“The charge of nationalism (whether outdated or au courant) is frequently levelled at those seeking the repatriation of cultural treasures to those nations and communities from which they were extracted. But nations have always used their own material culture as a means of constructing and expressing their national identity. There is nothing implicitly damaging or divisive in that. However it becomes so when the objects being used are not indigenous to that country but instead material extracted from other nations during periods of imperial conquest or colonial adventure.” Tom Flynn (1)

 

 

Queen-mother Idia, Benin/Nigeria, now in the British Museum.

Could the demand for her return by the African States participating in FESTAC be nationalistic whilst the refusal by the United Kingdom is not? (2)

 

In recent months, some writers such as James Cuno have been throwing about the accusation of nationalism as if it were such a bad phenomenon for culture or, indeed, as if it were incompatible with culture or somehow bad for cultural development:

“Nationalist retentionist cultural property laws segregate the world’s cultural property within the borders of modern nation-states. Most often, as I have discussed them in this book such laws are focussed on antiquities; that is, on works of art made long before there were nations. National and international laws, regulations, and agreements typically define antiquities as works of art made at least 150 years ago. They claim antiquities found (or thought to have been found) within their national borders as a nation’s patrimony, as important to that nation’s identity and esteem, and not to our understanding of the world. Quite explicitly, they claim them as a nation’s property, as bearing the imprint of a national identity.” (3)

 

Full text

September 29th, 2008

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects, Mailing list reports

Tags:

An inside job?

By Eli Askhenazi

Tags: Reuven Sade, Israel, Safed

In the storeroom of the Mane-Katz Museum on Mount Carmel in Haifa, “Woman with Circus Horse” awaits the day on which it will be shown to the public. “It’s a great painting. You see an exuberant horse with a circus woman on its back and a clown below. It is a very typical Mane-Katz work,” the museum’s director, Noa Tarshish, says with a sigh of sadness.

The painting’s journey, which began 55 years ago with the artist’s generosity, continued with neglect on the part of Safed municipality and ended in theft, is not yet over. “Woman with Circus Horse” will have to go on waiting in the storeroom until its role as trial evidence concludes.

Tarshish uncovered the theft about a year ago, after a gallery owner from Herzliya contacted her and told her that the painting had reached him “after being in the possession of someone named Glitzenstein in Safed.” A quick search through the museum’s database made it clear that the painting, which had once been on display in Safed’s Glitzenstein Museum, had been moved to city hall and was stolen from there in 2005. Tarshsish, who is herself Safed-born, contacted the municipality immediately, but got the impression that no one there was interested in the story. Advertisement

Last October, when she had already despaired of the case, she received a call from the Israel branch of Sotheby’s, the auction house, asking for an opinion about the same painting. “It was amazing,” Tarshish says. “I contacted the chairwoman of Sotheby’s, Rivka Saker, and told her the painting was stolen.”

The investigation was transferred to the police Northern District fraud unit and began to make progress.

Almost a year later, the investigators believe they know who was behind the theft: Safed deputy mayor Reuven Sade. He was arrested this week on suspicion of having stolen six paintings by Emmanuel Mane-Katz in three burglaries from the Safed city hall. Last Tuesday the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court remanded him until today. Arrested with him were Tamir Greenberg, 39, from Jerusalem, and Freddy Yaakobi, 66, from Ra’anana, both suspected of acting as middlemen in the sale of the paintings.

Mane-Katz, a Jewish painter of international repute, who is best known for his depictions of the Jewish shtetl, surely never imagined that paintings he donated in 1953 to the city that was then the art capital of Israel would be stolen by its deputy mayor. But Safed today is hardly the same city that Mane-Katz knew.

“The artists’ quarter was the holy of holies,” Tarshish recalls. In the 1950s and 1960s, the ancient lanes of the former Muslim quarter, in which the artists’ quarter was established, together with the synagogues and the crystalline air drew to the city leading artists such as Yosl Bergner, Moshe Castel and Menahem Shemi. Safed became the center of the plastic arts in Israel, and housed some of the country’s most important galleries.

“The artists’ quarter throbbed with life,” recalls David Amiel, a tour guide and historian of Safed. “Some of the country’s top nightclubs were located here, with debut performances by Jimmy Lloyd, Aris San and Naomi Shemer.”

Shemer put on her show “The Ten Just Men,” which featured some of her best-known songs, in the After Hours club. The club’s entertainment team included the young performers Shaike Levy and Gavri Banai, who would later constitute two-thirds of the iconic Hagashash Hahiver comedy troupe. Close by was the famous Nights of Canaan club.

Safed became a tourist attraction in the modest Israel of that era. “About 40 hotels were built in the city, which became affluent thanks to the tourism influx,” Amiel says. “There was a rich community life and active movie theaters. The education system was superb, and the city stood out in the sport of fencing – I myself was on the Olympic team.”

“It was a colorful, lovely city, a city of religious and secular living together in harmony, a city of health and beauty,” Tarshish sums up.

As befits a city of art, the Glitzenstein Museum was opened in 1953 in the city center. To mark the event, Mane-Katz donated eight of his works to the institution. This was not a donation by a distant philanthropist. Mane-Katz, who was born in Ukraine in 1894 and lived in Paris from the age of 19, was a regular visitor to Israel. Armed with a special permit from the police commissioner, Yehezkel Sahar, which allowed him to wander throughout the country and paint freely, Mane-Katz visited Safed on his travels and decided to help the museum. When he died in 1962, he knew his paintings were in safe hands.

“It’s hard for me to speak ill of the city,” Amiel says. But he knows the situation: “The decline began in the mid-1980s. A disadvantaged population arrived in the city, mostly Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] and hasidic. Safed became a poor city – many of its inhabitants do not pay municipal taxes.”

The artists left for the center of the country, and nowadays Safed, population 32,000, finds itself with a large cumulative deficit which the mayor, Yishai Maimon, claims to have reduced to NIS 12 million from NIS 60 million, though the opposition maintains that the deficit is NIS 40 million. On top of this, 2,500 families are under the care of the city’s social-welfare department. In recent years the Interior Ministry has appointed an accountant to oversee the municipality’s bookkeeping.

The municipal spokesman, Moshe Ohana, agrees that things are not good. “This is a hard city,” he says. “A municipality lives from local taxes, and we are not Kfar Sava. Many residents are exempted from municipal taxes by law, and NIS 24 million – a fifth of the budget – is earmarked for social-welfare payments.” Nevertheless, he says, Safed continues to attract tourists and art lovers, and new hotels will soon be built in the city to meet the demand.

That optimism is not universally shared. “The city has become sad and hallucinatory,” Amiel says, “a refuge for half-baked celebrities, and doomsters and seers of apocalyptic visions. I am afraid that Safed will sink into oblivion.”

Without money, without artists and without tourists, the museum was one of the first victims of budget cuts in the 1980s. The artworks, including those of Mane-Katz, were shunted from one storeroom to another. “The pictures were not treated properly and were in a terrible state. I suggested that they undergo restoration, but the municipality did not respond,” Tarshish says.

Superintendent Aharon Galor, from the fraud unit: “It turns out that many works that were in the museum disappeared, but no complaints were filed with the police.”

After Mane-Katz’s eight large paintings languished for some years in the storeroom, someone in city hall decided that they could be put to use. They were hung in offices, but were apparently treated as mere decorative objects. The investigators who tried to trace the works during the past year questioned a senior official who had “Woman with Circus Horse” hanging on the wall behind his back in his office. “I don’t remember what was painted there,” he replied. “Maybe a ship, I’m not sure.”

Tarshish hasn’t seen the paintings for years, and does not want to estimate their exact value. “The financial value of the paintings depends on technique, period, size and subject matter,” she says. “The paintings that were stolen are good works. Mane-Katz is going up in sales.”

The police now suspect that it was, despite everything, someone in city hall who understood what was hanging on the walls. Specifically, they believe, it was the deputy mayor, Reuven Sade, who also sells artworks and owns the Judith Gallery in the city. Sade has two previous convictions, one for assault and the other for submitting a forged document to the municipal planning department implying that his neighbor agreed to joint construction work. Sade is currently running for the city council on Arcadi Gaydamak’s Social Justice ticket.

City hall was burglarized three times, each time cleanly, without any traces or clues left behind. The first time, in 2005, the thieves (or thief) reached the third floor and took four Mane-Katz paintings, among them “Woman with Circus Horse.” Nevertheless, the municipality did not step up security for the artworks, and the burglars figured that the money was as good as lying on the floor. The municipality declined to explain to Haaretz the measures it took to guard the paintings, claiming the police had told them to keep mum. Some time later another Mane-Katz painting was stolen, and a sixth work disappeared in February 2007.

It was only then that the municipality woke up to the fact that it could not guard the two remaining Mane-Katz paintings, and Tarshish was summoned urgently to take them. One of them depicts a drowning horse, the other a still life. The police now know that a week before the last theft, Sade, in his capacity as deputy mayor, asked the Mane-Katz Museum for information about the paintings that had been donated to the Safed Municipality. He told Tarshish that he wanted the information because he thought he had a lead that would enable him to locate the stolen paintings.

Katz’s lawyer, Nathan Pantz, says his client denies the suspicions against him. He says it is a fabrication stemming from a business dispute and was also concocted by political adversaries. The theft was discovered a few months afterward, when the Herzliya gallery owner contacted Tarshish. “Woman with a Circus” was returned to the Mane-Katz Museum, and the investigators began tracking down the thieves, with the aid of information about the paintings supplied by the museum.

The suspects arrested last week were found to be in possession of 23 stolen paintings, but none of them were by Mane-Katz. Tarshish still hopes that the five missing Mane-Katz works will find their way to a museum in Haifa – not to Safed, which failed to safeguard its artistic heritage. “Art was an integral part of the city. It grieves me,” she says. “This is not the city I grew up in.”

http://www.haaretz.com/

September 28th, 2008

Posted In: insider theft

Thursday, 25 September, 2008.

TEMPO Interactive, Solo:The police in Solo, Central Java, Police will begin after Lebaran an investigation into the theft of an antique bronze statue from the Radya Pustaka museum, said Solo police chief Akhmad Syukrani.

According to Syukrani, the police got hold of Central Java Relic Protection and Preservation (BP3)’s inventory list which said that on November 2007, 52 items out of the entire 85 bronze collection in Indonesia’s oldest museum were copies.

Syukrani said that the police was in possession of evidence indicating the statues were forgeries and the actual relics dating back 6 – 9th century BC. “The facts pointed at Heru Suryanto as the suspect,” he said.

Heru Suryanto was charged with selling one of the stone relics from the same museum. He is now detained in Surakarta prison since the judge gave the verdict of one and a half years imprisonment last June. He collaborated with the Radya Pustaka museum’s curator, KRH Darmodipuro alias Mbah Hadi to forge and sell six pieces of relics to Hugo E. Kreijger, a former curator at Christie’s in Amsterdam.

However, until today the police were unable to bring in Hugo who is residing at the outskirts of Amsterdam, even though he has been declared as a suspect since December 2007. Solo Police have also sent a red alert to the Interpol after unsuccessfully trying to present Hugo in court through Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a businessman who bought the relics.

Archeologists believe that the stolen bronze is a major showcase of the museum, which belongs to Keraton Surakarta Foundation, since the collection consists of rare statues like the statue of Princess Cunda. There are only two statues of the a diety who represents wisdom of the world. The second such relic can be found in India. Therefore Cunda is estimated to be sold in international auctions for Rp 20 billion.

Syukrani doubts the police will be able to solve the bronze statues case immediately, since there has been no clarification as to when the collection was stolen and copied. “They were probably stolen before the stone relics,” he said.

Moreover, the police must first find the original statues. “This is going to be difficult,” Syukrani said. An investigator told Tempo that the bronze collection might have gone to a collector overseas. Several collectors from the US, England, Hong Kong, and Singapore have contacted the police to clarify their bronze documents’ validity.

The mayor of Solo, Djoko Widodo claimed to have been contacted by local collectors. “They are willing to surrender the statues as long as they will not be charged,” he said.

Syukrani hopes that Heru and other inmates who are now in prison are willing to tell the truth and accelerate the investigation. “I hope they will be cooperate,” he said. The police will also question BP3 officials as witnesses.

From prison, Heru Suryanto denied charges he sold the bronze collection. “It’s not that I want to redeem myself, but I don’t know that many people who deal in bronze,” he claimed.

Thursday, 25 September, 2008 | 17:17 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Solo:The police in Solo, Central Java, Police will begin after Lebaran an investigation into the theft of an antique bronze statue from the Radya Pustaka museum, said Solo police chief Akhmad Syukrani.

According to Syukrani, the police got hold of Central Java Relic Protection and Preservation (BP3)’s inventory list which said that on November 2007, 52 items out of the entire 85 bronze collection in Indonesia’s oldest museum were copies.

Syukrani said that the police was in possession of evidence indicating the statues were forgeries and the actual relics dating back 6 – 9th century BC. “The facts pointed at Heru Suryanto as the suspect,” he said.

Heru Suryanto was charged with selling one of the stone relics from the same museum. He is now detained in Surakarta prison since the judge gave the verdict of one and a half years imprisonment last June. He collaborated with the Radya Pustaka museum’s curator, KRH Darmodipuro alias Mbah Hadi to forge and sell six pieces of relics to Hugo E. Kreijger, a former curator at Christie’s in Amsterdam.

However, until today the police were unable to bring in Hugo who is residing at the outskirts of Amsterdam, even though he has been declared as a suspect since December 2007. Solo Police have also sent a red alert to the Interpol after unsuccessfully trying to present Hugo in court through Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a businessman who bought the relics. .

Archeologists believe that the stolen bronze is a major showcase of the museum, which belongs to Keraton Surakarta Foundation, since the collection consists of rare statues like the statue of Princess Cunda. There are only two statues of the a diety who represents wisdom of the world. The second such relic can be found in India. Therefore Cunda is estimated to be sold in international auctions for Rp 20 billion.

Syukrani doubts the police will be able to solve the bronze statues case immediately, since there has been no clarification as to when the collection was stolen and copied. “They were probably stolen before the stone relics,” he said.

Moreover, the police must first find the original statues. “This is going to be difficult,” Syukrani said. An investigator told Tempo that the bronze collection might have gone to a collector overseas. Several collectors from the US, England, Hong Kong, and Singapore have contacted the police to clarify their bronze documents’ validity.

The mayor of Solo, Djoko Widodo claimed to have been contacted by local collectors. “They are willing to surrender the statues as long as they will not be charged,” he said.

Syukrani hopes that Heru and other inmates who are now in prison are willing to tell the truth and accelerate the investigation. “I hope they will be cooperate,” he said. The police will also question BP3 officials as witnesses.

From prison, Heru Suryanto denied charges he sold the bronze collection. “It’s not that I want to redeem myself, but I don’t know that many people who deal in bronze,” he claimed.

http://www.tempointeractive.com

September 27th, 2008

Posted In: insider theft

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September 27th, 2008

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Las piezas de oro, que incluían narigueras, collares y mancornas que datan de los años 200 y 800 d.C., permanecían en el Museo Arqueológico Regional del Huila, en donde no había vigilancia de noche.

El tesoro, avaluado en más de mil millones de pesos, era custodiado durante el día por un solo celador y permanecía en bóvedas, que no eran de seguridad.
Además, la alarma está averiada y suena ocasionalmente, según dice el vigilante Delio Tique y, el monitoreo de 24 horas que tenía el sistema lo cancelaron hace un mes por falta de pago.

El robo al parecer fue cometido por conocedores de arte y con complicidad de la vigilancia o de funcionarios del museo, denunció el coronel Eduardo Carrillo, comandante de la Policía del Huila, tras mencionar que para alzarse con las 36 piezas “no se violó ni una chapa”.

Jaime Cardozo, un artesano contratado para instalar un soporte de una tumba dentro del museo, fue el primero en notar la pérdida del tesoro.

“Llegué para hacer el trabajo y ya había un grupo de estudiantes en el museo, con dos vigías de patrimonio y me percaté de que las vitrinas estaban desocupadas”, dijo.

Maritza Valderrama Cervera, directora del museo, dijo que la colección tenía una póliza de 200 millones de pesos, y que el valor de las piezas podría subir fuera del país.

Según ella, seis de las piezas robadas hacían parte de las 50 mejores del país, seleccionadas por el Programa Colecciones Colombianas del Ministerio de Cultura y el Museo Nacional de Colombia.

El vigilante Tique, quien cuidó el Museo desde el viernes y todo el fin de semana, dijo que sólo dos personas entraron al lugar: la directora, el sábado en la mañana, que se demoró unos minutos, y una estudiante de colegio que hace pasantías.

Agregó que el lunes por la mañana estuvo un vigía, quien le comunicó que las bóveda estaban vacías.

Según Tique, ese mismo lunes, a las 10 a.m. se percató del robo y se lo comunicó, por teléfono, a la Directora, quien desde una reunión de arqueólogos en Bogotá le dijo que no se preocupara.

Sin embargo, la directora Valderrama asegura que Tique solo la llamó el lunes en la tarde y que no le mencionó que las piezas de oro estuvieron fuera de la bóveda.

Con este robo, el Huila se quedó sin ningún vestigio en oro de la milenaria cultura agustiniana.

La única pieza que queda está expuesta en el Museo del Oro, en Bogotá. Se trata de un pez gigante de mar que tallaron los agustinianos en las profundidades de la región andina.

JORGE QUINTERO
CORRESPONSAL DE EL TIEMPO
NEIVA

http://www.eltiempo.com/

September 25th, 2008

Posted In: Museum thefts

US returns Pre-Columbian artifacts to Ecuador

By LISA ORKIN EMMANUEL

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — U.S. officials returned 168 pre-Columbian artifacts to Ecuador on Tuesday as part of an ongoing FBI initiative to repatriate stolen cultural treasures to their home countries.

The artifacts were recovered in Miami in 2006. They consist of pottery, baskets, jewelry, carvings, figurines and sculptures that predate Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.

“To recover art is to recover history,” said Juan Carlos Toledo, Consul General of Ecuadorean Consulate in Miami.

Toledo made the comments during a ceremony in North Miami Beach. The artifacts will be packed and flown to Ecuador, where they will go on display at museums in that South American country after a welcoming ceremony.

Experts said the artifacts range from 2,000 to 5,000 years old.

Some of the oldest pieces are from South American’s Valdivia Culture dating to 4000 B.C. Those include small ceramic and shell figurines, once rubbed on the body part of an ailing person and then broken in half in the belief that they released evil spirits, said Amanda Moran, an FBI supervisory special agent.

Moran, the agent on the case, said some of the artifacts were also used as offerings to gods.

Among the objects returned are a lion with a snake in its mouth from the Jama Coaque Culture, which dates to between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. The most recent piece is a figurine that dates to the Mantera Culture, between 700 A.D. and 1531 A.D.

The pieces were seized in 2006 after a Miami-based broker sent an e-mail to the International Council of Museums in Paris, France, soliciting a buyer for a total of more than 600 pieces, authorities said. The pieces being returned were found in Miami. Another 583 were found in Ecuador.

Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami field office, said the items were being offered for sale for $5 million before they were seized.

“The whole collection was for sale,” he said.

He said the undercover FBI investigation culminated with the seizure of the items in July 2006.

Cecilia Marillo-Aviles from Ecuador pleaded guilty to a smuggling charge in 2006 and was sentenced to time served, which was one day in jail, Moran said.

Moran said the woman told her that she and her ex-husband had been taking objects over the course of 40 years. The ex-husband was never charged. The objects were found in her house as part of an undercover operation where FBI agents acted as potential buyers.

She had to forfeit the objects and is under investigation in Ecuador, Moran added.

Two other people, including the broker were arrested, but never charged, she said.

Jose Chancay, an archaeologist at the National Institute of Ecuador’s Cultural Assets, said it is impossible to put a price on the objects.

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said the pieces are national treasures and can never be replaced.

“This was a fine example of cooperation. It is exactly the way cases should proceed,” he said.

U.S Ambassador to Ecuador Heather Hodges, said the whole process of finding the artifacts required a great deal of cooperation.

“My thought here is that this is a fine example of the friendship and the cooperation that we enjoy between the United States and Ecuador,” she said. “I think that this is very important day for us.”

The FBI’s Rapid Deployment Art Crime Team, which was established in 2004, has recovered over $134 million in cultural property.

September 24th, 2008

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Martes, 23 de Septiembre de 2008 20:58

Más de 35 piezas de diferentes culturas prehispánicas que habitaron en el Huila, fueron hurtadas del museo arqueológico regional de Neiva.

Según las autoridades, los delincuentes burlaron los sistemas de seguridad del museo y huyeron sin dejar rastro.

Las piezas de oro fueron elaboradas entre el año 1.000 antes de Cristo y el 1.550 de la era cristiana.

Dentro de los objetos robados hay pulseras, pecheras y pendientes que fueron descubiertos en los municipios de San Agustín, La Argentina, Isnos, Pitalito, Neiva y Santana.

http://www.cmi.com.co/

September 24th, 2008

Posted In: Museum thefts

A man has denied stealing Lowry paintings worth more than £1m from the home of a collector.

Casey Miller, 23, of Constable Walk, Denton, Manchester, pleaded not guilty to robbery when he appeared at Manchester Crown Court.

Five artworks were allegedly taken, together with Lowry’s palette and brushes, from the home of Ivan Aird in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, in May 2007.

Mr Miller was remanded into custody and will go on trial on 16 February.

Among the paintings stolen were The Viaduct, valued at more than £700,000, and The Tanker Entering the Tyne, worth up to £600,000.

LS Lowry, born in 1887, is famous for painting scenes of life in industrial northern England.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/7629904.stm

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The American authorities are set to return more than 1,000 priceless Iraqi artefacts smuggled out of the country after the US-led invasion five years ago, the Iraqi government said on Monday.

Tourism and Antiquities Minister Qahtan Abbas said in a statement the items would be given to Iraq’s embassy in Washington, without giving details of the artefacts or when they would be returned.

With the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003 following the US invasion, there was massive looting of Baghdad’s antiquities museum and countless historical sites around the country.

Iraq is described as the cradle of civilization, with some of the first evidence of complex urban life appearing within its borders around 3,000 BC.

Baghdad is keen to capitalise on some 10,000 historic sites across the country to attract tourists.

Abbas said Iraq’s friends should help “contribute to the restoration of Iraq’s rich heritage” and return the countless number of artefacts smuggled out in recent years.

He said the US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, and the former commander of US troops, General David Petraeus, had promised action to return the valuables and to help rebuild museums.

Baghdad has already asked other countries not to allow the sale of stolen Iraqi antiques on their soil.

http://afp.google.com/

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

By Eli Ashkenazi

Safed Deputy Mayor Reuven Sade was arrested yesterday on suspicion of stealing six paintings by the artist Emmanuel Mane-Katz from city hall in the past three years.

Tamir Greenberg of Jerusalem and Freddy Yaakobi of Ra’anana were also Advertisement

arrested yesterday, on suspicion of trafficking in stolen paintings. Advertisement

Six paintings that were donated by the artist to the city about 50 years ago were stolen from the municipality building in three separate break-ins over the past three years.

According to Noa Tarshish, director and curator of the Mane-Katz Museum in Haifa, one of the stolen paintings is worth about $100,000.

The burglar left no signs, broke no doors or windows and seemed to be familiar with the building, according to police.

After the last burglary the remaining two paintings by Mane-Katz in city hall were moved to the Mane-Katz Museum in Haifa, for fear they too would be stolen.

The paintings were originally displayed in Safed’s Glitzenstein Museum, but since its closure, over 20 years ago, they were moved from one storeroom to another until they were hung in city hall a few years ago.

“Now we have suspicions about other paintings that had been in the Glitzenstein Museum and which disappeared without anyone filing police complaints,” Police Superintendent Aharon Galor said.

“Mane-Katz’s paintings remain very valuable. Some of those pictures are from the 1930s and ’40s and are estimated to be worth tens of thousands of dollars,” Tarshish noted.

Sade, who is running for reelection on the Social Justice ticket, has previous convictions for theft, assault, forgery, breaking and entering and illegal construction. His family owns the Judith Gallery in the city.

Police began investigating last year, when “Woman with Circus Horse” by Mane-Katz found its way to Sotheby’s Israel auction house. It had been stolen from the city hall together with five other paintings.

“The stolen picture that showed up at the auction house was the clue that led us to the suspects,” Galor said.

Greenberg and Yaakobi were apprehended with 18 and five stolen pictures, respectively. They are suspected of mediating sales of stolen paintings, including ones by Edouard Manet and Eugene Delacroix, that were not from Safed city hall.

The stolen pictures are estimated to be worth millions of shekels. Emmanuel (Leyzerovich) Mane-Katz, 1894-1962, was a Jewish painter born in Kremenchug, Ukraine. When he was 19 he went to Paris to study art and became friends with Pablo Picasso and other leading painters. In 1931, Mane-Katz’s painting “The Wailing Wall” was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World’s Fair.

Mane-Katz’s early style was classical and somber, but his palette changed in later years to bright, primary colors, with an emphasis on Jewish themes. His oils feature Hasidic characters, rabbis, klezmerim, beggars, yeshiva students and scenes from East European shtetl life.

After his first visit to Palestine, in 1928, Mane-Katz visited the country annually. He said his real home was Paris, but his spiritual home was the Land of Israel.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1023455.html

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: insider theft

Napolitano riporta ad Atene l’antico resto. È un prestito, ma nasce l’asse con l’Italia
ATENE – Uno dei momenti clou della visita di Stato di Giorgio Napolitano (nella foto) in Grecia si avrà domani sera ad Atene, quando il presidente della Repubblica consegnerà alle autorità greche un frammento del fregio del Partenone attribuito a Fidia. Proviene dal Museo Salinas di Palermo e sarà esposto nel nuovo museo dell’Acropoli.
Si tratta di un prestito chiesto dalla Grecia alla Regione Siciliana, ma è anche qualcosa di più: segna la nascita di una sintonia fra Italia e Grecia sul controverso tema della restituzione di opere archeologiche trafugate o acquisite con traffici illeciti o come bottino di guerra.
Il primo passo si è fatto con l’organizzazione della mostra “Nostoi, capolavori ritrovati”, che ha presentato nei mesi scorsi al Quirinale 74 opere straordinarie della Magna Grecia, del mondo etrusco e romano, fra cui alcune restituite dal museo americano Getty. A quella mostra la Grecia contribuì con una korè arcaica scavata da tombaroli nell’isola di Paro e restituita alle autorità elleniche grazie al contributo del Nucleo di Tutela Patrimonio Culturale dei Carabinieri.
Da questa collaborazione è nato l’invito a trasferire la mostra “Nostoi” ad Atene. Sarà la prima grande esposizione ospitata nel nuovo museo realizzato accanto al Partenone. Il piano superiore del museo è stato costruito per accogliere il grande fregio orientale del Tempio di Atena sul Partenone. La scultura è una delle opere più ammirate al British Museum di Londra. La proprietà dell’opera da 25 anni è oggetto di una aperta controversia. L’allora ministro della cultura ellenica Melina Mercouri, nel 1981 ne chiese la restituzione e i suoi successori greci continuano a insistere.

http://www.corriere.com/viewstory.php?storyid=79168

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: Parthenon Marbles

By Deanese Williams-Harris and Dan P. Blake.
Chicago Tribune reporters.
September 20, 2008.

A Chinatown landmark that houses the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago was heavily damaged Friday by an extra-alarm fire, officials said.

The museum, which opened in 2005 in a former warehouse and grocery, had become a repository for photos and artifacts donated by community members.

The fire was reported shortly before 2 p.m. in the upper floors of the four-story building at 238 W. 23rd St., said Eve Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Fire Department. Flames could be seen shooting through the roof, she said.

The exhibits and artifacts were on the first and second floors, fire officials said.

“We did what we could,” Rodriguez said. “We laid tarp on the exhibits located on the lower floors.”

She said she did not know whether any exhibits were damaged.

Mary Ann Wong, a volunteer nurse at St. Therese Catholic School across from the museum, saw heavy smoke billowing from the roof and notified school officials. She later saw flames shooting out of the second-floor windows.

Her family, like many in Chinatown, donated photos and artifacts when the museum opened about three years ago.

“It’s so hurtful because the museum was part of our history,” Wong said. “Several families donated items so our children could learn about their history. There’s nothing else to give. A lot of that stuff was irreplaceable.”

The museum is run by the non-profit Chinatown Museum Foundation. Attempts to reach museum officials were unsuccessful.

Students at St. Therese Catholic School often used the museum, Wong said. It houses rotating exhibits, including artwork and writings, and serves as a research and education center.

Some consider the building, which was constructed in 1896, a neighborhood landmark. It was a warehouse and a grocery for decades before becoming a museum.

“A lot of us in Chinatown are aware of our history, when we were good enough to work here but not good enough to bring our families,” Wong said. “Just because you’re Chinese and you’re accepted doesn’t mean you always were. I learned this on my own, but our children need this museum so they can learn the lessons of the past.”

Wong said crews had been renovating the museum and that it was closed Friday.

dawilliams@tribune.comdpblake@tribune.com
http://www.chicagotribune.com

September 21st, 2008

Posted In: Fire in cultural institutions

Posted By BRIAN SHYPULA, Staff Reporter

Tavistock Museum volunteers are in shock after someone broke in and stole native artifacts Monday night.

The collection of stone arrowheads was part of an exhibition that wrapped up Saturday. The artifacts were loaned to the community museum by a Tavistock collector.

“(I was) totally shocked that in a small town like that there would be some idiots that would break into a building like that — it’s not like there’s any money there,” said Roy Erb, chair of the Tavistock Museum committee, yesterday.

“It just totally escapes me as to what or why somebody would do something like that. It’s definitely not the town that I grew up in,” said the Waterloo resident who was born and raised in Tavistock.

Oxford community police said someone forced open the door to the museum, located at 37 Maria St. Once inside, they rummaged through various cupboards and drawers. A display case was partially dismantled to get access to the artifacts, which included a “large” number of stone arrowheads.

“They hold significant sentimental value and need to be returned,” said Staff Sgt. Nancy Lenehan of the Oxford Community Police Service in a press release.

The museum theft was one of two in the immediate area Monday night. Someone also broke into the Tavistock Public Library next door and stole an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

An attempt was also made to break into the Tavistock Gazette newspaper at 119 Woodstock St.

Publisher Bill Gladding said they didn’t get inside, but some damage was caused to the door and lock.

The museum break-in was discovered Tuesday morning by volunteers who were there to begin setting up the next exhibition.

Mr. Erb said the volunteers were shaken.

September 18th, 2008

Posted In: Museum thefts

WHEN WILL WESTERN NATIONS RETURN ETHIOPIA’S STOLEN TREASURES?

Probably very few countries have been so systematically and intensively deprived of their cultural objects with tremendous violence by Western European countries as Ethiopia has been. First, the British under Queen Victoria sent an army in 1868 to conquer the African country under Emperor Tewodros. The Ethiopian ruler committed suicide in Magdala, the capital, with a gun given to him previously as a gift by Queen Victoria rather than let himself be captured and humiliated by the invading British Army. The barbarous behaviour of the invading army after conquer and loot has been described many times. The list of objects stolen by the British, including processional crosses, imperial gold and silver crowns, historical and religious illustrated manuscripts and other objects from Ethiopia will fill pages. Ethiopia became Christian in the 4th Century, long before many in Europe had heard of Christianity.

See full text

September 16th, 2008

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

In zijn nieuwsbrief Pluspunten kijkt directeur van sprinklerbedrijf Aqua+, Michel Walhof, in een ronkende tekst terug op de Brandraad’08.
Over die Brandraad’08 en het idiote persbericht dat de raad uit gaf heb ik me dunkt meer dan genoeg geschreven (zie http://www.museumbeveiliging.com/category/brandraad08/).

In Pluspunten slaat Walhof zich niet alleen op de borst met een mededelingen als ‘Veelbelovende start nieuwe Brandraad’ maar tevens deinst hij er niet voor terug ronduit te liegen. Er zouden ‘stevige, gezamenlijke conclusies’ zijn getrokken. Volgens mij, en ik heb dat zeer uitgebreid beargumenteerd, berusten de conclusies van de raad op los zand. Daar mag Walhof anders over denken. Wat hij niet mag is liegen over de ‘gezamenlijkheid’ en dat de ‘deskundigen unaniem’ Walhof’s mening deelden. Dat is gewoonweg niet waar. Sterker nog, een van die deskundigen heeft enige tijd geleden Walhof gebeld met het dringende verzoek het persbericht te wijzigen of anders verwijderd te worden van de lijst deskundigen. Beide verzoeken heeft Walhof afgewezen.

Nog een falsificatie van Walhof: De Brandraad zou jaarlijks bij elkaar komen. Dat is dan misschien wel het plan, maar is niet conform de feiten. De Brandraad kwam pas 1 keer bijeen (en niet langer dan twee uur waarna geborreld en gedineerd werd).

Nog een quote uit Pluspunten: “Er kwam meteen een stevige en alarmerende conclusie op tafel: bij een groot aantal musea, archieven, bilbliotheken (bilbliotheken?) en monumenten staat de brandbeveiliging niet hoog genoeg op de agenda.”

Dat was geen conclusie en zeker geen ‘stevige’ maar pure duimzuigerij van een gretige sprinklerboer. Dit bleek meteen een dag nadat het persbericht werd gepubliceerd en woordvoerder van de raad Rene Hagen in de pers toegaf dat er geen cijfers te geven zijn. ‘Een groot aantal’ is dus niet onderbouwd en zeker geen ‘stevige conclusie’.

Wat moet je met een bedrijf wiens directeur bij herhaling feiten verdraait en zelfs liegt? Juist, grote afstand van bewaren.

De nieuwsbrief is te lezen op: http://www.aqua.nl/?p=17&o=pluspunten&c=314

Ton Cremers

http://www.museum-security.org
http://www.museumbeveiliging.com
http://www.handboekveiligheidszorgmusea.nl
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network
http://groups.google.com/group/library-security-and-safety

September 15th, 2008

Posted In: Brandraad08

BERLIN PLEA FOR THE RETURN OF NIGERIA’S CULTURAL OBJECTS: HOW OFTEN MUST NIGERIA ASK FOR THE RETURN OF ITS STOLEN CULTURAL OBJECTS? Plaque showing the body of a Portuguese soldier, Benin. The upper part of the soldier is in London, British Museum, and the lower part is in Vienna, Museum für Völkerkunde. That the two museums are not embarrassed to have the head of this soldier on one side of the British Channel whilst his feet are on the other side shows how much they care for the dissemination of knowledge.

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September 15th, 2008

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects

* Lawsuit Over Disputed Warhol Will Go Forward
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/b0f05f3459a1127b?hl=en

* België. Koperdieven stelen regenpijpen Museum Plantin-Moretus
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/75bbedfcb99cd2d5?hl=en

* US. Wellesley art department lecturer to Davis Museum: Give me back my art
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/19a8c3750021c2f7?hl=en

* South Africa. Pretoria’s national cultural museum burgled
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/f33d9ac4730681ad?hl=en

* Italy. Un museo niega al acceso a una mujer musulmana por llevar velo
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/319256fb08b3900e?hl=en

* Canada. Objets sacrés présentés dans une exposition sur l’art religieux ont été dérobés à la Maison Hamel-Boudreau
http://groups.google.com/group/museum-security-network/browse_thread/thread/8242cc650024da7e?hl=en

September 3rd, 2008

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

At a seminar on Edo Culture organized by the Edo Community in Vienna on Friday 29 August 2008 where I spoke on the restitution of the Benin bronzes to well-informed and enthusiastic participants, the question was asked whether there was any hope of the British ever returning the Benin bronzes they stole in 1897. My answer was that even though we are no where near the season of restitution of the thousands of cultural objects stolen from Africa by the European powers – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal – there has never been a more favourable climate for restitution than now.

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September 1st, 2008

Posted In: Dr. Kwame Opoku writings about looted cultural objects