands have been arrested, interviewed and released on police bail until early June pending further enquiries.

Police have confirmed one of those arrested, 35-year-old Lee Wildman remains at large and they would like to trace him and speak to him again.

They also want to trace 32-year-old Adrian Stanton, an associate of Mr Wildman who is also from Walsall.

Officers this morning also revealed they had found two cars they wanted to trace in connection with the inquiry, an orange Renault Megane and a blue BMW 330 Coupe.

However, they are continuing the hunt for a blue Audi S3 seen in the Durham City area at the time of the break-in.

Detective Superindent Adrian Green, the officer leading the investigation, said the cars were found at separate locations in the West Midlands and both have been subjected to forensic analysis.

He added: “The bowl and figurine were recovered as a direct result of the police investigation, which is still very much ongoing.

“We have a number of active lines of enquiry, one of which concerns the Audi car which was in the Brandon and Meadowfield areas during the days leading up to the burglary.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Restless Native Returns Stolen Art

Stolen Native art returned to owner

The owner of stolen Native art has been reunited with their precious belongings thanks to the actions of a Good Samaritan.

Several hand carved Native masks and jewelry worth over $25,000 were stolen from a break-and-enter into a Chilliwack home in February.

On Thursday last week, a Good Samaritan turned some of the stolen masks to the Chilliwack RCMP.

The man said he had purchased them about a month ago at a flea market in Abbotsford.

He has heard about the theft and believed the masks he had purchased were the ones that were stolen, so he decided to return them.

"Although numerous items from the break and enter are still outstanding, the family of the stolen goods was very emotional and thankful with the work done by the police, the extensive media attention, and to the man who turned the masks in," said Corporal Tammy Hollingsworth in a release.

Hollingsworth says the man paid several hundreds of dollars for the mask, but returned them nonetheless.

She says the masks hold a lot of spiritual and sentimental value to the owner.

The Chilliwack RCMP are asking anyone who has purchased any Native art recently or have seen some for sale to give them a call as the investigation into the theft is still continuing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Belgium Brueghel's Reported Stolen

Belgium Brueghel's Taken January 2012

in the Walloon Brabant La Hulpe (La Hulpe) from the end of January
a private collection of three paintings by Jan Brueghel the Elder stolen. That
Belga learned from a reliable source and confirmed by the cell, Art and Antiques
of the federal police. *

The theft happened on January 26 in a house in La Hulpe. Unknowns
broke in and stole the three paintings and some jewelry. The case of
works by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625), nicknamed the Velvet
Brueghel, the son of Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Two works set
landscapes with travelers and a third painting is titled
"Allegory de l'Odorat". The cell Art and Antiques from the federal police
confirms the art theft. The cell has the international
police organization Interpol on, who launched a call to
persons who have more information about the theft or the location of the
stolen paintings. For now, the perpetrators without a trace.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Durham Treasures Homeward Bound

Durham University Oriental Museum treasures recovered

Chinese artefacts worth almost £2m that were stolen from a University of Durham museum have been recovered by police. It had been feared they had been taken out of the country but were recovered in Brandon, south west of Durham, where they had been hidden.

Thieves cut a 3ft-wide hole in the wall of the university's Oriental Museum and stole a bowl and figurine. Durham Police said it was almost certainly a well planned operation.

A police spokeswoman said both artefacts had now been recovered.

Officers have arrested five people in connection with the theft. Two men are still being sought.

Durham University said the museum would reopen on Monday.

The stolen bowl dates from 1769 and has a Chinese poem written inside, while the figurine is of seven fairies in a boat and stands about 12in (30cm) high. Both are from the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial dynasty.

Security at the museum is being reviewed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime U.S.A. Shocking Daily Events

Police: Evanston Couple Forcibly Duct Taped in Art Robbery

The artwork was reportedly worth as much as $200,000.

Evanston police are investigating a reported home invasion in which three men allegedly forced their way into a north Evanston home, pushed a man and a woman to the floor, duct taped the couple and stole four pieces of artwork valued between $100,000 and $200,000.

Police responded to a home invasion call in the 2200 block of Central Avenue at 8:55 a.m Friday. According to the report, a 67-year-old man and his 67-year-old wife were approached by three males who stated they had a delivery for the man. The three men reportedly forcibly entered the home by kicking the man to the floor. Once inside, the men also knocked the woman to the floor and proceeded to duct taped the hands of both victims.

The three men reportedly took four pieces of artwork: a 1950s oil painting, a print of a crucifixion and two other prints. The oil painting and crucifixion print were each valued between $50,000 and $100,000, according to the victims, while the remaining two prints were not of significant value.

After the three offenders left, the victims were able to free themselves and call police. The couple was taken to a local hospital soon after.

Police described all three offenders as either white or Hispanic men. One is described as wearing dark clothing, possibly a black shirt and pants. Another was described as having a stocky build and wearing a red and white shirt with black pants. No description was given for the third offender. Police reported that the three offenders might have been driving a small, white box-style truck, possibly rented from Budget car rental.

Evanston detectives are investigating the incident and attempting to identify the artist of the stolen painting and prints. No photos of the artwork are currently available.

Anyone with information regarding this incident can call the Evanston Police Department at 847-866-5000, call the detective bureau at 847-866-5040 or contact police by texting “CRIMES” (274637) and then typing EPDTIP in the message line followed by your information on the incident. All texting tips are anonymous.

Evanston Couple Tied Up, Art Stolen:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Cezanne, Pink Panthers, Police Chief Pay Off

Chief of Police chased the thief Cezanne paintings

Paul Cezanne painting stolen "boy in a red vest" worth 100 million euros and one million six hundred thousand euros in cash, guns and four cars - the prey of the Service action to combat organized crime where they arrested four criminals whose leader John Pekovic ( 36) from Kaluđerice. Pekovic, according to 'Blic' learns, one of the gang leader "Pink Panther".

Ivana Pekovića police located the night before last in the vicinity of the stadium. As the car drove very fast, in pursuit of njiim included interceptors, of which one was the chief of traffic police Dragisa Simic.

He is, after the film Ustanicka chase along the street to the hotel "Radmilovac" and then in the direction Lestane, and eventually arrested Pekovića.

Pekovic is arrested with three accomplices Raska Mladenovic, Bob Nedeljkovskim and Goran Radojevic suspected of stealing the largest paintings in Europe - the image of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne, and that the armed attack in the 10th February 2008. stolen from a museum in Zurich.

The pictures are stolen from the collection of Emil Birlea, participated in the attack by three masked robbers who broke into the museum for half an hour before closing.

Two days later, the stolen paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, estimated at 44 million euros, were found in a car parked at the Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich, and has since sought to Sezanovom "boy in a red vest" and Degas' Ludovic Lepic and his daughter " .

- One year after the robbery, the Serbian police entered the track Pekovic, whom we had information that one of the strongest members of the "Pink Panther". At the request of the Austrian police, who Pekovića looking for robbery in which the owner of jewelers hit by a gunshot to the head, the Serbian police raided his apartment in Zvezdara, which was found nearly a hundred watches and unique jewelry. Everything is painted and sent to the police, and soon began to arrive responses from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, where the jewelry was robbed - he says for 'Blic' source at the Interior Ministry.

The suspects had planned to sell the picture to the buyer in Belgrade for 3.5 million euros - the prosecutor said Miljko Radisavljević.

They have so far managed to collect 2.8 million Euros, and when they went to submit an image and take the last war, the police arrested them.

- Completed the transfer 1, 4 million, and then another 400,000 euros - Radisavljević said at a press conference with Interior Minister Dacic.

Radosavljevic said that the theft "was tipovana" for our citizenship, but for now does not want to reveal his identity in order not to endanger further investigation.

At a press conference in Belgrade, where she was exposed stolen painting "Boy in a red vest," Dacic said that the picture from a museum in Switzerland stole Ras Mladenović with some persons who are currently unknown. He added that the three arrested in the "vest" were Mladenovic logistical support in Serbia.

Art Hostage Comments:

Dick Ellis said that whilst he was in Serbia investigating the theft of two Picasso's, recovered last Fall from a bank vault, without arrests, he met with Police Chief Dragisa Simic and described him as one of most corrupt Police Officers Dick Ellis had come across in 30 years of being a Policeman.

Dick Ellis went on to say that any recovery of high value stolen art on Serbian soil would require huge cash payments to Corrupt Political officials and Corrupt Police Chiefs before they would allow it to happen.

Worth noting in light of recent events !!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stolen Art Watch, Bührle Cezanne Buy Back In Belgrade Serbia

Swiss prosecutors say a painting seized in Serbia has been confirmed as a stolen masterpiece by French impressionist Paul Cézanne.

BELGRADE/ZURICH — Police in Serbia have recovered a painting by the French artist Paul Cezanne that was stolen at gunpoint from a Swiss museum four years ago, officials said on Thursday.

Cezanne's Boy in a Red Waistcoat, which media said was worth more than $100 million, was one of four paintings stolen from the E. G. Buehrle Collection in Zurich in 2008 by a trio of masked robbers who burst in just before closing time and told staff to lie on the floor while they took what they wanted.

The heist was one of the largest in the world at the time.

Four men were arrested in the capital Belgrade and the southwestern town of Cacak on Wednesday in connection with the theft and the suspects were identified asIvan Pekovic , the alleged organizer of the theft and his accomplices in Serbia, Rasko Mladenovic Goran Radojevic and Bobe Nedeljkovski, all of them already known to the police, Radisavljevic said.

The director of the Buehrle collection confirmed the authenticity of the painting, the Zurich state prosecutor's office said.

At a press conference in Belgrade, Miljko Radisavljevic, the special prosecutor for organized crime, said the suspects wanted to sell the painting, found in the door panel of a car, for as little as 3.5 million euros.

"They received 2.8 million euros before the arrest," he said.

Boy in a Red Waistcoat, thought to have been painted in 1888, depicts a boy in traditional Italian dress wearing a red waistcoat, a blue handkerchief and a blue belt. Three other versions of the painting are in museums in the United States.

Two of the stolen canvasses, one by Claude Monet and the other by Vincent Van Gogh, were recovered not long after the robbery, abandoned in a car. About a year later, Degas’ 'Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter', worth about £6.9 million was returned to the Swiss museum after a 400,000 euro reward was paid to and unidentified person, Serbian officials said..

‘A year after the robbery Serbian police managed to tracks Ivan Pekovic down. We knew that he was one of the leaders of the ‘Pink Panther’. As per request by the Austrian police that wanted Pekovic for robbery of a jewelry shop when the owner was hit in the head. Serbian police raided his flat at Zvezdara. The police found almost a hundred peaces of watches and unique jewelry, each peace worth at least EUR 10,000. All of the objects were photographed and sent to foreign police services. Soon inquiries were started coming from Austria, Switzerland and Germany where robberies were carried out.

At the same time the police learned that Pekovic organized robbery of paintings at the museum in Zurich’, ‘Blic’ source from Serbia Home Ministry says.

At the same press conference, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said during the action dubbed Operation Waistcoat, police also seized about 1.5 million euros in cash, four vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

"I don't think we have ever had a more valuable arrest," Dacic said. "The painting will now be guarded by police and returned to its owner."

The Buehrle collection, one of the most important 20th-century private holdings of European art, was amassed by the industrialist Emil Georg Buehrle, who derived his wealth from producing and selling anti-aircraft guns.

Last October, Serbian police recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso - Tete de Cheval (Horse's Head) and Verre et Pichet (Glass and Pitcher) - stolen in 2008 from a gallery in the Swiss town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich

He was arrested and a fourth robber Cézanne, the weapons and 1.6 million

Picture Paul Cézanne, "Boy in a red vest" worth 100 million euros, which was stolen by three Serbian nationals were found last night in Belgrade SBPOK spectacular action and prosecution of organized crime. The leader of this group is Ivan Peković from Belgrade, for which they are involved in the pursuit noćašnjoj Special "interceptors" traffic police. As the exclusive 'Blic' learns, was arrested and a fourth gang member, was arrested at a found 1.6 million firearms.

Besides Pekovića, in the same action are still arrested two of his accomplices in Belgrade and Cacak.

- Peković is located near the stadium, and as he was driving very fast car in hot pursuit of njiim included interceptors. Chasing after him played along Ustanicka street to the hotel "Radmilovac" and then in the direction Lestane where he cut two interceptors at one time the parking lot when he was arrested. He was then taken to a room SBPOK the hearing - the source said, "Blic" from the Serbian Interior Ministry.

Names of those arrested will be announced at the press conference held by the Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, the special prosecutor Miljko Radisavljević.

Looking for pictures and thieves, our police collaborated with colleagues from several countries, and action itself was prepared several months.

Recall, "Flash" is still 2009th he wrote about two Serbian nationals who were suspected of the theft of the largest paintings in Europe - the robbery of four paintings of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Paul Cézanne (including the "boy in a red vest"), estimated at 112 million, which are in an armed attack in February 2008. was stolen from a museum in Zurich.

In a spectacular robbery of 10th February 2008. year, Emile Birlea collection in Zurich, three masked robbers half an hour before closing time entered the museum, forced staff to lie on the floor, and then enter the main exhibition hall on the ground floor and download the pictures off the wall.

It's been committing the largest fraud in Switzerland, and certainly in Europe. The thieves fled after stealing the direction of Colikon, southeast of Zurich. Museum staff, fortunately, was not injured - he said in the police spokesman Mario Cortez.

He said that the police arrived at the place of theft within minutes of leaving the thief and said that one of the thieves spoke German with a Slavic accent.

Two stolen paintings, estimated at 44 million euros, were found two days after the robbery.

Discovery of the "boys in red vests" Paul Cezanne in Belgrade is the first large step in the investigation since then.

Belgrade police last year in a safe in Belgrade found the image of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso's "Head of horse" and "Glass and pitcher", whose value is estimated at about three million dollars , and that the sixth February 2008. was stolen from an exhibition in the Swiss towns Fefkonu

Serb police find painting believed stolen Cezanne

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian police say they have uncovered a painting believed to be by French impressionist Paul Cezanne, which was stolen from a private Swiss museum in 2008.

The operation was organized by the Service for the Fight Against Organized Crime (SBPOK) and the Organized Crime Prosecution. The three suspects were arrested in the operation that was carried out in Belgrade and Čačak.

The Serbian police cooperated with their colleagues from several states and the operation was prepared for several months.

Police did not name the painting, but Serbian media says it is likely "The Boy in the Red Vest" stolen from E. G. Buhrle Collection in Zurich.

The painting was worth 100 million Swiss franks ($110 million) when it was stolen. Serbian police said Thursday three people were arrested overnight in connection with the robbery.

A police official, who could not be identified under standing rules, said that an art expert is being flown in from abroad to confirm the authenticity of the painting.

Last October, the Serbian police recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso - Tête de Cheval (Horse's Head) and Verre et Pichet (Glass and Pitcher) - stolen in 2008 from a gallery in the Swiss town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich.

The police official said law enforcement agencies from several countries had cooperated in the latest investigation that led to the apparent recovery of the Cezanne masterpiece.

Art Hostage Comments:

The arguing has already started as to who gets paid how much. The actual amount used for the buy-back was 3 million Euros, so 1.5 million Euros has gone walkabout/AWOL already.

At this rate the recovered monies from old Crooner Ivan Peković will be just a couple of hundred Euros.

On a lighter note: "When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, Ivan Peković replied, “Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings. I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh."

Buy-Back Explained:

Back-Story, Road To Cezanne:

Dramatic video of arrest and discovery of Cezanne below: