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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Kardashian Latest, Diamond Crime Never Forgotten, Van Gogh Goes Home & More..

Kim Kardashian’s stolen jewellery re-cut, sold in black market

Los angeles: Reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s stolen jewellery have all been reportedly “melted down or re-cut and sold in the black market.” A police source has confirmed that none of the items taken by robbers breaking into her Paris apartment last October could be recovered, reported Us magazine.

Police detain Dutch diamond heist suspects 12 years after robbery

Dutch authorities have detained seven people over one of the world's biggest ever jewelry heists. Some 67 million euros worth of diamonds and jewels were snatched during a holdup at Amsterdam's airport 12 years ago.
Royal Marechausse police issued a statement Saturday saying five men and two women were detained Friday and Saturday on suspicion of money laundering and involvement in the armed robbery.
Armed robbers hijacked an armored car belonging to the airline KLM at a high-security area of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on February 25, 2005. They made off with diamonds worth an estimated $72 million (67 million euros). Part of the haul was quickly recovered from the getaway car, but the police said diamonds worth $43 million remained missing.
It was one of the world's biggest ever heists. Nobody was physically hurt in the attack, even though the robbers were armed. A few months afterwards, five men were detained as suspects, but they were later released due to a lack of evidence.
Police said the seven suspects detained Friday and Saturday were all Dutch nationals. They were tracked down with the help of new information which had come to light in the past year. They were arrested in Amsterdam and the eastern Spanish coastal city of Valencia.

Stolen Van Gogh masterpieces found in Mafia’s lair returning home after mobster’s conviction

In this Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 file photo, Director of Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum Axel Rueger, center, stands next to the paintings 'Congregation Leaving The Reformed Church of Nuenen', left, and 1882 'Seascape at Scheveningen' by Vincent Van Gogh, during a press conference in Naples, Italy.
Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP, fileIn this Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 file photo, Director of Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum Axel Rueger, center, stands next to the paintings 'Congregation Leaving The Reformed Church of Nuenen', left, and 1882 'Seascape at Scheveningen' by Vincent Van Gogh, during a press conference in Naples, Italy.


This week Italian Judge Claudia Picciotti handed down more than one hundred years of prison time in the sentencing of eight members of the international drug trafficking Amato-Pagano clan, an organized crime network once affiliated with the Secondigliano-based Di Lauro crime syndicate, and an offshoot of the Naples Camorra.

The court's ajudication closes down one of the Camorra's largest suppliers of cocaine to the Bay of Naples area, paving the way for two recovered Van Gogh paintings, View of the Sea at Scheveningen, 1882 and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen 1884 - 1885 to return home to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The paintings were recovered during an asset seizure warrant executed in September 2016 at property occupied by the parents of drug kingpin, Raffaele Imperiale in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, Italy.

On hand for the sentencing hearing of the trial were:

Prosecutor Stefania Castaldi
Prosecutor Maurizio De Marco
Prosecutor Marra Vincenza
Deputy Prosecutor Filippo Beatrice
Prosecutor of the National Anti-Mafia Directorate Maria Vittoria De Simone
Dutch Liaison Magistrate for Italy Hester van Bruggen
Assistant to the Liaison Magistrate for Italy Royal Netherlands Embassy, Rome Peter Hemmes
Van Gogh Museum Attorney Carel Raymakers

The defendants convicted and sentenced January 19, 2017 include:

Carmine Amato - Before his arrest, Amato was one of Italy's 100 most wanted and dangerous criminals.  Considered the regent of the Amato-Pagano clan, a splinter organised crime group of the Di Lauro clan, dominant in the north of Naples, Amato was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.

Vincenzo Scarpa - Drug supplier to Camorra clans in the Vesuvius periphery of the Bay of Naples, including the Gallo-Cavalieri, the Annunziata from Torre Annunziata, the i Falanga of Torre del Greco and the Licciardi of Secondigliano.  Scarpa maintained key alliances with Camorra loyal suppliers based in Spain and the Netherlands. He has been sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.

(Fugitive) Raffaele Imperiale - Clan boss of the international drug trafficking Amato-Pagano clan which supplied cocaine to Amato and Scarpa.  Although on the run from the authorities, he admitted to purchasing the Van Gogh paintings and to his illegal operations in letters to the prosecuting authorities.  Imperiale was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in absentia.  He is believed to be hiding in Dubai.

Mario Cerrone
- Clan affiliate and business partner to Imperiale, who provided evidence to state authorities. Cerrone also led Italy's Corpo della Guardia di Finanza, which probes financial crimes related to organised crime, together with the Italian Public Prosecutions office, the Naples Direzione distrettuale antimafia and dedicated Dutch investigators to the whereabouts of the two stolen Vincent Van Gogh paintings.  He has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

Gaetano Schettino - A loyalist and drug broker for Raffaele Imperial, he has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Three unnamed defendants - Sentenced to eight years imprisonment respectively.

Six other defendants are still awaiting the outcome of their judicial proceedings in relation to this criminal investigation.

Originally expected to be held as evidence for future lengthy trials, the court in Naples elected to release the Van Gogh paintings from legal seizure on Thursday.  While talk continues between the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Sylvain Bellenger, Director of the Museo di Capodimonte about the possibility of holding a brief exhibition in Naples, provided security measures are sufficient to guarantee their safety, the Dutch Impressionist's paintings are expected to be returned to Amsterdam as soon as February.
Once back home, the artworks will go on display at the Van Gogh Museum briefly, in the condition with which they were recovered, to celebrate their return.  Then the artworks will undergo close examination and conservation treatment to clean and repair damages sustained during their trubulent time with the Italian crime syndicate.

 Two stolen Vincent Van Gogh paintings found by police in a Mafia lair in Italy in September will soon return to their home in Amsterdam from where they were stolen in a spectacular heist in 2002.
Originally expected to be held as evidence for future lengthy trials, a court in Naples released the paintings from legal attachment on Thursday after sentencing — in absentia — the drug baron in whose cottage the masterpieces were found to 18 years.
The two works appear to be in reasonably good shape after their harrowing 14-year travels through the underworld, although both are missing their frames and show some signs of damage, according to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP, file
Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP, fileIn this Friday, Sept. 30 2016 file photo, the recovered painting 'Seascape at Scheveningen' by Vincent Van Gogh, is shown during a press conference in Naples, Italy.

“It’s great news: we can now focus fully on preparing for the paintings to come home. The two canvases will be formally handed over in the near future. A precise date hasn’t been fixed yet, but it’s expected to happen quickly,” said the museum’s director Axel Rüger.
“We’re especially grateful to the Italian authorities for achieving something we almost thought would never happen. We can’t wait to place the two lost works back in our museum’s collection.”
Van Gogh’s “Seascape at Scheveningen,” painted in 1882, and “Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” painting from 1884 to 1885, are expected to again be on public display in the museum as soon as possible.
It is believed the works, now made far more famous because of their underworld lineage, will make a brief public display in Naples before they are returned, but authorities would not confirm this.

Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP, File
Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP, FileIn this Friday, Sept. 30 2016 file photo, the painting 'Congregation Leaving The Reformed Church of Nuenen' by Vincent Van Gogh, is shown during a press conference in Naples, Italy. Two paintings by Vincent van Gogh that were stolen in 2002 from the Amsterdam museum that is named for the Dutch master and recovered last year by Italian police are set to be returned.
Italian police investigating drug trafficking by a Mafia clan based near Naples found the two valuable masterpieces during raids after a tip from a cooperating witness, police said.
Investigators were probing cocaine trafficking by members of the Amato-Pagano clan, said by authorities to be among the most dangerous drug trafficking clans in the Camorra, one of Italy’s Mafia organizations based in the region around Naples.
The paintings were recovered in the cottage in Castellammare di Stabia connected to Raffaele Imperiale, accused of being one of the Camorra clan’s prodigious drug barons, called a “supernarco” in Italy. Imperiale built links between the clan and South American drug producers to import cocaine to Europe, authorities said.
Although a fugitive, he was sentenced this week to 18 years for drug offenses, Italian media reported. He is believed to have fled to Dubai where he has business interests.
The seizure of assets by the Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s national financial crimes police force, also included several properties, buildings and a small plane. Officers found a hidden bunker behind a mirrored wall of a gym.

The theft of the paintings was considered one of the biggest art heists of modern times. Thieves entered from the roof of the Van Gogh Museum, bypassing security and cameras.
When an alarm was triggered, the well-prepared thieves used a ladder to climb to an upper window, smash it and escape. The two thieves were later arrested after their DNA was found at the scene, but the paintings were not recovered until October’s raid.
“It is excellent news that the paintings will shortly be returning to the Netherlands. Everyone, both young and old, should soon be able to enjoy these works again at the Van Gogh Museum,” said Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science.
“My compliments to all the parties who have worked so hard to make this happen.”

Possible ‘Pink Panther’ member remanded

A Lithuanian man, 37, suspected to be a member of an international gang, was remanded for eight days Thursday after genetic material linked him to an armed robbery carried out five years ago, at a jewellery shop in Limassol.
According to police, during an investigation into a recent burglary in the Germasogeia area, genetic material collected from the 37-year-old, matched that found at the scene of the armed robbery in which expensive watches and jewellery, valued at around a million euros, were taken.
The suspect, a member of a cleaning crew working in the area where a home was recently burgled, was summoned along with other workers to give genetic material and fingerprints.
They were all released as nothing incriminating was found against them but a few days later, the genetic material of the Lithuanian was matched to that found at the jewellers, leading to his arrest.
The 37-year-old denies any involvement, saying he never visited the shop in question, which is also situated in the Germasogeia area. Detectives however, are not ruling out the possibility he is a member of the notorious international gang of thieves nicknamed the ‘Pink Panthers’ suspected of carrying out the heist.
The four perpetrators of the robbery entered the shop through a secured area, one of them wearing a suit and posing as a customer, the other three barging through wearing hoods once the door was opened. The owner’s father and two employees were overpowered under the threat of a gun and bats.
Having smashed the glass display cases, the robbers took watches and jewellery. The owner’s father tried to stop them, managing to retrieve some of the stolen goods, and removing the hood one of them was wearing. The attackers fled the scene after punching the man.
A replica pistol dropped during their escape was also recovered.
Interpol estimates the number of members of the ‘Pink Panthers’ at several hundred thieves, mainly from Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Other sources say the gang is made up of sixty or so members, half of which are thought to come from Montenegro.
Many members are said to be former soldiers with violent backgrounds. They are fluent in different languages and have been found to carry genuine passports issued to other people.
In a space of six years this century, the Pink Panthers robbed some 120 shops in twenty different countries, with businesses in Japan, London, Denmark, Monaco, Paris, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States targeted by the gang.
Their success rate has been put down to their attention to detail. Before robbing a Biarritz jewellers, the group freshly painted a nearby bench to stop anyone from using it and seeing them at work.

Deal or no deal? Phoenix Ancient Art sues Getty over billion-dollar Greek and Roman sculpture collection

The Swiss dealership says the museum cut it out of an arrangement to show the art, but the museum says they never had a deal

Deal or no deal? Phoenix Ancient Art sues Getty over billion-dollar Greek and Roman sculpture collection
Some of the statues from the Torlonia family’s collection in storage (Image: Rcs Roma/Archivio Roma)
The Getty and its director, Timothy Potts, were sued for $77m on 12 January in Manhattan federal court by the Swiss antiquities dealership Phoenix Ancient Art for cutting it out of a purported arrangement to “secure rights to” or display antiquities owned by the Torlonia family in Italy. According to the complaint, the collection of more than 600 Greek and Roman sculptures, amassed by the princely family who made a fortune in the 18th and 19th centuries as bankers to the Vatican, hasn’t been displayed since the 1960s and is worth “billions of dollars”.

The Getty, however, denies there was such an agreement and says through a spokesman that Phoenix “cannot plausibly demand payment for a deal that never occurred”. The museum says it was offered an opportunity to discuss a possible sale but “declined the acquisition and the objects were later transferred to the Italian government”. The museum currently has no plan to exhibit the work, the spokesman added. Phoenix’s lawyers did not respond to inquiries about the Getty’s statements.

The suit alleges Phoenix “created exclusive relationships with the Torlonia family and Italian officials designed to create a plan to transfer, sell, [and] display” the collection.  The Swiss dealer’s agent Electrum, which was cataloging the collection, contacted the Getty in 2013 about purchasing some of the sculptures.

Because of the Getty’s “dubious acquisitions” and trouble with Italian authorities over its past purchases of allegedly looted art, Phoenix says it required the museum to sign a confidentiality agreement and not to contact the Torlonias except through Phoenix and Electrum. Phoenix arranged for Potts to see the sculptures, negotiated with the Torlonias over the selection and price of some sculptures, and persuaded the Italian government not to interfere, the gallery claims. In 2015, Phoenix says in its complaint, the Getty “feigned” a lack of interest in pursuing a deal but worked behind Phoenix’s back to arrange to show some Torlonia sculptures, using information the museum had agreed to keep confidential.

In 2016, the Italian culture ministry reached an agreement to create a museum for the Torlonia collection in Rome. Meanwhile, the archaeologist and art historian Salvatore Settis is due to organise a temporary exhibition of more than 60 works from the collection at the Palazzo Caffarelli in Rome, the former Mussolini Museum, later this year.

In its filing, Phoenix makes a point of outlining the Getty’s legal troubles with Italy. In 2007, the museum repatriated 40 sculptures the country claimed were looted. The Getty’s former curator Marion True was tried in Italy on charges of receiving stolen artefacts and conspiring to deal in them. (The case against True, who maintained her innocence, was dismissed in 2010). This resulted in a “cultural embargo” between Italy and the museum, which Phoenix overcame, the complaint says.

Phoenix has itself been accused of smuggling illicit antiquities, and in 2004 one of its owners, Hicham Aboutaam, pled guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with importing and selling a silver drinking vessel from Iran for $950,000.

A statue stolen from the Villa Torlonia in Rome in 1983 was recently repatriated to Italy by US authorities. The work ended up in a New York art gallery in the late 1990s and was sold to a private collector in 2001 for around $75,000. When the buyer tried to sell it on at auction, they were informed it was stolen and they voluntarily turned it over to the FBI.

Gallery Owner Under Fire for Jasper Johns Fraud

MANHATTAN (CN) – A Canadian gallery that paid $800,000 for stolen Jasper Johns artwork has brought a federal complaint against the New York seller it says tried to legitimize the heisted pieces.
Filed on Jan. 11 in the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit takes aim at Fred Dorfman, a Chelsea art gallery owner described as the mastermind of a scheme that netted him nearly $6 million in commissions from sales of stolen Jasper Johns drawings.
Equinox Gallery, of Vancouver, British Columbia, says Dorfman wanted access to Johns’ works so he offered to independently represent the artist’s longtime studio assistant, James Meyer.
Noting that they never sold a single Meyer artwork – except those that Dorfman bought himself – Equinox claims that Dorfman always had his eye on Johns’ works – namely those that the artist wanted to destroy rather than include in his oeuvre.
Dorfman was never charged in the Johns fraud, but a federal judge sentenced Meyer to a year and half in prison for the scheme in 2015, plus $17.4 million in restitution and forfeiture.
Equinox quotes Meyer as calling Dorfman “architect of the scheme and its primary beneficiary.”
Even in his confession, Meyer allegedly noted how “Dorfman repeatedly asked [him] if he had access to Mr. Johns’ discarded and/or unfinished artworks that were not intended for sale, and pressured him to obtain as much of these artworks as he could so they could sell them together.”
The gallery owner has not returned a request for comment, but Equinox notes that other collectors have gone after it as well. It says Dorfman and his businesses settled with one buyer that brought a civil complaint accusing them of violating federal anti-racketeering law.
Equinox says Meyer stole the Johns artwork it bought when he was helping the artist move from his Manhattan apartment on East 63rd Street to his bucolic Sharon, Connecticut, home in 1995 and 1996.
When Dorfman agreed to sell these pieces, according to the complaint, he did so “knowing that these pieces were stolen, and in some instances had actually been fished from the trash.”
Equinox says the gallery “needed a story legitimizing their provenance.”
“To buttress this story, the Dorfman Defendants, among other things, drafted false affidavits for Meyer to sign (to be presented to the buyers, including Plaintiff here) swearing: (i) that the Stolen Works were gifts, (ii) that they were recorded in Johns’s archives, (iii) that they were authentic works, and (iv) that Johns had authorized Meyer to sell them,” the complaint states. “Of course, as the Dorfman Defendants knew at all times, these statements were false.”
Equinox says Dorfman also provided photographs purporting to show the stolen drawings listed among other legitimate Johns works in the artist’s studio ledger, and printed counterfeit “Johns” labels to affix to the back of the stolen drawings.
When Equinox bought one of the stolen pieces for $800,000 in January 2008, Dorfman earned a $470,000 commission on the sale, according to the complaint. Equinox notes that the sum “dwarf[ed]” the standard 10 percent to 25 percent commission that galleries earn on such sales.
Equinox Gallery’s lawsuit calls the piece of artwork it bought “virtually worthless and unsaleable where the market does not consider it to be authentic because it will never be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne for Johns’s works.”
Alleging fraud, violations of RICO, breach of warranty and other claims, Equinox Gallery rescission of the cost of sale, plus seeks compensatory and consequential damages. The Gallery is represented by Judd Grossman.
A pretrial conference for the case has been set for April 6, 2017.



GONE IN 60 SECONDS

Lithuanian serial robber who was able to fly into Britain to lead 60 second raid on Queen’s jewellers is jailed for 12 years


Rimantas Borisovas was snared by blood left at the crime scene - two years after the London heist

A SERIAL armed robber raided the Queen’s jewellers of £129,000 worth of watches in a 60-second raid after flying to the UK from Lithuania.
Rimantas Borisovas, 32, has been jailed for 12 years for the heist which saw him lead a gang of men armed with a handgun and claw hammers during a 96-hour round trip to Britain.


Armed robber Rimantas Borisovas, 32, pictured on CCTV leading a gang that raided Mappin And Webb
Met Police
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Armed robber Rimantas Borisovas, 32, pictured on CCTV leading a gang that raided Mappin And Webb

He had only just been released from a German jail when he orchestrated the smash-and-grab of Cartier watches inside Mappin And Webb, Regent Street, London.
Despite managing to flee, Borisovas was finally snared when cops matched blood from the crime scene of a 2014 raid in Germany and Lithuaina – but the expensive watches have never been found.
Police believe he is part of a major criminal gang from Eastern Europe.
Detective Sergeant Ben Kennedy, of the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad, said: “We think it was highly organised and they have exploited freedom-of-movement rules to fly into the country to commit crime and fly out very easily.
“They could have committed other offences here.
“We believe he is part of a Pink Panther-type gang that have been able to go across country borders to target high-end jewellers.
“The Met worked with European law enforcement partners to bring him to justice and I am pleased that the lengthy custodial sentence the judge handed down reflects the seriousness of the crime.”


Borisovas has been jailed for 12 years at Kingston Crown Court after police snared him with blood found at the crime scene
Met Police
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Borisovas has been jailed for 12 years at Kingston Crown Court after police snared him with blood found at the crime scene
The mastermind behind the plot is now behind bars – two years after stealing £129,000-worth of watches
Met Police
4
The mastermind behind the plot is now behind bars – two years after stealing £129,000-worth of watches

On June 10, 2014, Borisovas flew on a Ryanair flight into Stansted before leading the heist less than 48 hours later.
Police believe he may have made a two-week trip to the UK the year before to allegedly carry out another raid before targeting the official silversmith to the Queen.
One of his accomplices was wearing make-up and a curly blond wig to disguise himself before being invited into the store by the security guard.
Once inside he pulled out a handgun while Borisovas and another man – both wearing hooded tops and caps – burst in with claw hammers.


Borisovas left blood at the scene when he smashed open the watch display cabinet with a hammer
Met Police
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Borisovas left blood at the scene when he smashed open the watch display cabinet with a hammer

Borisovas left smears of blood when he smashed a display case with a hammer to reach the Cartier watches.
This was how police managed to finally catch him two years later.
He then fled on foot – flying out of Stansted the next day to Poland, landing in a city close to the Lithuanian border.
But German police’s DNA database helped track down Borisovas for a Lithuanian car thief imprisoned in Germany for 13 theft offences in 2011.
He had also been convicted of a document fraud in 2016.
Borisovas was put on a border watchlist but he was not caught until he flew into Stansted from Gdansk, Poland, on November 17 2016 that he was finally put behind bars.
Police have so far been unable to trace Borisovas’s accomplices, but the hunt continues.
In December, Borisovas admitted robbery and possession of a firearm. He was jailed last week for 12 years at Kingston Crown Court.

Robber steals diamonds worth £13 MILLION after pulling out a GRENADE at a jewellery store in Cannes 

  •  A man in sunglasses entered the Harry Winston store on the Croisette yesterday
  •  Eight minutes after arriving he left the shop with £13million worth of diamonds
  •  In 2013 a robber got away with gems worth £90million from a nearby hotel
An audacious robber held up a jewellery shop in Cannes with a pistol and a grenade and escaped on foot with £13million worth of diamonds yesterday. 
The man, who was in his 30s and wore sunglasses, strolled casually into the Harry Winston luxury jewellery shop on the city's famed Croisette promenade.
Security camera footage is being examined in an effort to identify the robber but the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard said the robbery 'could and should have been avoided' and he called on the government to allow jewellery shops to use biometric recognition software.
Police patrol outside the Harry Winston store a few hours after it was robbed
Police patrol outside the Harry Winston store a few hours after it was robbed
A cameraman films the front of the Harry Winston store in Cannes after yesterday's robbery
A cameraman films the front of the Harry Winston store in Cannes after yesterday's robbery
The regional prosecutor, Alain Guimbard, said the man claimed to be looking on behalf of a wealthy sponsor: 'He asked to see diamond ornaments on behalf of a sponsor. The saleswoman was suspicious and gave him a catalogue.'
He then pulled out a 7.65-calibre automatic pistol and a grenade, forced security guards to lie on the floor and ordered the two saleswomen to open the display cases. 
It is not clear if the grenade was real but the staff clearly were not taking any chances.
Nobody was injured in the heist and the robber was in and out of the shop within eight minutes.
Harry Winston is a New York-based jeweller that popular with billionaires and actresses who are often seen wearing its gems on the red carpet at the Oscars. 
It is not the first time the Croisette has been targeted.
In July 2013, a man stole £90million worth of jewels from a temporary exhibition at the Hotel Carlton and has never been caught. He was rumoured to be a member of the famous Pink Panthers gang, who hail from Eastern Europe.
France is gaining an unwelcome reputation as an easy target for jewel thieves.
In October last year £8.5million worth of jewellery belonging to Kim Kardashian was stolen from her at an apartment in Paris. 
Several men were arrested earlier this month but they have not been charged and experts say her jewels have long ago been sold on to a fence and recycled. 
Last night detectives could be seen inside the shop meeting with staff from the store
Last night detectives could be seen inside the shop meeting with staff from the store
Breath-taking: In 2014 South African actress Charlize Theron wore a Harry Winston necklace worth £13million (pictured) at the Oscars
Breath-taking: In 2014 South African actress Charlize Theron wore a Harry Winston necklace worth £13million (pictured) at the Oscars

Hogan-Howe and the riddle of a 3,000 year old curse: Met commissioner is being sued by a Lebanese antiques dealer over a bewitched £800,000 Assyrian artefact 

  • Bernard Hogan-Howe is being sued by Lebanese antiques dealer Halim Korban
  • Korban holds the Met Police Commissioner responsible for seizing the artefact 
  • A curse will allegedly be laid upon anyone who tampers with it or moves it
  • Police seized the object amid claims it had been looted from modern-day Syria
In his final weeks in office Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe has become embroiled in legal dispute over a 2,800-year-old artefact, which comes complete with a chilling curse.
The Met Commissioner is being sued by a Lebanese antiques dealer over the rare Assyrian relic, which is worth an estimated £800,000.
The ancient slab is engraved with a warning saying a curse will be laid upon anyone who tampers with it or moves it from its place of origin. 
The relic, which forms part of a larger piece depicting King Adad-Nirari III, is carved with the words: 'Whoever discards this image from the presence of Salmanu . . . and places it into a taboo house which it is inaccessible, may the god Salmanu, the great lord, overthrow his sovereignty; may his name and his seed disappear in the land, may he live in a contingent together with the slave women of his land.'
Officers seized the black basalt slab, known as a 'stele', back in 2014 following claims it had been stolen.
Antiques dealer Halim Korban had been planning to auction the stele at Bonham's, in Geneva, in the April of that year.
But officers swooped on Bonham's warehouse the night before the auction and seized the relic following a warning from the Beirut-based Saadeh Cultural Foundation, which told UNESCO that the stele had been obtained illegally.
Lebanese antiques dealer Halim Korban is suing the Metropolitan Police over ownership of the ancient basalt slab
Lebanese antiques dealer Halim Korban is suing the Metropolitan Police over ownership of the ancient basalt slab
The organisation said that the artefact had probably been looted from a site in modern Syria, and said that it should be returned to the country 'as soon as circumstances permit'. 
Prior to the auction Bonham's had said that the antique was 'given as a gift from father to son in the 1960s'.
The auction house also said it was confident of the object's provenance, despite te fact that there were no details available as to how it left Syria.
The upper half of the stele, which depicts King Adad-Hirari's profile, was acquired by the British Museum in 1881 from the private collector Joseph M Shemtob.
The museum obtained the piece two years after it was discovered at the Tell Sheikh Hamad site, and has housed in ever since. 
The complete stele would have measured 2.1 metres tall, and bears an image of King Adad-Nirari III.
The king ruled Mesopotamia between 810 BC and 783 BC.
The stele shows the ruler in a position of worship, with his right hand raised in worship and a mace in his left hand.
The tablet is also engraved with symbols representing the winged sun disc of Shamash; the star of Ishtar/Venus, the goddess of human passions in love and war; and the thunderbolt of the weather god Adad.  
Mr Korban holds Bernard Hogan-Howe personally responsible for the seizure of the artefact
Mr Korban holds Bernard Hogan-Howe personally responsible for the seizure of the artefact
Mr Korban offered the museum the bottom half of the slab in November 2011, but, seemingly suspicious of its origins, the museum declined to purchase the piece.
He then attempted to sell the piece on the open market before it was seized by police  as evidence in any future trial.
A Geneva-based antiques and jewellery dealer, Emile Chayto was charged with fraud by false representations in connection with the artefact eighteen months after the raid, and police are holding the object as evidence.
But Mr Korban has gone to court to have the piece returned to him, claiming he is the rightful owner.
He is also demanding £200,000 in compensation for loss and damage as part of his claim.
A spokesman for the art dealer told the Sunday Telegraph: 'The stele is a valuable object which Mr Korban considers his and he wants it back. He can show proper provenance and utterly rejects the notion that it was obtained illegally.'
The upper portion of the stele is currently held by the British Museum
The upper portion of the stele is currently held by the British Museum
Mr Korban holds Mr Hogan-Howe personally responsible for the seizure of the artefact and preventing its planned sale.
In the writ he has filed against the Commissioner he said: 'At all times since their seizure of the stele the police have been aware of the claimant's [Mr Korban] claim in respect of it, namely that he is its owner, and that he is who is entitled to its possession.'
However, the Met is adamant that the officers acted properly in confiscating the object, saying it is legally being held as part of a criminal investigation.
In a written submission to the High Court the Met's solicitors said: 'there are reasonable grounds for believing that the provenance provided is false and the object of the false representation was to disguise the theft and illegal export of the stele from Syria.'
It is not the first time Mr Korban has had the provenance of an antique that he was trying to offload called into question.
The dealer was at the centre of the sale of 14 pieces of Roman silver worth up to £200 million, known as the Sevso Treasure. 
The J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles was interesting in purchasing the collection, but later declined to go ahead with the sale, claiming that Lebanese export documents had been forged.
Mr Korban and a colleague later sold the silver to former Sotheby's chairman Peter Wilson, who then sold it on to the Marquess of Northampton.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Kardashian Diamond Heist, The Dam Bursts & Art Crime Round Up

Bling: Kim posted this image of the stolen £3.5m ring on Instagram before the robbery

6 more charged in Kardashian West jewelry heist in Paris

PARIS (AP) — Hailing the "remarkable work" of French police, Paris prosecutors on Friday announced preliminary charges against six more suspects in the armed jewelry heist of Kim Kardashian West.
That brings the total number of people charged so far in the probe to 10. All but one of the suspects are men, including at least one previously known to police for robbery and money forgery.
Robbers are believed to have forced their way into the apartment where Kardashian West was staying during Paris Fashion Week in October. They allegedly tied up the reality TV star and stole more than $10 million worth of jewelry. Authorities are now looking at a possible inside job.
The preliminary charges filed Friday against six suspects ranging in age from 29 to 72 covered an array of alleged crimes. They included: armed robbery in an organized gang; kidnapping; criminal association; illegal possession of firearms — including a Kalashnikov rifle — and ammunition; use of forged papers and a fake identity, and complicity.
Preliminary charges — the first in the case — were also filed against four other people on Thursday.
Paris prosecutors have identified the 10 suspects only by their first names and surname initials and their dates of birth. Those charged Friday were:
—Aomar A., 60; faces preliminary charges of armed robbery in an organized gang, kidnapping, criminal association, illegal possession of ammunition, using a fake identify and false papers.
—Pierre B., 72; preliminary charges of armed robbery in an organized gang, kidnapping and criminal association.
—Didier D., 61; preliminary charges of armed robbery in an organized gang, kidnapping, criminal association and illegally possessing a Kalashnikov rifle.
—Francois D., 54; preliminary charges of armed robbery in an organized gang, kidnapping, criminal association and possession of false papers.
—Harminy A., 29; preliminary charges of armed robbery in an organized gang, kidnapping and criminal association.
—Christiane G., 70. The only woman among the 10 was handed preliminary charges of complicity in armed robbery and kidnapping, criminal association and the illegal possession of ammunition.
On Thursday, Kardashian West's sister, Khloe Kardashian, welcomed the filing of charges as a "kind of closure" and denounced the robbery as "a disgusting act."
Rich or poor, nobody deserves "anything to be taken from them," she told The Associated Press.

BREAKING NEWS: French police charge suspect with robbing Kim Kardashian at gunpoint and leaving her bound and gagged in Paris apartment 

  • Kardashian, 36, was tied up and robbed at gunpoint in apartment in Paris, France
  • Police have arrested 17 people in the Paris region over the October 3 robbery 
  • A source close to the investigation has said suspects are starting to 'come clean' 
  • Information about many of the suspects' criminal pasts have also come to light
One of five men suspected of taking part in the armed robbery of US reality TV star Kim Kardashian in Paris in October has been charged, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Yunice A., 63, has been charged with robbing Ms Kardashian at gunpoint and leaving her bound and gagged in a bathroom in her luxury residence in the early hours of October 3, the prosecutor said.
Nine suspects are still in custody including four other men ranging in age from 54 to 72 who are suspected of direct involvement in the spectacular heist in which they made off with jewellery worth around nine million euros ($9.5 million). 
It comes as the suspects were 'beginning to admit their involvement' in the robbery, a source close to investigation said.   
Those remaining are thought to include the five robbers who actually broke into Ms Kardashian's apartment in the French capital last October. 
One of those arrested is the chauffeur with the limo firm used by the Kardashian family in Paris, raising the possibility that the crime could have been an inside job
One of those arrested is the chauffeur with the limo firm used by the Kardashian family in Paris, raising the possibility that the crime could have been an inside job
Reality star Kim, 36, was woken at 2.35am on October 3 as she slept in her luxury Paris apartment
Reality star Kim, 36, was woken at 2.35am on October 3 as she slept in her luxury Paris apartment
Bling: Kim posted this image of the stolen £3.5m ring on Instagram before the robbery
After holding a security guard and Ms Kadashian at gunpoint, they left the 36-year-old reality TV star bound and gagged in a bath.
Then they fled on bicycles with a £4million diamond engagement ring – which had been presented to Ms Kardashian by husband Kanye West – and around £5million worth of other jewels.
Most were caught on CCTV, and mobile phone triangulation is also thought to have placed some of them in the area.
Crucially, at least three DNA samples were also found, including on plastic ties and masking tape used to incapacitate Ms Kardashian.
The source close to the investigation said: ‘The CCTV is of very poor quality, but body shapes can still be matched up.
‘The telephone evidence is strong, as is the DNA. 
'When faced with this kind of evidence it is very hard for suspects to say they were not present.’
Michael Madar, the 40-year-old limousine driver who drove Ms Kardashian to the central Paris flat on October 3 was among those released without charge.
But his brother, Gary Madar, 27, remains in custody, and is suspected of leaking details of Ms Kardashian’s movements to the gang.
Police have arrested 17 people over the Kim Kardashian robbery, including two brothers in their 50s accused of disposing of a $5m engagement ring, and the chauffeur with the limo firm used by the Kardashian family. A man is pictured being arrested during raids yesterday
Police have arrested 17 people over the Kim Kardashian robbery, including two brothers in their 50s accused of disposing of a $5m engagement ring, and the chauffeur with the limo firm used by the Kardashian family. A man is pictured being arrested during raids yesterday
Arrests: Further details of the gang that held up Kim Kardashian in the terrifying jewel heist in Paris have emerged. The thieves are said to include a man known as Omar le Vieux – Old Omar – as well has his two sons aged 23 and 29, according to Le Parisien newspaper. Police arrested 17 people over the robbery, including two brothers in their 50s accused of disposing of a $4m engagement ring. Two men are pictured being arrested during raids on Monday
Further details of the gang that held up Kim Kardashian in the terrifying jewel heist in Paris have emerged. 
The five principal suspects reported to have been directly involved in the heist are in the age range 54 to 74, and include some of France’s most notorious villains.
Two suspects in the Kardashian jewel heist travelled to Antwerp, the diamond capital of Europe, in the days after the multi-million pound robbery, according to French media.
Telephones owned by Old Omar and Marceau the gypsy have been tracked to the Belgian jewellery centre a couple of days after Kim Kardashian was forced to hand over her gems at gunpoint, LCI news channel has reported.
Jewels worth up to £9 million were taken from the reality TV star who was tied up and left in the bath of an exclusive hotel in the centre of Paris in October last year.
The TV channel claims the two suspects are well known to France’s organised crime brigade (BRB). 
Old Omar was dragged from his bed in Creteil, a rough suburb in south-east Paris, along with his two sons, according to reports.
Marceau the gypsy was detained at a travellers’ site on the outskirts of the French capital. 
He is accused of participating in the sale of the jewellery.
Reliable: Reality star Kim pictured in Paris on October 1 last year had her wrists tied by the gang during her terrible ordeal in which £8.5million worth of jewellry was stolen
Reliable: Reality star Kim pictured in Paris on October 1 last year had her wrists tied by the gang during her terrible ordeal in which £8.5million worth of jewellry was stolen
Another suspect is Didier Dubreucq, a convicted drug runner nicknamed ‘Blue Eyes’.
In 2003, Dubreucq was convicted to eight and a half years in prison for his role in a drug smuggling case involving Prince Nayef Bin Fawaz al-Shaalan, a grandson of Saudi Arabia's founding monarch, Abdulaziz.
Prince Nayef was later sentenced to ten years in prison in absentia for using his diplomatic immunity to smuggle two tons of cocaine from Venezuela to France in his private Boeing 727 in 1999.
The US Drug Enforcement Agency had accused the prince of making contacts with Colombia's Medellin cartel.
Dubreucq, 62, was convicted of receiving the drugs at Le Bourget airport and helping to distribute it around Europe. 
All of those still in custody can be held until early on Friday morning. 
Then they have to be charged, or released. 
Raids: Special French investigators swooped on a restaurant in Rue de Bretagne in connection with the robbery of Kardashian, which happened during Paris fashion week in October
Raids: Special French investigators swooped on a restaurant in Rue de Bretagne in connection with the robbery of Kardashian, which happened during Paris fashion week in October
The thieves are said to include a man known as Omar le Vieux – Old Omar – as well as his two sons aged 23 and 29, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
Old Omar was dragged from his bed in Creteil – a rough suburb in south-east Paris, in the early hours of Monday morning by officers from France’s organised crime brigade (BRB).
The 60-year-old's fingerprints are said to have been found on plastic ties used to bind Ms Kardashian’s hands during the extraordinary robbery at an exclusive hotel in central Paris in October last year.  
The elite BRB detectives brought in two allegedly seasoned criminals – aged 60 and 63 – who have so far used their right to silence and refused to answer any questions, the popular French newspaper reported.
Investigators have also pulled in ‘former associates’ of Old Omar for questioning.
These include a 64-year-old gypsy named only as Marceau.
Another member of the alleged gang is a man known as Nez Râpé, 'Broken Nose', who was responsible for a series of terrifying motorway robberies.

KIM 'WILL NOT GET JEWELS BACK' 

As gang-leader, 'Broken Nose' was sentenced to 30 months in jail after he was captured in December 2008.
For his part, Marceau was taken to court in June last year accused of the sale of forged 20 Euro notes and the sale of stolen jewellery and gold in Antwerp, Belgium. He was however acquitted following a trial.  
BRB officers recovered almost Euro 300,000 in cash from the homes of the various suspects following their dawn raids on Monday morning, Le Parisien reported.
The operation included the search for a 72-year-old man, known as Pierre, at his home in Grasse, in the mountains overlooking the French riveria.
Pierre, who ran a private beach club in Saint Tropez, was jailed in the early 2000’s for drug trafficking.
Date night: Kim and rapper husband Kanye, pictured, appeared to brush off the raid in Paris to go on a date to a sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills on Monday night
Date night: Kim and rapper husband Kanye, pictured, appeared to brush off the raid in Paris to go on a date to a sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills on Monday night
Police swoop: 17 were arrested in a series of raids in Paris connected to the October heist, but the couple shrugged off the drama with a low key night out together
Police swoop: 17 were arrested in a series of raids in Paris connected to the October heist, but the couple shrugged off the drama with a low key night out together
Unity: Kim linked arms with her husband Kanye as they enjoyed a quiet night out together on the same day as a series of arrests were made in Paris
Unity: Kim linked arms with her husband Kanye as they enjoyed a quiet night out together on the same day as a series of arrests were made in Paris
Pierre, 72, and his 70-year-old long term partner Christiane, are currently being held in custody in Paris.
Another suspect is reportedly Didier Dubreucq, who was convicted to eight and a half years in prison in in 2003 for his role in a drug smuggling ring involving Saudi Prince Nayef Bin Fawaz al-Shaalan, the Telegraph reports.  
Dubreucq, nicknamed 'Blue Eyes', is said to be in his sixties.  
The prince was convicted of smuggling 1,980 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of cocaine on his private jet in 1999 and was accused of having links to Colombia's Medellin cartel.
The drugs were flown from Venezuela to France and Dubreucq was convicted of receiving them at Le Bourget airport in Paris.
'In this case, the drug traffickers used powerful people to create a facade of legitimacy to help them conceal their drug trafficking activities,' Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement about the prince's conviction in 2005. 
Two of the other 17 people arrested in dawn raids on Monday - an unnamed man and woman - have also been released without charge, according to Le Figaro newspaper.  
Details of those being held have emerged as the limo company owner arrested by French police investigating the robbery has been released - but his brother remains in police custody.
Michael Madar and his brother Gary were arrested in a series of raids on Monday morning. 
Madar, 40, is the owner of Unic Worldpass, the chauffeur company used by Kim Kardashian and her family in Paris while his brother Gary, 27, worked for the firm on and off.
Michael Madar was released from police custody in Paris without charges shortly after midnight, a source close to the investigation has confirmed. He was 'speechless' to learn that his brother had also been held, the source said.
A DNA match from the necklace, along with tape used to gag Ms Kardashian, enabled detectives to trace key members of the gang and 17 were arrested in a series of raids 
A DNA match from the necklace, along with tape used to gag Ms Kardashian, enabled detectives to trace key members of the gang and 17 were arrested in a series of raids 
French police yesterday arrested 17 people in connection with the £8.5million robbery in October
French police yesterday arrested 17 people in connection with the £8.5million robbery in October
The source told MailOnline: ‘Michael has taken the news really badly. Michael had no idea that Gary had somehow become involved.
‘He was speechless when he learned his brother had been arrested,’ the source told MailOnline. 
Investigators have been given 96 hours – four days - to interview the suspects.   
Friends of Mr Madar had expressed shock at his arrest, while AP said officials in France were 'unsure' which brother chauffeured the reality TV star the night she was robbed in a rented apartment in the French capital. 
Trusted: Michael Madar, pictured above holding an umbrella just days before the raid in October last year, was arrested on his home on Monday morning – one of 17 people detained by police’s organised crime brigade in the Paris area and the south of France
Businessman: Michael Madar was arrested on his home on Monday morning – one of 17 people detained by police's organised crime brigade in the Paris area and the south of France. Pictured: Madar holding an umbrella for Kim and Kourtney days before the robbery in Paris in October last year
Arrested: Gary Madar, pictured with Kim Kardashian, was held alongside his chauffeur firm boss brother Michael, 40
Arrested: Gary Madar, pictured with Kim Kardashian, was held alongside his chauffeur firm boss brother Michael, 40
Close: The brothers, Michael and Gary pictured left with Michael's wife Carole Scigliano, chief executive of his company Unic Worldpass are being held over the £10million raid in October
Close: The brothers, Michael and Gary pictured left with Michael's wife Carole Scigliano, chief executive of his company Unic Worldpass
One friend said: 'This is very strange. Michael is a really sweet guy. I would not be surprised if the police had got this one wrong.' 
It is understood that Mr Madar was taken to a police station for interview yesterday morning where he was then arrested.   
The arrested men are aged mostly in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
Pierre B - the 72-year-old alleged ringleader - was arrested after officers broke down the gate of his villa in Plascassier, a village near Grasse, in the south of France.
The age of the suspects has echoes of the 2015 Hatton Garden safe deposit robbery in London – carried out by a team of veteran British criminals.
A police source said: 'The oldest suspect is 72, while others are in their 50s and 60s and some are well known to the police.'
Multiple firearms, including an automatic pistol, and £121,000 in cash were found during the raids that took place across Paris on Monday morning
Multiple firearms, including an automatic pistol, and £121,000 in cash were found during the raids that took place across Paris on Monday morning
French police are seen carrying bags of evidence after carrying out a dawn raid in Paris
French police are seen carrying bags of evidence after carrying out a dawn raid in Paris

The reality TV star had a gun pointed at her, her hands and feet bound with cable ties and was left in the bath after masked men with police badges on their jackets burst into her room at a hotel in the city's exclusive 8th arrondissement.
Ms Kardashian, the world's highest paid reality television star, was alone because her bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, was out at a nightclub with her sisters.
But three months since the heist, the gang – including 'career villain' Pierre B – are thought to have been rounded up.
All those arrested can be held for up to 96 hours before being charged or released.
Barrister Jean Veil said his 36-year-old client had been left deeply traumatised after being bound, gagged and threatened with death in the French capital last October. 
Coordinated raids at 6am saw a total of 16 men including a 'major thug' arrested in the city, and also in the south of France
Coordinated raids at 6am saw a total of 16 men including a 'major thug' arrested in the city, and also in the south of France
The arrests come three months after the reality TV star was tied up and robbed at gunpoint by intruders at her luxury Paris flat
The arrests come three months after the reality TV star was tied up and robbed at gunpoint by intruders at her luxury Paris flat
'I welcome this with great satisfaction,' said Mr Veil, who said he was due to discuss details of the raids with Ms Kardashian when she woke up in Los Angeles last night.
'These arrests are a nice surprise because on the one hand, it will perhaps make it possible to find the jewellery,' said Mr Veil.
'On the other hand, it puts an end to the outrageous speculation by some, who thought it was intelligent to pretend that this robbery was staged, or a publicity stunt organised by Ms Kardashian.'
Mr Veil indicated that Ms Kardashian would look forward 'putting her nose up' at those who had doubted her word.
During recent conversations, Mr Veil said Ms Kardashian 'still showed some form of anxiety. I think she was recently shocked and had the opportunity to say so on television.  
Bags from the raids were taken away by police yesterday and 17 people were arrested in total 
Bags from the raids were taken away by police yesterday and 17 people were arrested in total 

The suspects' homes are still being searched, with documents and other potential evidence being seized. A suspect (right) is pictured being escorted to a police station
'The money she lost during this robbery is not the only issue. Even though my client was not injured, this assault was very brutal and traumatic. Imagine yourself alone, at night, in front of armed people.'
Earlier this month, Ms Kardashian broke her silence on the robbery in a teaser for the family's reality show, telling two of her sisters her thoughts at the time: 'They're going to shoot me in the back. There's no way out. It makes me so upset to think about it.' 
It has also emerged that French police have failed to call on the key witness in the case – because the authorities will not grant him a temporary visa to enter France.
Abdulrahman, the Algerian concierge who was tied up and forced to give the robbers access to the reality star's apartment, left France in November to recover from the stress of the experience.
A handcuffed man was seen being led in to a police station in Paris following the raids yesterday
A handcuffed man was seen being led in to a police station in Paris following the raids yesterday
Raids are also underway at other key premises, including a jewellery shop in the centre of Paris. Police are pictured bringing a suspect into custody in Paris
Raids are also underway at other key premises, including a jewellery shop in the centre of Paris. Police are pictured bringing a suspect into custody in Paris
Currently in Algeria, Abdulrahman, 39, is thought to be the only person to have clearly seen the intruders' faces, and to have had prolonged conversations with them on the night of the crime.
So far, however, investigators have not contacted him to identify the suspects, and his attempts to enter France to be available to police have been rejected, MailOnline can reveal.
He told MailOnline: 'Before leaving France, the judge in charge of this case told my lawyers that I should renew my residence permit so I can travel quickly for the investigation purposes.
'Last week, I was in Paris to receive a letter from 'le prefet de Police' but he refused my request.'
He added: 'It is so crazy.' 
A suspect in Kim Kardashian West's Paris robbery is brought to BRB building, Brigade de Repression du Banditisme (suppression of banditry brigade), by police
A suspect in Kim Kardashian West's Paris robbery is brought to BRB building, Brigade de Repression du Banditisme (suppression of banditry brigade), by police
The suspects that police have held are accused of breaking into the reality TV star's Paris apartment block last October
The suspects that police have held are accused of breaking into the reality TV star's Paris apartment block last October
The accused men are suspected of stealing millions of pounds worth of jewellery
The accused men are suspected of stealing millions of pounds worth of jewellery
Sources say that 'months of surveillance' has taken place, including phone taps. A suspect is pictured being taken to a police station in Paris
Sources say that 'months of surveillance' has taken place, including phone taps. A suspect is pictured being taken to a police station in Paris
Abdulrahman's lawyer, Henri de Beauregard, told MailOnline: 'He had a visa that expired in November, and when he applied for a new one, he was refused.
'He doesn't want to stay in France for long, he just wants to come and be available for the investigation and help the police. It is important for justice and important for him.
'A victim is a victim. He is no less a victim than Kim – he has a right to face his aggressor.
'I don't know if this is incompetence or just a bad decision. He is the best witness, he saw the criminals much longer than Miss Kardashian. I hope the police have a lot of solid proof and evidence, because if they don't, it will be seen as a crazy decision.' 
French police have arrested 17 people over the robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris, it has emerged
French police have arrested 17 people over the robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris, it has emerged
One theory is that many of Ms Kardashian's jewels ended up in Antwerp – the diamond capital of Europe and a police operation was carried out in the Belgian city today (pictured)
One theory is that many of Ms Kardashian's jewels ended up in Antwerp – the diamond capital of Europe and a police operation was carried out in the Belgian city today (pictured)
Belgium police are known to be involved in the investigation, and are carrying out checks in a number of businesses in Antwerp
Belgium police are known to be involved in the investigation, and are carrying out checks in a number of businesses in Antwerp
Kim Kardashian returned to social media this month and was on Snapchat for a make-up tutorial in Dubai
Kim Kardashian returned to social media this month and was on Snapchat for a make-up tutorial in Dubai
The gang escaped on 'velibs' - hire bicycles which can be rented all over Paris - but one of them dropped a diamond pendant worth around £28,000 in the street outside.
It was found by a woman who handed it in to police, as grainy CCTV of the men on bikes also emerged.
Police said the butter-fingered thief who lost the necklace had effectively led them to the entire group of suspects. 
A DNA match from the necklace, along with tape used to gag Ms Kardashian, enabled detectives to trace key members of the gang. 
A surveillance operation then led detectives to the other suspects, including jewel dealers thought to have been involved in fencing the stolen gems. 
Just an hour before the robbery, Kim posted a video on Snapchat that showed her wearing the engagement ring (left) 
Just an hour before the robbery, Kim posted a video on Snapchat that showed her wearing the engagement ring (left) 

The multimillionaire, who was in the French capital for Paris Fashion Week, was locked in a bathroom while robbers stole a $4.5 million ring and a case of jewellery valued at $5.6 million
Forensics material found in a Paris hotel matched that of a well-known convicted armed robber described as a 'major thug'.
A suspected 'Mr Big' has been partially identified as Pierre B, a 72-year-old 'career villain' from the south of France who made millions through counterfeit money.
Others arrested include two diamond dealers and three women – some of whom are suspected of trailing Ms Kardashian around Paris before the robbery. They can be held for up to 96 hours before being charged or released.   
Homes were still being searched on Monday, documents and other potential evidence being seized.
Raids were also underway at other key premises, including a jewellery shop in the centre of Paris.
A source confirmed that 'months of surveillance' had taken place, including phone taps.
Spending patterns have been looked at, and attempts to re-sell the jewellery stolen in October. 
-
Art Hostage Backstory: http://arthostage.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/stolen-art-watch-kardashian-jewel-heist.html

Shock acquittals in Wildenstein art dynasty's tax fraud trial

media Guy Wildenstein's lawyer Herve Temime (L) speaks to reporters after the verdict AFP
A French court has delivered a shock acquittal on tax-dodging charges for the heirs to the Wildenstein art-dealing dynasty, while declaring there had been a "clear attempt" to conceal art treasures and other property worth billions of euros.
Presiding judge Olivier Géron was worried that his decision could be "misunderstood" when he announced on Thursday that he was acquitting 71-year-old Franco-American Guy Wildenstein, his nephew Alec Junior, his estranged Russian sister-in-law Liouba Stoupakova, two lawyers, a notary and two offshore trusts.
They had clearly intended to conceal their massive wealth from tax authorities, he said, but shortcomings in French law and in the conduct of the inquiry made it impossible to convict them.
Assets worth billions offshore
The heirs were accused of concealing assets worth billions in offshore trusts and failing to declare their full worth on the occasion of the deaths of two heads of family.
Their possessions included thorough-bred horses, artworks - including paintings by renaissance master Caravaggio, rococo painter Fragonard and post-impressionist artist Bonnard - and a gigantic ranch in Kenya that was used in the filming of Sydney Pollack's 1985 movie Out of Africa.
After their father's death in 2001, Guy and his brother Alec declared they were worth just 40.9 million euros for inheritance tax purposes, paying the bill in bas-reliefs sculpted for Louis XVI's wife, Marie-Antoinette.
When Alec died in 2008, Guy declared an inheritance of less than 60 million euros.
The prosecution called for a four-year suspended sentence and 250-million-euro fine for Guy Wildenstein, one year suspended for Stoupakova and six months suspended for Alec Junior.
None of them appeared in court.
Prosecutors also wanted a two-year suspended sentence for notary Robert Panhard, two years in jail and one suspended with a million-euro fine for Swiss lawyer Peter Altorfer and two years suspended for French lawyer Olivier Riffaud.
And they called for two trusts - one based in the Bahamas, the other in Guernsey - to be fined the maximum possible for complicity in tax fraud, 187,500 euros each.
Intention not enough for conviction
But the law has to apply equally to "the powerful and the poor", Géron said, and knowing that the family intentionally hid its wealth was not a sufficient legal basis to find them guilty.
He said he was "astonished" that French MPs had not passed laws to clarify the status of trusts until 2011, although they have been under the spotlight for over a century.
That law could not be applied to this case since it referred to events that took place before it had been passed.
Géron also criticised investigators, claiming they had failed to carry out sufficient research in the tax havens to establish that the trusts were "fictional" and that the Wildensteins had secretly maintained access to and control of their fortune.
After the verdict Guy Wildenstein's lawyer, Hervé Témine, said his client was "very relieved" while expressing concern it might give rise to controversy over "justice for the rich".
Widows, ex-wives and lawsuits
The first signs of trouble for the Wildensteins came in 2005 when Daniel's second wife, Sylvia Roth-Wildenstein, sued Guy and Alec, accusing them of hiding the true extent of the family's wealth when her husband died.
In 2011 Stoupakova filed suit for breach of trust, claiming that she had been deprived of her fair share of the inheritance.
There were further legal worries in the US in the same year when prosecutors opened an investigation into suspicions of receiving stolen goods and breach of trust against Guy Wildenstein, seizing several paintings, including one by impressionist Berthe Morisot valued at 800,000 euros.
New tax case pending
The case has been an embarrassment for former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who made Guy Wildenstein, a member of his party's US branch, a commnader of the Legion of Honour in 2009, describing him as a "friend".
Thursday's acquittal will not be the end of the Wildensteins' legal difficulties.The French fiscal authorities are pursuing them for 550 million euros in allegedly unpaid taxes.


For Italy's Art Police, An Ongoing Fight Against Pillage Of Priceless Works

The police force for protection of Italy's cultural heritage is headquartered in Rome's Piazza Sant'Ignazio.
Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum.
And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground.
But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions.
Italy's Carabinieri for Protection of Italy's Cultural Heritage recently sponsored an exhibit at Rome's Palazzo Barberini museum, showcasing some of its biggest successes.
A fifth grade class of a Roman elementary school came to see some 200 artworks that were stolen and then recovered.
Lt. Sebastiano Antoci, a 20-year veteran of the elite squad, told the kids how its investigations work.
"We tail suspects or use wiretaps so we can listen to the bad guys' phone calls or we check their bank accounts. And when we're out in the field," he said, "we look like everyone else, we don't wear uniforms."
The fifth-graders listened attentively to the art detective as he pointed to two medieval frescoes.
"We recovered the lamb in Switzerland," he said, "and the Christ in the United States. They're back together again for the first time since they were stolen" — in 1978 from a small church in Guidonia, a town south of Rome.
In 1969, Italy created the world's first specialized police force to combat art crime. It now numbers 280 investigators who also safeguard artworks in regions struck by floods and earthquakes. The unit also combats antiquities trafficking fueled by conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
At the Rome exhibit, Antoci showed the schoolchildren a marble sculpture that depicts a man and his two sons. It originates from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra — which recently came under ISIS control.
Adding to his knowledge of art history the excitement of a detective tale, Antoci tells the kids the story of the sculpture, which was tracked down as part of an investigation into financial irregularities and dates back some 2,000 years. "It's a funerary sculpture," he tells them. "The terrorists smuggled it out of Syria and put it on the illicit antiques market. We tracked it down to an Italian businessman in Piedmont, who bought it just it a few months ago."
Gen. Fabrizio Parulli, the commander of this unique police force, explains what's needed to become a good art sleuth. "First of all, you need to be a good investigator," he says.
Speaking in his Rome office — located in a Baroque square that looks like an opera stage set — Parulli says his agents start as police officers and then get specialized training in art history, archaeology, restoration and recognizing counterfeit works.
But the heart of the investigative work is done elsewhere, in a large barracks in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood.
Sitting at a computer, Lt. Francesco Ficarella demonstrates the jewel in the crown of the cultural heritage protection squad — a database known as Leonardo, containing names and photos of close to 6 million registered artworks, mostly from Italy. Of those, 1.2 million are listed as stolen, missing, illegally excavated or smuggled.
Leonardo, he says, "is a crucial instrument not only for our national police forces but also for those abroad — it's the biggest artworks database in the world," he says.
The squad's recovery record is high. In 2014, it managed to recover 137,000 works with an estimated value of $500 million.
Until they're returned to the owners, recovered pieces are warehoused on the ground floor of the Trastevere building. Behind an armored door, tens of thousands of artworks are stored — wooden crucifixes, marble busts, bronze statues and hundreds of paintings, all carefully labeled.
These recovered pieces serve as evidence in criminal cases that are still open.
One of them, "Leda and the Swan," by 16th century painter Lelio Orsi, was auctioned for $1.6 million in New York. Smuggled out of Italy, it was tracked down, thanks to cooperation from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But there's one piece that has eluded this elite art squad for almost three decades: a 6-square-foot canvas of the Nativity by the Baroque master Caravaggio. It was stolen in Sicily in 1969, the same year this special unit was created.
Lt. Calogero Gliozzo says the painting's whereabouts were known until the early 1980s. "We know the names of the robbers and we know the Mafia family that was hiding it," he says, "but then there was a Mafia war and we lost track of the painting."
One Mafia informant told police he had heard that the canvas had been destroyed by rats at a farm where it was hidden.
But here at the police squad, the art sleuths are convinced the masterpiece still exists — and that one day, they will succeed in recovering this No. 1 artwork on their most wanted list.
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
In Italy, art and artifacts are everywhere - in museums, in the excavation sites and often unguarded churches - and that invites art thieves. But thanks to an elite police unit, Italy is at the forefront in combating the trafficking of stolen art. Here's NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Italian).
SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: The fifth grade class of a Roman elementary school is visiting a special museum exhibit - 200 stolen artworks that were recovered by the police unit for protection of Italy's cultural heritage. Lieutenant Sebastiano Antoci tells the kids how their investigations work.
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SEBASTIANO ANTOCI: (Through interpreter) We tail suspects. We use wire taps so we can listen to bad guys' phone calls. We check their bank accounts. And when we're out in the field, we look like everyone else. We don't wear uniforms.
POGGIOLI: In 1969, Italy created the first police unit to combat art crime. It now numbers 280 agents who also safeguard artworks in regions struck by floods or earthquakes. And they combat antiquities trafficking fueled by conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Lieutenant Antoci shows the schoolchildren a magnificent piece originating from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which has been under ISIS control. The marble sculpture dating from the first or second century A.D. depicts a man and his two sons.
ANTOCI: (Through interpreter) The terrorists smuggled it out of Syria and put it on the illicit market. We tracked it down to an Italian businessman who bought it a few months ago.
POGGIOLI: So what's needed to become a good art sleuth?
FABRIZIO PARULLI: First of all, you need to be a good investigator.
POGGIOLI: General Fabrizio Parullo is the commander of this unique police force. His agents start as police officers and then get specialized training.
PARULLI: I have in my unit also people that has background as a archeologist, as a historian of art. So people that knows very well about these art worlds.
POGGIOLI: The investigative work is done in a large barracks in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood. Sitting at a computer screen, Lieutenant Francesco Ficarella demonstrates the jewel in the crown of the cultural heritage protection squad, a database known as Leonardo.
FRANCESCO FICARELLA: (Through interpreter) It's a crucial instrument, not only for our national police forces, but also for those abroad. It's the biggest artworks database in the world.
POGGIOLI: Leonardo contains close to 6 million registered artworks. More than a million are listed as stolen, missing, illegally excavated or smuggled. The squad's recovery record is high. In 2014, it managed to recover close to 140,000 works with an estimated value of $500 million. Until the return to the owners, they're stored on the ground floor - racks of paintings, wooden crucifixes, marble busts and bronze statues, all carefully labeled. These recovered pieces serve as evidence in criminal cases that are still open.
Yet there's one item that has eluded the art squad for almost three decades. The six-foot-square canvas of the Nativity by the baroque master Caravaggio was stolen in Sicily in 1969, the same year this special unit was created. Lieutenant Calogero Gliozzo says its whereabouts were known until the early 1980s.
CALOGERO GLIOZZO: (Through interpreter) We know the names of the robbers, and we know the mafia family that was hiding it. But then there was a mafia war, and we lost track of the painting.
POGGIOLI: One Mafia turncoat told police he'd heard the canvas had been destroyed by rats in a farm where was hidden. But here at the police squad, the art detectives are convinced the masterpiece still exists and that one day they will succeed in recovering this number one artwork on their most wanted list. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Rome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.