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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stolen Art Watch, Julian Radcliffe No-Show, Hyams Gift To Nation, Rathkeale Rovers Raided, Russborough House Revisited, Picasso Electrician Sentence Upheld, Ukraine Returns Stolen Verona Paintings & Goldflakes Traced To L.A.

Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York Supreme Court wants to know, where is Julian Radcliffe?
A no show or non-appearance at today’s final court hearing (see court record photo below). It appears that Radcliffe is in arrears to the tune of 86k in back rent to his NYC landlord. Other questions have resurfaced about his viability in light of other partners claims against him.
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Art Loss Register Update - Sources allege the following:
The ALR used to own a company called Albion in Delhi, India. There, they processed all the database registrations and searches.
In the summer of 2013, Radcliffe’s partners, Tony LeFevre and Preeti Bahl, forced Radcliffe to sell the company to Loss Management Group (LMG), based in Eastbourne and who, according to their website, are the UK’s largest organisation specialising in the professional management of insurance claims for jewellery, watches and other valuable items, whether they have been damaged, lost or stolen.
The vote on the sale was 2/3 against 1/3. Radcliffe was furious and demanded an apology from his former financial director and long time business partner LeFevre who resigned from ALR over the distasteful and nebulous payments Radcliffe was making to criminals. LeFevre basically told Radcliffe to stick it where the sun don’t shine.
Once Albion was sold, Radcliffe had a problem. Now, all he had was a contract with a third party company in Delhi which handled confidential police, victim and insurance data. This in turn, violates many of ALR contracts with victims as well as insurers and dealers who think their confidential material is “safe with the ALR”.
To hide this fact from the public, he rented out his own office at Hatton Garden to Albion (for a satellite office) and placed a sign on the door (see image below) to give the impression that it was still an ALR controlled operation. He even demanded a seat on the Albion Board, which didn’t happen.
Until now, the public is unaware of these ALR shenanigans. Galleries, TEFAF, Art Basel, Frieze Art Fairs, victims, and IFAR amongst others, might like to consider that their confidential data is being sent to LMG, and that the ALR is nothing but a front of house boiler plate.
Fog Bandit minExterior of the Art Loss Regster / Albion Ltd. offices in Hatton Garden 20/12/2016
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What's Going On With The Art Loss Register?

Julian Radcliffe in legal court room drama. Once the hunter, now the prey, the alleged would be extortionist is on the hot seat for monies owed.
Looks like the extortion business ain’t what it used to be.
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A New York City art lawyer noticed this case on the docket recently in NY State Civil Supreme Court. It appears that the ALR, which closed its offices in NY, Germany, Paris, and Amsterdam between 2009-2010, bailed out on its New York City landlord 10839 Associates, with a sizeable unpaid bill to the tune of $86k.
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After trying to stiff the landlord, the plaintiffs found Radcliffe, who personally acted as guarantor on the lease, and sued. Mr. Radcliffe, who has admitted that the register has not made a profit under his stewardship for over a decade appears to have kept the ALR in the red over the last two years since this interview.
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Whilst the date of 20 December for judgment seems like an end to this, yet another ALR sordid affair, there is no guarantee that Mr. Radcliffe will settle. Word on the street is that the ALR has lost its US insurance subscribers and is struggling to bring in recovery income since a mass exodus of talent took place in 2012 that gave rise to the creation of a rival database called Artive.
Is a dead beat tenant what the art world needs in a due diligence service or can we do better? Are ALR shareholders like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams keeping the ALR just barely alive to show some semblance of due diligence? Is it being used to present a bogus veil of integrity? Perhaps, but one thing is for sure, having not made a profit in a decade, Mr. Radcliffe’s skills in recovery of stolen art have to be questioned, as does his ability to pay rent.
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In a final twist to this story so far, Justice Barry R. Ostrager, who has taken the case since it was filled by the plaintiff on November 10 2015, is known to be relentless. As a matter of fact, one of AAD’s staff knows the Judge very well. Justice Ostrager used to have a summer home in Saratoga, he loves race horses, hates criminals, and loathes dead beats.
Watch this space.

Ramsbury Manor's Harry Hyams leaves £487m will

THE former owner of Ramsbury Manor has left a huge art collection to the nation in his £487m will.
Property magnate Harry Hyams has left one of the largest charitable bequests, £450m out of his total estate of £487, in English legal history by selling off the manor, his art and many antique cars.
Now that the will of Mr Hyams, who died at the age of 87 last December and is best known as the developer of the Centre Point office building in London, has been released, his Capricorn Foundation will now work to put the collection on display.
Diana Rawstrone, a trustee of the foundation which formed in 2010, said that sculptures and paintings by the likes of JMW Turner, Edward Burne-Jones and George Stubbs will be loaned out to museums and art galleries across the UK.
The reclusive multi-millionaire, who was rarely seen in public or photographed, started work as an office boy aged 17 and made his money through shrewd dealings in real estate development and by the time he was 30 he was a millionaire. Last year he was ranked number 12 in the list of the richest people in the South West and number 332 in the Sunday Times Rich List.
Mr Hyams, who was married to his wife Kathleen from 1954-2011, bought the manor from Lord Rootes for £650,000 which was a record price for a private house in England back in 1964.
In 2006, Ramsbury Manor was the scene for one of Britain's biggest ever burglaries. Initially it was estimated up to £60m worth of world-famous fine art and porcelain was stolen, however valuation expert Leslie Weller later put a figure on the stolen goods of £6.07m.
Mr Hyams nor his wife were in the house at the time and the gang of five men, all part of the notorious Johnson family of travellers, were jailed for a total of 49 years in 2008.

Gardai in Limerick seize rare, valuable Chinese libation cup made from rhino horn

LIMERICK, Ireland - The Criminal Assets Bureau, along with a team of 50 Gardai officers led a massive operation in Limerick - raiding 11 properties in Rathkeale and seizing rare and valuable products. 
According to reports, amongst the many things the gardai seized, was a rare and extremely valuable Chinese libation cup, dubbed to be worth ‘six-figure’ cash sum, believed to be made from rhinoceros horn.
Officials are also said to have seized three high-end watches worth over 100,000 euros, bank statements and other documents.
Reports noted that the officers were leading an investigation into the notorious Rathkeale Rovers criminal Traveller gang.
The gang was recently mentioned in a high-profile legal tangle in the U.K. earlier this year - subsequently being jailed for dealing in stolen rhino horns and other valuable property.
Reports quoted a Garda source as saying, “One piece of ivory was seized in the searches. It’s a (Chinese) libation cup, made from rhino horn. We are examining it to make sure it is what we believe it to be. It will be forensically examined; it’s an ornament of some sort.”
The source was also quoted as saying, “The search phase has finished and the investigation phase will continue for some time.We seized cash in excess of six figures but the exact amount cannot be disclosed for operational reasons. We also have to determine the exact value of the three high-end watches we recovered but we believe they have a combined retail value of in excess of 100,000 euros.”
The Garda press office said in a statement, “The CAB investigation relates to suspected criminal activity by an organised crime gang in Ireland, the U.K., and Europe.”
Head of the Limerick Garda Division, Chief Superintendent David Sheahan said, “We have CAB profilers in Limerick who prepared background work for the national unit which led to today’s investigation. We are happy to support CAB, and this was their investigation.”
Reports added that two men were arrested for breaches of public order after they tried to block detectives during the raids.
They were produced before the court and charged in connection with “minor public order incidents,” and granted bail on strict conditions.

What became of Russborough House’s Old Masters for sale?

Of the Beit paintings controversially earmarked for auction, three avoided the hammer

For a few decades in the second half of the 20th century, Russborough House near Blessington, Co Wicklow was an unlikely home to one of the world’s most important – and valuable – privately owned art collections. But not any more. So where did all the art go, and who owns it now?
In the 1950s, the opulent Anglo-Irish mansion was bought by English aristocrat Sir Alfred Beit, heir to both a diamond-mining fortune and a stunning collection of paintings. He and Lady Beit moved to Co Wicklow, settled into Irish country life and adorned Russborough House with museum-quality works of art and antiques.
The couple had no children and so, after two decades, in 1976 they effectively handed over the house and their art collection to the people of Ireland by establishing the Alfred Beit Foundation, a charitable and educational trust “with the object of keeping the house and art collection intact, making it a centre for the arts and open to the public”.
Russborough House was opened to visitors but the art, inevitably, attracted the attention of criminals. Many of the paintings were stolen in a series of notorious robberies – among them one by an IRA gang that included, improbably, the heiress Rose Dugdale. (Most were later recovered by the Garda.) As a consequence, in 1986 the Beits donated the most valuable of the paintings, including a Vermeer, to the National Gallery of Ireland. This act of astounding generosity was worth an estimated €100 million.
In 1993, in a first for British subjects, the couple were granted honorary Irish citizenship. Sir Alfred died the following year, aged 91; Lady Beit died in 2005, aged 89.

Short of money

Meanwhile, the foundation got on with the job of running Russborough House and attracting visitors. The house did receive some funding from the State but, evidently, not enough. Cash was needed to pay for ongoing maintenance and conservation. But how to raise it? The oldest solution in the Big House book, of course: was to “sell the family silver”.

In 2006, the foundation sold a collection of 16th-century Italian bronze sculptures at auction, which made €3.8 million. When that cash ran out, a small collection of Chinese porcelain was sent to Sotheby’s in 2013. Initially valued at €350,000, the porcelain sold for €1.2 million.
The financial problems persisted. In 2015, the foundation announced that it needed to create an endowment fund to pay for ongoing running costs and conservation; otherwise Russborough House might have to close. It also announced plans to sell some of the remaining Beit art collection – including six “Old Master” paintings, among them two works by Rubens – at a Christie’s auction in London.
The foundation said the paintings had been in storage for years and would not be hung in the house again because of security concerns. However, the proposed auction prompted a public outcry. After a series of emergency meetings with Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys, the foundation agreed to postpone the auction of the Old Master paintings until 2016. It would attempt to find private sources in Ireland who might buy the paintings and donate them to the State.
Following months of secret negotiations, it emerged that buyers had been found for three of the six paintings for donation to the National Gallery of Ireland. These purchases aren’t quite as kind-hearted as they may appear. Such donors are entitled to 80 per of the price written off their tax liabilities. So the State, in fact, ends up footing most of the cost in foregone taxes.
Humphreys’s department said it would not name the donors as the arrangements involved their private tax affairs. But the details have emerged.

Anonymous buyers

Denis O’Brien, the telecoms billionaire, bought Head of a Bearded Man by Rubens for €3.5 million, which enables him to claim €2.8million in tax relief. Lochlann Quinn, part-owner of Dublin’s five-star Merrion Hotel, bought A Village Kermesse Near Antwerp by David Teniers the Younger, a 17th-century Flemish artist, for €2 million (tax relief worth €1.6 million).
It is believed that Dublin businessman John Gallagher (who has made no public comment on the matter) is willing to buy a third painting, Adoration of the Shepherds by Adriaen Van Ostade, for €1 million, which would entail tax relief of €800,000. The Department of Arts & Heritage said the process to agree a valuation for the Van Ostade painting, which must be approved by the Revenue Commissioners, is still ongoing.
As for the other three Old Masters, they were sent back to the salesroom. Last July 7th three lots “consigned by the Alfred Beit Foundation” were sold by Christie’s in London. Venus Supplicating Jupiter by Rubens made £1.3 million (€1.5 million at the prevailing exchange rate); Piazza San Marco, Venice, with the Basilica and the Campanile, with Figures in Carnival Costume by Francesco Guardi made £164,500 (€192,000); and Guardi’s The Piazzetta, Venice, with the Doge’s Palace and the Libreria, San Giorgio Maggiore Beyond, also made £164,500.
Will these sales prevent the threatened closure of Russborough House? For the foreseeable future, almost certainly yes. But the long-term fate of the house, and its remaining treasures, is uncertain.

A French court on Friday upheld the two-year suspended sentences of Pablo Picasso's former electrician and his wife, who kept 271 of his artworks stashed in their garage for almost 40 years.

Pierre Le Guennec and his wife Danielle were convicted last year of possessing stolen goods and for hiding the works from Picasso's heirs.
At his original trial Le Guennec, now 77, claimed that Picasso had presented him with the artworks in 1971 or 1972, to reward him for his loyal service. The painter died in 1973.

"Picasso had total confidence in me. Maybe it was my discretion," Le Guennec told the court at the time. "Monsieur and Madame called me 'little cousin'."
The former electrician later changed his account, however, telling the appeals court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence that the works were part of a huge trove of art that Picasso's widow asked him to conceal after the artist's death in 1973.
He claimed that Jacqueline Picasso later retrieved most of the works but left him a box containing 180 single pieces and a notebook containing 91 drawings as a gift, saying "this is for you".
Le Guennec said it was only when he got home that he found what he described as "drawings, sketches, crumpled paper", which he put in his garage. He claims he then forgot about the box and its contents until he rediscovered it again in 2009, almost four decades later.
A lot of the evidence during the first trial centred around why none of the works were signed, with several witnesses saying the artist would sign everything – partly to ensure against theft.
According to Gerard Sassier, the son of Picasso's long-time chambermaid, the artist once said after a theft attempt: "Anyway, nothing can be stolen as nothing is signed."
One of the few plaintiffs to have known Le Guennec when he was employed by the Picasso family, the artist's granddaughter Catherine Hutin-Blay, acknowledged during the trial that the electrician did have a special relationship with the artist.
"We really trusted him. He was someone who was very familiar in the house and had an absolutely friendly relationship," she told the court at the first trial.
The collection, whose value has been estimated at between 60-100 million euros ($63-$105 million), includes drawings of women and horses, nine rare Cubist collages from the time Picasso was working with fellow French artist Georges Braque and a work from his "blue period".
Other more intimate works include portraits of Picasso's mistress Fernande, drawings of his first wife Olga and a drawing of a horse for his children.
French authorities seized them after Le Guennec presented them to Picasso's son Claude Ruiz-Picasso in 2010 to try get them authenticated.
Ruiz-Picasso, who represents the artist's six heirs, subsequently pressed charges.
Claude Picasso’s lawyer, Jean-Jacques Neuer, welcomed Friday’s ruling and told reporters that the artworks were in perfect condition despite having been kept almost 40 years in the Le Guennec couple’s garage.

Stolen paintings recovered in Ukraine return to Verona

VERONA, Italy (AP) — Italy's culture minister is returning home from Ukraine on Wednesday with 17 paintings, including works by Tintoretto, Rubens and Mantegna, stolen from a Verona museum in an audacious heist last year and later recovered by Ukrainian officials.
Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko handed over the paintings to Culture Minister Dario Franceschini in a ceremony in Kiev, saying "the theft of masterpiece paintings was akin to stealing part of the city's heart."
The paintings were recovered in May by Ukrainian border guards who intercepted an attempt to smuggle them from Ukraine to Moldova. The paintings were found hidden in plastic bags on a small island on the Dneister River, which runs between the two countries.
They were stolen in November 2015 when three armed robbers entered the Castelvecchio Museum, located in a medieval castle, at closing time just before the alarm system was activated. The robbers calmly removed the paintings before escaping in a security guard's car.
A guard at the museum, Pasquale Silvestri Riccardi, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison in a speedy trial earlier this month. Five others were also convicted, including Riccardi's Moldovan girlfriend, who received six years, and his twin brother, who was sentenced to eight months.
A video of the handover released by the culture ministry shows the works displayed in plain wooden frames, after their original frames went missing in the theft and transfer to Ukraine. Members of the Carabinieri art squad could be seen examining the paintings for damage, before they were wrapped in cloth to be crated and returned to Italy.
Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the return of the paintings is a "celebration for Verona and all of Italy."
The paintings are scheduled to be shown together at their home in the Castelvecchio Museum from Friday, before being returned to their former spots after the holidays.

NYPD: Gold flakes thief is 'professional burglar,' believed to be hiding in LA

New York City police said the man they believed to be an opportunistic thief when he swiped $1.6 million worth of gold flakes from a truck is actually a “professional burglar” who has been arrested and deported several times to his native Ecuador.
Det. Martin Pastor of the NYPD’s Major Case Squad said the man seen in a surveillance video in September is allegedly Julio Nivelo, a 53-year-old career crook, who has used several aliases including Luis Toledo and David Vargas, among others.
“Now that we know who he is, he’s well organized,” Pastor said, according to the NY Daily News. “He is, I would say, a professional burglar, a professional thief.”
Nivelo was allegedly captured by surveillance cameras capitalizing on a 20-second window left open by the armored truck’s guards, one of whom was making a pickup while the other was walking to the front seat. He is seen taking the 83-pound bucket of gold flakes and walking about a half-mile to a waiting car on 49th St. near Third Ave.
Police said Nivelo fled to the Orlando, Florida area after the Sept. 29 theft before ultimately landing in California. They believe he’s been hiding out in the Los Angeles area with the stolen riches.
Nivelo has been deported from the U.S. to his native Ecuador in 1994, 2001, 2005 and 2008, Pastor said, who did not mention what other crimes he committed.
Armored car company Loomis is reportedly offering $100,000 for the safe return of the gold.