January 17, 1999


- Re: Thefts to order (Connie Lowenthal)
- Audio Video Supply
- LAPD Art Theft Detail (Jonathan Sazonoff)
- castles + insurance
- Cultural Property Conferences (1998) - Update (Jonathan Sazonoff)
- Man Nabbed in $5 Million Art Theft
- Tualatin's City Hall and Library has been closed after a telephone threat
- International art-theft ring busted in Spain
- Precious violin stolen

From: Connie

Re: Thefts to order

I see from the volume of responses that this ecites everyone's imagination a lot, and I think we have had avery useful exchange of types of theft. Professional thieves do organize, for example, the rash of tapestry thefts in New York in the late 1970s was tied to a few antiques dealers with international connections to sell their wares. (See Calvin Trillin's fascinating article in the New Yorker magazine in the late 1980s called "Frenchie and the Persians.") Later on some Metropolitan Museum tapestries that had been stolen when on loan to the Institute of Fine Arts of NYU were recovered in London, with Met acquisition numbers still attached; they'd gone through rug dealers in Milan. They stole to sell, not to order. Dr Waxman didn't steal to order, he stole for keeps, as did the security staffer at the Walters Art Gallery and a Soho thief who stole heavy sculpture in the mid-1980's. Although the police thought it was 2 men with a truck it turned out to be one strong man with a VW Beetle with a sunroof. He had stolen it all for himself and installed it loving in his large space in New Jersey.
My question was not whether we can imagine Dr No, but rather whether there are proven cases (convictions would be nice), of a mastermind who hires people to steal for him and who intends to keep it just for himself or herself.
Connie Lowenthal

From: Cliff
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From: Jonathan Sazonoff

LAPD Art Theft Detail

Dear Subscribers,
The Los Angeles Police Department (California, USA) has now posted stolen art on the web. We applaud Don Hrycyk et al for their efforts. LA is the second largest US city and as well as a major art market.
We hope you find this information useful,
SAZ Productions, Inc.

From: "Dietmar Wohltan"


please be so kind and give me some information on the a.m. object,
thank you very much in advance.

From: Jonathan Sazonoff

Cultural Property Conferences (1998) - Update

Dear Subscribers,
Several recent conferences have now posted their concluding remarks on the web. The closing resolutions adopted this past November at Rutgers Art, Antiquity, and the Law Conference are now available on their website.
Also, December's Holocaust Assets Conference (Wash D.C.) has published some concluding remarks (see released material).
Finally, anyone on the list attend the Recovery of Stolen and Looted Works of Art - Seminar London 10 December 1998? I'm sure many of us would be interested in learning of the highlights.
Hope you find this information useful.
Jonathan Sazonoff

Man Nabbed in $5 Million Art Theft

By JUDIE GLAVE Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Frank DiSanto told police that he took five antique silk prints from a Kennedy Airport lounge because he thought they were being tossed out with the trash. But detectives didn't buy the 24-year-old Brooklyn man's story, and accused him Friday of stealing the prints - which once hung in the Sistine Chapel in Italy and are valued at $5 million. ``Clearly this was a crime of opportunity, motivated by greed,'' said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Detectives zeroed in on DiSanto, who works as a baggage handler, in part because he left behind a dental appointment card - with his name on it, said Port Authority Det. Lt. Bobby Caron. ``We started talking to him, he knew right way and gave it right up,'' Caron said. After questioning DiSanto, police found the tapestries - which date back to the 7th century - stuffed in a garbage bag in his bedroom. They had been on display at Alitalia's first-class lounge, but were taken down because the airline is moving to another part of the terminal. DiSanto allegedly took the prints on Wednesday, though airline officials didn't realize it until a day later. DiSanto was charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief. He insisted he only wanted to look at them, not sell them. ``He said he appreciates art and was just going to hang them in his bedroom to look at them,'' Caron said. ``There's no way he knew they were worth $1 million each.''

Tualatin Closes City Hall

- (TUALATIN) -- Tualatin's City Hall and Library has been closed after a telephone threat. City officials say a caller claimed there was anthrax in the building. Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue ordered the building closed and took air samples. It will take up to 48 hours to get the results back from the lab. The F-B-I says the number of anthrax threats has been growing, but none have been genuine. Anthrax is a deadly virus often mentioned by terrorists as they threaten governments and agencies. The building is expected to reopen tomorrow.

International art-theft ring busted in Spain

04:29 p.m Jan 16, 1999 Eastern
MADRID, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Spanish police have broken up a major international art-smuggling ring, arresting three suspects and seizing stolen masterpieces by Picasso, Goya and others worth more than $35 million, officials said on Saturday. Members of the ring had planned to trade the artwork for cocaine from drug traffickers, state television reported. Many of the items, which included paintings, water colours, drawings and pre-Colombian sculpture, were stolen in late 1997 from a chalet near Geneva, Switzerland, police said. Spanish authorities working with Swiss police tracked the collection to a home in the town of Ribarroja in southeastern Spain. At least three people were arrested in police raids in the area, officials said. The suspects' nationalities were not immediately known. ``The value of these treasures is much higher than five billion pesetas ($42 million),'' police spokesman Jose Maria Seara told reporters. ``But its true worth is incalculable.'' He said the investigation was continuing and more arrests were expected. Along with works by Pablo Picasso and Francisco Goya, police recovered masterpieces by Joan Miro, Georges Braque and Alberto Giacometti.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Precious violin stolen (Sunday Times, Australia)

ONE of Australia's most famous classic musicians lost her $200,000 violin when her Central Coast home was ransacked. The 277-year-old violin was among a haul of treasures plundered from acclaimed violinist Charmian Gadd's Copacabana retreat. "It's like losing my child," admitted a heartbroken Charmian yesterday. "I just hope they don't use it as a baseball bat." The world-famous former Macquarie Trio star performer bought the circa 1722 violin for $US100,000 five years ago. "It's a part of me," explained Charmian, who virtually sold her house to buy the rare violin from a New York dealer. "The loss hasn't really hit me yet." The Matteo Goffriller violin was insured for $130,000 (but valued at about $200,000) and was arguably the finest violin in Australia. There are only about 50 remaining in the world, according to Charmian, who said the thief would have trouble realising its value. "They wouldn't even be able to sell it in this country," she said. "I just hope they take care of it. You develop a very special relationship with a violin like that." Charmian, who owns The Violinery store in Lindfield, discovered the theft only when she returned home on Friday night after several days away. Police believe the break-in occurred some time between Tuesday and Friday morning, when Charmian was absent from the house in Chico St. Gosford detective Stephen Konemann said thieves used a shovel to jemmy open a door on the ground floor of the three-level home. As well as the violin, they stole a rare Pernambuco bow worth $40,000 and four other bows worth $5000 each. The haul also included two brown violin cases, a Pentax camera, Nikon binoculars, Sony camcorder, mini disc player, and a distinctive filigree silver and malachite necklace. Detective Konemann said he did not believe the thieves specifically targeted the valuable Goffriller violin. Charmian described it as reddish-brown in colour and light in weight, with an antique look reflecting its great age. The violin has been like a tainted chalice for the musician, who was forced to stop performing after she strained her hand playing it. She said you could almost consider it a "cursed" instrument, given that the previous owner had a heart attack while playing it. Charmian, who is the artistic director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, a former head teacher at the Conservatorium of Music and the widow of Musica Viva founder Richard Goldner, spent yesterday alerting every major dealer in Australia to the eft. "I want my fiddle back," she said. She said the thieves were fortunate that the violin and bows were in the house because they would normally be secured at her shop. She also pleaded with the thieves to take care of the precious violin, which she loves like a child. "Please treat it with respect," Charmian pleaded. "One of my worst dreams is it being used as a baseball bat."

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