June 25, 1999
- RE: query about ownership after art theft (David Shillingford)
- Switzerland - Zürich Police Stolen Art Web Site (Jonathan Sazonoff)
- Protecfire & Securitec Lebanon 99
- Artist loses life's work in blaze at studio 'shrine'
- Vietnamese Military Artwork Pulled From Exhibit
- Spaniards looted British art hoard (1778)
From: "David Shillingford" DavidSALRNY@worldnet.att.net
query about ownership after art theft
Few police officers, sadly, seem to have access to the MSN so I shall make some points from their perspective. In an ideal world the laws (property laws in this case) would be either adhered to or the criminal apprehended and punished and the victim compensated. The reality is, of course, somewhat different. An increase in crime and reduced funding over the years have left police forces overburdened. Police forces are therefore forced to prioritize resources in line with the crime committed which leaves property crime low on the list below violent crimes.
In my experience however police will make all reasonable efforts to find the owner of a high value item that is also likely to have sentimental value and will very seldom auction such an item. In some instances information has later emerged that has led to the identification of an owner. Recently the Art Loss Register traced the owner of a Dali print that had been held by police for four years. In art theft the problem is often accentuated through the extended time scale associated with the resurfacing of stolen art. It is logistically impossible for police to keep records for more than a certain number of years and policy will vary from country to country and state to state. The level of expertise often required to match the owner with a piece of art cannot be expected to be within the remit of police training. In fact, to my knowledge, there is only one specialist police officer in the whole of the USA!
As a result the police report art thefts to the Art Loss Register and other specialist police databases such as the FBI's Stolen Art File as details of ownership and the item will be entered on the database by an art historian and kept indefinitely. In 1992 such information lead to the identification and recovery of 200 items from a single arrest. Theft victims who wish to exercise a higher level of due diligence and gain peace of mind would be well advised to register the item personally with the ALR and other specialist non police databases.
PS. I would be interested to know what prompted this inquiry.
Tel : 212 262 4831
Fax: 305 768 6176
Cell: 917 520 5093
UK: 171 235 3393
From: Jonathan Sazonoff firstname.lastname@example.org
Send reply to: email@example.com
Organization: SAZ PRODUCTIONS, INC.
Switzerland - Zürich Police Stolen Art Web Site
The Zürich Police have recently updated their stolen art web site. Works by Chagall, Renoir, Picasso and others are noted. Although the page is in German, you can still view pictures of these missing art works. http://www.ktzh.ch/kapo/FahndungIndex5.idc
This listing (and more) can also be found on our web site
Hope you find this information of interest.
Pres., Saz Prod., Inc.
Contributing US Ed.
Museum Security Network
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Artist loses life's work in blaze at studio 'shrine' By Nigel Reynolds
THE artist Patrick Procktor has lost hundreds of his paintings, drawings and watercolours as well as works by friends such as David Hockney after a fire destroyed his home.
The house, which Mr Procktor had decorated idiosyncratically over 40 years, was described by friends yesterday as "an artist's shrine". The tragedy is compounded because the contents of the house were not insured.
Mr Procktor, 63, a figurative artist and Royal Academician for the past four years, was a major figure in the London Sixties scene, along with Hockney, Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, and has come back into fashion. His son Nicky, 26, was trapped in a top-floor room by the fire and escaped to the roof of a neighbouring house by climbing on scaffolding. The four-storey rented Georgian house, in Manchester Street, Marylebone, London, had previously been the home and studio of the artist Sir William Coldstream.
Mr Procktor studied under Sir William, principal of the Slade art school, and took over the house from him in 1959. It had become an artist's salon and was the backdrop for all Mr Procktor's work since. Many unusual features were destroyed. Mr Procktor's bedroom was decorated with a mural of flowers, each one painted on the walls by visiting friends including Hockney, R B Kitaj and Frank Auerbach. The fire also ruined the striking wallpaper with Islamic motifs in the sitting room-cum-studio and a plaster of Paris fireplace, showing pineapples, and human figures that Mr Procktor made.
John McEwan, the art critic of The Sunday Telegraph and Mr Procktor's biographer, said his home, cluttered with paintings, sketches and personal effects, resembled "a set of rooms that might have belonged to a Bloomsbury dandy". Mr Procktor, at 6ft 6in a patrician but Bohemian figure, was said by friends yesterday to be "in a state of terrible shock". He has gone to live with his elderly mother in the country.
The fire, on Saturday night, is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault. Maggie Thornton, a director of Mr Procktor's gallery, Redfern in Cork Street, said he was "too devastated" to talk about it. Around 40 of Mr Procktor's own paintings were destroyed. Among them was a striking portrait of Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday. Several hundred of Mr Procktor's watercolours, sketches and drawings were also caught in the fire. He also lost a Hockney drawing of a male nude, a Constable landscape, a Picasso print and several paintings by friends such as Michael Upton, Prunella Clough and James McDey.
Probably the greatest sentimental loss was a series of watercolours he had painted of his late wife, Kirsten, who died in 1984. They included several of her breast-feeding their son Nicky in the first weeks of his life. Kirsten Procktor was the founder, with her first husband James Benson, of the fashionable Marylebone restaurant, Odins.
In the 1960s, Procktor, Freud, Bacon and Hockney treated it as their "works canteen" and later, the Procktors became friends of Peter Langan, founder with Michael Caine of Langan's Brasserie. Patrick Procktor designed the menu and painted a huge mural of Venice for the upstairs dining room.
Richard Selby, another director at the Redfern Gallery, said that a search of the gutted house this week had uncovered a few "silver linings". A number of undamaged paintings by Mr Procktor were found in a sealed-off room in the attic and one chest, though badly burned on the outside, yielded several dozen works on paper that were singed and damaged by water but can be restored.
Ms Thornton said that the gallery would have an exhibition in the autumn of any of Mr Procktor's work salvaged from the ashes to raise money for him to acquire a new home and studio and to help him carry on working. Mr Selby said: "His house has now been condemned as an unsafe structure and it will have to be completely rebuilt. It wasn't just his home. It was his whole environment for his working lifetime."
Vietnamese Military Artwork Pulled From Exhibit 04:39 p.m Jun 24, 1999 Eastern
SANTA ANA, Calif. (Reuters) - A painting of a young woman dressed in North Vietnamese military uniform has been pulled from a museum exhibit in this southern California community because of objections from the local Vietnamese refugee community, officials said Thursday.
The painting, ``Young Woman Forging Steel'', was one of 75 Vietnamese art works in an exhibit opening Saturday at the Bowers Museum near the ``Little Saigon'' neighborhood which is home to thousands of Vietn Local Vietnamese saw some of the artworks as Communist propaganda from a nation they fled 20 years ago.
The neighborhood some 40 miles south of Los Angeles was the scene of sometimes violent demonstrations earlier this year when a video store owner draped a poster of late Communist leader Ho Chi Minh outside his premises.
``No museum likes to censor an exhibit but we also have to take into mind that we do serve the community. We have to keep the safety and security of the works of art in our mind as well. We would hate to see some visitors inclined to actually damage or deface one of the works,'' said Janet Baker, curator for Asia art at the Bowers Museum. Baker said the museum decided to consult Vietnamese community leaders ahead of the exhibit following weeks of furor over the Ho Chi Minh poster in January.
``Rarely does the community become involved. In this case we thought it would be a sensitive and courteous thing to at least hear their voices. However we are not allowing them to dictate our decision,'' she said.
Most of the works in the traveling exhibit, which was put together by the Washington D.C. nonprofit group Meridian International Center, are landscapes, still life or abstract paintings and drawings.
But local Vietnamese saw a handful of the works as Communist propaganda. The museum decided not to include ``Young Woman Forging Steel'' and is still considering whether to show two other potentially contentious works. One shows young soldiers in the background as a woman prays before a altar.
Baker compared the dilemma faced by the museum to that posed by representations of the Nazi era.
``If you had a showing of German art, would you put something with Nazi symbols in it? These are sensitive issues where there is no right or wrong answer,'' she said.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
Times of London
Giles Tremlett reports from Madrid on the discovery that a royal collection was captured in a raid on the high seas
Spaniards looted British art hoard
A SHIP full of looted art treasures that should have graced the stately homes of Britain has been discovered as the source of a valuable Spanish royal art collection now held at the Prado Museum in Madrid and Spain's royal palaces. Art historians have found that a number of Prado pictures, as well as an important part of the permanent collection at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, were taken from the British frigate Westmorland in 1778 and secretly purchased by King Carlos III.
The 26-cannon frigate had been taking home 57 crates of sculptures, pictures, urns, jewels and marble candelabra bought by a number of British nobles who had wandered Italy and other parts of Europe on the Grand Tour.
King George III's brother, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Duke of Norfolk were among those who lost precious and irreplaceable artistic jewels when it was captured. More than 40 paintings, including work by the Italian painters Pompeo Batoni and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, were on board with at least 20 sculptures, some by Carlo Albacini.
Shortly after leaving Livorno, Italy, the Westmorland was chased and captured by two French men-of-war, the Carthon and the Destin, and two smaller French vessels.Captain Michael Wallace tried to outrun them but, faced with two vessels that each boasted more than 60 cannon, he had little option but to allow his vessel to be boarded. Although Spain was not yet formally at war with Britain it was on friendly terms with the French and allowed the Westmorland to proceed to Malaga, where the contents were handed over to a mysterious trading company with Irish links.
A shocked Captain Wallace, obviously aware of the severity of what was happening, told Spanish authorities that the vessel was full of "extremely precious goods". Later, after Spain had declared hostilities against Britain as a result of the American War of Independence, Carlos III decided that he wanted the vessel's contents for himself. The sellers first asked for 600,000 gold doubloons but settled for 360,000 silver reales, a considerable fortune in those times. The transaction was dealt with in the utmost secrecy, presumably so that the British owners would not find out. "There is no record of this, for example, in the acts of the Real Academia, where absolutely everything was normally written down," said José María Luzón, the art historian and former director of the Prado Museum, whose detective work has tracked down the history of the Westmorland and its precious cargo.
The secret purchase was carried out despite demands from the British Ambassador in Madrid that the vessel's contents be released and returned to its original owners. Correspondence over the issue lasted for ten years. It even became a matter for discussion between Prime Ministers. Papers referring to the personal chests of the Duke of Gloucester were marked "HRH, DG".
The two most important pictures to have found their way into the Prado are Batoni's portrait of Charles Cecil Roberts and a second portrait called An English Gentleman.
The sculptures of Albacini, restorer of the ancient Roman statues of the Farnese collection, and the Irishman, Christopher Hewetson, are mainly in the Real Academia. Everything else was distributed through Carlos III's palaces, now owned by the Spanish state, and his museums. The country palace at El Pardo, just outside Madrid, has a marble chimney that was meant to go to the Duke of Gloucester. "The cargo of the Westmorland reveals the great breadth of interest among British collectors at the time and, especially, the importance of neo-classicism," Senor Luzón said.
Musical scores, violins, drawers full of ornamental fans and religious relics as well as many valuable books were among the cargo. The sketches by Piranesi alone occupied several books, Senor Luzón noted. There were even specimens of volcanic lava from Mount Vesuvius. These were sent by Sir William Hamilton, the longstanding British Ambassador to the court of King Ferdinand VII of Naples, who was a great art collector.
The only drawer that the Spaniards did not dare open was a package of Catholic religious relics being sent to Lord Arundel, the Duke of Norfolk, by the former Jesuit John Thorpe. "They were afraid that there were a saint's remains in the drawer and eventually agreed to send it back to the Vatican," Senor Luzón said. He hoped that Britain would not start claiming the cargo of the Westmorland back again. "We would not want to give it back," he said. He hopes to organise an exhibition of the vessel's contents in London.
Westmorland was renamed and incorporated into the Spanish fleet, but was later captured by British vessels in the Caribbean.