March 6, 2003


- Suspect in $7 Million Theft Jumps Bail
- Peter Max art stolen at auction in Parsippany
- Call for return of medieval brass
- Invisa's New Security Product Evaluated by Peabody Essex Museum
- High Court orders excavations in Ayodhya
- Museum facade ruling

Suspect in $7 Million Theft Jumps Bail

An alleged art thief, released from jail shortly before a $1.1 million bond could be imposed, did not appear in court Tuesday and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Femando Alfaro, 46, didn't show up for his arraignment on charges that he and two other men stole a painting by Monet and another by Renoir from a Naples mansion last December. The paintings have a combined value of nearly $7 million.

Peter Max art stolen at auction in Parsippany

By James A. Duffy, Daily Record

PARSIPPANY - Two valuable paintings by artist Peter Max, who has enjoyed phenomenal success beginning in the 1960s with brilliantly colored psychedelic images tied to the decade's youth culture, have been stolen from an auction at the Hilton off Route 10, police said Tuesday.
The works, entitled "Angel with Heart" and "Flag with Heart," are valued at more than $27,000 combined. "We don't have any leads," said Parsippany police Sgt. Jeffrey Storms. Authorities first received word of a theft on Feb. 23, when an employee of Park West Galley - a Michigan art house that sponsored the Parsippany auction - called to say "Angel with Heart" had been taken sometime that weekend. That piece is priced at $10,840. And then on Monday, after taking a full inventory, the gallery worker called again to report that a second painting, "Flag with Heart," worth $16,740, also was missing. A version of that work was recently sold for $25,000 by Diva Art Group in Nevada. From bold, cosmic landscapes in the 1960s to sensuous renderings in the 1990s, Max's imagery has exerted a sweeping influence in the world of art that is often compared by critics to the Beatles' impact on music. "He's everywhere," said Lori D'Agostino, eight-year manager at the Great Frame Up in Morristown. "We're constantly framing his things."
Two weeks ago, a Morristown family that knows Max brought D'Agostino an original painting and two of his prints, both of which were signed to the two girls in the family. All told, the three frames cost about $2,000, store owner Eric Rothstein said. Based in New York City, Max celebrates the American experience and revels in popular American iconography, as reflected in the vibrant and exuberant images he created as the official artist for the World Cup in 1994 and for Super Bowls XXVIII and XXIX. Unabashedly patriotic, he has created numerous works celebrating America's principles of freedom and democracy, including his famous Statue of Liberty paintings, series of American flags and works made for five U.S. presidents: George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford. And last year, he presented to first lady Laura Bush a limited- edition print of the White House he created for the 30th anniversary of the American Institute for Public Service's Jefferson Awards. In 1974, Max created the first-ever 10-cent stamp, which reads, "Preserve the Environment." More recently, Max has immersed himself in artwork that promotes causes about which he is passionate - human and animal rights, ecology, the environment and world peace. He has been called a pop icon, a neo-fauvist, an abstract expressionist and, most notably, the United States' "painter laureate." During October in Washington, D.C., Max held exhibitions of paintings from his "Pop to Patriotism" series.
In recent years, Max has been known from his vivid portraits of the 343 firefighters killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to the 235 U.S. border murals that welcome millions of people into the country. For Morris County, the recent thefts bring back memories of another high-priced loss: the January 1998 disappearance of $150,000- worth of antique gold jewelry from a show held at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. In that still-unsolved case - which was featured almost three years later as the Crime Stoppers "Crime of the Week" - thieves bypassed a sophisticated alarm system and two security guards to take hundreds of 18-karat gold bracelets, necklaces and chains from the 1940s and 1950s that belonged to two vendors. "We haven't had anything like this happen in 25 years," the show's promoter, Rona Kohler, said at the time. "I'm in a state of shock. I never thought this could happen."

James A. Duffy can be reached at or (973) 267- 7947.

Call for return of medieval brass

March 5, 2003 05:44

PARISHIONERS are calling for the return of a "stolen" medieval brass which is currently in the vaults of a United States museum.
The brass, showing a member of the prominent Colby family, was removed from St Laurence Church at Brundish, near Stradbroke, some time during the past 170 years. One report suggests it disappeared in 1838 but, according to local people, it was still in the church in 1926 and may not have been taken to the United States until the 1950s. Today it is in the vaults of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Last night, nobody from the museum was available for comment. A descendent of the Colby family in the US has complained to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the theft of the brass and an FBI officer has spoken to churchwardens at Brundish. A copy of the brass was made in the 1980s and handed over to Brundish Church where it now hangs on the wall. However, churchwardens are calling for the brass to be returned to its rightful home. "In the present climate it would be a grand gesture on behalf of the Anglo-American movement to return the original to us and take back the copy," said Gerald Western, one of the local churchwardens. Mr Western said the original was not being displayed in the museum but the curators were still reluctant to part with it. David Mulrenan , lay elder and secretary of the parochial church council, said: "We are planning to set up a Friends of St Laurence dedicated to the upkeep of fabric of church and we need as much support as we can, particularly in trying to retrieve what is rightfully ours."
The cause of Brundish parishioners has been taken up by the Monumental Brass Society which claims that Britain's collection of burial brasses – known as tomb plates – has never been so vulnerable. The society was responsible for discovering the Brundish brass and another, from Brinkley in Cambridgeshire, in the US. Secretary, Martin Sutchfield, said: "We are appealing to their consciences to allow us to have them back and we will ensure they go back to their churches of origin." The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings is also warning that churches and historic houses are still suffering from an epidemic of thefts. Five church brasses were taken in the space of six weeks in the West Country last year and, countrywide, 3,500 items were stolen from churches.

Invisa's New Security Product Evaluated by Peabody Essex Museum and Ducibella, Venter and Santore

2003-03-03 17:46 ET - News Release

SARASOTA, Fla., March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Invisa, Inc. (Ticker symbol: INSA) announced today that its new InvisaShield(TM) security product has been evaluated at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. The company said museum officials conducted in-depth demonstrations and field tests of the product in a variety of exhibition environments. The evaluation verified that the patented InvisaShield(TM) technology provides an important new level of non- invasive protection for art, artifacts and other exhibits.
Bob Monk, director of facilities and security at the Peabody Essex Museum, said, "Like many museums, the Peabody Essex is committed to providing quality security for our exhibits with minimum interference with the public's ability to enjoy its exhibits. Invisa's new security product is easily adaptable to meet our specific needs. InvisaShield(TM) is a great solution for many security needs because it is invisible and does not disrupt the public's view and enjoyment of the exhibit. We are excited about the opportunity to use Invisa products once final approvals are obtained."
The evaluation was conducted in cooperation with Essex Alarms, a highly respected New England security installation company responsible for extensive security upgrades and additions to the museum, and Ducibella, Venter and Santore, an internationally respected security, consultation and engineering firm that specializes in the design and implementation of security systems for government, industry and museums.
Robert Ducibella, president of the firm, said, "The cultural institution community participated in a live evaluation of InvisaShield(TM) during its development phase and identified the product as having highly significant potential for the non-invasive protection of cultural and historic artifacts. In our opinion, InvisaShield(TM) can protect valuables on display in museums and galleries in a manner not possible with any other product."
Steve Michael, president of Invisa, said, "We are pleased that the evaluation of our new InvisaShield(TM) security product by a leading museum and engineering firm so clearly confirmed its value in protecting exhibits and assets. The Ducibella security engineering firm together with top Peabody Essex security officials and other industry leaders have suggested a number of product enhancements, which we are now incorporating into our final product. We believe our planned launch of the InvisaShield(TM) product in the second quarter of 2003 will have a significant impact on the museum industry. We appreciate the support and input from these industry leaders and look forward to maintaining and expanding our professional relationships with both the Peabody Essex Museum and the Ducibella, Venter and Santore engineering firm."
Founded in 1799, the Peabody Essex museum is America's oldest continually operating museum and houses major collections of art and culture from around the world. The New York Times has described the museum as a "cross-cultural marvel." The museum offers a fascinating exploration of art, architecture and culture collected over two centuries. A major new exhibit is Yin Yu Tang, a late Qing Dynasty Chinese merchant's house that has been brought to the museum as part of a cultural exchange between China and the United States. The museum's exhibits are closed until June 21st while the Yin Yu Tang house and other major upgrades and additions to the museum, its exhibits and its security systems are being completed.
The security market for museums, public and private exhibitors and collectors includes libraries, civic buildings, government buildings, universities, public and corporate buildings and other facilities where tens of millions of valuable or irreplaceable artifacts and works of art are displayed or stored. Invisa estimates an annual market potential for hundreds of thousands of Invisa units per year.
A significant sampling of leaders in the museum, exhibitor and collector market has demonstrated an immediate interest in and demand for Invisa's new security products. The demand is driven by a need to protect valuable and irreplaceable objects from touch as well as from theft and vandalism without disrupting the ability of the public to fully experience the exhibit. The demand is magnified by the inability of current technologies to meet this need. By working with leading consultants and security engineering firms to the museum industry and with a number of prestigious museums, Invisa believes its new security product will fully meet the market need while supporting our efforts to establish industry-wide product reputation and acceptance.
Invisa is commercializing the patented InvisaShield(TM) technology, which was developed through a commitment of millions of dollars and a decade of research and development. InvisaShield(TM) represents a new generation of presence sensing technology offering the potential to significantly impact the multi-billion dollar life safety and security industries, which currently rely upon older technologies. For many applications, InvisaShield(TM) has provided novel presence sensing solutions, as well as operational advantages such as increased design and application flexibility, larger and more dependable sensing zones, greater effectiveness and reduced maintenance and down-time. The company initially introduced products for safety applications in the powered closure industry and is currently further expanding into the household, industrial, commercial and governmental security markets.

An investment profile on Invisa may be found at

For Product and Technology Information: Invisa, Inc. (800) 863-9361 - Corporate Headquarters - Invisa, Inc. 4400 Independence Court, Sarasota, Florida 34234 (941) 355-9361 Fax (941) 355-9373

For Investor Relations Information: Frank Hawkins or Julie Marshall - Hawk Associates (305) 852-2383. Email:

For International Investor Relations Information: J.A. Michie - G.M. Capital Partners 011-411- 226-5000. Email:


The President of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Michael Petzet has applied to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) requesting it dispatch a team of experts to evaluate the destruction of the Armenian cemetery in the Jugha region (presently Julfa) in the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan that previously housed around 3000 Khachkars, and is considered to be a historical monument, Armenpress reported.
The ICOMOS Armenia office recently notified the press about illegal actions taken by Azerbaijan to destroy the Jugha monuments. More recently, it called on Petzet to take appropriate measures in stopping continuous occurrences of vandalism, and asked that UNESCO mediate by sending experts (to include both Armenian and Azeris) to the area. In making their case, ICOMOS-Armenia compiled documents, including photographs of the destruction taking place. Some of the photographs were taken in November 2002, when a large number of Khachkars (cross-stones) and tombstones had already either been vandalized or simply removed from the site, while the other half was taken much earlier, showing all the monuments intact.
The 2002/03 "Endangered Heritage" ICOMOS almanac published to inform the world about historical monuments that have either been destroyed or are on the verge of destruction will provide detailed information and photographs of Old Jugha.

High Court orders excavations in Ayodhya

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | March 05, 2003 21:41 IST

A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court on Wednesday asked the Archaeological Survey of India to undertake excavations at the disputed site in Ayodhya to ascertain whether a temple existed at the place where Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished by Hindu zealots on December 6, 1992. The court directed the ASI to start the excavations within a week and complete the task in 30 days. The ASI has been asked to keep a distance of at least 10-feet from the makeshift temple that was erected immediately after the demolition of the 16th century Babri mosque. The court order for excavation was opposed by the counsel for the Ramjanmbhoomi Trust on the ground that it infringed the Supreme Court order for maintenance of status quo at the disputed site.
The bench, however, pointed out that the apex court's order for status quo was addressed to the rival parties [in the dispute], "not to this court." The court has earmarked a 100 ft X 100 ft area where the excavations would be carried out. Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor, Zafaryab Jilani, welcomed the court order. The court order came a day before the crucial hearing in the Supreme Court on whether the undisputed part of the land acquired by the government in the aftermath of the demolition should be handed back to its rightful owners.

Museum facade ruling

By Tamás S Kiss

A committee of the Budapest City Council has ruled that a steel frame round the outside of the House of Terror Museum must be taken down.
The decision came barely a week after around 30,000 people took to the streets in support of the Andrássy út museum, built under the previous Fidesz-led Government, on its first anniversary. The decision on the controversial "pengefal" (literally meaning "blade wall") was made at an exceptional meeting of the Fôvárosi Városképvédelmi Bizottság (Capital Urban Landscape Protection Committee) on the grounds that it did not fit in with its surroundings and was illegally built without a permit. Opposition Fidesz and far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) members had walked out in protest prior to the vote. "The pengefal at the House of Terror museum must must be torn down as it was built without a permit," said Gábor Demszky, the Free Democrat (SZDSZ) Mayor of Budapest. Mária Schmidt, director in charge of the District VI House of Terror, said the debate was primarily a political one and had nothing to do with the city’s landscape. She said that the since the museum opened it had been the epicenter of a political earthquake. "The museum has become a political symbol, as has the pengefal, which is a symbolic obituary [to the victims of the Communist and Nazi regimes]," she said, adding that only with this was the museum a complete and suitable commemoration of the past terror it represents.
"Tearing down the pengefal would be sacrilegious," she said, adding the museum would take legal steps to prevent its removal by the "City Council’s bulldozers". A week previous to this decision the committee, with only opposition members present, voted to give the frame a three-year permit. Demszky however vetoed this and called a new committee meeting, this time with all present where the Socialist (MSZP) and SZDSZ members were in the majority.
One of the main arguments against the steel structure was that it occupies half a meter of the sidewalk on the corner where it meets the pavement. Demszky said it "must go" as it is "unacceptable both legally and from an urban landscape point of view". Szilárd Sasvári, chairman of the Fidesz caucus at the Budapest City Council, said, "Andrássy út became a Unesco World Heritage site together with the Terror House museum’s current facade, therefore there is no reason from an urban landscape point of view for any objection to the pengefal." Fidesz MP Csaba Hende said, "The phone lines of democracy are burning hot." He said the bosses of the museum had the right to a legal resolution of the political tug of war. "It is possible to appeal the City Council’s decision," he said, adding that the case could be dragged back to the Fôvárosi Közigazgatási Hivatal (Capital Administrative Office). "If it can’t be solved there it can always be taken to court," he said.