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Monday, June 02, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime In Vogue, Flavour Of The Moment

Can I imagine stealing a great work of art? Yes, I can. But I wouldn't

Art thief Patrick Vialaneix says he became so obsessed with a Rembrandt he had to steal it. I can sympathise

Patrick Vialaneix
'That rare being – a thief who is an art lover' … Patrick Vialaneix, who hid a stolen painting in his bedroom for a decade. Photograph: Collet Guillaume/Sipa/Rex
Art thieves are usually a great disappointment to anyone cherishing romantic fictional ideas of gentleman burglars or fanatical collectors. Most of the best-known art thefts of recent years are connected with gangland. Paintings from Munch's Scream to Rembrandt's Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee were taken not by art-lovers, but career criminals on the look-out for forms of underworld collateral.
Patrick Vialaneix appears to be an exception. This French unemployed technician turned up at a police station earlier this year to confess to the theft of Child with a Soap Bubble, a painting often attributed to Rembrandt, from a museum near Cannes in 1999.
If an interview he gave to Le Monde is to be believed, Vialaneix is that rare being – a thief motivated by the love of art. He says he fell in love with the painting when he saw it at the age of 13 and regularly visited it from then onwards to stand rapt before the genius of Rembrandt. Finally, he worked out how he could use his skills as a security technician to steal it.
Is this plausible? Vialaneix has now been arrested in connection with an attempt to sell the painting, but is it believable that he really was motivated initially by an obsession with this work of art?
Yes, it's believable. I can easily imagine being so obsessed with a painting that you feel compelled to steal it. Not this painting, though: I do not believe it to be an actual Rembrandt. But sure, I might be tempted by a real Rembrandt.
After all, the entire art world rests on its power to seduce and fascinate and obsess people, to make them covet it. Collectors are people who cannot bear to just see art in museums. They need it in their house. They get it (usually) in legal ways, by buying from galleries or at auction. Similarly, curators who work in public museums are driven to get physically close to art, to dedicate their working lives to being in close proximity to it. And writing about art is another way of taking possession of it.
On the other hand … writers share art with their readers. Curators care for it on the public's behalf. Only private collectors come close to the art thief in selfishness, yet even they bequeath works to museums or loan them to exhibitions.
The art thief who loves art is seeking a totally selfish experience, hidden from the world. By taking art out of circulation, making it vanish, you deny everyone else the pleasure you covet. Your relationship with the work of art becomes like that between a kidnapper and a hostage. If this is love, it is of the perverse kind.
Let's be honest. Anyone who adores art can imagine hiding away a secret, stolen masterpiece. But it's a sick daydream. The beauty of art lies in sharing. It is the fact that everyone loves a masterpiece that makes it a masterpiece. To steal art is to destroy the social phenomenon that is beauty.

Shame still hangs over the Sevso hoard

The recent return of seven of the 14 pieces of Roman silver to Hungary from the UK is a positive development in the find’s sad history

Marcus Linell, a senior director of Sotheby’s, with some of the Sevso hoard before its aborted sale in 1990
It is a relief that the sorry story of the misappropriation of the great treasure of late Roman silverware known as the Sevso hoard now seems to be reaching an acceptable conclusion. A tangled tale of greed and irresponsibility by “collectors” in high places who might have known better, seeking a quick and easy profit and showing little respect for the world’s archaeological heritage, it ends where it presumably began, in Hungary.
For it is to Budapest that the key piece, the Hunting Plate, along with six other major pieces of silverware, has now been returned. The Hunting Plate is crucial, for it bears an inscription referring to its owner, Sevso (from whom the treasure takes its name), as well as a reference to Pelso, the Roman name for Lake Balaton in Hungary, near where the treasure was allegedly found. That now appears to have been the case, although the government of Croatia has not yet withdrawn its claim to ownership.

Mysterious discovery

The treasure seems to have been discovered—the circumstances remain murky—in the 1970s. That the late Peter Wilson, formerly the chairman of Sotheby’s, should have started acquiring pieces of the treasure in 1980 seems odd today, since it was not until 1981 that a Lebanese export permit (later found to be forged) was acquired for the first four pieces that were bought. A buyer with a more suspicious mind would have realised that the treasure must have been looted and must have been exported illegally from its country of origin.

Through his lawyer, Peter Mimpriss of Allen and Overy, Wilson was able to interest the Marquess of Northampton in the silver as a proposition for investment, and by 1987, the Marquess of Northampton 1987 Settlement Trust was the sole owner of what by then was a collection of 14 pieces of impressive Roman silverware. The plan for Sotheby’s to sell the silver by auction in Switzerland in 1990 was halted by the seizure of the treasure on a publicity tour to New York, when Lebanon, and then Hungary and Croatia, laid claim to it in the New York State Supreme Court. The court did not find in favour of either Hungary or Croatia, Lebanon having withdrawn its claim, and the treasure was returned to London to the custody of the Marquess of Northampton.

It is important to note that the judge did not rule that the marquess was the legal owner, simply that neither Hungary nor Croatia had demonstrated good title. Not surprisingly, the Marquess of Northampton was disappointed by the sale fiasco of his investment, and (with a new lawyer) sued Mimpriss and Allen and Overy, winning a settlement—reportedly of £24m—in 2000.

In November 2006, the 14 pieces of silver (and the copper container in which they were found) were placed on display at Bonhams auction house for an invited audience. Then the scene went quiet, until the announcement in late March by Victor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, that seven pieces of the treasure had been successfully repatriated (at a cost of €15m) and put on public display.

The vendors, who are €15m better off, did not include the Marquess of Northampton; the silver was instead sold by a trust. Its beneficiaries are the two sons of the late Peter Wilson, who made the initial, ill-fated purchase in 1980. Ludovic de Walden, the current lawyer of the marquess, indicated last week that the marquess is still the owner of the remaining seven pieces.

Loss to archaeology

There are several conclusions to be drawn from this unhappy tale. The first is that much crucial archaeological information must have been

lost at the time of the discovery of the treasure. The circumstances of the find remain unclear, although later investigations in Hungary seem to have identified the place where the silver was found. The archaeological associations could have yielded crucial information, which is now lost forever, about the circumstances of burial.

Whether or not it is true, as has been claimed, that another 40 vessels and 187 spoons were also part of the hoard can probably never now be established.

The second rather shocking outcome is that the treasure, after all its unhappy history, has again been divided, with seven pieces in Budapest and seven apparently still in the possession (although, according to the New York judge, not necessarily the legal ownership) of the seventh Marquess of Northampton. Financial expediency wins again, as Europe’s cultural heritage is treated as a mere investment. It is sad that the integrity of this important assemblage of Roman silverware has again been broken.

Sullied reputations

There are other dismal features. The reputation of the late Peter Wilson, and indeed of Sotheby’s, does not come well out of this unseemly episode. The government of Hungary has had to pay €15m to repatriate what was presumably its own property in the first place. The law firm Allen and Overy was obliged, in 2000, to pay £24m to the marquess, in a settlement that certainly did not enhance its reputation (nor his own). And the unfortunate marquess is probably not in overall profit, after paying substantial legal fees to his succession of lawyers, and is still in possession of seven pieces of silver that are probably now unsaleable.

For Croatia has not yet protested about the recent export from England of the seven pieces to Hungary, undertaken with an export licence from the UK government. If Croatia were to relinquish its claim, Hungary might well be able to reassert its own claim as the sole remaining claimant to the pieces still in the possession of the marquess. Certainly it would now be difficult for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to grant an export licence for these remaining seven pieces if their destination were anywhere other than Hungary.

Still, to look on the bright side, seven of the most important pieces of Roman silverware in the world are now on display in Budapest. There, the Latin motto on the Hunting Plate can still be read:

“Let these, O Sevso, yours for many ages be/Small vessels fit to serve your offspring worthily”.

And it is an ill wind that does nobody any good: the restoration of at least a part of Hungary’s cultural heritage in March did no damage at all to the standing of Prime Minister Orbán, who secured a second term in the election held on 6 April.

A detail of the Hunting Plate

Professional criminal Reginald Soper masterminded raids across Devon as part of prolific gang, court hears

Reginald Soper: Criminal gang carried out 54 raids across Devon.
Criminal gang carried out 54 raids across Devon.

A PROFESSIONAL criminal funded a jetsetting lifestyle by allegedly masterminding burglaries across Devon including South Molton, Winkleigh and Hatherleigh, a court has heard.
Reginald Soper was claiming Jobseekers Allowance and living in a caravan but had been on two holidays to Jamaica, two to Cyprus, and trips to Mexico, Egypt and Majorca in the four years before his arrest.
The alleged thefts cost businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds and even forced one shopkeeper into bankruptcy, a jury has been told.
Soper formed part of a gang which carried out 54 raids on jewelers and small businesses throughout the county.

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The other members were his older brother Percy, who lived at the same caravan site near Taunton, his stepson Daniel Small, and his friend Nicky Christian, who both lived in Plymouth.
The group never left finger prints and hid their loot in remote areas of the countryside to ensure there was no evidence to link them to the raids if they were stopped on their way home.
Their most frequent targets were firms with units on small trading estates and stretched from Plymouth in the West to Beer and Dunster in the East and from Churchstow in the South to Hatherleigh and South Molton in the North.
They often took vehicles in one raid to use in the next and even left a cheeky message on the whiteboard at one office saying ‘Thanks for the car’ with a smiley face.
They caused massive damage, smashing their way through walls or fire exit doors and used tools and even a stolen fork lift to remove safes which were bolted to floors.
They wore masks to hide their faces and used walkie-talkies to communicate with each other and a night vision device was found at Reginald Soper’s caravan.
On at least two occasions they escaped in getaway cars which had no lights on, making them more difficult to identify on town centre CCTV systems.
The total value of the goods stolen is estimated at around £200,000 and included 17 safes, but the damage to building also runs into six figures. The stolen jewellery alone was worth £50,000.
Exeter Crown Court was told how they were arrested after a five month police operation codenamed Churchill in the summer of 2012.
Detectives used CCTV footage, shoe prints, DNA from the handle of tools, number plate recognition, mobile phone evidence and even a hidden camera in a safe to link the men to many of the offences.
They are linked to the rest by the use of vehicles and the similarities in method. In many cases the stolen cars and vans were abandoned or burned near the scenes of the raids.
The crimes ended after Percy Soper was arrested red-handed during a raid on a car showroom in Taunton and identified despite giving his name as Donald Duck.
Reginald Soper, aged 49, and his brother Percy Soper, aged 54, both of the Otterford caravan park at Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset, Daniel Small, aged 23, of Linketty Lane, Plympton, and Nick Christian, aged 23, of Bernice Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, all deny conspiracy to burgle.
Reginald Soper, Small and Christian all deny two counts of conspiracy, including one dealing with the raids on jewelers while Percy Soper only faces one, dealing with the rest of the burglaries.
Mr Donald Tait, prosecuting, told the jury: “This case is about burglaries and there were a lot of them. Our case is that these defendants, and the two Soper brothers in particular, are professional career criminals with no legitimate source of income.
“They specialised in the burglary of commercial premises and Reginald Soper, with the assistance of Small and Christian also burgled antique and jewellery shops.
“They planned these offences in advance, wore disguises to avoid recognition. They were forensically aware and left very little to link them with these offences.
“The Sopers knew the countryside of North Devon like the back of their hands. They used this to stash stolen property in very remote locations so they could come back at a later time for it.
“According to tax records Reginald Soper had no income since at least 2006/7 and has been claiming Jobseekers Allowance. The same applies to his brother.
“Despite Reginald apparently lacking employment and income inquiries with the National Border Targeting Centre to find out if he had even been abroad, and despite having no known income, he visited Jamaica in 2008.
“In September 2008 he also visited Cyprus. In January 2010 the Jamaica experience was repeated and in August 2010 he spent ten days in Cyprus.
“In August 2011 he spent 14 days in Majorca and in May 2012 he had an early spring break in Cancun, Mexico and his passport showed he also visited Egypt at some time.
“The jury may want to ask how he supported all this foreign travel on Jobseekers Allowance. The prosecution say the answer is simple. He is a criminal who burgles premises and steals whatever he can, money and any equipment that can be sold on.”
He said Christian’s last known income was a small amount from Pizza Hut and an employment agency in Plymouth in 2010/11 while Small was also on JSA and employment support allowance.
Mr Tait identified common features of the raids including the way in which some walls were demolished to get in, including one raid at Cullompton Football Club where a hole was smashed through a brick wall with a sledgehammer.
He said these were not victimless crimes and antique dealer Jason Jones had been bankrupted by the £20,000 uninsured loss from the raid on his shop in Budleigh Salterton.
Mr Tait said: “Although these were commercial premises, these crimes are not victimless and many people lost a lot of money as a result of these activities. In one case that meant a business going into bankruptcy.”
He showed CCTV from several of the raids in most of which nobody could be identified, but said footage from a shop in Budleigh Salterton which was cased but not burgled, showed Reginald Soper and Christian.
Another clip, taken from a Spar shop close to the scene of a raid at the Silver Lion Jewellers in Ashburton, Reginald Soper and Small were identifiable.
He also showed a short clip from a camera which police planted in a safe which was found hidden in woodland at Modbury which showed Percy Soper returning to it but moving away when he became suspicious.
None of the defendants made any comment after their arrests.
The trial continues and is expected to last for six to ten weeks.

Trial of men accused of 54 West Country raids stopped

THE trial of a group of men accused of carrying out a five month burglary spree around the West Country has been stopped.
The jury at Exeter Crown Court had only just started hearing the 10-week case when they were discharged for legal reasons which cannot be reported.
The four men from Plymouth and Somerset were accused of taking part in a total of 54 raids on commercial premises across the West Country in which antiques, jewellery, safes, plant and other machinery were stolen.
The alleged offences took place between May and October 2012 and stretched from Plymouth and Churchstow in the South and West to Budleigh Salterton and Beer in the East and Hatherleigh, South Molton and Dunster in the North.
Reginald Soper, 49, and his brother Percy Soper, 54, both of the Otterford caravan park at Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset, Daniel Small, 23, of Linketty Lane, Plympton, and Nick Christian, 23, of Bernice Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, all deny conspiracy to burgle.
Reginald Soper, Small and Christian all deny two counts of conspiracy, including one dealing with the raids on jewelers while Percy Soper only faces one, dealing with the rest of the burglaries.
The case is to be relisted for a fresh trial in April next year by Judge Phillip Wassall.

Stolen Rupert Bunny painting, Girl in Sunlight, returned after 23 years

The mystery began on an autumn night in April 1991, when a burglar broke into the Blairgowrie home of elderly retiree Albert Watt.
According to the police report, the only item stolen was Mr Watt's cherished Rupert Bunny painting, Girl in Sunlight, which hung above his dining table and is worth about $250,000.
Mr Watt bought the painting - which depicts a woman with a white parasol reading in a Parisian garden - in 1953 and kept it in his South Yarra apartment until his sea change in the late 1970s.
Police never solved the theft, which they described as ''targeted''. Over the years, Mr Watt would blame his cleaner - the only person who regularly admired the painting - while his nephews, James and Michael, assumed it ended up overseas. Mr Watt died in 1993, two years to the day after Girl in Sunlight was taken, with the case unsolved.
As executors of their uncle's will, Michael and James Watt continued the search, offering a substantial reward and even engaging a private investigator, but to no avail.
Eventually, an anonymous phone call ended the mystery. That call came in 2010, when the National Gallery of Victoria held a retrospective of Rupert Bunny's work. Girl in Sunlight was scheduled to go on display.
The tip-off led police to the Malvern East home of Frank Levy - the new owner of the painting - and the discovery that it had apparently been stolen by Mr Watt's closest friend, Peter Rand. Mr Watt and Mr Rand - an eccentric millionaire property investor and rumoured Melbourne brothel owner - were South Yarra friends and neighbours for more than 40 years.
But now, according to court documents, it has been established that Mr Rand was the likely mastermind behind the theft.
Mr Rand kept the painting until his own death in 1997. According to his will, Mr Levy - his lawyer - would receive a ''painting by Rupert Bunny of a woman sitting on the ground''.
The Levys did not know the painting had been stolen, displaying it in their Malvern East home for the next decade.
In February 2008, Mr Levy and his wife decided to have the painting valued. The valuer told them art historian and curator David Thomas was cataloguing Rupert Bunny's work for an exhibition at the NGV and would be interested in seeing the painting. A few weeks later, Mr Thomas decided to include the work in the NGV's retrospective.
In April 2010, the matter was reported to police and a few weeks later a search warrant was executed at Mr Levy's home. But that wasn't the end of the battle for the Watts. Their uncle's painting had been found, but Mr Levy argued that the statute of limitations had expired and the Bunny was now rightfully his.
For the past three years, the case has been before the Supreme Court. Last week Mr Levy finally lost his appeal.
Twenty-three years after Girl in Sunlight disappeared, the painting is once again with Mr Watt's heirs.

Police keeping eye out for stolen WWII medals

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Roy Hopper survived the Normandy invasion and a prisoner of war camp during World War II.
Now, Hopper, 89, faces another challenge: Trying to get back military medals — including a Bronze Star for bravery — that were stolen from his home last month while he was in the hospital.
The Albuquerque Police Department and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, are leading the effort to help Hopper.
Detectives are watching pawn shops and antique stores for the framed service medals, Albuquerque police spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said Wednesday. Hopper's name is inscribed on the back of the medals, authorities said.
Heinrich, D-New Mexico, told KOB-TV ( that his staff is working on getting replacement medals for Hopper.
"I hope ... he can get his original medals back with his name inscribed on the back," Heinrich told the station. "If that's not possible, we're here to make sure he gets replacement medals for every single medal he's earned."
Military services work on request for replacement medal for veterans at no cost, according to the National Archives website. This includes family members with the signed authorization from veterans, the website says.
In 1991, Hopper was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic efforts during World War II. Hopper participated in the Normandy Invasion before being captured by the Germans. He spent nine months in a camp for prisoners of war.
Investigators searched Hopper's home for evidence, but they didn't find any fingerprints, police said. Investigators said they believe the suspect was wearing gloves.
Guns and cash were also missing from Hopper's home. No arrests have been made.
Terri Stewart, co-owner of Stewart's Military Antiques in Mesa, Arizona, said it's difficult to put a price tag on WWII medals like the Bronze Star.
"It all depends on if his name is inscribed on the back and if the medals come with proper documents," Stewart said.
In a separate incident, another World War II veteran was robbed at his home in Carson City, Nevada.
The Secret Witness program is offering a $1,500 reward for the arrest and prosecution of suspects who robbed the 101-year-old veteran during the Memorial Day weekend.
The robbers forced their way into the home of the Air Force veteran around 5 a.m. Sunday looking for a non-existent safe, authorities said. One of the robbers had a gun.
The victim, Jim Sorentino, told KRNV-TV that he lives alone with a caretaker in a gated community. His home was ransacked, and the thieves stole a wristwatch, pocketknife and a wallet with about $30 in it, Sorentino said.

Yichang Thief Decorates House with Over 300 Priceless Antiques Stolen over 3 Years

Yichang Thief Decorates House with Over 300 Priceless Antiques Stolen over 3 Years

The Yichang authorities recently cracked a big case of antique theft. The suspect, Zhu, had apparently been accumulating the collection for over three years. Since 2011 he has been preying on upscale districts of the city. Statues of Buddha, wood and ivory carvings as well as valuable jade carvings were found dotted around his small house. 
Discovered among his collection were priceless treasures from the Zhou and Shang Dynasties (that’s over 3,000 years old), the value of which is literally inestimable, according to Beijing experts.
Zhu has been arrested as is awaiting trial for grand theft.

Court hears of £500,000 art theft from Dowager Countess Bathurst 

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Former housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst, Kim Roberts  
Former housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst, Kim Robert
A FORMER housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst has appeared in court charged with stealing £500,000 of art and antiques.
Kim Roberts, of Lower Church Street, Colyton, Devon, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court this week accused of taking items including a Picasso sketch while she worked at the Dowager's Cirencester and London homes as a housekeeper and personal assistant.
Her defence team told the court that she would be pleading not guilty and had in fact been given the items after working for the Dowager Countess Bathurst, after she had worked for her for less than a month.
She is charged with three charges of theft - two from the Dowager Countess and one from a previous employer.
She will appear back in court on August with a three day trial planned for the start of November.
The Dowager Countess Gloria lives in a farmhouse on her family's Cirencester Park Estate and is the widow of the eighth Earl Bathurst, Henry, who died in 2011 aged 84.
The charges against Ms Roberts include theft at Sapperton between April 30 and May 21 last year of art and antiques to the value of approximately £500,000 belonging to the dowager Countess Bathurst.
She is also charged with stealing antique vases between April 30, 2013, and August 20, 2013, from the Dowager's London home in Kensington and with stealing a £10,000 Volvo XC90 on October 21, 2012. The Volvo was allegedly stolen from Drayton House in Drayton Foliat, Wiltshire, the home of previous employer Emily Olympitis.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the defence had informed him Ms Roberts will plead not guilty to all charges and there will definitely be a trial.
Ms Roberts was released on bail pending the trial.

Masterpiece is
 returned – 22 years after theft

A PAINTING that was stolen from a Dublin gallery more than 20 years ago has finally been returned to its walls after being found by gardai.

Members of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) discovered In the Omnibus, by the French artist Honore Daumier, during a criminal investigation last year.
When it was stolen in 1992, the watercolour and gouache work was insured for at least €250,000.
Sources in the art world have said the small painting could now be worth up to €1m, 
depending on market trends and tastes.
It was put back on display in the Dublin City Council-funded Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square yesterday.
But while the masterpiece by the French artist, who died in 1879, is hanging in the gallery once more, its future is less certain.
When it was stolen, the painting was owned by Dublin City Council and the insurance company who covered it paid out on the loss.
That means that the painting is now in the ownership of the insurance company, which could sell it to a private collector if it wanted to.
The painting does not seem to have suffered any damage during the years it was missing.
“Our internal audit section are liaising with the insurers, who have changed ownership since the theft occurred, to see if a suitable arrangement acceptable to both parties can be agreed,” said assistant city manager Brendan Kenny.
“We would hope that no matter who owns the masterpiece it might remain in the Hugh Lane for the public to enjoy, having been hidden away from them for more than two decades,” he told
The council said it is not privy to the details of the garda investigation that led to the discovery of the painting, and a spokesperson for An Garda Siochana would not comment on the matter.
“We are just happy that this important work of art has been retrieved in good condition,” said Mr Kenny.
Security at the gallery was upgraded after the painting was stolen in 1992 and again following the construction of a new wing to display more works of art.
In the Omnibus is part of the original collection presented by Hugh Lane to Dublin for the Gallery of Modern Art, which first opened to the public in 1908.
Honore Daumier was a printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th Century.
He was best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behaviour of his countrymen, although the value of his work as a painter was appreciated after his 

Los Angeles police are searching for a pair of burglars they say broke into Miley Cyrus' San Fernando Valley home and got away with jewellery and a luxury car.

The LAPD says officers from the department's North Hollywood station responded to a report of a burglary Friday at Cyrus' home.

They say a man and a woman scaled a fence and got inside the house and garage while no one was home.

A 2014 Maserati luxury sedan and an unspecified amount of jewelry were taken.

Police asked Sunday that anyone with information about the crime call North Hollywood's burglary detectives.

Last month the 21-year-old pop star obtained a temporary restraining order against an Arizona man who was detained by police while trying to meet her - See more at:
Read more here:
Los Angeles police are searching for a pair of burglars they say broke into Miley Cyrus' San Fernando Valley home and got away with jewellery and a luxury car.

The LAPD says officers from the department's North Hollywood station responded to a report of a burglary Friday at Cyrus' home.

They say a man and a woman scaled a fence and got inside the house and garage while no one was home.

A 2014 Maserati luxury sedan and an unspecified amount of jewelry were taken.

Police asked Sunday that anyone with information about the crime call North Hollywood's burglary detectives.

Last month the 21-year-old pop star obtained a temporary restraining order against an Arizona man who was detained by police while trying to meet her - See more at:

Dali sculpture snatched from Paris museum

 In the latest stolen art caper in France, a thief made off with a sculpture by surrealist art master Salvador Dali. The only good news here is that stolen works in France do sometimes get back to their rightful owners. 
 Dali sculpture snatched from Paris museum 
The stolen bronze sculpture was a depiction of Dali's famous melting clocks, as seen here in The Persistence of Memory. Photo: Wikicommons
  • French farms suffer as thieves pilfer stock (27 May 14)
  • Monet heist 'mastermind' on trial in France (12 May 14)
  • Thieves rob dead woman at French funeral home (12 May 14)                                             Police are searching for two thieves who burst into two exhibition rooms on Saturday showing works from the renowned Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali in Montmartre in Paris’s18th arrondissement. One of the men reportedly tried to steal a sculpture entitled ‘Danse du Temps I’ at the Espace Dali on rue Poulbot. However his attempt was thwarted by a vigilant tourist and he fled empty handed.
    Meanwhile, at a nearby gallery just 100 metres away on place du Tertre, a second man managed to make off with a bronze sculpture depicting Dali’s famous so-called melting clocks, a recurrent symbol in the surrealist’s work, French daily Le Parisien reported.
    Estimated at €22,000, the stolen work was kept behind a display case but was not equipped with an alarm. Both men managed to escape.
    Sadly this isn't the first piece of art to go missing from a French museum or private collection. However, police recently recovered a Rembrandt worth millions that was stolen from a museum in the south of France.
    Also a trickle of the trove of artworks pilfered by the Nazis during World War II have found their way back to their rightful owners. France recently turned over three works that were seized and auctioned off in the 1930s.

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