The French Culture Ministry said Friday that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature "Degas" inside a suitcase in the bus' luggage compartment. The ministry says none of the passengers claimed the suitcase during the Feb. 16 search.
Experts verified the artwork as Degas' "Les Choristes" ("The Chorus Singers"), which depicts a scene from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni."
The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009 while on loan from Paris' Musee d'Orsay.
French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she was delighted by the recovery of a work "whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage."
Did stolen Caravaggio go to Switzerland?
Mafia informant claims the painting, which is included in the FBI’s list of top ten art crimes, was sold to a Swiss dealer
France Hopes Exhibit Of Nazi-Stolen Art Can Aid Stalled Search For Owners
A Stolen Watch Used to Mean Ready Cash for Thieves. Not Any More
More than £100,000 of jewellery stolen from antiques shop after burglars cut a hole in the roo
Police believe the thieves cut a hole in the roof of the building and climbed through it at around 9.50pm. They broke into a number of cabinets, probably using a jemmy, and emptied them.
Due to the quantity of items taken from a number of different antique and jewellery dealers, police are still in the process of itemising the thefts as part of their ongoing investigation.
However, stolen items include rings; bracelets; earrings; silver, gold and bespoke necklaces; antique pocket watches and high-value designer watches.
Initial estimates put the value of the stolen stock at more than £100,000.
Police have released images of some of the more distinctive pieces in the hope they will be recognised by members of the public.
- An 18-carat gold ring featuring ruby, diamonds and sapphire.
- A silver Maurice Lacroix wrist watch
- A distinctive tiered silver necklace with gemstone setting
- A number of silver and gem-based items of jewellery, including bespoke hand jewellery worn across the palm of the hand with a highly-distinctive leaf effect on the knuckles
Officers have released CCTV images of a person they want to trace as part of their investigation, which has also seen police carry out forensic tests at the scene and extensive enquiries around the area.
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “While the face of the person captured on CCTV is covered, we’re hoping that members of the public who were in the area at the time may remember seeing someone wearing similar items of clothing – a quilted jacket, possibly light in colour, jeans with a long belt, sporty trainers and a small Nike rucksack.
“We also believe there were quite a few members of the public in and around Roberts Street, which is to the rear of the Maplin store, and the surrounding streets and ginnels around the time of the break-in.
“If you were in this area at around 9.50pm on Tuesday and saw a person or group of people acting suspiciously, please let us know – the information may seem trivial to you but it may be important to our investigation.”
Anyone who has any information about the incident or the person pictured on CCTV, or witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 2 and ask for Amanda Hanusch-Moore.
You can also email PC Moore on Amanda.Hanusch-Moore@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12180024704 when sharing information.
Art Theft: Munch’s Oslo Museum ‘Scream’On the 12 of February 1994, the day of the opening of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, two men broke into Oslo’s National Gallery and lifted its version of The Scream. The painting had been moved down to a second-level gallery in honour of the Olympic festivities, presumably to become more accessible to the growing number of visitors. It took the thieves 50 seconds to climb a ladder, smash through a window and cut the uninsured artwork from the wall with wire cutters. They left their tools behind to make a swift exit, but not before writing a note reading “Thanks for the poor security”. The entire episode was filmed by security cameras. The international mass media covering the games sensationalised the incident, as expected.
In Lost Art, Jennifer Mundy writes, “In most cases it is clear why a work of art is lost. It can be wilfully destroyed or accidentally mislaid. It may never have been intended to endure; or the materials used may have proved ephemeral. But sometimes the loss can be the result of a cause or a motive that is more difficult to discern or understand. When a work of art is stolen it is usually obvious that the thieves knew what they were taking and why: to use as collateral in criminal activities, to resell on a black market and make major financial gain, or, occasionally, to grace the home of a private collector. (…) there may be an initial flurry of press reports, but a blanket of official silence quickly descends, as the police undertake their enquiries and, more often than not, owners await a ransom demand or contact from an intermediary. Typically, it may be several months or even several years before those holding a stolen artwork make any attempt to contact its owners.”
This was the case with Munch’s work too. After a month of laying low, the thieves demanded a US$1 million ransom from the gallery, but the latter refused to pay it. Instead, the Norwegian police set up a sting operation in collaboration with the British police and the Getty Museum and the painting was recovered undamaged on the 7th of May 1994. Two Metropolitan Police officers trapped the thieves by pretending they would buy the painting for £250,000. Apparently, it is quite common practice for British police to be involved in recuperating stolen art in Europe, partly because about 60% of it ends up trafficked or clandestinely auctioned in London.
Except for a tiny pinprick, The Scream was indeed found intact in Aasgaarstrand, a seaside town outside Oslo in south Norway where Munch painted many of his well-known works. Two years later, four men were convicted, including one who had already stolen Munch’s The Vampire years earlier, yet they were released on legal grounds as the British agents had operated in Norway under fake identities.
The extent and gravity of art theft is little known to the general public. “Art theft and the trafficking of stolen works of art is a major criminal business, perhaps the largest in terms of financial value after the illegal trade in arms and drugs. The FBI currently values criminal income from art theft at $6-8 billion a year. The Art Loss Register – a private company that documents and helps trace stolen or lost artworks, antiques and collectables – has over 300,000 items listed in its database and adds a further 10,000 each year. The theft of artworks is commonplace, but it becomes a news item, and lodged in the public’s memory, when the works are by major artists or when they are taken from museums. The loss in these cases is shared and public, and interest may be piqued by the enormous value of the artworks and by details of exactly how they were taken – particularly if there are echoes of well-known films.” (Jennifer Mundy, Lost Art). It is true that the cinema frequently glorifies the daring of art thieves. Macho art-heist films such as The Thomas Crown Affair (Steve McQueen), Entrapment (Sean Connery), Ocean’s 12 (Brad Pitt) and many more, revel the thrill of the cleverly orchestrated operation of removing a priceless item from the most securely guarded environments.
However, Hollywood perpetuates a flawed myth. Alastair Sooke of The Telegraph researched a far from glamorous, dark side of art theft: “pilfered art will accrue value on the black market. Typically, a stolen painting’s underworld currency will be between three and 10 per cent of its estimated legitimate value, as quoted in the media. (…) It could then be used as collateral, helping to finance drug deals, gun-running, tobacco trafficking, and other illicit activities. (…) “Since the introduction of money-laundering regulations, it has become unsafe for criminals to pay for their operations in cash,” says Dick Ellis, who set up the Art and Antiques Squad at New Scotland Yard. “With its black-market value, stolen art can easily be carried across international borders.” Keep that in mind next time you cheer the art thief in your favourite heist.
The estate of one of the “Grey Gardens” socialites has filed suit against an East Hampton art gallery, claiming that a decades-old portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is in fact a stolen family heirloom.
Representatives of the late Edith (Little Edie) Bouvier Beale — one half of the reclusive, formerly wealthy mother-daughter duo whose lives were chronicled in the 1976 documentary — insist they have the rightful claim on the painting that went missing in the late 1960s.
Edith (Little Edie) Beale and Onassis were first cousins.
The target of the suit is Terry Wallace, an established East End art dealer who insists the painting legitimately belongs to him.
Wallace told the Daily News he has no intention of turning over the prized portrait without a fight.
“I have clear title to the painting and I have clear ownership of the painting,” he said.
Wallace says he bought the work in the “late 1980s from a very reputable antiques dealer.” But he stopped short of identifying the dealer.
The piece of art at the center of the high-brow legal brawl in Long Island federal court was painted in 1950 long before then-19-year-old Jacqueline Lee Bouvier met John F. Kennedy.
It was commissioned by the future First Lady’s father, John Vernou Bouvier III — a well-heeled stockbroker nicknamed “Black Jack” — and painted by Irwin Hoffman.
Neither side would put a price tag on the painting but that’s perhaps the only thing they agree on.
Before he died, Black Jack gave the portrait to his sister Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, known as “Big Edie.”
Big Edie and Little Edie lived together at a decaying mansion in East Hampton known as Grey Gardens.
Before Little Edie's 2002 death in Florida at age 84, she reminded her nephew and future estate executor, that valuables like the painting were filched from Grey Gardens.
The suit said a 1998 Hamptons Magazine article showcased the portrait. Then in 2004, Beale’s nephew’s wife, Eva, spotted it at Wallace Gallery.
When she asked Wallace about the portrait's origins, he told her the same thing he would later tell The News — that it came from a dealer he refused to identify who had since died.
In 2016, Eva Beale found the 1998 article in Little Edie’s records and determined it was the stolen painting she was referring to years ago.
The suit was filed Thursday after Wallace rebuffed Beale's request to hand over the painting or at least provide information on its provenance.
“After the gallery repeatedly denied its requests for return of the Jackie portrait and for information about its provenance — information regularly provided to art buyers in the ordinary course of business — the Estate was forced to commence this action,” said Megan Noh, one of the estate's lawyers.
Noh called the portrait “a long-lost heirloom, a piece of the Bouvier family's legacy and, indeed, of American history.
“The family is very much looking forward to being reunited with it,” she added.
But Wallace said he wouldn't risk wrecking his business or reputation with questionable works after running his gallery for the past 25 years.
“If the painting was stolen, I would be the first one to give it back to them,” he said.
A Long-Lost Nigerian Masterpiece Found in a London Apartment Just Set a Record at Bonhams
The painting had been assumed lost for decades before the family that owned it invited a Bonhams specialist to appraise it late last year. “I was absolutely staggered when I first saw the piece. The owners, who had inherited it, had no idea of its current value,” Giles Peppiatt, the director of African art at Bonhams, told Nigerian novelist Ben Okri in the Financial Times.
The painting is “the most significant discovery in contemporary African art in over 50 years,” Okri wrote. “It is the only authentic Tutu, the equivalent of some rare archaeological find.”
Enwonwu tracked down the princess in the town of Ile-Ife and convinced the royal family to let him paint her portrait in 1974. The painting became a Nigerian icon, a sort of African Mona Lisa; poster reproductions hang on walls all over the country, according to the FT.
The pre-sale estimate for the work topped out at just £300,000 ($266,000). According to the artnet Price Database, the artist’s previous record at auction was £361,250 ($544,042) for a set of seven wooden sculptures commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960 and sold at Bonhams London in 2013.
Tutu was last publicly exhibited in 1975 at the Italian embassy in Lagos, and its whereabouts were unknown for decades. Enwonwu made three original Tutu works featuring Asemiluyi, of which this is the second. The other two have since been lost; the first version was stolen shortly before the artist’s death in 1994. (The sitter is believed to still be alive and living in Lagos, although members of her family are reportedly unsure of her exact whereabouts.)
“The portrait of Tutu is a national icon in Nigeria and of huge cultural significance. It is very exciting to have played a part in the discovery and sale of this remarkable work,” Peppiatt said in a statement. He said he has often been asked to examine Tutu works, but up until now they had all been prints.
Painted three years after the end of the Nigerian Civil War, Tutu was intended as an expression of national unity—the artist and the princess’s tribes had been on opposite sides of the conflict—and Enwonwu’s way of celebrating his country’s cultural identity. “He thought she epitomized what he was trying to push about Africa,” Oliver Enwonwu, the artist’s son, told the Guardian
'Stolen works' sentence of Picasso's electrician overturnedFrance's highest appeal court has overturned the conviction of Pablo Picasso's former electrician and his wife, who were given suspended sentences for keeping 271 of his works in their garage for four decades.
A higher court upheld the verdict in 2016 but the Cour de Cassation, in a ruling seen by AFP Thursday, overturned it.
Ruling there was insufficient evidence that "the goods held by the suspects had been stolen" the court ordered a retrial.
The couple's lawyer Antoine Vey hailed the ruling.
"It's a great decision which reinforces the line that Le Guennecs have always upheld -- that there was no theft whatsoever."
The retrial will offer them "a huge opportunity to finally establish the truth", Vey said.
The collection, whose value has not been assessed, 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 famous "blue period".
At his original trial Le Guennec, who is in his late seventies, claimed that Picasso had presented him with the artworks towards the end of his life to reward him for his loyal service.
But he later changed his account, telling the appeal court that the works were part of a huge trove of art that Picasso's widow Jacqueline asked him to conceal after the artist's death in 1973.
Le Guennec said he stored more than a dozen garbage bags of unsigned works which Jacqueline later retrieved, except for one which she left him saying: "Keep this, it's for you."
The affair came to light when Pierre Le Guennec attempted to get the works authenticated by Picasso's son Claude Ruiz-Picasso in 2010.
The artist's heirs promptly filed a complaint against him, triggering an investigation.