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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Monet Vandal Andrew Shannon's Home Raided, Stolen Art Haul Recovered

GARDAI seized hundreds of thousands of euro worth of pieces of stolen art when they searched a house in west Dublin late on Thursday night.


Officers from Pearse Street Garda Station made the "highly significant discovery" at a property in Ongar and are now trying to identify the valuable stolen items.
About 60 pieces of art including paintings, statues and rare books were seized by officers at the home of a notorious criminal who has previous convictions for stealing from stately homes in England.
This criminal is currently in custody awaiting trial in a separate case but the house is occupied by a younger close relative who also has similar criminal convictions.
Sources say gardai estimate that one of the paintings they have recovered is valued at between €50,000 and €70,000.
Last night, gardai had only identified around half a dozen of the pieces of art and they expected that a public appeal will be launched next week in an attempt to trace the owners of the items.
A senior source told the Herald: "There were works of art in every room in that house – it was some sight. The property has a large attic and that was filled with paintings. Some of these are originals while others are less valuable prints.
Of the stolen items that have already been identified, gardai believe that they have been stolen from locations in Dublin and Belfast, some as long ago as 2007.
When officers arrived at the house in Ongar, they made contact with the man who is aged in his 30s and lives there and he agreed to go back to the property and gardai entered it.
This man is known to gardai and like his older relative is a key target of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Arts and Antiques unit.
It is understood that he has experience in the antiques business. His older relative has been an even bigger target for gardai and in 2009 he was jailed for three years after he admitted burgling six stately homes.
He stole paintings, ornamental lions, porcelain vases, figurines, expensive books and an antique walking stick during a four-day crime spree and English police discovered that he even had the addresses of the stately homes keyed into his car's sat-nav.
He also had a walkie-talkie which he used to communicate with his accomplice who fled the scene in a car.
Using CCTV footage, police traced the car and found a sat-nav system which had been pre-programmed for the six stately homes.

Suspected Pink Panther gang member arrested after Dhs1.4m Dubai robbery

A duo - one a suspected Pink Panther gang member - arrested in Dubai after Dhs1.4 million theft 
A suspected member of the infamous Pink Panthers crime gang has been arrested by Dubai Police.
Yuri Harris, 53 (left), is one of two British men detained over a Dhs1.4 million robbery outside a bank in Dubai. General Expert Khamis Mattar Al Muzaina, head of Dubai Police, said the incident happened on Sunday morning on Bani Yas Road after two Indian men had cashed three cheques worth Dhs1.43 million. One of the men went into the bank and put the cash in a black bag. He returned to the car where his friend was waiting and put the bag on the backseat.
He said a man claiming to be a CID officer then knocked on the window and said they were parked illegally. The man said he was going to write a ticket and asked them to step out the car.
After they got out, a passer-by yelled that someone else had opened the car door and stolen their bag. The supposed cop fled and the two Indian men and the Pakistani witness chased after him and restrained him before calling the police, Al Muzaina said.
Officers arrested the suspect, who has been named as Steven Oliver, 49, and dozens of policemen swept the area for his suspected accomplice, who had fled with the cash.
“Within less than 24 hours, we received information that the second thief, called Yuri Harris, was seen behind Crowne Plaza hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. We arrested him and found the money in his luggage. He was planning to leave the country,” said Al Muzaina.
He added Harris said during interviews the pair had visited the UAE many times and noticed people shopping and visiting banks carried large amounts of cash.
“They said that it’s not common in their home country to see people with lots of cash so they planned their crime,” Al Muzaina added. “They are professional thieves that have a long criminal record going back 30 years.”
The force said Harris earned more than £500,000 (Dhs3 million) a year from robberies and was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010, although he was released early. UK media reported that he is a member of Pink Panthers gang, named after the cartoon character. The gang are responsible for heists across the world, including one at Wafi mall in Dubai in 2007.
“I want to tell the Pink Panthers that it’s better for them to stay away from Dubai as we have the ability to arrest them and foil their crimes,” said Al Muzaina.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Time Is Of The Essence For Watch Thieves As Napoleon Artefacts Go Walkabout & Jasper Johns Needs Help

Antique 17th century watches worth more than £200,000 in total stolen in evening raid on house in south London

  • More than 16 watches taken from a house in Beckenham, south east London
  • Haul includes a Reeve timepiece which is worth £15,000 alone
  • BMW car also taken in the raid but has since been dumped
  • Timepieces said to be from 'highest end watchmakers out there'
Antique watches worth more than £200,000 which date back to the 17th century have been stolen in an evening raid.
The haul of 16 watches were taken from a house in Beckenham, south east London, along with a BMW car.
The car was founded dumped in south London two days later, but there was no sign of the watches.
This Reeve watch is believed to dat back to 1630 and is valued at approximately £15,000
This watch from 1765, a De St Leu, is worth around £12,000
These two watches alone are said to be worth £27,000. Left, is the Reeve timepiece dating back to 1630 and valued at approximately £15,000. Right, is a De St Leu, valued at approximately £12,000 from 1765
This Breguet watch is valued at £15,000 and was stolen from the house in Beckenham
Another one of the watches that were stolen. This one is valued at £10,000
These are two Breguet watches, with the one on the left worth £15,000 and the one on the right valued at £10,000 
This antique watch is valued at £15,000
Another Breguet watch, this one worth £10,000
Another set of Breguet watches, which were taken. The watch on the left is worth £15,000, while the one on the right is valued at £12,000

The timepieces include a number of French and English watches made by the 'highest end watchmakers out there'.
It also includes a Reeve timepiece, which dates back to 1630, and is worth around £15,000 alone.
Simon Kerby, an antiques watch specialist from the Gerald E. Marsh dealership in Hampshire said: 'This was obviously a very good collection.
'A lot of the watches are classic English and French makers who are also famous clock makers. These are the highest end watchmakers out there.
'The list includes many of the top names. Breguet is going to be up there as one of the best.
Among the watches taken in the haul was this Fromanteel timepiece from 1690, which is valued at £6,000
Among the watches taken in the haul was this Fromanteel timepiece from 1690, which is valued at £6,000
A Quare & Horseman watch, circa 1705, valued at approximately £7,500
A K. J Everell, from 1705, valued at approximately £5,000
A Quare & Horseman watch, from 1705, worth £7,500 and this K. J Everell, valued at £5,000  from 1705 were also taken in the raid
A £8,000 Lampe timepiece stolen from a house in Beckenham
This Lupton watch dates back to  1660 and is valued at approximately £8,500
Together these two watch, a Lampe timepiece, left, and a Lupton watch, right, are worth a total of £16,500. They were both included in the haul taken from the house in Beckenham, south London

'They would have been making watches since the 1700s, and some of their pieces are astonishing.”
He added: “It would be difficult to sell them as a single lot in auction.
'They could possibly be sold abroad. The pocket watch collecting community is very small, there are really very few people who collect them.
'If someone came in here with a collection like that we would really want to know when they were last sold.
'I would also want to know when and how they were acquired. It would be very likely they had come up in an auction like Christie’s or Sotheby’s.
'You would have to be very careful where you sell them if you didn’t want to alert suspicion.'
The Windmill from 1720, valued at approximately £6,500
Boucheret, circa 1730, valued at approximately £6,000
The Windmill, left from 1720, valued at approximately £6,500 while this Boucheret timepiece also from the 1700s is said to be worth £6,000

This timepiece from Tompion dates back to 1710 and is said to be worth £5,000
This timepiece from Tompion dates back to 1710 and is said to be worth £5,000

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that watches had been stolen.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'A burglary was committed at a property in Beckenham, on Tuesday, March 4 between 5.45pm and 10.10pm during which in excess of 16 antique watches were stolen, along with a BMW.
'The car was subsequently recovered in Verney Road, Southwark on March 6.'
Mr Kerby added: 'As an antique watch collector myself, security is a concern.'
'It’s something you do have to be very wary.'
Among some of the items taken were:
• Fromanteel, circa 1690, valued at approximately £6,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £12,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £10,000
• Quare & Horseman, circa 1705, valued at approximately £7,500
• Reeve, circa 1630, valued at approximately £15,000
• Breguet, valued at approximately £15,000
• De St Leu, circa 1765, valued at approximately £12,000
• LeRoy, valued at approximately £5,500
• Breguet, valued at approximately £15,000
• Lampe, valued at approximately £8,000
• J Everell, circa 1705, valued at approximately £5,000
• Lupton, circa 1660, valued at approximately £8,500
• Windmill, circa 1720, valued at approximately £6,500
• Boucheret, circa 1730, valued at approximately £6,000
• Tompion, circa 1710, valued at approximately £5,000
• Ellicott, circa 1775, valued at approximately £7,000 

Eight Romanians charged after £1.2 million heist at Lakeside

EIGHT men have been charged with aggravated burglary following a break in at a jewellers in the Lakeside shopping centre where goods totalling £1.2m were stolen.
The Romanian nationals will be appearing before magistrates in Basildon on Monday, April 14, each charged with one count of aggravated burglary.
The men are:
Emanoil CRETU, 26, Mihai CUPTOR, 20, Claudiu-Eugen CRETU, 22, Gheorghe RUSU, 21,
Ion-Alexandru CUPTOR, 22, Costica FERESTRAUARU, 21, Ovidiu CRETU, 18, and
Dimitri SPATARU, 24. They are all of no fixed address.
Detectives are continuing to investigate a burglary at a jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, and ask anyone with information to contact them at Grays CID on 101.
Update: Sunday 1200hrs
DETECTIVES investigating two burglaries in the Thurrock district are now able to release further details.
A total of eight men, aged between 18 and 26-years-old, who have not given addresses, were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning in South Ockendon on suspicion of aggravated burglary and arson.
A dog unit was involved in a coordinated search of the area with other uniformed officers.
The arrests are in connection with a burglary at Ernest Jones jewellers at Lakeside and a burglary at another jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon.
Detectives believe these were well-planned burglaries resulting in jewellery and high-value watches totalling around £1.2m being stolen. Officers have been conducting extensive searches in the area and items have been recovered.
They have also been investigating some road blocks made up of tyres which had been set alight which appear to have been an attempt to distract or impede the police response.
The men remain in custody for questioning today, Sunday, April 13.
Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at Grays on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Original story
POLICE are investigating a burglary at the Ernest Jones jewellers at Lakeside Thurrock which happened a little after 3am this morning, Saturday, April 12.
With the help of some members of the public, responding officers made a number of arrests and recovered what they believe to property from the crime.
Detectives are also investigating a burglary at another jewellers in Derwent Parade, South Ockendon, which was reported just before 3.20am.
A number of scene guards are currently in place whilst the crime scene investigators carry out their tasks, including at Lakeside, but police wish to stress to shoppers that the majority of the shopping centre is open as normal.
Superintendent Justin Smith said, “This appears to have been a well planned burglary which has resulted in a number of arrests following some excellent work by the public and police in the early hours of this morning. Evidence is being recovered as quickly as possible from the scenes and we will be allowing areas to be re-opened to the public just as soon as we can.”
Anyone with any information about the burglaries is asked to contact detectives at Grays CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

'Highly organised' jewellery burglars grabbed everything they could carry.

The jeweller's store is only 3m back from the parade road. Photo / Michael Craig
The jeweller's store is only 3m back from the parade road. Photo / Michael Craig
Thieves carried out a jewellery store smash-and-grab on the royal tour route just hours before yesterday's parade.

Ten hours before a silver limo carrying the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drove through Cambridge's main street, a local jewellery store was burgled and more than $100,000 worth of watches, diamond rings and jewels were stolen.
Thieves smashed in the back door of family-owned Cambridge Jewellers around 2.40am, grabbed everything they could carry and were out quickly.
The shop's back door was only 10m from Victoria St, where the royal procession passed huge crowds yesterday.
The store is 100m from the town hall, where the royal couple stopped for lunch, and 60m from the war memorial where William and Kate each laid a rose.
Several monitored alarms were triggered during the break-in.
Witnesses who saw two people wearing hoodies in the store alerted police.
Police say the break-in was coincidental, and not a royal-tour security breach. The store was searched and secured after the break-in.
Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley did not believe the thieves were taking advantage of police attention being focused on the royal tour.
"I think quite the opposite is true, with police able to act quickly because there were so many officers in the area."
Police were investigating reports of a dark-coloured Mitsubishi Galant leaving the scene. A burnt-out car of the same colour and model was found hours later on a rural Cambridge road. Forensic officers were examining the car.
Store owners Andrew and Katrina Haultain said the break-in was highly organised by thieves who knew where expensive jewels were.
"They smashed the back door down and went for higher-value items. They knew where everything was," Andrew Haultain said.
"They took wedding rings, watches, diamond rings, coloured stone rings, Tissot watches, Seiko watches and Pandoro jewellery," he added.
"They smashed and grabbed and only left behind what they couldn't carry."
Katrina Haultain said last night that no one had been arrested but blood was found in the store, probably the result of a thief cutting themselves after smashing a cabinet.
A former head of royal protection for London's Metropolitan police, Dai Davies, caused a furore this week when he blasted Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae for publishing details of Kate and William's itinerary.
Last night, Davies said he would not regard yesterday's Cambridge break-in as a security breach, but he stood by his earlier comments.
"You simply can't secure everywhere — but that's the whole point of not disclosing routes."

UK: Gang of men who wore burkas in huge designer watch robery face the law

Smash and DRAG
By: Kieran Corcoran
An ‘audacious’ gang dressed in burkas and posed as wealthy Muslim women to steal designer watches worth more than £1.4million from Selfridges, a court heard Thursday.
Customers and staff in the world famous department store on London’s Oxford Street were left ‘terrified’ by the smash and grab raid, the court was told.
Some of the all-male gang, armed with axes and other equipment, also allegedly wore burkas to fleece a jewellery store in Windsor two months earlier.
Four men are standing trial over the attempted robbery at Kingston Crown Court, a year after four other men were convicted for their part in the event.

Ramela Gordon, 18, Ritchie Graham, 24, Vincent Bellamy, 37 and Leon Wright, 25, all from North Londoner, deny conspiracy to rob.
Gordon and Graham are also accused the £170,000 of watch haul in Windsor.
Roger Smart, prosecuting, told Kingston Crown Court that the gang first carried out a ‘well-planned robbery’ at Robert Gatward jewellers in King Edward Court, Windsor.
Mr Smart said: ‘The robbers, all of whom were male, wore burkas in order to disguise their identities and the equipment that they had taken with them in order to carry out the robbery.
‘They smashed their way into display cabinets whilst staff and customers were inside the premises and bystanders looked on in fear as they carried out their well-executed plan.
‘They stole a total of 19 Rolex watches with a value of between £3,000 and £31,650 per item.
‘The robbers quickly made off, running through the streets of Windsor, one of them with an axe raised above his head, warding off anyone who may have sought to impede their escape, to a nearby parked getaway car that took them and their property back towards London from where they had first come.’
As well as stealing £175,000 of watches, the thieves caused £41,361 worth of damage to the jewellers, meaning it suffered £216,361 worth of loss, the court heard.
Mr Smart said that less than two months later the same gang, along with some new faces, ‘doubtless buoyed by the success of the robbery in Windsor’ targeted Selfridges on Oxford Street in central London on June 6th last year.
He said: ‘The plot to rob was audacious, well-planned and carried out with the same degree of professional execution as the previous robbery.
‘They made their way inside the store and smashed at showcases containing high value watches of a variety of makes.
‘Members of the public and staff were terrified by their actions. The robber used the burka to disguise their identities and hide their equipment.
‘Such was their behaviour and appearance that it crossed the minds of many of those who were forced to witness the robbery that the men dressed in burkas were using them in order to hide their identities while perpetrating a terrorist atrocity.’
The gang escaped using two motorbikes, a motor scooter and a BMW car, all of which were stolen.
Sam Curtin, who was still wearing his burka, and Connor Groake, a getaway driver, were arrested when their moped crashed at the corner of Goodge Street junction with Charlotte Street and they were seized by passers by, the court heard.
Mr Smart said: ‘It was the quick thinking and bravery of members of the public that lead to both of them being detained, some of the watches being recovered and aided the police investigation.’
The thieves stole 143 watches worth £1,496,280 and damaged others worth £1.1million.
Mr Smart added: ‘The Windsor offence was a carefully planned, sophisticated and targeted robbery.
‘The robbers carried out in advance reconnaissance of intended started on April 5 2013, and an aborted attempt on April 11, before the actual robbery on April 12.
‘The sophisticated and targeted planning, the use of new tools and the choice of the disguises at the Selfridges robbery show the same preparation as before.’
Mr Smart then showed the court the telephone cell site analysis of calls made by Murrain and Gordon during the reconnaissance mission on April 5th, together with data generated by automatic number plate recognition devices.
This showed both men had made a journey to Windsor from north London and back at the same time, while remaining in constant contact.
He said: ‘It is more than coincidence the telephones moved with the vehicles from the north London area to Windsor and the cells providing best coverage round Richard Gatward were used.’
A ninth man, Andre Murrain, is also accused of involvement in both crimes, and will appear in court at a later date.
The trial continues.

Who's Looking Out For Jasper Johns?

Two decades ago, Martin Lang paid £100,000 for what he thought was a painting by Marc Chagall—a reclining nude, dated 1909-10. Recently, at his son’s behest, Lang submitted the painting to the producers of the BBC art program "Fake or Fortune?" Unfortunately for Lang, "Fake or Fortune"'s analysis came up fake: it showed that the painting's blues and greens used pigments only developed in the 1930s.
Upon this discovery, Lang was issued a writ by the Chagall Committee—based in Paris and headed by Chagall's two granddaughters—which is the only body with the authority to declare the authenticity of a Chagall. Now that Lang's painting has been shown to be a fake, what does the Chagall Committee want with it?
Well, they want to burn it.
If the committee finds a piece to have been forged it should, according to some magical and arcane and very, very French law, be burned in front of a magistrate. Italy and China also sometimes order the destruction of fakes. It's rarer in America, although already this year work by Richard Prince was ordered destroyed—not because it was fake but because it was said to infringe on copyright.
But sometimes you can't get your hands on your own fakes.
Jasper Johns is now 83 years old, and he lives in Sharon, Connecticut. At the end of January, he came back down to Manhattan to testify in federal court against Brian Ramnarine, a 60-year-old native of Guyana and the former owner of Long Island City's Empire Bronze Art Foundry. Ramnarine is accused of wire fraud. He tried to sell a fake Jasper Johns sculpture that he made, for $11 million.
Johns' first "Flag" painting was done in the mid-1950s, in a fertile period when he was involved with Robert Rauschenberg and they were working in studios down at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge; that "Flag" is now owned by the Museum of Modern Art. "White Flag," done in the late 50s, was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an undisclosed sum in the millions of dollars. "Three Flags" you have probably seen at the Whitney. You have probably not seen the one owned by Steve Cohen.
In 1960, Johns made a "Flag" painting using a material called "sculpt metal." Sculpt metal, as described by Johns in his witness testimony, is a kind of a lacquer that has the consistency of toothpaste. "It can be spread with a knife or with your finger or it can be thinned with a solvent and brushed on some material," he said. "When it dries it can be polished and it resembles metal." That was when Johns was being helpful on the stand. (To defense lawyers, he was less so: Q. "Much of your work is valued in the millions of dollars?" A: "Is that a question?")
Johns gave the sculpt-metal "Flag" to Rauschenberg; shortly thereafter he borrowed it back to use it to make a sculpture. Because he had done the piece using sculpt metal, Johns was able to take a mold of the surface of the painting. He poured plaster into the mold; he then removed the plaster and had a 'positive' of the surface of the painting, which he gave to a foundry. The foundry made four copies of that positive in bronze. One would be given to John F. Kennedy.

Two decades later, Johns had another mold made—this one a negative—by "a very fine mold maker," a woman he said had been working on the restoration of the Statue of Liberty with her father.
(A positive mold—such as the one used to create the first four copies of the sculpt-metal painting—is pressed into the ground, creating a depression which is then filled with metal. A negative mold is one into which metal is poured directly. Now you know!)
Sometime around 1987, Johns brought that mold to the Polich Tallix foundry. They cast a "Flag" sculpture in silver and returned the mold to Johns. A few years later, sometime around 1990, Johns began to consider casting a "Flag" sculpture in gold.
Johns approached Brian Ramnarine with the idea—they had worked together before on "a number of projects," Johns said. Johns lent the mold to Ramnarine, who made a wax cast—a kind of a test run—which he delivered to Johns and which Johns kept in his refrigerator. Ramnarine did not, however, return the mold.
Sometime in the early 90s, an art dealer came to Johns with a bronze copy of "Flag," asking him to authenticate it. Johns refused and sent the man away, though not before crossing out a fake signature on the back of the sculpture.
At the trial, the prosecutor showed Johns this forged sculpture once again.
"Is this your sculpture?" he asked.
"Its source is mine, from my work," said Johns. "But it's not mine."
The art dealer who visited Johns wrote him a series of "increasingly desperate"—Johns' words—letters from 1994 to 1996. In 1995 he even sent Johns a portrait that he (or someone else) had done of the artist. Johns responded twice, denying to authenticate the sculpture both times. At one point he sent his longtime assistant James Meyer to retrieve the mold, but Meyer was unsuccessful.
The identity of this art dealer—now deceased—is unclear. Johns remembers him as a relative of Ramnarine's but didn't use his name in court. During the cross examination, however, one of the defense attorneys used the name "Mike Harpul" to refer to this individual. In its trial coverage the Associated Press declined to use a name, referring only to a "relative" of Ramnarine's; the Wall Street Journal, however, does give this individual a name, albeit in a different form than that recorded in the court's official transcript: "Sendupt Harpaul."
In any event, after spending the previous half-decade denying this man's—and, presumably, by proxy, Brian Ramnarine's—requests to authenticate the bronze "Flag" sculpture, Johns got Ramnarine's wax cast out of his fridge and took it to a woman named Paige Tooker, who used it to cast a "Flag" in white bronze.
At some point in the intervening years, Ramnarine forged a second "Flag" sculpture—a fact of which Johns only became aware after he was informed by the FBI in 2010. This sculpture was not only inscribed with a signature but also identified as an artist proof: "AP 1/1."
Ramnarine (or someone else) also forged Johns' signature on documents purporting to authenticate the sculptures. It's possible that it was someone else because Ramnarine is illiterate.
Four days after Johns testified against him, Ramnarine changed his plea.
Brian Ramnarine faces up to 80 years in prison and as much as nearly a million dollars in fines. He has pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud, and it is up to the judge to decide whether he will serve his sentences for each concurrently or consecutively. The sentencing will take place May 30th at 10 a.m., if you are into that kind of thing.
But why is the penalty so steep? For one thing, wire fraud is a felony—and a federal offense at that—and Ramnarine copped to three counts of it. The feds had offered him a deal in 2012 but he declined. Whatever they offered him then is gone now. Moreover, Ramnarine was already under investigation for the first offense (the charges relating to Johns) when he committed the alleged fraud relevant to the second two counts.
It's odd that Ramnarine turned down the deal offered to him in 2012—after all, he took a deal in 2003, the first time he was staring down federal charges.
"He's a tremendously mean person," one former employee told the Queens Chronicle back in 2003, when Ramnarine was first busted selling fakes. "He has absolutely no shame."
When he changed his plea on the 27th, Ramnarine tried to introduce a new character to the story.
"I met an art broker, Adam Stolpen, and he was trying to sell the American 'Flag,' and I said, 'Fine,'" Ramnarine said.
The judge wasn't having it.
But why would an art broker be interested in a forgery? Particularly when, in Johns' case, there was so much legitimate work on the market already, and what's more, quite a bit of stolen work, as Johns' studio assistant James Meyer—the fellow that Johns had once sent to retrieve the forgery—was accused of sneaking at least 22 works straight out of the studio.
"Profit margin on fakes and stolen art means it comes in handy when business is tough," Paul Hendry told me over Skype. "Turbo Paul," as he is known, is the proprietor of the blog Art Hostage and claims to be a former trafficker of stolen art. The sale of forgeries, fakes, and unauthorized copies, Hendry said, "can be a welcome bonus because those deals are mostly cash oriented, off the books." In other words, fakes cost little, and sell quick.
"Temptation, human nature of something for nothing depicts why the allure of a quick buck overrides sense," he said.
And what's an artist to do? Johns' art dealer, Leo Castelli, died in 1999, and he hasn't had a guiding relationship like that since, though he works in a limited capacity with Matthew Marks Gallery. So when Johns was first approached by Harpul, or Harpaul, or whoever this art dealer was with the forged "Flag" sculpture, he contacted the Art Dealers Association in New York.
"They were not extremely helpful," he said.

Lock of Napoleon's hair among artefacts stolen from historic Victorian homestead

Napoleon Bonaparte artefacts
Priceless artefacts from Napoleon Bonaparte have been stolen from a museum on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
Burglars broke into The Briars historic homestead in Mount Martha on Thursday night and tripped an alarm.
Police believed the thieves had gained access through a bathroom window.

Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Born August 15 1769 in Ajaccio on the island of Corsica
  • Rose to prominence in the final stages of the French Revolution
  • Took political power in a coup d'etat in 1799, installing himself as First Consul
  • Ruled as Emperor of France from 1804 to 1814
  • Fought a series of wars to give France a dominant position in Europe
  • Suffered military failures in the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and the Peninsular war 1807-1814
  • In 1813 a coalition of countries defeated him at Battle of Leipzig and France was invaded
  • Napoleon was banished to the Italian island of Elba
  • He escaped and returned to power but was finally defeated in the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815
  • He spent the final six years of life on the island of Saint Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean
  • Napoleon died on May 5 1821 - there was a theory about arsenic poisoning but an autopsy said he died of stomach cancer
The collection of artefacts was put together by Dame Mable Brooks who was the great-granddaughter of Alexander Balcombe.
"Alexander Balcombe settled here [in Australia] in 1846 and sat on Napoleon's knee as a little boy," said museum coordinator Steve York.
"The family were good friends with the emperor when he was sent into exile on St Helena."
Napoleon stayed with the family while waiting for his own residence to be completed.
Mr York says 10 items were taken from the collection, including locks of Napoleon's hair and a silver inkwell set with three gold Napoleons which were allegedly in his pocket when he died.
Some miniature portraits of Napoleon and Josephine were also taken.
"Really they're priceless because they can't be replaced. We're quite distraught. Irreplaceable," Mr York said.
"We've now relocated the rest of the collection.
"This has proved it's vulnerable and so it's now being relocated to secure it until we look into improving the physical security in the future."
Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Lamb says security was on site within 10 minutes of the alarm going off and the offenders were gone.
"We think this was a fairly targeted theft," he said.
"They will be very difficult to dispose of publicly so we're asking for anybody who has been approached by anyone with these rare artefacts looking to sell them to contact Crime Stoppers."
Detective Lamb says it was a well-planned operation.
"We think they knew what they were looking for," he said.
"We think its probably destined for a private collection. It could well be stolen to order."
Mr York says the collection has become very popular since the major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria last year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Italian Law Used to Launder Stolen Gauguin, Auction Ruse is Load of Bonnards !!

Stolen Gauguin painting 'hung on factory worker's wall'

A pair of stolen masterpiece paintings valued at $50 million have been recovered after being bought at an auction for $25 and hung in an auto worker's kitchen for years.
The masterworks were described as Paul Gaugin's “Still Life of Fruit on a Table With a Small Dog” and Pierre Bonnard’s “The Girl With Two Chairs.” They were stolen from the home of a British couple in 1970.
An unnamed Fiat employee, described by police as a “lover of art,” bought the two paintings in an auction of items left in the lost and found department of the national railway. The paintings were reportedly left behind on a train from Paris to Turin and were never claimed. Railway authorities put them up for auction in 1975.
The Fiat worker was unaware of their value, according to Gen. Mariano Mossa, the head of the police’s Cultural Heritage department. The Fiat employee purchased the two masterpieces for $25 at the auction. He first had the paintings hanging in his kitchen, and after he retired, he brought them back to his native Sicily.
The auto worker's son had decided to sell the paintings last year and that is when they came to the attention of police.
“The present owner of the paintings was circulating pictures of the painting because he decided to sell them. He did so in good faith, as he did not know they were stolen. That is when we became aware of them and started researching,” the spokesman for the Art Theft Squad of the Italian police told ABC News.
The paintings were stolen from the collection of Sir Mark Kennedy in England on June 6, 1970. Kennedy and his wife died without heirs without ever knowing the fate of their paintings. Press reports from that month say that three men, one posing as a policeman and the others as burglar alarm engineers duped the housekeeper, telling her they were checking the alarm system. While she made them a cup of tea, they removed the paintings from the frames.
Authorities will now have to determine who are the rightful owner of the paintings.

Stolen paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard hung on an Italian factory worker's kitchen wall for almost 40 years, police have revealed.
Now worth at least 10.6m euros (£8.8m), they were stolen from a collector's London home in 1970 and left on a train in Italy, with no indication of origin.
At a lost-property auction in 1975, the unsuspecting Fiat worker paid 45,000 Italian lire (23 euros; £19) for them.
He hung them in his Turin home before taking them to Sicily when he retired.
Paul Gauguin painting  
Paul Gauguin's still life is thought to be worth at least 10m euros (£8.3m)
The worker only grew suspicious about their origins when his son saw another Gauguin in a book and noticed similarities with the painting in his father's kitchen.
The man consulted experts and police were eventually alerted.
The Gauguin painting, titled Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien (Fruits on a table or still life with a small dog), had been painted in 1889 and was thought to be worth between 10m and 30m euros (£8.3m-£24.8m), police said.
The Bonnard, La femme aux deux fauteuils (Woman with two armchairs), is valued at 600,000 euros (£500,000).
Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini said: "It's an incredible story, an amazing recovery. A symbol of all the work which Italian art police have put in over the years behind the scenes."
Mariano Mossa, commander of Italy's heritage police, said he believed the paintings had been discarded on a train travelling from Paris to Turin after they were stolen.
"They were bought by an art-loving worker, who hung them for 40 years in his kitchen, first in Turin then in Sicily, after he retired," he added.
Gauguin was a post-impressionist master known for his creative relationship with Vincent van Gogh. His fellow Frenchman Pierre Bonnard is regarded as one of the greatest colourists of modern art.

Art Hostage Comments:
Under Italian law anyone who buys artworks from an auction in Italy gets to keep legal title despite the fact they may have been stolen. Therfore in this case there will be a dispute over legal title and that is why this bullshit story about the so called farmer buying them at auction is being used. The whole ruse would have been to take them to Italy when stolen from London and then put them through an auction thereby gaining legal title.
So don't be surprised to hear of an ongoing dispute about legal title. This has been used many times over the years to launder stolen artworks in countries with similar laws about legal title such as Belgium, Japan and Holland, where after thrirty years the legal title is gained by whomever has possession.
See this for Good Faith & Italian case law:

Art detective warns of missing checks that let stolen works go undiscovered

Case of 17th-century landscape highlights failure of European auction houses, dealers and collectors to carry out searches
Paul Mitchell with the recovered 17th-century painting by Jan van Goyen
Paul Mitchell with the recovered 17th-century painting by Jan van Goyen. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer
European auction houses, dealers and collectors are failing to make adequate checks to avoid handling stolen artworks, an art lawyer has warned after recovering from an Italian auction an old master painting taken from its British owner in a burglary more than 30 years ago.
Christopher A Marinello, who specialises in recovering stolen art and resolving title disputes, said: "We do find a lot of stolen and looted artwork in civil law countries such as Italy, France and Germany. Consigners of tainted works of art often try to hide behind the good-faith purchase laws of these countries while performing little or no due diligence."
He spoke to the Observer after negotiating the return from Italy of a landscape painting by Jan van Goyen, a 17th-century Dutch painter, which was stolen in 1979. Negotiations were particularly delicate because, under Italian law, if someone buys a stolen work in good faith the buyer is sometimes entitled to keep it. Marinello was able to prove to the Italian auctioneer that the painting was one of nine pictures stolen at night by criminals who broke into the home of Paul Mitchell, an antique picture frame specialist in London.
View of Lake Nemi  
View of Lake Nemi by Joseph Wright of Derby, one of the paintings stolen from Paul Mitchell. The thieves forced open a window to enter his house. Mitchell assumed that the slight noise that he heard from downstairs was the family cat. "Police call these people 'creepers', night-time burglars who specialise in burgling people when they are in their house," Mitchell said. Describing waking to discover the theft, he added: "The anguish is a very long, deep-seated thing which never really goes away. Hardly a day goes by when I haven't thought about it."
The loss of the pictures was also painful because of their sentimental value. They belonged to his father, but had become so valuable that Mitchell could not afford to insure them for their full worth. Back in 1979, the paintings were valued at £400,000. Today the amount is well into seven figures. After the theft, Mitchell tried in vain to track down the paintings, offering a £5,000 reward for their recovery, placing advertisements in international journals and approaching a specialist art detective. But the trail went cold.
He was overwhelmed with emotion at being reunited with the Van Goyen, a beautiful beach scene painted in 1643 by a pioneer of naturalistic landscape painting. It surfaced by chance a few weeks ago after a Dutch dealer tried to buy it in Italy. Before paying for it, he decided to check the database of the Art Loss Register (ALR), which tracks down the world's stolen art from its headquarters in London.
Still Life by Pieter Claesz  
Still Life by Pieter Claesz, another of the missing paintings. Marinello, the ALR's general counsel, who has recovered £200m worth of stolen and looted art in seven years, confirmed that it had been stolen: "The Italian auction house involved did not search the work with the ALR, but the dealer did. While losing out on a potential future sale, the [dealer] protected his reputation and saved himself significant sums in legal fees defending a case over title to the painting."
Unless more dealers, collectors and auctioneers make such checks, he added, other stolen items will remain undetected. "It's the same concept as having a survey done prior to purchasing a home. Considering the values involved, why wouldn't you want to know if there were serious title issues before purchasing fine art?"
Pastoral landscape by George Smith  
Pastoral landscape by George Smith of Chichester, which is still missing after 30 years. Asked why they had not made such checks, Marinello stopped short of suggesting that the buyers had not wanted to know about doubts over an artwork's legality: "Perhaps it's the excitement of getting a good deal."
A reward is being offered for information leading to the recovery of the other eight lost paintings, including Still Life with Oyster Shells (1646) by Pieter Claesz, and Lake of Nemi at Sunset (1780) by Joseph Wright of Derby.
Mitchell said his experience of being reunited with the Van Goyen after more than three decades will give hope to other people who have suffered thefts of their family's treasured items.