Twitter share

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Dali Theft Solved By Mark Fishstein NYPD Art Cop

Theft of Dalí Drawing Brings Guilty Plea

 A fashion industry publicist avoided a jail sentence by pleading guilty on Tuesday to stealing a drawing by the Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí from the wall of a newly opened Manhattan art gallery last year. 

The publicist, Phivos Istavrioglou, 29, accepted a plea offer just a week after he was charged in court. He admitted that he tucked the 1949 drawing into a shopping bag and walked out of the Venus Over Manhattan gallery, on the Upper East Side. He took the drawing to his native Greece, but after seeing news coverage of the theft, mailed it back to New York in a cardboard tube.
“It was a stupid thing to do,” Mr. Istavrioglou said in court.
The drawing, “Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio,” was valued at about $150,000, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors had sought four months of jail time and restitution to cover the costs of the investigation. But Justice Charles H. Solomon of State Supreme Court in Manhattan offered a sentence under which Mr. Istavrioglou would avoid additional jail time if he remained incarcerated until his formal sentencing on March 12 and paid $9,100 in restitution by that date.
Mr. Istavrioglou, who had been living in Milan when he was arrested, will be turned over to immigration officials and face almost certain deportation, said Jordan Arnold, an assistant district attorney.
“Quite honestly, Phivos wanted this done,” Mr. Istavrioglou’s lawyer, David J. Cohen, said outside of court. “It has been tormenting him since the first day.” 

Art Hostage Comments:

Credit must be given to Mark Fishstein of the NYPD for his tireless efforts which resulted in the recovery of the Dali and the conviction of  Phivos Istavrioglou. Thieves should think twice before targeting New York as Mark Fishstein will always be there waiting to apprehend those with stealing art on their mind. 
Stealing art in New York.........Forget about it

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Double Diamond Heists, Paris, Brussels, Pink Panthers, Brise de Mer, Usual Suspects Modus Vivendi

The Bizarre Coincidences Surrounding the $50M Diamond Heist in Belgium

 Great heists depend on exquisite timing, which is precisely the way an armed gang carried out the stunning diamond robbery at the Brussels airport on Monday. Just as some $50 million worth of precious stones were being transferred from an armored car to the hold of a commercial flight bound for Switzerland, what looked like a couple of black police cars with flashing blue lights drove onto the tarmac and eight men got out brandishing assault rifles. They seized 120 parcels of diamonds, got back in their cars, and were gone in less than five minutes, apparently operating out of sight of the passengers—and of the airport police.

Sounds like a scene in a movie. But there’s more. With a little imagination, there’s a whole screenplay. And like any good script, this story already has a lot of twists and turns—some of them probably blind alleys—including a few that even lead back to … Hollywood.
Questions about the timing of the Brussels Airport job did not end with the action on the runway. Belgian crime reporters immediately thought back to 10 years ago—exactly 10 years ago to the week—when an Italian gang managed to break into what the world had thought was an impregnable vault in the diamond district of Antwerp and make off with more than $100 million worth of stones.
Those middle-aged burglars were some of the best old pros in the business: planners, locksmiths, electricians, and muscle known as the School of Turin. Their leader, Leonardo Notarbartolo, was a ruggedly handsome grandfather who’d been a thief all his life and was proud of it. As robberies go, the 2003 heist in Antwerp was a work of genius, with just one stupid mistake. The gang was done in when a farmer found some suspect garbage and called the police. Among the incriminating bits of evidence: receipts for some of the gear used in the heist and a half-eaten sandwich with the ringleader’s DNA on it.
There are only so many master jewel thieves in this world, and only a handful able to carry out such rigorous preparation and execution.
Notarbartolo was convicted of the 2003 Antwerp job in 2005, but neither he nor any of his partners ever revealed where the loot was hidden. And, proud as he was of his larcenous vocation, for much of the time he was behind bars he was trying to figure out how he could get a movie made about his life. According to Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell in Flawless, their exhaustive investigation of the Antwerp job, Notarbartolo was hoping the whole deal would be lucrative, or that it least it would help him explain where he got his money if he started to look rich.
In 2009, Joshua Davis interviewed Notarbartolo in a Belgian prison and wrote a profile for Wired magazine. “I may be a thief and a liar,” the thief and liar told him, “but I am going to tell you a true story.” Davis, on his website, notes that he is executive producer of “the diamond project,” a movie adapted from his article in Wired.
In an email, we asked Davis if he had paid Notarbartolo for the Wired story, and he was categorical: “I never paid Notarbartolo anything, nor did Wired,” he said. We followed up with a question about Paramount paying for “life rights” to make a film, but Davis hasn’t gotten back to us on that yet.
All this would be so much minor gossip in the movie and publishing biz if not, once again, for the strange question of timing. Notarbartolo got out of prison on parole in 2009. According to the Belgian press, he recently went to the United States to talk to people about a movie. There have been some rumors around Rodeo Drive that “the diamond project” was in trouble, which, if true, would typically mean a lot of money promised wouldn’t get paid out, since it’s usually tied to stages of script acceptance and production.
In any case, Notarbartolo flew back to Europe on January 29. He promptly found himself under arrest at the Paris airport, where he was about to connect to Turin. He was then extradited to Belgium on Monday, as it happens—the day of the heist at the Brussels airport—a coincidence that Flawless coauthor Selby calls “amazing.”
It appears that Notarbartolo had had an arrest warrant issued for him in November 2011 on the grounds he’d broken the conditions of his parole. And one of the infractions, according to Belgian prosecutors quoted in the local press, is that while failing to pay back “one penny” to the victims of his crime, Notarbartolo made money off the story he gave to Wired. His Belgian lawyer, Walter Damen, was not available for comment. (Damen’s assistant told us he was visiting Notarbartolo in jail.) But press reports of the bail hearing say Damen claimed in his client’s defense that there was no proof he had any of the loot in his possession, and he wasn’t really profiting from his crime through the Wired story because it was really fiction.
Now, it may be that none of this really has anything to do with the heist on the tarmac at Brussels airport. “It’s a pretty different M.O.,” says Selby, an authority on the diamond business as well as diamond thefts. The 2003 job run by Notarbartolo was very quiet—almost invisible—and not discovered until the end of the Valentine’s Day weekend that year. The Brussels job was, as the military likes to say, “kinetic”—all action, with guns waving and orders shouted and people fearing for their lives, although in the end nobody got hurt. Selby says he doubts there was any direct link with Notarbartolo, but he was disturbed by so many odd coincidences of timing. “It’s weird,” he said. “I don’t know what to say about that.”
There are only so many master jewel thieves in this world, and only a handful able to carry out such rigorous preparation and execution. So suspicion inevitably would have turned to Notarbartolo had he been free when the heist took place. Fortunately for him, his arrest gives him the perfect alibi. Almost as if he’d planned it that way.

Diamond Thieves in The New Yorker

It will be a while before we get the full story about yesterday’s diamond heist at Brussels Airport. So far, it sounds as though eight thieves, dressed in police uniforms and carrying machine guns, drove two cars, fitted with flashing police lights, onto the tarmac and stole the diamonds directly from the cargo hold of a jet. Most reports have said that the diamonds are worth around fifty million dollars (although one source cited by the Wall Street Journal has put their value as high as three hundred and fifty million). Meanwhile, Anja Bijens, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in Brussels, said what officials always say in heist movies: “This was not a random robbery. It was well-prepared—these were professionals.”
What exactly does it mean to be a “professional” diamond thief? That was the subject of David Samuels’s 2010 article, “The Pink Panthers.” The Panthers are a gang of jewelry thieves, based mainly in Eastern Europe, but with a global reach. Here’s a sample of their handiwork:
In March, 2004, Panthers targeted a jewelry store in Tokyo. Two Serbs, wearing wigs, entered the store and immobilized a clerk with pepper spray. They made off with a necklace containing a hundred-and-twenty-five carat diamond. That same year, in Paris, Panthers exploited a visit to Chopard by the wife of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, and stole fourteen million dollars’ worth of jewels from an unguarded display case. In 2005, a Panther team, dressed in flower-print shirts, raided Julian, a jewelry store in Saint-Tropez. The heist, which took place in broad daylight, lasted just minutes. The thieves ran out of the store and down to the harbor, where they escaped in a waiting speedboat.
All told, the Panthers have performed hundreds of robberies all over the world. The gang’s cinematic name is an invention of the press: the police, after raiding one thief’s apartment, found a blue-diamond ring, worth seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, hidden inside a jar of face cream; a similar hiding place was used in one of the Peter Sellars films.
What sort of person becomes a Pink Panther? To find out, Samuels travels to Serbia and Montenegro, where many of the gang’s members grew up. In Serbia, the corruption, violence, and economic privation of the nineteen-nineties created a climate perfect for organized crime. (“Once the Serbian state had transformed itself into a criminal enterprise,” Samuels writes, “many Serbs turned themselves, willingly or reluctantly, into criminals.”) Samuels travels to the Serbian city of Nis, which has its own “faction” of Panther operatives.
The highway leading into town was empty, and lined with stores selling motorbikes and diet supplements. The city felt far removed from Belgrade, with its Austro-Hungarian façades and well-ordered criminality. Nis was wilder, and had more of an ethnic mix: Albanians, Macedonians, Gypsies. The city’s most famous landmark is the Skull Tower, which was built by the Turks, in 1809, out of quicklime, sand, and nine hundred and fifty-two skulls of Serbian fighters. On the uneven sidewalks, girls in heavy makeup tottered along in high heels, their loutish boyfriends following closely behind.… Groups of young men drank beer in the street. One of them, a Serb, had a T-shirt emblazoned with a brace of pistols and the word “Wanted,” in gaudy silver lettering. A brand-new Audi was parked nearby.
Samuels sits down with the mayor, Milos Simonovic, who says that Nis has been “a good place to have this merger between authorities and criminals.” “Many younger citizens of Nis,” Samuels explains, “having watched their parents lose their jobs, and growing up in an atmosphere of wholesale corruption, have embraced the idea of going to Western Europe and becoming thieves.” When they return home, ready to spend, the police are happy to turn a blind eye to their faraway crimes. In Montenegro, meanwhile, “hospitality to organized crime is so remarkable as to merit comparison to the legendary pirates’ paradise of Tortuga.” In the Montenegrin town of Cetinje, the mayor tells Samuels about a local song about the thieves and bandits who operate in Western Europe. It goes, “We don’t steal from Montenegro, we steal for Montenegro.”
Samuels spends much of the piece trying to meet with someone who is relatively high-up in the Panther organization. Finally, in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, Samuels meets with a Panther who goes by the name “Novak.” (Samuels is instructed, via a cell-phone call, to wait by the side of a mountain road; wear loose-fitting, easily-searchable clothing, a voice tells him, and leave your phone and tape recorder at home.) The Panthers, Novak explains, are loosely organized: they get “orders from Belgrade,” Samuels discovers, which are the product of “a centralized system for picking targets and assigning crews to jobs.” Samuels asks Novak about how he became a Panther. “We all come from normal families,” Novak says. “Our parents are normal people. They are not in this kind of life.”
The thieves in his group had gone to Italy together and saw how people lived there: “Some of us went insane and tried to have everything at once.” The greedy ones wound up with long prison terms or worse, he said. Others spent two or three years in Italian jails. He said that the gang began stealing during the era of Western sanctions; some of its members had connections to the Serbian security services, which provided protection.
In the early days, Novak says, the group got tips from a male model, who had grown up in the Balkans and was living in Antwerp. Later, they developed their own intelligence network: “We have our bird-watchers,” he says. “We have guys whose job it is to travel around and collect tips.” The gang has included a computer whiz who sifts through registries for planes and boats, looking for likely targets. (Russian expats living in Western Europe are particularly attractive; they’re probably in trouble at home, he says, and will be reluctant to go to the police.) A technician, Samuels learns, has worked for the team, creating “devices for bypassing alarm systems”; the man’s father, Novak boasts, “is one of the most famous engineers in Serbia!” After they’re stolen, the diamonds are taken elsewhere in Europe on speedboats: “You can charter one for two Rolex,” he says. Eventually, the stolen diamonds reënter the regular diamond market as though they were new.
We don’t know, of course, who stole the diamonds at the airport, or where those diamonds are going. But we can guess about what the thieves were like—“desperate and inventive men,” Samuels calls them, who are thirsty for an anonymous prosperity. At the end of their meeting, when Novak says goodbye, he invites Samuels to visit again. “He would show me some ‘white glass,’ ” Samuels writes, “and perhaps a Cézanne.”
Subscribers can read the “The Pink Panthers” online, in The New Yorker’s archive.
Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson.

Diamond Heist, The Sequel: After Brussels Airport, Paris Department Store Hit

PARIS - A day after armed men pulled off a spectacular 50 million euro diamond heist at Brussels Airport, two men made off with 3 million euros worth of diamonds after holding up a popular department store in central Paris on Tuesday night.
The heist happened in broad daylight – an hour before closing – at the Printemps department store. The unsuspecting crowd of customers remained oblivious to the entire incident, said France 24.
The Printemps is one of Paris’ oldest and most popular stores, in the center of the city’s busy Opera shopping and business district .
The two men, who wore bulletproof jackets but no balaclavas, carried out their hold-up very discretely, without firing their handguns, said France 24.
They asked a salesperson from the De Beers counter to open two jewelry cases, emptied the contents into their bags, and exited through a service staircase in the back of the department store, reports le Parisien. French police believes this could be an inside job. The men’s faces were uncovered even though the store has an extensive video-surveillance system.
The Printemps Department store in Paris, Wikipedia 
De Beers, a Dutch company, is one of the world’s leading diamond firms. A spokesperson confirmed clients and personnel were safe and that they were cooperating with the police.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Brussels Airport, Antwerp Diamond Heist, Dutch Drugs R Us

In a stunning raid on a loaded commercial aircraft, eight armed robbers got away with as much as $350 million of gems. WSJ's Daniel Michaels explains why it looks like the thieves had inside help in breaching very tight security.


Nice Little Earner !!

In Swift Brussels Gem Heist, Inside Help Is Seen

BRUSSELS—Twenty-nine passengers sat aboard a Zurich-bound flight here Monday evening waiting for the last bags to be loaded, when heavily armed robbers raced up to the plane and stole more than 120 packages of diamonds whose value is estimated as high at $350 million.
Some of the eight masked assailants stood in front of the Helvetic Airways jet plane with machine guns, pointing laser sights at the pilots inside the cockpit while others forced ground staff to open the plane's cargo doors, according to Belgian prosecutors and other people familiar with the events.

The robbers snatched specific consignments and sped off in minutes without firing a shot, said Belgian prosecutor Ine Van Wymersch. "It was well-prepared and very professional," she said.
The heist passed so quickly and quietly that travelers on the plane and inside the terminal barely knew what had happened. "It wasn't something you'd expect to see in real life," said Brussels Airport spokesman Jan Van der Cruysse. "It was something you'd see in the movies."
The thieves appeared to have detailed information about both the cargo and operations at Brussels Airport, said aviation security specialists, and likely had help from people at the airport. That underscores worries by international law-enforcement officials that, in spite of many years of improvement in airport security, the many workers at these facilities continue to pose a threat for their potential to help not only criminals, but also terrorists.
The brazen heist is Europe's highest-value and most dramatic tarmac holdup in a decade, said aviation security specialists. But because it wasn't yet clear what was stolen, estimates of the actual value varied. The declared value of the stolen diamonds, a mix of rough and polished stones, was about $50 million, according to a spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, a coordinator for diamond traders in the city. Another person familiar with the events said the jewels could be worth up to $350 million. Ms. Van Wymersch, the prosecutor, declined to place a value on the stolen gems.
Swiss International Air Lines, for which Helvetic operated the flight, said in a statement that the heist "was evidently aimed at valuables" on the plane, including diamonds. Neither the passengers nor the four crew members aboard the Fokker 100 jetliner were hurt, Swiss said.
At 7:47 p.m. Monday, two black vehicles with blue police-style lights pulled up to the plane, which had just been loaded, according to the prosecutor, Ms. Van Wymersch.
The robbers apparently knew that one segment of the airport's perimeter, protected by two layers of 10-foot-high fencing and concrete blocks, could be crossed more easily due to construction, said a person familiar with the events. The fences were cut before the Audi A8 and Mercedes van, models typically used by Belgian security forces, reached the airport, this person said. The assailants slipped onto airport territory between security patrols, said another person familiar with the events.

The assailants then appear to have waited and only proceeded after receiving word that the valuables were loaded onto the plane from an armored truck, which arrived at the airport with an armed escort, the first person said. The robbers' disguises were precise down to armbands worn by airport police, this person said.
One vehicle was later found thoroughly burned and "was probably used" in the theft, Ms. Van Wymersch said. "At this stage of the investigation, everything is still possible."
The robbery was unusual for its boldness and for the number of people involved, said Robert Read, global head of fine art at specialist insurers Hiscox Ltd. HSX.LN +1.68% in London, who has handled hundreds of theft claims.
"Eight armed men is a mini army," said Mr. Read, who estimated that the entire team involved in organizing and working as lookouts was about 20 people.
Mr. Read said that while the gang "got lucky" that their heist proceeded without violence or problems, "the theft is the easy part." Laundering so many diamonds won't be simple, he said. "It's hard to move that much without raising eyebrows."
Brussels Airport is a gateway for diamonds and gold coming in and out of Antwerp, a world hub for trading in gems and precious metals. About $200 million in diamonds enter and leave the city daily, with about 99% of that moving through the Brussels Airport in several shipments each week, according to the spokeswoman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Central Antwerp has implemented strict security measures over recent years, including extensive video surveillance, requirements for diamond merchants to have alarmed safes and close cooperation with local police. Reports of suspicious incidents can be sent to police online. "It's safe to say we're the safest diamond center in the world," the spokeswoman said.
But she said Antwerp diamond merchants are "concerned" by the airport heist, she said. Shipments to and from the airport, in armored vehicles, are accompanied by armed escorts, but once they enter the airport they lose their armed escort, she said.
Findel Airport in tiny Luxembourg, next to Belgium, is working to attract valuable goods by creating a high-security zone far away from most airport activities. Planes will taxi past for loading of precious cargo, such as art and jewels, which will take only a few minutes, according to the airport and people familiar with the plans.
"There's massive demand" for such a facility, said Mr. Read at Hiscox.
The precision of the Brussels heist indicated extensive help from airport insiders, said air-security experts, who noted that all airports employ thousands of low-paid workers and face high staff turnover. People handling air freight are aware of valuable consignments because every cargo shipment carries a waybill, which is similar to a passenger's boarding pass. Waybills must move openly through cargo systems so handlers can plan how to load freight.
In February 2004, six armed robbers working on inside information raided a warehouse at London's Heathrow Airport and escaped with £1.75 million ($2.7 million) in cash. The men were later caught and convicted.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, law-enforcement officials have grown increasingly concerned about security threats posed by people working inside airports or other sensitive facilities. U.S. President Barack Obama in November issued a presidential memorandum on the National Insider Threat Policy, which aims to combat dangers such as espionage, violence and "unauthorized disclosure of classified information," according to the memorandum.
Security officials acknowledge that events such as the Brussels robbery may be impossible to completely prevent. "You can minimize access to information, but you can never eliminate the threat," said one European official involved in security.
Since Sept. 11, airport holdups have dropped significantly due to measures aimed at potential terrorists. Brussels Airport suffered a string of dramatic robberies more than a decade ago, prompting airlines and insurers to press the Belgian government and the airport company to tighten security around the facility.
Before European countries began adopting the euro in 2001, airport robberies were more frequent because national currencies were frequently transported among countries, aviation-security officials have said.
In the decade through 2002, armed robbers staged at least 10 major heists on the tarmacs of European airports and robbers who didn't pull guns executed many more thefts of cash, diamonds and other valuable cargo from high-security areas, according to airport-security specialists.
Monday's theft was the first at the airport since 2002, said Ms. Van Wymersch, the prosecutor.
Write to Daniel Michaels at

Gigantic' Brussels Airport diamond heist

Armed robbers have made off with a "gigantic" haul of diamonds after a rapid raid at Brussels Airport.
They broke through a fence on Monday evening and stole gems which could be worth 50m euros (£43m; $67m), as they were being loaded from a Brinks security van onto a Swiss-bound plane.
They escaped back through the same hole. Police later found a burned-out vehicle close to the airport.
Police are looking for eight men, a prosecutors' spokeswoman said.
Caroline De Wolf, of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, estimated the haul at 50m euros, saying: "What we are talking about is obviously a gigantic sum".
AFP quoted an unnamed spokeswoman at the same Antwerp centre calling the robbery "one of the biggest" ever.
She said that the diamonds were "rough stones" being transported from Antwerp to Zurich.
Antwerp is the hub of the world diamond trade - about 150m euros' worth of stones move in and out of the city every day, the spokeswoman added.
No shots Brussels prosecutor's spokeswoman Anja Bijnens said the thieves were masked and well armed, but no shots were fired and no-one was hurt in the raid.
They used two vehicles, the raid was over in a matter of minutes, and they made off into the night.
An airport spokesman, Jan Van Der Crujsse, said the robbers made a hole in the perimeter fence and drove up next to the Swiss passenger plane that was preparing to leave.
He could not explain the security breach. "We abide by the most stringent rules,'' he said.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Strolen Art Watch, Wenlok Jug Guilty Pleas, Who Gets The Reward & Stanley Spencer Painting Remains Outstanding ?

Wenlok jug pair plead guilty

editorial image

A man charged with the theft of the Wenlok Jug pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court today (February 11).
Ronald Nash, 23, of Pitwood Green in Tadworth, Surrey was charged with handling stolen property and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs after Bedfordshire Police launched a covert operation to retrieve the jug.
The 14th century jug was taken from a high-security display cabinet at Stockwood Discovery Centre in May last year.
Louis Kybert, 25, from Surrey, who was arrested in the same operation pleaded guilty to the possession of two stun guns and being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
The Wenlok Jug is valued at £750,000, is made of bronze, weighs 6.1kgs and is decorated with coats of arms, badges and the inscription: “MY LORD WENLOK”.
A third man aged 47 was arrested in connection with this investigation but he was released without further action.
Nash and Kybert will be sentenced at Luton Crown Court on March 15.
DI Martin Peters said: “This was a high profile case which involved the theft of a national treasure and attracted a lot of public interest. The amount of evidence gathered by officers has meant that the offenders had no alternative but to plead guilty.”

Friday, February 08, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Durham Museum Dumb & Dumber Raiders Jailed

"Crass ineptitude": Two thieves who stole priceless antiques and then couldn't find them are jailed

Lee Wildman and Adrian Stanton hid their £2MILLION haul on wasteland but were never able to locate it.

'Inept': Adrian Stanton (left) and Lee Wildman
'Inept': Adrian Stanton (left) and Lee Wildman

Durham Police

Two inept thieves who made off with antiques worth £2million and then couldn't find where they stashed them, have been jailed.
Lee Wildman, 36, was jailed for nine years and Adrian Stanton, 33, was handed an eight-year term for planning and carrying out a raid at Durham University's Oriental Museum last Easter.

They had planned the break-in well, choosing the night before Good Friday when the campus was quiet, using cloned number plates and chiselling a hole through a brick wall to get in and out quickly.
From the display cabinets, they picked out just two items - a 1769 jade bowl and a porcelain figurine - worth up to £2 million, Judge Christopher Prince told them.

Stolen: One of the artefacts

Chinese artefact stolen by Adrian Stanton and Lee Wildman from Durham University's Oriental Museum

Hole in the wall: The scene of the robbery

The scene of the robbery at Durham University's Oriental Museum, as Adrian Stanton and Lee Wildman

Durham University
But their plan was flawed because after hiding the items on wasteland, Wildman could not find them when he returned two days later.
He was seen by a witness searching the plot, speaking in an agitated manner on his mobile, as the light faded.
Judge Prince told the defendants they had shown "crass ineptitude" in being unable to find their haul.
"Thank heavens you could not, because they may have been lost," he said.
Just weeks before the pair from Walsall had received suspended sentences for a night-time break-in at an amusement arcade in Rhyl, where they cut a hole in a roof and broke into slot machines.

Durham University

On that occasion police stopped their car on the way back to the Midlands, and found them to have over £10,000 in coins.
That was in their minds when they decided to hide the Chinese artefacts and collect them later, the judge said.
Both men had shown no remorse and had told "transparent" lies during a two-day hearing at Durham Crown Court in which they tried to play down their roles in the burglary, the judge said.
It was hard to put a price on the items, the judge said.
"The financial value of artefacts such as these is perhaps the very least important factor," he said.
"These items have got a historical, cultural and artistic value that is quite simply immeasurable.
"Their loss has had the most enormous detrimental effect on the university, both in expenditure they have had to make in improving their security and in the loss of potential confidence from benefactors."

 Recovered: Artefact

Chinese artefact stolen by Adrian Stanton and Lee Wildman from Durham University's Oriental Museum

Durham University
  The items were found following a finger-tip search of the waste area after a witness who read some of the widespread publicity about the case recognised she had seen Wildman in the area.
Four others who helped the offenders while they tried to lie low from police will be sentenced later.
A week before the break-in, Wildman and Stanton were caught on the museum's CCTV, testing security during a visit within opening hours.
When he was shown the footage later, Wildman told detectives: "It's not a crime to visit a museum."
Both men were to be paid a "fixed reward" for stealing the items, which was nothing like their real market value, Ben Williams, defending both men, said.
They both have lengthy criminal records stretching back to when they were juveniles, the court heard.
When they were arrested with their girlfriends and an accomplice at a Walsall hotel, Wildman was found to have £5,746 in cash and Stanton £4,930.
Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, praised the media for publicising the theft which led to vital information from the public.
"It is right to say that local press coverage in particular was very useful because witnesses were able to make identifications from photographs that had been published," he said.
The raiders were probably not acting alone, and were carrying out the thefts "to order", he said.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime Around The World, New York, Nazi's, Nova Scotia, Marinello !!

Portrait of an art detective: The intriguing investigations carried out the world over to return lost masterpieces

'I've met with a criminal who's been holding onto some very valuable artwork for over 30 years several times at a cafe in Paris'

 Art theft - after the trade in drugs and arms - is the highest grossing criminal activity, according to the FBI.

The crimes that come to the public's attention are usually only the big cases, like the theft of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa in 1911 and Edvard Munch's The Scream, stolen in Oslo in 2004.

Both were recovered and it is thanks to the dogged determination of people like Christopher Marinello that such masterpieces are returned to their owners and galleries around the world. For he is an art detective.

His official title is executive director at the Art Loss Register, and in his role he has found more than £160million of stolen artwork for individual collectors, museums and galleries around the world. One of his recent successes was recovering a Matisse painting in Essex worth more than £1million, 25 years after it was stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm. Yahoo! News UK and Ireland interviewed Mr Marinello in his London office.

Yahoo!:  What is the Art Loss Register?
Christopher Marinello: The Art Loss Register (ALR) was established in 1991, it has a database of 360,000 stolen art items. Rather than just maintaining a list of stolen items, we actively search the marketplace for whatever is on our list. I not only recover artwork; I mediate title disputes. For example, if one millionaire is buying a Degas from another millionaire and the Degas belongs to Holocaust victims, I facilitate the sale by working out a solution that satisfies the original owners.

Yahoo!: How often do you find database matches?
CM: Every week. Say if you're a collector who sees an antique clock on Portobello Road - you can contact us to make sure it's not stolen. I get calls all the time from people who claim to have leads on stolen work. Many aren't plausible like a recent call from someone saying that a well-known country singer has paintings from a famous Boston Museum heist.

Yahoo!: When you find a missing work, do you alert the police or meet with suspected art thieves yourself?
CM: I deal with criminals if I have the permission of the authorities. If artwork was stolen recently, the police are usually keen to get involved. If the theft happened 25 years ago, the police aren't as interested and in those cases I'm given permission to handle the case myself

Yahoo!: Is that what happened with Le Jardin, the Matisse painting that you recently recovered in Essex and returned to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm?
CM: Yes - a private art dealer in Essex was approached by a guy in Poland to sell it in the UK so he contacted us to see if it was on the Art Loss Register. We saw it was stolen so we told the art dealer that we'd check the painting on delivery and to tell the Polish seller that he was going ahead with the sale. I also alerted Scotland Yard, just in case we needed to seize it at the border. Once it was back in the country, the art dealer was shown all the Interpol and police notices to prove it was stolen. We drafted a release which he signed and we got the painting back.

Yahoo!: So the case ends there - you don't try to find out who the thieves are?
CM: We told the police everything and if they want to investigate the Polish seller and solve the crime, they can do so. Or the Swedish police could try to solve the crime.

Yahoo!: But in 25 years, the painting probably changed hands so many times that it could be very difficult to trace the original thieves?
CM: You never know. In a case I'm working on now, I've met with a criminal who's been holding onto some very valuable artwork for over 30 years several times at a cafe in Paris. I want to resolve this thing because the family still wants their artwork back. We can prove who owns the artwork but we can't prove he's done the crime so it's a matter of trying to persuade him to give us the artwork.

Yahoo!: How closely do you work with Interpol and other art crime organisations?
CM: Very closely, although Interpol is not a force, it's an organisation that helps officers in one country deal with officers in other countries. On the other hand, the FBI art crime squad is an actual squad of 14 agents. The Italian Carabinieri are a serious art crime squad with 300 officers. 

Yahoo!: Are there any new cases you can tell us about?
CM: We've got some really exciting unsolved cases on our books now including works by Modigliani, Braque, Leger, Matisse and Picasso from the Paris Museum of Modern Art theft in 2010 and work from the recent Kunsthal museum heist.
We are also working on getting back a Matisse for a family of Holocaust descendants in New York which is now in a museum in Norway. The documentation we have is signed by Hermann Goering ordering a gallery in Paris which had this Matisse to be closed in 1941. Goering then had the artwork seized and sent the family who owned the gallery to Auschwitz. Because Goering didn't like Matisse, he traded the piece to other dealers in Paris to get the Old Masters that he wanted. That's how it returned to the open market. 

Yahoo!: What missing artwork would you really love to find?
CM: The ultimate recovery would be to find the work from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in Boston. During the 1990 St Patrick's Parade where every police officer was at the parade, thieves dressed as police stole Vermeer's The Concert (at $200 million, the most valuable stolen artwork in the world), Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea, Manet's Chez Tortoni and 10 more pieces– artwork now valued at half a billion dollars. The museum is so keen to get the work back that they're offering a $5 million reward and anyone returning the work will not be prosecuted for the crime.

Yahoo!: Have the profiles of art thieves changed over the years? Are they getting more difficult to track  down?
CM: Thieves are always going to be thieves. Art thieves are common thugs. There's no romance there. The same people who'd steal your wallet would steal artwork. The internet has made it easier track but it's easier for the criminals as well. I can't go undercover anymore for instance because my picture is everywhere. The key is to get more people who buy and sell art to check the Art Loss database.

Stolen Carpet

For your verification, the carpet can be seen on the FBI’s NSAF. The owners contacted us to help facilitate a private search using our industry contacts and launching a website for them to possibly aid in recovery –
The latter is to be promoted on all websites and social networking outlets as the receiving point for leads as well as serve as confirmation for reward(s).
The carpet was stolen from the original owner in suburban New York. This was the only item stolen, and it was specifically targeted. There is reason to believe the carpet is still in existence and efforts to circulate this information is now timely. The high reward is to encourage individual(s) with information that providing a legitimate lead resulting in recovery comes with benefit to all parties. For the owners, recovery of the original carpet will provide resolution, and the return of an item with great sentimental value.
Fine silk Tabriz carpets such as this are highly collectible in pristine condition. There are few of this type of carpet in existence, and those which survive often obtain high premiums when in original condition and sold with legitimate provenance. This particular carpet, titled the “Wedding Carpet”, features several unique attributes making it unusual and rare:
  1. It is large in size while still relatively manageable as a show piece.
  2. Among 19th century carpets, it is an exceptional example.
  3. The carpet is quite fine, and features a consistent theme through its pictorial imagery.
  4. It is a one-of-a-kind carpet, as uniquely identifiable as a fingerprint.
Antique Silk Rug

An antique Persian silk “Figural” Tabriz made in Iran, size 2.62m x 3.70m.
Most unique are the woven illustrations of courting scenes between Persian [Sassanian] King and Armenian Princess: The love story of Khosrow and Shirin. Each of the thirteen panels in the field are elaborate and ornate, with specific symbolism surrounding the two lovers. Largest of all, the central focal point: A tree-of-life, stemming from a decorative vase, which connects each illustrated cartouche.
There are few carpets of this type and age which combine such a wide range and variety of imagery in such detail. The illustrations together complete an elaborate story. Other included imagery (from the top field down): lanterns of the Orient on either side of an armorial shield, bowls of fruit, pheasants, reclined and seated human figures, and a border illustrating crouching deer. The carpet has many colors; those of which are most prominent include an ivory ground at the center, a redish-rust color of the field background and border, and a third dominant color in abrash ranging of light to medium blue throughout the entire piece.
The carpet is also thin and fine in weave, with characteristics similar to a tapestry or fabric, but having a thin pile. The carpet is also pliable, with the ability to fold up similar to how a blanket may be stored.
Size: 8 feet 7 inches x 12 feet 2 inches
2.62 meters x 3.70 meters
An antique Persian carpet made in Tabriz, Iran. Hand woven of silk pile and silk foundation. Cream colored fringe at each end of the 8’7″ width.
In the center of the carpet appears a large tree of life design stemming from an ornate base. The tree of life is portrayed against a cream colored background.
Under the center tree of life, three panels illustrate reclining male and female figures.
The basic color of the carpet is an orange-red or rust, although the carpet is replete with multi colors, especially dark and light blues.
Also depicted in the carpet are the following: – Bowls containing a variety of fruits – Oriental lamps in the two upper corners. The border of the carpet contains alternating medallions of flowers and crouching animals / deer.  Read more about this carpet
Reward for information leading to recovery.  Even if you do not have information, see how you can raise awareness.

Guilty plea over badge theft from museum

TWO men accused of burglary and theft from the Inniskilling Museum in Enniskillen have pleaded guilty to their lesser charges of stealing six helmet plate badges from the property.
57-year-old Carlo Holmes of Clonard Court, Belfast and 33-year-old James Daniel Carlin, also from Belfast but currently in custody, appeared at Enniskillen Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday) admitting the theft on March 6 last year as well as a further charge of criminal damage to a display case belonging to the museum.
The charges of burglary and theft for both men still remain on the Court's books.
Holmes also faces an additional charge of assault on police, relating to the same date.
After he was rearraigned his defence barrister, Des Fahy applied for a change to one of his bail conditions.
Explaining that Holmes had to report to Grosvenor Road Police Station at 3pm each day, Mr Fahy asked whether his client could have the time changed to 5pm instead. "He would like to collect his godson from school," explained the barrister, "He is trying to build a relationship with him."
The prosecution outlined why police were objecting to the application: "Reporting in the middle of the afternoon rather than later allows his movement to be less 'free' during the course of the day.
"Police are concerned about the fact that his criminal history is not confined to one particular area. The middle of the afternoon reporting suggests he cannot go too far from the area where he resides."
Crown Court Judge Melody McReynolds believed however, that altering the time to 1.30pm was acceptable, particularly since the ongoing flag protests in Belfast were making it harder to get in and out of the city anyway. Both men are to appear again at Laganside Court tomorrow (Friday).

Here we go again, "according museums have the thieves nothing from Catharijneconvent stolen monstrance". Oh yeah? Yet the thefts on. Of course they have something that monstrance. Insured for € 250.000,00 and then in a showcase that can quickly turn into? That regulates the nearest jeweler around the corner better.

Man held over theft of rhino horns in Austria