Twitter share

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, To Live & Die In L.A. Encino Art Heist Cracked Courtesy Of "The Donald" Hrycyk That Is !!

Paintings in $10-million Encino heist recovered

Nine of 12 paintings stolen from a Los Angeles home in 2008 are recovered by authorities
Paintings worth $10 million were quietly taken from the home of an elderly Los Angeles couple
For six years, the mystery surrounding one of the largest art heists in Los Angeles history baffled police. Then, a shadowy figure by the name of "Darko" surfaced in Europe.
Darko held himself out as a fixer for someone in California wanting to peddle the paintings. The items, police knew, had been stolen from an Encino home in summer 2008. The collection included works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera and was worth an estimated $10 million.
The discovery led undercover FBI agents to pretend to be interested in buying the art. They arranged for a meeting at a Brentwood hotel.

There appeared Raul Espinoza, who was arrested after he tried to sell the agents the artworks, according to a search warrant filed in court this month. Authorities recovered nine of the 12 paintings, the warrant said.
The return of the stolen works — no small feat in the world of art theft, where recovery rates are low — marks a significant victory for investigators. The burglary had been swift, and there were few clues.

At the home where the dozen works were part of a multimillion-dollar art collection owned by an elderly couple, caretakers normally shuffled through on a round-the-clock basis.
The couple, one of whom was 88 at the time of the theft, had gained their wealth through real estate investments.
On the morning of Aug. 23, 2008, the caretaker on duty had left for what she said was a 49-minute period to buy groceries at Gelson's.
The home was equipped with a security system, but the couple's children told investigators that the alarm wasn't functioning. Every entryway was locked except for the kitchen door on the side of the home.
When the caretaker returned just after noon, the paintings that had hung on the hallway and living room walls were gone, frames and all.
The couple, inside their bedrooms, hadn't heard the thief or thieves. And police weren't called to the home until the following morning, according to a police report.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.

Several works of art and paintings worth millions of dollars were left behind.
What led investigators to Darko is unclear. Reached Wednesday, Det. Donald Hrycyk of the Los Angeles Police Department's art theft detail declined to say whether anyone else had been arrested or if the remaining artworks had been found.
But in the search warrant, filed Dec. 5, Hrycyk said he suspected "the original burglary could not have been accomplished without the assistance of inside help from one of the employees who worked for the victims at the time of the crime."
Hrycyk wrote that he believed Espinoza, who also goes by the alias Jorge Lara, knew the insider.
During the Oct. 23 meeting in the hotel, Hrycyk watched and listened to the negotiation between Espinoza and undercover agents through a hidden camera in the hotel room, he wrote in the warrant.
The agents were offering $700,000 for nine pieces. Espinoza tried to peddle three additional artworks to the agents, including one painting that matched the description of an Endre Szasz piece taken from the Encino home, the search warrant said. Espinoza used "his cellphone to call confederates to signal them during the operation," Hrycyk wrote in the document.
Espinoza, 45, was arrested at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, according to arrest records. He has been charged with one count of receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty at an Oct. 27 arraignment and remains jailed at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. His bail is $5 million.
Espinoza's relationship to Darko is unclear, authorities said.
This month, investigators sought the warrant to search Espinoza's cellphone, believing that photos and electronic communications could bring the long-running investigation closer to an end.
Twitter: @MattHjourno

Major L.A. art heist: Recovered art worth over $12 million, FBI says

Art worth more than $12 million was recovered in one of the biggest art heists in Los Angeles history, the FBI said Friday.
The works were stolen in 2008 from an Encino couple, who did not live to see the recovery of the works. The husband died within four months of the crime, authorities said, and his wife died earlier this year.

A dozen paintings were stolen from the elderly couple's multimillion-dollar collection. The works were taken from the couple's home in broad daylight while they were in their bedrooms nearby.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.
See more on the news conference below.
In a news conference Friday, agents said there are three pieces yet to be recovered. One of them is believed to be by Hungarian artist Endre Szasz. The FBI said the value of the artwork ranks as the greatest recovered in recent history.
A reward of $25,000 was offered for any more information regarding the rest of the stolen art.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of valuables stolen from Christie's HQ in raid

Antiques and jewellery believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been stolen from one of the world’s top auction houses.
Valuable works of art, including rare pieces by Faberge - the court jewellers of Imperial Russia - were taken from Christie’s headquarters in Piccadilly.
Police are probing the theft of the ‘high-value items’ two weeks ago, but there have been no arrests and none of the stolen items have been recovered.
A twice-yearly auction of Russian art at Christie’s last month made £20 million and saw many valuable items by Faberge go under the hammer, including a crystal vase that fetched £314,500.
The stolen items were taken from the auction house in King Street on the night of Sunday December 7.
Staff alerted the police after the burglary was discovered the following morning.
Scotland Yard’s elite art and antiques unit informed the British Antique Dealers’ Association.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that officers from Westminster are currently investigating a burglary at business premises which is believed to have occurred between 6pm on Sunday December 7th and 8am on Monday December 8th.
“A number of high value items were taken. Inquiries are continuing. There have been no arrests.”
A Christie’s spokeswoman said: “Christie’s is helping the Metropolitan Police to investigate a recent, isolated incident at its London offices.”

Nine paintings worth $10 million that were stolen in one of the 'largest art heists in Los Angeles history' are recovered as the thief tried to sell them

  • The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the works to undercover FBI agents
  • The stolen paintings included works by Hans Hofmann, Chaim Soutine, Arshile Gorky, Emil Nolde, Lyonel Feininger and Kess van Dongen
  • The artwork, including pieces by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, is worth millions and was taken while the couple was at home
  • Both art experts and authorities described the art theft as one of the largest in Los Angeles history 
Authorities have recovered $10 million worth of art — including paintings by Chagall and Diego Rivera — that were stolen in one of Los Angeles' largest art heists.
The FBI and Los Angeles Art Cop Donald Hrycyk recovered nine pieces of art at a West LA hotel in October, and a man was arrested, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The works, including Chagall's 'Les Paysans' and Diego Rivera's 'Mexican Peasant,' were among a dozen swiped from the Encino home of a wealthy real estate investor on the morning of Aug. 24, 2008, by a crook or crooks who entered through the unlocked kitchen door, police said.
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera.

Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
The elderly residents were in their bedrooms and heard nothing, police said.
The case grew cold until this September, when Detective Donald Hrycyk of the LAPD's art theft detail received a tip that a man in Europe known as 'Darko' was seeking buyers for the stolen art, the Times said.
Darko 'indicated that he was merely a middleman for an unknown person in possession of the art in California,' Hrycyk wrote in a search warrant.
During the ensuing undercover operation, Raul Espinoza, 45, was contacted at the hotel, where he tried to sell the estimated $10 million worth of paintings for $700,000 cash, prosecutors contend.
Three stolen paintings remain missing.
Espinoza pleaded not guilty in October to receiving stolen property and remains jailed on $5 million bail.
Messages seeking comment were left for his public defender, Aparna Voleti, on Wednesday.
The Times said Hrycyk sought permission this month to search Espinoza's cellphone for possible photos or communications that could reveal the identities of the thieves involved in the original burglary.
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Paul (Gauguin) The Other One, As $50 Million Stolen Art Returned To Handler, Buon Natale !!

Italian pensioner awarded ownership of Gauguin stolen from London flat

Rome authorities declare Italian pensioner can keep £28 million Gauguin masterpiece stolen from London flat of Marks and Spencer heiress more than 40 years ago

A Carabinieri stands next to the two paintings stolen in London in the 1970s by French artists Paul Gauguin  
A Carabinieri stands next to the two paintings stolen in London in the 1970s by French artist Paul Gauguin "Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien", (L) and Pierre Bonnard "La femme aux deux fauteuils"

An Italian pensioner who unknowingly acquired a Gauguin masterpiece after it was stolen from a London flat more than 40 years ago has been awarded ownership of the painting, which is estimated to be worth £28 million (35 million euros) by Rome authorities.
The man, who has requested anonymity out of fear that the painting could attract thieves, now plans to sell it and hopes his life will be transformed after decades of working gruelling night shifts in a Fiat factory.
The pensioner bought the 1889 Gauguin painting, entitled "Fruits on a table or still life with a small dog", at an auction in Turin in 1975, along with a work by another French artist, Pierre Bonnard, entitled "Woman with two armchairs", now thought to be worth around 600,000 euros.
Identified only as Nicolo, he plans to take his wife on the honeymoon they could never afford – a journey between Trieste, in Italy's north-east, and Vienna.
"I'm already in negotiations over the sale of the Gauguin," the 70-year-old told La Repubblica newspaper. "Lots of private collectors have contacted me and I'm considering the offers along with my family."
He said he would keep the Bonnard because it had great sentimental value.
He also plans to buy a farm outside his home town of Syracuse in Sicily and hopes to use the rest of his anticipated fortune to assure a comfortable future for his children and grandchildren.
He admitted that it had been "a stroke of luck" that he had bought the paintings, which auctioneers had told him were worthless "rubbish" 40 years ago.
"Maybe I had an intuition. I just liked them. When I took them home I said to myself, 'I don't care who painted them, I find them beautiful,'" he said.
The paintings were originally owned by Mathilda Marks, an heiress to the Marks and Spencer empire, but were stolen by con men from the flat she shared with her American husband in Chester Terrace, near Regent's Park in London, in 1970.
The thieves smuggled the paintings by train through France, intending to enter Italy, but panicked while waiting to cross the border and left them on a train heading towards Turin.
They were found by railway inspectors and languished for years in a dusty lost property office before being put up for auction by Italy's national railway network in 1975.
The Fiat worker, who regularly attended the railway auctions as a hobby, bought the two masterpieces for 45,000 lire – just £19 in today's money.
Not realising how valuable they were, he hung them on the wall of his kitchen, first in Turin and later, after he retired, at his home in Syracuse.
It was the curiosity of his son, who had a keen interest in art history, that eventually made him think that the paintings might be more than worthless daubings.
By comparing a dedication on the Gauguin painting with examples of the artist's handwriting, they realised that they had a masterpiece by one of the world's best known artists on their hands.
They contacted a special unit of the Italian police that deals with art and antiquities, who along with art experts confirmed earlier this year that the works were by Gauguin and Bonnard.
The two paintings were then sequestered by the police, who set about trying to establish their rightful ownership.
They liaised with the Metropolitan Police in London to try to discover whether anyone in the UK might have a legitimate claim to the artworks.
But Mrs Marks and her American husband, Terence Kennedy, had no children and no claimants came forward.
"I acquired the painting in good faith and that has been recognised by the authorities in Rome," Nicolo said.
The decision to award the paintings to the pensioner was made by a court in Rome, based on information provided by a special unit of the Carabinieri police that specialises in art and antiquities.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that had any claimants in the UK come forward, the information would have been passed to the Italian police.
But none did, so the force had no objections to the paintings being returned to the ex-factory worker.#

TV antiques expert's £200,000 collection of vintage watches, jewellery and diamonds stolen by gang of thieves in balaclavas

  • Tom Keane's antiques business was robbed by a gang of thieves
  • Expert has appeared on Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic
  • Stole contents of a jewellery cabinet from Oxfordshire business 
A television antiques expert told of his anger yesterday after thieves escaped with up to £200,000 worth of watches, diamonds and jewellery in a ram raid on his business.
Tom Keane, who has featured in programmes such as Cash in the Attic, Bargain Hunt and Dickinson's Real Deal, said a masked and gloved gang broke in to the village antiques centre in the early hours of the morning.
The four-strong gang - all wearing balaclavas - were caught on CCTV attempting to drag a safe off the premises using the stolen Land Rover they used as a getaway car.

Tom Keane, an antiques expert who has appeared on Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt, had his business plundered by raiders wearing balaclavas
Tom Keane, an antiques expert who has appeared on Cash in the Attic and Bargain Hunt, had his business plundered by raiders wearing balaclavas
They escaped with the contents of a jewellery cabinet in the reception area of his Oxfordshire business, The Swan at Tetsworth - based in a converted coaching inn - during the early hours of Friday.
Yesterday Mr Keane, who lives in West London, told how police missed the gang by just three minutes after they were automatically summoned to the village by the antique centre's alarm system.
He said: 'One glass cabinet had over £100,000 of watches in it.

'The police have told us that this is the fifth or sixth antiques business to be hit across Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the last few months - although we did not find out about the other raids until after we were hit.
'It is organised crime. The gang stole the Land Rover from North Oxfordshire and dumped it up the road after the raid.' Mr Keane, a father-of-three and grandfather of five, said he was still working to establish exactly what had been taken in the raid.
'Smoke bombs went off as part of the security system and there is stuff all over the floor', he said, adding that Rolex watches from the 1970s and 1980s, jewellery and diamonds were known to be amongst the haul taken.

The auctioneer said the items stolen had a combined value of between £150,000 and £200,000 

The auctioneer said the items stolen had a combined value of between £150,000 and £200,000

Mr Keane (seen in the ITV programme Auction Party in 2010) said police were examining CCTV footage from the night in question
Mr Keane (seen in the ITV programme Auction Party in 2010) said police were examining CCTV footage from the night in question
Some of the timepieces were solid gold with custom-made diamond faces, he said.
He estimated the total value of the items to be between £150,000 to £200,000.
He said officers were now studying CCTV of the raid, as well as earlier footage from the system to see if any potential gang members can be identified 'casing out' the premises.
'We have already found images of a man in a balaclava looking through the windows two nights before the raid', he added.
Thames Valley Police spokesman said: 'We were called after an alarm went off. A side door was forced and a glass cabinet containing jewellery and antiques was smashed. Items are missing.' 
Mr Keane has spent 25 years in the antiques business, beginning as a car boot sale trader before eventually taking over Chiswick Auctions in west London.
He specialises in art and antiques from the 17th to the 20th Century and acts as a consultant valuer for television companies and clients including interior designers and dealers.
The Swan at Tetsworth, near Thame, represents 80 antique dealers in 40 showrooms of top quality English, French and country furniture, as well as smaller decorative antiques.
Pink Panthers' female member jailed ten years

Pink Panthers' female member jailed ten years
Verbier, where the convicted woman rented a chalet for accomplice robbers to hide out. Photo: Switzerland Tourism
The Serb woman, regarded as a “professional criminal”, was convicted of participating in five armed robberies of boutiques in the cantons of Vaud and Valais between 2009 and 2011, according to media reports.
An economist by training, she played a key role in all the robberies, which resulted in losses of several million francs’ worth of jewellery, the court heard.
In the case of the Verbier holdup, she rented a chalet in the upscale Valais resort to shelter armed crooks who made off with booty valued at close to four million francs ($4.16 million) from a boutique in the village on November 3rd 2009, the ATS news agency said.
Afterward she planned, supported and physically participated in other heists from shops at Crans-Montana (another ski resort area in Valais), Lausanne and Rolle in the canton of Vaud, the news agency said.
The corpulent woman, who went by the nickname “Monstro”, admitted her role in the robbery of a Lausanne jewellery shop on April 20th 2011 and another one in Rolle In July the same year but otherwise provided confusing testimony, 24heures newspaper reported.
She was arrested on August 8th 2011 as she was planning another robbery and has been kept in preventive detention ever since.
An accomplice, also a Serb, who is currently imprisoned in France, which refuses to extradite him. was sentenced in absentia to four and a half years in jail, 24heures said.
The woman’s court appearance took place under high security.
In May 2013, a couple of members of the Pink Panthers gang made a sensational escape from a prison near Lausanne with three other prisoners.
Two of the inmates were rounded up the next day and one of the Pink Panthers, a 47-year-old Macedonian with French citizenship, was later arrested in August at his home near Avignon.
The other two escapees, including one alleged member of the gang, remained at large.
The Pink Panthers emerged from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to become the most successful jewel thieves in the world, AFP reported last year.
According to Interpol, they have since 1999 snatched jewels with a value in excess of 330 million euros ($440 million) in heists that are often executed with breathtaking speed and precision.
They gained their nickname with a raid on a London branch of Graff Diamonds in 2003, in which two of them posed as wealthy would-be customers, persuading staff to open doors for them before helping themselves to diamonds worth millions.
Although one of the robbers was overpowered at the scene and another later arrested, only a fraction of the diamonds were recovered, one of them hidden in a pot of face cream.
That was reminiscent of a scene from the 1975 film "The Return of the Pink Panther" and resulted in a nickname that the gang members themselves adopted, wearing pink shirts for a subsequent raid in Zurich.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Monet Damage Was Reaction To Police Raid

Thief jailed over damage to €10m Monet painting

The area of damage on the  Monet ' Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat ' [1847] painting. The restored Monet Painting  was placed back on  public view at the National Gallery of Ireland yesterday.
1/ 7 14
Pic Frank Mc Grath
The area of damage on the Monet ' Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat ' [1847] painting. The restored Monet Painting was placed back on public view at the National Gallery of Ireland yesterday

a 49-year-old criminal who was jailed for four and a half years for damaging a €10m painting is also the chief suspect for robbing a massive haul of artwork and rare books which were discovered in his west Dublin home in April.

Andrew Shannon (49) of Willians Way, Ongar had pleaded not guilty to damaging the Claude Monet painting entitled Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat (1874) at the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare Street on June 29, 2012.
Mr Shannon claimed he had felt dizzy and fell forward, telling two tourists from New Zealand and a member of security staff that he had a heart condition. A jury of seven women and five men returned a verdict of guilty on that charge yesterday following an eight-day trial.
The court heard Shannon has 48 previous convictions in this and other jurisdictions, some of which are for burglary and theft offences involving antiques.
About 60 pieces of art, including paintings, statues, antiques and rare books, were seized by officers from Pearse Street garda station at Shannon's home. Shannon has previous convictions for stealing from stately homes in England as well as for handling stolen property, including maps dating from 1651 with a value of €6,000.
The huge haul which gardai discovered in April was the subject of a garda appeal when many of the items were put on display. The haul included 48 paintings by renowned Irish-based artists like William Ashford, Robert Ballagh and Graham Knuttell, worth well over €100,000.
Shannon was on remand in prison when the raid on his Ongar home took place in April and has not yet been questioned or arrested about the haul.
The artworks were stolen from locations as diverse as Maynooth, Blarney and England. He is expected to be questioned over the coming months.
The revelation comes as senior sources told the Herald that the investigation into Shannon's vandalism of paintings at the National Gallery, as well as the failed prosecution for damaging paintings in the Shelbourne Hotel, have cost "hundreds of thousands of euro".
A senior source pointed out that gardai had to travel to the United States to interview witnesses and other witnesses had to be brought from New Zealand for the trial at a major cost to the State.
The case also involved hundreds of man hours for investigating officers as well as two lengthy trials.
Gardai also believe that Shannon committed the vandalism act against the Monet painting out of "pure spite" after his home had been raided and items taken from it by the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Arts and Antiques Unit earlier that day.
The Monet painting is now back on display in the National Gallery following a period of restoration.
Judge Martin Nolan imposed a sentence of six years and suspended the final 15 months on strict conditions including that Shannon not enter into a public painting gallery or any other institution where paintings are displayed.

Irishman jailed for stately home thefts

May 2009 
A SERIAL thief who travelled from Ireland to target English stately homes has been jailed after a caretaker at Yorkshire's Castle Howard saw him stuff two valuable watercolours into his laptop bag.
Andrew Shannon, 44, described as unemployed and illiterate, robbed six stately homes of antiques and paintings worth thousands of pounds on a "weekend spree" of stealing.
Shannon travelled from Dublin to target famous buildings across the country, including Blenheim Palace and Chatsworth House.
Together with an accomplice, he stole ornamental lions, porcelain vases, figurines, expensive books and even an antique walking stick from Belvoir Castle – which was identified as missing by the Duke of Rutland.
The four-day spree came to an end on a Sunday last August at Castle Howard, when a caretaker spotted Shannon lurking on a second floor of the home where the public are not allowed.
He claimed he was looking for a toilet, but staff grew suspicious and found two 800 paintings hidden in his laptop bag.
He also had a walkie talkie which he used to communicate with his accomplice and a Chinese ceramic lid – the other half of which was with the other thief, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Police later traced Shannon's car and found a satellite navigation unit which had been programmed with six stately homes across the UK.
In court he admitted his part in six burglaries.
Jailing him for three years him at York Crown Court, Recorder Deborah Sherwin said: "Your purpose for travelling to England was to carry out this spree of theft.
"You travelled around the country visiting stately homes and stealing from them. It was pre-planned, you took advantage of these vulnerable homes that do not have the most sophisticated security measures in operation."
Prosecuting, David Brooke, said: "The two men visited a number of stately homes between July 30 and August 3 last year. But they were not innocent tourists visiting them for their beauty, this was a long weekend of crime."
Defending, Taryn Turner, said that Shannon had been claiming disability benefits after being seriously injured in a car crash in 1996. As a result he had suffered four heart attacks.
Speaking after the sentencing, Sgt Daniel Spence, of Malton Police Station, said: "Shannon is a prolific international travelling criminal with numerous convictions of a similar nature and his visit to the UK was with the sole intention of stealing works of art from stately homes and country houses.
"An accomplice in this case was detained by the Gardai in Dublin and has been dealt with in Ireland for handling stolen goods. The Crime Prosecution Service and the police are working towards attaining an arrest warrant and bringing him back to the UK."
He added: "It is a good result for Castle Howard and the police."

Shannon brothers sought over stolen antique books

Andrew and William Shannon  
Andrew and William Shannon failed to return to a police station in July
Police want to speak to two brothers in connection with more than 100 stolen antique books and objects offered for sale at an auction in Gloucestershire.
William Knowle Shannon, 30, and Andrew Shannon, 46, whose last known addresses were in Dublin, were arrested and questioned in relation to the thefts.
They were given bail and told to return to a Gloucestershire police station in July 2011, but failed to appear.
Among the items is a Chinese porcelain goose valued at around £20,000.
The books offered for sale in South Cerney date between 1571 and 1962.
A number of them contain personal inscriptions, including one to the wife of Sir Winston Churchill.

Chinese porcelain Goose  
Police said the Chinese porcelain goose is valued at £20,000.
There is also a bronze sculpture by Clodion and a green hardback book of poetry, The Wild Harp by Katherine Tynan.
Inside is written: "To Lady Glenconner."
The books and ornaments are believed to have been stolen from stately homes or possibly National Trust properties across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
A Gloucestershire police spokesman said officers have been working to try to locate the men and they are now asking the public for their help to find them.

Picasso artwork stolen from Art Miami fair

A silver plate crafted by Spanish master Pablo Picasso was stolen, apparently overnight, from Art Miami in Midtown, the premier satellite fair to Art Basel Miami Beach.
David Smith, owner of the Amsterdam-based Leslie Smith Gallery, said he arrived at the booth Friday morning to find an empty plate holder on the wall where the artwork hung Thursday night.
“I’ve been doing art shows all my life. Even when I was a kid, I went with my parents,” he said. “I’ve never, ever had anything stolen.”
Smith reported the theft to the show and to Miami police, who came and dusted for fingerprints, he said.
The 1956 piece, Visage aux Mains (Face with Hands), is a 16.5-inch-wide silver plate engraved with, naturally, a face and hands. It’s Number 16 in a 20-plate series, Smith said, and is valued at about $85,000.
Art Miami is located at 3101 NE First Ave. in a temporary tent facility apparently guarded by the same company that conducts security for Art Basel, which is located at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
At Art Miami, which is a separate fair entirely, security includes 24-hour guards at entrances and exits, as well as locks and chains on the doors. There is no video surveillance of each booth, which is hardly unusual for art fairs.
“There’s an investigation going on,” said Nick Korniloff, the fair’s director and partner.
Overnight, he added, cleaning crews, fair employees and booth operators would have had access to the site. The fair has a list of all personnel working on the premises.
According to Smith, a security guard did a walk-through at about 10:30 p.m. and the Picasso was still in place. Smith said he himself left Art Miami at about 8:30 p.m. last night, with his gallery collection whole. The Picasso had hung there since Monday.
When he walked in at about 10:45 a.m. Friday, Smith said, the piece was gone.
By the time fairgoers started to arrive at 11 a.m., all they saw was a label beneath where the Picasso had been. “Signed, numbered & Stamped with silver marks,” the label read in part.
Police asked the gallery to keep the booth untouched as they investigated, which means Smith could hardly focus on selling art in the fair’s first two hours — usually the busiest ones of the day.
“We had to shoo people off the booth,” he said. “I definitely missed people I didn’t speak to.”
Nothing else in his booth was missing or appeared disturbed, Smith said. The Picasso plate wasn’t the most valuable artwork on display, according to Smith: For example, a Picasso ceramic just below where the plate was hanging is worth about $365,000. The missing piece will be reported to an international database of stolen artwork.
Smith speculated that the plate might have been small enough for someone to hide under a sweater or jacket. The neighboring ceramic piece was smaller but easier to break — and easier to spot as a Picasso, perhaps making it less attractive to steal.
“If you steal art, if it’s from a famous artist, it’s going to be hard to re-sell,” he said. “Either somebody steals it for himself to keep, or somebody, somewhere, someday will realize it’s stolen.”

Red Bull Formula 1 trophies stolen in Milton Keynes factory raid

Sebastian Vettel with the trophy cabinet at Red Bull 
 Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel visited the factory last week before leaving to join Ferrari for 2015
More than 60 trophies won by Red Bull Racing have been stolen from the Formula 1 team's Milton Keynes factory after a 4x4 drove through the entrance.
Six men used the vehicle to gain access to the site in Bradbourne Drive, Tilbrook, about 01:30 GMT.
Team principal Christian Horner said they were "devastated" by the break in as the trophies "took years and hard work to accumulate".
Night staff working at the site were not harmed, Thames Valley Police said.
'Aggressive break-in' Horner said: "The break-in caused significant damage and was very upsetting for our night officers who were on duty at the time.
"Beyond the aggressive nature of this break-in, we are perplexed why anyone would take these trophies.
"The value to the team is of course extraordinarily high due to the sheer hard work and effort that went into winning each and every one.
"But their intrinsic value is low; they would be of little benefit to those outside of the team and, in addition to that, many of the trophies on display were replicas."

Sebastian Vettel with the Brazilian Grand Prix trophy in November 2013  
Sebastian Vettel won 39 Grand Prix with Red Bull and its junior team, Toro Rosso
The F1 championship and constructors trophies were not at the factory, having been presented to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for winning the 2014 titles.
"The actions of these men mean it's likely that we will have to make our site less accessible in the future, which will be unfair on the hundreds of fans that travel to visit our factory each year to see our trophies and our Formula 1 car, added Horner.
In addition to the silver 4x4, a black or dark blue Mercedes estate car was also involved. Both are believed to have foreign number plates, police said.
Detectives are appealing for witnesses.

Thief walks out with €500,000 sculpture from Italy's national modern art museum

Theft provokes an outcry over security as a robber walks away with the 19th century bronze hidden under his jacket in broad daylight

It took a thief only minutes to swipe the precious sculpture entitled ‘Sick Child,’ right, by Italian impressionist, Medardo Rosso, from the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, left
It took a thief only minutes to swipe the precious sculpture entitled ‘Sick Child,’ right, by Italian impressionist, Medardo Rosso, from the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, left Photo: Alamy
The daring robbery of a €500,000 (£400,000) sculpture from Italy’s premier modern art gallery in Rome has provoked a fresh outcry about whether enough is being spent protecting the country’s precious cultural assets.
It took a thief dressed in a suit and tie only minutes to swipe the precious sculpture entitled ‘Sick Child’ (Bambino Malato) by Italian impressionist, Medardo Rosso, from the National Gallery of Modern Art and walk away it under his jacket during opening hours.
The bronze sculpture was created by Rosso between 1893 and 1895 and is considered one of his finest masterpieces, often compared to Auguste Rodin.
Art historian and blogger Tomaso Montanari described the robbery as “incredible” and questioned whether government funding cuts had played a role.
“You have to say that no museum can avoid robberies,” Montanari wrote in La Repubblica. “But it is upsetting to see a bronze by Medardo Rosso that can be taken away from a museum as if it was a self-service pizza.”
Gallery officials are uncertain when the robbery occurred but a custodian realized the sculpture was missing around 4.30 pm on Friday.
Staff were reportedly distracted with the staging of an art show elsewhere in the building but security cameras captured the thief leaving the gallery.
Museum director Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli defended its security as members of the Carabinieri's culture squad were called to investigate.
“The system is very well-equipped with alarms and video surveillance but we cannot give any more information as investigators have asked us for the utmost discretion,” she said. “The video cameras filmed everything.”
She confirmed that the sculpture was insured for £400,000.
It is the latest embarrassment for the modern gallery that was recently revamped. Three armed robbers stole two works by Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh and another by French impressionist Paul Cezanne in 1998. The works were later recovered.
Art crime is a booming business according to the United Nations, and is the fourth most lucrative sector in international crime after drugs, money laundering and illegal arms shipments.

Missing sculpture found in locker of Rome museum

Police working on theory that thief returned with art work
A bronze sculpture by Italian artist Medardo Rosso was recovered in a museum locker at Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM) on 8 December, three days after it was stolen, according to a report in Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

Considered one of Rosso's masterpieces, the Bambino Malato or Sick Child sculpture dates from 1893-1895, and is valued at €500,000. The bronze bust was noticed missing at around 16.30 on 5 December, during opening hours, from a pedestal in room 48 of the museum.

Police are working on the theory that the thief returned to GNAM and deposited the sculpture in the locker area which had already been searched following the theft. The artwork belongs to the museum's permanent collection and was on show as part of the current exhibition Secessione e Avanguardia.

The Italian culture ministry said that the museum's closed circuit television and alarm systems were fully operational at the time of the theft.

In 1998 three armed robbers stole two works by Vincent Van Gogh and another by Paul Cèzanne. The paintings were later recovered.

Born in Turin in 1858, Rosso was a Post-Impressionist artist and is considered by many to be Italy's answer to Auguste Rodin. He is best known for his half-formed bronze, plaster and wax sculptures, and he died in Milan in 1928.

Burglars waltz out of Madrid art gallery with 70 paintings

Security guard questioned thieves but did not suspect any wrongdoing

Gallery owners took this photograph of the hole made in the wall by the burglars. / EFE

Three men managed to break into a Madrid art gallery last week, and walked out with 70 paintings worth an estimated €600,000.
The thieves entered Galería Puerta de Alcalá in the early hours of Thursday by first breaking into the adjacent premises, a former bar that has been closed since last year. They then punched a hole through the wall leading into the gallery, and deactivated the alarm once inside.
A security watchman from a nearby construction site saw the men walking out with paintings in their arms and went over to ask them some questions, but did not suspect that they were burglars.
“Is this merchandise yours?” he reportedly asked.
“We’re taking the paintings out of the gallery to put them on display somewhere else.”
“At this time of the night?”
“We have to get an early start to get there in time.”
The burglars, whom the security guard described as having Eastern European accents, spent two to three hours taking out art, propping it against nearby trees and loading it into a van. Then they drove off with their haul.
Pedro Márquez, who used to run the gallery before handing it over to his son, said that “in the last 40 years we have never taken out a single painting at 5am.”
“They took all the paintings from the back of the gallery, in a well-hidden spot. They took all our best work,” he added.
The stolen art includes 14 paintings by Segarra Chías, a painter from Seville whose work was going to be the subject of a solo show at the gallery; work by the Valencian painter Eustaquio Segrelles; and pieces by Juan González Alacreu.
“Given the amount of paintings they took and the way they took them out, wrapping them in plastic after a careful selection, they must have been here between two and three hours,” explains Márquez.
The gallery owners have photographic records of all the stolen material, and they plan to make these images public to prevent the art from being sold on the black market. Meanwhile, the police are working to locate the art thieves.

Read more here:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, November, Bonfire of The Vanities


The 'Rathkeale Rovers': 13 men charged with stealing rhino horns and museum antiquities

Police investigating a team of jewel and rhino horn thieves dubbed the “Rathkeale Rovers” have charged 13 men over a string of museum raids across the country that netted millions of pounds worth of precious artifacts.
The 13 have been charged with conspiracy to steal after Chinese antiques and horn were targeted in seven burglaries in four months at an auction house and four museums.
Thieves stole jade figures and bowls from the Ming and Qing dynasties worth £15m in one of the raids at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. None of the 18 items have been recovered from a raid that authorities said had tarnished the museum’s reputation as a guardian of treasures. Furthermore, the bogus "Substantial" reward offer has done nothing to smoke out the stolen Jade and has only re-enforced the truth about rewards being paid are "Fools on a Fools errand, chasing Fools Gold"
Twelve men, aged between 25 and 67, were arrested in a series of raids across Britain in September last year in an operation coordinated by the National Crime Agency.
It was combined with further searches in Rathkeale, a town in County Limerick, in the southwest of Ireland, that gave the name to the men, who allegedly have roots in the Irish travelling community.
A thirteenth man, Daniel O’Brien, 44, from a traveller site at Smithy Fen, Cambridge, was arrested this week and will appear in court in Birmingham on Thursday November 6th. The other men, from London, Cambridgshire, Wolverhampton, Billericay and Southend in Essex, and Belfast, will appear at the same court in three/four weeks.
Three of the criminal raids were carried out at the Durham University Oriental Museum, with some of the items recovered, including a figurine and bowl that were found in a field.
Another raid was foiled when members of the public intervened at the Norwich Castle Museum. Gorringes auction house in East Sussex and the Powell Cotton Museum in Kent were also allegedly targeted.
The burglaries highlighted the high value of rhino horn to criminals that can provide a higher profit margin than gold or cocaine. It also has the advantage of being difficult to trace and less identifiable than other commodities.
It is highly prized in Vietnam and China where it is ground down and used in traditional products and commands huge prices, despite having no medicinal properties. Most rhino horn has now been moved from public display in Britain and scientists have started putting samples of horn on a DNA database to try to prevent such crimes. Private homes with Victorian hunting trophies have also been put on alert to avoid being targeted for the valuable horn.
They are: Alan Clarke, 26, of Newham, London; Ashley Dad, 34, of Wolverhampton; Michael Hegarty, 42, of Smithy Fen; John O’Brien, 67, of Wolverhampton; John O’Brien, 25, of Smithy Fen; Richard O’Brien, 29, of Dale Farm, Essex; Paul Pammen, 48, of Southend-on-Sea; Richard Sheridan, 46, of Smithy Fen; Chi Chong Donald Wong, 55, of Lambeth, London; Patrick Clarke, 32, of Melbourne Road, London; Terrence McNamara, 45, of Belfast; and Robert Gilbert, 26, of HMP Lewes.

Past masters ... in the art of the heist

They are paintings by three of the best-known Irish painters of the 20th­century. When raiders lifted valuable by art works by Jack B Yeats, Sir John Lavery and Paul Henry, from a private house in Wicklow in the past few days, they seemed to know exactly what they were looking for.
No other items were taken in the robbery, leading gardaí to believe that the criminals were well aware of the value of the art in the house at the end of the a long driveway near Baltinglass. It was not the normal opportunist crime.
All three painters targeted have works hanging in the National Gallery in Dublin, and have featured in the private collections of wealthy individuals across Ireland in recent decades.
The most valuable painting in the haul, Portrait of a Lady by Sir John Lavery, is believed to be worth up to €100,000 on the open market. Lavery is perhaps best known for his portraits of his wife Hazel; one of these iconic images appeared on the old one pound notes.
If they were sold legitimately, the paintings would have been worth up €200,000 in total, but it is most unlikely that underworld figures would receive anything like that price on the black market.
If anything the fame of the painters may make the paintings almost impossible to sell in Ireland, according to Dublin art auctioneer Ian Whyte.
"They wouldn't be sold through a regular art dealer. When someone comes to us we would always check a painting's provenance, and if we were suspicious of the sellers we would check them out."
Stolen or missing paintings are logged by the London-based Art Loss Register, a database that is led by the insurance industry.

MASTER: Gardai are hunting the thieves who stole three paintings including Portrait Of A Lady by John Lavery
MASTER: Gardai are hunting the thieves who stole three paintings including Portrait Of A Lady by John Lavery
"I think there is a good chance that the paintings were taken to England and sold there very quickly," Mr Whyte told Weekend Review in the middle of this week as gardaí tried to trace them.
"These painters are not so well-known in England, and the theft is not big news there. They could have been sold at an antiques fair, and whoever bought them probably doesn't know they are stolen. The thieves would probably have been happy to get €10,000 for them."
Mr Whyte said burglars usually target goods that are easy to dispose of such as gold, silver and jewellery, but there are some dedicated art thieves.
"Usually, they pick paintings that are slightly less valuable, and sell them for under €5,000, because there is less fuss over them."
In one of the few cases where a thief accumulated a private collection of art, gardaí recently discovered a haul of 48 paintings in a Dublin home.
The collection, which included works by Graham Knuttel and William Ashford, is thought to have been built up over three decades.
While the recent Wicklow art robbers knew what they were looking for, in another reported heist in Co Armagh two years, a gang sought help from outside.
In what became known as the "iPhone raid", raiders were said to have taken two paintings by the Italian artist Canaletto from a retired Protestant vicar. After tying up their victim and gagging him, they used a smartphone to send images of his collection to an outside accomplice.
They then received instructions from the criminal connoisseur about what to take.
Private houses are more likely to be the target for thieves than galleries or museums, because of heightened security. Museums have security devices such as motion sensors and contact detectors that sound alarms when contact between the painting and a wall is broken.
There is a popular image of a villainous art collector sitting in a darkened room, with his collection of masterpieces around him.
In the 1962 film Dr No, Sean Connery's James Bond visits his enemy's lair and spots Goya's stolen portrait of the Duke of Wellington.
In real life, Goya's painting had actually been stolen from the National Gallery in London by an unemployed truck driver, who escaped with his haul through a toilet window. The thief said the raid had been carried out as a protest against the cost of TV licences.
Art auctioneer Ian Whyte said the idea of the rich art-collecting villain in his lair is actually a myth.
The two most famous art robberies in Ireland, both at Russborough House, show how raiders are more likely to steal extremely valuable paintings in order to seek a ransom, or to use them as security in major drug deals.
In 1974, an IRA gang including Dr Rose Dugdale, tied up Sir Alfred and Lady Clementine Beit, and made off with a haul that included works by Rubens, Goya and Vermeer.
They sought a ransom of £500,000 and the release of IRA prisoners. The paintings were found only a few days afterwards in the boot of a car in West Cork.
In the second major raid at Russborough, the Dublin criminal Martin Cahill ("The General") got away with 18 paintings.
Cahill's use of the art followed a pattern where a criminal hopes to use the paintings as bargaining chips in deals with other villains.
Gangs use valuable paintings as security on loans or as a form of currency when they are trading in drugs or weapons. One of the Russborough paintings stolen by Cahill's gang turned up in Istanbul as part of a heroin deal.
According to the book, Art Theft, by the director of the British National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne, the annual market for stolen art and antiquities in the early part of this decade was $5bn (€4bn).
As the first Russborough theft showed in 1974, raiders may try to secure a ransom with valuable paintings.
A bold demand for cash ransom from a museum, a collector or an insurance company is unlikely to be successful.
However, in an article in the Daily Telegraph, art critic Alastair Sooke said a museum or an insurance company will often offer a reward for information leading to the recovery of a work.
There seems to be a grey area between a ransom demand and information leading to a painting's recovery.
As Sooke puts it: "While rewards are never paid to criminals, this can be circumvented with the help of one or two shady middlemen - with authorities turning a blind eye, so long as the stolen goods are returned."
According to the Art Loss Register, which logs missing work, the recovery rate of stolen art is only about 15pc. Of the other 85 pc, around 20pc has been destroyed.
In Ireland however, the recovery rate of stolen paintings after high-profile robberies has been high. All but two of the 18 paintings stolen by the "General" Martin Cahill were eventually recovered.
The owners of the paintings stolen in Wicklow in recent days, would have been hoping that there was a good chance that they could be recovered. The artists are so well known that criminals who are trying to off-load them could find they are a liability.
As Dublin art auctioneer Ian Whyte puts it: "Many a criminal has found himself in jail after a painting they had stolen was traced."

Four arrests after burglars tie up victims in multiple raids in West End, Hambledon and Bishops Waltham

FOUR MEN, including infamous Christopher Doughty, have been arrested following a string of burglaries across Hampshire including two where homeowners were tied up and threatened.
Southampton men aged 29, 36, 48 and 53 are being quizzed by officers after eight warrants were executed at addresses in Southampton, Eastleigh and Hedge End today.
They came after burglaries in West End, Bishops Waltham and Hambledon.
As previously reported by the Daily Echo, a retired couple were tied up and threatened during a burglary at their home in West End on August 6.
Jewellery, watches and firearms were taken from the address.
Another burglary took place during the early hours of September 3, when entry was forced to a house in Bishops Waltham and items of china along with other antiques were stolen.
Finally at around 2am on October 9, three men entered a house in Hambledon and tied up two women aged 90 and 27.
Antique items of jewellery and silver were targeted.
Detective Superintendent Victoria Dennis from the Hampshire Major Investigation team said: “Each of these burglaries would have been very frightening for the victims involved.
“We have previously appealed for witnesses for these three burglaries separately but following extensive enquiries we are now treating them as linked.
“We are taking these incidents very seriously and have made a number of arrests today as part of our ongoing investigation.
“We are still appealing for witnesses and would urge anyone with information to contact us so that we can bring those responsible for these terrifying incidents to justice and recover stolen property.”

Detectives charge man with two burglaries

A MAN has been charged with two burglaries.
Police executed warrants at eight addresses after burglaries on September 3 in Bishop’s Waltham, October 9 in Hambledon and on August 6 in West End, Southampton.
Christopher Doughty, 53, from West End, is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary and is due to appear at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on November 18.
Three men from Southampton, aged 29, 36 and 48, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle have been bailed until January 7.
A 24-year-old man from Southampton arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle has been bailed until January.
A 43-year-old man from Southampton is being quizzed on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle.

Sculpture worth £7,000 stolen from a central Newcastle art gallery

CCTV image of a man police want to speak to in connection with the theft of a sculpture from Castle Fine Art gallery in Newcastle

A sculpture worth £7,000 was snatched from a central Newcastle gallery.
The piece, by artist Lorenzo Quinn, was taken from Castle Fine Art Gallery on Grey Street in a move that staff say occurred in a matter of minutes.
The artist is an Italian sculptor whose work mainly focuses on human hands. His work includes both large scale sculptures as well as smaller pieces. The work stolen featured a small hand with a man sat in its palm.
The man made off with the sculpture in a bag despite its substantial weight, according to staff.
Gallery manager Sarah Manghan said the thief had headed straight for the sculpture, called ‘The Hand of God’, as though he knew what he was looking for.

The sculpture called 'hand of god' which is worth around £7000 was stolen from Castle Fine Art gallery in Newcastle
The sculpture called 'hand of god' which is worth around £7000 was stolen from Castle Fine Art gallery in Newcastle
 She said: “The theft happened so quickly. A man came into the gallery, immediately headed for the sculpture, put it in a gift bag that he was carrying and then left.
“It seemed like he knew what to take and exactly where it was. The entire incident lasted no longer than a couple of minutes.”
The piece was part of a two part set called ‘The Hand of God’. It was snatched from the ground floor of the gallery, but the thief left the second piece in the set behind.
Police are carrying out an investigation and have now released CCTV images of a man they want to speak to in connection with the theft, which occurred at the beginning of October.
The gallery is home to local artists including Alexander Millar, Jeff Rowland and Keith Proctor.
Ms Manghan said: “We have a high turnover of exhibitions and artwork in our gallery, but thefts are extremely unusual.
“We have excellent security systems and a prosecution policy for any shoplifters caught. We greatly appreciate the support of the police and their call for witnesses, and hope that the public can help us locate the beautiful ‘Hand of God’ sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn and bring it back to the gallery where it can be admired.”

Three religious paintings worth more than £30,000 stolen in Plungington home raid

Three paintings worth more than £30,000 have been stolen from a home in Preston.
Police are appealing for information after the raid at around 10pm on Thursday.
An unknown number of people have forced access to the rear of a property in Emmanuel Street, Plungington.
The owner returned home from work and is believed to have disturbed the offenders.
Three original Italian religious works of art are around 2ft by 2ft in size and are housed in dark Oak antique frames.
One painting features Jesus on the cross, another the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and the third features Our Lady Virgin Mary.
Two sewing machines and a laptop were also taken.
DC Warren Gibson from Preston Police said: “This has understandably been an upsetting experience for the victim and we are keen to trace and return the valuable paintings to her as soon as possible.”

Balochistan’s stolen antiques found in Italy

ISLAMABAD: Antiques pertaining to the Buddha era stolen from Mehrgarh area of Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan have been recovered in Italy.

A provincial government spokesman said yesterday that the Italian government had informed the authorities in Islamabad that they had recovered the antiques smuggled from Pakistan.

“The antiques, including statues of Buddha, had been found during digging at Mehrgarh in the mountainous region of Bolan Pass. They were later stolen and smuggled to Italy,” he said. He said smugglers sold the antiques in Italy at a lucrative price.

Earlier, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said a request had been made to the federal government to approach the Italian government for bringing the antiques back to Balochistan.

A senior official said that the theft took place in connivance with some government employees and smuggled to Europe via sea. “Some black sheep in government departments helped smuggle the antiques out of Pakistan.”

The excavation at Mehrgarh was carried out by French archaeologist Jean Francois Jarrige and the French Consulate in Pakistan had extended financial cooperation for the purpose. The Mehrgarh civilisation is said to be 8,000 years old.

Officials said that a mafia was involved in the smuggling of antiques from centuries old civilisations of Loralai, Zhob, Bolan and Jhal Magsi districts of Balochistan.

Mafia is a type of organised crime syndicate that primarily practices protection racketeering — the use of violent intimidation to manipulate local economic activity, especially illicit trade.

Clerkenwell gallery hit by ‘theft to order’

Four of eleven wooden sculptures stolen
A gallery in Clerkenwell, north London has been broken into and four sculptures stolen in what has been described as a “steal to order” theft. In a press release issued yesterday, 29 October, Kim Savage, the owner of Fold Gallery, says he initially thought that “opportunistic thieves” looking for laptops and office equipment committed the break in.
But Savage says he soon realised that four out of eleven sculptures by the British artist Tim Ellis on show were taken, while none of his paintings, which could be “easily transported”, were touched.

“The police have told us this is a ‘steal to order’ situation, which is very rare for a gallery of our size,” Savage says. “We thought we should make people aware as this is an unusual event; I have never come across this before.”

Savage is offering a “substantial reward” for the return of the four wooden sculptures; he says the exact figure is being negotiated with the police. According to the press release, the value of the stolen works is around £20,000, but because Ellis did not sign the sculptures they are now “valueless”. Savage says the works were due to be signed when they were sold along with their certificates of authentication.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police says they received a call at 9.05pm on Saturday 25 October logging the break in, but that no arrests have been made. Savage says by publicising the theft he hopes to retrieve the works and draw attention to the crime. “The best thing we can do for our artist is get the word out. We are trying to make something good out of something terrible,” he says.

$23 Million Arlington Mansion Target of Possible Home Invasion Robbery

The $23 million mansion at 201 Chain Bridge Road in Arlington was the scene of a possible home invasion robbery this morning.
The robbery is at least the second time the 23,000-square-foot, Mediterranean house overlooking the Potomac River has been broken into in the past seven months. This time, police were dispatched around 10:30 a.m. for a report of a burglary in progress, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police arrived with a large response; more than two dozen vehicles were at the scene, blocking off one lane of Chain Bridge Road and occupying the entirety of the hilly driveway. Sternbeck said police took two subjects into custody and had multiple K-9 units sweeping the massive house to ensure no one else was on the property.
“This is a known residence to police,” Sternbeck said, referencing previous calls for “a variety of incidents,” including when valuable art was stolen from the home.
The mansion near the border with McLean belongs to Rodney P. Hunt, the former CEO of RS Information Systems who sold the I.T. company for $1.2 billion, he told in April. The April incident was also allegedly perpetrated by two individuals, who made off with some crystal ware, Hunt said.
Sternbeck could not confirm if anything was taken from the house before police arrived. Hunt and another person were inside the home when the break-in occurred, Sternbeck said.

The Masterplan: fans steal Oasis painting in daylight raid

The one-of-a-kind piece was taken from a Manchester art gallery
The Masterplan: fans steal Oasis painting in daylight raid

A one-of-a-kind Oasis painting has been stolen from a Manchester art gallery during a daylight raid.
According to police, thieves snatched the black and white painting around 5pm yesterday evening (28 October), after smashing through glass to get into the Art Gallery and Gift Shop. The piece by Olga Tsarevska, which features both Noel and Liam, is signed "otz2013".
"Quite what the masterplan behind this theft is I don't know, but a local business has been broken into and a one of a kind piece of artwork taken," said PC Katherine Gosling. "This was the only piece taken and some might say we are therefore looking for an Oasis fan - similarly it may have been stolen to order. Regardless we are keen to find it and return it."
The news follows on from the disbandment of Beady Eye over the weekend and the usual Oasis reunion rumours returning. Could this have been the work of some wounded Gallagher fan boys?
Wellness Center USA, Inc. (OTCQB:WCUI), today announced that wholly-owned subsidiary StealthCo, Inc. (dba: Stealth Mark) is ready to deploy its premier security technology in art galleries & museums. With brisk forgery activities, 350,000 + pieces of stolen artwork to date, and more than $10 billion in losses, the need for a bulletproof solution has never been greater. StealthMark™ microparticle technology use within art galleries & museums is set to begin in November 2014.
StealthMark™ intelligent microparticle technology is precisely suited to the Art industry because it provides unbreachable security, accurate reference data, unique combinations of covert and overt markings, and track and trace capabilities that can be used on highly valuable pieces of art and objects such as paintings, ancient artifacts, sculptures, historical documents, and more.
From a cost standpoint, when involving paintings and artifacts valued in the millions of dollars, the cost to museums, galleries, and collectors for implementing StealthMark™ technology can become insignificant. Expensive insurance premiums to protect such highly-valuable items can be drastically slashed to the point where such institutions can turn a profit when factoring the difference between cost of use and money saved.
Working closely with industry experts, Stealth Mark is poised to become a key player in combating the rise in illicit fraud, forgery, and theft of valuable goods; setting the bar for anti-criminal solutions in museums, galleries, and other applicable industries, globally.
"Although our target market continues to be the Healthcare & Pharmaceutical industries, the demand for our unique anti-counterfeit and data verification solutions cannot be ignored. Within the coming months, Stealth Mark is poised to demonstrate its technological versatility for use across a wide spectrum of products in several industries," stated Rick Howard, CEO of StealthCo, Inc.
Industries affected by counterfeiting, diversion, and theft include: Aerospace, Defense, Automotive, Electronics, Technology, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer and Personal Care Goods, Designer Products, Beverage/Spirits, and many others. In 2012, counterfeit Auto Parts accounted for $4 billion in the US and $12 billion globally, Electrical Parts were $15 billion, and Personal Care was $4 billion in the US. Furthermore, over 8% of the medical devices in circulation are counterfeit, Aerospace & Defense accounted for 520,000 counterfeit parts in the US, and greater than 5% of wine sold on the secondary market is counterfeit.
- See more at:

The art of theft: Why do thieves steal famous paintings when they're so hard to sell?

Edvard Munch's The Scream
Edvard Munch's The Scream, which was stolen from the Munich Museum in 2004
On a freezing Stockholm evening just before Christmas 2000, a group of six to eight Middle Eastern men put into action a plan they’d been working on for months. The group parked cars in the middle of the three central roads leading to the Swedish National Museum and set them ablaze. As fire engines screeched into the city centre and passersby crowded around the spectacle, three of the men – one armed with a machine gun, the other two with pistols – approached and entered the museum on foot. After ordering everyone to lie on the floor and screaming at them to remain calm, they went upstairs to claim their prize: two small Renoirs dated around 1870 and a Rembrandt self-portrait no bigger than a postcard. The Rembrandt alone was valued at $36m. Their multimillion-dollar cargo stuffed hastily into large black duffel bags, the thieves jumped into a getaway boat and chugged away into the icy Scandinavian night.
“Criminals who steal high-value art-works tend to be better thieves than businessmen,” says Robert Wittman, former undercover agent and head of the FBI Art Crime Team. “They don’t understand that the true art in a heist isn’t the stealing, it’s the selling.” The theft at the Swedish National Museum made news all around the world, the kind of exposure that makes a sale on the legal market impossible. The black market is another story, but it can be just as difficult for criminals to make money from their loot below board. As a general rule, stolen artworks’ black-market value is around 10 per cent of the actual value, but with paintings worth tens of millions of dollars, even this mark-down is way out of most illicit buyers’ price range. “The kind of people who have the wherewithal to pay that kind of money,” says Wittman, “aren’t interested in owning something that they could never sell on and that they could possibly go to jail for possessing.”
When it comes to stealing and selling art, going cheap pays. Paintings worth in the tens of thousands are less likely to be registered on international databases and don’t make headlines when they go missing. At this price range, only about 10 per cent of stolen works are recovered. With masterpieces worth tens of millions the rate of recovery improves to around 90 per cent.
So why do criminals steal expensive art? Ever since Dr No bragged to 007 about his stolen Goya (a portrait of the Duke of Wellington), the aesthetically-inclined super-villain having priceless paintings stolen to order has loomed large in the collective imagination. In reality, no international criminal would intentionally court the attention a missing masterpiece invites.

Robert Wittman poses next to a Goya painting he helped recover
That said, it isn’t always about profit. Between 1995 and 2001, French waiter Stephane Breitwieser stole over 200 paintings and objets d’art, eventually amassing a collection worth over $1bn. After he was arrested he recalled the first painting he ever stole, a minor portrait of a woman by 18th century German painter Christian Wilhelm Dietrich: “I was fascinated by her beauty, by the qualities of the woman in the portrait and by her eyes.” Breitwieser never tried to sell the art he stole, and instead used it to decorate the home he shared with his mother, who destroyed most of it after hearing her son had fallen foul of the law.
Another unusual motive lay behind the 2004 theft of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The masterpiece, a version of which was sold at auction for $119m two years ago, was stolen from the Munch Museum by armed robbers. In the subsequent investigation detectives began to link the suspects to another armed robbery that left a senior ranking Norwegian police officer dead. In light of other peculiarities about the case (the robbers hadn’t done their homework and needed to be shown the location of the painting) officers began to suspect the work was stolen to distract police from investigating the death of the policeman; an “illustrious corpse” as the mobsters say. The criminals were right, international attention did pressurise Norwegian police into prioritising the stolen Munch. In the end, though, the painting was recovered and both thief and police killer were brought to justice.
When a painting as famous as The Scream goes missing, the authorities have no choice but to focus their attention on getting it back. But thousands of lower-value works are stolen every year, and law enforcement agencies don’t have the resources to go after them all. Scotland Yard has just three people working in its arts and antiques unit. Given that the vast majority of thefts are non-violent, and that most losses are covered by insurance, art-retrieval is largely left to the private sector. The Art Loss Register, a London-based company part owned by Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonham’s, maintains a database of over 400,000 missing works. Before each sale, dealers and auction houses have a duty to check the item against the Register. If it’s listed as lost or stolen, the ALR will then handle negotiations leading to its return in exchange for a fee.
“Often, when an item is found,” says Julian Radcliffe, founder of the ALR, “it’s owned by someone who is not the thief, but who bought it not knowing it was stolen. There has to be a private negotiation because going to the courts is too expensive.” When this happens, does the unwitting owner of the stolen work ever get to keep it? “It’s different in every country, but generally if someone has bought it in good faith, not from the thief but from someone who has bought from the thief, and they’ve held it for six years, they may have a chance of holding on to it... But if it’s a professional member of the trade [a dealer or an auction house] and they’ve not checked the Register, they won’t be able to claim good faith.” 
In the world of high-value art theft, the Munch Museum heist and Stephane Breitwieser are exceptions. For organised criminals, top-dollar loot is most useful as collateral; while it may be difficult to sell masterpieces for a fat sum, information about their whereabouts can be used to leverage shorter sentences in the event the thieves find themselves facing criminal charges, whether artrelated or otherwise. Most European courts accept these kinds of plea bargains, though similar negotiations are not permitted in the US.
An art thief’s plunder, then, is most valuable to him after he’s been caught, a fact that explains the high recovery rate of high-value pieces, and why antsy thieves tend not to destroy their haul as police investigators close in.

Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed was stolen from the Rotterdam Kunsthal
That’s not to say it never happens. On an October morning in 2012, a gang of Romanian criminals broke into the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam and made off with seven paintings including two Monets, a Picasso and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed. Experts speculated that if sold legally under auction the cumulative value of the paintings would reach well into the hundreds of millions. The theft caused a media storm that spooked the gang into a hasty return to Romania, where they attempted to flog the paintings out of plastic bags for about €100,000 each. When the authorities caught wind of stray Monets being loped around the streets of Bucharest they acted swiftly – three members of the gang were arrested in January, three months after the original theft.
The authorities got their men, but they didn’t get their paintings. In the subsequent investigation, Olga Dogaru, mother of the ringleader, Radu Dogaru, confessed to burning them in a fit of panic following her son’s arrest. Like much of Breitwieser’s collection, the seven masterpieces from the Kunsthal museum met their end at the hands of an anxious mother.
This is a nightmare scenario for the likes of Wittman. Lying face down on a museum floor while thieves wave guns around is scary; for many working in the field of art crime, the prospect of a masterpiece being destroyed is scarier. How does Wittman feel when a painting is lost forever? “It’s a terrible shame because it’s a piece of genius that humanity has created. It’s a terrible loss, but even worse it’s hugely disappointing that we didn’t protect it for future generations.”
In 2005, five years after the Stockholm heist, Robert Wittman was sitting in a stuffy Danish hotel room pretending to be Mr Big. A six month investigation linking criminals in Los Angeles, Iraq, Bulgaria, Sweden and Russia had led him, finally, to Copenhagen. Opposite sat a nervous young Iraqi called Kadhum. As far as Kadhum was aware, Wittman was an American art-loving mobster, or at least someone working for the mob (when going undercover it’s best to keep things vague). An elaborate plan had been hatched by Wittman’s FBI team, trust had been won, and now it was just a question of executing the hand-over. Wittman laid out the wads of cash (the agreed sum a trifling $250,000) and in turn Kadhum handed over the Rembrandt. Wittman took it into the bathroom to take a closer look. There was no mistaking it, that golden half-smile beaming back as if to say, “thank you”. Loudly and triumphantly, Wittman uttered the code phrase: “We have a done deal.” The swat team moved in.
Kadhum was eventually sent down for two years for his part in the crime. In the five years between heist and recovery, the Rembrandt had been kept wrapped in red velvet cloth and hidden in a bedroom closet in a flat in Stockholm. No damage was sustained during its time as a hostage. The Renoirs had been recovered a couple of years earlier in a separate operation.
“Generally speaking, the groups that carry out these kind of crimes, they’re not art thieves,” says Wittman, “they’re just common criminals involved in many different criminal activities; car theft, drugs, weapons. And then one day they just happen to do an art heist.” Why? Because they see on the news when an artwork exchanges hands for $200m and their heads are turned. As long as legally sold art continues to smash records and make headlines, thieves will continue to make their own headlines with daring raids on the world’s most prestigious collections.

Quirky Matisse exhibit rekindles art mystery in Venezuela

CARACAS - Venezuela is flaunting its newly-recovered Henri Matisse painting next to a sloppy copy that was put in its place when the original was stolen more than a decade ago, rekindling an art-world mystery.

The "Odalisque in Red Pants," worth roughly $3 million, was stolen from the Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art at some point during a tumultuous period after the start of socialist Hugo Chavez's presidency in 1999.

The theft went unnoticed for months or even years because the robbers replaced it with a forgery.

To this day, no one has been charged with the crime nor have its exact circumstances been established.

The original was finally retrieved in 2012 after it was offered to undercover FBI agents at a Miami Beach hotel for about $740,000.

The striking topless odalisque, a word of Turkish origin meaning concubine, traveled back to Venezuela last July to great fanfare.

She now graces the same museum again, right next to the gaudy imitation that long duped visitors, allowing the public to compare the two and reviving interest in the mystery over who poached it and why the theft took so long to come to light.

"It's a very bad copy," said Venezuelan artist Elizabeth Cemborain, who was fascinated by the case. "It doesn't have the original's design, it doesn't have its elegance. I don't understand how no one realized."

The forgery is, indeed, shockingly amateurish.

It is in acrylic rather than oil, and has six horizontal green stripes instead of seven plus a big brown stain in the middle. The odalisque's sweet face looks contorted in the fake, and even her famous red trousers are off-color.

The museum touts the exhibit as an opportunity to learn about the illegal traffic of cultural goods, and an educational video explains the many differences between the two paintings.

"This exhibit just generates more questions. It's almost a piece of contemporary art in and of itself," said Cemborain.

Venezuela's culture ministry the National Museums Foundation did not respond to requests for comments.

Odalisque's odyssey

The museum says its coveted Matisse had been stolen by 2001 but Venezuelan journalist Marianela Balbi, who wrote a respected book about the robbery, argues it was snatched sometime between December 1999, when it was moved for protection from floods, and mid-2000.

While Balbi says the museum was negligent, she has not directly accused any officials of involvement in the heist.

In 2002, after a brief coup against Chavez plunged Venezuela into chaos, Matisse's muse surfaced in Florida.

A self-identified Venezuelan National Guard colonel tried to sell it to a Miami art dealer, according to Balbi's "The Kidnapping of the Odalisque."

In late 2002, Venezuela-born Miami gallery owner Genaro Ambrosino got wind the painting was on the market.

Ambrosino says he tried to corroborate the information with the museum only to be ignored or told there was a bogus painting circulating.

"I was furious," Ambrosino told Reuters. "So I sent an email to everyone I knew in the art world."

A stunned Caracas art scene started asking questions and Venezuela in December 2002 finally announced its Matisse, bought for $480,000 from a New York gallery in 1981, had indeed been poached.

Balbi says it changed hands several times between art thieves and apparently unsuspecting dealers over a decade, including stops in New York, Paris, and Mexico, before the FBI seized it back in Miami.

A U.S. judge last year sentenced two people to prison for trying to sell the stolen painting, and Venezuela requested it be returned.

"It's absurd that they're showing the copy too," Balbi said of the new exhibit. "It legitimizes the object of a crime that Venezuelan authorities haven't done anything about in 12 years."

Thief caught for stealing antiques worth $25K from Brighton home

A thief who broke into a Brighton home, by forcing entry through a window, and stole anti
A thief who broke into a Brighton home, by forcing entry through a window, and stole antique goods has been caught.
BAYSIDE police have charged a man after he allegedly burgled a vacant Brighton home and stole antiques worth more than $25,000.
A break-in at a New St home was reported to police last month, with a large quantity of antique clocks allegedly taken.
The house was vacant and had been accessed at the rear through a window that was forced open.
Police officers conducted a routine traffic intercept on Sunday and allegedly spotted an antique clock in the man’s vehicle.
A later search of the man’s house allegedly uncovered several more antique items, which police believe were stolen from the vacant home.
A Bentleigh man, aged 48, has been bailed and will appear before court at a later date to face charges including burglary and handling stolen goods offences.

Antique paintings stolen from elderly couple with dementia

An elderly couple from Slough are appealing for information about three stolen pieces of art.
The antique paintings, belonging to a woman in her seventies and a man in his eighties, were taken at some point between March and June.
The couple, who both have dementia, noticed other paintings hung in their place to replace the stolen artwork.
If anyone has been offered these paintings for sale, or has seen them since March, please contact PC Jason Twine.

Mystic jeweler pleads guilty to possession of goods stolen in residential burglaries

Downtown Mystic jeweler Matthew L. Hopkins pleaded guilty Monday to being in possession of jewelry and antiques stolen in a series of residential burglaries in the Lyme and Old Lyme area and faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced in January.

Hopkins, 42, owner of Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. at 9 W. Main St., pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny in New London Superior Court. Initially charged with first-degree larceny, he accepted an offer from prosecutor David J. Smith to plead guilty to the reduced charge in exchange for a sentence of five years in prison, suspended after two years served, followed by five years of probation.

Under the agreement, defense attorney Michael L. Cozzolino has the right, at Hopkins’ Jan. 9 sentencing, to argue for a reduced or fully suspended prison term. Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said she would be ordering Hopkins to make restitution along with brothers Justin and Karl Weissinger, who sold him the stolen goods in 2011 and 2012.

The total restitution amount is approximately $326,000, and Strackbein indicated that his effort at repayment would play a big part in whether Hopkins goes to jail or not. The two brothers are incarcerated and are not expected to be able to make restitution payments for several years, if ever. The judge said the restitution order will be enforceable for 10 years.

“You happen to run a business,” Strackbein told Hopkins when he stood before her to enter his plea. “It looks like the lion’s share of restitution could fall on you.”

Several of the burglary victims were in court to hear Hopkins’ plea and are expected to address the judge at his sentencing.

Hopkins, of 396 Post Road, Westerly, was arrested in July 2013 following an extensive investigation by state police and Old Lyme police. A year earlier, Trooper Gary Inglis was investigating a series of burglaries in the Lyme and Old Lyme area when he went into Hopkins’ store and ran into Karl Weissinger, who was attempting to sell two stolen watches and a gold chain, according to the court documents. He surrendered the items to police.

Inglis also spotted several stolen items on display in the store, including a Narwhal ivory tusk that had been taken during a burglary of a home on Selden Road in Lyme.

Sgt. John Mesham went to the store and recognized a Tiffany bamboo pattern bar set, black tooth fossil and mammoth vertebrae fossil set that had been reported stolen along with a Tiffany sterling silver baby pacifier.

Hopkins told police the Weissinger brothers had gone into the store 15 to 25 times with items they said they had obtained from storage unit auctions.

A week later, Hopkins and his attorney went to the Troop F state police barracks with financial records from the transactions with the Weissingers and several bags of assorted jewelry and silverware that Hopkins said he had purchased from the Weissinger brothers over the past several months.

Hopkins said he sold some of the precious metals to the Geib Refining Corp. of Warwick, which smelted them.

The Weissinger brothers both pleaded guilty to larceny charges and were sentenced in August. Justin Weissinger, who had a prior record, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Karl Weissinger, who had no prior record but was rearrested twice while his case was pending, was sentenced to 3½ years in prison.