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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
"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
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.