Cursed’ stolen artifact returned to Rawene

Last updated 15:40 30/09/2010

A valuable whalebone artefact stolen from an historic Northland house earlier this month has been returned undamaged to the Historic Places Trust.

The whalebone whip handle was stolen from Clendon House in Rawene, west of Kaikohe, and police believe it may have been returned because it had a tapu (curse ) on it.

“The person who took it… every time they stub their toe they’ll think hell is starting to drop on them,” said Senior Constable Jeff Cramp, from the Rawene police.

“With all artefacts strongly connected to Maoridom, if they are removed or ill-treated, they carry an automatic curse,” Mr Cramp said. He said it was returned “in person by an unnamed person”, who probably knew the thief, but no one would be charged unless police learned the identity, Mr Cramp said.

“It was a simple case of that (unnamed) person saying ‘I can get my hands on it. I will get it and get it back to you, no questions asked.’ That is what happened,” Mr Cramp said.

“We are extremely grateful it has come back to its place of origin.”

The whalebone whip handle was a precious taonga (treasure) and the trust was delighted to have it back safely at Clendon house, said trust spokesman Gordon Hewston.

Mr Hewston said security had been upgraded at the house, built in 1869. The whip handle belonged to George Thomas Clendon, the oldest son of James Reddy Clendon and his wife Jane Takotowi Clendon.

George Clendon was regarded by local Maori as a significant rangatira (chief) and was the official native translator for Hokianga.

Mr Hewston said the whip handle was believed to be the highly-prized possession of a rangatira and it had probably never left Clendon House until it was stolen.

The trust said it was probably stolen from a display case when the house was open to the public.

September 30th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

New judge to oversee Van Gogh theft trial; resumes Oct. 5

Deputy Culture Minister Mohsen Shaalan during the hearing on Tuesday. (Daily News Egypt Photo/Heba Fahmy)

By Heba Fahmy /Daily News Egypt September 30, 2010, 6:33 pm
CAIRO: The trial of the Van Gogh painting theft was on Tuesday adjourned to Oct. 5, when witnesses will testify before a new judge that will be assigned at the start of the new judicial year.

“According to the Egyptian judiciary system, a new judicial department (including a new judge) will be handling this case by the beginning of the new judicial year that starts on Oct. 1. The law stipulates that the judge who gives the verdict should be the same judge that handles the proceedings of the case,” Essam Bassim, lawyer representing museum director Reem Baheer, told Daily News Egypt.

“That’s why the defense team called for the postponement of the witnesses’ testimonies to be heard in front of the new judicial department so the legal procedures are correct,” he added.

The court declined the defense team’s request to release the six detained defendants — including the main defendant, deputy culture minister Mohsen Shaalan, and two museum security guards — on grounds that they are not a flight risk.

“All the defendants are prevented from traveling and all of them are prevented from going to work,” Samir Sabri, lawyer representing Shaalan, told Daily News Egypt.

Sabri added that detaining Shaalan was considered a kind of “torture” because he is an artist and he requested that Shaalan be released on bail.

“He’s an international and fine artist and this isn’t the way an artist should be treated for mistakes he wasn’t responsible for,” he said.

Shaalan spoke to reporters from the dock before the trial began. “I’m proud of my prior achievements and my history; they prove that I can’t be negligent,” he said.

Shaalan and 10 other museum officials and employees were charged with severe negligence and harming state property. The prosecution is calling for the maximum punishment, which is three years in prison.

Sabri accused head of financial and administrative affairs, Olfat Al-Gindi, of ignoring the development plan of the Mahmoud Khalil Museum.

”Shaalan fully performed his duties. He notified officials to include the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in the development plan and replace the cameras and alarm system. Olfat Al-Gindi, head of financial and administrative affairs, formed committees to examine the development plan. Then she put the plan aside in her drawer,” Sabri told Daily News Egypt.

Al-Gindi is one of the witnesses, who were summoned to testify on Oct. 5.

Some of the lawyers called for the interrogation of the Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, while others called for filing charges against him.

“Farouk Hosni is either a victim or a defendant in this case. If he’s the victim then he should at least be summoned to testify. If he is the defendant then he should be charged,” Nabih El-Wahsh, the lawyer representing museum security guard Mohamed Abdel-Sabour, told the court.

Hosni gave a voluntary testimony to the prosecution earlier this month to respond to accusations against him and the ministry.

He said in his testimony that he had given Shaalan full financial and administrative responsibility of the Mahmoud Khalil Museum, where the theft of the $50-million-plus Van Gogh painting occurred, according to a 2006 decree. The minister denied ever knowing of the museum’s lax security.

Before the hearing on Tuesday, the family of one of the defendants, museum security guard Ashraf Abdel Hadi, appealed to media for his release describing him as a “scapegoat.”

Abdel-Hadi’s sister couldn’t get into the courtroom before the hearing started, her screaming got reporters’ attention as she criticized the injustice of the trial while her mother wept.

“Everybody knows that he’s innocent, even the judge who’s inside knows that he’s innocent,” Abdel-Hadi’s sister told Daily News Egypt.

“Why don’t they take them to a disciplinary trial?” she said, explaining that in such a case the guards should be fired from their jobs, not put in jail.
The “Poppy Flowers” painting was stolen in broad daylight from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum on Aug. 21 using a box cutter to remove it from its frame, leaving the ministry red faced.

Poor security measures were blamed for the theft of the painting.

Investigations revealed that the number of security guards in the museum was reduced from 30 to nine. Most days the number was further reduced so that there was only one guard on duty.

Only seven of 43 surveillance cameras in the museum were functioning and none of the alarms went off during the theft.

September 30th, 2010

Posted In: law enforcement and investigation, legal issues and the law

Statue stolen from gallery

11:00am Wednesday 29th September 2010

• By Kirsty Barton »

STAFF at Fisherton Mill in Salisbury are having to reassess their displays and security after a limited edition statue worth more than £1,200 was stolen.

The bronze piece, by artist Gill Brown, was taken from a plinth in the gallery’s shop on the afternoon of September 18.

The theft was discovered when a member of staff noticed an empty display stand and reported that the ten-inch tall statue called Sleep was missing.

“It is just not fair,” said Fisherton Mill owner Deborah Fox. “A lot of work went into the piece and it is special to Gill Brown. It is just not fair someone thinks they can take it without paying for it.

“We will have to be a bit more careful and change the way we display things. We really thought it would be too big for someone to pop in their bag or under their coat.”

Ms Fox is appealing for any customers in the Mill on that afternoon to get in touch with the police if they saw anything suspicious.

The police are investigating and are checking websites such as eBay to try and trace the statue, which is of a mother with a child asleep in her arms.

As it is a limited edition, each statue is numbered and therefore easy to distinguish.

“We don’t know if it’s someone who wants it for the metal and the value of the metal or whether it is someone who just likes the piece and thinks they would like it at home,” said Ms Fox.

“It is quite a big, heavy piece, and that is really why we didn’t have it under lock and key – it is nice to have things out so people can see them up close. We don’t want to put everything behind glass.”

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Salisbury police on 0845 4087000, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

September 29th, 2010

Posted In: sculpture theft

Israel Museum returns Nazi-looted artwork

September 29, 2010

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Museum has restituted a Paul Klee drawing to the estate of the Jewish art collector who owned the work before it was looted by the Nazis.

Klee’s 1920 drawing was owned by Harry Fuld J. from 1932 until 1941. Fuld left “Veil Dance” and several other works with a transportation firm when he fled for England in 1937. In 1941, following a new law by which Jewish citizens who had left Germany lost their German nationality and property, his citizenship and assets were revoked, and his art collection was confiscated by the Third Reich.

The drawing was received in 1950 by the Israel Museum’s precursor, the Bezalel National Museum, through the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization, established
after World War II to distribute looted works of art whose owners or heirs were unknown to cultural organizations around the globe.

Fuld died in 1963, and left his estate to his housekeeper Gita Gisela Martin. At her death in 1992, she left her estate to the United Kingdom’s branch of Magen David Adom,

After new research brought the drawing’s provenance to light, the museum transferred the drawing to Magen David Adom, according to a news release issued by the Israel Museum.

“The Israel Museum strives to serve as a model for responsible restitution, and we are pleased to do so now by restituting this work in exemplary fashion, as we have in other instances in the past,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

The museum in 2008 restituted two ancient Roman gold-glass medallions to the heirs of the Dzialynska Collection at Goluchow Castle in Poland. Also, in 2005, Edgar Degas’ charcoal drawing “Four Nude Female Dancers Resting” was restituted to the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker, a noted Dutch art dealer who died while fleeing the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. And in 2000, the Museum returned Camille Pissarro’s “Boulevard Montmarte” to the heir of Holocaust victim Max Silberberg, who placed the painting on long-term loan to the museum.

September 29th, 2010

Posted In: restitution, WWII

Search for Nazi-stolen antiquities

(ANA-MPA) — A campaign for the repatriation of sculptures stolen from Larissa during the withdrawal of the Nazi troops in 1944 has been launched by a central Greece municipality.

Sculptures that decorated archaic steles were looted by Nazi occupation forces from the Archaeological Museum of Larissa in November 1944, according to Thodoros Axenidis’ book, entitled “Pelasgis Larissa”.

Many of the missing artifacts are on display in museums in Athens and Volos and a request for their return has already been made by the mayor of Larissa, in view of the opening of the city’s new museum.

However, a large number of the stolen antiquities are still unaccounted for and a number are believed to be in museums or private collections in Germany. (ANA-MPA)

The local government in Larissa will launch an effort to trace the German commander in the region at the time of the Nazi withdrawal or any of his close relatives to gather information on the artifacts’ fate. (ANA-MPA)

Caption: A file dated July 7, 2006 shows a statue of a female figure, one of the most noted such artifacts ever found in the Thessaly province of central Greece. The 80cm-tall statue — only the torso was found — depicts the mythical goddess Artemis, and is tentatively dated back to mid 1st century BC. ANA-MPA/STR

September 29th, 2010

Posted In: WWII

28 September 2010 Last updated at 11:56 ET
Winning artwork stolen from wall at Exeter exhibition

Ovation was one painting in a series of three on display at the exhibition
The winning piece of artwork in a Devon art exhibition has been stolen.

Henny Acloque’s Ovation was stolen from the wall of the gallery while it was open to the public on Saturday for the Exeter Contemporary Open.

Devon and Cornwall Police have been informed of the theft at the Exeter Phoenix in which the 10cm x 15cm painting went missing.

Gallery Curator Matt Burrows said the incident was “incredibly unusual” and that CCTV footage was being looked at.

Mr Burrows said: “Although it has financial value it’s not like something that could be stolen to sell, so it becomes a strange combination of someone who really likes it, who was prepared to do something so selfish.

“Unfortunately if someone is determined there’s very little beyond a certain point that we can do.

“This painting is very small and would not be easily noticeable so it may have been targeted.”

Artist Ms Acloque had been announced as the winner of the competition and won £1,000 in prize money.

Mr Burrows said: “She’s devastated because it’s one of a series of paintings and they work together and this was one of her favourite pieces.

He said he was hopeful that the incident was an “impulsive act” and that the painting would be returned to the art gallery or artist soon.

September 28th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

27 September 2010 Last updated at 08:25 ET
£500 reward for return of stolen Wormshill church items

The antique items had been in the church for at least 150 years
A £500 reward is being offered for the return of antique items stolen from a church in Kent.

The items in St Giles Church, in The Street, Wormshill, near Sittingbourne, had been there for at least 150 years.

They included a heavy brass altar cross and two brass candlesticks, which were on the main altar, and two small brass vases on a side altar.

The reward is being offered by the church warden following the theft between 12 and 19 September.

September 28th, 2010

Posted In: religious artifact theft, reward posted

German court order return of stolen Cypriot treasures

By Natali Hami and George Psyllides Published on September 28, 2010

SCORES of valuable religious artefacts looted from churches in the Turkish-occupied north are a step closer to repatriation following the decision of a German court.

Last week, a court in Munich ordered the return of the artefacts stolen by Turkish national Aydin Dikmen, after the invasion of the island in 1974.

Among the recovered antiquities are frescoes from the monastery of Christou tou Antifoniti, dating back to the 15th Century, a 6th-Century mosaic from the church of the Panayia Kanakaria, murals from the church of the Panayia Pergamiotissa and two icons that originated from the monastery of Saint Chrysostomos.

The antiquities had been recovered by Bavarian police in 1997, hidden inside the walls and under the floorboards in two apartments kept by Dikmen in Munich, under false names.

The Church of Cyprus was unable to repatriate the artefacts despite repeated efforts and it was decided to file a civil law suit against Dikmen.

The trial started in April 2009 with the court last week deciding that the Church had succeeded in proving the provenance of the treasures.

But it could be another two months before the case clears.

“The other side has a month to appeal after receiving the full text of the decision,” said senior state attorney Ioannis Lazarou.

It is understood that neither side has the full text yet.

Lazarou said Cyprus had to prove the provenance of the artefacts — first of all that they came from Cyprus; from these specific churches in the occupied areas and that they were in fact there during the invasion.

“This had to be done for each item,” Lazarou said.

The artefacts were discovered after a raid on October 10, 1997.

Dikmen was arrested following an eight-month sting operation in which Dutch art dealer Michael van Rijn cooperated.

He had been videotaped when he tried to sell the treasures.

Van Rijn cooperated with the police but later refused to testify against Dikmen after he had received death threats.

Many churches in the north of Cyprus have been looted following the invasion and Dikmen seems to have played the main role in selling the artworks stripped from them.

In 1988, Dikmen, Van Rijn, and their associate Robert Fitzgerald sold four Kanakaria moisaics to Indianapolis dealer Peg Goldberg for more that $1 million.

The mosaics were ordered returned to the Church of Cyprus after a 1989 trial in a federal court.

In 1984, Dikmen sold the Menil Foundation of Houston 13th-century frescoes from Ayios Themonianos church near Lysi.

Cypriot authorities approved the purchase on the condition that the frescoes, now displayed in Houston, would eventually be returned to Cyprus.

September 28th, 2010

Posted In: religious artifact theft, restitution

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September 28th, 2010

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September 28th, 2010

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September 27th, 2010

Posted In: museum security

German court orders Cypriot treasures return
• Mon, Sep 27, 2010
A German court has ordered the repatriation of priceless Cypriot treasures, stolen from Cyprus’ northern Turkish occupied part of the country.
A press release, issued by the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus, says that in 2004 the Republic of Cyprus, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of the Maronites and the Church of the Armenians filed a civil law suit before Munich District Court to retrieve stolen antiquities, which had been in the custody for the Bavarian authorities since 1997.
The said antiquities were located in 1997 by the Bavarian police, hidden in between walls and under the floor of two flats which belong to a Turkish national, Aydin Dickmen, in Munich. Part of the findings include religious icons, part of mosaics and pieces of Byzantine frescoes of priceless historic, cultural and religious value.
Since these were located, the government and the Church of Cyprus had made several moves to have these artifacts repatriated. The moves did not yield any results and it was decided to file a civil law suit before the German courts. On Thursday, 23 September, Munich District Court issued its decision on the law suit against Dickmen which vindicated fully the Church of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus.
“The Court ruling puts an end to a difficult and hard legal battle, which lasted six years, by ordering the return of our cultural heritage treasures,” the press release said. It added that the Court ruling is subject to appeal. — (KYPE)

September 27th, 2010

Posted In: restitution

Archaeologist says council is destroying historic site

Sep 24 2010 by Sam Malone, Western Mail

A RARE Norman site is being irreparably damaged and is in danger of being destroyed, according to a respected archaeologist.

Stephen Clarke, the head of a professional Archaeological unit and chairman of Monmouth Archaeological Society, insisted the remains of a defensive ditch which once lined the ancient town of Clawdd Du in Monmouthshire could soon be lost forever.

Mr Clarke, who was made an MBE for services to archaeology, claims Monmouthshire council had “ignorantly” excavated a trench several feet deep along the Overmonnow site and had cut through the thin archaeological levels into the underlying natural shales.

He also insists the council had ignored warnings that digging without proper consent is breaking the law.

“I am absolutely appalled. I cannot understand what the council is thinking of as it is fully aware it’s a scheduled monument,” he said.

“The council are meant to be the ones who you go to for protection, they are the guardians of the listed buildings and historically sensitive areas so it’s astonishing what it’s doing.

“It’s dug this trench, which is a couple of feet deep, almost a quarter of a mile long and in doing so it’s done irreparable damage to an important historic site.”

Mr Clarke said both professional and amateur archaeologists throughout the town had been outraged by the council’s actions and have called for an inquiry by the Assembly Government’s heritage body Cadw.

He added if the council was found to have broken the law then he believed it should be prosecuted for criminal damage under Ancient Monument legislation.

“Everyone knows if you take a metal detector down there or start digging it up you’ll end up in jail – why should it be any different for the council?” he said.

“It looks as if it’s done without any planning consent and without scheduled ancient monument consent. It’s a peculiar set up and personally I don’t think anyone knows what they are doing.”

Mr Clarke said that he expected Cadw to take a strong line over what he called “irresponsible activity” which seemed to serve no real purpose.

“As far as I know it’s meant to be something to do with boosting biodiversity and to make it a more tidy town,” he added.

“But it’s strange considering the fact the council is meant to be hard up that it can find the money to do things like this.”

According to Monmouth town councillor Susan Chivers, its environment committee was informed in June by the county council’s Tidy Towns initiative that it would be creating ponds in the ditch.

She said: “I just cannot believe the council can be so crass as to go ahead with something which it was told would be against the law.

“As far as we are concerned this is a criminal act and we would like to see Monmouthshire County Council prosecuted.”

After being alerted to the digging, a Cadw spokesman said its officers visited the site and found a linear trench had been excavated along most of the length of the ditch.

“Cadw officers asked that the works be stopped and are now carrying out a more detailed assessment of the impact of the works on archaeology, which will inform decisions on how to proceed.

“Carrying out unauthorised works or causing damage to a scheduled ancient monument is potentially a criminal offence. Cadw does not itself have powers to prosecute but can report cases to the police for further investigation.”

Rick Longford, Monmouthshire council’s economic development manager, refuted it had acted irresponsibly, but admitted a “regrettable oversight” meant the council had not gone through the proper channels.

He said: “We place a high value on Monmouthshire’s antiquities and we have been working for some time to remove fly tipping and waste thrown into the ditch.

“The intention is to look at the site within the ethos of the Tidy Towns initiative and develop a community-based project which will not only clean up the area but also assist in the reduction of dumping at the site in the future.

“A shallow watercourse had been excavated as part of the approach, and due to a regrettable oversight, the necessary consent from Cadw had not been obtained.

“We are now working closely with Cadw to resolve any issues relating to the works, to reduce future fly tipping and develop a scheme to enable the local community to look after the site in the future.”

Read More

September 24th, 2010

Posted In: legal issues and the law

Suspect in van Gogh theft held in Vermont

Bruce Krasnow | The New Mexican
Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 – 9/24/10 0 Comments and 0 Reactions

The New Mexican

A man who Vermont police say may be linked to the Santa Fe theft of a Vincent van Gogh sketch was being held in Vermont on burglary charges, according to The Associated Press.

Edward Laird, 45, is being held on $50,000 bail in Montpelier. It’s unknown when he will be returned to New Mexico to face charges, according to the wire service.

The 14- by 17-inch charcoal drawing was among 77 items stolen from the home of a Santa Fe art collector in early 2009. It has been described as an unsigned sketch for the artist’s later painting The Night Café.

In September 2009, the van Gogh piece was sold at a Raton consignment shop for $250. At the time, police did not release the name of the person who left the painting, nor indicated there was a suspect.

But Vermont authorities say the man turned up there last month, and he’s charged with burglarizing two condominiums in the ski resort town of Stowe, credit-card fraud and occupying an abandoned camp in Underhill.

The owner of the van Gogh told The New Mexican last year that his great-grandfather acquired the drawing and that it’s been in his family for three generations. The insurance company had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the attest of a suspect.

September 24th, 2010

Posted In: law enforcement and investigation

Suspects in Buddhist temple burglary arrested

September 22, 2010 4:27 PM

Michelle Kim
AMSTERDAM — Police say they have arrested two men in connection with the burglary of a Buddhist statue Tuesday.

David Rodriguez, 27, and Hector Martinez, 24, both of Amsterdam, are accused of stealing the Buddhist statue

Police believe the men are connected with other robberies in the area.

A CBS 6 viewer, Gerald Skrocki, sent in photos of the damage from the temple, saying eight statues were stolen, two of which were jewel-encrusted and imported from China. He added, “The donation box was broken into and cash taken as well as the theft of an amplifier and speaker system, and copper piping.”

Several stolen items have been recovered, but police are continuing to look for a third suspect, Harry Delvalle, who is believed to have fled to the Rochester area.

September 23rd, 2010

Posted In: law enforcement and investigation

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September 23rd, 2010

Posted In: religious artifact theft

Press release about the Landesmuseum Hannover and the stolen Tiepolo: the museum and it’s respective managers showed very bad faith in acquiring the Tiepolo painting and it the way they defended their actions. A shame for the international museum community.

Important documents were kept secret during the trial thus offending court. Without any doubt the Tiepolo was bought in bad faith, and the museum’s defence during the trial too showed very bad faith as well. A shame for the museum community. The legal owner was forced by the museum to spend a lot of money on lawyers. The present verdict is not the end of it for the Landesmuseum may expect a damages claim.
We expect more detailed documentation soon, and will reveal all on this mailing list and on the website.



Press release about the Landesmuseum Hannover and the stolen Tiepolo: the museum and it’s respective managers showed very bad faith in acquiring the Tiepolo painting and it the way they defended their actions. A shame for the international museum community.

September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

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September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Iraq to hold indirect talks with Israel on alleged Torah smuggling

Sep 21, 2010, 13:14 GMT

Baghdad – Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism said Tuesday it would hold talks with Israel through a third party – in the absence of diplomatic relations – to verify whether an ancient Torah scroll was smuggled out of Iraq to the Jewish state.

Iraqi Minister of Tourism Said Qahtan Jubouri told local media that the ministry

is following up on allegations that the rare 18th century copy of the Torah was then sent to the Jewish Archives in the United States for refurbishing before reaching Israel.
Jubouri said evidence that the scroll was smuggled out had yet to be found. But others within the ministry point to Israeli media reports claiming last month that the scroll is in that country as proof that it was indeed transferred illegally.

The US and Israel have agreed to investigate the allegations, Jubouri said.

Reports about the stolen Torah first surfaced in 2003, when the National Museum of Iraq and other establishments were looted during the US-led invasion.

Iraqi authorities have requested that the US return Jewish-Iraqi artifacts taken prior to and after the invasion. The country was once home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Middle East, but many left Iraq in the 1950s and 1960s to settle in Israel.

September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: religious artifact theft

France: 3 Men Sentenced in Case of Stolen Picassos


Published: September 21, 2010

Three men accused of trying to peddle stolen Picasso paintings were sentenced to up to seven years in prison on Tuesday after they portrayed themselves in court as witless sellers who did not know they possessed anything valuable. The paintings — “Maya à la poupée et au cheval de bois” and “Portrait de Jacqueline” — were recovered in a sting operation by the French national art brigade in 2007. Months earlier, meticulous thieves had entered the Left Bank apartment of Picasso’s granddaughter and cut away the works, leaving without a trace. One of the men, Jean Sala, 61, whose heart condition delayed the trial, was sentenced to four years, as was Paula Sabbah, 57. Abdelatif Redjil, 56, who said rope, gloves and fake keys found in his car were tools of his construction trade, was sentenced to seven years.

September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: law enforcement and investigation

Was it art or theft?
by Mary Jo Denton
18 hrs ago | 795 views | 1 | |
COOKEVILLE — Two young men claiming to need scrap metal for an art project will be telling their story to a judge soon, as they have been arrested for theft.

Terry W. Jones, 24, and Larry Edward Scott, 20, both of Sycamore Street, Cookeville, were cited for theft last week after Cookeville Police Officer Darrin Stout responded to a theft complaint call at Bob’s Body Shop on West Broad Street and made an investigation.

“Before my arrival, I was advised by dispatch that the suspects had fled the scene and were last seen near the church at Fourth and Broad Street,” Stout’s report says. “I had just passed two males at that location, so I turned around to speak to them.”

Allegedly, the two told the officer they had just left the body shop “because they were being accused of stealing.”

When Officer Lester Langford arrived, Stout left him with the two suspects and then went to the body shop to talk to the owner.

The owner told the officer he had given permission for the two young men to take scrap metal for an art project they said they doing.

But he soon discovered that they “were not involved in an art project, but were selling the metal for profit,” the report says.

The two had left their car at the body shop when they fled on foot after being confronted, and inside the trunk was an auto transmission, Stout said.

That transmission had been stolen, the owner said.

Detective Sgt. Tim Terry interviewed the two suspects, and after that, Stout cited them for theft.

Read more: Herald Citizen – Was it art or theft

September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

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September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: brand museum

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September 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Drouot sets out on the road to recovery

20 September 2010 THE Hotel Drouot, the communal auction facility used by most Paris auctioneers, faces an even bigger overhaul than expected after the French Justice Minister’s scathing report about its culture and working practices.

First casualty is Les Cols Rouges, the cosy 150-year-old monopoly passed on from generation to generation of a small number of Savoyard families that ran all the portering, delivery and storage facilities. With court cases pending on charges relating to corruption and stolen goods, those indicted have been excluded from any future role.

Any hope of Cols Rouges members continuing in their role would have depended on a complete revision of their status, with those not affected by the criminal investigation having to establish a proper corporate structure and submit a formal bid.

There was talk of at least three interested parties – including the Cols Rouges – competing for the contract, and last week Drouot announced that it would bring in Chenue, long established specialists in the handling and movement of works of art.

They certainly needed to draw on all their logistical expertise in order to be ready to take over Drouot’s internal operations by September 20 – only last week contracts had not been finalised but Eric Borvo, a consultant working with Chenue, said that they anticipated the initial arrangement would run for three years with a view to renegotiating after that.

This being the case, it is not yet clear whether the newly reformed Cols Rouges have any remaining hope of a future within the precincts of the Drouot.

Meanwhile, the Paris auction houses are waiting for more details to emerge from the Justice Minister’s report, setting out exactly how far they are expected to revise their working practices.

September 21st, 2010

Posted In: Auction Houses and stolen objects

How Art Expenses Stack Up

First-time buyers are often shocked by how much it costs to own art


The hammer has gone down and the adrenaline is pumping – you have bought your first work of art. But when the excitement wears off, and the costs stack up, many inexperienced buyers can regret being over-zealous with the paddle.

The cost of managing an art collection can vary widely but could add up to between 1% and 5% of the value of the works annually – depending on whether you are talking about a single work of art or an entire collection, according to Annelien Bruins, founder of London-based Bruins Private Collections Consultancy. If you are making regular purchases and therefore have to take into account transaction costs and taxes, then costs can rise to 15% of the value of the collection, says Ms. Bruins.

In February this year, Lawrence Graff, multi-millionaire owner of London-based jewellers Graff Diamonds, reportedly bought Picasso’s 1963 painting Tete de Femme (Jacqueline) at Christie’s auction house for £8.1 million, double the highest estimate. This figure includes the buyer’s premium.

It can conservatively be estimated that Mr. Graff will incur costs of over £1 million in his first year of owning the painting, including transactions and taxes. As a seasoned collector, he will have been expecting this, but it can come as a nasty surprise to first-time buyers, according to Suzanne Gyorgy, head of art advisory at Citi Private Bank in New York.

She says: “Many people don’t understand the intricacies involved with collecting art. The auction house premiums, the framing, the storage, the upkeep. First-time buyers are often shocked.”

Transaction Costs

If you are buying at auction, the first thing to consider is the buyer’s premium. This is worked out on a sliding scale from between 12% to 25% of the hammer price depending on the value of the work.

The pricier the artwork, the smaller the fee as a proportion of the overall cost. At Christie’s or Sotheby’s in New York you can expect to pay an extra 25% on the value of purchases up to $50,000. Between $50,000 and $1 million, a 20% fee is charged, and there is a 12% charge on the portion of the price over $1 million.

Buyers in the U.S. and UK must also pay a sales tax on the premium. In the U.S. this is set at 8.375% and in the UK there is a VAT rate of 17.5%. Collectors in the European Union pay no sales tax but must pay an Artists’ Resale Right for up to 70 years after the artist’s death. This varies between 0.25% and 4% of the value of the work with a €12,500 cap.

The Artists’ Resale Right is set to be enforced in the UK after 2012, which Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s Europe, believes will seriously damage the number of sales in the UK. Buying art can be daunting, says Ms. Bruins: “Clients want more independent advice nowadays – if it is a private sale, some opt for a broker.” She says brokerage fees could cost around 10% of the sale price but that this has been more negotiable since the advent of the global recession.


Insurance costs can be less than 1% of the price of the art work, according to Nick Brett, underwriting director at AXA Art Insurance. AXA insures collections of up to £200 million. He says: “If you haven’t got specialist fine art insurance you could be unprotected from the moment you buy the work.”

Martin O’Neill
The premium percentage depends on many factors, including the size of the collection, its security and location, says Mr. Brett. Premiums also depend on the nature of the art. Porcelain might cost twice as much to insure as oil on canvas.

Home insurance premiums in Europe are currently at a low, as there have been few major catastrophes in the region to empty insurers’ coffers. “We are offering some competitive rates at the moment,” says Charles Dupplin, head of fine art and private clients at insurer Hiscox.


A good frame can easily cost £10,000, according to Ms. Gyorgy. She says: “A period frame from the same time as the artwork could be a valuable antique itself.”

If a work of art is damaged – Mr. Brett says he has a client whose maid put the handle of the vacuum cleaner through a canvas – restorations must be made. A complicated tear in the canvas could cost up to £30,000 to be restored with museum quality micro-weave, says Mr. Brett.

But it is not just human beings that are hazardous to art collections. Humidity and temperature fluctuations might ruin an ink work or render cracks in a sculpture.

The installation of environmental monitoring equipment might cost up to £1,000 a month for a large collection stretching over 30 square meters, says Chris Kneale, managing director of Martinspeed, a fine art services group in London.

Alternatively collections can be stored. “We charge £25 a week for a normal sized painting in a climate controlled room, but for a valuable work we would advise clients to buy the double case for £1,200 to keep it in first,” says Mr. Kneale.

Transport and Installation

The most common corner cut by new art owners is shipping and packing, according to Ms. Gyorgy. “I’ve heard of people who decided to quickly move a painting or sculpture in the back of a car and are surprised when the work gets damaged,” she says.

Professional packing prices depend on the work’s dimensions, but for a piece the size of Mr. Graff’s Picasso, which measured 90cm by 50cm, one can expect to pay £650 for a double case, a fully alarmed air-ride van and two men, according to Duncan Walker, fine art manager at Hedley’s Humpers, a London-based art transport provider.

For those in need of extra security on a door-to-door journey, a security car can be sent to follow the van. Fees run to £350 a day for a top asset protector like G7-Securitas Group.

If you are not sending a courier with the work, who would charge anything from £200 up, airport supervision is a good idea, says Ms. Bruins.

“For the transport company to gain supervisory access to the plane on your behalf, you could be looking at another £500,” she said.

If you buy abroad, import taxes must be paid on the journey home. In the UK, import tax is 5%, in France it is 5.5%. In Switzerland the tax jumps to 7.6% of the value of the work. In the U.S. there is no import tax but there is a processing fee.

Collection Management

For the really passionate collector there is a host of collection management software. “For a starting collector a couple of Excel sheets and photos would suffice,” says Ms Bruins. She adds that a photographer might charge £700 a day.

But for collections with over 10,000 pieces across a number of locations, you’ll need a way to keep track of what you own.

Collection management systems are available that can store historical information, purchase prices, valuation amounts as well as link to documents and photos.

UK-based Chaddleworth Software provides bespoke systems that can cost thousands of pounds to install, although off-the-shelf packages can be purchased for between £500 and £1,000 a year.

Serious collectors employ specialist staff, says Mr. Brett. A personal assistant or a member of the family office can oversee a small collection, but one with over 10,000 pieces would need a registrar or an administrative assistant to keep track of the paperwork. Salaries depend on experience but an in-house curator might cost around £40,000 a year, says Ms Bruins.


When it comes to reselling art, the standard rate for an art valuer varies between £750 and £1,500 a day, although discounts apply for a large collection. Auction houses may do it for free if the work is going to be sold through them. Catalogue illustrations can cost as much as £500 for a full cover page, according to Christie’s.

Sellers may be surprised to get stung for vendors fees, a few years after having stumped up a buyers premium. Sellers’ commissions at Christie’s ranges from 15% on the first £3,000 to a negligible fee on anything higher than £3m.

Ms. Loader-Wilkinson is a reporter on Financial News. She can be reached at

September 21st, 2010

Posted In: fine art insurance

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September 21st, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

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September 20th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Long-missing sculpture salmon returns to Eugene

By MARK BAKER • The Register-Guard, an AP Member Exchange feature • September 17, 2010

EUGENE — Roarrrrk!?!
That’s probably the sound the reddish-brown fish made when a certain someone tore if off the iconic bronze salmon sculpture in the downtown Park Blocks fountain at East Eighth Avenue and Oak Street almost a half-century ago.

“He said they were out partying,” Eugene’s Jane Harrison recalled. “They ’rorked’ the fish off.”
“He” would be a college friend of Harrison’s ex -husband. It was 1961 and the elaborate and impressive artwork by Thomas Hardy, a University of Oregon graduate and internationally renowned sculptor, had only been in the fountain for two years, since the Park Blocks — best known as the home of Eugene’s Saturday Market — were constructed in 1959.
The alleged friend (whom Harrison would not finger) and others apparently had been doing some imbibing that night when they wrenched off and stole one of the 100 or so bronze salmon from the almost 19-foot-long sculpture.
Asked if maybe this was just a wild (fish) tale she was telling to cover her own long-ago crime, Harrison, who retired in 2001 as principal of Kelly Middle School, laughed and said no.
“I’ve ’rorked’ other things, but not that one,” she said.
“Why (the friend) gave it to my ex-husband, I have no idea,” Harrison recalled Thursday, standing in Steve Reinmuth’s Bronze Studio in west Eugene, where Reinmuth has spent the past month refurbishing the late Hardy’s piece for the city of Eugene. He plans to reinstall it next week.
Among his other tasks, Reinmuth reattached the stolen fish that had been kept by Harrison’s family and that Harrison brought to him.
Harrison’s act of penitence has done more than help restore the salmon sculpture. It has prompted the city to issue a call for any other people who possess stolen city art work including other fish broken off from the fountain statue to turn them in. The stolen art amnesty will run through Oct. 8, the city says.
Harrison read about the renovation project in the Aug. 14 Register -Guard; about how for the second time in its life the sculpture had fallen into disrepair and that Reinmuth had been hired to fix and refinish it this time since Hardy is no longer living.
A UO student at the time, Harrison and her ex were living in an apartment on Ferry Lane in 1961. They didn’t have the bronze fish in their possession for very long before they gave it to Harrison’s mother in Coquille. She put it next to a fountain in her garden, where it stayed until last year.
Harrison’s mother died in 2001, but her husband, Harrison’s 97-year-old stepfather, was still living there last year and gathering things to move into an assisted living center, when Harrison spotted the bronze fish in an empty planter box.
“This poor fish needs to come back to Eugene,” she thought.
So she brought it back with her. And when Harrison read about the renovation of the sculpture last month, she found Reinmuth’s website and sent him an e-mail wondering whether any fish were missing from the sculpture.
About five have disappeared over the years, actually, said Isaac Marquez, the city’s public art program manager.
Reinmuth was having dinner with his wife at Rabbit, a south Eugene restaurant, on their anniversary Aug. 16 when he got Harrison’s e-mail on his BlackBerry.
His wife wasn’t crazy about him checking his e-mail during their anniversary, but they both laughed after Reinmuth told her what it was about.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Reinmuth said. Sure, bring it by the studio, he told Harrison.
“We were always told it was the lead fish (on the sculpture),” Harrison said. Actually, the lead fish has been just fine all these years, said Reinmuth, who found a broken weld on the sculpture where he reattached the piece Harrison gave him. It’s a different color, a lighter shade, than the other pieces, he said.
“It’s been in a different environment,” Harrison said.
The salty sea air in Coquille would have had a different effect on the bronze over five decades, Reinmuth said.
“Fish out of water,” he said.
“I’m just glad that it’s back where it belongs with the rest of the fish.”

Read more:

September 20th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

13th century slab of stone carving stolen from Goa

Panaji, Sep 17 – A historic one-metre-long stone slab with carvings of battle scene, dating back to the late 13th century, has been stolen from a remote village in north Goa. Only a museum could have stolen it, an archeology official said here Friday.

The state government has launched an investigation into the disappearance of the stone slab belonging to the late Kadamba period from Nagve village in north Goa. Nagve is 50 km from here.

‘We have started a probe into the incident. It is possible that a museum might have stolen the slab,’ M.S. Deshpande, assistant superintending archaeologist at the state department of archives and archaeology, told IANS.

The stone slab locally known as ‘Veer gal’ was erected in memory of a local hero who sacrificed his life in a battle.

Local villagers worshipped the slab as an object of strength and valour.

‘The stone slab also had a funeral scene which showed the unsung hero’s body with his wife poised to jump onto her husband’s pyre,’ conservationist and wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar said.

The slab was last seen near Nagve village by a group of trekkers about a fortnight ago.

No case has been registered.


September 20th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Vandals strike N. Arizona archaeological site

Posted: 09/16/2010

• By: Associated Press
WILLIAMS, AZ – Archaeologists are assessing damage to a 1,000 year-old rock art panel in a northern Arizona forest.

A hiker reported the damage last month at the Kaibab National Forest’s Keyhole Sink, named for the keyhole-shaped lava flow.

The word “ACE” is written in what appears to be white paint over the rock art, known as petroglyphs. Kaibab archaeologist Neil Weintraub said Thursday that it’s often difficult to catch those responsible for defacing petroglyphs.

“This senseless act not only damaged the fragile rock art, it degraded a special place enjoyed by several thousand visitors each year,” he said.

Individuals with information regarding the crime are asked to contact the Williams District Ranger.

The petroglyphs are protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. If the damage is more than $500, the penalty for a first offense is up to two years in prison and $20,000 in fines, forest officials said. A second offense carries penalties of up to five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

The lava flow was defaced four years ago when vandals scratched names on it, which later were rubbed out. Weintraub said the petroglyphs weren’t affected.

Margaret Hangan, heritage program manager for the forest, said Keyhole Sink is one of the only sites in northern Arizona where hikers can learn about petroglyphs and is listed in several guide books.

The forest has offered guided tours during archaeology month in March to see the petroglyphs and an adjacent waterfall created by snow melt, she said.

Archaeologists refer to the prehistoric cultural group that made the petroglyphs as the Cohonina, likely ancestors of the Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes that inhabited the Parks area, Hangan said. The bear paws, snakes and lizards in the rock art panel are similar to Hopi clan symbols. The panel also depicts an ancient hunting scene.

September 20th, 2010

Posted In: vandalism

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September 17th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

Iran threatens to keep artefact

September 17, 2010
LONDON: It was not an easy decision for the British Museum to lend one of its most treasured artefacts to a country with which Britain has a notoriously prickly relationship.

So curators in London are paying close attention to an Iranian threat not to return the famous Cyrus Cylinder – now embroiled in political intrigue in the Islamic republic.

The 6th century BC Babylonian object, sometimes described as the world’s first human rights charter, arrived in Iran at the weekend and is due to be displayed for four months at the national museum.

In a ceremony on Sunday the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, draped a Palestinian-style keffiyeh scarf over the shoulders of a bowing actor dressed as the ancient Persian king Cyrus.

He also described Cyrus reverentially as ”king of the world” – a striking phrase in a country where pride in Iran’s pre-Islamic past, encouraged by the shah, has been downplayed since the 1979 revolution.

For Mr Ahmadinejad’s domestic enemies, this was another glaring example both of his self-promotion and a religious-nationalist agenda.

”Isn’t it correct that the Cyrus Cylinder belongs to Iran?” asked the conservative Keyhan newspaper. ”Isn’t it true that the British government stole this valuable and ancient object of ours? If the answer to these questions is positive, which it is, why should we return [it] … to the party which stole it?”

The correct answer, insists the British Museum, is the cylinder was not stolen but excavated in Babylon, Iraq, in 1879.

In recent times, relations strained to breaking point with the expulsion of British Council staff from Iran, the launch of the BBC Persian TV channel, and the violent aftermath of last summer’s disputed presidential election.

The cylinder is due back in London in January.

”There is no sense that this is anything other than a loan,” the museum said.

”This is part of our ongoing relationship with the national museum of Iran which both institutions value as a cultural dialogue independent of political difficulties.”

Critics point to the irony of the President’s celebration of the cylinder as ”a charter against injustice and oppression” as he oversees unprecedented human rights abuses.

Guardian News & Media

September 17th, 2010

Posted In: cultural heritage at risk, cultural security

Deal lets Beaverbrook gallery keep 85 prized artworks

Out-of-court settlement, valued by some at $100-million, ends a nasty and protracted legal fight

James Adams

From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 12:01AM EDT Last updated on Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 9:22AM EDT

One of the longest, most bitter and expensive legal disputes in Canadian cultural history has come to an end with an out-of-court settlement that confirms the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s ownership of 85 artworks valued by some at more than $100-million.

The resolution, more than six years in the making and the result of negotiations that started in July, was announced Wednesday afternoon in a media release from the Fredericton-based gallery.

The dispute revolved around whether the gallery, built by the first, Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook in 1959 as a gift to the province in which he was raised, had title to 133 artworks given decades earlier by the aristocrat. Or were the works loans, “recallable on demand” by the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation, a philanthropy headed by Lord Beaverbrook’s London-based grandson, Maxwell Aitken III? (Still to be determined, even with Wednesday’s agreement, is the ownership of 78 other artworks held by the gallery but claimed by the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, chaired by another Beaverbrook grandson, Timothy Aitken.)

Full details of the deal were not revealed because of confidentiality clauses. Nevertheless, it appears the Beaverbrook got clear title to 85 of the 133 works (the remaining 48, it was agreed, belong to the foundation and will be shipped overseas) in exchange for giving the foundation a break on the millions of dollars in costs and damages earlier arbitration hearings said it should pay the Beaverbrook.

Last fall, it looked as if the legal wrangling would continue when the foundation announced it wished to appeal the arbitration awards in N.B.’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

Gallery director and CEO Bernard Riordon said in a brief interview he felt the overall arrangement was “generally … satisfactory to the gallery.” In a statement, the foundation acknowledged the agreement included an “allocation of costs,” then went on to wish the Beaverbrook “success in the future” while expressing “the hope that [the gallery’s] paintings” would be made available to as wide a public as possible” in New Brunswick, the rest of Canada and cities such as London and New York.

This is Mr. Riordon’s intention. Earlier this year, he indicated that should the gallery prevail, he would assemble an extensive tour of some of the Beaverbrook’s masterpieces, including The Fountain of Indolence, an 1834 canvas by British master J.M.W. Turner, and Lucian Freud’s, Hotel Bedroom, from 1954. Some experts estimate these paintings together could fetch more than $40-million at auction. By contrast, a 2003 appraisal of the 48 works now owned by the foundation put their total value at $2.3-$3.3-million.

Clearly the Beaverbrook needs revenue. Court documents indicate its legal bills are more than $10-million. The U.K. foundation has spent at least that much, and recently the U.K. Charity Commission, which oversees British philanthropies, expressed concern about the foundation’s weak revenue picture and its use of loans to carry on its legal fight.

Fortunately for the gallery, New Brunswick’s provincial gallery since 1994, the government has provided $7.6-million in interest-free loans over the course of the dispute. The foundation, by contrast, announced last spring that it would help meet its debts and obligations by selling, if possible, Cherkley Court, the Surrey country estate, now valued at $30-million, that the first Lord Beaverbrook bought in 1911 shortly after emigrating from Canada.

Wednesday’s deal essentially validates an arbitration decision reached in March, 2007, by former Supreme Court justice Peter Cory – and upheld two years later by an appeal panel – that granted ownership of 85 works to the Fredericton gallery and 48 to the U.K. foundation.

Mr. Cory ruled that the first Lord Beaverbrook, born Maxwell Aitken in 1879 in Maple, Ont., had made a “perfected” gift of these 85 works to his namesake gallery before his death in 1964. At the same time, he acknowledged that the remaining paintings in dispute were the foundation’s as they’d gone to Fredericton after Lord Beaverbrook quietly amended his trust deed with the gallery in 1960.

September 17th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports

CSI: Mound Builders style
Crime-scene training helps protect artifacts, archaeological sites

Thursday, September 16, 2010 02:54 AM
By Wesley Lowery


NELSONVILLE, Ohio – Dressed in a loose-fitting camouflage jacket and dirt-covered jeans, Martin McAllister wandered out of a densely wooded area at the Wayne Natural Forest yesterday afternoon.

His arrowhead belt buckle tipped two approaching forest rangers to his intentions. After questioning and searching him, the officers discovered yet another arrowhead, this one an ancient artifact illegally dug up by McAllister just moments earlier.

But McAllister will serve no time for his “offenses”; they were part of a staged artifact-looting and crime-scene investigation meant to educate archaeologists and law-enforcement officers about how to handle suspected looting cases.

The training session was one of a dozen or so workshops held annually to teach more about the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, a 1979 law that made it a federal crime to remove artifacts 1,000 years or older without a permit.

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Those convicted could face fines of up to $250,000 and five years of imprisonment. There also are penalties for taking artifacts that are newer.

About 25 archaeologists and law-enforcement agents, some traveling from as far as Alaska, Tennessee and South Dakota, participated in the mock investigation.

“Sadly, archaeology sites are being looted every day,” said McAllister, the session’s instructor and owner of a Montana-based archaeological-damage assessment firm.

Antiquity trafficking, a $6billion to $7 billion industry, is the fourth-largest illegal market in the world, according to a study by the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol, the world’s largest international police agency.

But only 50 to 100 cases of artifact theft and trafficking make it to U.S. courts each year, McAllister said.

This was the fourth time that the forest in Nelsonville has hosted one of the sessions, said Ann Cramer, the forest’s archaeologist.

Each year, rangers in the 240,000-acre forest, which is home to thousands of historic burial mounds, rock cellars, Underground Railroad sites and iron- and coal-production remnants, investigate a handful of reports about suspicious activity and potential lootings, Cramer said.

“There are 12,000 years of human history out here, ” Cramer said. “There’s a huge black market and it exists here in Ohio.”

The Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe has lootings reported monthly, said Rick Perkins, the park’s chief ranger.

The 1,170-acre park contains one of the largest concentrations of Native American ceremonial burial grounds in the country.

“Once these burial mounds are dug into, they’re exposed and gone forever,” Perkins said.

The pillaging of Native American burial mounds damages sites that are both historically and culturally significant, said Steve Vance, tribal historic-preservation officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.

Vance, who traveled across the country for the session, said his job is hindered by a lack of manpower; he and two other officers are responsible for watching over about 3 million acres.

“It is important to the Sioux people that we leave these (mounds) undisturbed,” Vance said.

September 16th, 2010

Posted In: theft prevention

A Missing Painting Turns Up, but the Case Isn’t Closed


Published: September 15, 2010

Its discovery was nearly as strange as its disappearance.

For more than a month, the whereabouts of “Portrait of a Girl,” a painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot of a young girl with a lace collar, a teal skirt and mournful eyes, has been shrouded in intrigue.

The circumstances surrounding its apparent loss led to a lawsuit that brought attention to a convicted art swindler who claimed ownership of the painting, an ex-con middleman who said he got drunk and lost the portrait, and a co-owner who sued him over the missing work. It then came to involve an F.B.I. agent who has a record of recovering stolen artworks.

A federal inquiry has begun, and one of the painting’s co-owners, the convicted art swindler, has been arrested on charges not directly related to the loss of the painting. But the essential mystery — what happened to the painting — remained unsolved.

Then, on Sunday, the artwork suddenly materialized — under the arm of a Fifth Avenue doorman, who took it to a police station house on the Upper East Side.

The doorman, Franklin Puentes, told the authorities that he had had the 19th-century portrait, which officials say was appraised recently at between $500,000 and $700,000, since the hours after it disappeared — tucked inside his locker, in the basement of the building where he works.

Mr. Puentes told the police that he had found the painting in the bushes outside that building, 995 Fifth Avenue, after arriving for his shift on July 29, the officials said.

He thought it might belong to a resident of the building and tried to find the owner, said one official, quoting from a police report that recounts Mr. Puentes’s visit to the 19th Precinct station house. But he had no success and safeguarded the artwork in his locker.

Some days later, he went on a three-week vacation, and a short time after he returned, he learned of news accounts of the missing Corot painting, the official said.

“I feel very bad; I have no comments,” Mr. Puentes said after work on Wednesday. “As far as I’m concerned, I did what the law required.”

Mr. Puentes’s account could lend some credence to the story told by the middleman, James Carl Haggerty, who, according to the lawsuit, said he had had too much to drink and lost the artwork after he had shown it to a potential buyer at the Mark Hotel on East 77th Street on July 28.

Mr. Puentes’s daughter, Felipina Castillo, 47, said her father was questioned by detectives for about seven hours after he brought the painting to the station house. While he was there, his wife called his cellphone.

“He tells her he’s being investigated by the police,” Ms. Castillo said. “He just mentioned something about a picture.”

She said that when Mr. Puentes returned from vacation in Florida, he spoke to a friend about the painting, and the friend told him about the media coverage of the missing Corot.

“He had no clue what he had in his hands,” Ms. Castillo said. “He’s very sad now. He’s a little worried.”

Investigators believe that Mr. Puentes, who has worked at 995 Fifth Avenue for 30 years, is telling the truth, several of the officials said. His building is on the corner of East 81st Street, about five blocks from the hotel where the painting was last seen with Mr. Haggerty.

Mr. Haggerty was captured on video surveillance footage leaving the hotel with the painting, which is a shade larger than 9 inches by 12 inches, about 12:50 a.m. on July 29, the lawsuit said. But video recordings of the lobby of his apartment building showed he did not have it when he arrived home about 2:30 a.m., according to the lawsuit, which was brought by Kristyn Trudgeon, who has identified herself as a co-owner of the painting.

Much remains unclear about the events surrounding the disappearance of the painting, as well as the filing of Ms. Trudgeon’s lawsuit — and its withdrawal — and the criminal investigation that grew out of the news articles generated by the litigation.

Ms. Trudgeon said she was not convinced that Mr. Haggerty was blameless.

“He left the painting on the side of the road?” she said on Wednesday. “Haggerty’s been lying through his teeth.”

The other co-owner of the painting, Thomas A. Doyle, was arrested last Thursday on federal wire fraud conspiracy charges, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case by James P. Wynne, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who pursues art theft and related crimes.

The complaint accuses Mr. Doyle of trying to defraud an investor in the painting and lying about its value, according to a news release announcing the charges, which were brought by the office of the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara.

Ms. Trudgeon said she told Mr. Doyle, who is in federal custody, that the painting had been recovered.

“He said, ‘That’s the best news I’ve heard all day,’ ” she said.

She said she met Mr. Doyle in March and was unaware of his past until a few months ago. She described him in an earlier interview as “trying to make the straight and narrow.”

“I’m glad the painting is found,” she said on Wednesday. “I’m glad it’s not in the Dumpster.”

A version of this article appeared in print on September 16, 2010, on page A27 of the National edition.

September 16th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, law enforcement and investigation

An Examination of Art Theft
Posted: 14 Sep 2010 02:24 PM PDT
The following is the abstract from my dissertation titled “An Examination of Art Theft, Analysis of Relevant Statistics, and Insights into the Protection of Cultural Heritage”:

This paper qualifies and interprets art theft statistics provided by the London-based Art Loss Register (ALR) and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in order to quantify the problem of art theft and to assess the effectiveness of the most recent strategies that have been implemented to combat the illicit art trade. In addition to an in-depth examination of the ALR’s statistics for the first time by an academic, this paper provides an extensive historiographical background of the study of art theft. Through an analysis of the ALR’s statistics from 2000-2009, it underscores the connection between the complete documentation of cultural objects (i.e. photographic, material, measurements, location) and higher recovery rates. Furthermore, with the assistance of INTERPOL’s statistics gathered from its 2003-2008 annual polls, this paper identifies the best practices in the reduction of art theft and the illicit art trade.

Submitted on 14 September 2010 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MA in Cultural Heritage Studies of University College London.

September 15th, 2010

Posted In: art theft central

Culture Minister: Van Gogh painting theft ‘no big deal’

Fathya el-Dakhakhni
Tue, 14/09/2010 – 21:18

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni on Tuesday downplayed the importance of the theft last month of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Poppy Flowers” painting from a Cairo museum, saying it was “not a big deal.”

“The Egyptian public is very emotional,” he said at a press conference at Cairo’s Al-Jazira Museum. “But the theft of a painting is not a big deal.”

Nor, Hosni added, did the ministry blame Mohsen Shaalan, head of its fine arts department–currently under investigation in connection with the theft–for the painting’s disappearance.

“The law will determine who’s right and who’s wrong,” said the minister. “He was involved in many other transgressions and we could have accused him of a lot more.”

“On 16 May, four paintings were stolen from the Modern Arts Museum in Paris, including a painting by Picasso, and nothing happened,” Hosni added. “No one called for the dismissal of the French culture minister. Investigations were launched and those responsible were punished.”

“Many countries lose valuables, but this doesn’t mean all Egyptian museums are in poor condition,” he said. “The Poppy Flowers case is now in the hands of the court, and its better we don’t speak about it so as not to influence ongoing investigations.”

“I was responsible for the creation and opening of the Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum [from which the painting was stolen],” he said, noting that the museum had been “equipped with the most up-to-date security equipment available.”

“But its operation was the responsibility of museum administrators and of those who have proven themselves incapable of handling such a responsibility,” the minister added.

Hosni went on to say it would cost LE100,000 to repair the museum’s surveillance systems.

“There had been a plan to restore the museum, and the Al-Jazira Museum’s storage rooms had been ready since January to temporarily house the Mahmoud Khalil paintings until work had been completed,” he explained. “It was the administration’s responsibility, and they should have utilized the resources available to them.”

“Due to fears of individual negligence, we’re thinking about setting up a central control room in all Egyptian museums,” he added. “It will be costly, but we have no other choice if we want to avert cases of human negligence.”

The Minister went on to display a crate filled with Arabic calligraphy paintings known as “Khabiat al-Ghori.”

“There was much ado about the loss of these paintings, which include 80 Arabic calligraphy paintings,” he said. “But we eventually found them in the Al-Jazira Museum after inventory was taken.”

According to Hosni, the museum–which is home to some four million pieces of art–is currently being renovated at a cost of LE70 million, but would soon be reopened to the public.

The minister went on to criticize the Independent Conference of Intellectuals, which had called for his dismissal following the Van Gogh theft.

“No one should call themselves an intellectual,” he said. “An intellectual should be familiar with different cultures and be knowledgeable about all eras and phases of art history.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

September 15th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, law enforcement and investigation

Caddo Indian pottery missing from campus

By: Associated Press – Texarkana Gazette – Published: 09/14/2010
LITTLE ROCK—Four days into his new job at Southern Arkansas University, archaeologist Jamie Brandon learned that 26 pieces of Caddo Indian pottery were missing from the Magnolia campus.

Four years later, he’s still hoping they’ll surface.

The pots, bowls and bottles were to be returned to the Caddo tribe and were being packed for the transfer, Brandon said Monday. The items had been excavated from a 1980 dig known as Cedar Grove in Lafayette County. The Army Corps of Engineers was preparing to do levee work at the site, so artifacts and remains from the Caddo burial ground were removed for eventual return to the Caddo Nation.

The collection was outside the main artifact storage space when the theft happened in the summer of 2006. The exact date is not known.

“It was in a room by itself. Apparently, the thief did not have access to the larger collection,” said Brandon, Research Station archaeologist with the Arkansas Archeological Survey at the university.

Each piece is unique in that it was made by hand, not turned on a wheel. The thief selected whole pots, not fragments or vessels reconstructed from fragments. Judging by photographs, some were in pristine condition. They date to the mid-1500s, around the time Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was in Arkansas.

The pots, packed with food and oils, had been buried with the dead to see them into the next life, Brandon said.

“These are sacred vessels to the people in the Caddo Nation,” he said.

The pots were dug from federal land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, so the pots technically belonged to the federal government. The FBI was part of the investigation along with the Southern Arkansas University police.

Brandon said investigators have no suspect.

The pots were well-documented through drawings, measurements and photographs.

“I can literally tell you the number of millimeters between the lines on the pieces,” Brandon said.

The documentation, including an Internet posting with a detailed description of each pot, would make it difficult for the thief to move the pottery in a legitimate sale.

Brandon said if some or all of the collection is changing hands in the black market, a new buyer may not know the pottery was stolen. When that person tries to sell the pot in a legal, public sale, the fate of the collection could become known.

September 15th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Police seek $7,500 painting stolen from 105-year-old

By Vivian Luk, Vancouver Sun July 24, 2010 Be the first to post a comment

The suspect who stole a painting from the room of a 105-year-old woman living in a Vancouver rest home.

As far as paintings go, the Manet-style Emile Zola portrait isn’t all that valuable. Measuring two feet by three feet, it’s worth an estimated $7,500.

But the oil painting, along with a framed 9 x 12-inch, black and white portrait of its owner at age 17, are “of great sentimental value” to owner Gertie Lerner and her family. Lerner is 105 years old and the portraits were stolen from her room at a west-side rest home.

Vancouver police believe the theft was targeted, and they also believe the thief was caught by surveillance cameras.

An unidentified woman was seen walking into the home on July 11 around 6 p.m., carrying a pot of flowers, a duffel bag and a large flat cardboard box, Const. Anne Longley said Friday.

The woman walked directly into the victim’s room, where she lingered for no more than four minutes.

Video surveillance shows her leaving the building with the box and shoulder bag, but without the flowers, which were left behind in the room. The theft was discovered a day later when a relative noticed the piece of art was missing and alerted staff and police.

Neither family nor staff recognized the woman.

The female suspect is described as white, 30 to 35 years old, 5-foot-6 and 220 pounds, with shoulder-length dirty blond hair. She was wearing large dark sunglasses, running shoes, a black T-shirt and black Adidas track pants with three white stripes on the legs.

“The fact that she was carrying a box appropriate for carrying a painting indicates this was targeted,” said Longley.

Longley said police need the help of local art dealers, collectors and the public to assist in returning the art to the owner and identifying the thief.

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

© Copyright (c) CW Media Inc.

September 15th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

In the Wake of a Damning Report on Famous Drouot, Artprice Analyses France’s Collapsing Position in the Art Market

PARIS, September 13, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — France’s major economic newspaper Les Echos reports, in an article by Martine Robert, having had access to the famous report on the Paris auction place commissioned by French Minister for Justice after the Savoyards scandal. The 10 September 2010 report highlights the decline and lack of transparency of the 70 auction houses.

“Organised conservatism”, “minimalist governance”, a “closed statutory system” and “outdated working methods” without mentioning “the declining quality of its merchandise” are the damning conclusions of the report commissioned by French Minister for Justice, Michele Alliot-Marie, to which Les Echos had access following the scandal which broke in late 2009.

“The conclusions are probably even more damning than expected and the government wants to give itself time to modernise Drouot”, antique dealer Herve Aaron recently confided. “Originally an item of news trivia, this is turning into a matter of State”, added Herve Chayette, Chairman of Symev, the representative body for public auction companies and auctioneers. “Drouot needs a complete overhaul. We’re not going to accept the usual suspects on the pretext that they are now regrouped in a new company!” stated, for his part, Claude Aguttes.

In 2010, according to Artprice’s econometrics and market research department, Drouot represents 46.5% of transactions and 23% of auction sales proceeds for the art market in France. Artprice knows Drouot well following its attempted acquisition of the Gazette de l’Hotel Drouot in February 2002 (Source: Les Echos #18578, 23 January 2002 – La Tribune, 25 January 2002).

Francine Mariani-Ducray, Chairperson of the Conseil Superieur des Ventes Volontaires, the art market’s regulatory board, who acted as reporting counsellor to the Justice Ministry for the Drouot report, believes that “Drouot must pursue a group strategy and leverage its world-wide reputation in order to develop internationally.”

According to Les Echos, the French Minister for Justice’s position is very specific: “In commissioning this report, my aim was clear: to ensure that, in future, the Drouot group and its 70 member auction houses are stronger than in the past. The main concern must be the economic situation of Drouot and its players when faced with increasing international competition, the emergence of new markets and some fierce, particularly British and American, operators.” Furthermore, “Drouot is experiencing a crisis which has made it the subject of legal proceedings on which, given my position, I cannot comment.”

In the same Les Echos interview, the Minister for Justice stated that “the draft law debated in the Senate last year should come before the Assemblee Nationale at the earliest opportunity.” Artprice can only welcome this governmental commitment to rescuing France’s position in the global art market where it continues to lose ground.

Within the framework of an official meeting on 27 July 2010, attended by Francine Mariani-Ducray, Chairperson of the Conseil Superieur des Ventes Volontaires, the art market’s regulatory equivalent to the SEC for the financial markets, Thierry Ehrmann, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Artprice, reiterated that, in terms of the art market, France has been steadily losing ground for the past 30 years with China now safely established as the global number three (see page 10 of the Artprice 2010 half year financial report).

Artprice’s Chairman and CEO proffered some figures incontestably showing that the reform of 10 July 2000 was not beneficial for France due to its lack of ambition and protectionist nature (Source: Code des ventes volontaires et judiciaires (Code of Voluntary and Judicial Auction Sales), 1,430 pages, published by Artprice in 2001). Despite some deceptive figures on the Fine Art segment, France’s loss of market share is still accelerating in a sector where job losses now amount to some thousands (Source: Economic report published by Le Serveur Judiciaire/Artprice 2010).

In addition to the scandal that has sustainably rocked the history of the Drouot group and its member auction houses, the situation in France is no better: this year, the French auction houses are again losing market share. The first firm to appear, Artcurial, only ranks number nine behind Dorotheum, the Austrian auction house, and far behind the Chinese and British players. In 2006, there were six French auction houses in the global top thirty but today there are only three.

However, beyond the Drouot scandal, the complaints lodged by Artprice before the Autorite de la Concurrence (Competition Authority) against five Paris auction houses for price fixing have opened up a new legal battlefront.

Artprice confirms having lodged a complaint, before the Autorite de la Concurrence, against five Paris auction houses for price fixing opposite 3,600 auction houses, who are Artprice’s clients and partners and 7,400 valuers with whom Artprice has been working since 1987 over the world-wide internet (see the Litigation chapter of Artprice’s 2010 first half financial report).

According to Artprice, there are unquestionable links, individuals in common, holdings in share capital and common social mandates, common management bodies, common public auction sales, internal notes and declarations of union bodies like the SYMEV, chaired by Herve Chayette, common minutes on the strategy versus Artprice, prohibited refusals to sell such as the Gazette de l’Hotel Drouot (owned by the main companies accused) despite formal notices, similar strategies with serious and concordant indications of a concert party action and/or long-meditated agreement but clearly contravening for example, article L.420-1 of the Code of Commerce. With a little perspective, one might consider, amongst other things, the Drouot problem to be far from over…

At European level, a number of these auction houses have been very seriously condemned for such practices. These concert party actions tend to limit the access to and free exercise of competition, notably by Artprice, on the electronic public auction market as provided by the European Services Directive that should have been transposed into local law by 27 December 2009.

Lastly, on 8 July 2010, the Third Chamber (4th Section) of the Paris Court of First Instance (which, within the framework of its four sections, exclusively handles intellectual property cases and whose decisions are considered authoritative on this matter) handed down an important ruling within the framework of the dispute between Artprice and one of the five auction sale companies. The ruling of the judges was very clear that the sale catalogues of the SVV (Voluntary Auction Sale Company) Claude Aguttes are not protected by copyright. The Third Chamber of the Court accordingly held that Artprice could not have committed acts of forgery and dismissed the Aguttes case.

The first section of the same jurisdiction handed down a similar ruling on 30 March 2010 within the framework of the litigation between Artprice and SVV Artcurial Briest Poulain F. Tajan (one of the five auction houses suing Artprice). Again the judges found that the catalogues published by Artcurial are not protected by copyright and the court dismissed the auction sale company’s forgery claim against Artprice. This ruling was not appealed and is thus final.

These legal precedents, involving two major auction houses, strengthen Artprice’s position within the framework of three similar cases that are still pending as well as the outcome of the price fixing claim lodged with the Competition Authorities by Artprice. At the end of July 2010, some staggering and incontestable new evidence accusing these five auction houses of price fixing has just been cited in the schedule listing documents relied in support of the claim lodged with the Autorite de la Concurrence during the 2010 first quarter.

It should be specified that Artprice pays royalties under the terms of the specific contract concluded with the ADAGP, the French society for collective management in the visual arts and the largest in the world, which receives and redistributes copyright fees to visual artists in more than 43 countries. This pioneering agreement (2007) in the digital economy is regularly cited as exemplary by the different Ministers for Culture in Europe and particularly in France.

Artprice also confirms that it is the plaintiff, before the most senior examining magistrate, in a claim against Christie’s for, amongst other things, infringement of France’s Monetary and Financial Code. In the fullness of time, this claim turns out to be similar to a Christie’s case against Artprice in 2001, when Christie’s dropped the claim without any concession whatsoever from Artprice.

Transposition of the European Electronic Sales Directive into French law and 2010 outlook

The transposition into local law of the EC Services Directive 2006/123/CE including the notion of online operators of electronic auctions is perfectly in accordance with the different government projects and commissions to which Artprice has already given its support and data.

The European Commission has just singled out France with a substantiated recommendation, criticizing it for the delay in transposing the Services Directive and enjoining it to inform the Commission of the legal measures it plans to take to expedite the transposition of this European Services Directive into French law. This is the second warning shot from the department of Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market. This Directive, formerly better known as the Bolkenstein Directive, should have been transposed into local law by 27 December 2009, but there has been a very serious and unjustified delay in France, heavily penalising European players such as Artprice.

The Commission considers that the delay in transposing the Directive will involve significant costs for European companies. France thus had until 24 August 2010 to respond to the Commission. Brussels may now legitimately refer the case to the European Union Court of Justice, thus initiating the third stage in the European action for breach procedure. In September, a legislative calendar involving a political and economic context that is extremely favourable to Artprice is thus being established by the Commission injunction in which France had until 24 August 2010 to comply with the latter.

Lastly, the adoption by the 27 Member States of the European Union of the Treaty of Lisbon that came into force on 1 December 2009 considerably strengthens Artprice’s legal and judicial position in defending itself against an ultra-minority camp that is witnessing the collapse of its Franco-French monopoly. It should be specified that the majority of French auction houses and valuers (94.5%) have worked with Artprice since 1987.

Artprice proposes to reinstate France as a leader of the global art market

As a result of the global economic and financial crisis, nearly all the auction houses and valuers around the world are moving closer to Artprice, which has been working in close collaboration with them since 1987, in order to produce their auction catalogues formatted by the Artprice standardised data and, as soon as the Services Directive is adopted, organise online auctions through Artprice’s standardised market place and its 1.3 million members.

In addition to its market place, Artprice owns the largest Fine Art client portfolio in the world. For the art market, these client behaviour databases constitute the basis for the success of catalogued auction sales with information dating back to the origins of art auction sales in Europe in the early nineteenth century.

The standardised market place model has now been tried, tested and validated by the Art market particularly during a period of major crisis. The figures speak for themselves: according to the 2005 activity report from the Conseil Superieur des Ventes Volontaires “the Artprice offer amounted to EUR 1.3 billion of works of art”. In 2006, the offer stood at EUR 2.7 billion of works of art before rising to EUR 4.32 billion in 2007 and EUR 5.4 billion in 2008. For 2009, Artprice confirms recording a volume of around EUR 5.85 billion of works of art with an estimated sale rate of around a third on which Artprice does not yet receive a commission. In 2010, Artprice expects growth of between 18% and 20%.

With the context of globalisation, Artprice is in a leading position in that it has all the assets needed to offer the auction houses and valuers the optimal conditions for integral online migration by accelerating their sales and reducing buyer/seller costs (between 36% and 37.5% according to the Conseil Superieur des Ventes Volontaires). Artprice is thus ready for online auction sales in accordance with the European Directives (2006/123/CE on services voted 12 December 2006) on liberalising auctions in Europe and adopted by the Senate on 28 October 2009.

Similarly, the Conseil Superieur des Ventes Volontaires, the regulatory authority for the auction sales market, notes that “French auction houses have not followed the online sales process proportionally to the explosion in the global internet”, which also supports Artprice in its vocation to be the reference online auction sales platform for the 3,600 auction houses worldwide (including, of course, the 378 French auction houses) and the 7,400 valuers with whom Artprice has been working over the internet since 1987.

In August 2010, within the framework of specific agreements, more than 77.4% of the PDF catalogues and/or data of 3,600 international auction houses were sent to Artprice on its Secure Intranet.

This reflects, better than any other demonstration, the trust and confidence that characterises Artprice’s relations with auction houses. Likewise, thanks to Artprice’s database on valuers (a large number of whom organise auctions themselves) there are no fewer than 7,400 key art market players that Artprice is gradually connecting to its standardised marketplace (SMP) with intellectual property rights protection (sui generis and copyright law).

This explains Artprice’s presence in most of the printed and online auction sales catalogues of the auctioneers and auction houses, in which each artist and work of art now has a unique reference coming from the Artprice databases.

In conclusion, the expediting by French Minister for Justice of the adoption of the European Directive by the Assemblee Nationale is excellent news when it comes to defending the common interests of both Artprice and French auction houses in the art market.

Source: (c)1987-2010 thierry Ehrmann

Discover the universe and future of Artprice:

Or contact Artprice for a DVD to be sent to you free of charge.

Artprice is the world leader in art market information with over 27 million auction prices and indices covering over 405,000 artists. Artprice Images(R) offers unlimited access to the largest database of art market information in the world, a library of 108,000,000 images and engravings of art works from 1700 to the present day. Artprice continuously updates its databases with information from 3,600 international auction houses and provides daily information on art market trends to the main financial press agencies and to 6,300 press titles worldwide. Artprice offers standardised adverts to its 1,300,000 members (member log in) and is the world’s leading market place for buying and selling works of art (source: Artprice).

Artprice is listed on Eurolist by Euronext Paris: Euroclear: 7478 – Bloomberg: PRC – Reuters: ARTF

Contact: Josette Mey – tel: +33-(0)478-220-000, e-mail:


September 14th, 2010

Posted In: Auction Houses and stolen objects

Iraq – Foreign Ministry Delivers Hundreds of Artifacts to National Museum

Foreign Ministry held big celebration to deliver Iraqi antiquities from numerous countries to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Iraq National Museum.

The celebration was attended in addition to the Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of State for Tourism and Antiquities, Undersecretary of Foreign Ministry, Mr. Labeed Abawi, Dr. Amira Eidan Director of the Iraq National Museum, American Ambassador and several of his professional cultural relations assistants, big number of ambassadors and employees of the ministry, in addition to the Iraqi and Foreign Media.

The ceremony began with an address by his Excellency Foreign Minister Zebari pointing to the importance of Iraqi antiquities for Iraqis as they are pillar of their identity and record of civilization and the intense pain that they have suffered because of the loss of many of them over the past years particularly in 2003 after the entrance of U.S. troops to Iraq, and also praised the long strenuous efforts fruitful work carried out by the Ministry through its embassies to recover what can be recovered , these efforts culminated in this wide range antiquities most of which were obtained by the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in Washington, 542 piece, and also thanked the cooperation of the U.S Government in the restoration of many of these Antiquities .

Then Mr. Qahtan Al- Jubori, Minister of State for Tourism and Antiquities commended the efforts of the Foreign Ministry and praised them and thanked all those who participated in restoring such treasures to their homeland.

Iraq’s ambassador to the United States, Mr. Samir Sumaida’ie, who spoke about the march of more than four years which culminated in the collection of more than 1172-pieces received this day, the 542 pieces include a statue Antmina (King of the of Sumerian) and dates back to 2400 BC, and gold earrings dating back to the treasures of Nimrud, which was stolen around 1990 in mysterious circumstances and big number of clay tablets back to the Babylonian period repaired and restored in the United States before being shipped to Iraq.

Dr Amira Eidan director of the national museum expressed her happiness on this occasion, which represents an important move on the road to return what Iraq lost from the historical treasures and considered successful by all international standards, so far more than (35000 pieces) were returned to Iraq, Dr. Amira Eidan thanked the Foreign Minister, Iraq’s ambassador to the United States for their personal interest and to the Ambassador’s personal following -up for the details of each group.

Finally, the US ambassador in Iraq, James Jeffrey, expressed his Government’s satisfaction for these successes and pointed to the United States’ program that announced at that time by the First Lady Laura Bush in 2008 at the Iraqi Embassy to allocate approximately 14 million dollars to protect Iraqi cultural heritage.

Then, the Foreign Minister, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities and director of the Iraqi National Museum signed on the delivery documents and receipt in front of cameras, the attendance directed to the hall in which the antiquities were shown, and Dr Amira Eidan explain the details of some of these antiquities to the guests.

September 13th, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers

WALTHAMSTOW: Thieves strike at art trail

1:55pm Monday 13th September 2010

• By Daniel Binns »

GRAND European galleries housing works by Van Gogh and Picasso are the usual targets of art thieves – but now they have struck in Walthamstow too.

On Saturday night, as the week-long E17 Art Trail drew to a close, two men are believed to have launched a daring grab-and-dash heist from an exhibition at the Queens Arm pub in Orford Road, making off with an artwork by Leytonstone photographer Kitty Brown.

The piece – which was on sale for an asking price of £50 – was a framed photograph of a swimming dog wearing a bright pink waterproof protective headwrap.

Ms Brown captured the unusual image of the poorly pooch, named Lola, while the animal was undergoing treatement for a problem with her back legs at a hydrotherapy pool in Chingford.

Ms Brown, 40, said she was sad about the theft, but added that she also took it as a compliment.

She said: “I am a bit upset and I think it’s a real shame as I really liked the picture.

“But in a way it’s quite flattering – and I hope whoever has her, enjoys her.”

However there was confusion when Ms Brown put up signs the next day in Walthamstow Village appealing for help in tracking the picture down.

She said: “We put up some posters which were, in effect, a picture of a missing picture of a dog, so some people assumed it was part of the art trail and was a work of art itself.”

There have been no other reported thefts from the trail, which came to a close otherwise successfully yesterday.

Ms Brown is hoping she can retrieve her artwork and the pub has offered a reward of a free pint and packet of crisps to anyone who can help bring it back to its owner.

However in response to popular demand the exhibition of photographs, which is entitled ‘Merry England’ and features shots of everyday life, will continue to run in the pub for the next two weeks.

Anyone with any information about the missing piece can contact Kitty Brown via the Guardian by emailing or by contacting the pub.

September 13th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

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September 13th, 2010

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

Update 13 september 2010

Nooit enige reactie ontvangen van de Museumvereniging, dus vandaag maar even gecheckt hoe het zit met die depothoes en de site van de Museumvereniging. Niets meer over te vinden. Is de certificering ingetrokken? Wie zal het zeggen. Ik kreeg naar aanleiding van mijn meerdere berichten aan de Museumvereniging geen enkel antwoord.

Iets geleerd? Niet echt. Wel inzicht gekregen in de communicatie van de vereniging met het veld wanneer kritische vragen gesteld worden.

Zo zijn blijkbaar de manieren..

Ton Cremers


Update 3 juni 2010

Naar aanleiding van mijn berichtgeving over de miraculeuze depothoes
heeft het Museum voor Moderne Kunst mij laten weten (zie hieronder het
bericht van Miriam Windhausen) geen onderzoek te doen naar de
depothoes, niet van plan te zijn die hoes te testen en die hoes ook
niet te gebruiken. Oeps: het zal toch niet zo zijn dat FireFabric
misleidende informatie over de rol van het ICN en het Museum voor
Moderne Kunst in Arnhem de wereld instuurde om de depothoes te
promoten? Het lijkt er wel op.

Over de rol van de Museumvereniging kan FireFabrics zich niet misleidend uitlaten omdat de site van de Museumvereniging vermeldt de hoes te ‘certificeren’. Bij die certificatie heb ik enkele keren kritische kanttekeningen geplaatst. De Museumvereniging heb ik over die kanttekeningen geinformeerd. Ik kreeg geen enkele reactie op mijn berichten aan de Museumvereniging. Waarom niet, zo vraag ik mij af. Nog steeds is niet duidelijk waar de Museumvereniging die certificering op baseert of wat die certificering feitelijk inhoudt. Het lijkt er verrekte veel op dat de Museumvereniging zich heeft laten spannen voor het publicitaire karretje van een fabrikant/leverancier. Je gaat bijna denken dat FireFabrics gedokt heeft om die certificatie van de Museumvereniging te krijgen. Ik zet die gedachte – keert steeds vaker in mijn hoofd terug – iedere keer weer snel uit mijn hoofd. Zo slecht zal de wereld toch niet zijn? Ik moet me er maar bij neerleggen dat de Museumvereniging zich hult in stilzwijgen en niet het fatsoen opbrengt duidelijke vragen te beantwoorden.

Ton Cremers

2010/5/18 Miriam Windhausen :
> Beste Ton Cremers,
> Dank voor uw bericht.
> Sinds de zomer van 2009 is dhr Van Binnebeke niet meer werkzaam in het
> Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem. Ik heb zijn werkzaamheden daarna
> overgenomen. Wij zijn met geen enkel onderzoek bezig naar de depothoes, zijn
> dat ook niet van plan. De depothoes wordt in ons museum niet gebruikt.
> Hopende u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd.
> Met vriendelijke groet,
> Miriam Windhausen
> hoofd collecties
> museum voor moderne kunst arnhem
> historisch museum arnhem

REMINDER: We zijn nu dertien maanden verder: hoe zit het nu precies met die wonderbaarlijke depothoes?

Het is al weer ruim dertien maanden (!) geleden dat ik onderstaande tekst stuurde naar de museumbeveiliging mailing list, de Museumvereniging en FireFabric. Tot op heden heb ik nog geen enkele reactie gehad, niet van FireFabric en niet van de Museumvereniging. Zijn er inmiddels onafhankelijke brandtesten geweest van de depothoes en wat is uit die brandtesten gekomen?

Geldt de ‘certificatie’ door de Museumvereniging nog steeds? Mag na ruim dertien maanden duidelijk worden wat die certificatie precies inhoudt en waar die op berust? Op de homepage van FireFabric staat nog steeds prominent vermeld ‘aanbevolen door de Museumvereniging’. Wat wordt er nu precies aanbevolen? Alle claims door FireFabric?

Hoe staat het met de testen door Dr. Emile van Binnebeke, hoofd collecties van het Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Arnhem?

Van het ICN heb ik inmiddels begrepen dat de claims door FireFabric niet ondersteund worden en dat kritische vragen leven bij het materiaal van de hoezen.

Vragen, vragen, vragen….

Het lijkt mij tijd voor duidelijkheid.

Ton Cremers

Museumvereniging zeer enthousiast – verliest zich in enthousiasme? – over de depotcover van FireFabric. Worden de pretenties van de leverancier ondersteund door onafhankelijke testen?
03/04/2009 – 05:56

In zijn recente nieuwsbrief toont de Museumvereniging zeer veel enthousiasme voor een nieuwe (?) ontwikkeling, de brandwerende depotcover van FireFabric: en Is hier sprake van oude wijn in nieuwe covers?

De tekst van de Museumvereniging en de aanbevelingen gedaan door dr. Emile van Binnebeke, hoofd collecties van het Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Arnhem (MMKA), lezen als een onvervalste commercial. Daar mogen enkele vraagtekens bij geplaatst worden. Dat geldt overigens ook voor de mededeling van de fabrikant: “Voor we deze (de depothoes, TC) aanboden aan (het) MMKA hebben we natuurlijk onze geloofsbrieven ook laten zien aan het ICN”. Deze tekst staat niet op de site van FireFabric, maar op die van de Museumvereniging. Je leest zo’n zin, juist omdat hij staat op de site van de Museumvereniging, al snel alsof de Museumvereniging zijn leden mededeelt dat ook het ICN de mijns inziens iets te ronkende en onvoldoende gefundeerde aanbevelingen door FireFabric, Binnebeke en de Museumvereniging onderschrijft. Is dat zo?

Zijn die aanbeveling onterecht? Geen idee. Er blijven echter enkele zeer prangende vragen.

Het gaat hier om een brandwerende, brandvertragende, beschermhoes die nu door Binnebeke in het MMKA ‘getest’ wordt. Wat wordt hier bedoeld? Komt er een testopstelling waarbij in een ruimte een brand gemaakt wordt en dan gekeken wordt naar het beschermde effect van de depothoes? In Nederland wordt er vanuit gegaan dat de brandweer binnen 20 minuten ‘water op het vuur’ heeft. De test moet deze realiteit zo goed mogelijk benaderen. Dus niet brand maken en meteen blussen maar de hitte binnen de ruimte 20 minuten laten opbouwen. Er moet een testprotocol worden opgezet buiten deelname van FireFabric.

Of test Binnebeke alleen marginaal de gebruiksvriendelijkheid zonder daarna ook maar iets te kunnen zeggen over waar het werkelijk om gaat: de bescherming tegen brand?

Waarom staat nergens, op de site van de Museumvereniging noch op die van de fabrikant, iets te lezen over testen die de huidige overenthousiaste blurb ondersteunen? Heeft het TNO of een ander gerenommeerd instituut brandtesten gedaan? Als die testen gedaan zijn dan had je toch minstens mogen verwachten dat de fabrikant, of moet ik zeggen wederverkoper / importeur?, de testresultaten had vermeld. Voor alle duidelijkheid: die testen dienen dan plaats te vinden geheel gericht op de functie die FireFabric aan de hoes wil geven: bescherming van museale objecten. Alleen testresultaten van iets dat volgens mij verrekte veel lijkt op een variant van de alom bekende blusdeken zijn onvoldoende.

Is er een certificaat afgegeven door een daartoe geaccrediteerde instantie, zoals bijvoorbeeld KIWA ( De Museumvereniging zou uit moeten kijken met deze eigen ‘certificering’ waartoe de vereniging helemaal niet geaccrediteerd is. Dat zou weleens kunnen leiden tot heel nare claims wanneer in de praktijk blijkt dat die hoes niet doet wat de Museumvereniging nu namens de fabrikant beweert. Normering, certificering en accreditatie zijn in Nederland aan strakke regels gebonden. Waar is de certificering door de Museumvereniging op gebaseerd?

Heeft het ICN testen laten doen? Is het ICN akkoord met de tekst op de site van de Museumvereniging waarin verwezen wordt naar die ‘geloofsbrieven’? Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat ‘geloofsbrieven’(wat zijn dat in dit verband?) een woordkeuze is van de Museumvereniging. Hier wordt rechtstreeks en kritiekloos FireFabric geciteerd.

Ronduit verontrustend is de volgende formulering (de taal/spelfouten komen voor rekening van FireFabric): “Tot nu toe zijn de brandpreventieve maatregelen vooral beantwoordt (!) vanuit het uitgangspunt om de gehele ruimte waarin de kunstwerken zich bevinden te beschermen. Door de DepotCover is er nu ook een oplosing (!) die het individuele kunstwerk beschermd (!)”. Het staat weliswaar niet in deze zeer slordige formulering, maar hopelijk gaat men in de museumwereld nu niet de depotcover zien als een alternatief voor de huidige brandpreventieve maatregelen. De depotcover is zo wie zo geen brandpreventieve maatregel omdat hij geen brand voorkomt (= preventie).

Om een vergelijking te maken: brandvertragend glas kan al gecertificeerd worden indien er op een meter afstand een temperatuur van maximaal 180% gemeten wordt. Die temperatuur is op enkele centimeters achter het glas dus aanzienlijk hoger. Hoe zit dat met de depothoes die het object zelfs (bijna) aanraakt? Hoe veel hitte houdt die hoes tegen? Stel dat er een brand is in een ruimte en binnen die hoes, is die hoes rondom luchtdicht afgesloten?, ontstaat een hitte van ongeveer 200% blijft de hitte dan binnen de hoes ook nog lang aanwezig nadat de brand geblust is? Wat betekent dit voor de objecten?

De brandweer draagt hittewerende kleding dus de aan de depothoes toegeschreven kwaliteiten zijn mogelijk, maar ik had zo graag iets minder STER reclame en meer feitelijke informatie uit testen gelezen.

FireFabric belde mij begin dit jaar om mij mede te delen dat ze ‘het certificaat’ van de Museumvereniging kregen. (Die certificering door de Museumvereniging staat ook op de indexpagina van de FireFabric site te lezen evenals: “Druk bezochte nieuwjaarsreceptie 2009 van Museumvereniging in Filmmuseum te Den Haag ook bezocht door FireFabric”. Alsof dat een aanbeveling is… Ik ken overigens een 18-tal musea in Den haag variërend van het Mauritshuis tot het Toverlantaarnmuseum, maar een Filmmuseum?).

Tijdens dat telefoongesprek met FireFabric heb ik gevraagd om informatie over onafhankelijke testen. Het is jammer dat ik die ruim twee maanden later nog niet ontvangen heb. Mocht ik die krijgen dan zal ik daarover gaarne schrijven in een volgend bericht. Op eigen titel zou ik nooit durven wat de Museumvereniging en Binnebeke wel durven: aanbevelingen van een fabrikant volgen zonder in het bezit te zijn van onafhankelijke testen door een daartoe bevoegde instantie.

Is die depotcover dan niet een fantastische nieuwe aanvulling? Wederom: geen idee. Zo lang er geen onafhankelijke testen gepubliceerd worden is terughoudendheid op zijn plaats, zeker door de Museumvereniging en Binnebeke.

Ton Cremers

September 13th, 2010

Posted In: Uncategorized

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September 12th, 2010

Posted In: art theft

Man arrested for theft of church doors seven years ago
Published on September 11, 2010

POLICE YESTERDAY arrested a 66-year-old man in connection with a seven-year-old theft of two antique church doors.
According to police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos, unknown assailants broke into the UNESCO-protected church Panayias tis Podithou in Galata between January 19 and 21 in 2003, taking with them two doors leading to the sanctuary.
The sanctuary doors date back to the 18th century and are considered to be of great archaeological, historical and cultural value.
The spokesman said that the 66-year-old was arrested in connection with the theft of the two doors a little after midday following a coordinated month-long operation undertaken by Morphou and Limassol Police.
The 66-year-old had allegedly tried to negotiate the sale of the two doors by contacting via phone the Church Committee in Galata. They in turn contacted police which traced the call to a public phone box. Police put a surveillance team on the phone box, eventually leading to the man’s arrest. Katsounotos said police were investigating some claims made by the suspect regarding possession of the doors. An archaeologist would have to formally identify the church doors though at first instance, they looked to be the real deal, he added.
The 66-year-old will be brought before the Nicosia District Court today for a remand hearing.

September 12th, 2010

Posted In: religious artifact theft

German Woman Sentenced for Selling Fakes of Fakes

Updated: 22 hours 35 minutes ago
Theunis Bates Contributor

(Sept. 9) — So you’ve spent $3,000 on what you thought was an authentic forgery by a master forger, only to find out that the forgery you bought was itself a forgery. What do you do next? You take the forgery forger to court, of course.

Dresden, Germany, resident Petra Kujau, 51, was fined $380,000 this week and given a two-year suspended sentence for selling 300 copies of masterpieces by artists like Vincent van Gogh, Franz Marc and Claude Monet. However, she never claimed that her paintings were originals by these great masters. Her crime was to wrongfully market them as copies made by her (supposed) great-uncle: counterfeiter extraordinaire Konrad Kujau, the man behind the Hitler Diaries, arguably the greatest fake of the modern age.

Norbert Millauer, AP
Petra Kujau, 51, of Dresden, Germany, was fined $380,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence for selling 300 copies of masterpieces by artists like Vincent van Gogh, Franz Marc and Claude Monet.

Konrad Kujau’s name adds a premium to any picture. The talented painter and antiques dealer — who died in 2000 — sprang to fame in 1983 when he duped German magazine Stern, as well as Britain’s Times and Sunday Times, into serializing his fraudulent Hitler Diaries. Stern coughed up $6 million for the 62-volume diaries — which had supposedly been smuggled out of East Germany — and claimed that revelations contained in the memoirs would result in history being rewritten. (The diaries were mostly filled with absurdly trivial details, such as this 1936 entry purportedly penned before the Berlin Olympics: “Hope my stomach cramps don’t return during the Games.”)

Two weeks after Stern and other newspapers published the first extracts, though, scientific tests exposed the diaries as fakes, revealing that they were written on paper that was produced after World War II. Konrad Kujau was sent to jail for three years. But he became a celebrity soon after his release, appearing on TV chat shows and selling his copies of other artists’ paintings for up to $4,500 each. However, he never forgot to add his signature in the corner, to avoid being sent back to the slammer for counterfeiting.

The pictures sold by Petra for up to $3,800 each, though, weren’t even genuine Kujaus. They were generic, low-quality fakes of famous paintings imported from Asia — costing about $10 a work — which were then daubed with Kujau’s name. “What has happened is hard fraud,” the presiding judge said, according to German tabloid Bild. “Art forgeries are common. The fact that the forger is forged again is somewhat unusual.”

And German weekly Der Spiegel noted that prosecutors believe Petra may have committed one more act of fakery. While they’re fairly sure she worked for Konrad Kujau in the 1990s, they doubt that her real last name is Kujau.

September 10th, 2010

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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September 9th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

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September 9th, 2010

Posted In: art theft