Ruud Spruit en Emily Ansenk slachtoffer van beveiligingsmafia

http://www.museumbeveiliging.com/2012/10/23/ruud-spruit-en-emily-ansenk-slachtoffer-van-beveiligingsmafia/

October 23, 2012
23/10/2012 – 20:28

In een huilerig ingezonden stuk in de NRC Handelsblad van 23 oktober 2012 doet Ruud Spruit, voormalig directeur van het Westfries Museum in Hoorn, zijn beklag over de beveiligingsmafia die directeuren van musea waar ingebroken is lastig valt. Sterker nog: de directeuren zijn slachtoffer van de beveiligingsmafia. Spruit doet hier aan vervalsing van feiten. Zo kennen we hem ook. Als directeur van het Westfries Museum verwaarloosde hij stelselmatig de beveiliging van zijn museum, ondanks de herhaalde waarschuwingen die hij kreeg van zijn beveiligingsinstallateur (destijds Initial Varel).

10 Januari 2005 werd het Westfries Museum beroofd van 24 schilderijen en een aantal zilveren voorwerpen. Al deze gestolen stukken zijn nog steeds zoek. De dieven haalden de schilderijen niet alleen uit de lijsten, maar ook spijkertje voor spijkertje van de spieramen. Ze moeten daar veel tijd voor uitgetrokken hebben. Dat kon ook omdat ze overdag de bewegingsmelders hadden afgeplakt. Het museum had een beveiligingssysteem dat ver onder de norm was voor een museum. Maar, wat beweerde Spruit na de inbraak: het museum had een geavanceerd (lijkt een beetje op: ‘state of the art’) beveiligingssysteem en was het slachtoffer van zeer professionele criminelen. Ja, dat doe je dan als falende directeur: je liegt over je beveiliging en geeft criminelen een compliment met hun professionaliteit. Zelfs zeven jaar later heeft Spruit niets geleerd en jokt vrolijk verder over zijn rol en blijft fantaseren over minuscule chips waarmee je schilderijen na diefstal wereldwijd via GPS kan volgen. Die chips kunnen ‘met een dun draadje verborgen in de lijsten’ – wat een nonsens! – voor criminelen verborgen blijven. Wat jammer, klaagt Spruit in zijn ingezonden brief dat het bedrijf dat deze techniek ontwikkelde andere prioriteiten gesteld heeft. Dat bedrijf heeft helemaal geen andere prioriteiten gesteld, maar heeft simpelweg Spruits natte-chips-droom niet waar kunnen maken.

Je krijgt bijna medelijden met Emily Ansenk, directeur van de Kunsthal, dat Spruit haar bombardeert tot lotgenoot. Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat mevrouw Ansenk daar blij mee is. De beveiliging van de Kunsthal verdient geen schoonheidsprijs, daar is inmiddels genoeg over gezegd, maar de schaamteloze wijze waarop Spruit zijn museum destijds verwaarloosde slaat werkelijk alles. Hij voelt zich niet alleen slachtoffer van professionele criminelen, maar ook van de beveiligingsmafia. Ik houd het er op dat Nederlands cultuurbezit geslachtofferd is door de nalatigheid van Spruit.

Ton Cremers

Museum Security Network

Museumbeveiliging, Ton Cremers » Blog Archive » Ruud Spruit en Emily Ansenk slachtoffer van beveiligingsmafia.

October 23rd, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

www.museumbeveiliging.com/2012/10/23/ruud-spruit-en-emily-ansenk-slachtoffer-van-beveiligingsmafia/

23/10/2012 – 20:28In een huilerig ingezonden stuk in de NRC Handelsblad van 23 oktober 2012 doet Ruud Spruit, voormalig directeur van het Westfries Museum in Hoorn, zijn beklag over de beveiligingsmaffia die directeuren van musea waar ingebroken is lastig valt. Sterker nog: de directeuren zijn slachtoffer van de beveiligingsmafia. Spruit doet hier aan vervalsing van feiten. Zo kennen we hem ook. Als directeur van het Westfries Museum verwaarloosde hij stelselmatig de beveiliging van zijn museum, ondanks de herhaalde waarschuwingen die hij kreeg van zijn beveiligingsinstallateur (destijds Initial Varel).

10 Januari 2005 werd het Westfries Museum beroofd van 24 schilderijen en een aantal zilveren voorwerpen. Al deze gestolen stukken zijn nog steeds zoek. De dieven haalden de schilderijen niet alleen uit de lijsten, maar ook spijkertje voor spijkertje van de spieramen. Ze moeten daar veel tijd voor uitgetrokken hebben. Dat kon ook omdat ze overdag de bewegingsmelders hadden afgeplakt. Het museum had een beveiligingssysteem dat ver onder de norm was voor een museum. Maar, wat beweerde Spruit na de inbraak: het museum had een geavanceerd (lijkt een beetje op: ‘state of the art’) beveiligingssysteem en was het slachtoffer van zeer professionele criminelen. Ja, dat doe je dan als falende directeur: je liegt over je beveiliging en geeft criminelen een compliment met hun professionaliteit. Zelfs zeven jaar later heeft Spruit niets geleerd en jokt vrolijk verder over zijn rol en blijft fantaseren over minuscule chips waarmee je schilderijen na diefstal wereldwijd via GPS kan volgen. Die chips kunnen ‘met een dun draadje verborgen in de lijsten’ – wat een nonsens! – voor criminelen verborgen blijven. Wat jammer, klaagt Spruit in zijn ingezonden brief dat het bedrijf dat deze techniek ontwikkelde andere prioriteiten gesteld heeft. Dat bedrijf heeft helemaal geen andere prioriteiten gesteld, maar heeft simpelweg Spruits natte-chips-droom niet waar kunnen maken.

Je krijgt bijna medelijden met Emily Ansenk, directeur van de Kunsthal, dat Spruit haar bombardeert tot lotgenoot. Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat mevrouw Ansenk daar blij mee is. De beveiliging van de Kunsthal verdient geen schoonheidsprijs, daar is inmiddels genoeg over gezegd, maar de schaamteloze wijze waarop Spruit zijn museum destijds verwaarloosde slaat werkelijk alles. Hij voelt zich niet alleen slachtoffer van professionele criminelen, maar ook van de beveiligingsmafia. Ik houd het er op dat Nederlands cultuurbezit geslachtofferd is door de nalatigheid van Spruit.

Ton Cremers

Museum Security Network

October 23rd, 2012

Posted In: Geen categorie

Tags: , , , , ,

In een huilerig ingezonden stuk in de NRC Handelsblad van 23 oktober 2012 doet Ruud Spruit, voormalig directeur van het Westfries Museum in Hoorn, zijn beklag over de beveiligingsmaffia die directeuren van musea waar ingebroken is lastig valt. Sterker nog: de directeuren zijn slachtoffer van de beveiligingsmafia. Spruit doet hier aan vervalsing van feiten. Zo kennen we hem ook. Als directeur van het Westfries Museum verwaarloosde hij stelselmatig de beveiliging van zijn museum, ondanks de herhaalde waarschuwingen die hij kreeg van zijn beveiligingsinstallateur (destijds Initial Varel).

10 Januari 2005 werd het Westfries Museum beroofd van 24 schilderijen en een aantal zilveren voorwerpen. Al deze gestolen stukken zijn nog steeds zoek. De dieven haalden de schilderijen niet alleen uit de lijsten, maar ook spijkertje voor spijkertje van de spieramen. Ze moeten daar veel tijd voor uitgetrokken hebben. Dat kon ook omdat ze overdag de bewegingsmelders hadden afgeplakt. Het museum had een beveiligingssysteem dat ver onder de norm was voor een museum. Maar, wat beweerde Spruit na de inbraak: het museum had een geavanceerd (lijkt een beetje op: ‘state of the art’) beveiligingssysteem en was het slachtoffer van zeer professionele criminelen. Ja, dat doe je dan als falende directeur: je liegt over je beveiliging en geeft criminelen een compliment met hun professionaliteit. Zelfs zeven jaar later heeft Spruit niets geleerd en jokt vrolijk verder over zijn rol en blijft fantaseren over minuscule chips waarmee je schilderijen na diefstal wereldwijd via GPS kan volgen. Die chips kunnen ‘met een dun draadje verborgen in de lijsten’ – wat een nonsens! – voor criminelen verborgen blijven. Wat jammer, klaagt Spruit in zijn ingezonden brief dat het bedrijf dat deze techniek ontwikkelde andere prioriteiten gesteld heeft. Dat bedrijf heeft helemaal geen andere prioriteiten gesteld, maar heeft simpelweg Spruits natte-chips-droom niet waar kunnen maken.

Je krijgt bijna medelijden met Emily Ansenk, directeur van de Kunsthal, dat Spruit haar bombardeert tot lotgenoot. Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat mevrouw Ansenk daar blij mee is. De beveiliging van de Kunsthal verdient geen schoonheidsprijs, daar is inmiddels genoeg over gezegd, maar de schaamteloze wijze waarop Spruit zijn museum destijds verwaarloosde slaat werkelijk alles. Hij voelt zich niet alleen slachtoffer van professionele criminelen, maar ook van de beveiligingsmafia. Ik houd het er op dat Nederlands cultuurbezit geslachtofferd is door de nalatigheid van Spruit.

Ton Cremers

Museum Security Network

October 23rd, 2012

Posted In: diefstal uit museum, Ruud Spruit en Westfries Museum

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October 23rd, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

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October 22nd, 2012

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

Deuren gingen ‘S NACHT open door een alarm. Er staat niet bij wat voor alarm. Deuren worden alleen ontsloten door brandalarm en dan ook nog eens alleen OVERDAG. Zo werk dat bij state of the art beveiliging.

Uit de (belabberde) camerabeelden zou blijken dat de inbraak en diefstal TWEE minuten gekost heeft, en dan nog blaat de directrice dat er sprake is van state of the art beveiliging. Men had die beelden nooit naar buiten mogen brengen want hiermee werd naar buiten gebracht dat de beveiliging niet in orde is. Laten we niet vergeten: we praten hier over een high risk gebouw.
Onder het kopje Safety en Security staat in de verklaring te lezen dat de brandmeldcentrale vernieuwd is. Heel mooi: dat gaat alleen over safety en niet over security en heeft bovendien helemaal niets te maken met deze inbraak.
Vermoeiend!
lees de verklaring: Reactie op beveiliging van de Kunsthal d d 22 okt 2012
Ton Cremers

October 22nd, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

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October 21st, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

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October 21st, 2012

Posted In: fakes and forgeries

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October 19th, 2012

Posted In: diefstal uit museum

Deuren gingen ‘S NACHT open door een alarm. Er staat niet bij wat voor alarm. Deuren worden alleen ontsloten door brandalarm en dan ook nog eens alleen OVERDAG. Zo werk dat bij state of the art beveiliging.

Uit de (belabberde) camerabeelden zou blijken dat de inbraak en diefstal TWEE minuten gekost heeft, en dan nog blaat de directrice dat er sprake is van state of the art beveiliging. Men had die beelden nooit naar buiten mogen brengen want hiermee werd naar buiten gebracht dat de beveiliging niet in orde is. Laten we niet vergeten: we praten hier over een high risk gebouw.
Onder het kopje Safety en Security staat in de verklaring te lezen dat de brandmeldcentrale vernieuwd is. Heel mooi: dat gaat alleen over safety en niet over security en heeft bovendien helemaal niets te maken met deze inbraak.
Vermoeiend!
lees de verklaring: Reactie op beveiliging van de Kunsthal d d 22 okt 2012
Ton Cremers

October 19th, 2012

Posted In: diefstal uit museum, Uncategorized

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Ton Cremers, Dutch security consultant

http://art-crime.blogspot.nl/2012/10/kunsthal-rotterdam-art-heist-conferring_18.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+arcablog+(ARCAblog)

October 18, 2012
Ton Cremers

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

When Tuesday’s news broke about the theft of seven paintings from the Triton Foundation at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, bloggers and journalists rushed to the telephones and internet to piece together the news.  Museum Security Network‘s Ton Cremers was quiet on the internet because he was at the crime scene.
The Christian Science Monitor interviewed Mr. Cremers, former director of security for the Rijksmuseum (the website includes a video by the Associated Press that interviews Mr. Cremers outside of the Kunsthal Rotterdam):

“The size of the theft — seven paintings — is remarkable, says Ton Cremers, a consultant on museum security (though not for Kunsthal Rotterdam) who spent all day at the crime scene.  Mr. Cremers, who founded Museum Security Network, a website on “cultural property protection,” points out that the paintings were easily seen from outside through the windows — maybe too easily.  “You want works of such value in the heart of your building, in a separate space,” Cremers said.

What will this do to Kunsthal Rotterdam’s reputation? “Oh, this is not good”, said Cremers.  “This case will have a lot of international attention.”  He expects the next time Kunsthal Rotterdam is organizing an exhibition, art owners will be “very critical” toward the museum before entrusting them with their expensive works.”

Mr. Cremers told the Christian Science Monitor that recovering the art is difficult.

“For paintings, that chance is around 30 to 40 percent.  On average it takes about seven years,” he says.  But he notes that there is no guarantee of recovery, pointing to two works by Vincent van Gogh that were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in December 2002.  Two thieves were sentenced for that crime in 2005, but the stolen paintings have need been recovered.

In Britain’s Guardian, Mr. Cremers was quoted as saying ‘that it had become easier than ever for thieves to steal paintings from even well-protected galleries like the Kunsthal.  He said some of the fault lay with its design.’

Calling the Kunsthal a wonderful museum, it was a nightmare FROM [Ton’s emphasis here] a security point of view: “As a gallery it is a gem.  But it is an awful building to have to protect.  If you hold your face up to the window at the back you have a good view of the paintings, which makes it all too easy for thieves to plot taking them from the walls,” he told DeVolkskrant.’ (Kate Connolly, Guardian, 10/16/12, Rotterdam art thieves take valuable paintings in dawn heist

In this article on De Volksrant, Mr. Cremers says that the artworks should be placed far away from the outer shell of the building (loosely translated by Google) and that the Kunsthal Rotterdam robbery may be the biggest in the last 20 years in The Netherlands.
In this article by Anna van den Breemer in Volkskrantl.nl, Ton Cremers, from the grounds of the Kunsthal, says that once the thieves were through the door, they could easily walk throughout the entire museum with no barriers or walls around the more expensive pieces.

ARCA Blog: Mr. Cremers, could you comment on the size of the works or location within the gallery of the paintings stolen from the Triton Collection at the Kunsthal Rotterdam? Were these the most expensive paintings on display or just the easiest to locate and carry out? Had any of images of the stolen paintings been included in promotional material on the “Avante-Garde” exhibit which would have made the paintings more recognizable to thieves?

Ton Cremers: It looks as if the size of the paintings motivated the thieves to steal them, because larger, and more valuable paintings remained untouched. These really were not the paintings one would use for promotional material.

ARCA Blog: Monet, Picasso, Matisse, and Gauguin — stolen artwork by these artists often make the headlines.  Are paintings by these artists taken because the thieves just recognize the artists names from the headlines associated with expensive paintings or possibly are these works by such prestigious artists a good sale on the black market? Do you even believe that there are buyers in South America, Europe or the Middle East willing to purchase these works even knowing that they have been stolen?

Ton Cremers: Too often art thieves are considered well educated experts on art. This is by no means reality. Art theft as a specialty hardly exists. One does not need to be an expert to know names as the ones mentioned above. The most stolen artis is Picasso, most likely because of the fame of his name. The is no market for these paintings, and there are no secret buyers for stolen art. In general famous art is collected to raise one’s status, and as an investment. Both of these are not possible with stolen art. Besides: when the thieves return to the buyer of stolen art, and rob him of the looted painting. What can he do? Report this to the police? Stolen art remains for a long time in the crime scene, is used as a collateral for negotiations with insurance companies, or – the worst scenario – is destroyed because the criminals do not know what to do with it.

ARCA Blog:  If you were to compare this theft to another, what would that be? The Irish gangs who stole paintings in Britain? The Serbs who were found with the two Turners stolen from The Tate Gallery?

Ton Cremers: As long as we do not know anything about the motives of the thieves or their origin it is impossible to make any comparisons. What I can say, is that this is the largest art heis in The Netherlands since some 25 years. One really must be very cautious with speculations about organized crime, or east European gangs. When the Benvenuto Celline saliera (salt cellar) was stolen Charles Hill – former Scotland Yard – stated in the press that police were close to solving this crime, and that Serbs were involved. Later on it appeared to be a drunk local who did not prepare the burglary, and theft at all, but just climbed scaffold, broke a window, smashed a display case, and grabbed the $30 million object. This burglary, and theft took less than one minute! No preparations, no organized crime, no Serbs…just a drunk local. This too, like the Kunsthal, was an example of very poor structural security.

ARCA Blog: Some headlines have suggested that inside information must have been given to the thieves about the gallery’s security.  What kind of information would this be? Are we talking about something like the fictional account in the Swedish film “Headlong” where a man working for the security firm was an accomplice in art theft?

Ton Cremers: These are just speculations, that I really do not want to participate in.

ARCA Blog: You were at the Kunsthal Rotterdam the day the theft was discovered.  How did you find out about the theft and what role, if any, did you play in the investigation?  Are the Rotterdam Police in charge of the investigation? How many officers would be assigned and how many departments would be involved?

Ton Cremers: I found out about the crime via a journalist who called me (too) early in the morning. I was at the crime scene because several TV companies wanted to interview me at the scene. I am in no way involved in the investigations. Important to know: I was not, nor am I involved in the security of the Kunsthal. Let that be quite clear. If I would be, I would not talk to journalists, or answer your questions. At the moment 25 policemen are involved in the investigations.

ARCA Blog: In this case we’ve read that a forensic team has searched for physical evidence such as fingerprints and that police have reviewed security videotapes and asked for information from potential witnesses.  Can you tell us if any information regarding the evidence of this crime has been made public? Will police want to share this information or will the investigation be conducted quietly?  Often it seems that the only news we get from an art heist is that paintings have been taken or recovered and that someone may or may not have been arrested (with or without the paintings).  What do you think we can expect as far as news from the Kunsthal Rotterdam art heist?

Ton Cremers: The Police are very secretive in this matter. However, there some minor information was broadcasted, asking for witnesses. This far police have received some 30 tips. It is not clear if any of these tips are valuable.

ARCA Blog: What role will any international law enforcement agencies have in this investigation?

Ton Cremers: The usual role: hardly any, other than that this theft will be in the databases of Interpol, Dutch police, the carabinieri (they still have the largest database, and gave some twenty people almost full time dedicated to maintaining this database), and of course the Art Loss Register.

ARCA Blog: Were the paintings insured and did you see anyone representing the insurance company in Rotterdam after the theft? Will the insurance company be part of the investigation?

Ton Cremers: The paintings were insured, as loans always are. It goes without saying that the insurance company – I have seen a representative insurance broker – at some point will be involved. What fascinates me is that this broker accepted this risk to have it insured, for the conditions under which these paintings were, and the remainder of the show is, displayed really are below standard.

There is one more, unpopular, statement I need to make. The director of the Kunsthal stated during a press conference that the security of the Kunsthal is ‘state of the art’. A very weird statement to make after this burglary, and theft of 7 paintings valued between € 50 and 100 million (some $130,000,000). Either she still is convinced the security of her kunsthal to be ‘state of the art’, or she is just trying to escape her responsibility. I am very much convinced that this statement – no matter her motives – disqualifies her as a museum director. It is my strong conviction that she should make room for a manager who is qualified to do this job.

Ton, thank you so much for taking the time to ‘speak’ with the ARCA Blog.

ARCAblog: Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Ton Cremers, Dutch security consultant.

October 18th, 2012

Posted In: ARCA, Museum thefts

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Ton Cremers, Dutch security consultant

Ton Cremers

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

When Tuesday’s news broke about the theft of seven paintings from the Triton Foundation at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, bloggers and journalists rushed to the telephones and internet to piece together the news.  Museum Security Network‘s Ton Cremers was quiet on the internet because he was at the crime scene.
The Christian Science Monitor interviewed Mr. Cremers, former director of security for the Rijksmuseum (the website includes a video by the Associated Press that interviews Mr. Cremers outside of the Kunsthal Rotterdam):
“The size of the theft — seven paintings — is remarkable, says Ton Cremers, a consultant on museum security (though not for Kunsthal Rotterdam) who spent all day at the crime scene.  Mr. Cremers, who founded Museum Security Network, a website on “cultural property protection,” points out that the paintings were easily seen from outside through the windows — maybe too easily.  “You want works of such value in the heart of your building, in a separate space,” Cremers said.
What will this do to Kunsthal Rotterdam’s reputation? “Oh, this is not good”, said Cremers.  “This case will have a lot of international attention.”  He expects the next time Kunsthal Rotterdam is organizing an exhibition, art owners will be “very critical” toward the museum before entrusting them with their expensive works.” 
Mr. Cremers told the Christian Science Monitor that recovering the art is difficult.

“For paintings, that chance is around 30 to 40 percent.  On average it takes about seven years,” he says.  But he notes that there is no guarantee of recovery, pointing to two works by Vincent van Gogh that were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in December 2002.  Two thieves were sentenced for that crime in 2005, but the stolen paintings have need been recovered.

In Britain’s Guardian, Mr. Cremers was quoted as saying ‘that it had become easier than ever for thieves to steal paintings from even well-protected galleries like the Kunsthal.  He said some of the fault lay with its design.’

Calling the Kunsthal a wonderful museum, it was a nightmare FROM [Ton’s emphasis here] a security point of view: “As a gallery it is a gem.  But it is an awful building to have to protect.  If you hold your face up to the window at the back you have a good view of the paintings, which makes it all too easy for thieves to plot taking them from the walls,” he told DeVolkskrant.’ (Kate Connolly, Guardian, 10/16/12, Rotterdam art thieves take valuable paintings in dawn heist

In this article on De Volksrant, Mr. Cremers says that the artworks should be placed far away from the outer shell of the building (loosely translated by Google) and that the Kunsthal Rotterdam robbery may be the biggest in the last 20 years in The Netherlands.
In this article by Anna van den Breemer in Volkskrantl.nl, Ton Cremers, from the grounds of the Kunsthal, says that once the thieves were through the door, they could easily walk throughout the entire museum with no barriers or walls around the more expensive pieces.
ARCA Blog: Mr. Cremers, could you comment on the size of the works or location within the gallery of the paintings stolen from the Triton Collection at the Kunsthal Rotterdam? Were these the most expensive paintings on display or just the easiest to locate and carry out? Had any of images of the stolen paintings been included in promotional material on the “Avante-Garde” exhibit which would have made the paintings more recognizable to thieves?

Ton Cremers: It looks as if the size of the paintings motivated the thieves to steal them, because larger, and more valuable paintings remained untouched. These really were not the paintings one would use for promotional material.

ARCA Blog: Monet, Picasso, Matisse, and Gauguin — stolen artwork by these artists often make the headlines.  Are paintings by these artists taken because the thieves just recognize the artists names from the headlines associated with expensive paintings or possibly are these works by such prestigious artists a good sale on the black market? Do you even believe that there are buyers in South America, Europe or the Middle East willing to purchase these works even knowing that they have been stolen?

Ton Cremers: Too often art thieves are considered well educated experts on art. This is by no means reality. Art theft as a specialty hardly exists. One does not need to be an expert to know names as the ones mentioned above. The most stolen artis is Picasso, most likely because of the fame of his name. The is no market for these paintings, and there are no secret buyers for stolen art. In general famous art is collected to raise one’s status, and as an investment. Both of these are not possible with stolen art. Besides: when the thieves return to the buyer of stolen art, and rob him of the looted painting. What can he do? Report this to the police? Stolen art remains for a long time in the crime scene, is used as a collateral for negotiations with insurance companies, or – the worst scenario – is destroyed because the criminals do not know what to do with it.

ARCA Blog:  If you were to compare this theft to another, what would that be? The Irish gangs who stole paintings in Britain? The Serbs who were found with the two Turners stolen from The Tate Gallery?

Ton Cremers: As long as we do not know anything about the motives of the thieves or their origin it is impossible to make any comparisons. What I can say, is that this is the largest art heis in The Netherlands since some 25 years. One really must be very cautious with speculations about organized crime, or east European gangs. When the Benvenuto Celline saliera (salt cellar) was stolen Charles Hill – former Scotland Yard – stated in the press that police were close to solving this crime, and that Serbs were involved. Later on it appeared to be a drunk local who did not prepare the burglary, and theft at all, but just climbed scaffold, broke a window, smashed a display case, and grabbed the $30 million object. This burglary, and theft took less than one minute! No preparations, no organized crime, no Serbs…just a drunk local. This too, like the Kunsthal, was an example of very poor structural security.

ARCA Blog: Some headlines have suggested that inside information must have been given to the thieves about the gallery’s security.  What kind of information would this be? Are we talking about something like the fictional account in the Swedish film “Headlong” where a man working for the security firm was an accomplice in art theft?

Ton Cremers: These are just speculations, that I really do not want to participate in.

ARCA Blog: You were at the Kunsthal Rotterdam the day the theft was discovered.  How did you find out about the theft and what role, if any, did you play in the investigation?  Are the Rotterdam Police in charge of the investigation? How many officers would be assigned and how many departments would be involved?

Ton Cremers: I found out about the crime via a journalist who called me (too) early in the morning. I was at the crime scene because several TV companies wanted to interview me at the scene. I am in no way involved in the investigations. Important to know: I was not, nor am I involved in the security of the Kunsthal. Let that be quite clear. If I would be, I would not talk to journalists, or answer your questions. At the moment 25 policemen are involved in the investigations.

ARCA Blog: In this case we’ve read that a forensic team has searched for physical evidence such as fingerprints and that police have reviewed security videotapes and asked for information from potential witnesses.  Can you tell us if any information regarding the evidence of this crime has been made public? Will police want to share this information or will the investigation be conducted quietly?  Often it seems that the only news we get from an art heist is that paintings have been taken or recovered and that someone may or may not have been arrested (with or without the paintings).  What do you think we can expect as far as news from the Kunsthal Rotterdam art heist?

Ton Cremers: The Police are very secretive in this matter. However, there some minor information was broadcasted, asking for witnesses. This far police have received some 30 tips. It is not clear if any of these tips are valuable.

ARCA Blog: What role will any international law enforcement agencies have in this investigation?

Ton Cremers: The usual role: hardly any, other than that this theft will be in the databases of Interpol, Dutch police, the carabinieri (they still have the largest database, and gave some twenty people almost full time dedicated to maintaining this database), and of course the Art Loss Register.

ARCA Blog: Were the paintings insured and did you see anyone representing the insurance company in Rotterdam after the theft? Will the insurance company be part of the investigation?
Ton Cremers: The paintings were insured, as loans always are. It goes without saying that the insurance company – I have seen a representative insurance broker – at some point will be involved. What fascinates me is that this broker accepted this risk to have it insured, for the conditions under which these paintings were, and the remainder of the show is, displayed really are below standard.
There is one more, unpopular, statement I need to make. The director of the Kunsthal stated during a press conference that the security of the Kunsthal is ‘state of the art’. A very weird statement to make after this burglary, and theft of 7 paintings valued between € 50 and 100 million (some $130,000,000). Either she still is convinced the security of her kunsthal to be ‘state of the art’, or she is just trying to escape her responsibility. I am very much convinced that this statement – no matter her motives – disqualifies her as a museum director. It is my strong conviction that she should make room for a manager who is qualified to do this job.
Ton, thank you so much for taking the time to ‘speak’ with the ARCA Blog.

Bron: ARCAblog: Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Ton Cremers, Dutch security consultant

October 18th, 2012

Posted In: Geen categorie

De dag na de inbraak met diefstal in de Kunsthal te Rotterdam – er werd voor een waarde van tussen de € 50.000.000 en € 100.000.000 aan schilderijen gestolen (volgens het Art Loss Register) – verklaarde Emily Ansenk, directrice van de Kunsthal, tijdens een persconferentie dat de beveiliging van de Kunsthal ‘state of the art’ is. Niet bepaald een slimme opmerking na zo’n omvangrijke diefstal. De dieven wisten zelfs zonder nalaten van inbraaksporen binnen de komen, maar de beveiliging state of the art? Was het emotie na de diefstal of zit er meer achter deze verklaring door de directrice?

Er zit veel meer achter. Mocht mevrouw Ansenk echt van mening zijn dat die beveiliging state of the art is, dan diskwalificeert ze zichzelf als eindverantwoordelijke manager van de Kunsthal. Mocht ze deze verklaring tegen beter weten in hebben afgelegd, dan diskwalificeert ze zich evenzeer. Haar verklaring getuigt van arrogante onderschatting van de kritische buitenwereld. Het kan nog erger: mevrouw Ansenk ziet zelfs geen aanleiding de beveiliging aan te scherpen. Wat dat betreft is ze in ieder geval consequent, want state of the art – het beste van het beste – kan nu eenmaal per definitie niet aangescherpt, nog beter gemaakt worden. De beveiliging van de Kunsthal is echter helemaal niet state of the art.
Hoe kwamen die dieven de Kunsthal binnen? Heel simpel: via ‘flipperen’ met een stukje plastic. De wijze waarop kruimeldieven woonhuizen binnen gaan. De buitendeur was niet goed afgesloten. Dat kan geen toeval zijn. Hier is een duidelijke indicatie voor hulp van binnenuit. Ansenk ontkent overigens dat de deur niet goed afgesloten zou zijn. Ze kan ook niet anders. Mocht ze toegeven dan zou het weleens zo kunnen zijn dat de verzekeraar niet uitbetaalt.
Wat namen de criminelen mee? Een zorgvuldige selectie aan schilderijen? Welnee: hun keuze werd voornamelijk bepaald door het formaat van de schilderijen. Maar: de politie had het over een zorgvuldig voorbereide inbraak.
Hoe interpreteer je de verklaring van de directeur dat de beveiliging state of the art is? Mevrouw Ansenk laat zich blijkbaar niet leiden door een zeer ernstig incident – de analyse van risico’s en de opzet van de beveiliging begint juist bij de analyse van incidenten – maar bluft zich als falende manager uit de benarde positie waarin ze verkeert. Niet met succes, want ze komt door haar onhandige manoeuvreren juist in een negatief daglicht te staan.
De Kunsthal is in de huidige vorm geheel ongeschikt voor het tonen van schilderijen met een waarde van tientallen miljoenen. Er hadden voor deze tentoonstelling aanvullende maatregelen moeten worden getroffen. Dat is niet gebeurd. Veiligheidszorg is een kerntaak voor de Kunsthal, meer nog dan voor reguliere musea omdat de Kunsthal alleen maar bruiklenen toont. Mevrouw Ansenk is uiteindelijk verantwoordelijk voor de kwaliteit van die veiligheidszorg, zoals ze ook eindverantwoordelijk is voor alle museale taken. Natuurlijk hoeft ze niet de inhoudelijke deskundigheid te hebben op alle museale taakgebieden. Haar verklaring dat de beveiliging ‘state of the art’ is kan haar niet zijn ingefluisterd door een deskundige op dat gebied. Het kan niet anders of ze legde deze verklaring op eigen initiatief af.
Wat moet er met een manager die overduidelijk gefaald heeft in de verantwoordelijk voor een kerntaak? Die manager moet ruimte maken voor een opvolger die wel gekwalificeerd is. In de profit sector leidt een dergelijk falen altijd tot consequenties voor de verantwoordelijke(n). Waarom zou dat in de museumwereld anders moeten zijn?
Mevrouw Ansenk noemde deze inbraak met diefstal een nachtmerrie voor een museumdirecteur. Het gaat er steeds meer op lijken dat dit projectie is en dat mevrouw Emily Ansenk een nachtmerrie is voor de Kunsthal.
Mevrouw Asenks positie is door dit incident en door haar ongeloofwaardige manoeuvreren in de pers niet langer houdbaar.
Ton Cremers 

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Ton Cremers
+31624224620
http://www.linkedin.com/in/toncremers
https://groups.google.com/group/museum_security_network
http://www.museum-security.orgStolen Egyptian Ka Nefer Nefer Mask in Saint Louis Art Museum<http://tinyurl.com/7r6kosa>
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October 18th, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

Rotterdam art thieves take valuable paintings in dawn heist

Picasso, Gauguin, Matisse, Freud and Monet are among the artists whose works were stolen from Dutch gallery

Rotterdam art heist - empty wall

A man pauses to look at the empty space where Henri Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune used to hang at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP

Paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, Meyer de Haan, Lucian Freudand two by Monet were stolen on Tuesday from a gallery in Rotterdam in what will rank as one of the most spectacular art heists of modern times.

The dawn raid at the Kunsthal museum in the Netherlands‘ second largest city was described by police as a well-planned and bold operation. Security experts speculated that the thieves might have taken advantage of Rotterdam’s port – one of the largest in the world – to swiftly move the paintings abroad. While police were reluctant to put a price tag on the stolen paintings, experts said it ran into tens of millions of pounds.

One security expert described the museum, designed by the star Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, as a “gem of a gallery”, but a “nightmare to protect”, and suggested that thieves spent months plotting the robbery.

The works were named by the museum’s management on Tuesday afternoon, as Pablo Picasso‘s Harlequin Head; Henri Matisse‘s Reading Girl in White and Yellow; Claude Monet‘s Waterloo Bridge, London, and Charing Cross Bridge, London; Paul Gauguin‘s Girl in Front of Open Window, De Haan’s Self-Portrait and Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed. The Picasso was the best known work.

Jop Ubbens, the general director of Christie’s in Amsterdam, told the Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant the paintings were worth “far more than just a few million euros”.

He declined to give a more exact estimate, saying he had not seen the paintings. “They could be worth €50m or more,” he said, pointing out that a work of Monet’s brought almost €52m at auction four years ago, the highest amount ever paid for a French impressionist painting.

Ubbens did not rule out that the paintings had been “stolen to order” by an art collector, “in which case they could be hanging on a wall somewhere by now, never to be seen again.”

Alternatively he said, they might have been stolen for ransom. “For example, the thieves might ask for a million euros for the return of the Matisse,” he told the paper. He said the idea that the thieves would try to sell the paintings on the open market was unlikely. “That would be a really stupid idea. They are so well known, no one would touch them,” Ubbens said.

The works were immediately listed on the Art Loss Register which helps trace stolen works of art, and makes the chance of selling them on harder.

Ubbens said the De Haan was the least well-known work, but suggested that as it resembled a Matisse, “it might have been stolen by mistake”.

The works were showing as part of an exhibition at the Kunsthal opened to mark its 20th anniversary. Called Avant-Gardes, the exhibition, which opened just over a week ago and was due to run until 20 January, consisted of 150 works from the Triton Foundation Collection, a collection assembled by the Cordia family which made its money in oil and shipping and is ranked among the richest families in the Netherlands.

The gallery’s curators described the exhibition as the first public showing of the “carefully and lovingly assembled Triton collection”, which had developed an “international reputation” and comprised “representative works by the most important and influential artists of the late nineteenth century to the present day”.

It also includes works by Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Braque and Willem de Kooning.

The gallery was closed until further notice as forensic experts scoured it for clues about the thefts. A short message on the gallery’s website informed visitors: “Due to the theft which occurred in the Kunsthal Rotterdam last night, the Kunsthal is closed to the public today.”

Security expert Ton Cremers said that it had become easier than ever for thieves to steal paintings even from well-protected galleries like the Kunsthal. He said some of the fault lay with its design.

Calling the Kunsthal a wonderful museum, it was a nightmare from a security point of view: “As a gallery it is a gem. But it is an awful building to have to protect. If you hold your face up to the window at the back you have a good view of the paintings, which makes it all too easy for thieves to plot taking them from the walls,” he told De Volkskrant.

Rotterdam art thieves take valuable paintings in dawn heist | Art and design | The Guardian.

October 18th, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

After the major art heist from the Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the director of this museum stated in a press conference that the security of this museum is ‘state of the art’. How stupid can one get: there was a burglary, seven paintings were stolen with a total estimated value (according to the Art Loss Register) of € 50 to € 100 million, but the security is ‘state of the art’?

This statement by the director of the Kunsthal really disqualifies her as a manager with ultimate responsibility for the security of the museum, a core business.

There is no other option: she should leave, and make room for a manager who IS qualified for this job.

Ton Cremers

 

October 18th, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

Thieves who stole Picasso, Matisse, Monets from Dutch museum were more crude than cunning

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/police-investigating-multimillion-dollar-art-heist-probe-tips-from-the-public-study-video/2012/10/17/41e1b240-1839-11e2-a346-f24efc680b8d_story.html

October 18, 2012
AMSTERDAM — In Hollywood movies, heists usually feature criminals who plan meticulously and use high-tech equipment to avoid detection. But the thieves who snatched seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Monet worth millions from a gallery in Rotterdam appear to have taken a less glamorous approach, relying mostly on speed and brute force.

In other words, the theft from the Kunsthal exhibition on avant-garde art was more “smash and grab” than “Ocean’s 11.”

Dutch police said Wednesday they had no suspects in the case, the largest art heist in the country for more than a decade, though an appeal to witnesses had produced more than a dozen tips for investigators to follow up.

As questions arose about security at the museum, its director, Emily Ansenk, rejected criticism of the facility’s safeguards. Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, she defended Kunsthal’s security as “state of the art” and noted that insurance companies had agreed to insure it.

And yet the thieves got away. The paintings they took are estimated to be worth roughly $100 million if sold at auction.

Experts said the structure and location of the museum, which was designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, may have attracted criminals.

“Speaking as a museum-goer, it’s fantastic,” museum security expert Ton Cremers said. “Speaking as a security expert, it’s a total nightmare.”

The gallery is located along a large road that leads to a roundabout, less than a mile away, connecting highways heading in three directions. The display space where the paintings once hung is a large square area, at ground level, visible from outside through glass walls.

Though police and the museum have declined to discuss aspects of the heist that might help thieves, the main details of what happened are clear.

The break-in occurred at around 3 a.m. Tuesday, police say, after someone triggered an alarm.

Investigators have focused on an emergency exit behind the building. The exit connects directly to the main exhibition hall, with paintings hung just a few yards away. Tire tracks can still be seen in the grass behind the building leading away from the exit. Police on Tuesday dusted the exit for fingerprints and took samples of the tire prints.

The paintings were yanked from the walls, leaving only white spaces and broken hanging wires dangling behind.

Officers were on the scene within five minutes of the alarm being triggered, according to museum director Ansenk, but the thieves were already gone.

Police spokesman Henk van der Velde said Wednesday that 25 officers have been assigned to the case, but the getaway car has not been found and there are no suspects. Agents were reviewing videotape from museum cameras.

It is unknown what will happen to the paintings if the thieves are not caught.

The thieves may “wake up and realize they can’t sell the paintings easily” now that museums around the world have been alerted to their theft, said Chris Marinello, of the Art Loss Register.

But the thieves may also sell them on the black market for a fraction of their true value, or try to extract money from insurers in exchange for returning them.

Anthony Roman, a New York-based security analyst, said the Kunsthal’s level of defenses appeared so basic as to be “astounding,” given the value of the art it was housing. He said an alarm system alone would never be enough to stop criminals.

Thieves “learn the distance the police have to travel,” he said. “They understand the mechanism and the amount of time between when the alarm goes off and the time of a physical presence of law enforcement.”

Security expert Cremers said the museum was not at fault for relying on cameras and motion detectors, rather than human guards. Having guards on site is costly, and they would be instructed not to confront robbers during a break-in anyway.

“The only thing they can do is call police,” he said.

Cremers said the museum should have looked at ways to slow potential thieves down. That might have prevented them from attempting to break in in the first place, or at least limited the size of their haul.

He said the paintings should have been hung inside behind a second makeshift wall with doors, creating a “box within a box” in the gallery. In addition, the museum could have set up a barrier or fence preventing cars from being able to drive up right to the emergency doors.

“I’m sure they’ll be looking at that now,” he said.

Later Wednesday, museum spokeswoman Mariette Maaskant confirmed that the museum was installing stone planter boxes big enough to block cars “as an extra security measure.”

_____

AP reporter Lori Hinnant contributed to this story from Paris.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thieves who stole Picasso, Matisse, Monets from Dutch museum were more crude than cunning – The Washington Post.

October 18th, 2012

Posted In: Museum thefts

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October 18th, 2012

Posted In: De Kunsthal, diefstal uit museum

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October 18th, 2012

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October 16th, 2012

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October 15th, 2012

Posted In: insider theft, library theft, Mailing list reports

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October 14th, 2012

Posted In: Mailing list reports

NIGERIA MUST TELL HOLDERS OF LOOTED ART THAT THE GAME IS OVER

http://www.museum-security.org/opoku_nigeria_game_is_over.htm

October 14, 2012

NIGERIA MUST TELL HOLDERS OF LOOTED ARTEFACTS THAT THE GAME IS OVER

On this day of first October, 2012, anniversary of Nigerias independence, I am reading an article by Tajudeen Sowole, in The Guardian titled Ahead of 2013 show of looted Benin artefacts, US museum plots legitimacy. (1) I could not help feeling sad and angry that after some 52 years of independence that great African country is being treated with such contempt and disrespect by Western museums in the question of restitution of looted Nigerian artefacts. What is even more depressing is to recognize that the same baseless arguments that have been demolished several times are still being presented by Western museum directors. As we have often written, if such arguments were presented by a university student he or she would be thrown out of the class for lack of seriousness. And yet they are being presented by products of the fine universities of the West – Berlin, Cambridge, Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, London, Oxford, Paris, and Yale. It seems contempt for Africans enables these museum directors to put forward contemptible arguments without shame. How can the director of the Boston Museum advance the number of visitors to his museum as answer to Nigerias request for restitution?

Commemorative head of an Oba, Benin, Nigeria, now in Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

This important gift affords the unique possibility of sharing these extraordinary works of arts, previously in a private collection, with as many people as possible; over a million visitors of diverse backgrounds come to the MFA each year from around the globe. (2)

Confronted with overall criticism of its acquisition of looted Benin artefactsthe Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is seeking to create for its controversial acquisition a semblance of legitimacy. (3) This may satisfy some but the critical and careful observers will not be convinced by the method apparently chosen so far.

What the museum has done is to inform the Benin Royal Family about the acquisition of the controversial donation. (4) We do not know whether this information was sent before or after the acquisition of the looted objects. The impression created by this act could induce some to think that the Benin Royal Family has agreed to the museum acquiring those objects or somehow has acquiesced in their acquisition. Although the Royal Family acknowledges the receipt of the letter of information from the museum, there is no written response from Benin City. This leaves room for speculation and interpretation of the position of the Benin Monarchy on this particular matter. It is true though that the Royal Family has stated on several occasions that the Benin artefacts that were looted with violence in the 1897 invasion by the British must be returned. (5) But in such a concrete situation one could be entitled to think there would be a specific answer to the museum. By not answering the letter from the museum, the general demands previously made by the Royal Family will be considerably weakened.

Members of the notorious British Punitive Expedition of 1897 against Benin, posing proudly with looted Benin ivories and bronze objects

We have not seen the letter from the Boston Museum to the Benin Monarchy. It would appear however that the museum may have asked for the cooperation of the Monarchy in the proposed 2013 exhibition in Boston on Benin Art. This co-operation may perhaps include lending of other Benin artefacts as well as the physical participation of a Benin delegation in the exhibition. Some Benin scholars may even have been asked to give lectures on aspects of Benin art. The Boston museum surely has studied the procedures and practices of the other universal museums in organizing the exhibitions, Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria. and Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, (6)

We have no information whether the Nigerian Commission on Museums and Monuments (NCMM) has also been invited to participate. However, we can take for granted that the Commission was approached before contacts were established between Benin City and Boston. The NCMM would

in all probability have been asked to collaborate in the preparation of the exhibition and even requested to lend some of the Benin artefacts under its control; its presence at the opening of the exhibition and preparation of lectures on Benin art may also have been requested following the pattern of recent exhibitions of the NCMM with Western museums that refuse to return looted Nigerian artefacts. (7)

Queen-Mother-Idia, Benin, Nigeria, now in Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin, Germany

The NCMM has recently issued a series of statements demanding the return of looted Nigerian artefacts. This seems to indicate a change in its policy regarding restitution of looted artefacts in the western museums. (8) These have been general statements of policy but the demand directed at the Boston museum has been negatively answered. (9). The Boston museum refers in its response to the large number of visitors to the museum who would be able to appreciate Benin artefacts in a hall to be devoted wholly to Benin art.

The impact of the various statements by the NCMM for the restitution of the looted objects has been relativised by other declarations by the commission on its intention to pursue the previous policy of quiet diplomacy and diplomatic dialogue:

In the mean time, the Commission is pursuing restitution and return, has adopted approaches that are firmly anchored within the framework of the foreign policy direction of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is principally dialogue rather than undue combativenessWe indeed believe that dialogue is more productive than confrontation. This however must not be misunderstood as weakness on our part.(10)

This policy of quiet diplomacy which Nigeria has pursued since independence (1960) has not resulted in the restitution of noteworthy artefacts. The attempt to list the success story of quiet diplomacy is exhausted after a few items many of which have been returned as result of police/custom disruption of transport of looted artefacts and not as a result of negotiations on restitution.

Nigerias effort at restitution was recently rewarded when Terra-cotta effigies of more than a thousand years old were returned from Canada on the 24th of February, 2009. Before this, the LOffice central de repression du vol des oeuvres et des objets dart (O.C.R.V.O.O.A.) had also returned three Ife bronze heads stolen and found in France. Benin bronze artefacts sold to Galerie Walu in Zurich were also returned to Nigeria.

In September this year, the Commission shall be receiving from the Embassy of France five Nok Sculptures which were intercepted in August 2010 by the French Customs from shipments originating from Togo(11).

No doubt the returns of artefacts seized by US Customs or the French police to Nigeria are important contributions to the fight against the illicit traffic in looted antiquities and must be recognized and encouraged but this is not restitution. By restitution of artefacts, we understand a situation where a museum or other institution or individual is in possession of a cultural artefact and decides to return it. An example would be if the British Museum decided to return some of the Benin bronzes it has been illegally holding for more than a century now. A return from Britain of looted objects seized from an aircraft or ship on its way to Britain would no doubt be a significant return but not restitution as we use the term in discussions on restitution of cultural artefacts to their countries of origin. In this sense, there has been no restitution from Western museums or individuals to Nigeria since independence. We would be rejoicing in restitution when the British Museum returns an artefact such as the ivory hip-mask of Queen-Mother Idia or the Ethnology Museum, Berlin sends back the sculpture of Oba Akenzua I or the Ethnology Museum, Vienna, returns

Oba Akenzua I, Benin, Nigeria, Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin ,Germany

some of the many Benin commemorative heads it holds which cannot be visited because the African Section of the museum has been under renovation for the last 10 years.

It is noteworthy that none of the objects said to have been returned has a noteworthy or easily recognizable name or description even among scholars.

No icon of Nigerian art appears to have been returned in the last 52 years. (12)

The Director of NCMM is quoted as saying, If dialogue fails, we have other options. (13)Many people believe that the Nigerian policy of dialogue has failed since independence. How long must we wait to determine the failure of a policy whose results have not been impressive?

Egypt has recovered some 5000 artefacts in recent years (14), Italy has also recovered hundreds of artefacts from American institutions (15) and Turkey has recovered several artefacts; Museum of Fine arts, Boston, has returned the upper half of the Weary Herakles to Turkey and so has the Pergamon Museum, Berlin returned the Hattusas Sphinx.. Turkey is on its way to recover more. (16)

The NCMM has ruled out for Nigeria the Turkish approach of direct confrontation with holders of looted artefacts. (17) What is not clear is whether Nigeria now has a new policy with old practices, an old policy with new practice or a new policy with new practice with regard to restitution of looted artefacts

One consequences of the policy of quiet diplomacy, perhaps unintended but inevitable, is the lack of knowledge and information about Nigerias case for restitution, even within the country, and definitely abroad, in particular, in circles where issues of restitution are often discussed. The claims of Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Peru and others are fairly well-known and publicised but as regards Nigeria, many are surprised to hear there are any claims for restitution. Even about the Benin Bronzes, until very recently, many Westerners assumed that the matter had been settled long ago.

Of course, if we do not talk about an issue, for fear of appearing confrontational or aggressive in our demands, nobody will hear about the issues. Many know about Egypts demands because Zahi Hawass never let an occasion pass without raising the question nor was he worried about appearing confrontational. (18) Italy sought maximum publicity for its claims just as Turkey is now doing. A clear list of demands has been sent by Turkey to the Western museums specifically so that each is fully aware of what is expected from it.(19) Where is Nigerias list of claims which has been mentioned but not provided to the public?

It is difficult to understand why Nigeria should pursue quiet diplomacy when those with whom discussions and negotiations are to be held are not so quiet. Whilst European and American museum directors proclaim from rooftops their determination not to return our looted artefacts, our representatives are whispering from the living room their aspirations and hope that one day the West will return our artefacts.

The director of the British Museum and the director of the Art Institute of Chicago, now President of the Getty Foundation have spent the last few years in vigorous campaign, defending the right of Western museum to hold on to looted artefacts from Nigeria and other countries. They have used every media to strengthen their case. (20) Quiet diplomacy has remained quiet and offered no vigorous response.

What did this policy of dialogue bring Nigeria? According to the Director-General of the NCMM,

Efforts at dialoguing have brought about recent interface with most of the major museums in Europe. The Commission instigated discussions on modalities of returning Benin objects to Nigeria. This has resulted in the meeting of the major museums in Europe and the Commission in Vienna, Austria and Berlin, Germany in 2010 and 2011 respectively. A third meeting is scheduled for Benin City before the end of this year. The heads of these European museums have signified their intention to attend this meeting. It will be recalled that Nigeria was one of the strong voices in the Egyptian Conference of 2010 where return of the pieces of each countries priceless antiquities were demanded to be returned to their countries of origin.(21)

The major museums gathered together in 2002 and signed the infamous Declaration of the Importance and Value of Universal Museum by which they clearly declared their intention not to return the looted/stolen artefacts of others that have been kept for long in museums like the British Museum, Louvre, Ethnology Museum Vienna, Boston Museum of Fine Art etc They tried to provide themselves immunity against claims from Nigeria and other countries that have looted for artefacts. As far as I know, no African country issued a riposte; Nigeria kept quiet in accordance with the policy of quiet diplomacy. (22)

Nigerias quiet diplomacy then has not been a tremendous success despite attempts to present this policy as the best and fruitful. Nor has Nigerias collaboration with Western museums in organizing successful international exhibitions resulted in a single restitution of a significant artefact. What does the country gain in cooperation with museums that are still refusing to return looted Nigeria artefacts?

It appears that capacity-building and training possibilities for museum officials are what Nigeria is supposed to receive in turn. We have stated elsewhere our view that training courses and capacity-building measures are no substitute for the return of the precious artefacts illegally held in Western museums. They do not justify collaboration without obvious reciprocal benefits(23)

Reflecting on the collaboration between Nigerian authorities and Western museums, including his own museum, Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, which staged an exhibition on Benin art, Whose Objects?Wilhelm stberg, then director of the museum, stated as follows;

There are many ways to develop relationships besides returning museum objects. Informally, it also appears that the different kinds of collaboration that are currently in progress are important to Nigerian museums. That might explain why Nigeria has not registered any formal demand for the return of the Benin collections, but has preferred to engage in dialogue and cooperation. It seems that Nigeria is chary of bringing the matter to a head. How does one otherwise explain that the National Museum of Nigeria was willing to lend its extensive and unique collection of Ife art to the British Museum for a special exhibition 2010, without demanding reciprocity? (24)

Some persons might be in a better position to explain to the Nigerian public the many ways to develop relationships besides returning museum objects that is so important that might explain why Nigeria has not registered any formal demand for the return of the Benin collections. Or was the Swedish museum director talking nonsense?

Commemorative Head, Benin, Museum fr Vlkerkunde, Vienna, Austria

In view of all that has been said above, and with particular reference to the proposed 2013 exhibition in Boston of looted Benin artefacts, what is to be done? The following propositions are submitted for the consideration of the Nigerian authorities:

BENIN ROYAL FAMILY

1. The Benin Royal Family should respond without further delay to the letter from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston informing it about the acquisition of the looted Benin bronzes.

2. The Boston museum should be informed in unmistakable language that the Royal Family does not wish to participate in any form in the proposed exhibition of 2013 unless there is a preliminary negotiation on the return of the artefacts looted in the violent aggression against Benin in 1897 by the British.

3. There can be no question of loan of Benin artefacts from the Royal Family to complement the looted objects.

4. The great-grandsons and great-granddaughters of Oba Ovoramwen have a filial duty to preserve his honour that was brutally violated by the British in the 1897 destruction of the glorious Benin Kingdom.

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS

1. The NCMM should inform the Museum of Fine Arts,Boston, and all concerned that following its new policy on matters of restitution, the Commission would not be able to participate in the proposed 2013 exhibition on Benin art unless there is a preliminary negotiation of the restitution of the looted Benin artefacts.

2. In view of the foregoing, the Commission is not in a position to lend further Benin artefacts.

3. For the reasons given above, the Commission would not be able to provide any lectures on Benin art or participate in the opening of the exhibition.

It seems to us it is time to demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that Nigeria is serious about collecting its looted artefacts that now adorn foreign museums and that the game of offering unsustainable arguments when the issue of restitution is raised, is over.

Looted Nok Sculpture in Louvre, Paris with post factum consent of Nigeria.

The caveat that has been used in the participation of the Benin Royal Family

in exhibitions – that its participation does not imply the approval or acquiescence in the brutal invasion of 1897 e.g. Benin Ritual and Kings and the Stockholm exhibition Whose Objects? – may serve its purpose once or twice. Used too often, it becomes a standard formal contractual clause that loses its efficacy and credibility

Oba Ovonramwen, during whose reign the British looted the Benin Bronzes with guards on board ship on his way to exile in Calabar in 1897. The gown he is wearing hides his shackles. Photograph by the Ibani Ijo photographer J A Green. From the Howie photo album in the archives of the Merseyside Maritime Museum

These minimum suggestions are based on the requirements of self-respect and dignity which should set limitations and standards in these matters.

Kwame Opoku. 1st October, 2012.

One of a pair of leopard figures, now in the Royal Collection Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, London, UK. The commanders of the British Punitive Expedition force sent a pair of leopard sculptures to the British Queen soon after the looting and burning of Benin City.

NOTES

1. http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

2. Malcolm Rogers, Director of the Museum of Fine art, in a letter dated 12 July 2012 to Ligali, a Pan African organization that had written to the museum to return the artefacts to its rightful owners. http://www.google.at Could it be that the Western education of the museum directors does not permit them to recognize the insult involved in telling a Benin monarch that the looted Benin bronzes can be seen by millions of persons in New York. The monarch himself, the embodiment of the soul of his people, residing in Benin, cannot see the artefacts of the Benin people. Moreover, many seem to ignore the fact that these artefacts have specific functions and were not made to be displayed in Western museums. Indeed, some artefacts are not to be seen by strangers and should only be seen by appointed guardians. They may be surprised to know that it is not part of African culture to seek maximum viewers for ones cultural objects Indeed, in many cases guardians of cultural objects would be acting directly against their mandate if they sought maximum visitors.

The museum directors ignore all this since they expect all of us to adopt wholesale Western values.

3. K. Opoku, Blood Antiquities in Respectable Havens: Looted Benin Artefacts Donated to American Museum, http://www.modernghana.com

Kate Deimling, Nigerians Decry Gift to Boston Museum, Calling the Cache of Artifacts Spoils of Warhttp://untarthistory.wix.com

4, Letter from the director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to Ligali

http://www.google.at

5. K. Opoku, Blood Antiquities in Respectable Havens: Looted Benin Artefacts Donated to American Museum,http://www.modernghana.com .

6. Barbara Plankensteiner, Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria. Ghent: Snoeck Publishers, 2007.

Henry John Drewal and Enid Schildkrout, Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa, The British Museum Press. London, 2010

7. K, Opoku, Ile-Ife Triumphs in the British Museum, London: Who said Nigerians were incapable of Looking after their Cultural Artefacts?

http://www.africavenir.org

8. See Annex in. K. Opoku, Blood Antiquities in Respectable Havens: Looted Benin Artefacts Donated to American Museum, http://www.modernghana.com

9. Tajudeen Sowole, http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

10. Nigerias Antiquities Abroad Must Return, Daily Trust, 25 August 2012

12. Ekpo Eyo, From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, 2010, Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja. None of the masterpieces of Nigerian art abroad mentioned in this book has so far been recovered.

See K. Opoku, Excellence and Erudition: Ekpo Eyos Masterpieces of Nigerian Art,http://www.museum-security.org

13. Tajudeen Sowole, Wedlock of ancient and contemporary art in Bronze . http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

15. K, Opoku, Returned Stolen/Looted Art Displayed by Italy: A Lesson for African and Other Countries?http://www.google.at

16. K. Opoku, Turkish Decision to Stop Artefacts Loans to Museums Holding Contested Turkish Artefacts: An Example for Other States?www.modernghana.com

17. Tajudeen Sowole, Restitution of stolen artefacts: Turkey option may be hard to adopt.http://africanartswithtaj.blogspot.co

18. K. Opoku, Zahi Hawass in his Element: Is it possible not to admire this Man for his Efforts on behalf of Egypt?http://www.modernghana.com

K. Opoku, Shall we learn from Zahi Hawass on how to Recover Stolen/Looted Cultural Objects?, http://www.modernghana.com

K.Opoku, The Cultural Nationalists are all on the Other Side.http://www.modernghana.com

Chasing Aphrodite, Turkey seeks the return of 18 objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://chasingaphrodite.com

The Economist, Turkeys cultural ambitions Of marbles and men May, 19th 2012, print edition

The Guardian, 7 October, 2012, Jason Farago, Turkeys restitution dispute with the Met challenges the ‘universal museum’

20. Neil MacGregor, Director of British Museum and James Cuno, then director of the Art Institute of Chicago, wrote a lot on the universal museum and the Declaration on Importance and Value of Universal Museums. See inter alia, K.Opoku, A History of the World with 100 Looted Objects: Global Intoxication? http://www.modernghana.com

Whose Universal Museum? Comments on James Cunos Whose Culture?http://www.modernghana.com

22. Nigeria did not oppose or criticise the extravagant claims of the major museum, On the Declaration of the Importance and Value of the Universal Museums. see ICOM [PDFDeclaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums 

K.Opoku, Is the Declaration on the Value and Importance of the Universal Museum now Worthless? Comments on Imperialist Museology.http://www.modernghana.com

23. K. Opoku, Queen-Mother Idia and Others Must Return Home: Training Courses are no Substitutes for Looted Treasureshttp://www.modernghana.com

K. Opoku, Does Collaboration between Nigerian and European/American Museums Bring Us Closer to Restitution of Nigerias Stolen/Looted Arts?http://www.modernghana.com

K. Opoku. Are Major African Art Exhibitions Only for the Western World?http://www.modernghana.com

24. Wilhelm stberg, Whose Objects? Art Treasures from the Kingdom of Benin in the collection of the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, 2010, p.68.

NIGERIA MUST TELL HOLDERS OF LOOTED ART THAT THE GAME IS OVER.

October 14th, 2012

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October 10th, 2012

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October 2nd, 2012

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