September 28, 1998


- Stately home owners are forced to sell 600 years of history (Daily Telegraph London)
- Corporate cutback shuts Mexico City art museum (Reuters)
- Thieves pillage French chateaux of art heritage (Times of London)
- Thieves Loot Art From Peru Churches (The Associated Press;
- Re: Monet & Sisely theft (Jonathan Sazonoff)
- Training of Student Guards (Dan Smith)

Stately home owners are forced to sell 600 years of history (Daily Telegraph London)

By Maurice Weaver

THE contents of an English stately home occupied by the same family for more than 600 years were put on display yesterday as rising costs forced its owners to sell part of their heritage. The Hazleriggs of Noseley Hall, Leics, are offering suits of armour, family portraits, childhood toys and ancestral four-posters for auction to raise UKP:1 million. They hope this will be enough to keep the Grade II* listed great house and its 2,000-acre estates in family ownership. The viewing offers a fascinating glimpse into the private world of an English aristocratic family that has had many financial and personal ups and downs. Neither Lord Hazlerigg, who is in his 80s, nor his son and heir, Arthur Hazlerigg, 46, were present yesterday. But Tim Sammons, their representative, said that, as the family's long history goes, the sale was "not one of the bigger troughs". The real crisis was in the 1770s when the flamboyant Charles Hesilrige (an early spelling) so drained the family purse that he fled the country and estate timber was felled to satisfy creditors. In 1811 Arthur Grey Hesilrige solved similar problems by marrying an heiress. This time the family has a more modern solution. It plans to use the proceeds of the sale to convert part of the house into a venue for conferences, the launch of products and weddings and parties. Mr Sammons said the decision to hold the sale was triggered partly by the peer's advancing years, which has led him to move out of the house, where he employed a housekeeper and cook, to a farmhouse on the estate. His son, who used to occupy a wing of Noseley with his wife and children, has recently been divorced and has also left the house. Mr Hazlerigg farms the estate, where he keeps a herd of bison, and runs a pheasant shoot, but agriculture is not the money-spinner it once was. Mr Sammons, a London fine art agent, said: "The Hazleriggs would be far better off if they didn't have this house to run. It's beautiful but so enormous. Frankly, they have had to take a look at everything and come up with a new way of moving the family forward. "In such circumstances it was good sense to look to their assets, retaining the income-producing ones like the estate and, potentially, the house itself, and disposing of non-income-producing ones like the contents. That way the sense of continuity is not being broken." James Miller, deputy chairman of Sotheby's UK, which will auction the contents, said the event was rare because the furniture, objets d'art and bric-a-brac on offer "reflects every nuance of English collecting tastes" over a very long period. Items expected to yield top prices include a portrait of Sir Arthur Hesilrige, a prominent Cromwell supporter during the Civil War, painted in 1640 by Robert Walker (UKP:70,000-UKP:90,000); a scagliola table top bought by the 7th Baronet while on the Grand Tour in Italy (UKP:60,000-UKP:80,000) and a pair of George II giltwood mirrors (UKP:60,000-UKP:80,000). But the 567 lots will also include many items in a far lower price bracket, including a 17th-century Puritan soldier's uniform (UKP:1,000-UKP:2,000), a late 16th-century Italian suit of full armour (UKP:4,000-UKP:6000) and bric-a-brac for UKP:40 or less. The sale takes place at Noseley Hall, near Market Harborough, Leics, next Monday and Tuesday (Sept 28-29). Viewing takes place today, tomorrow and Sunday from 9.30am to 5.00pm.

Corporate cutback shuts Mexico City art museum (Reuters)

MEXICO CITY, Sept 23 - A prominent Mexico City art museum has shut it doors after its corporate owner, media giant Grupo Televisa TLEVISACPO.MX, decided it was not among the firm's core businesses, the company said on Wednesday. The Cultural Center/Contemporary Art museum was closed after Televisa decided it needed to ``concentrate on its main businesses, given the difficult national and economic situation,'' the company said. Televisa, which owns television and radio stations, newspapers, and soccer teams, dominates Mexican media. But it recently has seen its debt levels grow and has undertaken a series of cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and the sale of interests in a satellite company and a billboard firm. The Cultural Centre, located alongside several luxury hotels, first served as the international press centre for soccer's 1986 World Cup. It was converted into an art museum after the tournament ended. Televisa has said it plans to put the building up for sale but has not said what price it is asking. The 2,446 photographs, 1,073 pieces of modern art -- paintings, sculptures and videos -- and 188 works of pre-Columbian art in the museum's collection will remain with Televisa's cultural foundation and be moved to a warehouse, the company said.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.

Thieves pillage French chateaux of art heritage (Times of London)

ONE after another, the ancient châteaux of France, from the great Louvre in Paris to castles deep in the French countryside, are falling prey to gangs of professional thieves, who are as discriminating as they are ruthless. A combination of easy access, poor security and the wealth of France's national heritage make such buildings and museums easy targets for robbers, and 1998 has already seen a record number of thefts from the great houses of France and the loss of numerous, irreplaceable treasures. Between January 1 and the end of July this year, some 436 thefts were reported from French châteaux, both public and private, compared to just 300 for the whole of 1997. The vast château at Vaux-le-Vicomte, where Leonardo Di Caprio filmed The Man In The Iron Mask recently, attracted the attention of rather different masked men. In the early hours of June 21, a gang of six burglars crossed the moat, scaled the walls of the château using ladders and made off with a quantity of booty, including a bronze statue of Louis XIV weighing some 70kg (11st), which cannot have been easy to carry down a ladder. Similar heists have been carried out this year at the nearby Château de Guermantes, the Château de Breteuil and the Château de Saint-Amant-Tallende in Puy-de-Dôme. Valuable Sèvres vases, clocks and other art objects were stolen in a raid on the Château de Compiègne. In an earlier theft from the same property, thieves used a car as a battering ram to open the gates of the property, a technique that was repeated to break in to the châteaux at Fontainebleau and Ecouen. "These are swift, violent and determined gangs," said Commandant Yves Lacroix, the police official seconded to the museums department by the French Interior Ministry. Jean-Paul Guerlain, the celebrated perfume-maker, can attest to that description. On June 11, M Guerlain's sprawling property in the Rambouillet forest on the outskirts of Paris was attacked by a squad of armed and hooded men, who held him and his family hostage while they looted the place of jewellery, art and gold bars worth an estimated ten million francs (UKP:1 million). M Guerlain and one of his employees were shot and wounded when they tried to resist the robbers. Police say the recent rash of thefts reflects the booming international market in stolen treasures, the sheer scale of France's wealth in terms of publicly and privately owned artworks and the fact that many French châteaux, even the most famous, are often left at least partially unoccupied and poorly defended. Since many are open to the public, robbers have ample opportunity to explore and photograph the premises and security systems as part of a visiting crowd before carrying out a raid. The vulnerability of even the most prestigious sites was starkly illustrated this year when the Louvre itself, France's greatest museum, was robbed in broad daylight. In the middle of the afternoon of May 3, Le Chemin de Sèvres, a work by the French artist Camille Corot, was simply unhooked from the wall and removed. There was no security guard in the gallery, no video camera and no alarm system in place. By the time the theft was spotted and the doors of the Louvre had been closed, the thieves, and the valuable Corot, were long gone. That robbery, the seventh from the Louvre in the past four years, led to the resignation of the senior security official at the museum, an increase in the number of guards and widespread outrage in the French media. "It is easier to steal a painting from the Louvre than a packet of sugar from a supermarket," declared one news magazine, with only slight exaggeration, beneath a headline that gave the warning: "France, your heritage is being pillaged." In the wake of the scandal, the Office to Combat the Traffic in Cultural Goods (OCBC) at the Interior Ministry has established a database in three languages, listing every art treasure stolen from properties in France. Last month some 3,000 owners of châteaux and other historic buildings across the country gathered in Paris to discuss the growing menace and listen as a team of security experts and gendarmes specialising in combatting art theft offered advice on protecting the contents of their homes and museums.Just a week after the meeting, however, the thieves notched up one of their most famous victims to date, with a burglary on the Château de Chanonat in Puy-de-Dôme. Entering through a window on the second floor of the building, the robbers made off with chandeliers, statuettes and antique mantelpieces. The owner of the Château de Chanonat is Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the former conservative President of France. As a senior French police official who has been given the task of tracking down the thieves remarked wryly: "Now that someone really powerful has been robbed, perhaps the Government will actually do something."

Subject: Thieves Loot Art From Peru

Thieves Loot Art From Peru Churches (The Associated Press;


HUARIPAMPA, Peru (AP) -- Thieves came at night to Huaripampa, high in Peru's Andes mountains, broke into its tiny 16th-century church and stole the village's soul. They took the community's patron saint -- a 5-foot wooden statue of the St. Michael the Archangel dressed in an ornate white robe. Villagers had carried it in their most sacred procession every year for centuries. ``We cried for weeks after it was stolen. How could anyone have done this?'' asked Consuela Hidalgo, who sells soft drinks in Huaripampa's dusty plaza, 120 miles east of Lima. Dozens of churches across Peru built centuries ago by the Spanish conquerors are being robbed of paintings, statues, gold icons and altars in a wave of looting that threatens the Andean nation's artistic heritage. From remote mountain villages to the sprawling capital Lima, Peru's churches contain a wealth of art created by Spanish-trained Indian artists at a time when Peru was the center of Spain's South American empire. Much of the colonial art, considered Latin America's best, is guarded only by ancient locks and unarmed caretakers -- easy prey for increasingly sophisticated thieves, experts say. ``The problem has existed for centuries, but now we are now seeing a looting of our churches on an unprecedented scale,'' said Archbishop Emeritus Federico Richter, head of Peru's Catholic Church's cultural possessions commission. More than 10 percent of Peru's churches have been robbed in recent years, and the number is much higher in church-rich highland areas, Richter said. ``Thieves have already looted most of the churches'' near the cities of Huancayo and Jauja, where Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro built his first capital in the early 1500s, diocese spokesman Carlos Ordones said. In the town of Juli in Peru's southern highlands, thieves killed a lay worker two years ago after he tried to stop them from looting his church. Church robbing also plagues other former colonial centers, such as Mexico and Guatemala. Gunmen broke into the archdiocese office in Mexico City in March, took a priest and four employees hostage and stole several colonial-era gold religious icons. In Sausa, a few miles from Huaripampa, 76-year-old Amancio Mallaopoma has been caretaker of the village's one-room church for 25 years. The church's rough walls are covered with almost three dozen 16th-century paintings of the crucifixion, sinners burning in hell and the conversion of the natives. Six religious statues look down on the rough wooden pews. Mallaopoma found crowbar marks on the church's heavy wooden door when he arrived before dawn on Aug. 12 and believes he scared thieves away before they could enter. Two men claiming to be art buyers had visited the church 10 days before the attempted robbery, community leader Jose Nunez said. For the first time in a quarter century, Sausa's mayor has told Mallaopoma not to open the church's door to strangers. ``There is suspicion in the air now,'' Mallaopoma said. Much of the stolen art is bought by Peru's wealthy to decorate their homes. The rest is smuggled out of the country and sold in the United States, Venezuela and Brazil, where a top painting can fetch $20,000, said art historian Mariano Soldan. Carol Damian, a professor at Miami's Florida International University who specializes in Peruvian colonial art, says she is contacted every six months by someone trying to sell her a stolen Peruvian painting. ``The paintings come rolled up in little cases. They've been slashed out of their frames and stuck into suitcases,'' she said. ``They are often damaged in the process.'' She said the would-be sellers, usually Peruvians, bring the art in on commercial flights. Few are caught because customs officials are not trained to detect stolen colonial art. Peruvian colonial art emerged in the 16th century when the Spanish colonizers made Indian artists paint, weave and carve items with Catholic themes in order to decorate their churches and evangelize the natives. The artists copied prints brought from Europe but added Peruvian touches such as bright colors, scenery and wildlife to the Catholic images, creating a unique ``Andean baroque'' style. The increase in art theft is due to rising tourism, which has made church security more difficult, and the emergence of art-theft gangs, Richter said. ``Unfortunately, the wealth that has already been looted is very large,'' he said.

From: Jonathan Sazonoff

Re: Monet & Sisely theft (Jonathan Sazonoff)

The French Government has posted pictures of the two paintings stolen from Nice's Fine Art Museum (Sept 21,1998). They can be found in a list at:
We hope you find this information useful.
Jonathan Sazonoff
Pres. Saz Prod., Inc.


Training of Student Guards (Dan Smith)

If anyone is willing to swap information regarding the training of
student security guards at university museums please contact me.

Dan Smith
Assistant Security Director
Georgia Museum Of Art

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