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April 14th, 2013

Posted In: algemeen, art theft, Art Theft General

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January 30th, 2012

Posted In: art theft, art theft central, Art Theft General, Museum thefts

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January 28th, 2012

Posted In: art theft, Art Theft General

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January 27th, 2012

Posted In: art theft, Art Theft General, Museum thefts

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August 2nd, 2011

Posted In: art theft, Art Theft General, Mailing list reports

A painting bought in an auction in Vienna for more than 100,000 Euros was stolen during transport to the United Kingdom, it has been reported.

Viennese newspaper Heute reports today (Tues) that a self portrait by late Austrian artist Koloman Moser has been reported as missing. The painting was purchased by a London-based man for 116,200 Euros at the Dorotheum auction house in Austrian capital Vienna. The Briton assigned an international shipping company to transport the piece of art to London – but the painting never arrived.

The report in Heute did not make clear whether police know where and when the painting from 1915 was stolen.

Moser is, alongside with Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, regarded as one of Austria’s greatest artists of the early 20th century.

The Dorotheum is one of the most important auction houses in the world. Its Viennese representation achieved a turnover of 143 million Euros last year. The Dorotheum, which was founded in 1707, is also doing business in the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy.

January 5th, 2011

Posted In: Art Theft General, theft during transport, theft reports

PARIS — At least this much is clear: the art — 271 previously unknown sketches, watercolors and collages — is indeed the work of Picasso. But despite several weeks of accusations, counterclaims and deepening investigations, the mystery at the core of the case of Picasso and the electrician seems no closer to being solved.

Pierre Le Guennec, 71, a sickly retiree who did electrical work for the artist in the 1970s, says the works — worth an estimated $80 million — were a gift from his employer decades ago. Six relatives of Picasso suspect otherwise, and in September they filed a request for an investigation into whether the art had been stolen. Soon after, the police seized the works from Mr. Le Guennec’s home in Mouans-Sartoux, in the South of France.
A preliminary police investigation ensued; on Dec. 13 the case went to the next step when a magistrate in the area opened a judicial investigation to explore the possibility of “possession of stolen goods.” (No criminal charges have been filed.)

full text:

December 26th, 2010

Posted In: art fraud, art theft, Art Theft General

Art Theft Trends: Porcelain a Hot Commodity

According to a recent article in The Art Newspaper, “England’s stately homes are being targeted by organised gangs who are stealing important porcelain pieces, with at least 21 major cases in the past three years.” Additionally, since 2007, there have been 15 attempted robberies. Dick Ellis, former head of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit suspects “that many have gone abroad, primarily to Europe, where Meissen and Sèvres is highly collectable. Items may well be sold at large antiques fairs in England, usually within a few days of the theft, and then passed to unsuspecting Continental dealers.”…

*Originally Posted at Art Theft Central

June 7th, 2010

Posted In: Art Theft General

In March 1990, the Gardner Museum was inadvertently exposed by a night guard, who failed to follow museum security procedure when he opened the museum’s door for two policemen without first confirming that police headquarters had sent the officers. In this case, a procedural error in museum security resulted in the single greatest art theft in history. This past Thursday, Paris’s Musee d’art Moderne was victimized after numerous lapses in museum security practice and procedure.

*Originally posted at Art Theft Central

May 22nd, 2010

Posted In: art theft, Art Theft General

UK’s Efforts to Educate Collectors and Reduce Art Theft

For the past few weeks, I have been engaged in a work placement at the Museums, Libraries, and Archives’s prestigious Acquisitions, Export, and Loans Unit

April 27th, 2010

Posted In: Art Theft General

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April 18th, 2010

Posted In: Art Theft General

Man jailed over £1.7m Lowry raid

Published: 2009/03/17

A man convicted of an “audacious and well-planned” raid to steal LS Lowry artworks valued at £1.7m has been given an indefinite jail sentence.

Casey Miller, 23, of Denton, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of robbery after posing as a postman to get into the home of art collector Ivan Aird.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Miller threatened to kill Mr Aird’s wife and young daughter during the raid in 2007.

He must serve a minimum of five years and one month before parole.

The paintings, including the £700,000 Viaduct, have never been found and police are still hunting for Miller’s accomplices.

Miller has 28 previous convictions and is already serving a four-year sentence for grievous bodily harm.

On Tuesday, he was given an indeterminate prison sentence for public protection, which means he will stay in jail until the parole board thinks he is no longer a risk to the public.

They will never be available for anyone else to enjoy, apart form your gang’s criminal customers
Judge Andrew Gilbart

Jailing him, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, Recorder of Manchester, said: “This was a well-planned, brutally executed robbery.”

“I do not think you planned the raid… You have been hired as a useful piece of muscle to terrify the householders.

“It was a ruthlessly planned, professional crime in which property valued at £1.7m was taken.

“They will never be available for anyone else to enjoy, apart from your gang’s criminal customers.

“That is a loss to the wider public and especially a loss to this region.”

Miller told police he “didn’t know Lowry from Adam” and denied involvement, but was convicted by a jury following a trial at Manchester Crown Court last month.

Miller was only arrested because Mrs Aird caught sight of his face during the robbery.

Hours after the raid she provided an e-fit to police with an “exceptionally good likeness”.

The case was featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch and police got a tip-off the man they wanted was Miller.

He was arrested and Mrs Aird picked him out at an identity parade.

Mr Aird had known LS Lowry as a boy and the artist was a friend of the family.

He became a leading specialist in Lowry’s works and ran a business, Grove Fine Art, from his home in Cheadle.

Outside court Mr Aird said: “God knows where the paintings are now.

“It is impossible to say. I just think it has been done to order.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

March 18th, 2009

Posted In: Art Theft General

Posted: 28 Feb 2009 10:44 AM PST

Url original report plus all links:

On Friday, the Telegraph ran an article reporting on Lord Myners’ role in the ransom payments made in 1999 and 2002 for two Turner masterpieces stolen from the Tate. Currently, Myners is embroiled in another controversy over a former chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland and his excessive pension fund.

This started my thinking about museums paying ransoms for the safe return of stolen art. Geoffrey Clarfield, former curator of ethnography at the National Museums of Kenya, has written against cultural institutions “appeasing” art and antiquities thieves by paying ransoms. He, like many others who have written on the subject, argues that paying ransoms essentially further fuels art crime.

Simon Mackenzie and others have discussed ransoms and how they can lead to repeat victimization. Often museums will keep a ransom payment quiet in order to avoid the “flag effect.” The “flag effect” argues that certain types of properties that have been stolen from in the past stand out as more attractive targets to thieves. In “Criminal and Victim Profiles in Art Theft: Motive, Opportunity and Repeat Victimisation,” in Art Antiquity and Law 2005, Mackenzie cites for an example of the “flag effect” the rash of thefts across Canada inspired by the prospect of a reward after a ransom was paid for the return of six painting stolen from the Toronto Art Gallery in 1959 (10). After the Toronto art theft, “flags” were placed on galleries and museum by virtue of their poor security.

Mackenzie believes that although insurers and cultural institutions might believe that by keeping ransom payments quiet they are avoiding a “flag effect” on art crime, they cannot avoid a “boost effect” in relation to the particular criminals who are rewarded. The “boost effect” involves a particular target whose attractiveness to theft “was boosted in the eyes of the original thieves or persons to whom they passed information (10).” For an example of the “boost effect” he highlights the case of twenty-eight paintings stolen from Milan’s Gallery of Modern Art in 1975 after which a ransom was paid for their return. “Three months later, thieves stole thirty-eight pictures from the same gallery, including half the ones taken in the first theft (10).” It should be acknowledged that the significant difference between the “boost effect” and the “flag effect” is that the “boost effect” involves the original thieves or those whom information is passed. For another example of the flag effect see the publicity surrounding the 1975 art theft at Russborough House which “flagged” the Beit Collection housed there and led to the following three thefts in 1986, 2001, and 2002.

In the case of the Tate and its Turners, at the time the museum claimed to have kept quiet on the amounts paid for the stolen Turners “in order not to jeopardise the operation.” Also, Lord Myners maintains that the payments were made to informants, and were not ransoms. However, Friday’s article reiterates that the payments, according to the director of the Tate, were made to a German lawyer acting as middleman for the thieves.

Considering Mackenzie’s research done on the “boost effect” and “flag effect”, it seems only appropriate that the Tate would call the payment made a reward for insider information rather than a ransom. Art Hostage has spent many a posts detailing the need for greater rewards and better treatment for informants.

I find it intriguing that Italy, which has a disproportionate number of thefts/looting claims listed on INTERPOL’s database compared to other nations, does not pay ransoms for the return of stolen art and antiquities. Clearly, they need to allocate their funds differently in order to maintain nearly three hundred full-time art crime investigators.

Additionally, their non-negotiable approach seems to fly in the face of art thieves who often threaten to destroy art if their demands are not met. Over the 20th century, thieves have been most interested in building bonfires fueled by stolen art if their demands are not met. This was the threat in the following cases: two Rembrant’s stolen from the Taft Museum in 1973; art stolen from Russborough House in 1974; and Goya’s portrait of Wellington stolen from the National Gallery in 1961. The ’61 art thief refers to the painting in a letter to police as “threepennyworthy of old Spanish firewood.” If only that creative energy had been applied to a more acceptable enterprise.

March 2nd, 2009

Posted In: Art Theft General



Stolen: Tom Roberts’ painting of Andrew Garran. (Supplied):

 ACT Police are searching for a valuable Tom Roberts painting which has been stolen from an apartment in Narrabundah, south Canberra. 

The theft of the 19th century oil painting of former journalist and New South Wales politician Andrew Garran was reported to police last week. 

The portrait is believed to be worth between $80,000 and $100,000 and has sentimental value to its owners the Garran family. 

It measures approximately 60cm by 33cm and is contained within a 50cm thick black hardwood frame. 

Police say the painting is distinctive and would be recognised by art dealers and Tom Roberts specialists. 

Anyone who may know of the painting’s whereabouts or may have information to help the investigation have been urged to contact Crime Stoppers.


March 2nd, 2009

Posted In: Art Theft General

HBJ Gateley Wareing duo caught up in art heist trial

Oct 22 2008 By Tom Scotney

It was one of the most audacious capers of recent times. Two men walked into Drumlanrig Castle, Scotland, overpowered a security guard and grabbed one of the world’s most valuable paintings from the wall.

As sirens sounded and the pair climbed out of the window with Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, tourists gaped. “Don’t worry love, we’re the police. This is just practice,” one of the pair said.

But of course it wasn’t. This was just the start of the UK’s biggest art heist.

And now a city law firm has been linked to what has been dubbed the ‘Da Vinci plot’.

Two partners from the Glasgow branch of HBJ Gateley Wareing – formed from the merger of Birmingham law firm Gateley Wareing and Scottish company Henderson Boyd Jackson last year – are in the dock, charged with trying to extort money for the safe return of the masterpiece.

The painting was recovered after a police raid on HBJ’s office in Glasgow, and now property partner David Boyce and insolvency partner Calum Jones are alleged to have been part of a criminal gang which demanded a £4.25 million ransom for the painting. Both pleaded not guilty.

They have both since left HBJ, and the company said it had no plans to replace them. Boyce and Jones were among five men – including another lawyer – arrested for the plot to hold the painting hostage after it was stolen in 2003.

They are appearing along with fellow solicitor Marshall Ronald, who had his Lancashire practice Marshall Solicitors shut down after an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. HBJ, which has its largest office in Birmingham, is one of the top 60 UK legal firms.

Malcolm McPherson, the senior partner at HBJ in Scotland, said the two partners had only been with the office for a matter of weeks before they were arrested. “The project had obviously starte long before that, and the painting was with us for a grand total of 20 minutes,” he said.

The raid on the HBJ office in Glasgow came at the end of a long term international investigation involving forces from across the world.

The Scotland side of the investigation involved officers from the Dumfries and Galloway and Strathclyde forces, as well as the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

Detectives had previously said they thought the painting had been stolen by drug traffickers to be used as collateral for deals. They were stunned to find it in the offices of a respectable law firm.

After the painting was found, police brought in Michael Clarke, the director of the National Gallery of Scotland and the country’s top art expert. He examined the picture at a secret location before confirming it was the real deal.

Sadly the recovery of the painting came too late for its owner, the ninth Duke of Buccleuch – one of the UK’s richest men. Just a month before the painting was found by the police raid, the Duke died. The picture had been in his family’s possession at their ancestral home for more than 200 years. Although the value of the painting had been estimated at up to £80 million, the Duke is thought to have received just £3 million in compensation as his collection had been underinsured.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was painted in 1501 by Da Vinci. It was believed to have been commissioned for Louis XII of France, and is considered one of his greatest works.

It is one of just a few paintings that have actually been confirmed as being by the great artist, along with world famous works like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper

The painting, which depicts the Madonna and baby Jesus with a cross-shaped yarnwinder, was considered so important that it was placed on the FBI’s top ten most-wanted list of stolen artworks.

October 24th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, Mailing list reports


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

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

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

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

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

LS Lowry, born in 1887, is famous for painting scenes of life in industrial northern England.
Story from BBC NEWS:

September 23rd, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General


* Recuperati dai carabinieri circa 200 quadri di provenienza furtiva, 49enne tedesco denunciato

* STATUE BOTERO RUBATE (La notte fra il 19 e il 20 ottobre scorso 2007): ARTISTA RINGRAZIA PER RITROVAMENTO

* Spain. Muchas obras robadas no han aparecido. La Diócesis cataloga más de 45.000 obras de arte para facilitar su localización

* Fake cops steal valuable Berni paintings in Argentina

* Spain. Roban media docena de piezas del siglo XVIII de la Catedral de Ceuta

* Botero celebrará en Pietrasanta la recuperación de sus obras robadas

* Spain. Museum theft. Roban espada de Rubén Darío

* Spain. Museum theft. Sword that belonged to Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario stolen

July 28th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, Mailing list reports


50.000 Euro Belohnung nach Kunstdiebstahl

Nach dem Kunst-Raub aus einer Düsseldorfer Privatbank am vergangenen Wochenende hat die Bank eine Belohnung ausgesetzt.

Am vergangenen Wochenende haben Unbekannte acht Gemälde und eine Vase aus einer Düsseldorfer Privatbank geklaut (EXPRESS berichtete) .
Für die Wiederbeschaffung der Werke sowie die Ergreifung der Täter hat die Bank jetzt eine Belohnung von 50.000 Euro ausgesetzt.

Bei dem Coup hatten die Diebe Gemälde von Carl Spitzweg, Paula Modersohn-Becker und Gabriele Münter im Gesamtwert von mehreren 100.000 Euro gestohlen. Die Einbrecher hinterließen keine Spuren.

July 14th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, Mailing list reports


The French Art Network is employing active RFID tags to track its art inventory in near-real time, while also deterring internal theft.


July 9th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

BIG-TIME art crime is always fun, whether fact or fiction. It has its own genre, small but perfectly deformed. So I thought I’d love this book, but it’s the worst I’ve reviewed in 30 years. A jumbled pastiche of lecture notes and undigested factoids, it was rapidly executed, as indeed the author should be.

The Art Thief is a lexicon of literary incompetence. It should be cherished by every creative writing student. The plot is a tangled, confused mess. The humour is excruciating. Repetitious and didactic, the book reads like what it is, art history 101. Characterisation is banal, consisting of archaic national stereotypes derived from old television soaps such as Coronation Street, then misapplied in ignorance to the wrong characters. But there’s more. Great claims have been made that require investigation. Noah Charney, 29, is an American who studied art history at the postgraduate level in England and lives in Europe. The blurb tells us “Charney is considered the world’s leading expert on the history and study of crime”. (That presumably should read art crime.) We have here a severe case of premature apotheosis, a self-propelled ascension. On his website the author says he’s “the first person to study art crime through history”. Charney also “realised there was almost no literature of any kind on art crime”. At that point my credulity, which normally lands catlike on muscled legs, strained a ligament. What about the academic journals and shedloads of books on art crime? Don’t they even rate Old Testament status, presaging the utterances of this new messiah of art?

Let’s look at the said utterances. “All the facts (in the book) are correct and thoroughly researched,” the author says. They aren’t and they weren’t. Charney doesn’t realise, for instance, that black light and ultraviolet light (used to detect anomalies in art materials) are the same thing. He also claims that all Christie’s London sales are tagged as important. Few are. Regarding attribution, he states that “circle of” means “the style approximates” that of the artist. It does not: it means the work is by an unknown artist who was a contemporary of and influenced by the named artist. Charney also wrongly defines “attributed to” to mean that a work was once unequivocally accepted as autograph but is no longer. In fact it means that the cataloguer thinks that the work is autograph but cannot be certain. Paintings often have a history of multiple attributions. Likewise, “style of” does not mean that a work (in his words) “looks and smells” like an X but “who the hell knows?” It means the cataloguer is certain it is not by the artist, but it is in the artist’s style. Charney’s lack of auction experience is also exposed by his description of the sale of the star lot in a big-ticket sale. An auctioneer would not take bids of $2 million for a cover-lot painting with a lower estimate of $10 million.

Far more seriously, Charney misunderstands authentication. Gatekeepers are (supposedly) specialists who guard the authenticity of an artist. Many are corrupt and/or consist of relatives and friends of the artist. Some gatekeepers are unimpeachable scholars. Whichever, auction houses know that without gatekeeper authentication, the market will resist definite attribution.

In the novel, Charney has Christie’s rudely rejecting the (scholarly) gatekeeper’s assessment of the star picture as a fake. Charney seems unaware that the leading auction houses have no choice but to check high-end artworks with gatekeepers regardless of cataloguers’ opinions. To do otherwise would be to court disaster. We are witnessing the manufacture of a celebrity. There’s the book, a conference on art crime, a think tank (little more than a list of names) and a couple of mooted television programs. Yet Charney is a student who has never worked in the art business. His naivety is such that he fails to grasp that art theft is insignificant compared with art fraud or that the 300 art police in Italy rarely pursue stolen paintings. They’re after stolen antiquities, a much bigger international trade.

This book deserves all the bad reviews it has received. Beware of the few good ones: “A thrilling, literary page-turner. This exciting debut establishes young Noah Charney as the curator of crime,” says professor Jennifer Boylan. She notes in an unrelated internet post that “Noah was a student of mine eight years ago”.

Provenance is everything.

Once a serial victim of art fraud, Frank Campbell now authenticates paintings.


July 1st, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

* Thefts of prized artwork from museums are rare (When artwork is stolen from a museum, Magness-Gardiner added, 80 percent of the cases involve an inside actor, such as a staff member, docent or patron, and the art is commonly snatched from a storeroom.)

* Vasarely’s daughter-in-law surrenders passport in art theft case


* Texas professor works to compile list of works missing from modern art museum in Baghdad

* Acusan de robar el reloj de Manuel Belgrano a ladrones de las monedas del Banco Nación

* Charles Parkhurst, Stolen-Art Detective, Dies at 95, NYT Says

* Museum curator looks for lessons from Iowa flooding

* Affiches Breda’s museum populair bij dieven

June 29th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, insider theft

* Art fairs have become a target for thieves (Art+Auction)

* Federal agents seized about 1,700 artifacts from Miles Simpson’s collection of American Indian antiquities. More than three years later, the Bend man is working to get it all back – and he insists he did nothing wrong

* US. 2 women charged in artwork theft at Chicago storage facility

* The Heritage Center of Clark County will be one of 15 museums nationwide and five in Ohio to help answer that question as part of Washington-based Heritage Preservation’s Risk Evaluation and Planning Program (REPP)

June 25th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

Wo kann er sein? Ein Gespräch mit Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, der Witwe des Schriftstellers.

Von Manfred Papst

Ein milder, sonniger Nachmittag im obersten Geschoss eines Bürgerhauses im Stockholmer Stadtteil Södermalm. Hohe Räume, Stuckdecken, Stilmöbel. Bücher und Bilder, wohin man blickt. Hier wohnt Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, die Witwe des deutschen Schriftstellers Peter Weiss (1916–1982), der mit dem Drama «Marat/Sade» Weltruhm erlangte und mit der «Ästhetik des Widerstands» einen Roman schuf, der zu den grossen erratischen Blöcken der Literaturgeschichte zählt.

Man sieht der so aparten wie lebhaften Dame weder ihr Alter noch ihre Krebskrankheit an. Am 28. März ist sie achtzig geworden, und gerade hat man sie mit nur mehr einer halben Lunge aus dem Spital entlassen. Doch sie ist so witzig, wach und schnell wie eh und je. In bildhaftem, kräftigem Deutsch und bei einem Krug köstlicher, selbstgemachter Limonade erzählt sie, was alles die vergangenen Monate ihr an Ungemach beschert haben. Bisweilen muss sie dabei sogar lachen.
Irgendwann in diesem Frühjahr wurde ein von ihr gemieteter Lagerraum unweit der Königlichen Musikhochschule in Stockholm aufgebrochen und ausgeräumt. Er hatte den gesamten bildnerischen Nachlass von Peter Weiss enthalten: rund 500 Werke – Ölbilder, Zeichnungen, Druckgrafik, Collagen, ein faszinierendes Frühwerk zwischen magischem Realismus und Surrealismus –, aber auch ihre eigene Kollektion schwedischer Kunst, ihre Glassammlung sowie zahlreiche der Design-Arbeiten, Bühnenskizzen und Kostümentwürfe, die sie als langjährige Bühnenbildnerin Ingmar Bergmans und anderer namhafter Regisseure geschaffen hat.

Vor verschlossener Tür

«Der genaue Zeitpunkt der Tat lässt sich nicht mehr ermitteln», erzählt sie, «denn natürlich komme ich nur sporadisch in dieses Depot. Etwa zwei Monate war ich nicht mehr dort gewesen, als ich das Unheil bemerkte.» Bei dem Raum handelt es sich um einen Luftschutzkeller in einem Wohnhaus; das Moderna Museet in Stockholm, das ebenfalls Bilder von Peter Weiss besitzt, hatte ihn vermittelt, die Versicherung hatte ihn geprüft und gutgeheissen. «Nun aber stand ich plötzlich vor verschlossener Tür. Die schweren Riegel waren weggestemmt worden, das Schloss ausgewechselt. Ein Albtraum! Ich dachte, ich sei verrückt. Als endlich Hilfe kam, sah ich das Ausmass der Katastrophe: Alle Sachen von Peter waren weg, von meinen fehlte etwa die Hälfte, die andere Hälfte lag in tausend Stücken am Boden.»

Die Diebe hatten offenbar alle Zeit der Welt gehabt. Das Depot ist das einzige in dem Keller, und die Hausbewohner waren es gewohnt, dass im Zusammenhang mit Ausstellungen immer wieder einmal Sachen abtransportiert oder zurückgebracht wurden. Deshalb schöpften sie keinen Verdacht. Wer aber waren die Täter, und was führten sie im Schilde?

«Erst dachte ich, es ginge um eine dieser Lösegeld-Geschichten, bei denen die Versicherung zur Bezahlung einer Geldsumme genötigt wird und die Bilder dann wieder zurückgegeben werden», sagt Gunilla PalmstiernaWeiss. «Aber es meldete sich niemand. Dann fiel mir ein, dass vor kurzem einige von Peters Bildern – nicht aus meinen Beständen – über ein renommiertes Auktionshaus verkauft worden waren. Das mochten die Diebe mitbekommen haben. Aber auch diese Erklärung leuchtete mir nicht ganz ein. Peters Sachen sind zwar im Preis gestiegen, aber sie sind nicht besonders teuer, denn sie richten sich an ganz spezielle Sammler. Zudem waren viele Bilder und Zeichnungen im Fundus nicht signiert. Die Collagen zum Beispiel. Diese Blätter kann nur ich autorisieren. Aber die Diebe haben sich wohl so sicher gefühlt, dass sie nach und nach alles mitnahmen.» Glücklicherweise hat sie von sämtlichen Werken ihres Mannes ein genaues Inventar angelegt. Es listet jedes Blatt auf, selbst seine Kinderzeichnungen. Für ihre eigenen Arbeiten gibt es keine solche Liste.

Nun nahm die Polizei ihre Ermittlungen auf. Im langen, mit allerlei Lagergut zugestellten Gang vor dem Depot fand sie Zigarettenkippen und Blutspuren, die zu DNA-Analysen dienen konnten, darüber hinaus sogar einige zurückgelassene Bilder. Weiter kam sie zunächst nicht. Dann aber trat Inspektor Zufall auf den Plan.

Besuch beim Hehler

«Meine Ex-Schwiegertochter war in einem Trödelladen», erzählt Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, «und sah dort einige meiner plastischen Arbeiten und Gläser sowie eine kleine Lenin-Statue, die sie selbst mir einmal geschenkt hatte. Sie verständigte mich, ich fuhr mit meinem Sohn hin, inspizierte den Laden unauffällig und rief die Polizei.»

Die kam mit acht Mann und stellte das Diebesgut sicher. Der Verkäufer hinter der Theke war für sie kein Unbekannter. Schon seit sechs Jahren versuchte sie, ihn dingfest zu machen; nicht als Dieb, aber als Hehler. Es wurde eine Hausdurchsuchung angeordnet, und Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss musste mitgehen, um allfälliges Diebesgut zu identifizieren. «Fünf Stunden haben wir in der Wohnung des Hehlers zugebracht», erzählt sie. «Ich habe noch nie so etwas Ekelhaftes und Schmutziges gesehen. Unter dem Bett des Mannes lagen drei Ölbilder von Peter. Und unter seinen dreckigen Unterhosen zwei seiner Zeichnungen. Im Weiteren wurden in der Wohnung noch einige meiner Plastiken und fünf Werke von schwedischen Künstlern aus meiner Sammlung gefunden. Insgesamt gab es in der Wohnung etwa 500 Bilder verschiedenster Provenienz. Dazu Berge von Auktionskatalogen.»

Der Hehler wurde verhaftet und verhört. Er verriet einen Komplizen, der dann ebenfalls ins Gefängnis kam, aber bis heute konnten keine weiteren Werke von Peter Weiss mehr sichergestellt werden. Inzwischen sind die beiden Männer wieder auf freiem Fuss. Hehler sitzen nie sehr lange. Die Polizei verfolgt nun Spuren, die nach Polen und Russland führen. Doch dort gestalten sich die Ermittlungen schwierig, zumal die russische Polizei nicht mit Interpol zusammenarbeitet.

Unter dem Diebesgut befinden sich Hauptwerke von Peter Weiss wie das 1935 entstandene Ölbild «Die Maschinen greifen den Menschen an» und das wunderbare, an Max Ernst gemahnende Nachtstück «Die Dampfwalze und der Drache» (1940), in dem sich die Schwere des eisernen Gefährts mit der Leichtigkeit des schwebenden Papiers aufs Schönste verbindet, aber auch zwanzig kleine Zeichnungen, die Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss dem Hesse-Museum in Montagnola schenken wollte. Peter Weiss pilgerte als junger Mann zusammen mit Robert Jungk und Hermann Levin Goldschmidt zu Hesse ins Tessin. Bei einem späteren Besuch (1938/39) blieb er dort sogar für mehrere Monate, zeichnete und fertigte eine später berühmt gewordene illustrierte Handschrift von Hesses Märchen «Kindheit des Zauberers» an.

«Einige von Peters frühen Blättern sind signiert, andere nicht, und alle erfasst man nur in ihrer Bedeutung, wenn man ihren Urheber und die Umstände ihrer Entstehung kennt», sagt seine Witwe. «Wenn diese unscheinbaren Bilder in einem Trödelladen verhökert werden, bringen sie vielleicht 20 Euro pro Stück und sind für immer verloren.» Andere gestohlene Bilder von Peter Weiss – etwa die äusserst drastische Darstellung einer Obduktion (1944) – sind kaum verkäuflich, weil sich niemand so ein Bild ins Esszimmer hängen würde.

Keine Berufswitwe

Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss ärgert sich aus verschiedenen Gründen über den dreisten Diebstahl. Der materielle Verlust ist nur das eine. Schlimmer ist der Verlust an Erinnerungen, an unersetzlicher persönlicher Geschichte. Und am schlimmsten ist, dass der Kasus mit all seinen bürokratischen Implikationen sie nun während Monaten in Beschlag genommen hat. Dabei hätte sie so viel anderes zu tun; gerade angesichts der Kürze des Lebens. Denn sie ist alles andere als eine «Berufswitwe».

Zwar hat sie sich auch nach dem Tod von Peter Weiss um sein Werk gekümmert. Sie hat dazu beigetragen, dass etliche Schriften aus seinem Nachlass ediert werden konnten, so das «Kopenhagener Journal» und jüngst das Pariser Manuskript «Füreinander sind wir Chiffren», ein symbolisch verdichtetes, stark psychoanalytisch ausgerichtetes Schlüsselwerk. Aber sie hat nie Texte willkürlich behandelt oder gar zensuriert, auch wenn diese für sie schmerzhafte Passagen enthielten: «Das Leben ist nun einmal nicht angenehm! Es gibt keine idealen Menschen.» Sie hat die Editionen nicht selbst betreut, sondern sie in die Hände von Literaturwissenschaftern gelegt. Sachliche Auseinandersetzungen mit Herausgebern und Verlegern hat sie dagegen nie gescheut. Bei Suhrkamp weiss man ein Lied davon zu singen.

Was Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss von anderen Witwen berühmter Autoren unterscheidet, ist zum einen, dass sie ihren Mann zwar geliebt, aber nie vergöttert hat, zum andern, dass sie während der ganzen drei Jahrzehnte ihrer Beziehung zu Peter Weiss eine eigenständige Künstlerin war. «In Deutschland werde ich manchmal gefragt, wie es war, ein Leben im Schatten von Peter Weiss zu verbringen. In Schweden war es aber genau umgekehrt. Ich hatte dort als Designerin und Bühnenbildnerin bereits einen Namen, als er noch ein unbekannter Emigrant war, und viele Jahre habe ich für das Auskommen unserer Familie gesorgt.»

Arbeit an den Memoiren

Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss trägt einen Namen, der auf alten Adel verweist, doch ihr Grossvater war Aussenminister der ersten sozialdemokratischen Regierung Schwedens und ihre Grossmutter eine bekannte Frauenrechtlerin. Mütterlicherseits entstammt sie einer jüdischen Buchdrucker-Familie, die im 19. Jahrhundert nach Schweden einwanderte. Sie selbst wurde in Lausanne geboren, später wohnte sie in Paris, in Wien (wo ihre Mutter bei Freud studierte) und in den Niederlanden. Den Zweiten Weltkrieg erlebte sie mit ihrer Mutter – die Eltern waren beide Ärzte und hatten sich früh scheiden lassen – in Rotterdam und Berlin. Erst nach dem Studium in Amsterdam und Paris kam sie nach Stockholm.

Gegenwärtig schreibt Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss an ihren Erinnerungen. Da sie über ein ausserordentliches Gedächtnis verfügt, bringt sie eine erste Fassung ohne alle Hilfsmittel zu Papier. Erst später will sie die Daten und Fakten anhand ihrer Tagebücher und anderer historischer Quellen überprüfen. Wenn man ihr zuhört, wie sie zugleich anekdotenreich und analytisch, heiter und nachdenklich von Peter Weiss und Ingmar Bergman, von Siegfried Unseld, von Koeppen, Frisch, Johnson, Enzensberger und vielen anderen erzählt, darf man auf dieses Buch überaus gespannt sein.

Ihren Lebensgefährten zum Beispiel schildert sie als Hypochonder und Schwerenöter, als zugleich emanzipierten und unpraktischen Mann: als einen, der ihr zwar alle kreative Freiheit liess und keine jalousie d’artiste kannte, der aber nie herausfand, wie man die Trommel einer Waschmaschine öffnet. Sie schildert ihn als einen Mann von ungewöhnlichem Humor (der in seinen Büchern gar nicht vorkommt) und als ungeschickten Verhandlungspartner (weshalb sie im Geschäftsverkehr mit Verlagen oft den Part der «Hexe» übernehmen musste). Sie sieht ihn mit dem Blick von jemandem, der alles versteht und letztlich verzeiht, deshalb aber nicht die Augen vor den Tatsachen verschliesst.

Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss ist eine Frau, die nicht aufgibt. Auch in Bezug auf die gestohlenen Bilder ist für sie das letzte Wort noch nicht gesprochen. Sie kennt da einen begabten Fahnder, der seinen Job bei der Polizei verloren hat, aber heimlich doch immer wieder zu Rate gezogen wird. Er ist der Beste. Und er wird ihr helfen.
Unterm Bett des Mannes lagen drei Ölbilder von Peter Weiss. Und unter seinen dreckigen Unterhosen zwei Zeichnungen.
Ein ungewöhnliches Paar

Peter Weiss und Gunilla Palmstierna begegneten einander erstmals 1949 in Schweden. Von 1952 bis zum Tod von Peter Weiss im Jahr 1982 waren sie ein Paar, seit 1964 waren sie verheiratet. Sie hatten beide Kinder aus früheren Beziehungen; 1972 kam die gemeinsame Tochter Nadja zur Welt. Das Paar arbeitete oft künstlerisch zusammen: Zu etlichen Inszenierungen der Stücke von Peter Weiss hat seine Frau das Bühnenbild und die Kostüme entworfen. Auch Reportagen und Reiseberichte sind als Gemeinschaftsarbeiten entstanden. Nach dem Tod ihres Mannes hat Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss an etlichen Publikationen von und über Peter Weiss mitgewirkt, so an der sechsbändigen Werkausgabe und einem Katalog zu Leben und Werk (beide Suhrkamp, 1991), am «Kopenhagener Journal» (Wallstein, 2006) und am Pariser Manuskript «Füreinander sind wir Chiffren» (Rotbuch, 2008). 1997 zeigte das Museum Bochum eine Ausstellung über das bühnenbildnerische Schaffen von Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss. (Katalog: ISBN 3-8093-0196-5). (pap.)

June 15th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

* Public art inspires even vandals, tramps and thieves

* Insider theft: A federal judge Thursday sentenced a former Yakama Nation Museum curator and her daughter to nine and six months, respectively, in prison for stealing artifacts from the museum.

* Mexico. Roban antiguo óleo de templo

* Association of Art Museum Directors Asks Members to Stop Stealing


June 8th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, Mailing list reports


* Huge comic book collection stolen from Bellevue home

* Bill Reid heist. Report: Museum guards fell for ruse

* Break-in and loss of Bill Reid works hasn’t disqualified institution from
prestigious Canadian Heritage designation, department says…

* book review. Losing our marbles?

* Iraq issues cards of stolen artifacts and passes them to Interpol

* Beware of museum directors writing ethical guidelines (Museums Adopt New Antiquities Guidelines)

* insider theft, Erlangen-Nürnberg: Bewährungsstrafe für dreistes Diebes-Duo –

* France. Une équipe de cambrioleurs bien avisée a fait main basse sur des tableaux des périodes fauves et néo-impressionnistes, chez des particuliers . –

* The Art Newspaper: Do we really want the freer circulation of cultural goods?

* PITTSBURGH – Carnegie Museum of Art: guard caught defacing painting because he didn’t like it

* Book review by Tom Flynn: Fiat Cuno (Who Owns Antiquity?)


Museum Security Network / Museum Security Consultancy

June 6th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General, insider theft, International conventions, Interpol, looting and illegal art traffickers, Mailing list reports, Museum thefts


Jacqueline Lisant and Le Repas Frugel Burglarized

Palm Beach Police closely monitoring the investigation

New York, NY – May 27, 2007 – AXA Art Insurance announced a $25,000 reward
for credible information leading to the location, recovery and return of two
Picasso prints and conviction of the responsible parties

“Jacqueline Lisant” and “Le Repas Frugel” were burglarized from the Biba St.
Croix art gallery in Palm Beach at 3:30 a.m. on May 22nd, 2008.   Burglars
gained access by entering the back of the insured’s gallery and breaking
though a door that leads to a sculpture garden.   The insured was notified
of a burglary in progress when the alarm and motion sensors went off.

The Palm Beach police are conducting a comprehensive investigation on this
loss.  Police believe that the burglars were very familiar with the location
as they entered through the back of the gallery to take artworks that were
located in the front of the gallery, bypassing other works of art along the

As part of its standard operating procedure, AXA Art has registered the
missing objects with the appropriate authorities and is working closely with
the Palm Beach Police.  Additionally, the Art Loss Register has been
notified of the missing paintings.

AXA Art and the Palm Beach authorities are appealing to the public for help.
Anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of the two missing
Picasso prints may confidentially contact Detective Mike Lynch from the Palm
Beach Police Department at 561-227-6370 

Global Media & Publicity Contact:  
Rosalind (roz) Joseph;   Mobile: (718) 710 5181       
Email: RJos…

AXA Art Insurance Corporation
Passionate about art, professional about insurance
A member of the global AXA Group, world leader in financial protection
Museum Security Network / Museum Security Consultancy

May 27th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General


Danger “artnapping” !

Pauvre Van Gogh ! Après avoir été interné à l’asile de Saint-Rémy-de- Provence, le voici dans celui de Zurich, en Suisse. C’est en effet sur le parking de la clinique psychiatrique du Burghölzli qu’a été retrouvé le 19 février le tableau qui lui est attribué, Branches de marronnier en fleurs, volé le 10 février à la Fondation Bührle de Zurich. (more…)

February 27th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General

Danger “artnapping” !

Pauvre Van Gogh ! Après avoir été interné à l’asile de Saint-Rémy-de- Provence, le voici dans celui de Zurich, en Suisse. C’est en effet sur le parking de la clinique psychiatrique du Burghölzli qu’a été retrouvé le 19 février le tableau qui lui est attribué, Branches de marronnier en fleurs, volé le 10 février à la Fondation Bührle de Zurich. (more…)

February 27th, 2008

Posted In: Art Theft General