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Friday, January 25, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Romanian Police, Prosecuters Put Witnesses Lives At Risk Over Kunsthal Gallery Art Heist

Lawyer: No proof to charge Romanians for art theft 

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - A lawyer for three Romanians accused of stealing valuable paintings from a museum in the Netherlands insisted Friday there was insufficient evidence to charge them.
At a court hearing in Bucharest, the Romanian capital, defense lawyer Doina Lupu urged that the three men not be extradited to the Netherlands for allegedly stealing seven works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse, among others.

"There is no evidence that this was an organized criminal group," she said. `'The arrests were based on assumptions and on simple declarations and these are not enough. `'

All three men deny any links to the Oct. 16 theft at Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery.
A prosecutor told the court Friday that suspect Radu Dogaru took two paintings _ one each by Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin _ to be evaluated by Maria Dragu, the curator for foreign paintings at the Romanian National Art Museum.

Dogaru denied this and Dragu is on leave, the Romanian museum said Friday.
The other two suspects, Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie, also denied being involved in the theft. Darie did tell the court he had visited the Kunsthal gallery twice to look at its bronze sculptures.
The Bucharest Court ruled Friday that the men should be kept in custody pending an investigation.

Furthermore, information released from the Bucharest District Court 5 on the arrest of the three Romanians mention the assistant of Romanian Designer Catalin Botezatu offering the two paintings to a Romanian Businessman Dinescu Constantin. The businessman who suspected the paintings were not original called on an expert who confirmed the Matisse original and confirmed the two were worth some 60 million euros. The businessman initially wanted to buy them but changed his mind after an attack of conscience.

Police were tipped off by a woman, a former girlfriend of one of the three men under arrest, who showed pictures of their visit to the Rotterdam Museum. She said the paintings allegedly arrived in Romania at an address on Tudor Vladimirescu boulevard in Bucharest.

The thieves broke in Oct. 16 through a rear emergency exit at the gallery, grabbed the paintings off the wall and fled, all within two minutes.
The stolen paintings came from the private Triton Foundation, a collection of avant-garde art put together by multimillionaire Willem Cordia, an investor and businessman, and his wife, Marijke Cordia-Van der Laan. Willem Cordia died in 2011.
The stolen paintings were: Pablo Picasso's 1971 "Harlequin Head;" Claude Monet's 1901 "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London;" Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow;" Gauguin's 1898 "Girl in Front of Open Window;" Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait," around 1890; and Lucian Freud's 2002 work "Woman with Eyes Closed."
The gallery said it had a "state-of-the-art" automated alarm system.


Romanian suspects in Dutch art heist were clueless about art, considered burning the paintings

More details are emerging from Bucharest prosecutors about the Romanian suspects in the Dutch art heist. It appears that the men arrested in the case were not exactly the sophisticated and cultured type . Judicial sources quoted by local news agency Mediafax said that the suspected thieves did not know how to spell the names of the painters whose paintings they allegedly stole from the Rotterdan museum last year, nor the titles of the paintings themselves. They apparently had no idea how much the paintings were worth. One of them told the prosecutors they chose to steal the Picasso because they had heard about it and knew it was valuable, but prosecutors argue that Gaugain and Matisse were much more valuable, but the men did not know that.

The Dutch authorities have requested the extradition of the three suspects to The Netherlands to face charges, according to Romanian judiciary sources. The insurance value of the paintings, insured by the Triton Foundation, was EUR 18 million, according to Romanian prosecutors, but their market value is at least ten times higher.
The paintings have had a lucky escape, as the thieves considered burning them at one point after running into difficulties when trying to sell the seven art works. The emerging picture is of disorganization and incompetence; the thieves had no idea what they were stealing, what the paintings were worth or to whom they could sell them.
Those involved in the case were shocked to find that the three suspects – Mihai Alexandru Bitu, Eugen Darie and Radu Dogaru – had been carrying the millions of euros worth of art around in plastic bags. When attempting to sell the paintings, the thieves were reportedly had no idea how much to ask.
The men were arrested on January 21 in Romania after an ex-girlfriend of one of the suspects tipped off the police. They are still in custody after an application for bail was turned down.
The timing of the incident could be rather unfortunate with friction between Romania and The Netherlands over Schengen Area accession. Although the notion that Schengen Area membership will result in streams of Romanian thieves robbing Dutch museum is risible, it seems likely that case will not improve Romania’s image in The Netherlands.
Romanian police arrested the three Romanian men suspected of the audacious art theft from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum. Seven paintings by some of the world’s best known artists were stolen from the museum in October last year.
The seven stolen art works were Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London (in picture), and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed, Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Gauguin’s Femme Devant une Fenetre Ouverte, dite la Fiancee, and Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait. Estimates for the value of the paintings run at around the EUR 200 million mark.
German news service Deutsche Welle described the robbery on October 16 last year as a “lightning speed, audacious theft,” in which the thieves broke into the museum, stole the paintings and made their escape within 90 seconds. At the time, the heist baffled Dutch Police, who couldn’t understand how the thieves had got round the museum’s alarm systems.
Romania’s organized crime and terrorism unit DIICOT made the arrests. A Bucharest court issued a warrant on January 21 and the arrests were the result of a Romanian police operation, rather than an investigation by the Dutch authorities, according to reports.

Designer's home searched over art heist

Romanian police investigating the spectacular October theft of seven masterpieces from a Rotterdam museum have searched the home of a fashion designer.
They searched the home of Catalin Botezatu and were also "interrogating him", a police source said without elaborating.
Botezatu, 46, who has taken part in several fashion weeks, including New York, was being questioned by the prosecutor's office dealing with organised crime, which would decide whether to charge him.
Three Romanians arrested last week in connection with the theft of the masterpieces, including works by Monet and Picasso, claimed their innocence in court on Friday.
The men, charged with conspiracy and aggravated theft, have been linked to at least two of the artworks - a Matisse and a Gauguin - which they allegedly tried to sell in Romania.
Their defence lawyers told the court at a bail hearing that they were innocent even though one of them twice visited the museum where the seven masterpieces, estimated at between 100 and 200 million euros ($A257 million), were stolen.
However, the court denied the suspects bail.
Botezatu's name did not come up during that hearing.
Eugen Darie told the court he visited Rotterdam Kunsthal museum about the time of the theft in October last year but never laid eyes on the stolen paintings he and his co-defendants allegedly tried to sell.
"I didn't see the paintings," he said. "I only looked at bronze statues. I am innocent."
Fellow suspect Radu Dogaru also told the court he had nothing to do with the heist, one of the most spectacular in the art world in the past 20 years, even though prosecutors say he was present when two of the works were offered to a Romanian businessman in the presence of an art expert.
Mihai Alexandru Bitu, the third suspect, also denied involvement.
The heist gripped the Netherlands and the art world as police apparently struggled to piece the crime together, despite putting 25 officers on the case.
Dutch police released grainy security camera footage of the theft, which took place about 3am. The footage showed two apparently young males entering and leaving the museum in central Rotterdam within barely 90 seconds.
The works stolen include Picasso's Tete d'Arlequin, Monet's Waterloo Bridge and Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed.

Art Hostage Comments:

You see, this is what happens when you help the Police, and prosecutors, your name will be leaked and you will face life threatening action by those you inform upon. The former girlfriend now faces being subject to violence or god forbid, being killed as a result of her trying to offer assistance to Police. The lesson here is never, never, ever offer help to Police as you will be hung out to dry as this woman has been, as well as the businessmen who were offered the stolen Kunsthal paintings. What ever happened to protecting witnesses or protecting sources?

Art Hostage gets contacted all the time by sources claiming to have information about stolen art and would never, ever, reveal them to Police, or anyone else for that matter, for their own safety.

As long as the suspects keep their mouths shut and the Paintings are not recovered, the lawyer is right, no evidence, no case in the end. The way Police and prosecutors have acted in allowing the names of the witnesses to be leaked to the press means they don't deserve to recover the stolen art.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Kunsthal Gallery Art Heist Rotterdam, Three Romanians Arrested, Thankfully Matisse & Gauguin Possibly, But No Sign Of The Other Stolen Art

Rotterdam art heist suspects arrested in Romania

THE HAGUE, Netherlands —
Romanian authorities have arrested three suspects in last year's multimillion-dollar art heist from a Netherlands art gallery, Dutch police said Tuesday. But the paintings, by artists including Picasso, Matisse and Monet, have not been recovered.
The announcement marked the first breakthrough for police since thieves broke open an emergency exit and swiped the seven pieces on Oct. 16 in a late night raid at the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam.
It was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction, but art experts said that would be impossible following the theft.
"Three people have been arrested, but unfortunately we have not got back the paintings," Rotterdam Police spokeswoman Yvette van den Heerik told The Associated Press.
Police later said in a statement that the suspects were arrested as part of an ongoing Romanian investigation and not at the request of Dutch authorities.
Kunsthal spokeswoman Mariette Maaskant said gallery staff members are not yet breathing a sigh of relief. "There is no painting found yet," she said. "For us, that is the most important thing."
Romanian police spokeswoman Raluca Seucan declined to provide details of the case to the AP. Romanian news agency Mediafax reported that three Romanian suspects had been arrested Monday evening following a ruling from a Bucharest court. It gave no further details.
The heist at one of Rotterdam's landmark buildings, designed by local architect Rem Koolhaas, was low-tech but effective.
Two thieves forced their way into the gallery through a rear emergency door and snatched the paintings. Security cameras showed the thieves breaking in and fleeing within two minutes. They were gone by the time police, alerted by an alarm, arrived less than five minutes after the break-in.
The following morning, only white spaces on the wall and broken hanging wires were left.
The stolen paintings came from the private Triton Foundation, a collection of avant-garde art put together by multimillionaire Willem Cordia, an investor and businessman, and his wife, Marijke Cordia-Van der Laan. Willem Cordia died in 2011.
The stolen paintings were: Pablo Picasso's 1971 "Harlequin Head"; Claude Monet's 1901 "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London"; Henri Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow"; Paul Gauguin's 1898 "Girl in Front of Open Window"; Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait," around 1890, and Lucian Freud's 2002 work "Woman with Eyes Closed."


Suspects tried to sell heist paintings

Bucharest - Three Romanians allegedly involved in a spectacular theft from a Dutch museum last year were caught while negotiating the sale of the stolen masterpieces, a Romanian newspaper reported Wednesday.

Romanian police and the prosecutor's office dealing with terrorism and organised crime (DIICOT) declined to comment on the report in Evenimentul Zilei. 

A Bucharest court announced on Wednesday that the three suspects were indicted for “setting up a criminal ring and complicity to aggravated theft”.
They have been jailed for 29 days, the court confirmed.

“According to prosecutors, the indictees associated themselves with other people with the aim of committing criminal offences in 2012,” the court said in a statement sent to AFP. 

They allegedly “helped the members of the criminal group to steal seven masterpieces, including Monets, a Matisse and a Gauguin, from the Kunsthal Rotterdam Museum on the night of October 15 to October 16, 2012”, the court added.

According to the court statement, the three Romanians, identified only with their initials ÄDR, BMA and DEÄ caused a prejudice for two of the seven stolen paintings, a Matisse and a Gauguin estimated at  
18 million euros to the Triton Foundation, the owner of the stolen paintings.

When the theft took place, experts said the seven paintings, that also include a Picasso, "Tete d'Arlequin", were worth together between 50 million and 200 million euros ($66 million and $266 million) on the open market.

(Worth noting, the Picasso "Tete d'Arlequin" was bought by the Triton Foundation at Sotheby's New York in May 2007 for $15.5 million)

The Dutch police said on Wednesday in a Twitter message that “two investigators and a colleague from the public prosecution service were headed for Romania for talks with the judiciary regarding the arrests/possible link with Kunsthal.” 

Dutch police had said Tuesday that no painting had been recovered.

According to judicial sources quoted by Evenimentul Zilei, the three suspects come from the Tulcea region in eastern Romania and had been under investigation for violent offences in the past.

Romanian police still looking for art stolen in Dutch heist

Romanian investigators have not found seven masterpieces that were stolen from a Dutch museum last year, despite extensive searches at several locations after the arrest of three suspected thieves, a source close to the probe said Thursday.
Three Romanians allegedly involved in the spectacular theft of the paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and Gauguin, from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam in October were arrested overnight Monday in Bucharest.
"During the investigation we have searched several locations," the source said.
"But police are still looking for the paintings, which may have transited through Romania," the source added.
The three men had been living in the Netherlands for several years and were known as underworld members.
"There are indications that several other persons were involved in the theft," Romania's police chief Petre Toba said Thursday.
A day earlier, Romanian daily Evenimentul Zilei reported the suspects were caught while trying to sell the art works.
The Bucharest court that charged the suspects said they were accused of "setting up a criminal ring and complicity to aggravated theft," and remanded for 29 days.
Two Dutch investigators and a prosecutor arrived in Romania on Thursday for talks with the judiciary regarding the three arrests.

Wonderful, Reassuring, Warm Words Of Comfort From Roland Ekkers !!

Dutch detectives and a prosecutor will travel to Romania to investigate the possible involvement of three men in a multimillion-dollar art heist in the Netherlands, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

The Dutch team will travel to Bucharest in coming days to share with Romanian authorities details of their investigation into the Oct. 16 theft from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery of seven extremely valuable paintings by artists including Picasso, Monet and Matisse, said Roland Ekkers of Rotterdam Police.

Romanian police arrested the suspects Monday night "in another art-related investigation in Romania, but there are indications they also have something to do with the art heist in Rotterdam," Ekkers told The Associated Press.

The arrests marked the first breakthrough for police since the late-night raid at the Kunsthal, the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands.

The three suspects may have been part of an international ring, Romanian authorities suggested Wednesday.

Lucia Zaharia, spokeswoman for Bucharest's Sector 5 court, told the AP that the men were ordered held for 29 days pending an investigation into whether they were involved in the heist.

''They were part of a group, according to documents," she said in a telephone interview. ''We can only investigate people who are in Romania," she added, a hint that the gang had foreign members.

Ekkers said reports that some of the paintings were recovered were wrong.
Romanian police "checked, double checked and checked again and it is not true," he said.

Interpol: We'll recover art stolen in Dutch heist

The head of Interpol says he believes police will retrieve valuable paintings that were stolen from a museum in the Netherlands last year, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse.
Dutch detectives and a prosecutor are currently in Romania to investigate the possible involvement of three men_ arrested Monday in Romania_ in the Oct. 16 theft from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery of seven extremely valuable paintings.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said Thursday he is confident the works will be recovered.
Romanian police and Noble declined to provide more information citing the sensitivity of the case.
`'The people involved are probably watching " this press conference, Noble said.

Read more here:
Art Hostage Comments:

What authorities fail to say is this is linked to the Europe wide raids against the Rathkeale Rovers and intelligence gleaned from those raids led to these arrests. However, the stolen art remains outstanding and those who have knowledge of their whereabouts realize there are no rewards, no fee's and anyone attempting to receive any payments for recovery of the stolen art will be arrested and face indictment.
Furthermore, it is widely known and universally agreed that anyone who says they represent the Kunsthal Gallery, Triton Foundation or insurers are in fact undercover Police.

This is no big secret, previous undercover sting operations have shown this to be true, over and over again.

A paradox, when art & antiques goes missing, the Insurers and Art Loss Adjusters become Pathological Liars, even more than usual.

How can you tell when an Insurer or Art Loss Adjuster is lying, their lips move !!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Irish Pink Panthers Strike Again, Rathkeale Rovers Raid Bergen Museum Norway For Second Time

Traveller crime gang held after European police raids

POLICE forces across eight European countries have arrested 30 members of an Irish Traveller crime network which is involved in money laundering, drug trafficking and organised robbery worldwide.
At least nine members of the organised crime group, known as the 'Rathkeale Rovers', have been served with tax demands worth €9m by authorities – following a complex investigation headed by Europol.
So concerned were international police forces with the criminal activities of the 'Rathkeale Rovers', that a special international meeting was held at Europol in 2011 to come up with a co-ordinated approach on how to tackle the crime network.
Europol director Rob Wainwright said Operation Oakleaf was established after gardai asked for Europol's expertise in gathering intelligence about the 'Rathkeale Rovers' across Europe.
The network is made up of several Traveller families who have Irish origins.
Mr Wainwright said gardai were involved in 30 Europol operations in recent months and 20 investigations were ongoing.
Police forces in Belgium; the Czech Republic; Denmark; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; the Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; the UK; Austria; Portugal; Spain; Switzerland; and the US are involved in the ongoing investigations.
Despite the efforts of international police forces, two members of the crime network are believed to have been responsible for a daring art theft from a museum in Norway less than a fortnight ago.
The culprits broke into the Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen on January 5 and escaped with a valuable haul of Chinese artifacts – some of which are 4,000 years old.
Europol said the crime network recently started to specialise in the theft and illegal – but highly lucrative – trade of rhino horn.
As a result, the activities of the 'Rathkeale Rovers' are now being reported in North and South America, South Africa, China and Australia.
A main source of illegal income for the Travellers is derived from tarmac fraud and selling counterfeit products such as power tools and generators.
Investigating authorities said further demands on the assets of members of the 'Rathkeale Rovers' will be made and the need for the support of the Europol Criminal Assets Bureau (ECAB) has been identified to target their finances.

Irish Traveller gang linked to audacious Norway art heist

AN Irish Traveller gang has been linked to an audacious art theft from a museum in Norway last weekend.
Two thieves broke into the Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen early last Saturday morning and escaped with a valuable haul of Chinese artifacts.
The thieves were caught on security camera, wearing head-lights and using crowbars to smash the glass cases in which the treasures were displayed.
Norwegian police suspect the same gang of Irish Travellers who have already been linked by Europol to a string of robberies, money laundering, and counterfeit goods.
Gardai expect a formal request for Irish assistance from Norwegian police to follow, according to sources.
The gang is suspected of carrying out a string of robberies from small galleries and museums in provincial cities and towns across the UK and on the Continent. There have been robberies in Belgium, France and Germany.
Europol, the international police agency, issued a statement last year claiming that the gang operated as part of a criminal network that spanned America, Europe and China. The group, known as the Rathkeale Rovers, has been linked to the illegal trade in rhino horns which can fetch up to €200,000. They are believed to have stolen horns from a natural history museum in Brussels and from a collection in a small town in western France last year.
The Criminal Assets Bureau is investigating the finances of some of the principal gang members. However, many of them are resident abroad, beyond the reach of the bureau's asset-seizing powers.
The haul of artifacts stolen from the museum in Bergen included Chinese objets d'art in jade, porcelain, bronze and paper.
A director of the museum, quoted in a local newspaper, said that the thieves were professional, knew what they were after, and were most likely hired to carry out the theft to order. Some of the pieces are more than 4,000 years old.

From The Archives 2010



 IRELAND'S notorious traveller traders have driven home in a €20million convoy of top-of-the-range motors to celebrate Christmas and THIRTEEN weddings.

A stunning array of cars was on parade in their home town of Rathkeale, Co Limerick yesterday, including TWO €180,000 Mercedes AMGs, a €130,000 Porsche Carrera and a €100,000 Porsche Cayenne.
However, the peace of the holiday homecoming was shattered when a crime gang launched a terror campaign against some of the traders in a bid to extort cash.

Vicious feud rocks Rathkeale as traveller traders show off €20m of flash motors

 HEY'RE the Kings of the Road and this weekend they are back in a convoy of flash new motors straight out of a Top Gear show.

But Christmas 2010 has been anything but quiet for the traveller traders of Rathkeale.
For the past week the small Limerick town has been host to a multi-million convoy, 13 weddings, one funeral and a vicious extortionfeud.
The annual homecoming of clans, who spend the year on the road making cash, has been rocked by a vicious armed gang who are terrorising the village of millionaires in a bid to extort money.
The traveller traders traditionally return to the County Limerick town every Christmas to celebrate weddings. This year the village again resembled a Premiership players' car park, with an estimated €20 million worth of luxury motors jammed into every available space.
The expensive marques on show included Mercedes AMGs worth up to €200,000, several Range Rover Sports, which go for €100,000 and BMW X6s.
Parked up behind one set of elaborate gates was a convertible Porches Carrera, which are on sale for €150,000, and Porsche Cayenne SUV.


However, the Rathkeale travellers have had anything but a quiet Christmas with two shootings and a bombing this week.
A pipe bomb exploded at a house belonging to member of the Hegarty family in Ballywilliam last Tuesday morning. One member of the family, Michael Hegarty, is currently awaiting trial in the United States on charges of rhino horn smuggling.

 Hegarty, along with brother-in-law Richard 'Kerry' O'Brien, were nabbed by an undercover US agent as they attempted to illegally purchase a rhino horn.
The powdered rhino horns sell for €50,000 a kilo to the Chinese medicine market. There were also shots fired at the roof of a caravan parked at Roches Road and another gun attack on a house in the town.
One gun attack was in retaliation for the first last Monday, according to a Sunday World source. The source also said that one traveller family had paid another clan from the Midlands to carry out the attack in a bid to scare of the extortionists.
The gang behind the threat are local and not connected to Limerick city gangsters, according to a Sunday World source.
Gardai investigating the incidents arrested three people. A number of traders are said to have handed over between €75,000 and
€100,000 in cash after being told by the thugs they had bought their debts.
This year the traditional Christmas gathering saw 13 weddings in Rathkeale and one funeral. There have also been tensions between locally-based travellers and the traders returning from all over the world.
At a special sitting of Rathkeale's District Court this week one man was ordered to stay out of pubs.
He is charged with possessing a knife and assault just days before Christmas and has been ordered not to contact members of two other families until his case is dealt with later this month.
Another Rathkealer home from the UK was fined after verbally abusing gardai and head-butting their squad car.

 John Culligan (28) from Pound Lane, Rathkeale was in the queue for food at Superbits when gardai arrived to deal with an incident.
Culligan,who was drunk, began shouting and was arrested when he started banging his head of the garda car. Culligan was fined €200 for the offence.
This year it emerged than even the Rathkeale traveller traders are not recession-proof, as their businesses took a battering.
Tarmacadam crews had been working through European doing shoddy driveway work for inflated prices.
"They had burned out France and Italy, they'd gotten too well known and moved on to Romania and Poland but the money wasn't there," said a Sunday World source.
One of those, Johnny 'Bottles' Sheridan and his son Patrick 'Paperface', were exposed by the Sunday World this year.
A string of householders and business people fell victim to the smooth talking road workers in northern Italy.
Johnny 'Bottles' and his crew of workers were just one of up 25 gangs operating the scams all over Europe. Our story centred around
householder Claudio Bianchi who fell victim to the Rathkeale traveller traders in the town of Bergamo, near Milan.
"They seemed respectable so I gave them the work," the fireman told the Sunday World.
Johnny Bottles's son Paperface drums up work by calling on householders, claiming to have tarmac left over from a motorway job that can be laid for a bargain price.
Once a price is agreed the work crew quickly turns up and gets on the road again as quickly as possible to keep ahead of police and irate customers.
The Criminal Assets Bureau have also carried out investigations into many of the Rathkeale traders and the source of their wealth.
French police also targeted the traveller road-gangs working around France where they set up bogus companies to transfer cash out of the country.
Several arrests broke up one team of scammers who were making up to €100,000 a month.



Wealthy Rathkeale traders have also been in conflict with the Limerick County Council over unauthorised developments.
A number of houses were built without permission while other properties were demolished and turned into yards surround by high walls.
One resident previously complained to the Sunday World that enforcement notices sent out by the council come "too late".
"The traders are gone for 11 months of the year and they leave half-built eyesores behind them," he said.

Art Hostage Comments:

When Art Hostage first dubbed the Rathkeale Rovers the Irish Pink Panthers people laughed and dismissed it as propaganda, but not now as these highly motivated clans have swept across Europe and beyond stealing high value artworks along the way. Furthermore, these clans can see a sting coming from miles away and will know that anyone saying they represent the museums, insurers or victims are in reality Undercover Police. So, how does one recover the stolen artworks, well Art Hostage has the answers, so a simple request of Art Hostage is all that is needed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Widayat Thieves In Java Jolly, Haul Worth Millions, Museum Trucked Off As Family Implicated

At Least 140 Widayat Paintings Missing in Indonesia Art Heist

At least 140 paintings by renowned Indonesian artist Widayat were stolen from his Magelang, Central Java, museum last week, an H. Widayat Museum official said on Sunday.

The art thieves assaulted the museum’s security staff, locking them in a room before they stole some 140 paintings from the gallery floor and the building’s storage room, museum director Fajar Purnomo Sidi said.

“These people know art... ” Fajar said of the robbers. “It happened at two or three o’clock in the morning. They transported the paintings by truck. Right now we have no idea where the collection might be.”

Museum staff was still checking on the total number of missing paintings on Sunday.

“This figure still need to be cross-checked. But for the time being, based on our initial assessment, there are 140 collections which have been stolen,” Fajar said.

Widayat has been described as “one of the most influential Javanese painters of the 20th Century.” He was known for reinterpreting traditional Javanese legends through a modern, abstract lens.

The artist produced more than 1,000 works before his death in 2002. A painting titled “Adam and Eve in Paradise” recently sold for $134,635 at a Christie’s

Fajar said the museum staff didn’t want to estimate the value of the missing paintings.

“We can’t say the value of the [paintings] stolen” he said. “We don’t want the paintings to be traded for money, we want the pieces [back].”


Museum caretaker Iskandar said six people had visited him on Thursday and one of them, who claimed to be a shareholder of the museum, had asked him for the key.

"Since he said he was a shareholder of the museum, I handed him the key. He told me to stay in my house," Iskandar said Saturday evening as quoted by

"I was informed by the guards that 140 paintings had gone missing at 3 a.m.," Iskandar said.

Museum director Fajar Purnomo Sidi said he had been questioned by the police regarding the incident. He suspected the thief was one of the late artist Widayat’s 11 children.

In mid-2010, one of Widayat's sons also reported the suspected theft of his late father's paintings after discovering three paintings -- Sakura, Bis Kota and Andong -- at an auction house.

The H. Widayat Museum, which houses about 1,000 of Widayat's paintings, was officially opened to the public in April 1994 by former education minister Wardiman Djojonegoro.(iwa)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Oakland Museum Gold Heist, Take Two Take Away

Precious jewel box stolen from history room at Oakland Museum of California, Value $800,000

OAKLAND -- The Oakland Museum of California is offering a $12,000 reward for a Gold Rush-era quartz and gold encrusted jewel box stolen from the permanent collection during the second heist in as many months.
The thief took the historic "Comstock Jewel Casket," which is covered in California gold, from a museum exhibit in the history wing Monday morning while the museum was closed.
A second artifact also was taken, but officials wouldn't release information about what the item was or how much both pieces are worth. They are particularly worried the burglar will try to melt the irreplaceable box made from gold-bearing moss quartz that hasn't been mined in California since the 19th century and which was stolen and returned once before to the museum in 1978.
"This is a theft of our history and the heritage of our children," Mayor Jean Quan said Wednesday.
On Monday, the thief apparently forced his way into the second floor exhibit through an emergency exit door just a few feet from where the 3-pound jewel box was encased in a Plexiglas display wired to an alarm.
A security guard heard the alarm and could see the intruder on a screen in another section of the compound that stretches for a city block along Oak Street.
The guard called Oakland police, but the thief had already left by the time officers arrived.
The description of the man was vague except that he was wearing a white mask, "which is relatively unique," said Lt. Oliver Cunningham Wednesday at the museum.
Cunningham said investigators believe the thief was the same man who broke into the same exhibit about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12.
Gold nuggets and other, undisclosed artifacts, some more than 200 years old, were stolen during that break-in.
The museum increased security after that burglary.
The heightened security worked, "but obviously we would like the security measures to be better or this wouldn't have happened," museum Executive Director Lori Fogarty said.
Other than these two burglaries, Fogarty said she couldn't remember another break-in since she arrived at the museum seven years ago.
The museum, however, has experienced several important changes recently.
The Oakland Museum of California Foundation took over running the day-to-day operations in July 2011 and recently finished extensive renovations.
The museum collection belongs to the city of Oakland, and this is the second time the coveted casket, made about 1875, has escaped the museum's control. The first time was after hours on March 1978 and was the first forced-entry theft in the institution's more than 40-year history.
That year, a thief forced his way into the room through a door from the garden and stole the Comstock Casket, about the size of a small shoe box, made by an artisan San Francisco goldsmith, A. Andrews, as a wedding anniversary gift in the 19th century. He had decorated the inside with scenes of trains crossing the plain, Indians on horseback and buffalo herds, and the box rested on four feet formed of miniature representations of Minerva, a symbol of California.
An anonymous donor purchased the box for $11,400 and gave it to the museum in 1969 when it opened. An ivory Eagle valued at $10,000 also was stolen but was recovered when police arrested the thief, William E. Murray.
However, seven years passed before the Comstock Casket finally landed in the hands of the Butterfield and Butterfield Auctioneers and Art Appraisers in San Francisco.
The casket was valued at $100,000, said Michael Weller, owner of Argentum Antiques in San Francisco, shortly after he helped reunite the Comstock Casket with the museum in 1985.
The casket hasn't been appraised since then, Fogarty said Wednesday, although it is insured.
"It is less about monetary value than the history the artifact embodies," Fogarty said. "It is a critical piece."
Police are asking anyone with information about the box to call 510-238-3951.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Dealer Hands Back Stolen Matisse As Bergen Museum Hit Again For Another Chinese Haul


Thieves hit Bergen museum, again

 Art thieves described as “professional” and extremely goal-oriented struck an art museum in Bergen over the weekend for the  second time in three years. They made off with another haul of valuable Chinese antiques in porcelain, jade, bronze and paper.

“The thieves operated quickly, effectively and professionally,” Erlend Høyersten, director of the city’s group of art museums (Kunstmuseene i Bergen), told newspaper Aftenposten. “It’s entirely clear that they knew what they were after.”
Høyersten thinks the thieves had a “shopping list” of sorts when they hit the group’s Permanenten Vestlandske Kunstindustrimuseum, and likely were hired by carry out the theft by clients keen on obtaining Chinese artifacts. The museum’s Chinese collection is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, originally containing around 2,500 items that were donated to the museum by Norwegian adventurer and general Johan Wilhelm Normann Munthe, who died in 1935.
Around 56 items in the collection disappeared in 2010 when the museum known mostly as Permanenten was the target of another break-in. This time the thieves broke into the museum around 5am on Saturday, with surveillance cameras picking up photos of two men wearing high-beam headlights and using crowbars to smash into glass cases. They quickly assembled items into cartons and fled within minutes.
Police told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) during the weekend that they also were investigating two mysterious car fires in Bergen reported about the same time early Saturday morning. The fires were considered unusual, and possibly timed to divert police attention from the museum theft to help the thieves get away.
The museum has published a series of photos on its website describing the art that was stolen (external link, in Norwegian, but click on the photo to see others). Some of the large pieces in the museum’s collection are up to 4,000 years old, but the thieves concentrated on small items that were easier to handle and which are believed to be popular on the international market.
Herman Friele, former mayor of Bergen, was upset by the latest museum theft and blamed poor security at the museum. “It’s a shame that we haven’t managed to take better care of this collection,” Friele told newspaper Bergens Tidende. “It’s incomprehensible that we’re so naive that we haven’t learned from the first break-in. We almost deserved to be robbed again.”
Bergens Tidende wrote just last month that the museum still hasn’t determined the value of the loss from the robbery in 2010, and has filed no insurance claim over it. Friele accused museum officials of being too passive, and urged the museum’s board of directors to demand improvements.

Matisse stolen in Stockholm found in UK

 A Matisse painting stolen 25 years ago from the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna museet) in Stockholm has turned up in the UK, where a dealer had hoped to sell it on behalf of an elderly Polish client, it emerged on Monday.

 Henri Matisse's "Le Jardin", an oil on canvas from 1920 that is now worth about $1 million (€760,000), was found when art dealer Charles Roberts ran it through a global database of stolen art -- standard practice before a sale.

The team at the Art Loss Register quickly identified the painting as the one stolen from the Swedish museum on May 11, 1987, when a burglar broke in with a sledgehammer and made off with the artwork in the early hours of the morning.

Several attempts were made to ransom the painting or sell it back to the museum for a huge sum, according to reports at the time, but the museum refused, and the trail went cold -- until last month.

Within a few days of matching the Matisse with the stolen painting on the database, a specialist had taken possession of the work and put it in his safe, where it is now awaiting delivery to the Swedish museum.

Roberts, who runs Charles Fine Art in Essex, east of London, said he had been asked to sell the painting by an elderly man in Poland who had owned it since the 1990s and now wanted to raise money for his grandchildren.

Given that the dealer did not know who owned the Matisse before that, Roberts ran it through the Art Loss Register to check its provenance.

"I didn't anticipate hearing that it had been stolen. It came as quite a shock to find that out," Roberts told AFP.

"It would have been good all round, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. As soon as I was informed of its status there was no question about doing anything but returning it."

The Polish man had bought it "in good faith", Roberts said, and when he told him it was stolen and could not be sold, the man "was bewildered, taken aback, although he did say, 'So it definitely is a real one?'"

The director of the Swedish museum at the time of the theft had told reporters that the painting was too well-known to sell on the open market, and this is likely why it had been missing for so long.

Christopher A. Marinello, the art recovery specialist and lawyer who has locked the work in his safe, said:

"Stolen artwork has no real value in the legitimate marketplace and will eventually resurface.... It's just a matter of waiting it out."

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Harness Museum Trophy Theft Highlights Security Defects

Harness museum turns to stolen art registry to track items lost in heist

 GOSHEN - Two weeks after the overnight theft of 14 valuable horse racing trophies from the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, officials still have no lead on the items’ whereabouts.
“There’s absolute urgency,” said Janet Terhune, director of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, describing her museum’s frantic search for the stolen items. “Every day that goes by, the trail goes colder.”
Terhune feared that the four gold trophies stolen have already been melted down and sold for cash, considering the high price of gold, currently at about $1,700 an ounce.
As of Monday, there had still been no break in the case, Terhune said.
Goshen Village Police Chief James Watt did not return calls.
The total value of the silver and gold trophies is estimated at $300,000.
The items also hold significant historical value.
One of the items was an 18-karat Memphis Gold Challenge Cup won in 1902 by the mare Lou Dillon, considered to be one of the greatest trotting horses of all time.
A sterling silver Faberge soup tureen and ladle given to an American by Russian Czar Nicholas II in 1912 could also fetch top dollar, Terhune feared. Faberge was the jewelry designer to the czar at the time.
“Basically, those items are irreplaceable to the museum,” Terhune said.
The museum plans to list the stolen items on an international stolen art registry to prevent their sale on the legitimate art market. Sharon Flescher, director of the International Foundation for Art Research in Manhattan, said the trophy and Faberge tureen won’t likely be sold easily, as they are so identifiable. It’s possible that they’ll be either melted or sold illegally.
Museum officials said the burglary occurred some time overnight between Dec. 17 and Dec. 18. The thief broke into the museum, went to the second floor display area, navigated the halls and shattered glass three-eighth of an inch thick before escaping with the items. No other glass display case with valuables throughout the museum was touched.
Museum officials suspect the burglar knew the museum intimately, though Terhune declined to speculate whether it was an inside job. The museum director also declined to talk about the museum’s security for fear such information could compromise the investigation. 

There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the return of the Faberge tureen and the Memphis Gold Challenge Cup.
Aside from the items specified above, also stolen were:
  • Gold loving cup inscribed to T. Murphy;
  • Two handled Cup inscribed “Purity Ice Cream;”
  • Loving Cup inscribed “Western Harness Racing Association;”
  • Silver oval platter inscribed “American Trotting Championship;”
  • Three-handled bowl inscribed “Frederick;”
  • Platter inscribed “Ladyship Stakes;”
  • Two handled loving cup inscribed “Opera Express;” and
  • Two silver chalices with gold interior inscribed “Reynolds Memorial” and one “Cane Memorial.”