500-yr-old idols stolen from temple in Jaipur
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/500-yr-old-idols-stolen-from-temple-in-Jaipur/articleshow/6238836.cms

TNN, Jul 30, 2010, 11.58pm IST

JAIPUR: Ashtadhatu idols of Radha-Krishna and Charbhujanath were stolen from Charbhuja temple at Muhana village under Muhana police station on Friday. They were around 500-years old and measured 30 inches each.

According to reports, the thieves entered the temple after dismantling the grill of the entrance between midnight and 3 am and escaped with the idols. In the morning, when priest Ganpat Lal Sharma entered the temple, he found the idols missing. He immediately informed the police and locals. Hundreds of villagers gathered outside the temple and demanded action against the guilty.

Police said the thieves stole the two idols worth crores of rupees, however, they failed to reach the underground portion of the temple where donations and ornaments are kept. Muhana police took over the temple premises and FSL team and dog squad collected fingerprints and evidence from the spot. The entry and exit points have been sealed, said an official.

Police said the same idols were stolen in 2008 but after a month-long investigation, the then SHO of Muhana, Chaina Ram arrested three persons, including two engineering students, and recovered the idols from Uniyara area of Tonk district. The idols were restored in the temple by the villagers.

Meanwhile, villagers demonstrated against the police and alleged that thieves managed to steal idols from the temple amid police patrolling. Locals and the priest demanded security at religious places, police said.

July 31st, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Fire destroys Nelson heritage building
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/30/bc-nelson-fire-red-fish-grill.html#ixzz0vBmvacMO

Last Updated: Friday, July 30, 2010

Four firetrucks were called out to the fire in Nelson on Thursday night. (Rich Mooney/CBC)
A fire destroyed a heritage building in downtown Nelson, B.C., on Thursday night, forcing the temporary evacuation of several downtown blocks while hundreds of town residents turned out to watch the blaze.

The fire started around dinnertime in the basement of the Red Fish Grill. Everyone got out safely, but the fire raged for hours.

Fire Chief Simon Grypma said no one was injured but a large area of downtown Nelson was evacuated as flames shot out the roof of the century-old building.

“We had to evacuate the Hume Hotel and several apartment blocks on Baker Street because of the smoke and the threat of the fire moving from building to building,” said Grypma.

Yosuke Shirotani was working in his family’s sushi restaurant next door when the fire broke out.

“First thing I did was just close the window and grab all the valuables. Now we have to wait and see what’s going to happen,” he told CBC News as he watched the fire burn.

Firefighters managed to contain the fire to just one building, but by the time the flames were finally extinguished around 3 a.m. PT, the building was gutted, leaving its charred remains in the town’s historic downtown core.

Fire officials say the Hume Hotel did sustain some water damage.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/30/bc-nelson-fire-red-fish-grill.html#ixzz0vBmvacMO

July 31st, 2010

Posted In: Fire in cultural institutions

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July 31st, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit kerken

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July 30th, 2010

Posted In: Fire in cultural institutions, museum security

The friar and the Caravaggio thieves
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/2010/07/29/the-friar-and-the-caravaggio-thieves/

Meet the Maltese priest at the heart a sting operation which saved a precious painting of St Jerome

By Anna Arco on Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fr Marius Zerafa, the priest who masterminded the rescue of a stolen Caravaggio, in front of a copy of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, which he painted

Four hundred years after Caravaggio’s death, the artist’s work and restless life continues to capture the eye and the imagination. Countless tourists and art history students flock to see his paintings, but his work also draws less savoury characters: art thieves and forgers.

Fr Marius Zerafa, a Maltese Dominican and former museum director, has had his own brush with Caravaggio thieves, after they stole a painting of St Jerome from the co-Cathedral of St John in Valletta on New Year’s Eve 1984. While many stolen paintings disappear forever, Fr Marius was able to mastermind this painting’s recovery.

For two years after the heist, nothing more was heard about the picture. It had simply vanished. Then one day Fr Marius was approached by a young man who handed him a tape and a Polaroid picture of the painting of St Jerome. Over the next eight months he would work ceaselessly towards retrieving the lost painting.

“They gave me a password,” he says. “And indicated that I wasn’t to speak to the police. They wanted half a million Maltese lire for the painting.”

At the time Fr Marius was director of the Museums in Malta and had set up the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.

Today, the Dominican art historian lectures about sacred art at the Angelicum in Rome, hears Confessions at Santa Maria Maggiore during his holidays, paints, sculpts, does some restoration work and continues to be the chairman of the Archdiocese of Malta’s Commission for Sacred Art. He is full of life and curiosity. His snow-white hair stands on end in marked contrast to his tan, the mischievous twinkle in his eyes is barely hidden by the bottle-thick 1970s-style glasses he sports. Fr Marius is a born storyteller; he has lived through a lot and seen a great deal.

At 15, he joined the Dominican order. After three years in Malta, he moved to the now-closed Hawkesyard Priory in Staffordshire and then to Blackfriars, Oxford, between 1948 and 1952. The post-war, pre-Conciliar years in religious life were austere, but Fr Marius remembers his time there with great fondness. He obtained his STL and a Doctorate in Social Sciences at the Angelicum and studied art history at the University of London. He subsequently taught, studied, lectured and wrote with tireless energy. He became assistant curator of Fine Arts in the Museums Department of Malta in 1970 and then curator in 1975 and director of Museums in 1981.

Like many art historians, Fr Marius is attached to his digital camera – or, rather, it is attached to him with a belt so he does not miss an opportunity to snap away. At 80, he is incredibly plugged in and constantly fires off emails and digital photographs. It is easy to imagine the energy he must have put into getting the painting back, against the odds, and employing creative thinking to find the Caravaggio again.

Back in 1986, after the first note was delivered, Fr Marius was worried because he thought the gang might be in cahoots with the police, so he took the injunction not to report the theft seriously. He says he struggled to raise interest in the case either among the country’s ministers or the monsigniori in the local curia. He started getting daily phone calls about St Jerome. Then, in the art thief’s equivalent of chopping off a hostage’s fingers, the gang started sending Fr Marius little pieces of the precious painting. In his efforts to keep the band of thieves talking to him and give them the impression that he was interested in buying the painting back he started negotiating down the price to a quarter-of-a-million Maltese lire.

Was he frightened?

“Well, yes and no,” he says. “I was terribly relieved because after two years we thought that we had lost it. What worried me was that at one time I got a parcel and thought there was a bomb inside but there wasn’t one. And I was worried that they would come to Confession to me because that would have made it difficult.”

If they had come to him, he would have been bound by the seal of the confessional, he says, and would have had difficulty retrieving the painting from them.

After eight months Fr Marius, with the help of a technologically minded young man, managed to trace the calls to a small shoe factory on the island where the thieves were operating. He got hold of their work books and finally passed the information on to the police. It was his first contact with the authorities. A week later he chose August 4, the traditional day on which the Feast of St Dominic is celebrated in Malta, to be the day on which the painting would be retrieved.

The police arrived with helicopters and cars at the arranged meeting place and they retrieved the Caravaggio and arrested the gang members. It emerged that the gang had paid £5,000 to have Fr Marius kidnapped during the exchange.

The members of the Caravaggio gang were never brought to justice. They started a constitutional case against the police because of illegal phone tapping. Of the two men accused, one had possibly been given an overdose and died, while the other died as the case dragged on in court.

The painting was quite damaged as a result of the heist, but was spoiled even more while it was stored by the police. The painting suffered because it had been cut from the stretcher and was rolled up. Fr Marius travelled to Rome in an old military plane without seats to have the painting restored there. He says that it is now in a perfect condition.

Fr Marius takes St Jerome to Rome on a military plane

In 1989, another burglary attempt at the Co-Cathedral of St John left Caravaggio’s magnum opus, The Beheading of St John badly damaged. The thieves had entered the cathedral to steal silver from an old icon, the Madonna of Caraffa and parts of the gates. The thieves jumped over the barrier, slashing the Beheading, the only painting which bears Caravaggio’s signature.

“Nobody knows exactly why the Beheading was slashed,” Fr Marius says. “Someone has suggested the thief wanted to cut out the signature of Caravaggio. I suspect that the thief got caught inside the Oratory, the alarm I had just installed went off and he panicked. The way he held the knife shows he did not want to cut the canvas but just to damage it. He scraped rather than cut the canvas.”

Fr Marius took the painting to Livorno on an Italian cruiser called the Cassiopeia. The painting was restored in Florence in 1997 and exhibited in the Church of the Carmine for a month. It returned to Malta with Fr Marius on an Italian warship called the Vega.

The Maltese are very proud of Caravaggio’s stay on the island. The disgraced painter fled from Rome to Naples and then to the Fortress Island after he killed a man in a street brawl. The Knights of St John, keen to have the famous artist on the island, granted him asylum on condition he paint for them. He became a brother of the order but soon picked a fight with one of the knights and fled from the island. He is believed to have died of fever on July 28 1610.

Last week L’Osservatore Romano ran a story claiming that a new Caravaggio, a painting of St Lawrence being grilled alive, had been discovered in a Jesuit church, prompting a week of Caravaggiomania. But this week a senior Vatican art historian rebutted
the theory, saying that the painting is not a Caravaggio.

Fr Marius, who was speaking before the rebuttal, said it was too early to say whether the painting was a real Caravaggio.

“I think they are discovering Caravaggios everywhere,” he says. “Even in Malta, there’s a friend of mine who is always discovering some Caravaggio. It’s a centenary so there is a strong temptation there.”

But regardless of whether the painting is genuine or fake, Fr Marius says he will definitely go to see the painting when he’s back in Rome later this summer.

Fr Marius Zerafa’s book, Caravaggio Diaries, is published by Grimand Co Ltd and can be bought at Maltaonlinebookshop.com

July 30th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Painting stolen by Nazi now on display in New York
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/07/29/new.york.stolen.painting/#fbid=9ojdDUuCVGI

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 29, 2010 — Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)

(CNN) — A demur redhead in a modest black dress is making a brief appearance in New York, before finally returning home to Austria.

“Portrait of Wally,” painted by Austrian Egon Schiele in 1912, was put on display Thursday at The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. On August 18, it will go back to the Leopold Museum in Vienna, after a settlement last week ended the painting’s legal upheaval.

It’s a story 70 years old, reaching across the Atlantic and involving Nazi theft, art-world deceit and a Jewish woman’s deep affection for a favorite portrait.

Sometime before 1925, Austrian Jewish art collector and gallery owner Lea Bondi Jaray acquired “Portrait of Wally,” according to a release from the U.S. attorney’s office in New York.

In 1938, German troops occupied Austria. Nazi laws prohibited Jews from owning businesses, which made Bondi Jaray’s gallery subject to confiscation. Instead, she sold the gallery to a Nazi art collector.

The collector saw “Wally” in Bondi Jaray’s apartment and demanded it. She resisted, saying “Wally” was part of her private collection. Bondi Jaray’s husband reminded her the Nazi could prevent their escape, so she relented and the Nazi art collector took the painting.

After World War II, the Nazi collector was arrested. “Wally” and other artwork went to the Austrian government, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York. “Wally” found her way to the government-owned Austrian National Gallery known as The Belvedere.

Lea Bondi Jaray didn’t forget about “Wally.” In 1953, an Austrian art collector, Rudolf Leopold, visited Bondi Jaray in London. She asked him to recover the painting on her behalf. Instead, Leopold swapped one of his own Schiele paintings for “Wally.” Bondi Jaray tried to recover “Wally,” but died in 1969 before she could do so.

Leopold’s art collection became the Leopold Museum in Austria in 1994. The museum loaned part of its Schiele collection, including “Wally,” to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1997.

Two years later, the U.S. attorney’s office in New York said, a magistrate judge issued a warrant to seize “Wally,” based on probable cause the painting was stolen property brought into the U.S. illegally.

“Wally” has been in the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the U.S. Customs Service) since 1999.

The U.S. attorney’s office in New York filed a civil complaint saying “Wally” should be forfeited and returned to its rightful owner — Bondi Jaray’s estate. The Leopold Museum argued the Nazi didn’t steal the painting in the first place and Rudolf Leopold didn’t know it was stolen property when he traded one of his Schieles for it.

In 2009, a U.S. District judge ruled “Wally” was Bondi Jaray’s personal property, the Nazi had stolen it and it remained stolen property. The only unresolved issue was whether the museum could prove its founder Leopold, who died June 29 at 85, didn’t know it was stolen.

A trial was scheduled for this week to decide that. But on July 20, the U.S. government, Bondi Jaray’s estate and the Leopold Museum reached a settlement agreement. The museum in Austria is to pay the estate $19 million in exchange for “Wally.”

“More than 70 years after ‘Portrait of Wally’ was stolen, (this) settlement marks another small step toward justice for victims of property crimes during World War II,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “Lea Bondi Jaray and her family were steadfast in their long battle…. Their determination provides hope for others who lost precious property and art to Nazi theft.” Thursday, Bharara told CNN Bondi Jaray’s diligence kept the case going. “She wrote letters to her attorneys and colleagues describing the theft and her conversations with Dr. Leopold. Those very letters became critical evidence when the case was finally litigated here in New York.”

After August 18, “Wally” will go home to Austria to reside at the Leopold Museum.

In the meantime, at the direction of Bondi Jaray’s estate, it will be on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

About 50 members of Bondi Jaray’s family attended the unveiling of “Wally” Thursday. The attorney for Bondi Jaray’s estate says it was an emotional day for them. “The painting had a close attachment to her, therefore the painting became very closely attached to the family,” said Howard Spiegler. “I think they tie the painting in with their feelings about her and feel that this essentially is the end of the quest that she started.”

Her grand-nephew, Andrew Bondi, thanked those who played a part in recovering the painting. “When I brought my father a copy of agent seizure warrant… he just beamed and shook his head in disbelief, that this was happening, that justice was finally being done. For me, that moving moment, exemplifies what the restitution effort is all about.”

The estate chose the Museum of Jewish Heritage to host the painting because the family wanted “a setting that would memorialize the suffering of so many in the Holocaust and the resilience and resolve of those who escaped and/or survived,” according to a press release from the museum.

Its director, David Marwell said, “Wally can teach us about a fundamental injustice, how the power and attraction of art and simple greed led to an egregious theft of nearly unimaginable proportions and worse. And she can teach us about justice, even justice that comes after more than seven decades, how fidelity to basic values, how bold action, how patience and persistence and perseverance and no small measure of hard work can help to get some things right.”

CNN’s Cassie Spodak and Lisa McClure contributed to this report.

July 30th, 2010

Posted In: restitution, WWII

Oligarch Vikselberg Plans Suit Against Christie’s Over Alleged Forgery
http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/35332/oligarch-vikselberg-plans-suit-against-christies-over-alleged-forgery/

By ARTINFO

Published: July 28, 2010

MOSCOW— Billionaire tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, owner of a massive collection of Russian art, has initiated a lawsuit against Christie’s auction house through his off-shore investment vehicle Aurora Fine Art Fund, demanding repayment of the £1.69 million ($2.6 million) spent at a November 2005 London sale on a Boris Kustodiev painting, plus damages. “Odalisque,” as the work is titled, depicts a nude woman reclining in bed, framed by golden curtains and partially draped with a vibrant blue duvet. It is signed “B. Kustodiev” in Cyrillic script.
As reported in The Art Newspaper, the Aurora Fund originally expressed concern over the legitimacy of the piece in 2006, but received no response from the auction house when it sought assurance of the work’s authenticity. Then, in 2009, Rosokhrankultura — the Russian federal service tasked with protecting the nation’s cultural heritage — published a catalogue of fraudulent works, which included “Odalisque.” Vekselberg’s organization then began its quest for confirmation of the piece’s fraudulent attribution, taking the work to the Tretyakov Gallery (a leading institution in Kustodiev scholarship), the Russian Museum, the Grabar Art Scientific Restoration Center, and private expert Vladimir Petrov.

“Christie’s have been provided with four reports, signed in total by eight very well qualified experts in the field of Kustodiev, all of whom came to the conclusion that the painting is a forgery and that Christies’ attribution was therefore wrong,” managing partner of Aurora Andre Ruzhnikov said in a statement. But Christie’s remains firm in its defense of its original claim of the work’s authenticity, and a spokesperson for the auction house told Forbes that it would combat Aurora’s claims that the work was fraudulent, stating: “Given that Aurora has chosen to issue proceedings before allowing us the opportunity to complete our investigations, we have no option but to defend them.”

July 29th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Treasures for the taking
http://www.paragoulddailypress.com/articles/2010/07/27/local_news/doc4c4d870539a94846995454.txt

Graduate student studies grave looting in the Middle East, American South

By John Griffith
jgriffith@paragoulddailypress.com

Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:10 PM CDT
JONESBORO — The illicit excavation and robbery of ancient Native American grave sites along the Mississippi Valley is filling the collections and pocketbooks of private collectors and supporting the methamphetamine trade, according to one Arkansas State University Heritage Studies graduate student.

At 61, Louis Intres is the university’s oldest graduate assistant. He was a bank entrepreneur, banker and bank president for 38 years before retiring at 58 in favor of teaching history.

Intres’ research is focused on the robbery of ancient Byzantine graves and archaeological sites in the Middle East country of Jordan and comparing features of that illegal industry with features of robbery of gravesites in the lower Mississippi Valley.

“I wanted to research and write about the heritage issues of the people of the south part of the United States, but I also have a great interest in the culture and the heritage of the people in the Middle East,” Intres said. “I’m studying and researching the issues of the looting and theft of archaeological sites and gravesites in the Middle East and comparing that with similar activities in the United States. Particularly, the increase in the looting of Native American India gravesites up and down the Mississippi River.”

Jordan lies inside the Crescent Valley, the once fertile but now arid area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, straddling the Persian Gulf where human culture flowered 6,000-8,000 years ago.

“That’s where so many of the world’s treasures are being stolen from,” Intres said. “They’re being stolen not only from archaeological sites, but grave robbing is probably the biggest pastime in that area.

“Most people are subsistence robbers,” Intres said. “Which means they are breaking into archaeological sites and digging up ancient Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire, 300-1200 CE), Iron Age (3,300-1,200 BCE) or Bronze Age (1300-600 BCE) graves, stealing the treasures out of them and then selling them on the black market.”

Intres spent several weeks from mid-May to June living with Bedouin peoples who subsist on the meagre profits of grave robbery in the south of Jordan and up and down one of the central highways that run from the Dead Sea in the north to the Red Sea in the south.

“They make just barely enough money to buy food for their family,” Intres said. “We refer to them as subsistence looters because they’re doing that to provide for their families, not so much for the greed.”

He said subsistence looters are for the most part motivated by the needs of their families and a disenfranchisement the lower class feels with the Jordanian government.

“They feel that the government in the south, particularly, has forgotten them,” Intres said. “They have very little income. They have large families, so they live at a poverty level and they feel that the government has provided no job opportunities for them.”

Jordan’s unemployment rate among economically active residents was 13 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Intres said looters in Jordan take on significant risk for very little reward. Grave robbing is criminalized and prison sentences begin at five years for a conviction of looting, he said.

In contrast, robbing Native American Indian graves is a very low risk activity that carries a high payoff, unless you get caught doing it on government land, Intres said.

“For the most part, grave robbers in this area are not caught, and if they are caught the judicial system takes it very lightly,” Intres said. “Here’s the rub: If I were to go out here to a local cemetery in Jonesboro and I were to dig up a grave and someone saw me, the police would be out there in a heartbeat. But if you’re out here on a farm, and there are Indian graves out there and you get caught digging them up — no one cares. The landowner might. But the authorities have too many other crimes they are chasing. It is low-risk to rob a Native American grave and that’s why it happens too often.

“The looting of Native American graves has become a nationwide phenomenon. But nowhere is it more prevalent than in the Mississippi River Valley. The reason is, more and more recently, the looting of Native American graves and the selling of the articles they’re finding in those graves is beginning to drive the methamphetamine drug industry.”

Intres said he visited three cemeteries at the southern end of the Dead Sea that archaeologists think might contain more than one million graves. Subsistence looters are beginning to raid the cemeteries, Intres said, along with looters motivated by greed and organized criminal groups are heavily involved in the looting and smuggling of stolen antiquities from the Middle East into Dubai, Switzerland, Europe and America, where the items are processed and later sold to collectors.

“The money is driving their other criminal activities,” Intres said. “There are some people in government who believe the Taliban and Al Qaeda may be beginning to get involved in it as a way to fund terrorism.”

“Provenance” is a document providing the legal history of cultural treasures. Unfortunately, provenance documents can be easily falsified, Intres said. Falsified provenance documents are provided for many items that are then sold into the worldwide black market. Europe and America are two of the biggest markets worldwide and items stolen in the Middle East make their way into the hands of collectors in Europe and America, whose owners are unwitting supporters of criminal enterprise, he said.

“History is non-renewable,” Intres said. “Once something is lost, it can never be replaced; once an artifact is destroyed or lost, it can never be replaced. So history and the ancient artifacts, the treasures that we have uncovered from our past, we have to take care of them, because if we lose them we lose our past, we lose our history. The more we lose, the less we know about ourselves.”

July 29th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Conservator help salvage Haiti’s cultural material
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/ap/conservator-help-salvage-haitis-cultural-material-99217269.html

By: E.B. FURGURSON III
Associated Press
07/26/10 3:50 AM EDT

ANNAPOLIS, MD. — It is slow, deliberate, frustrating, yet fulfilling work trying to preserve a people’s culture.

Vicki Lee, senior conservator at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, already has made two trips with teams of experts trying to mend Haiti’s cultural heritage following the devastating January earthquake, and is itching to return.

“It’s so sad. There is so much work to do. We need thousands more people to do it,” she said in an interview at her office off Rowe Boulevard after returning from the stricken island nation about two weeks ago.

On the other hand, the Chesapeake Beach resident and her colleagues — who have made trips to Haiti under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute for Conservation’s Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) — see cause for hope.

“I think the chances for recovery are quite good, but it will take a lot of time,” said Hugh Shockey, an object conservator at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum who worked on the same team as Lee.

“To be quite honest, what gives me the most amount of hope is that the Haitians were recovering materials from the rubble rather than just throwing them out. They saved what they could,” Shockey said. “If I am going to put the pieces back together, I have to have the pieces.”

He said it is evident the Haitian people clearly value their cultural material.

“It could have all been scooped up by a bulldozer and sent on a truck to be dumped,” Shockey said.

___

In ruins

On the team’s initial visit, they found public and private museums in ruins, Lee said. Stacks and stacks of paintings had been removed from their frames and stretchers.

In the rubble they noticed pieces of paintings, sculptures, documents, books.

The Musee d’Art Nader, a private museum in Port-au-Prince that housed some 12,000 paintings and other art, was flattened. In it was the largest collection of Haitian masters such as Hector Hyppolite.

Fortunately, the basement was intact. Hundreds of paintings that were stored there were saved, and hundreds more were pulled from the rubble above.

Lee got to work with another colleague to preserve a Hyppolite. It is outside her area of expertise in document and book preservation, but that is where AIC-CERT shined.

The organization cross-trained its 60 rapid-response team members so all would know what to do with a variety of cultural artifacts. It’s like a triage team: They come into an area and can perform immediate tasks to stabilize cultural treasures.

“We do what we can and leave the artifact in a condition where, later on, more conservation work can be done,” Lee said.

The team is now organized in such a way that when one group of conservators leaves, another takes its place. They have set up a restoration center in Port-au-Prince.

There, paintings, documents and other treasures will be repaired and stored until a larger, centrally located storage facility is put together.

___

Being resourceful

Lee first went in May, then returned last month. On her second trip, the headquarters was up and running and the teams were able to work on materials brought to them.

One item fell right into Lee’s expertise: preserving a document.

It was a military record of Gen. Alexandre Petion, son of a wealthy French aristocrat and a black Haitian mother. He was trained in France and fought with the French to put down rebellions in Haiti. But then, in 1803, he turned to fight for independence, eventually becoming the second president of a free Haiti.

The document suffered water and other damage. Lee painstakingly stabilized the document over a couple of days, but it wasn’t easy. The team brought some supplies with them, but had to secure other materials to do the job.

“We went all over the place. We could not find acetone and finally wiped out a store’s supply of nail polish remover,” Lee said.

Another task was to secure a photo tray large enough to bathe the document and other artifacts in.

“I found a large planter that came with a basin. They would not sell me the basin only,” she said. “So I made my own — Styrofoam from a shipping box lined with plastic sheeting and held together with bamboo skewers. … It worked.”

It will likely take more MacGyver-like ingenuity to complete the preservation work in the years ahead, but a major component of the AIC-CERT mission is to train Haitians to do the job.

Currently, staff members from two Haitian museums are being trained.

“The theory is, if we train people already invested in an institution, the won’t just take the training and leave the country,” said Lee, who has worked at the Maryland Archives since 2000.

She said she intends to take her skills back to Haiti to preserve and teach just as soon as she can.

“I have already asked to go back,” she said.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/ap/conservator-help-salvage-haitis-cultural-material-99217269.html#ixzz0us7pq7LB

July 27th, 2010

Posted In: cultural security

Shoppers in Flip-Flops Drop $245,000 on Salander Home Leftovers
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-26/cheerful-shoppers-in-flip-flops-spend-245-000-on-salander-home-leftovers.html

By Philip Boroff – Mon Jul 26 14:54:50 UTC 2010

“Foothills Sunset,” by Lawrence Salander. The work, with other property from the former art dealer’s home in Millbrook, New York, was auctioned by Stair Galleries on July 24, 2010. The work sold for $425. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg

A Massachusetts Chippendale bureau of mahogany wood. The piece, with other property from the Millbrook, New York, home of art dealer Lawrence Salander, was auctioned at Stair Galleries on July 24. The item sold for $6,500. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg

“Benny Breaking Sky,” by art dealer Lawrence Salander. The work, with other property from Salander’s home in Millbrook, New York, was auctioned by Stair Galleries on July 24, 2010. The work sold for $475. Source: Stair Galleries via Bloomberg

Art dealer Lawrence Salander. Salander, 61, is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 3, five and a half months after he pleaded guilty to stealing $120 million from clients and investors. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

The driveway leading to the Salander house at Deep Hollow Farm is shown in Millbrook, New York. The contents of his Millbrook, New York, home were liquidated in an oddly festive auction. Photographer: Lindsay Pollock/Bloomberg

Ten days before art dealer Lawrence Salander is scheduled be sentenced to prison for fraud and grand larceny, the contents of his Millbrook, New York, home were liquidated in an oddly festive auction.

Weekenders competed against antique dealers at Stair Galleries, in Hudson, New York, 115 miles north of Manhattan, on Saturday. Just two of 251 lots didn’t sell. The $245,000 total easily topped Stair’s high pre-sale estimate of $148,000.

The three-hour affair, replete with complimentary bagels and sandwiches, was to benefit creditors of Salander’s personal bankruptcy case.

Most items generated multiple bids, but it’s unclear how prices compared with what Salander paid in the international shopping spree that preceded his collapse.

The two top lots were a black Steinway baby grand piano and a large Chinese decorative vase, each for $10,000. (All prices exclude the 15 percent buyer’s commission, or 17 percent when paying by credit card.)

“I’m thrilled,” said Thomas Genova, the trustee overseeing Salander’s personal bankruptcy. “It was a great sale.”

Bidders at the second-floor salesroom wore shorts, running sneakers, flip-flops, madras shirts and oversized summer hats.

Canines in tow largely got along, including a greyhound, Labrador, Irish terrier and Stair’s resident bullmastiff, Duke. Colin Stair, Stair Galleries’ president, said there were several telephone bidders in Europe.

More Sales

Additional sales are likely. Although Salander and his Salander-O’Reilly Galleries filed for bankruptcy in November 2007 amid a cascade of lawsuits, more than 2,000 artworks recovered from the now-defunct Upper East Side gallery remain unsold. And Genova is in talks with mortgage holders First Republic Bank and Wells Fargo & Co.’s Wachovia unit about a September auction of Salander’s 66-acre Millbrook home, which has been listed for sale at $4.5 million.

Salander, 61, has been living in an apartment over a gallery he operates in Millbrook.

The first lot on Saturday went to Tracie Rozhon, a former New York Times reporter, who a day earlier closed on a house with her husband in Albany. She paid $425 for a pair of Ming- style celadon vase lamps, but was stymied when she pursued a Herend porcelain dinner set.

“It was estimated at $150 to $200,” she said. “I got outbid at $2,000.”

Candlesticks known as pricket sticks were also hot. A pair of Italian baroque brass ones went for $2,500. Another pair sold for $2,800.

“Who knew pricket sticks were so popular?” said Stair auctioneer Rebecca Hoffmann, in an interview. “It was just hilarious after a while.”

Lawyer Portrait

Paintings that Salander created also attracted fierce bidding, with a 2008 portrait of one his former bankruptcy lawyers (“Johnny Moscow Truth Defender”) selling for $500 and the 1999 landscape “Top of the Mountain” going for $800.

Ron Gersten, who worked for Salander in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said the dealer told him in a recent telephone conversation that Michelangelo may have been behind some of the pricket sticks. Gersten said Salander also thought that Donatello may have created a plaster Madonna and Child that Gersten bought for $6,500 at the sale. (The Stair catalog doesn’t attribute either to any artist.)

Salander declared bankruptcy amid lawsuits alleging that he sold works he didn’t own and pocketed proceeds. There were also allegations that he misrepresented the provenance of works and engaged in fraudulent art-related investment schemes.

In March 2010, he pleaded guilty to stealing $120 million from such clients as John McEnroe and Robert De Niro. He’s to be sentenced on Aug. 3.

To contact the reporter on this story: Philip Boroff in New York at pboroff@bloomberg.net.

July 27th, 2010

Posted In: art fraud, Mailing list reports

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July 26th, 2010

Posted In: restitution, WWII

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July 26th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Mystery of family’s art unraveled: Stolen in World War II
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/07/25/1581501/mystery-of-familys-art-unraveled.html

Heinrich Buerkel artworks stolen in WWII era are returned to Germany.

By Mark Washburn
mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com
Posted: Sunday, Jul. 25, 2010

In 1945, about 50 pieces of art from the Museum of Pirmasens were stolen.

Among the items returned to the city this month are three paintings by Heinrich Buerkel, “Herd of Cattle,” “From the Countryside,” and an untitled work.

Oil portraits by other artists depicting children of Ludwig IX, who founded Pirmasens in 1790, also were returned along with a painting of a young girl and an angel signed by Alois Broch. In all, they are estimated to be worth about $200,000.

A cache of art stolen at the end of World War II is finally back where it belongs, after a 65-year odyssey featuring a transatlantic smuggling, a secret hideaway and – in the end – a little browsing on the Internet.

It was last possessed by Beth Ann McFadden of Cornelius who, while growing up in New Jersey, heard about the war booty her great uncle kept hidden behind a false wall panel in his basement.

“It was kind of a family secret,” says McFadden, 45, a legal assistant. “We weren’t supposed to talk about it.”

After her great uncle, Harry Gursky, died in 1988, the 11 paintings – limp canvases removed from their frames – went to McFadden’s parents. Her mother kept them in a closet, unaware of whether they had any value.

And after they died, the artwork went to McFadden’s sister in West Windsor, N.J., who kept them in her basement. In November, when the sister was moving, the paintings came to McFadden.

She didn’t know whether they were important. A family friend, Barry Pedersen, and his partner in their Mooresville architectural millwork company, Gary Dunne, both of Davidson, offered to help find out.

After hours of research on the Internet, they found the paintings were important – they had been missing more than six decades, and the FBI and Customs had been searching for them for years.

An odyssey of art

Heinrich Buerkel (1802-1869) is not a well-known painter, but his 19th-century landscapes are popular in his hometown of Pirmasens, Germany, near the French border.

There, since 1925, the Museum of Pirmasens displayed a collection of his works. But in 1942, during the Allied bombing of the manufacturing city, the museum’s paintings – 18 by Buerkel and oil portraits by other artists – were hidden in the basement of a school that served as a bomb shelter.

On March 22, 1945, U.S. troops occupied Pirmasens and on Sept. 19 the museum announced that “about 50 paintings which had been stored in the air-raid shelter at Husterhoh School during the war have been lost during the arrival of the American troops.”

Among the U.S. Army occupiers: Sgt. Harry Gursky.

Resurface at auction

For 60 years, the paintings were missing. Then on Oct. 25, 2005, an auction company in Pennsylvania advertised three of them.

Spotting the sale on the Internet, an archivist at the Museum of Pirmasens notified German authorities, who contacted the FBI, who seized the works.

They were told by the woman who was trying to sell them that they were given to her by Gursky’s wife, Florence, years ago. That case is still under investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s office says.

Finding a way home

On McFadden’s behalf, Dunne sent an e-mail to Pirmasens’ mayor, Bernard Matheis, a few days before Christmas asking whether the city would like the paintings back.

“I didn’t know until now that Santa Claus had a main office in Davidson, N.C., USA,” Matheis wrote back.

Dunne also contacted federal authorities, who put him in touch with Bonnie Goldblatt, a New York-based agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Goldblatt had been working on the case for three years. Goldblatt asked that McFadden call her, but McFadden – a little worried that she might be in trouble – didn’t call right away.

“Maybe I’ve seen too many ‘Judge Judy’s,” she says.

They did connect, and in February, McFadden flew to New York to turn over the canvases.

A happy outcome

This month, McFadden, Pedersen and Dunne were invited back to New York. At a ceremony at the Goethe-Institut in Manhattan with federal authorities and German Consul General Horst Freitag, the paintings were formally returned.

“It is thanks to your integrity, foresight, your firm belief in justice and your joint effort with ICE that these paintings could be traced and now returned,” Freitag told McFadden.

“There are still dozens of these paintings missing from Pirmasens,” said James Hayes, ICE special agent in charge. “We hope that this example will prompt others who might have ‘mystery’ paintings in the family to bring them to ICE.”

Looting in the war

As the Nazis moved across Europe in World War II, they systematically looted an estimated 20 percent of the continent’s artwork. German dictator Adolf Hitler chose the best for himself and other high-ranking officials amassed collections as well – Hermann Göring took 594 pieces for himself in Paris alone.

But art thefts by U.S. servicemen were all but unknown. Charles Mo, director of fine arts for the Mint Museum, says he’s never heard of a single case, while the plunder of the Nazis was well documented.

Experts estimate the recovered Buerkel paintings are worth $50,000 each. Others in the cache are valued at $4,000 to $10,000.

McFadden says she never had any interest in making money off the works.

“They didn’t belong to me and were of sentimental value to someone else. I wouldn’t want anyone else to take my stuff.”

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/07/25/1581501/mystery-of-familys-art-unraveled.html#ixzz0uiWb5obx

July 25th, 2010

Posted In: restitution

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July 25th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal beelden

Ton Cremers: “Gegronde twijfels aan de integriteit van erfgoedinspecteur”

 

24/07/2010 – 08:26

In deze blog besteedde ik de afgelopen jaren meerdere keren aandacht aan de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van een verzamelaar die zijn collectie onderbracht in een museumstichting. Toen belastende informatie mij ter ore kwam meldde ik dat bij een mij bekende, specialistische erfgoedinspecteur. De melding hield letterlijk in dat de verzamelaar objecten had gekocht die hij volgens de handelaar van wie hij ze kocht beter NIET in zijn museum kon tonen omdat hij dan problemen zou kunnen krijgen met het land waar die objecten vandaan kwamen. Let op: die objecten waren dus NIET in het museum; dat meldde ik diverse keren bij de Erfgoedinspectie.

De erfgoedinspecteur met wie ik over deze zaak communiceerde afficheert zichzelf op LinkedIn als “Expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” (http://nl.linkedin.com/pub/marja-van-heese/10/b59/372). Echter, ze was niet van plan deze expertise in te zetten bij mijn overduidelijke melding. Er ontstond pas beweging toen ik anderhalf jaar na mijn melding met de kwestie naar buiten trad op mijn mailing list, mijn websites en de mailing list van het Leiden Network. Wat deed de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”? Ze ging samen met de KLPD de collectie van het museum onderzoeken, ondanks mijn melding dat de betreffende objecten NIET in het museum zouden zijn. Een veel te late en een verkeerde actie. Alle feiten over deze ambtelijke inertie en inadequaat handelen heb ik met naam en toenaam gepubliceerd op het Internet.
Al deze publicaties plus inmiddels een tiental mails met voorstellen en verzoeken om informatie stuurde ik naar de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”. NOOIT kreeg ik enige reactie met uitzondering van de mail waarin ik aankondigde dat verder uitblijven van reactie voor mij reden zou zijn een klacht in te dienen bij de staatssecretaris van cultuur. Er vond daarop een onderhoud plaats bij de Erfgoedinspectie waar naast de erfgoedinspecteur – die overigens aan het onderhoud nauwelijks deelnam –  twee leidinggevenden aanwezig waren. Daar werd mij medegedeeld dat mijn melding niet goed was afgehandeld, dat naar aanleiding daarvan een protocol over afhandeling van meldingen was opgesteld, en dat inmiddels een onderzoek was gestart. Men wilde mij niet mededelen wat dat onderzoek in zou houden. Belangrijk is dat geen van de aanwezige medewerkers van de Erfgoedinspectie tijdens het onderhoud bezwaren uitte over mijn Internetpublicaties.
Deze hele kwestie liep van mei 2007 tot najaar 2009. December 2009 schreef ik een eindejaarsbericht waarin ik deze idiote gang van zaken rondom de Erfgoedinspectie omschreef als een ‘gitzwarte bladzijde’.
Nog steeds hoorde ik niets van de Erfgoedinspectie, totdat ik 10 april 2010 gebeld werd door een mij onbekende medewerker van het Ministerie van OCW met de mededeling dat Marja van Heese (onze “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”) het vervelend vond dat ik in mijn berichtgeving haar naam vermeldde. Niet vermelden van haar naam zou in mijn ogen absurd zijn geweest omdat zij zich nu eenmaal overal afficheert als de expert op dit onderwerp. Ik antwoordde de beller dat ik nooit enige reactie kreeg van Marja van Heese op mijn mails aan haar of mijn Internetpublicaties en dat ze zelf contact met mij op kon nemen. Over het bizarre verdere verloop van het telefonische onderhoud berichtte ik al eerder op mijn site. Mijn gesprekspartner, Van Kouterik, trachtte eerst mij onder druk te zetten door te ‘dreigen’ met aangifte en toen dat niet werkte deelde hij mij domweg mee dat er al aangifte gedaan was.
Het klopt, die aangifte was al gedaan en wel op 25 februari 2010.
Die datum is niet toevallig want een week eerder, op 17 februari, vond in Amsterdam een Erfgoedarena Illegale Kunsthandel en Unesco 1970 plaats. Bijdragen werden geleverd door:
 – Jos van Beurden, onderzoeksjournalist en auteur van een boek over kunstroof in kwetsbare landen
, – Marja van Heese, inspecteur bij de Erfgoedinspectie, 
- Steph Scholten, directeur van de Divisie Erfgoed van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.Het debat vond plaats onder leiding van Léontine Meijer–van Mensch, docent Erfgoedtheorie en ethiek aan de Reinwardt Academie.
Jos van Beurden verwees op die avond naar de door mij gemelde kwestie. Dat vond Marja van Heese waarschijnlijk niet leuk, net zo min als Marja het leuk vond dat Jos van Beuren eerder in een paper voor een bijeenkomst in Shanghai over deze kwestie schreef. Een week na de Erfgoedarena deed Marja van Heese aangifte tegen mij wegens belediging, smaad en laster onder andere omdat ze door mijn publicaties ‘continu’ zou worden herinnerd aan de door mij gemelde kwestie en haar rol daarbij. Continu? Vreemd, ik ben net als Marja van Heese een centrale speler in deze kwestie en word helemaal NOOIT over deze kwestie aangesproken. Er is niets op tegen om bij een discussie of dispuut je gelijk te halen door details die je goed uitkomen iets over te belichten. Dat mag. Hoe sterker die overbelichting en overdrijving is, hoe gevaarlijker je komt in het randgebied tussen waarheid en leugen en verlies van integriteit. “Continu” bevindt zich volgens mijn overtuiging in dat randgebied. Wanneer Marja’s aangifte voor de rechter komt – wat ik me niet kan voorstellen – zal ze duidelijkheid moeten geven over “continu”. Ik denk dat ze dan een probleem heeft.
Nu terug naar dat stompzinnige telefoontje van Van Kouterik, dd 10 april 2010. Toen Van Kouterik mij namens Marja van Heese belde moeten beiden geweten hebben dat de aangifte niet meer ingetrokken kon worden. Waarom dan dat telefoontje? Er is jurisprudentie over publicaties op het Internet naar aanleiding waarvan aangifte werd gedaan wegens smaad en laster. Ik ga nu niet al mijn kruit verschieten, anders dan de mededeling dat dergelijke aangiftes bij de rechter niet slaagden wanneer de schrijver van de Internetpublicaties niet eerst door het ‘slachtoffer’ verzocht werd die publicaties te rectificeren. Daar klemt de schoen met Marja’s aangifte. Ze reageerde NOOIT op mijn berichten aan haar en ze verzocht mij NOOIT publicaties over mijn melding, de Erfgoedinspectie en de inspecteur te wijzigen. Vandaar dat mosterd-na-de-maaltijd telefoontje van Van Kouterik. Een truc dus om straks niet bij de rechter af te gaan. Ik ervaar het gebruik van trucs daar waar je juridisch in een uitzichtloze positie verkeert als niet integer. Voor alle duidelijkheid: na Van kouteriks telefoontje stuurde ik twee mails aan Marja van Heese en aan de directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, drs. S.E.B. (Barbara) Siregar met verzoek om uitleg en kreeg ook op die mails geen enkele reactie.
We kennen in het erfgoedwereldje Marja als een vriendelijke, zachtaardige, bijna fluisterend sprekende vrouw. Het zal toch niet zo zijn dat die fluisterende zachtaardigheid een masker is waarachter stampvoetende boosheid schuil gaat zodra Marja met, in mijn ogen zeer terechte, kritiek wordt geconfronteerd? Boos stampvoetend vindt Marja van Heese dat die Cremers de mond gesnoerd moet worden. Blijkbaar zijn alle middelen, ook als ze ten koste gaan van haar integriteit, gerechtvaardigd. Indien die aangifte door de Officier van Justitie voor de rechter wordt gebracht zal dat onvermijdelijk betekenen dat die hele kwestie over de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van de verzamelaar en zijn museum weer opgerakeld wordt en in het nieuws komt. Een logisch gevolg waar Marja van Heese niet aan gedacht heeft, of waar ze in haar narcistische verongelijktheid maling aan heeft. Natuurlijk had de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” aan het belang van dat museum moeten denken toen ze aangifte deed; de collectie bestaat immers geheel uit buitenlands, religieus erfgoed.
Toen ik destijds met deze kwestie, na anderhalf jaar geduld, naar buiten trad kon ik verwachten dat er ongewenste neveneffecten zouden optreden. Als adviseur eet ik uit de erfgoedruif en dit soort publicaties zijn riskant voor mij. Dat risico heb ik bewust genomen ook al kon ik de exacte gevolgen niet voorspellen. Zo kon ik niet weten en had ik niet verwacht dat de in dit onderwerp gespecialiseerde erfgoedinspecteur in haar tandenknarsende frustratie er niet voor terug zou deinzen te jokken in een aangifte (‘continu’), trucs zou gebruiken om mij koste wat kost te laten hangen (het telefoontjes van 10 april 2010), en het belang van een onderzocht museum ondergeschikt zou maken aan haar persoonlijke doel. Al met al heb ik zeer goede gronden te twijfelen aan de integriteit van deze erfgoedinspecteur. Dat is wel het laatste neveneffect dat ik had kunnen verwachten na mijn publicaties. Een ontluisterend neveneffect.
Ton Cremers

July 24th, 2010

Posted In: Geen categorie

Tags: , ,

Valuable art stolen from 105-year-old woman
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/23/bc-vancouver-police-art-theft-elderly.html

Last Updated: Friday, July 23, 2010 | 4:27 PM PT Comments18Recommend13

CBC News

Surveillance video captured this image of the suspect. (Vancouver Police Department)Vancouver police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a suspect they say stole a valuable painting from a 105-year-old woman living in a rest home.

Police say an unidentified woman walked into a rest home on Vancouver’s west side at about 6 p.m. PT on July 14, carrying flowers, a black shoulder bag and a large flat box.

Police say the woman went straight into the 105-year-old woman’s room, and walked away with a Manet-style painting worth $7,500 and a photograph of the elderly woman at age 17.

Video surveillance shows the woman leaving the rest home with the box and shoulder bag, but without the flowers, which were left behind in the room.

Police say neither family nor staff of the rest home recognized the woman.

The theft was discovered several days later when a relative of the elderly woman noticed the items were missing.

Police say this photograph and painting were stolen from a 105-year-old woman on July 14. (Vancouver Police Department)The painting is described as a copy of a Manet-style Emil Zola portrait, measuring about 60 by 91 centimetres. The photograph of the elderly woman is a framed black and white picture, measuring about 22 by 30 centimetres.

Both items are of great sentimental value to the elderly woman and her family, police said.

The suspect is described as a heavy-set Caucasian woman in her early 30’s, about five feet six inches tall and weighing around 220 pounds.

She has shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and was last seen wearing large dark sunglasses, a black T-Shirt, black Adidas pants and running shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/07/23/bc-vancouver-police-art-theft-elderly.html#ixzz0uarGHKaK

July 24th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Sculptures stolen from Breckenridge art gallery
http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20100723/NEWS/100729902/1078&ParentProfile=1055

Missing art pieces valued at $7,750

By Robert Allen
summit daily news

Breckenridge Police Department seeks the public’s help in finding the stolen items. Anyone who recognizes the pieces or has any information about the case is asked to call detective Jaala Cahill at (970) 547-3134.

People with information who want to remain anonymous can call Summit County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-453-STOP. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards up to $1,000 for callers who help solve local crimes.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Burglars took two jellyfish sculptures from Fox Ridge Gallery on Main Street in Breckenridge early Wednesday morning.

“I feel violated,” gallery owner Johanne Picken said.

The glass-encased sculptures together are worth $7,750. The burglars apparently broke the glass in the gallery’s front doors at about 2:50 a.m. to gain entry, setting off an alarm that alerted the authorities.

Breckenridge Police Department did not release information about the crime until Friday.

The bigger sculpture is 15 inches tall and weighs 24 pounds. It was valued at $6,000.

“I’m angry because it’s an expensive, heavy, large sculpture that you can’t just sell,” Picken said, adding that both pieces are numbered.

The other sculpture is 8 inches tall and weighs about 10 pounds. Both have iridescent, pale-blue and green coloring.

Picken said this is the gallery’s first break-in in the three years she’s owned it. A neighbor who heard the alarm told her he saw two possible getaway vehicles: a dark-colored car that looked like a Chrysler LeBaron and a dark green pick-up truck with a white topper.

Elsewhere in downtown Breckenridge, a variety of burglaries have occurred this year. Mountain Outfitters on Ridge Street was burgled three times before a man was arrested in March.

Christy Sports on Main Street was burgled in early June, and the former Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream kiosk on Main Street was broken into in January.

Last fall, Breckenridge police reported a significant increase in residence and vehicle break-ins. The department responded to at least 20 such incidents between August and November — more than double the previous year’s number, according to a previous report.

The two Moon jellyfish pieces at Fox Ridge Gallery were crafted by Richard Satava, an artist in Chico, Calif.

Picken said the larger one had prominent placement in the gallery.

“Everybody stops and looks at it. It was my show stopper,” she said. “And somebody had the gall to break the window and steal it.”

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

July 24th, 2010

Posted In: sculpture theft

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July 24th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

In deze blog besteedde ik de afgelopen jaren meerdere keren aandacht aan de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van een verzamelaar die zijn collectie onderbracht in een museumstichting. Toen belastende informatie mij ter ore kwam meldde ik dat bij een mij bekende, specialistische erfgoedinspecteur. De melding hield letterlijk in dat de verzamelaar objecten had gekocht die hij volgens de handelaar van wie hij ze kocht beter NIET in zijn museum kon tonen omdat hij dan problemen zou kunnen krijgen met het land waar die objecten vandaan kwamen. Let op: die objecten waren dus NIET in het museum; dat meldde ik diverse keren bij de Erfgoedinspectie.

De erfgoedinspecteur met wie ik over deze zaak communiceerde afficheert zichzelf op LinkedIn als “Expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” (http://nl.linkedin.com/pub/marja-van-heese/10/b59/372). Echter, ze was niet van plan deze expertise in te zetten bij mijn overduidelijke melding. Er ontstond pas beweging toen ik anderhalf jaar na mijn melding met de kwestie naar buiten trad op mijn mailing list, mijn websites en de mailing list van het Leiden Network. Wat deed de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”? Ze ging samen met de KLPD de collectie van het museum onderzoeken, ondanks mijn melding dat de betreffende objecten NIET in het museum zouden zijn. Een veel te late en een verkeerde actie. Alle feiten over deze ambtelijke inertie en inadequaat handelen heb ik met naam en toenaam gepubliceerd op het Internet.
Al deze publicaties plus inmiddels een tiental mails met voorstellen en verzoeken om informatie stuurde ik naar de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”. NOOIT kreeg ik enige reactie met uitzondering van de mail waarin ik aankondigde dat verder uitblijven van reactie voor mij reden zou zijn een klacht in te dienen bij de staatssecretaris van cultuur. Er vond daarop een onderhoud plaats bij de Erfgoedinspectie waar naast de erfgoedinspecteur – die overigens aan het onderhoud nauwelijks deelnam –  twee leidinggevenden aanwezig waren. Daar werd mij medegedeeld dat mijn melding niet goed was afgehandeld, dat naar aanleiding daarvan een protocol over afhandeling van meldingen was opgesteld, en dat inmiddels een onderzoek was gestart. Men wilde mij niet mededelen wat dat onderzoek in zou houden. Belangrijk is dat geen van de aanwezige medewerkers van de Erfgoedinspectie tijdens het onderhoud bezwaren uitte over mijn Internetpublicaties.
Deze hele kwestie liep van mei 2007 tot najaar 2009. December 2009 schreef ik een eindejaarsbericht waarin ik deze idiote gang van zaken rondom de Erfgoedinspectie omschreef als een ‘gitzwarte bladzijde’.
Nog steeds hoorde ik niets van de Erfgoedinspectie, totdat ik 10 april 2010 gebeld werd door een mij onbekende medewerker van het Ministerie van OCW met de mededeling dat Marja van Heese (onze “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”) het vervelend vond dat ik in mijn berichtgeving haar naam vermeldde. Niet vermelden van haar naam zou in mijn ogen absurd zijn geweest omdat zij zich nu eenmaal overal afficheert als de expert op dit onderwerp. Ik antwoordde de beller dat ik nooit enige reactie kreeg van Marja van Heese op mijn mails aan haar of mijn Internetpublicaties en dat ze zelf contact met mij op kon nemen. Over het bizarre verdere verloop van het telefonische onderhoud berichtte ik al eerder op mijn site. Mijn gesprekspartner, Van Kouterik, trachtte eerst mij onder druk te zetten door te ‘dreigen’ met aangifte en toen dat niet werkte deelde hij mij domweg mee dat er al aangifte gedaan was.
Het klopt, die aangifte was al gedaan en wel op 25 februari 2010.
Die datum is niet toevallig want een week eerder, op 17 februari, vond in Amsterdam een Erfgoedarena Illegale Kunsthandel en Unesco 1970 plaats. Bijdragen werden geleverd door:
 – Jos van Beurden, onderzoeksjournalist en auteur van een boek over kunstroof in kwetsbare landen
, – Marja van Heese, inspecteur bij de Erfgoedinspectie, 
- Steph Scholten, directeur van de Divisie Erfgoed van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.Het debat vond plaats onder leiding van Léontine Meijer–van Mensch, docent Erfgoedtheorie en ethiek aan de Reinwardt Academie.
Jos van Beurden verwees op die avond naar de door mij gemelde kwestie. Dat vond Marja van Heese waarschijnlijk niet leuk, net zo min als Marja het leuk vond dat Jos van Beuren eerder in een paper voor een bijeenkomst in Shanghai over deze kwestie schreef. Een week na de Erfgoedarena deed Marja van Heese aangifte tegen mij wegens belediging, smaad en laster onder andere omdat ze door mijn publicaties ‘continu’ zou worden herinnerd aan de door mij gemelde kwestie en haar rol daarbij. Continu? Vreemd, ik ben net als Marja van Heese een centrale speler in deze kwestie en word helemaal NOOIT over deze kwestie aangesproken. Er is niets op tegen om bij een discussie of dispuut je gelijk te halen door details die je goed uitkomen iets over te belichten. Dat mag. Hoe sterker die overbelichting en overdrijving is, hoe gevaarlijker je komt in het randgebied tussen waarheid en leugen en verlies van integriteit. “Continu” bevindt zich volgens mijn overtuiging in dat randgebied. Wanneer Marja’s aangifte voor de rechter komt – wat ik me niet kan voorstellen – zal ze duidelijkheid moeten geven over “continu”. Ik denk dat ze dan een probleem heeft.
Nu terug naar dat stompzinnige telefoontje van Van Kouterik, dd 10 april 2010. Toen Van Kouterik mij namens Marja van Heese belde moeten beiden geweten hebben dat de aangifte niet meer ingetrokken kon worden. Waarom dan dat telefoontje? Er is jurisprudentie over publicaties op het Internet naar aanleiding waarvan aangifte werd gedaan wegens smaad en laster. Ik ga nu niet al mijn kruit verschieten, anders dan de mededeling dat dergelijke aangiftes bij de rechter niet slaagden wanneer de schrijver van de Internetpublicaties niet eerst door het ‘slachtoffer’ verzocht werd die publicaties te rectificeren. Daar klemt de schoen met Marja’s aangifte. Ze reageerde NOOIT op mijn berichten aan haar en ze verzocht mij NOOIT publicaties over mijn melding, de Erfgoedinspectie en de inspecteur te wijzigen. Vandaar dat mosterd-na-de-maaltijd telefoontje van Van Kouterik. Een truc dus om straks niet bij de rechter af te gaan. Ik ervaar het gebruik van trucs daar waar je juridisch in een uitzichtloze positie verkeert als niet integer. Voor alle duidelijkheid: na Van kouteriks telefoontje stuurde ik twee mails aan Marja van Heese en aan de directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, drs. S.E.B. (Barbara) Siregar met verzoek om uitleg en kreeg ook op die mails geen enkele reactie.
We kennen in het erfgoedwereldje Marja als een vriendelijke, zachtaardige, bijna fluisterend sprekende vrouw. Het zal toch niet zo zijn dat die fluisterende zachtaardigheid een masker is waarachter stampvoetende boosheid schuil gaat zodra Marja met, in mijn ogen zeer terechte, kritiek wordt geconfronteerd? Boos stampvoetend vindt Marja van Heese dat die Cremers de mond gesnoerd moet worden. Blijkbaar zijn alle middelen, ook als ze ten koste gaan van haar integriteit, gerechtvaardigd. Indien die aangifte door de Officier van Justitie voor de rechter wordt gebracht zal dat onvermijdelijk betekenen dat die hele kwestie over de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van de verzamelaar en zijn museum weer opgerakeld wordt en in het nieuws komt. Een logisch gevolg waar Marja van Heese niet aan gedacht heeft, of waar ze in haar narcistische verongelijktheid maling aan heeft. Natuurlijk had de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” aan het belang van dat museum moeten denken toen ze aangifte deed; de collectie bestaat immers geheel uit buitenlands, religieus erfgoed.
Toen ik destijds met deze kwestie, na anderhalf jaar geduld, naar buiten trad kon ik verwachten dat er ongewenste neveneffecten zouden optreden. Als adviseur eet ik uit de erfgoedruif en dit soort publicaties zijn riskant voor mij. Dat risico heb ik bewust genomen ook al kon ik de exacte gevolgen niet voorspellen. Zo kon ik niet weten en had ik niet verwacht dat de in dit onderwerp gespecialiseerde erfgoedinspecteur in haar tandenknarsende frustratie er niet voor terug zou deinzen te jokken in een aangifte (‘continu’), trucs zou gebruiken om mij koste wat kost te laten hangen (het telefoontjes van 10 april 2010), en het belang van een onderzocht museum ondergeschikt zou maken aan haar persoonlijke doel. Al met al heb ik zeer goede gronden te twijfelen aan de integriteit van deze erfgoedinspecteur. Dat is wel het laatste neveneffect dat ik had kunnen verwachten na mijn publicaties. Een ontluisterend neveneffect.
Ton Cremers

July 24th, 2010

Posted In: Erfgoedinspectie

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In deze blog besteedde ik de afgelopen jaren meerdere keren aandacht aan de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van een verzamelaar die zijn collectie onderbracht in een museumstichting. Toen belastende informatie mij ter ore kwam meldde ik dat bij een mij bekende, specialistische erfgoedinspecteur. De melding hield letterlijk in dat de verzamelaar objecten had gekocht die hij volgens de handelaar van wie hij ze kocht beter NIET in zijn museum kon tonen omdat hij dan problemen zou kunnen krijgen met het land waar die objecten vandaan kwamen. Let op: die objecten waren dus NIET in het museum; dat meldde ik diverse keren bij de Erfgoedinspectie.

De erfgoedinspecteur met wie ik over deze zaak communiceerde afficheert zichzelf op LinkedIn als “Expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” (http://nl.linkedin.com/pub/marja-van-heese/10/b59/372). Echter, ze was niet van plan deze expertise in te zetten bij mijn overduidelijke melding. Er ontstond pas beweging toen ik anderhalf jaar na mijn melding met de kwestie naar buiten trad op mijn mailing list, mijn websites en de mailing list van het Leiden Network. Wat deed de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”? Ze ging samen met de KLPD de collectie van het museum onderzoeken, ondanks mijn melding dat de betreffende objecten NIET in het museum zouden zijn. Een veel te late en een verkeerde actie. Alle feiten over deze ambtelijke inertie en inadequaat handelen heb ik met naam en toenaam gepubliceerd op het Internet.
Al deze publicaties plus inmiddels een tiental mails met voorstellen en verzoeken om informatie stuurde ik naar de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”. NOOIT kreeg ik enige reactie met uitzondering van de mail waarin ik aankondigde dat verder uitblijven van reactie voor mij reden zou zijn een klacht in te dienen bij de staatssecretaris van cultuur. Er vond daarop een onderhoud plaats bij de Erfgoedinspectie waar naast de erfgoedinspecteur – die overigens aan het onderhoud nauwelijks deelnam –  twee leidinggevenden aanwezig waren. Daar werd mij medegedeeld dat mijn melding niet goed was afgehandeld, dat naar aanleiding daarvan een protocol over afhandeling van meldingen was opgesteld, en dat inmiddels een onderzoek was gestart. Men wilde mij niet mededelen wat dat onderzoek in zou houden. Belangrijk is dat geen van de aanwezige medewerkers van de Erfgoedinspectie tijdens het onderhoud bezwaren uitte over mijn Internetpublicaties.
Deze hele kwestie liep van mei 2007 tot najaar 2009. December 2009 schreef ik een eindejaarsbericht waarin ik deze idiote gang van zaken rondom de Erfgoedinspectie omschreef als een ‘gitzwarte bladzijde’.
Nog steeds hoorde ik niets van de Erfgoedinspectie, totdat ik 10 april 2010 gebeld werd door een mij onbekende medewerker van het Ministerie van OCW met de mededeling dat Marja van Heese (onze “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods”) het vervelend vond dat ik in mijn berichtgeving haar naam vermeldde. Niet vermelden van haar naam zou in mijn ogen absurd zijn geweest omdat zij zich nu eenmaal overal afficheert als de expert op dit onderwerp. Ik antwoordde de beller dat ik nooit enige reactie kreeg van Marja van Heese op mijn mails aan haar of mijn Internetpublicaties en dat ze zelf contact met mij op kon nemen. Over het bizarre verdere verloop van het telefonische onderhoud berichtte ik al eerder op mijn site. Mijn gesprekspartner, Van Kouterik, trachtte eerst mij onder druk te zetten door te ‘dreigen’ met aangifte en toen dat niet werkte deelde hij mij domweg mee dat er al aangifte gedaan was.
Het klopt, die aangifte was al gedaan en wel op 25 februari 2010.
Die datum is niet toevallig want een week eerder, op 17 februari, vond in Amsterdam een Erfgoedarena Illegale Kunsthandel en Unesco 1970 plaats. Bijdragen werden geleverd door:
 – Jos van Beurden, onderzoeksjournalist en auteur van een boek over kunstroof in kwetsbare landen
, – Marja van Heese, inspecteur bij de Erfgoedinspectie, 
- Steph Scholten, directeur van de Divisie Erfgoed van de Universiteitsbibliotheek van de Universiteit van Amsterdam.Het debat vond plaats onder leiding van Léontine Meijer–van Mensch, docent Erfgoedtheorie en ethiek aan de Reinwardt Academie.
Jos van Beurden verwees op die avond naar de door mij gemelde kwestie. Dat vond Marja van Heese waarschijnlijk niet leuk, net zo min als Marja het leuk vond dat Jos van Beuren eerder in een paper voor een bijeenkomst in Shanghai over deze kwestie schreef. Een week na de Erfgoedarena deed Marja van Heese aangifte tegen mij wegens belediging, smaad en laster onder andere omdat ze door mijn publicaties ‘continu’ zou worden herinnerd aan de door mij gemelde kwestie en haar rol daarbij. Continu? Vreemd, ik ben net als Marja van Heese een centrale speler in deze kwestie en word helemaal NOOIT over deze kwestie aangesproken. Er is niets op tegen om bij een discussie of dispuut je gelijk te halen door details die je goed uitkomen iets over te belichten. Dat mag. Hoe sterker die overbelichting en overdrijving is, hoe gevaarlijker je komt in het randgebied tussen waarheid en leugen en verlies van integriteit. “Continu” bevindt zich volgens mijn overtuiging in dat randgebied. Wanneer Marja’s aangifte voor de rechter komt – wat ik me niet kan voorstellen – zal ze duidelijkheid moeten geven over “continu”. Ik denk dat ze dan een probleem heeft.
Nu terug naar dat stompzinnige telefoontje van Van Kouterik, dd 10 april 2010. Toen Van Kouterik mij namens Marja van Heese belde moeten beiden geweten hebben dat de aangifte niet meer ingetrokken kon worden. Waarom dan dat telefoontje? Er is jurisprudentie over publicaties op het Internet naar aanleiding waarvan aangifte werd gedaan wegens smaad en laster. Ik ga nu niet al mijn kruit verschieten, anders dan de mededeling dat dergelijke aangiftes bij de rechter niet slaagden wanneer de schrijver van de Internetpublicaties niet eerst door het ‘slachtoffer’ verzocht werd die publicaties te rectificeren. Daar klemt de schoen met Marja’s aangifte. Ze reageerde NOOIT op mijn berichten aan haar en ze verzocht mij NOOIT publicaties over mijn melding, de Erfgoedinspectie en de inspecteur te wijzigen. Vandaar dat mosterd-na-de-maaltijd telefoontje van Van Kouterik. Een truc dus om straks niet bij de rechter af te gaan. Ik ervaar het gebruik van trucs daar waar je juridisch in een uitzichtloze positie verkeert als niet integer. Voor alle duidelijkheid: na Van kouteriks telefoontje stuurde ik twee mails aan Marja van Heese en aan de directeur van de Erfgoedinspectie, drs. S.E.B. (Barbara) Siregar met verzoek om uitleg en kreeg ook op die mails geen enkele reactie.
We kennen in het erfgoedwereldje Marja als een vriendelijke, zachtaardige, bijna fluisterend sprekende vrouw. Het zal toch niet zo zijn dat die fluisterende zachtaardigheid een masker is waarachter stampvoetende boosheid schuil gaat zodra Marja met, in mijn ogen zeer terechte, kritiek wordt geconfronteerd? Boos stampvoetend vindt Marja van Heese dat die Cremers de mond gesnoerd moet worden. Blijkbaar zijn alle middelen, ook als ze ten koste gaan van haar integriteit, gerechtvaardigd. Indien die aangifte door de Officier van Justitie voor de rechter wordt gebracht zal dat onvermijdelijk betekenen dat die hele kwestie over de dubieuze aankoopmoraal van de verzamelaar en zijn museum weer opgerakeld wordt en in het nieuws komt. Een logisch gevolg waar Marja van Heese niet aan gedacht heeft, of waar ze in haar narcistische verongelijktheid maling aan heeft. Natuurlijk had de “expert and researcher looting and illegal trade in cultural goods” aan het belang van dat museum moeten denken toen ze aangifte deed; de collectie bestaat immers geheel uit buitenlands, religieus erfgoed.
Toen ik destijds met deze kwestie, na anderhalf jaar geduld, naar buiten trad kon ik verwachten dat er ongewenste neveneffecten zouden optreden. Als adviseur eet ik uit de erfgoedruif en dit soort publicaties zijn riskant voor mij. Dat risico heb ik bewust genomen ook al kon ik de exacte gevolgen niet voorspellen. Zo kon ik niet weten en had ik niet verwacht dat de in dit onderwerp gespecialiseerde erfgoedinspecteur in haar tandenknarsende frustratie er niet voor terug zou deinzen te jokken in een aangifte (‘continu’), trucs zou gebruiken om mij koste wat kost te laten hangen (het telefoontjes van 10 april 2010), en het belang van een onderzocht museum ondergeschikt zou maken aan haar persoonlijke doel. Al met al heb ik zeer goede gronden te twijfelen aan de integriteit van deze erfgoedinspecteur. Dat is wel het laatste neveneffect dat ik had kunnen verwachten na mijn publicaties. Een ontluisterend neveneffect.
Ton Cremers

July 24th, 2010

Posted In: Erfgoedinspectie

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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July 24th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal beelden

Naples Police make arrest two months after art theft
http://www.nbc-2.com/Global/story.asp?S=12856101

Posted: Jul 22, 2010 11:53 PM Thursday, July 22, 2010 5:53 PM EST Updated: Jul 23, 2010 12:36 AM Thursday, July 22, 2010 6:36 PM EST
Video Gallery

Naples Police make arrest two months after art theft
1:49

COLLIER COUNTY: Naples Police say $40,000 worth of art was stolen from a gallery in Naples. But two months later, it’s all back where it belongs and the thief is behind bars.

Police say 32-year-old Christopher Newman stole 11 pieces of art from Sheldon Fine Art back in May and stored it at a family member’s home.

Investigators made the connection because of Newman’s extensive criminal history and prior thefts fit the same M.O.

“He was familiar with the area, had a house nearby, a place to hide the items. A lot of things started pointing his direction, said Naples Police Detective Bob Young.

Thursday, two months to the day after the crime was committed, all 11 paintings are back in inventory and ready for sale.

In fact, other than a few scratches on one frame, they were all returned in perfect condition.

By Karla Ray

July 23rd, 2010

Posted In: art thief arrested

Sculpture Stolen In Front Of Town Museum
http://www.wchl1360.com/details3.html?id=15308
07/22/10 03:38PM

WCHL News

A piece of artwork has been reported stolen from in front of the Chapel Hill Museum.

Lieutenant Kevin Gunter with the Chapel Hill Police Department says piece of art was taken earlier this month.
The stolen art is titled “The Landing.” Police reports indicate it went missing sometime between July 1 and July 7.

Police suspected that the artists had simply reclaimed the sculpture, but after contacting them it was determined the art had been taken.

Gunter says the sculpture is valued at more than $16,000. If you have any information about what happened to the artwork, call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760.

July 23rd, 2010

Posted In: sculpture theft

/20/2010 10:00:00 PM

BEN MEYERSON/Staff
$7,000 statue stolen? She’s Zen with that
http://www.wednesdayjournalonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=12&ArticleID=18026
For 11 years, Cynthia Hicks’ Buddha statue was the heart of the neighborhood.

People, young and old, would come to pay tribute to the 2-by-2-foot concrete bust next to Hicks’ garage at the corner of Harvey and Pleasant in Oak Park.

“When I first moved in, a friend told me if I put Buddhas all around the house, they would keep it safe,” Hicks said. “It was a part of the community.”

But one morning earlier this month, on her way to Farmers’ Market, she noticed the statue she bought for $7,000 in 1998 as a permanent installment was gone.

Overnight between July 2 and 3, someone lugged off the hefty statue, dragging it along the ground into the alley, leaving a trail of crumbled concrete.

Hicks noticed the statue was missing as she pulled out of her garage on the 3rd, but it didn’t really hit home until she pulled back in.

“I just thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s really gone,'” she said.

Hicks would hang beads on the neighborhood fixture for passersby and occasionally leave out miniature Buddhas.

The worst thing about it, she said, is the community’s disappointment. One little girl started crying when she came to see the statue and it was gone, Hicks said.

She’s looking into replacement options for the corner, including a similar-sized golden Buddha statue her mom bought. She’s worried the new statue isn’t heavy enough, though, to deter another theft.

But in true Bodhisattva style, Hicks is at peace with the incident.

“There’s got to be some good to come out of it,” Hicks said. “If they really needed it enough to take it, it’s OK for them to have it.”

July 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Smoke forces evacuation of Statue of Liberty
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-statue-liberty-evacuation,0,4662788.story

July 21, 2010 | 11:37 a.m.

(Reuters) – New York’s Statue of Liberty was evacuated Wednesday after an elevator malfunctioned and filled the area with smoke, said the National Parks of New York Harbor.

“The motor on our elevator started smoking,” said Mindi Rambo, spokeswoman for the National Parks of New York Harbor.

Rambo said it was not immediately known how many people were evacuated, but that “based on our experience several hundred would have been within the monument at this time of day during the summer.”

» Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox.

“While we did have to evacuate the monument, the island itself remains open,” she said.

The New York Fire Department was on scene and once they had given the all clear the statue would be reopened.

The Statue of Liberty was closed to the public because of safety concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The crown was reopened a year ago while the museum gallery and observation deck at the statue’s base were reopened to the public in 2004.

The statue was a gift to the United States from France in 1886 and it is visited by several million people a year.

A symbol of freedom and democracy and a prominent draw for tourists, the statue was one of the first sights seen by millions of immigrants who arrived in New York harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Copyright Reuters 2010

July 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Fire in cultural institutions

Antiquities cases work way through court system
http://www.sjrnews.com/view/full_story/8832965/article-Antiquities-cases-work-way-through-court-system?instance=home_news_1st_right
Jul 21, 2010 | 98 views | 0 | 2 | |
Cases related to the federal antiquities raids in Blanding in June, 2009 are making their way through the court system, and the trend is toward no jail time for those accused of selling artifacts to an undercover informant.

On July 12, Nicholas Laws, age 31 of Blanding, pled guilty to a single felony count and was sentenced to two years’ probation by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart.

Laws had been indicted on three felony counts.

The previous week, Dale Lyman, age 76 of Blanding, was sentenced to 60 months probation for trafficking in stolen artifacts. Lyman received the sentence from U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups. He faced up to two years in prison and turned over a large number of items from the rock shop he has operated for decades.

Earlier, Waddoups sentenced Blanding residents Jeanne Redd and daughter, Jericca, to 36 months and 24 months probation, respectively, in addition to fines after pleading guilty to multiple felonies. The Redd’s forfeited an extensive private collection of artifacts.

The only person involved in the action to be sentenced to prison has been Blanding resident Charles Denton Armstrong, who was convicted, not of selling antiquities, but of threatening the undercover informant. Ted Gardiner, the informant, took his own life in March, 2010.

Two defendants in the case, Dr. James Redd of Blanding and Steven Shrader of New Mexico, also took their own lives after the raids.

On July 7, Tammy Shumway of Moab was sentenced to six months of home confinement and 36 months of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball. In addition, Brent Bullock of Moab was sentenced to 60 months probation by Judge Kimball.

To date, there have been no trials related to the charges, but several are planned. An October trial date has been set for Blanding residents Joseph M. Smith, Meredith Smith, Tad Kreth, Reece Laws and Brandon Laws before Judge Stewart.

Additional cases are still making their way through the federal court system.

Read more: San Juan Record – Antiquities cases work way through court system

July 22nd, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Settlement Announced on Painting Stolen by Nazis
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703724104575379783042679878.html

By KELLY CROW

In a settlement that resolves one of the art world’s longest-running ownership disputes, Vienna’s Leopold Museum agreed Tuesday to pay $19 million to the heirs of a Jewish art dealer for the right to keep an Egon Schiele painting that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

According to the settlement, Schiele’s 1911-12 portrait of his redheaded mistress Valerie Neuzil, “Portrait of Wally,” will be exhibited at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for several weeks before going on view permanently at the Leopold.

In a statement, the heirs called the deal a historic victory for their family. Messages left Tuesday evening with the museum and its New York-based lawyer, William Barron, weren’t immediately returned.

The painting originally belonged to Vienna dealer Lea Bondi Jaray, who was forced to flee to London in 1939. After the war, the U.S. military seized “Wally” from the Nazis and handed it over to the Austrian Federal Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, along with a group of paintings that had belonged to a Jewish collector, Heinrich Rieger.

Rieger’s heirs eventually sold the Schiele to the Austrian National Gallery, which in turn sold it in 1954 to Viennese eye doctor Rudolf Leopold, who founded the museum that bears his name.

Bondi Jaray later asked Leopold to return her painting, but he told her he had bought it legally, according to court documents. She died in London in 1969.

The controversy over “Wally” erupted in 1997 when the Leopold loaned the painting to New York’s Museum of Modern Art for its show “Egon Schiele: The Leopold Collection.” Bondi Jaray’s heirs complained, and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau seized the work as potential Nazi loot. When the state’s Court of Appeals ruled in 1999 that the city had to return the work, the federal government confiscated it as potentially stolen property and stored it with U.S. Customs, where it has remained until now.

Write to Kelly Crow at kelly.crow@wsj.com

July 21st, 2010

Posted In: WWII

Smugglers sack Sassanid site in southwest Iran
http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=223267
Tehran Times Culture Desk

TEHRAN — Smugglers of cultural heritage have looted a Sassanid structure located in the Baghmalek region in northeast Khuzestan Province.

Members of the Baghmalek Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society, who recently visited the ruins of site, found shards scattered around the illegal excavations dug by the Smugglers, society director Yunes Shafiei told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Sunday.

The structure, known by the locals as the Dalkhuni Fort, was used by local rulers after the defeat of the Sassanid Empires.

Initial studies show that the shards date back to the Seljuk era, Shafiei said.

Since the fort lies on a hill surrounded by agricultural land, farmers do not welcome experts on cultural heritage who occasionally visit this site, he noted.

Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society (Taryana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni also cofirmed the report.

The smugglers have created several digs to find artifacts at the Dalkhuni Fort, he stated.

The fort had been used as an outpost to protect caravans passing through the region in past periods, he said.

According to Gahestuni, only 6 out of 150 ancient historical sites in the Baghmalek region have been registered on the Iranian National Cultural Heritage List. Even those few on the list are not being safeguarded by the relevant governmental organizations, he lamented.

The governmental organizations lack the necessary staff to safeguard the sites and also do not allow NGOs and cultural heritage enthusiasts societies to intervene, Gahestuni added.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) is responsible for monuments and ancient sites in Iran.

Photo: The ruins of the Dalkhuni Fort and an excavation created by smugglers at the Sassanid fort are shown in a combination photo. (Photos by Taryana)

July 21st, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

Picasso, Chagall Forgery Ring Jailed in France
http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/35255/picasso-chagall-forgery-ring-jailed-in-france/

By Emma Allen

Published: July 20, 2010

Courtesy the Clark Museum, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Picasso’s “Woman Ironing,” 1904 — the genuine article

CRETEIL, France— “Do you think I should confess?” Orson Welles, says in his final film, “F for Fake,” quoting the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory. “To what? Committing masterpieces?” On Friday, a similar question was resoundingly answered in court in Creteil, France, where 12 men were sentenced for an elaborate art con in which they sold almost 100 forged paintings — nearly impeccable copies of works by Picasso, Chagall, and Leger, to name a few — between the years of 1997 and 2005.
Painter Guy Ribes and dealer Pascal Robaglia, the ringleaders of the operation, were handed two years in jail and fined €900,000 ($1.16 million), with the 10 others receiving a range of sentences. Ribes, according to the Agence France-Presse, told the jury that he has been forging paintings “for fun” since 1975. His partners in crime, then, took turns assuming the role of a hard-up heir, selling the family collection for fast cash — and bringing in up to $458,000 dollars for works.

But, as in the case of Elmyr, penitence seems far off. Those present at the trial, “recognized [Ribes] as an artist and not simply a forger,” the painter’s lawyer, Antonin Levy, insisted of his felonious client.

July 21st, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Durham University’s stolen manuscripts appeal
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wear-10685237

The Poly-Olbion is a poem describing the traditions of England and Wales
Durham University has made a renewed appeal for the return of six historic books and manuscripts stolen more than 10 years ago.

The items, valued at about £160,000, formed part of an exhibition at the University Library charting the progress of English literature.

Also taken during the theft in 1998 was a priceless Shakespeare First Folio.

This has now been returned following the conviction of Raymond Scott for handling stolen property.

The 53-year-old, of Wingate in County Durham, was warned he faced jail after being cleared of stealing the Folio but found guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from the UK.

Security arrangements at the library at Palace Green have been significantly tightened since the 1998 theft.

The missing documents include a manuscript by the medieval political writer Egidius Romanus, and a volume containing three works on English history with maps – Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion (1612); William Slayter’s The History of Great Britanie (1621) and Matthew Stevenson’s Florus Britannicus (1662).

Dr Sheila Hingley, head of heritage collections at Durham University, said: “The theft of these historic books and manuscripts was devastating for the university community.

“We were all delighted at the return of the Shakespeare First Folio, and we would love to be reunited with the other missing books and manuscripts which form an important part of the historically significant collections held at the University.”

A Durham Police spokeswoman appealed for anyone with information to ring Crimestoppers.

July 20th, 2010

Posted In: library theft

Woman Arrested In Rare Baseball Card Theft
http://www.thebostonchannel.com/sports/24269403/detail.html

Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson In Century-Old Collection

POSTED: 10:57 am EDT July 15, 2010
UPDATED: 11:14 am EDT July 15, 2010

WAREHAM, Mass. — Police say they have recovered a baseball card collection that includes century-old depictions of Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson reported stolen from a Wareham home last weekend and charged a Bourne woman in connection with the theft.
Authorities say 29-year-old Melissa Sleeper was pulled over this week and police found the seven-card collection worth an estimated $11,000 in her car. She was charged with receiving stolen property and released on bail after a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf Tuesday.
The cards’ owner, whose name was not released by police, identified the collection as his, saying they were family heirlooms.
Police would not say whether Sleeper knew the owner.
It was not immediately clear if Sleeper had a lawyer and a home number could not be located.

July 20th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

GPS in bronzen beelden
EINDHOVEN – De gemeente Eindhoven heeft verschillende oplossingen 
bedacht om te voorkomen dat bronzen beelden worden gestolen. Eén beeld 
krijgt aan de binnenkant een gps-systeem zodat het gevolgd kan worden. 
Eindhoven haalde een paar maanden geleden bronzen beelden naar binnen 
nadat ze in de regio steeds vaker werden gestolen. Een andere oplossing is om beelden met roestvrijstalen pinnen vast te 
zetten in de sokkel. Dan kunnen ze niet gemakkelijk doorgezaagd 
worden. Twee ondernemers zijn ook nog bezig om de bronzen beelden van een 
speciaal alarmsysteem te voorzien. Maar die technische oplossing is 
nog niet helemaal uitgewerkt.
http://www.omroepbrabant.nl/?news/139732892/GPS+in+bronzen+beelden.aspx
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Aan de binnenkant een GPS systeem? Als dat al mogelijk is – verderop daarover meer – dan is het echt reuzeslim om dat in de pers te brengen. Of is hier sprake van een dubbele bodem? Je brengt in het nieuws dat “één beeld”  van een GPS systeem is voorzien en de dieven dan maar raden welk beeld. Hoe het ook zij: mochten ze besluiten toch een beeld te stelen dan zullen ze eerst op zoek gaan naar dat geheimzinnige GPS apparaat. Hoe wordt dat apparaat van voeding voorzien, want die is nu eenmaal nodig bij GPS apparaten? Komt er een verbinding met het stroomnet? Komt er een zonnecollector? Welke oplossing er ook wordt gekozen door de “twee ondernemers” die bezig zijn de beelden van een “speciaal alarmsysteem” te voorzien, zodra de verbinding met de voeding verbroken wordt zal het GPS apparaat heel snel uitgecommuniceerd zijn. Doordat er voeding nodig is zal het apparaat zo wie zo gemakkelijk door dieven gevonden kunnen worden. Ze kunnen dan een leuk geintje uithalen door dat apparaat bij een concurrent- crimineel in de tuin te gooien. Zodra de politie komt een filmpje maken en op Youtube zetten. Dat wordt lachen in het criminele wereldje, en daar buiten. Een andere oplossing is “om beelden met roestvrijstalen pinnen vast te zetten”. Een oplossing, maar niet DE oplossing. In London sneden dieven doodleuk een van de drie beelden van de beeldengroep The Watchers van Barbara Hepworth los van het geheel. Een andere optie: de beelden elektronisch signaleren, camera erop richten, alarmbeelden naar een meldkamer die het alarm op afstand kan verifiëren en meteen de politie erop af. De Raad van hoofdcommissarissen beloofde al twee jaar geleden dat geverifieerde alarmen met prioriteit 1 afgehandeld worden. Van zo’n elektronische detectie plus verificatie op afstand is dankzij de belofte door de politie nog het meeste te verwachten. Volgen via GPS is een veel te beperkte optie. Dat werk wel in vrachtwagens en (dure) auto’s omdat de GPS unit aangesloten kan worden op de interne voeding van de auto. Bestaan er bewaren tegen alle pogingen door de gemeente Eindhoven 
diefstal van beelden uit het publieke domein te bestrijden? Helemaal 
niet. Bij iedere maatregel die je treft zal het aantal potentiële 
daders afnemen. Nonsensberichten in de pers spelen daarbij misschien 
ook een rol, hoe klein dan ook. Wat ik kan bedenken kunnen dieven 
echter ook bedenken, en bedachten ze al eens. Het is zo wie zo 
onbegrijpelijk dat dieven voor die paar Euro per kilo brons, feitelijk 
gaat het om koper, het risico nemen opgepakt en veroordeeld te worden. 
Hier is echt geen sprake van doorgewinterde, slimme criminelen, maar 
van randdebiele kruimeldieven. Mag de straf bij betrappen a.u.b. fors 
omhoog! Dat kan wanneer officieren van justitie en rechters dit soort 
diefstal niet langer zien als ordinaire diefstal maar als een 
rechtstreekse aanval op kostbaar cultuurgoed.

Ton Cremers

July 19th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal beelden

300 Looted Antiquities Displayed in the Colosseum
http://heritage-key.com/blogs/bija/300-looted-antiquities-displayed-colosseum

Submitted by bija on Fri, 07/16/2010 – 13:43

337 archaeological objects, some of them from the eighth century BC, were displayed during a press conference in Rome. Photo by B Knowles.
More than 300 looted antiquities, estimated to be worth more than EUR15 million, were displayed to the press this morning in Rome, having been repatriated to Italy after they were discovered in a warehouse in Switzerland.

It was a scene slightly reminiscent of a Victorian detective novel, in which the robber and his looted candlesticks is unveiled before an impressed gathering of country house guests.
Only today’s unveiling took place inside the Colosseum rather than on the pages of a 19th century novel and while there was no criminal present, there was plenty of loot, which consisted of objects such as Etruscan ceramic vases, bronze statues from Sardinia and frescoes from Pompeii – 337 objects in total.

The heat was oppressive for the motley crew of assembled journalists and cameramen who were there to hear the declarations of officials from Italy’s special police force that specialises in tracking down looted antiquities (or to give them their full name, the Carabinieri del Reparto Operativo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale).

This is one of the most significant recoveries of our national heritage to this day. We hope to return these artefacts to their original localities so that they can be displayed within their historical contexts
The investigation, code-named Andromeda, led by the carabinieri and the Swiss authorities, discovered about 20,000 artefacts in the free port of Geneva, stored in warehouses that were associated with an unnamed Japanese dealer.

The artefacts were illegally taken from archaeological sites in Lazio, Puglia, Sardinia and the area of Magna Grecia – southern Italy and Sicily. They span a period of 1,200 years, dating from the eighth century BC to the fourth AD.
According to Dr Giuseppe Proietti, superintendent for archaeological heritage in Rome, this is one of the most important recoveries of looted antiquities in recent times. He said: “This is one of the most significant recoveries of our national heritage to this day. We hope to return these artefacts to their original localities so that they can be displayed within their historical contexts.”

Investigating Looted Artefacts

When the Swiss authorities and the Italian carabinieri began to investigate in 2008, the story developed dramatically in a way that could lead to a sequel of The Medici Conspiracy, a factual book that pieces together the circumstances of the Medici antiquities scandal.

A special branch of Italy’s carabinieri, dedicated to policing illegally trafficked antiquities, were responsible for repatriating the artefacts. Photo by B Knowles.
Their attention was initially drawn to the British art dealer Robin Symes, who curated the sale of the Venus of Morgantina to the Getty Museum in Malibù, which will be repatriated to Italy in January 2011. According to the Italian carabinieri, Symes moved to Switzerland, where his activities were monitored and this led the Swiss and Italian team to discover several sham companies, some of which were based in tax havens.
Further inquiries led the authorities to a company administrator in Basle who was involved in managing trafficked archaeological objects for his clients – one of whom was Mr Symes, say the Italian carabinieri.

When the carabinieri searched the administrator’s luxurious villa in Basle, they found extensive documentation detailing antiquities that were illegally taken from sites around Italy. The documents indicated that Geneva’s free port was used as a clearing centre for the illicitly imported artefacts. In December 2008, nine properties and warehouses were sequestered. This is where the 20,000 archaeological artefacts were discovered.

The objects included bronze artefacts from Sardinia, Etruscan candelabra and vases stolen from Necropolises in Cerveteri and Vulci, as well as frescoes from Pompeii. Photo by B Knowles
It took the authorities the whole of 2009 to catalogue the antiquities. The 337 objects repatriated back to Italy have been proved to be from illicit Italian excavations. The majority of the objects remain under Swiss jurisdiction.

Many of the antiquities display in the Colosseum are from Puglia. There are important Kylixes, ceramic vases from Etruscan necropolises at Cerveteri and Vulci and Etruscan candelabra. The area of ancient Etruria is one of the areas that has been particularly targeted by looters.
What will happen to these objects now? That hasn’t been decided yet. According to Francesco Maria Giro, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture’s undersecretary, it will take time to scientifically examine the artefacts, but it is hoped that they will be housed in museums near to the sites they were looted from.

Photos by Bija Knowles.

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About The Author

Bija Knowles (follow me: e-mail or )
Last three pieces by this author:
Hoard of 52,500 Roman Coins Discovered Near Frome by Metal Detectorist | Roman Villa Discovered Near Tewkesbury | Review: July’s American Journal of Archaeology Focuses on the Classical World
Bija Knowles is a freelance journalist based outside Rome, Italy. She graduated in Italian and English Literature from the University of Birmingham, UK, and her main areas of interest are art, travel and history in Italy.

July 17th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

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July 17th, 2010

Posted In: illegale handel

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July 16th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Schilderij Portinari gestolen uit museum Brazilië

(Novum/AP) – Dieven hebben uit het museum voor eigentijdse kunst in de Braziliaanse stad Olinda een schilderij gestolen van Candido Portinari, een van Braziliës bekendste schilders. Volgens de politie is het kunstwerk uit 1959, ‘O Enterro’ of ‘De Begrafenis’, ruim 660 duizend euro waard.
Bewakers merkten woensdag dat het schilderij uit het museum was verdwenen. De politie liet donderdag weten nog geen verdachten te hebben.
In het museum, dat niet over bewakingscamera’s beschikt, hangen zo’n vierduizend werken, waaronder zeven van Portinari;

commentaar:

Schilderij Portinari gestolen uit museum Brazilië / hadden camera’s deze diefstal kunnen voorkomen?

Cameraobservatie dient drie doelen:
1. preventie

2. reconstructie

3. life observatie

1. Musea verkeren in de uniek nadelige positie dat dieven vooraf en inpandig alle tijd hebben hun doelwit te verkennen. Geen verstandige eigenaar van kostbare goederen zou die kans bieden, maar musea moeten nu eenmaal. Dat hoort bij de museale missie. De aanwezigheid van camera’s schrikt af. In combinatie met camera’s in het museum gaat veel preventie uit van een zogenaamde identificatie-opstelling bij de entree van het museum. Hiermee wordt een camera-monitor combinatie bedoeld waarbij binnenkomende bezoekers duidelijk het eigen portret zien. Ideaal is wanneer tijd en datum ook in beeld zijn. De portretten moeten digitaal opgeslagen worden en voldoende lang bewaard. Hoe lang zal ik hier niet verder op in gaan, anders dan dat tussen het moment van verkennen en de criminele tenuitvoerlegging geen maanden zullen verstrijken.
2. Dankzij de digitaal opgenomen camerabeelden is het mogelijk incidenten te reconstrueren en zelfs een signalement te pakken te krijgen van de dader.
3. Life observatie: dit functioneert alleen goed indien gekoppeld aan alarmen. Niemand houdt het vol langdurig naar camerabeelden te kijken. Vaak zie je monitors met een batterij aan camerabeelden. Ziet er imponerend uit, maar heeft een beperkt nut. Mijn voorkeur gaat uit naar zo weinig mogelijk beelden, maar indien nodig de juiste/gewenste beelden. Dat kan wanneer de camerabeelden automatisch gekoppeld zijn aan alarmen. Dat kan zijn aan alarmen uit de gebouwbeveiliging zoals op 24/7 gesignaleerde in- en uitgangen, ramen en ruimtes die niet continu toegankelijk zijn zoals depots, of als de cameraobservatie gekoppeld is aan objectsignalering (alarmen bevestigd aan individuele museumobjecten).

Er bestaan geen beveiligingstechnieken die het daderpotentieel naar nul brengen. Wat je ook doet, er zal altijd iemand zijn die het toch probeert. Iedere beveiligingsmaatregel die je neemt zal het aantal potentiële daders doen verminderen.

Hadden camera’s die diefstal in Brazilië kunnen voorkomen? Geen idee. Misschien wel…

Ton Cremers

July 16th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

Schilderij Portinari gestolen uit museum Brazilië

(Novum/AP) – Dieven hebben uit het museum voor eigentijdse kunst in de Braziliaanse stad Olinda een schilderij gestolen van Candido Portinari, een van Braziliës bekendste schilders. Volgens de politie is het kunstwerk uit 1959, ‘O Enterro’ of ‘De Begrafenis’, ruim 660 duizend euro waard.
Bewakers merkten woensdag dat het schilderij uit het museum was verdwenen. De politie liet donderdag weten nog geen verdachten te hebben.
In het museum, dat niet over bewakingscamera’s beschikt, hangen zo’n vierduizend werken, waaronder zeven van Portinari;

commentaar:

Schilderij Portinari gestolen uit museum Brazilië / hadden camera’s deze diefstal kunnen voorkomen?

Cameraobservatie dient drie doelen:
1. preventie

2. reconstructie

3. life observatie

1. Musea verkeren in de uniek nadelige positie dat dieven vooraf en inpandig alle tijd hebben hun doelwit te verkennen. Geen verstandige eigenaar van kostbare goederen zou die kans bieden, maar musea moeten nu eenmaal. Dat hoort bij de museale missie. De aanwezigheid van camera’s schrikt af. In combinatie met camera’s in het museum gaat veel preventie uit van een zogenaamde identificatie-opstelling bij de entree van het museum. Hiermee wordt een camera-monitor combinatie bedoeld waarbij binnenkomende bezoekers duidelijk het eigen portret zien. Ideaal is wanneer tijd en datum ook in beeld zijn. De portretten moeten digitaal opgeslagen worden en voldoende lang bewaard. Hoe lang zal ik hier niet verder op in gaan, anders dan dat tussen het moment van verkennen en de criminele tenuitvoerlegging geen maanden zullen verstrijken.
2. Dankzij de digitaal opgenomen camerabeelden is het mogelijk incidenten te reconstrueren en zelfs een signalement te pakken te krijgen van de dader.
3. Life observatie: dit functioneert alleen goed indien gekoppeld aan alarmen. Niemand houdt het vol langdurig naar camerabeelden te kijken. Vaak zie je monitors met een batterij aan camerabeelden. Ziet er imponerend uit, maar heeft een beperkt nut. Mijn voorkeur gaat uit naar zo weinig mogelijk beelden, maar indien nodig de juiste/gewenste beelden. Dat kan wanneer de camerabeelden automatisch gekoppeld zijn aan alarmen. Dat kan zijn aan alarmen uit de gebouwbeveiliging zoals op 24/7 gesignaleerde in- en uitgangen, ramen en ruimtes die niet continu toegankelijk zijn zoals depots, of als de cameraobservatie gekoppeld is aan objectsignalering (alarmen bevestigd aan individuele museumobjecten).

Er bestaan geen beveiligingstechnieken die het daderpotentieel naar nul brengen. Wat je ook doet, er zal altijd iemand zijn die het toch probeert. Iedere beveiligingsmaatregel die je neemt zal het aantal potentiële daders doen verminderen.

Hadden camera’s die diefstal in Brazilië kunnen voorkomen? Geen idee. Misschien wel…

Ton Cremers

July 16th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

Fire hits Russian art restoration center
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2010/07/15/Fire-hits-Russian-art-restoration-center/UPI-28911279218848/
Published: July 15, 2010 at 2:34 PM

MOSCOW, July 15 (UPI) — Two firefighters were killed Thursday in a blaze at a historic Moscow center for the restoration of art work.

A senior fire official told RIA Novosti that dozens of firefighters extinguished the blaze at the Grabar All-Russian Art, Scientific and Restoration Center. Three helicopters were also dispatched to attack the fire from the air.

The cause was believed to be a blowtorch being used by construction workers doing repairs to the two-story building, ITAR-TASS said.

The center was founded in 1918 by Igor Grabar, a member of a wealthy Russian family who had become an artist and art historian. Grabar, who headed the center until 1930, was a prominent member of the Soviet art establishment until his death in 1960 at 89.

Fire officials said most of the art works at the center were rescued, but some on the top floor might have been destroyed.

The center has recently been involved in the restoration of frescoes in Moscow churches and conservation of important icons.

July 16th, 2010

Posted In: Fire in cultural institutions

Heritage law out in September
http://www.macaudailytimes.com.mo/macau/14546-Heritage-law-out-September.html

16/07/2010 02:06:00 Alexandra Lages

The Cultural Heritage Protection bill may be wrapped up and ready to be discussed and voted on by the Legislative Assembly in September, a spokesperson for the Cultural Affairs Bureau told Macau Daily Times yesterday.
The Government completed the initial version of the cultural heritage protection bill and put it out for public consultation on April 30, last year. There has been no more news on the bill since then.
Recently, secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs, Cheong U, assured that work on the final draft of the law was concluded and it will be forwarded to other departments for approval. He said that the draft law would come out by the end of this year, but yesterday the bureau unveiled the detailed schedule.
The bill expands the concept of “cultural heritage” by extending its legal content from physical cultural heritage to intangible ones, and from properties (buildings) to all valuable relics. The proposed law also dedicates a full chapter detailing the principles and systems of the protection of “The Historic Centre of Macau”.
Yesterday, the SAR commemorated the fifth anniversary of the inscription of Macau on the UNESCO world heritage list. Next week, the bureau will hold a celebration ceremony.
On July 15, 2005, the Historic Centre of Macau was inscribed as a World Heritage Site, making it the 31st site in China to be granted this status. The Historic Centre of Macau is an urban area within the old city of Macau spanning eight squares and 22 historic buildings.
This list includes the archaeological remains of the first western-style university in the Far East, the College of St. Paul, buildings that are still functioning according to their original purpose such as the first western-style theatre and the first modern lighthouse in China, and examples of late Qing merchants’ homes.

July 16th, 2010

Posted In: art law

Police: Gallery cleared in fraud and forgery cases
http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20100716/NEWS/100719885/1077&ParentProfile=1058
Two cases investigated involving Royal Street Gallery

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

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ASPEN — An Aspen art gallery has been ruled out as a suspect in two possible art fraud and forgery investigations that were originally spurred by a complaint from an artist and owner of a different gallery.

One art fraud case is still open, Aspen police Detective Ian MacAyeal said, but Royal Street Gallery and its owners are not suspects in the continuing aspect of the investigation.

“Are they knowingly buying and selling fake art? I don’t think so,” MacAyeal said.

Allegations of art fraud were made in June 2009 by Basalt painter Tania Dibbs, who also owns a gallery on the Hyman Avenue mall in Aspen next to one of three galleries that Royal Street operates. Dibbs said she spotted a painting in Royal Street Gallery that looked too similar to a 2004 painting of hers called “Valley Beyond” to be a coincidence.

Upon examination of the alleged knock-off, Dibbs alleged she spotted tell-tale signs that it was really a print made with a sophisticated ink jet printer. She claimed it was touched up with paint to make it appear more authentic.

Royal Street Gallery co-owner Peter Calamari said last June he doesn’t sell prints. The similarity between the painting he was selling and Dibbs’ work was a coincidence, he said in a June 17, 2009, article in The Aspen Times.

The Aspen Police Department took a complaint from Dibbs in October 2009, and the case eventually passed from one detective to another after the original officer left the department, MacAyeal said. Officers determined the issues, including copyright infringement and international fraud, were outside the scope of the Aspen Police Department.

“When you’re talking about international crime, that’s outside of our purview,” MacAyeal said.

“The case was basically closed,” he added.

The FBI also declined to undertake an investigation, according to MacAyeal.

Dave Joly, spokesman for the FBI in Denver, confirmed that the agency did look into a complaint involving the Aspen galleries.

“I don’t want to call it an investigation, but we have looked into it,” he said.

The agency consulted with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is charged with pursuing FBI cases, but no action was taken, Joly said.

Denver TV channel News4 revived interest in the case with a story in May. After that report, Dibbs asked the police department about the status of the case, which was then assigned to MacAyeal. He talked to her in June but found the case nearly impossible to pursue because of the lack of evidence. The alleged copy of Dibbs’ work was no longer at Royal Street Gallery.

At that time, Dibbs informed MacAyeal that she was aware of an Aspen resident who had purchased a different painting from Royal Street Gallery. Dibbs had contacted that art collector, checked the painting and suspected it was really a forged print. MacAyeal said he pursued that lead and opened a new case. After thoroughly checking the evidence, he said he is convinced the painting is an original by the artist Craig Alan. He plans to talk to the artist soon and expects to verify the painting’s authenticity.

The police department took the unusual step Wednesday afternoon of issuing a press release saying no charges would be filed in the Royal Street art case after a “thorough” investigation.

“This is an extremely high-profile case,” MacAyeal said in reference to the issuance of the press release.

Dibbs and Calamari had significantly different reactions. Calamari was happy to hear his name was cleared.

“I think people have jumped to conclusions and judged us,” he said.

Calamari said he has been repeatedly forced to defend himself against rumors that he played a role in the forging of paintings, which he denies. If he had commissioned a forgery of Dibbs’ work it would make no sense to display it in such a careless manner next to her own gallery, he said.

Calamari said he has never been contacted by the FBI, nor did he have contact with Aspen police until he had his attorney call them to ask if he was the subject of an investigation after he was questioned by a reporter. Calamari said he was told he was linked to the case because the paintings in question were in his galleries, but that his galleries weren’t the focus of the police investigation.

“I was unjustly accused and caught up in it,” he said.

Calamari said the painting that was the subject of Dibbs’ complaint came from Mississippi. “I rolled it up and sent it back where it came from,” he said.

Calamari said he obtains art from artists and brokers, and has accepted pieces on consignment, but is now leery of the latter practice.

He was more contrite in an interview with News4 that aired Thursday night; it was taped before the Aspen police released their statement on Wednesday. In that interview, Calamari acknowledged two paintings in his gallery appeared to be copies of other artists’ work and he suggested he had been duped by some art brokers.

Dibbs questioned the meticulousness of the Aspen Police Department’s work on the case. “The first time they sent anyone to talk to me [about details of her complaint] was last month,” she said. “I think that it’s fishy. I made my complaint in June or July ’09.”

In addition, she said she had provided police with the name of a person who worked for Calamari at a New Orleans gallery who would confirm his business practices. She said that source was never contacted by police.

Dibbs said her concern goes beyond the alleged copying of her painting. She remains convinced — despite the outcome of the police investigation — that Royal Street Gallery’s “business model” is to sell prints based on copies of other artists’ work.

She said she is concerned actions like that by one gallery taint all Aspen art galleries.

Aspen Times reporter Janet Urquhart contributed to this report.

scondon@aspentimes.com

July 16th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Stolen Painting Featured in Bulgaria’s National Gallery of Nikola Tanev
http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=118138

Culture | July 15, 2010, Thursday

“Spring in Sofia” – by Nikola Tanev. Photo by president.bg
Bulgaria’s National Art Gallery is opening Thursday an exhibition dedicated to the 120 birthday of one of the most renowned Bulgarian artists, Nikola Tanev.

The last presentation of Tanev’s works was in 1976. The new exhibition will feature a total of 150 works of the artist, including one of the 28 paintings which was stolen from his museum house in Sofia in 1999, and was recovered last week as it was brought to the National Art Gallery by a collector who acquired it in London.

This has spurred allegations backed by a statement of the Bulgarian Culture Ministry that the other 27 stolen paintings of Nikola Tanev are currently exhibited in London galleries. The Ministry has started an investigation to search for them.

The exhibit dedicated to Nikola Tanev (1890-1962) will feature works from his entire life – his first artistic attempts in 1907-1908, the landscape paintings from the 1920s, the urban panoramas from the 1940s and 1950s, as well as previously not exhibited works of naked women’s bodies from the mid 1940s.

July 15th, 2010

Posted In: theft reports

Arrest in £1m Firle Place art heist case
http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/8271847.Arrest_in___1m_Firle_Place_art_heist_case/

7:00pm Wednesday 14th July 2010

• By Ben Parsons, Crime Reporter »

Police have made an arrest in their hunt for the burglars behind a £1 million art heist at a stately home.

Detectives are remaining tight-lipped about the development in their inquiry into the theft of rare 18th century porcelain from Firle Place in July last year.

The pieces were among 20 items stolen from the home of millionaire landowner Viscount Gage.

Last month it was claimed the gang responsible may have carried out a string of other crimes.

The arrest took place on Thursday but police are refusing to reveal the age of their suspect or where they located him.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said yesterday: “A middle-aged man was arrested by detectives investigating the burglary.

“He was interviewed and bailed without charge until September pending further inquiries.”

The raid was featured in a recent Crimewatch appeal in which viewers were told the burglar had managed to break in through a first-floor windowby cutting out a small pane of glass and squeezing through the space.

Opening the window would have triggered an alarm.

The cabinets containing the items were the only spot in the building not covered by security systems.

He then carried the porcelain back through the empty window-pane and down a ladder before getting away.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Ashcroft said: “It was immediately apparent this was not the work of an opportunist. This was definitely the work of a professional burglar.”

Dick Ellis, former head of the Scotland Yard art and antiques unit, has included the Firle Place raid on a list of major crimes he believes were committed by a single gang.

July 15th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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July 15th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit kerken

14/07/2010 – 10:38

Update 14 juli 2010

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Interessante kwestie om te volgen. Ik durf het bijna niet te vragen, maar doe het toch maar…

Hoe zit het met de verantwoordelijkheid van het museum? Dankzij substantiële subsidies van het Ministerie van OCW – verstrekt via de Mondriaanstichting – vonden/vinden in heel Nederland projecten plaats waarbij erfgoedbeheerders gezamenlijk werken/werkten aan het opstellen van calamiteitenplannen met aandacht voor de bereddering van collectie bij calamiteiten. In die projecten wordt/werd – in ieder geval in de provincies waar ik bij die projecten betrokken was – intensief samengewerkt met de brandweer. Om te voorkomen dat gedacht wordt dat ik uit de school klap: in de provincie Utrecht was ik niet bij die projecten betrokken. Deed het Armando Museum aan zo’n project mee? Had het Armando Museum ten tijde van de brand een calamiteitenplan inclusief aandacht voor de bereddering van de collectie? Had het Armando Museum in het kader van dat Utrechtse project en het opstellen van het calamiteitenplan contact met de brandweer over het redden van collectie bij brand? Had het Armando Museum een collectiehulpverleningsplan (CHV)? Was er een CHV-organisatie? Was er een prioriteitenlijst?

Interessante vragen die direct raken aan de verantwoordelijkheid van het museum. Ik begrijp die verzekeraars en hun claim bij SRO natuurlijk wel: bij de gemeente zal gemakkelijker geld te halen zijn dan bij het museum.

Het is niet gebruikelijk museumdirecties aan te spreken op hun verantwoordelijkheid wanneer zaken ernstig fout lopen. Hier is een cultuuromslag nodig die uiteindelijk zal leiden tot aanzienlijke kwaliteitswinst.

De Evaluatie van de subsidieregeling is te lezen op: http://www.museumbeveiliging.com/evaluatie.pdf

Ton Cremers

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SRO aansprakelijk gesteld voor Armandobrand

4 juli 2010

AMERSFOORT – De Amersfoortse gebouwenbeheerder SRO, wordt aansprakelijk gesteld voor de miljoenenschade bij de brand in het Armando Museum. Verzekeraars van het museum hebben SRO gedagvaard bij de rechtbank in Utrecht.
Volgens de verzekeraars is duidelijk dat de brand is veroorzaakt door fouten van loodgieters, zoals RTV Utrecht kort na de brand in 2007 wist te melden. De loodgieters werkten in opdracht van SRO aan het dak van de Elleboogkerk.
Onderzoek van onder meer het Forensisch Insitituut zou aantonen dat SRO nalatig is geweest, zegt de verzekeraar van het museum nu. Een eerder onderzoek door de gemeente Amersfoort naar de oorzaak van de brand heeft geen onomstotelijk bewijs van een schuldige geleverd.
SRO is voor een groot deel in eigendom van de gemeente Amersfoort.

 

July 14th, 2010

Posted In: Geen categorie

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Dutch gov’t returns stolen antiquities to Iraq
http://www.paltelegraph.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1312:dutch-govt-returns-stolen-antiquities-to-iraq&catid=72:arts&Itemid=157
Friday, 10 July 2009 08:24

Germany, July 10, (Pal Telegraph) – The Dutch government has turned over dozens of antiquities stolen from Iraq to Baghdad’s ambassador.

The 69 pieces include cylindrical stone seals older than 2000 B.C. and a terra-cotta relief depicting a bearded man praying. Dutch Education, Culture and Science Minister Ronald Plasterk said Thursday the ancient artifacts were surrendered by Dutch traders after police informed them they were stolen.

He has called on other countries to do more to halt the illicit trade in stolen antiquities.

U.S. customs authorities and Interpol had alerted Dutch authorities that the items were being sold here.

Diederik Meijer of the Dutch National Museum for Antiquities declined to put a value on the artifacts, saying it could boost the trade.

AP

July 14th, 2010

Posted In: restitution

Arrest little comfort to museum owner
http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/3916959/Arrest-little-comfort-to-museum-owner
By BELINDA FEEK – Waikato Times
Last updated 13:00 14/07/2010

The arrest of a Hamilton man allegedly responsible for raiding the Tauwhare Military Museum has brought little comfort to its owner.

The 33-year-old was arrested late last month after a World War II-vintage United States bayonet, a replica Glock pistol and holster and a pair of gaiters were stolen from Andy Moreland’s military museum in April.

The theft came just days after an Anzac Day theft at the Raglan and District Museum where prized Nazi war relics were stolen, including a distinctive flag.

Sergeant Neil Fenwick of Hamilton East police said the man faced nine theft charges and one charge of aggravated assault. None of the museum’s stolen property has been recovered.

The arrested man appeared in Hamilton District Court yesterday and is due to be sentenced next week. The man has denied involvement in the Raglan theft.

Museum owner Andy Moreland said he had not only increased security since the thefts but also lost his trust in people.

“My problem was I’m from the old school, and I trusted every bugger. I like to think I’m trusting and like to think that everyone’s the same but evidently they’re not.”

He said the theft had also greatly affected his 15-year-old grandson who used the stolen items.

“He’s quite paranoid about everything and doesn’t trust anyone. He was a bit like me and trusted everyone too.”

Mr Moreland has now locked away any unsecured or items which could have been picked up.

July 14th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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July 14th, 2010

Posted In: brand Armando Museum, brand Armando Museum

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July 13th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

July 12, 2010 20:13 PM
Hamas Foils Antiques Smuggling In Gaza
http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=512948

GAZA, July 12 (Bernama) — Hamas authorities on Monday said they have foiled an attempt to smuggle ancient antiques from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

The police arrested four smugglers who were trying to take the antiques out through the security fence separating Gaza and Israel, Ayman al-Batniji, spokesman for the police told China’s Xinhua news agency, adding that the arrested have been sent for interrogation.

Al-Batniji said “the antiquities are owned by the state.”

According to sources from the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism, the seized antiques could date back to the Canaanite era in 2300 BC and the Roman era.

The unnamed sources said Gaza, controlled by the Hamas since 2007, had been the place of several civilization, but many of its monuments were stolen during the occupations and mandates it suffered during the last century.

Some rich people in Gaza used to collect antiques. In 2008, a Gaza businessman opened the first museum in the enclave, housing what he could collect and buy from people.

— BERNAMA

July 13th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Undercover avenger
http://www.jpost.com/Features/MagazineFeatures/Article.aspx?id=180818

By NOAH LEDERMAN
07/09/2010 16:58

Restoring the Holocaust’s stolen art.

Talkbacks (2)

On the West Side of Manhattan, in a gray-walled waiting room of the Department of Homeland Security, a photograph reminds visitors of the calamity, now almost a decade old, that brought down two towers, left more than 3,000 dead and scarred a nation. But, behind the scenes, in the secured offices, was one agent who helps to remind the world of another tragedy that began more than seven decades ago and left six million dead – the Holocaust.

Conjuring images of the Holocaust brings to mind those dreadful chimneys funneling human smoke over the European continent or shaven, gaunt prisoners standing beside piles of corpses. Some may visualize those pits filled with eyeglasses and shoes, things that belonged to the murdered, now on display in museums. It’s rare that one would equate artists such as Klimt, Cezanne or Degas with the genocide.

But Senior Special Agent Bonnie Goldblatt of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the agencies under the DHS umbrella, does. Goldblatt is among the few working to recover stolen Holocaust art and antiquities, though unlike the others, she does so with a badge and a gun.

During Hitler’s rise to power, the Führer, who had failed as an artist, had dreamed up more than just the Final Solution and world domination. It was his goal to plunder art for Germany and purge “degenerate” work – a term Hitler adopted to describe the art of Jews, avant-garde German artists and those whose vision echoed beliefs incompatible with Nazi ideology. All across Europe, museums packed up shop, Nazi castles filled with looted artwork and Jewish art collectors were coerced into selling their collections for a pittance they would never receive.

When the war ended, some works were repatriated; yet numerous masterpieces and valuable religious artifacts were destroyed, looted once more by soldiers or remained missing.

Today, these pieces are reemerging at auctions, on museum walls, or in private collections.

That’s where Goldblatt comes in.

“I’m here to pick up a painting from Bonnie Goldblatt,” a young woman announced while I sat in the waiting room prior to the interview. As it happened, Goldblatt was returning Paul Klee’s Portrait in the Garden, a painting stolen from a Manhattan art gallery 21 years earlier, to the young woman.

After the repatriation, I was escorted into the locked-down compound to meet with Goldblatt. (Along for the interview was the public affairs officer who stayed on to censor questions that would put her cloak-and-dagger tactics at stake. “We’re not going to get into that,” he’d say).

FOR BONNIE GOLDBLATT, art had always been a part of life. As a child, she toured museums with her mother. As an agent, she started in Customs, stopping questionable artwork entering the US. Her first case ended with the recovery of Winslow Homer’s Off Gloucester Harbor, which thieves tried to disguise by painting seagulls and two sailboats onto the original watercolor seascape.

It was 1995 when the Holocaust became a part of her professional canvas. She was reading the arts section of The New York Times when she noticed that a panel would convene in New York to debate ownership rights of art stolen during World War II. Goldblatt attended the conference, acquired the names of those present and sent a letter to the attendees – lawyers, archivists, researchers and art buffs – introducing her program. Those who responded became her sources.

From there, her role at the agency changed. She was no longer just a seizer of artwork, but graduated to become a fixer of past misdeeds, repatriating Holocaust art to the rightful owners.

“It is my heritage. I’m sensitive to all of this… The United States wasn’t involved when [the Holocaust] was happening. As part of the United States government, I recognize…we recognize what needs to be done,” Goldblatt said.

Being stationed in New York City – where numerous survivors settled and works of art with questionable provenances surfaced – allowed her “to develop this niche.” It’s also the site of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office.

Goldblatt’s job is not the cat-and-mouse pursuit that the 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair painted of art thieves and detectives.

Think The Old Man and the Sea: Much patience is required to hook the big one. There are online databases to pore over and “war rooms,” a term she uses to describe the massive foreign archives, to scour, all in the hope of finding art whose provenances were erased in the ’30s and ’40s by Nazi invasions, liquidations and murders.

In Goldblatt’s line of work, to hook the big one sometimes means waiting for death.

“Whoever is in possession of the paintings now is more likely to sell them,” she explained, because some of this art has been handed down to heirs oblivious to the painting’s provenance. These looted pieces then start popping up for sale. Furthermore, criminals who are aware of their paintings’ origins are also becoming more brazen and bringing the pieces to market since the last true owners are likely gone.

Goldblatt does, however, have some faith in the inheritors: “As the heirs start receiving the artwork and they do some research and find out where it comes from, they step forward and surrender the object to us.”

But safeguards are in place to prevent the unscrupulous from succeeding. Countries and individuals are registering with stolen art databases, springing Goldblatt into action, dutifully helping to right a 70-year wrong. Each piece she repatriates helps to echo remembrance.

GOLDBLATT’S FIRST Holocaust repatriation was in 2003, when she recovered the Sefer Yetzira, a rare 14th-century kabbalistic manuscript that had been looted by the Nazis from Vienna’s Jewish library and was listed in the auction catalog of Kestenbaum and Company.

The auction house turned the manuscript over to the authorities upon request.

Afterward, there was a big gap in Holocaust repatriations. The agency had undergone many changes after 9/11 and priorities shifted, drawing resources away from art and antiquities work. However, 2009 was the year of Goldblatt’s resurgence. With the help of the US Attorney’s Office, she repatriated four objects that had been looted by the Nazis.

It began with two works once belonging to the late Jewish art dealer Dr. Max Stern, who had been coerced into selling 228 pieces.

First, on April 2, Goldblatt seized Portrait of a Musician Playing a Bagpipe from Lawrence Steigrad’s art gallery and returned the piece on Holocaust Remembrance Day later that month. In early May, because of the media coverage of the Bagpipe repatriation, art dealer Richard Feigen voluntarily revealed that he had unknowingly purchased another Stern piece – Ludovico Carracci’s depiction of St. Jerome – in 2000 from the very auction house in Cologne, Germany, that Stern had been forced to consign his collection to in 1937, proceeds that Stern never saw.

Steigrad, who was unaware that Bagpipe had been stolen when he acquired it, recalls Goldblatt’s arrival to his dealership in an e-mail message. She was incognito and “insisted on seeing Bagpipe. I came out to explain that we had just found out [days before] that that particular painting was being returned because we were informed that it was in a forced sale. At that point Bonnie took out her gold badge… I was shocked at the deception and very mad,” Steigrad said about the agent, whom he described as “a very attractive young lady.”

“The work is great and we support it 100 percent,” Steigrad said about Goldblatt’s efforts, but added, “She just should know who the crooks are and treat respectable citizens (art dealers as well) in a more honest way.”

BUT THIS IS the protocol for an undercover agent dealing in a world where patient criminals profit from the stolen fragments of one of the world’s worst crimes. Though Goldblatt may be angering and deceiving art dealers, repatriations like Stern’s have brought her unit recognition.

“The more we do, the better we get,” she told me. “The more we do, the more our name gets out there.”

On November 9, the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht – when Nazis destroyed Jewish shops, homes and synagogues, and battered and arrested Jewish citizens in Germany and Austria – Goldblatt returned a 16th-century two-volume rabbinic Bible to Vienna’s Jewish community. The manuscripts turned up at Kestenbaum’s again, and an undercover Goldblatt arrived. After confirming that the stolen Bible was on the premises by locating the obliterated tag WIEN, Goldblatt met with Kestenbaum, who had recognized her from six years before.

Once again he cooperated and removed the piece from auction so it could begin its journey back home.

One month later, Goldblatt seized a rare Antoine Carte portrait, which depicted a little girl with blonde pigtails, wearing a blue dress, sitting beside her pet rabbit. The painting had belonged to a Jewish family in Belgium who had been forced to flee during the war. The Art Loss Register, an international database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles, located the painting at a Long Island dealership.

Goldblatt moved in, matching the portrait to a photograph of the same child. Sixty-nine years after it had been stolen, the painting was returned to its owner, who happened to be the timeless little girl in the blue dress.

“The Holocaust left her with such a scar,” Goldblatt said, “that she was scared if she came out with the painting” – to the ceremonial repatriation at the Jewish Museum of Belgium – “it would be stolen again.”

These restitutions, however, were uncomplicated in comparison to the seizure of Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally, which was seized from the Museum of Modern Art in 1998.

“It’s mammoth,” Goldblatt said when describing the case, adding that if all goes in their favor, the “law would set big precedents.”

The battle for Wally was prompted by a special report in The New York Times entitled “The Zealous Collector” by Judith Dobrzynski.

The article, published on December 24, 1997, explained how Lea Bondi Jarray, a Viennese art dealer, was forced to surrender the painting to the Nazis before fleeing for her life. After the war, Mrs. Bondi, as she was known, discovered that Wally had been found by American officials and was being housed in the Belvedere, a palace for Austrian modern art. However, while at the Belvedere, it was accidentally mixed in with another person’s collection. Bondi asked a seemingly trustworthy art collector, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, to retrieve the painting for her. But Leopold purchased it for himself and disregarded Bondi’s pleas for her property.

At the time of the Times report, Wally was on loan to MoMA from the Leopold Museum.

It was set to leave New York for Vienna despite the allegations that it had been looted and never returned to its rightful owner.

“My husband said to me, ‘Can’t you do something about this?’” Goldblatt recalled. So she did. Goldblatt confiscated the portrait, which has sat in storage under court order ever since. The trial is set for July and the lawyers for Bondi’s heirs must prove that the Leopold Museum knew that the painting had been looted when it was acquired.

DESPITE THE IMPASSE, Wally’s seizure has already set the wheels of restitution in motion for plundered paintings like Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Furthermore, it has prompted Austria’s parliament to pass a law that expedites the return of art looted from Jews, from which it appears there are vast amounts in the country’s museums.

“All governments and museums should take a good look at the provenance of their inventory,” Goldblatt suggested. “If they have something they shouldn’t have… they should return it. I don’t think museums should be treated any differently than individuals. They still have a duty to return things to their rightful owner.”

Goldblatt also convenes with the State Department’s Office of Holocaust Issues. “We want to establish guidelines that other countries will adhere to that make it easier for us to identify and possibly return artwork that was taken during the Holocaust,” she explained.

“Bonnie is unlike any civil servant I have encountered before,” said Chris Marinello of the Art Loss Register, one of the organizations she often collaborates with. “She is extremely dedicated and passionate about her work…Bonnie’s efforts and those of her art and antiquities team” – who are trained by Goldblatt – “keep the pressure on the art world and the memory of these events alive.”

“Every time I return a Holocaust painting I just get teary-eyed,” Goldblatt said.

“Make no mistake,” Marinello warned, “there is one tough agent behind that gentle demeanor and pleasant smile.”

“There’s a reason why I signed up to be an agent,” said Goldblatt. “I’d like to get it all back.”

The writer is completing a nonfiction book, My Grandparents’ Holocaust. He is a columnist for The Faster Times.

July 12th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Birmingham Museum forced to delay opening of new exhibition due to staff shortages
http://www.birminghammail.net/news/birmingham-news/2010/07/11/birmingham-museum-forced-to-delay-opening-of-new-exhibition-due-to-staff-shortages-97319-26830850/

Jul 11 2010

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BIRMINGHAM Museum was forced to close two thirds of its galleries and cancel the opening of a major publicly-funded exhibition yesterday – due to security staff shortages.

The embarrassing debacle comes just five days before the city hopes to be crowned the UK’s Capital of Culture.

The council decided to close 12 galleries on Friday night when it realised it was short of security staff to protect exhibits from theft.

Just the main corridors and Edwardian team rooms opened at the Chamberlain Square venue yesterday.

The controversial Heard and Not Seen show, which has received £25,000 of public cash, had been due to open to the public for the first time. The exhibition aimed to improve understanding of Islam by including a workshop where visitors were invited to wear burkhas.

The City of Culture bid is being led by Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet member for Leisure Sport and Culture.

He brushed off the embarrassment of the closure yesterday and said: “We’ve had a number of security staff off ill – this caught us unaware.

“Because we have to maintain a minimum level of security, we felt it would be best to close the galleries.

“It’s very unfortunate but it is a one-off situation, and it’s a shame that it has happened just before the City of Culture announcement. It’s one of those things which does occasionally happen at any institution.

“It caught us on the hop – it was too late for us to get in agency staff to cover. The worst thing would have been to open all the galleries and have stuff stolen.”

Rita McLean, Head of Museums and Heritage Services, said: “The decision to close part of the museum and art gallery was made due to an extreme set of circumstances.

“Our security numbers meet nationally recognised standards and it would be irresponsible to open galleries with lower than adequate staffing levels.

“Our museum service is the largest of its kind in the country, providing many free exhibitions and events each year, and remains an integral part of the city’s cultural offer.’’

The Heard and Not Seen exhibition is on display until August 22 and had sparked controversy when details were first revealed in the Sunday Mercury.

John Midlgley, co-founder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: “The exhibition is a patronising waste of public money.

“This is gong to do little to tackle extremism and bring about social cohesion within communities across Birmingham. It has been done in the name of political correctness but it seems to be potentially counter-productive.”

But Lee Griffiths, Director of Friction Arts, which is running the Heard and Not Seen show, said the event was still very much going ahead.

“It’s all set up, but due to staff shortages the museum had to close 12 galleries, including the one where the show is to be held,’’ he said.

“We should open on Monday evening, or maybe even on Sunday, we are waiting to hear off the museum.”

Birmingham is currently battling against Derry, Norwich and Sheffield to be named the UK’s Capital of Culture, which could be worth £800 million to the city and bring in an extra four million visitors.

High profile supporters include pop star Beverley Knight, actress Julie Walters and Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham.

The final announcement will be made on Thursday.

July 12th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports