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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.”


Anonymous said...

Why would anyone steal such valuable art pieces just to sell them as melted gold?

Anonymous said...

More importantly, why would anyone melt such irreplaceable art!?