LONDON - A vandal cut the string an artist used to bind together the nude lovers depicted in Auguste Rodin's sculpture "The Kiss," the museum displaying it said Saturday.
Artist Cornelia Parker wrapped the famous piece in a mile-long spool of string for display in a modern art exhibition at London's Tate Britain art gallery. Called "The Distance: A Kiss With Added String," the museum said the string emphasized the confining nature of romantic relationships.
A man attacked the piece and damaged the string, the museum said. Conservators were examining the sculpture but the museum said it did not appear to have been harmed.
Scotland Yard said it detained a 36-year-old man on suspicion of criminal damage. He was not charged and police did not release his name.
The three-month exhibition, "Days Like These," began in February. Afterward, the string will be removed from the sculpture.
Rodin sculpted "The Kiss" in marble between 1901-1904.
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Tate Britain: http://www.tate.org.uk/home/default.htm
Greece makes its case for Elgin Marbles at New York exhibit
By DAVID MINTHORN Associated Press Writer
April 6, 2003, 10:20 AM EDT
NEW YORK -- The halves of a carving depicting an ancient Greek chariot race interlock on the gallery wall like parts of a jigsaw puzzle.
"Both pieces, currently divided between Athens and London, should be rejoined at the New Acropolis Museum," says the caption.
Greece is presenting its case for the return of the Elgin Marbles in an exhibit at the Alexander S. Onassis Cultural Center in Manhattan, using nationalism, finger-pointing and appeals to fair play to gain support.
The spectacular setting awaiting the treasured sculptures _ if they're ever returned from exile _ is laid out in "The New Acropolis Museum." But like mythical playthings of the gods, these fifth century B.C. carvings may be fated to remain in Britain, their destiny ordained by museum politics.
Greece is rushing to build the $100 million New Acropolis Museum to house the Marbles for the 2004 Summer Olympics, locating it next to the rocky citadel in the heart of ancient Athens. The three-level museum will be topped with a glass-walled Parthenon Gallery to display the carvings in brilliant sunlight, just 800 feet from, and slightly below, the temple they once adorned.
Innovative and earthquake-proof, the museum aims to rebut longtime British objections to the Elgin Marbles' return _ that Greece lacked first-rate display space to assure the safety of the 480-foot-long section of the Parthenon frieze.
British officials are also worried that a repatriation of the Marbles, even on loan, could set a precedent for other claims on antiquities removed from original sites.
The Greeks counter that the Marbles belong in their homeland, and they've proposed opening an Athens' branch of the British Museum so the sculptures would be maintained under British ownership.
Contacts "are being held at multiple levels _ political, public opinion, between experts ... we do not think the British side has 'shut the door' to communication with the Greek side," said Dimitris Pandermalis, president of the museum construction organization.
The tale of the 2,500-year-old Marbles _ 17 figures depicting an Athenian procession _ is almost Homeric. The carvings were purchased in 1803 by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Athens at the time. The sculptures were dismantled from the Parthenon, shipped to London and sold to the British Museum, quickly becoming the most celebrated pieces in the collection.
The new museum "offers the opportunity for Britain ... to reunify the sculptures of the Parthenon for this and subsequent generations," Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos writes in the exhibit catalog.
Until the sculptures are returned, Venizelos adds, "the spaces for the metopes, frieze, and figures of the pediment will remain void _ as a constant reminder of this unfilled debt to world heritage."
The frieze formed an ornamental band of marble carvings around the top of the Parthenon. Additional sculptures decorated the metopes _ openings for structural beams _ and the pediment, or portico, on the roof line.
Greece will show the remnants of the Parthenon frieze that it managed to keep, along with other Athenian treasures, at the New Acropolis Museum opening for the Summer Games. Other stages of the museum will follow. The New York exhibit, open through April 9 with no entry fee, features elaborate scale models of the new museum, including a detailed layout of the entire Acropolis site, architectural drawings and topography maps.
Four priceless relief sculptures in marble dating from the sixth, fifth and fourth centuries B.C. are also shown.
The architectural elements will be displayed April 22-May 24 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London as a part of an exhibit on the 2004 Summer Games and its impact on Athens. However, the marble reliefs won't be sent to London, said Amalia Cosmetatou, director of cultural events for the Onassis foundation. The 250,000-square-foot museum is going up at the southern base of the Acropolis, at the ancient road that led up to the "sacred rock" in classical times under the great leader, Pericles. A 1.5-mile walkway links the archaeological sites in this font of Western civilization.
Visitors will ascend through the galleries to the top level, where the crowning gallery is being laid out on the same plane and with the precise geometry and harmonious dimensions of the columned Parthenon.
Architect Bernard Tschumi of New York, who won the competition to design the New Acropolis Museum, is using glass walls, skylights and an atrium to bring Athens' brilliant sunlight into the museum to illuminate the sculptures.
The principle is demonstrated in the exhibit with a spotlight-with-dimmer directed at the relief sculptures to show how the carved figures become highly visible and then obscure in the changing light. ___
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Met publishes first 'Most Wanted' list of fugitives
By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
A top 10 of Britain's "most wanted" fugitives, including suspected murderers and rapists, and alleged child sex offenders, was published by Scotland Yard for the first time yesterday.
Photographs and descriptions of the nine wanted men and one woman, with details of their alleged offences, were posted on the Metropolitan Police website.
Most of the suspects, many of whom are considered extremely dangerous, have connections outside London and several are wanted for offences abroad.
Peter Bellwood, 50, is wanted for questioning by both Danish and Welsh police over the theft of thousands of antiquarian maps and prints stripped from 16th-century and 17th-century books in libraries throughout Europe.
The decision to copy the American "Most Wanted" tactic is a U-turn for Scotland Yard. A Met statement on the force's website says: "The Metropolitan Police Service took the decision some years ago not to publish a 'Most Wanted Suspects' list because it was felt some criminals would play on the special notoriety it would offer." The decision to publicise the names is part of the force's drive to tackle murder and other serious crimes.
US accused of plans to loot Iraqi antiques
By Liam McDougall, Arts Correspondent
FEARS that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration. It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections.
The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US.
Before the Gulf war, a main strand of the ACCP's campaigning has been to persuade its government to revise the Cultural Property Implementation Act in order to minimise efforts by foreign nations to block the import into the US of objects, particularly antiques. News of the group's meeting with the government has alarmed scientists and archaeologists who fear the ACCP is working to a hidden agenda that will see the US authorities ease restrictions on the movement of Iraqi artefacts after a coalition victory in Iraq.
Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, leading Cambridge archaeologist and director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, said: 'Iraqi antiquities legislation protects Iraq. The last thing one needs is some group of dealer-connected Americans interfering. Any change to those laws would be absolutely monstrous. '
A wave of protest has also come from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), which says any weakening of Iraq's strict antiquities laws would be 'disastrous'. President Patty Gerstenblith said: 'The ACCP's agenda is to encourage the collecting of antiquities through weakening the laws of archaeologically-rich nations and eliminate national ownership of antiquities to allow for easier export. '
The ACCP has caused deep unease among archaeologists since its creation in 2001. Among its main members are collectors and lawyers with chequered histories in collecting valuable artefacts, including alleged exhibitions of Nazi loot.
They denied accusations of attempting to change Iraq's treatment of archaeological objects. Instead, they said at the January meeting they offered 'post-war technical and financial assistance', and 'conservation support'. http://www.sundayherald.com/
Library historian cracks a theft case
By JENNIFER LANGSTON SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
EVERETT -- A sharp-eyed library historian cracked a theft case this week after recognizing a rare photograph stolen from the Snohomish County Museum and Historical Association.
His discovery led to the arrest of an Everett man who had allegedly been pilfering historical photos from the museum and peddling them to the library and other local collectors for pocket change.
Police found thousands of photographs in storage cases and tacked to the walls of his apartment, though they're unsure how many of those were stolen.
The library bought several stolen photographs of a historic Weyerhaeuser building from the man last fall. Another local collector bought pictures for $5 a pop of historic Everett streetscapes, and mine workers goofing off.
"It was just brazen," said Jack O'Donnell, who bought about two dozen items during the past three months when he'd bump into the man at the library's historical collection. "Obviously everything was a lie. He certainly didn't care about history."
Police believe the 53-year-old man, who has not yet been charged with a crime, had a master key to the turn-of-the-century building that houses apartments and the museum on the ground floor.
Officials believe he's been lifting items since the museum moved in nine months ago.
Snohomish County Museum Director Eric Taylor said he had noticed that things appeared to be missing, but he chalked that up to the confusion of moving more than 5,000 photographs and other artifacts.
"I was starting to question my sanity because these things were not where they were supposed to be," he said. "But it was insidious. It's the kind of thing that happened slowly over time so that you wouldn't notice."
But earlier this week the man brought a ripped out page of a scrapbook to the Everett Public Library, asking historian David Dilgard if he could identify a photograph of a burned-out stairwell.
The man said he'd bought it from a 90-year-old Burlington woman who carted around old photographs in the trunk of her car.
But Dilgard, a renowned historian who presides over the library's extensive collection of photographs, old maps, sound recordings and other artifacts, knew the picture was taken in 1920 after a fire gutted the city's YMCA building.
The man left it with Dilgard, who was already suspicious: He also knew only one copy of that photograph existed, and that it belonged to the Snohomish County Museum.
By matching up a crease in the corner of the photograph with a paper copy on file at the museum, the historian quickly determined it was stolen and contacted police.
But the man had bamboozled the county's most knowledgeable history buffs for months. O'Donnell said the man was chatty and conversant about everything from local Puget Sound history to European travel.
Yesterday afternoon, as Taylor was being interviewed at the museum, O'Donnell brought in a manila folder full of photographs and postcards he'd bought from the man. Taylor instantly recognized several as items that had gone missing.
The Everett library even bought several photographs from the man last fall. He was offering them for $10 apiece, and because they weren't one of a kind there was no way to know their source, Dilgard said.
"Until you get stung, you tend not to be suspicious," said the 26-year library veteran.
"I don't think we've ever been burned before, and that says a lot about what value this community puts on his heritage."
Taylor, who works part time in the small museum, said he hoped the theft would put the community on notice about the museum's need for secure space.
The museum, which displays railroad photographs, butter churns, old druggist vials and other historical artifacts, had to move its archival collection from its longtime home last year after the building's landlord decided to expand a dance studio there.
The move to a once-swanky turn-of-the-century hotel in downtown Everett was supposed to be temporary, he said.
There's only 750 square feet of display space, and most artifacts have to be stored off-site.
The 250-member non-profit historical association that runs the museum has been trying to work with the city and local developers to find donated or rent-reduced space.
"I think this incident points to the fact that we need a viable space," Taylor said.
"We're coming up on our 50-year anniversary and we still don't have a permanent home."
P-I reporter Jennifer Langston can be reached at 425-252-5235 or email@example.com
PM's plans for war memorial shock historians
06 April 2003 By JONATHAN MILNE
Historians are appalled by secret plans to knock out the front of the National War Memorial and replace it with Helen Clark's proposed Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
The plans were to have been announced on Anzac Day, April 25, and it is to be built by Armistice Day on November 11.
A resource consent application to alter the Carillon war memorial is before a Wellington City Council committee but there are no plans to seek public submissions.
Sources indicated the council was told by the prime minister's office that if the project was not speedily approved it would instead go to Auckland.
The Professional Historians Association says it has raised its concerns with Clark.
Association member Tony Nightingale said the removal of the memorial's formal entrance constituted "a major, irreversible alteration to a place of great national significance".
"At the very least, given that this is a Category 1 historic place, it might have been expected that attempts would be made to keep the loss to an absolute minimum."
The plan would demolish the stairs leading up to the Carillon, demolish the fountain and pool, remove up to 12 historic pohutakawa trees and relocate the sculpture of Gallipoli hero Richard Henderson and his donkey.
A new flight of stairs would be built from Buckle St to the Carillon, with the four-metre high tomb placed in the middle.
An independent report from conservation architect Chris Cochran is understood to slate the proposal as desecrating one of New Zealand's most important monuments.
It identified the National War Memorial as one of the country's three most constitutionally significant buildings, along with parliament and the Treaty House at Waitangi.
The report also said the tomb could have been built at two other places within the National War Memorial complex that would not have required the demolition of the steps and forecourt.
The site is owned by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, responsible for protecting New Zealand's heritage, but historians said it had not created a conservation plan for the memorial.
Wellington City Council planning director Stephen Rainbow said the council would take account of heritage concerns about the site but suggested the tomb could be a piece of "future heritage" for the city.
"We are working very closely with the government on their proposal and we'll be making a decision on that very soon."
Public hearings were unlikely to be called: "Only a small percentage of resource consents are publicly notified - and this is not likely to be amongst them," he said.
The Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association said it was "100% behind" the proposal.
"The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior will enhance the National War Memorial," said spokesman Bill Hopper.
Clark has said the tomb will hold the remains of an unknown World War One soldier, repatriated from the war graves of Western Europe, to represent the 28,000 New Zealanders buried in graves overseas.
Art sales: theft
Will Bennett on what happens when owners are held to ransom
A thief who snatches a Rembrandt or a Monet from the walls of a gallery or stately home has stolen something that, in theory, is worth the same as the proceeds of a major bank robbery. In the process, he has probably earned himself some kudos in the murky byways of the criminal underworld.
Yet the theft of major paintings is essentially illogical. Contrary to popular belief, high-profile pictures are rarely stolen to order, and the resulting publicity means that they are impossible to sell on the open market.
In reality, they pass through a number of hands fairly quickly, and for a variety of reasons. Titian's Rest on the Flight to Egypt, for example, had an extremely chequered history after it was stolen from the Marquess of Bath's Longleat home in 1995. The thieves sold it on for a relatively small sum to a family of London gangsters, who in turn gave it to a well-known figure in the sporting world to settle a feud. The latter enjoyed it for a time before passing it on to some criminals on the south coast.
The two Turner paintings belonging to the Tate Gallery, which were stolen from an exhibition in Germany in 1994, are thought to have subsequently been in the possession of several Serbian gangsters. Shade and Darkness - the Evening of the Deluge and Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) - the Morning after the Deluge may have been used as collateral in drugs deals.
The Turners and the Titian have been recovered, but Jean-Baptiste Oudry's The White Duck, stolen from the Marquess of Cholmondeley in 1992, is still missing and is thought to be with a family of travellers.
Mystery still surrounds the return of the Turners and the Titian. The Longleat painting surfaced in a plastic shopping bag at a London bus stop last year when a £100,000 reward was paid to a middleman described as "a cross between Arthur Daley and Lovejoy". One of the Turners was found in 2000, but its discovery was kept secret until the second picture turned up last December. The Tate said that it had spent £3.5 million on the search for the paintings, much of which was handed over to informants.
Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, admitted that although the gallery believed it had not paid any money to the thieves, it could not be absolutely certain that this was so.
Therein lies a potential problem. The level of insurance premiums on paintings paid by collectors, dealers and public galleries is dependent on the fact that most criminals avoid stealing pictures because they are difficult to dispose of. "Premiums for art are only 10 per cent of those for jewellery for the simple reason that there is not so much of a market for stolen pictures," says David Scully, underwriting director at the leading art insurers AXA. Jewellery, by contrast, is easy to break up and sell on.
There are fears that if further large sums are paid out for the recovery of stolen paintings, art theft may become a more viable option for criminals. The worry is that the dividing line between a reward and a ransom could become blurred. "We are very concerned that if there are big rewards then these are going to encourage the theft of art," says Robert Read, a leading underwriter at Hiscox, another major art insurer.
One insurance company recently refused to pay out a reward to recover a stolen £150,000 painting by the Victorian artist John Atkinson Grimshaw because it was worried that it was effectively paying a ransom. Charles Hill, the specialist private detective who recovered the Titian, insists that the middleman who received the £100,000 was not involved in the theft of the painting. "You cannot pay a ransom," he says.
Hill admits that he and other art theft investigators operate in a grey area which the police have now largely abandoned to the private sector. "You have to look at each case," he says, "and try to make hard-and-fast rules about where the line is between a reward and a ransom." But the Tate case in particular worries the insurance world. One source says: "If it gets around that art theft is a worthwhile thing to do, then there will be more of it. That could mean that everyone, including dealers and private collectors, will be paying more to insure their paintings."