Mitterrand content de revoir en France le Degas volé au Havre | Paris Normandie.

Le tableau d’Edgar Degas, intitulé Les Blanchisseuses ou Blanchisseuses souffrant des dents, huile sur toile de 16 x 21 cm, déposé par l’Etat en 1961 au Musée Malraux du Havre et volé dans ce même musée en décembre 1973, a été retrouvé aux États-Unis grâce à l’oeil averti d’un amateur d’art français qui l’a repéré dans un catalogue de vente de Sotheby’s à New York.

Après la confirmation de son appartenance aux collections nationales établie par le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, notamment grâce au numéro d’inventaire inscrit au revers de la toile, Sotheby’s a retiré le tableau de la vente prévue le 3 décembre dernier.

Le ministre de la Culture et de la Communication tient à remercier vivement l’amateur ayant signalé l’oeuvre et la société Sotheby’s, pour son efficace médiation. Il remercie aussi chaleureusement le détenteur américain, qui avait hérité de cette oeuvre à la mort de son père en 2008, d’avoir consenti à rendre le tableau sans contreparties et lui adresse toute sa reconnaissance pour ce beau geste accompli en faveur des musées français.

Le Ministre salue enfin l’action exemplaire des autorités américaines, douanes, justice et bureau de liaison Interpol, qui ont travaillé pour permettre la restitution rapide de cette oeuvre en étroite coopération avec le service des musées de France de la direction générale des patrimoines et l’Office central de lutte contre le trafic des biens culturels – OCBC. Le dénouement heureux de la situation est un succès partagé par tous les acteurs impliqués.

Le tableau vient d’être rendu par le Service de l’Immigration et des Douanes (U.S. Immigration and Custioms Enforcement) à l’Etat par l’intermédiaire de l’Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis, dont le concours dans cette affaire a été extrêmement précieux.

A l’occasion du retour officiel du tableau sur le territoire national, Frédéric Mitterrand présidera, le 2 février prochain, une cérémonie au ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, avant que le tableau ne retrouve les cimaises d’un musée.

January 25th, 2011

Posted In: Museum thefts, recovery, restitution

La Guardia Civil recupera obras de arte del siglo XIX robadas en una casa de Requena – Levante-EMV.

Objetos que los agentes confiscaron en casa del hombre que los compró para venderlos.  guardia civil
T. DOMÍNGUEZ VALENCIA La Guardia Civil ha detenido a tres personas y ha logrado recuperar prácticamente todos las obras de artes del siglo XIX que un ladrón se llevó las pasadas Navidades de una casa de Requena. Según informó ayer la Comandancia de Valencia, el robo se produjo durante las fiestas navideñas, cuando los delincuentes aprovecharon el hecho de que los propietarios de la vivienda estuviesen ausentes. Al parecer, fueron a pasar las vacaciones fuera y los cacos aprovecharon esa desprotección para llevarse cuanto de valor había en el interior.
Entre los objetos ahora recuperados hay un lavamanos antiguo de porcelana blanca y madera, varios relojes, tres óleos, lámparas y piezas de menaje.
Los presuntos implicados en el robo, todos ellos de Requena, fueron apresados el pasado lunes. Se trata de los dos supuestos autores materiales del asalto y del receptador, es decir, la persona que compró las antigüedades y que iba a comercializarlas aún a sabiendas de su origen ilícito. De hecho, la mayoría de los objetos recuperados fueron encontrados durante el registro practicado en casa del receptador.

January 16th, 2011

Posted In: recovery

Recuperato un dipinto del Guardi La tela era stata rubata nel 1986 – Corriere del Veneto.

VENEZIA – Un dipinto raffigurante «Il rio dei Mendicanti» di Francesco Guardi, rubato nel 1986 da un’abitazione a Venezia appartenente alla famiglia milanese dei conti Borletti, è stato recuperato dal Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale dei Carabinieri. Il ritrovamento è giunto al termine di un’indagine avviata un anno fa dopo la verifica effettuata sul catalogo della mostra «Canaletto, Venezia e i suoi splendori», a Treviso, presso Ca’ dei Carraresi, da ottobre 2008 ad aprile 2009, che ha portato a riscontrare la presenza dell’opera nella banca dati dei carabinieri come rubata. L’ultimo acquirente del dipinto, valutato due milioni di euro – come è stato reso noto oggi -, era stata la Veneto Banca Holding di Montebelluna. «L’acquisto da parte della banca – ha detto il capitano Salvatore Di Stefano, comandante del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale di Venezia – è avvenuto in buona fede». L’amministratore della banca che ha autorizzato l’acquisto è stato comunque segnalato all’Autorità giudiziaria insieme ad altre quattro persone – due mercanti d’arte italiani e due privati collezionisti che hanno svolto attività di intermediazione -, queste ultime indagate per ricettazione. «È significativo – ha commentato Vittorio Sgarbi, Sovrintendente al Polo Museale – che il ritrovamento di questo quadro sia avvenuto proprio mentre il Comune di Venezia, dopo anni di inerzia, è finalmente riuscito a concepire una mostra di Guardi». (Ansa)

January 16th, 2011

Posted In: recovery

Cursed’ stolen artifact returned to Rawene
http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/national-news/4184290/Cursed-stolen-artifact-returned-to-Rawene

NZPA
Last updated 15:40 30/09/2010

A valuable whalebone artefact stolen from an historic Northland house earlier this month has been returned undamaged to the Historic Places Trust.

The whalebone whip handle was stolen from Clendon House in Rawene, west of Kaikohe, and police believe it may have been returned because it had a tapu (curse ) on it.

“The person who took it… every time they stub their toe they’ll think hell is starting to drop on them,” said Senior Constable Jeff Cramp, from the Rawene police.

“With all artefacts strongly connected to Maoridom, if they are removed or ill-treated, they carry an automatic curse,” Mr Cramp said. He said it was returned “in person by an unnamed person”, who probably knew the thief, but no one would be charged unless police learned the identity, Mr Cramp said.

“It was a simple case of that (unnamed) person saying ‘I can get my hands on it. I will get it and get it back to you, no questions asked.’ That is what happened,” Mr Cramp said.

“We are extremely grateful it has come back to its place of origin.”

The whalebone whip handle was a precious taonga (treasure) and the trust was delighted to have it back safely at Clendon house, said trust spokesman Gordon Hewston.

Mr Hewston said security had been upgraded at the house, built in 1869. The whip handle belonged to George Thomas Clendon, the oldest son of James Reddy Clendon and his wife Jane Takotowi Clendon.

George Clendon was regarded by local Maori as a significant rangatira (chief) and was the official native translator for Hokianga.

Mr Hewston said the whip handle was believed to be the highly-prized possession of a rangatira and it had probably never left Clendon House until it was stolen.

The trust said it was probably stolen from a display case when the house was open to the public.

September 30th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Long-missing sculpture salmon returns to Eugene
http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20100917/UPDATE/100917048

By MARK BAKER • The Register-Guard, an AP Member Exchange feature • September 17, 2010

EUGENE — Roarrrrk!?!
That’s probably the sound the reddish-brown fish made when a certain someone tore if off the iconic bronze salmon sculpture in the downtown Park Blocks fountain at East Eighth Avenue and Oak Street almost a half-century ago.

“He said they were out partying,” Eugene’s Jane Harrison recalled. “They ’rorked’ the fish off.”
“He” would be a college friend of Harrison’s ex -husband. It was 1961 and the elaborate and impressive artwork by Thomas Hardy, a University of Oregon graduate and internationally renowned sculptor, had only been in the fountain for two years, since the Park Blocks — best known as the home of Eugene’s Saturday Market — were constructed in 1959.
The alleged friend (whom Harrison would not finger) and others apparently had been doing some imbibing that night when they wrenched off and stole one of the 100 or so bronze salmon from the almost 19-foot-long sculpture.
Asked if maybe this was just a wild (fish) tale she was telling to cover her own long-ago crime, Harrison, who retired in 2001 as principal of Kelly Middle School, laughed and said no.
“I’ve ’rorked’ other things, but not that one,” she said.
“Why (the friend) gave it to my ex-husband, I have no idea,” Harrison recalled Thursday, standing in Steve Reinmuth’s Bronze Studio in west Eugene, where Reinmuth has spent the past month refurbishing the late Hardy’s piece for the city of Eugene. He plans to reinstall it next week.
Among his other tasks, Reinmuth reattached the stolen fish that had been kept by Harrison’s family and that Harrison brought to him.
Harrison’s act of penitence has done more than help restore the salmon sculpture. It has prompted the city to issue a call for any other people who possess stolen city art work including other fish broken off from the fountain statue to turn them in. The stolen art amnesty will run through Oct. 8, the city says.
Harrison read about the renovation project in the Aug. 14 Register -Guard; about how for the second time in its life the sculpture had fallen into disrepair and that Reinmuth had been hired to fix and refinish it this time since Hardy is no longer living.
A UO student at the time, Harrison and her ex were living in an apartment on Ferry Lane in 1961. They didn’t have the bronze fish in their possession for very long before they gave it to Harrison’s mother in Coquille. She put it next to a fountain in her garden, where it stayed until last year.
Harrison’s mother died in 2001, but her husband, Harrison’s 97-year-old stepfather, was still living there last year and gathering things to move into an assisted living center, when Harrison spotted the bronze fish in an empty planter box.
“This poor fish needs to come back to Eugene,” she thought.
So she brought it back with her. And when Harrison read about the renovation of the sculpture last month, she found Reinmuth’s website and sent him an e-mail wondering whether any fish were missing from the sculpture.
About five have disappeared over the years, actually, said Isaac Marquez, the city’s public art program manager.
Reinmuth was having dinner with his wife at Rabbit, a south Eugene restaurant, on their anniversary Aug. 16 when he got Harrison’s e-mail on his BlackBerry.
His wife wasn’t crazy about him checking his e-mail during their anniversary, but they both laughed after Reinmuth told her what it was about.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Reinmuth said. Sure, bring it by the studio, he told Harrison.
“We were always told it was the lead fish (on the sculpture),” Harrison said. Actually, the lead fish has been just fine all these years, said Reinmuth, who found a broken weld on the sculpture where he reattached the piece Harrison gave him. It’s a different color, a lighter shade, than the other pieces, he said.
“It’s been in a different environment,” Harrison said.
The salty sea air in Coquille would have had a different effect on the bronze over five decades, Reinmuth said.
“Fish out of water,” he said.
“I’m just glad that it’s back where it belongs with the rest of the fish.”

Read more: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20100917/UPDATE/100917048#ixzz105cXVbjB

September 20th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

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September 9th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Germany On Monday Handing Over To Ukraine Caravaggio Painting Stolen From Odesa Museum (09:47, Monday, August 30, 2010)
http://un.ua/eng/article/282731.html

Germany on Monday is handing over to Ukraine The Taking of Christ, or Judas’s Kiss, a painting by Caravaggio, which had been stolen from the Odesa Museum of Western and Eastern Art, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany Natalia Zarudna has announced in an interview with Ukrainian News.

She recalls, the canvas was withdrawn from the abductors in Germany in course of a joint operation by both countries’ law-enforcement agencies.

The ambassador says the painting will be handed over during President Viktor Yanukovych’s visit to Germany.

Zarudna says the painting was badly damaged during the stealing from the museum, and the Berlin art gallery at its own costs has restored it completely before returning to Ukraine.

As Ukrainian News earlier reported, officers from the Interior Affairs Ministry of Ukraine together with German police on June 25 in Berlin, Germany seized three Ukrainian citizens and one German on suspicion of stealing Caravaggio painting, The Taking of Christ, from the Odesa Museum of Western and Eastern Art.

Experts estimate the withdrawn Caravaggio painting to cost some USD 100 million.

Unknown persons in 2008 stole The Taking of Christ, or Judas’s Kiss by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio from the Odesa Museum of Western and Eastern Art.

August 30th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Artifact stolen from Vakil Mosque found
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/140029.html
Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:22AM

Police have recovered the inscription stolen from Vakil Mosque.
Iranian police have recovered an ancient inscription that was stolen from a historic mosque in southern province of Fars over four months ago.

“Investigations launched by police and heritage activists over the last few months concluded with the discovery of the precious artifact in Marvdasht city, located in Fars Province,” said Mohammad-Reza Bazrgar, head of Fars Province Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department.

“In May 2010, thieves entered the Vakil Mosque under cover of darkness. Then they captured and tied up a security guard before escaping with the invaluable item,” he further explained.

The mosque was built between 1751 and 1773, during the Zand Dynasty. It was restored in the 19th century during the Qajar period.

“No one has yet been arrested related to the theft,” he went on to say.

The ancient piece belongs to the early Islamic era. Verses of the holy Quran were carved on the jadeite which measures 125 centimeters by 70 centimeters.

NAT/JG/HRF

August 25th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, religious artifact theft

Schiele Art Back In Austria After Ownership Feud
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129377681

by The Associated Press

VIENNA August 23, 2010, 11:34 am ET
A 12-year battle over the possession of a painting that was stolen from a Jewish Austrian by the Nazis came to a close on Monday when the work by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele was displayed at a Vienna museum.

The oil painting was returned over the weekend after the Leopold Museum agreed to pay $19 million (15 million euros) as part of the settlement to the estate of art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray, the original owner.

U.S. authorities had refused to return the painting to the Leopold Museum after it was exhibited in 1998 at the New York Museum of Modern Art because of a claim by her descendants.

Bondi Jaray was forced to sell the painting, “Portrait of Wally,” at an unrealistically low price in the prelude to World War II as part of a widespread Nazi campaign that stripped Jews in Austria, Germany and later other European countries of their possessions.

“Portrait of Wally” — which pictures Valerie “Wally” Neuzil, a woman Schiele knew and used as a model — was among more than 100 works the Leopold Foundation had leant to MoMA.

U.S. customs refused to let the work leave the country after Henry Bondi of Princeton, New Jersey, filed a claim that said his late aunt was forced to give up the painting before fleeing Vienna in 1939 to escape to London when Germany annexed Austria.

She died in 1969. Henry Bondi also has since died.

The controversy over the portrait, which the Leopold Museum acquired after the war, contributed to Austria passing a 1998 law that stipulates the restitution of property taken from the country’s Jews by the Nazis.

But the restitution law applies to state institutions, not to private museums such as the Leopold Foundation — something that Vienna’s Jewish community asserts was exploited by Leopold.

The museum was created by the late Rudolf Leopold. He is credited with assembling Austria’s largest and most important private art collection, which includes more than 5,000 works by renowned artists such as Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka.

According to the Jewish community’s website, paintings by Schiele, Klimt and Egger-Lienz that were looted by the Nazis were bought by the Austrian state with public funds and given to the Leopold Foundation.

The foundation acknowledges that it is not ruled by the restitution law, but denies any wrongdoing.

Andreas Noedl, who sits on the Leopold museum’s board, acknowledged the gross injustice done to Austria’s Jews, telling reporters on Monday that the portrait “reflects the history of the horrendous atrocities during the Holocaust.”

Leopold Museum chief Peter Weinhaeupl called the return a “symbolic day” for the museum.

———

Online: http://www.raubkunst.at and http://www.leopoldmuseum.org

August 24th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution, WWII

Egyptian police recover stolen Van Gogh painting
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100821/ap_on_en_ot/ml_egypt_stolen_van_gogh

AFP/File – Two Italians were arrested at Cairo airport trying to smuggle out a Van Gogh painting stolen from a museum …
By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Writer Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press Writer – 14 mins ago
CAIRO – Police recovered a painting by Vincent van Gogh at Cairo airport Saturday, hours after it was stolen from a museum in the Egyptian capital, the country’s culture minister said.

Farouk Hosni said security officers at Cairo airport confiscated the painting from two Italians — a man and a woman — as they were trying to leave the country. No further details were immediately available.

The painting, which Hosni said was valued at $50 million, was stolen earlier Saturday from Cairo’s Mahmoud Khalil Museum.

The painting goes by two names, “Poppy Flowers” and “Vase with Flowers,” according to the museum’s director, Reem Bahir.

This is the second time the piece by the Dutch-born postimpressionist has been stolen from the Khalil museum. Thieves first made off with the canvas in 1978, before authorities recovered it two years later at an undisclosed location in Kuwait.

Officials have never fully revealed the details of that theft. When it was recovered, Egypt’s then-interior minister said three Egyptians involved in the heist had been arrested and informed police where the canvas was hidden. Authorities never reported whether the thieves were charged or tried.

The one-foot-by-one-foot painting resembles a flower scene painted by the French artist Adolphe Monticelli, whose work deeply affected the young van Gogh. The Monticelli painting also is part of the Khalil collection.

Most of the canvasses for which van Gogh is remembered were painted in 29 months of frenzied activity before his suicide in 1890 at age 37.

Experts have said they believed the Cairo canvas was painted around 1887.

Other works in the Khalil collection, all from the 19th-century French school, are by Paul Gauguin, Gustave Courbet, Francois Millet, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Auguste Renoir and Auguste Rodin.

August 21st, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Mystery man returns David Light’s £1,200 stolen painting, Bryn Henllan, to Fishguard gallery Wray of Light
http://www.westerntelegraph.co.uk/news/8318177.Mystery_man_returns___…

9:10am Sunday 8th August 2010

When a painting worth £1,200 was stolen from his gallery, artist David Light never expected to see the work again.

But last week – exactly a month after the theft – a mystery man strolled into the gallery and announced “here’s your painting back”.

Thieves had stolen the artwork, Bryn Henllan, from the gallery in Parc y Shwt, Fishguard on Tuesday, June 29th.

But David said was amazed to see the man walk in off the street with the painting in hand.

It seems that the member of the public had heard on the grapevine where the painting was and decided to bring it home.

“He thought it was wrong and decided to make it right,” said David.

“It was a shock. I was amazed. I’d sort of written it off, but I was very glad when it came back. It’s a very personal painting.”

David believes that press coverage of the theft had made it impossible for the thieves to sell the painting on.

He understands that the painting had remained in Fishguard while it was missing but does not know where.

It is now back on the wall of the gallery, but in a different location where it can be seen from all three rooms.

“It’s now probably the most famous painting in Pembrokeshire,” said David.

“I should make a little sign to say this was the painting that was stolen.

“The painting coming back shows there are members of the public out there who are quite moral.

“I thanked the man very much for what he’d done. I thought it was quite a noble gesture.”

August 8th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Updated 4pm: Bronze plaques found under bush
http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/news/Despicable-thieves-steal-memorial-war-dead/article-2493605-detail/article.html

Dennis Monk
BRONZE plaques stolen from a First World War memorial have been found hidden in a bush.

It was feared the items, inscribed with hundreds of names of railway workers who lost their lives in the conflict, would be sold for scrap.

But they were discovered at about 3pm today. Police say they will continue to investigate and find those responsible.

The thieves who stole the items had earlier been condemned as “despicable” and “disgusting”.

The are inscribed on metal sheets stolen from Derby’s Midland Railway War Memorial.

The memorial in Midland Road is Grade II-listed and was built in 1921.

It was designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the Cenotaph in London.

Gordon Bannister, chairman of Derby and District Ex-Services Association, said: “This theft is despicable.

“Anybody who buys them to melt them down should be ashamed. What has the world come to?”

Dennis Monk spotted the theft when he walked past yesterday morning.

The name of one of wife Frances’ relatives – Richard Gibson – is inscribed on one of the bronze plaques.

He died at the Battle of the Somme, in September 1916 and lived in Stockbrook Street, Derby.

Mr Monk, a retired engineer, said: “It is sacrilege.

“There are between 7,000 and 8,000 of names of men who lost their lives on it.

“Knowing this will probably be melted down for scrap metal is just disgusting.” Four plaques were originally reported stolen, but two were found behind a nearby hotel and have been placed in safe keeping.

Local historian Maxwell Craven said the stone memorial was one of Lutyens’ most important works and that the 5ft plaques would be very expensive to replace.

The memorial is inscribed: “To the brave men of the Midland Railway who gave their lives in the Great War.”

It is not known how much the memorial is worth but the UK Inventory of War Memorials said it was valued at £10,958 in 1920.

Mr Craven said: “It is very important to the area. The bronze plaques are very big, it’s amazing that nobody saw them being taken.”

The theft was reported to police yesterday morning but it is not known exactly when the plaques were taken.

Witnesses or anyone with information should call Derbyshire police on 0345 123 3333 or Crimestoppers, which is anonymous, on 0800 555 111.

For more on this story see tomorrow’s Derby Telegraph.

August 6th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

The friar and the Caravaggio thieves
http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/2010/07/29/the-friar-and-the-caravaggio-thieves/

Meet the Maltese priest at the heart a sting operation which saved a precious painting of St Jerome

By Anna Arco on Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fr Marius Zerafa, the priest who masterminded the rescue of a stolen Caravaggio, in front of a copy of Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, which he painted

Four hundred years after Caravaggio’s death, the artist’s work and restless life continues to capture the eye and the imagination. Countless tourists and art history students flock to see his paintings, but his work also draws less savoury characters: art thieves and forgers.

Fr Marius Zerafa, a Maltese Dominican and former museum director, has had his own brush with Caravaggio thieves, after they stole a painting of St Jerome from the co-Cathedral of St John in Valletta on New Year’s Eve 1984. While many stolen paintings disappear forever, Fr Marius was able to mastermind this painting’s recovery.

For two years after the heist, nothing more was heard about the picture. It had simply vanished. Then one day Fr Marius was approached by a young man who handed him a tape and a Polaroid picture of the painting of St Jerome. Over the next eight months he would work ceaselessly towards retrieving the lost painting.

“They gave me a password,” he says. “And indicated that I wasn’t to speak to the police. They wanted half a million Maltese lire for the painting.”

At the time Fr Marius was director of the Museums in Malta and had set up the National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.

Today, the Dominican art historian lectures about sacred art at the Angelicum in Rome, hears Confessions at Santa Maria Maggiore during his holidays, paints, sculpts, does some restoration work and continues to be the chairman of the Archdiocese of Malta’s Commission for Sacred Art. He is full of life and curiosity. His snow-white hair stands on end in marked contrast to his tan, the mischievous twinkle in his eyes is barely hidden by the bottle-thick 1970s-style glasses he sports. Fr Marius is a born storyteller; he has lived through a lot and seen a great deal.

At 15, he joined the Dominican order. After three years in Malta, he moved to the now-closed Hawkesyard Priory in Staffordshire and then to Blackfriars, Oxford, between 1948 and 1952. The post-war, pre-Conciliar years in religious life were austere, but Fr Marius remembers his time there with great fondness. He obtained his STL and a Doctorate in Social Sciences at the Angelicum and studied art history at the University of London. He subsequently taught, studied, lectured and wrote with tireless energy. He became assistant curator of Fine Arts in the Museums Department of Malta in 1970 and then curator in 1975 and director of Museums in 1981.

Like many art historians, Fr Marius is attached to his digital camera – or, rather, it is attached to him with a belt so he does not miss an opportunity to snap away. At 80, he is incredibly plugged in and constantly fires off emails and digital photographs. It is easy to imagine the energy he must have put into getting the painting back, against the odds, and employing creative thinking to find the Caravaggio again.

Back in 1986, after the first note was delivered, Fr Marius was worried because he thought the gang might be in cahoots with the police, so he took the injunction not to report the theft seriously. He says he struggled to raise interest in the case either among the country’s ministers or the monsigniori in the local curia. He started getting daily phone calls about St Jerome. Then, in the art thief’s equivalent of chopping off a hostage’s fingers, the gang started sending Fr Marius little pieces of the precious painting. In his efforts to keep the band of thieves talking to him and give them the impression that he was interested in buying the painting back he started negotiating down the price to a quarter-of-a-million Maltese lire.

Was he frightened?

“Well, yes and no,” he says. “I was terribly relieved because after two years we thought that we had lost it. What worried me was that at one time I got a parcel and thought there was a bomb inside but there wasn’t one. And I was worried that they would come to Confession to me because that would have made it difficult.”

If they had come to him, he would have been bound by the seal of the confessional, he says, and would have had difficulty retrieving the painting from them.

After eight months Fr Marius, with the help of a technologically minded young man, managed to trace the calls to a small shoe factory on the island where the thieves were operating. He got hold of their work books and finally passed the information on to the police. It was his first contact with the authorities. A week later he chose August 4, the traditional day on which the Feast of St Dominic is celebrated in Malta, to be the day on which the painting would be retrieved.

The police arrived with helicopters and cars at the arranged meeting place and they retrieved the Caravaggio and arrested the gang members. It emerged that the gang had paid £5,000 to have Fr Marius kidnapped during the exchange.

The members of the Caravaggio gang were never brought to justice. They started a constitutional case against the police because of illegal phone tapping. Of the two men accused, one had possibly been given an overdose and died, while the other died as the case dragged on in court.

The painting was quite damaged as a result of the heist, but was spoiled even more while it was stored by the police. The painting suffered because it had been cut from the stretcher and was rolled up. Fr Marius travelled to Rome in an old military plane without seats to have the painting restored there. He says that it is now in a perfect condition.

Fr Marius takes St Jerome to Rome on a military plane

In 1989, another burglary attempt at the Co-Cathedral of St John left Caravaggio’s magnum opus, The Beheading of St John badly damaged. The thieves had entered the cathedral to steal silver from an old icon, the Madonna of Caraffa and parts of the gates. The thieves jumped over the barrier, slashing the Beheading, the only painting which bears Caravaggio’s signature.

“Nobody knows exactly why the Beheading was slashed,” Fr Marius says. “Someone has suggested the thief wanted to cut out the signature of Caravaggio. I suspect that the thief got caught inside the Oratory, the alarm I had just installed went off and he panicked. The way he held the knife shows he did not want to cut the canvas but just to damage it. He scraped rather than cut the canvas.”

Fr Marius took the painting to Livorno on an Italian cruiser called the Cassiopeia. The painting was restored in Florence in 1997 and exhibited in the Church of the Carmine for a month. It returned to Malta with Fr Marius on an Italian warship called the Vega.

The Maltese are very proud of Caravaggio’s stay on the island. The disgraced painter fled from Rome to Naples and then to the Fortress Island after he killed a man in a street brawl. The Knights of St John, keen to have the famous artist on the island, granted him asylum on condition he paint for them. He became a brother of the order but soon picked a fight with one of the knights and fled from the island. He is believed to have died of fever on July 28 1610.

Last week L’Osservatore Romano ran a story claiming that a new Caravaggio, a painting of St Lawrence being grilled alive, had been discovered in a Jesuit church, prompting a week of Caravaggiomania. But this week a senior Vatican art historian rebutted
the theory, saying that the painting is not a Caravaggio.

Fr Marius, who was speaking before the rebuttal, said it was too early to say whether the painting was a real Caravaggio.

“I think they are discovering Caravaggios everywhere,” he says. “Even in Malta, there’s a friend of mine who is always discovering some Caravaggio. It’s a centenary so there is a strong temptation there.”

But regardless of whether the painting is genuine or fake, Fr Marius says he will definitely go to see the painting when he’s back in Rome later this summer.

Fr Marius Zerafa’s book, Caravaggio Diaries, is published by Grimand Co Ltd and can be bought at Maltaonlinebookshop.com

July 30th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

300 Looted Antiquities Displayed in the Colosseum
http://heritage-key.com/blogs/bija/300-looted-antiquities-displayed-colosseum

Submitted by bija on Fri, 07/16/2010 – 13:43

337 archaeological objects, some of them from the eighth century BC, were displayed during a press conference in Rome. Photo by B Knowles.
More than 300 looted antiquities, estimated to be worth more than EUR15 million, were displayed to the press this morning in Rome, having been repatriated to Italy after they were discovered in a warehouse in Switzerland.

It was a scene slightly reminiscent of a Victorian detective novel, in which the robber and his looted candlesticks is unveiled before an impressed gathering of country house guests.
Only today’s unveiling took place inside the Colosseum rather than on the pages of a 19th century novel and while there was no criminal present, there was plenty of loot, which consisted of objects such as Etruscan ceramic vases, bronze statues from Sardinia and frescoes from Pompeii – 337 objects in total.

The heat was oppressive for the motley crew of assembled journalists and cameramen who were there to hear the declarations of officials from Italy’s special police force that specialises in tracking down looted antiquities (or to give them their full name, the Carabinieri del Reparto Operativo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale).

This is one of the most significant recoveries of our national heritage to this day. We hope to return these artefacts to their original localities so that they can be displayed within their historical contexts
The investigation, code-named Andromeda, led by the carabinieri and the Swiss authorities, discovered about 20,000 artefacts in the free port of Geneva, stored in warehouses that were associated with an unnamed Japanese dealer.

The artefacts were illegally taken from archaeological sites in Lazio, Puglia, Sardinia and the area of Magna Grecia – southern Italy and Sicily. They span a period of 1,200 years, dating from the eighth century BC to the fourth AD.
According to Dr Giuseppe Proietti, superintendent for archaeological heritage in Rome, this is one of the most important recoveries of looted antiquities in recent times. He said: “This is one of the most significant recoveries of our national heritage to this day. We hope to return these artefacts to their original localities so that they can be displayed within their historical contexts.”

Investigating Looted Artefacts

When the Swiss authorities and the Italian carabinieri began to investigate in 2008, the story developed dramatically in a way that could lead to a sequel of The Medici Conspiracy, a factual book that pieces together the circumstances of the Medici antiquities scandal.

A special branch of Italy’s carabinieri, dedicated to policing illegally trafficked antiquities, were responsible for repatriating the artefacts. Photo by B Knowles.
Their attention was initially drawn to the British art dealer Robin Symes, who curated the sale of the Venus of Morgantina to the Getty Museum in Malibù, which will be repatriated to Italy in January 2011. According to the Italian carabinieri, Symes moved to Switzerland, where his activities were monitored and this led the Swiss and Italian team to discover several sham companies, some of which were based in tax havens.
Further inquiries led the authorities to a company administrator in Basle who was involved in managing trafficked archaeological objects for his clients – one of whom was Mr Symes, say the Italian carabinieri.

When the carabinieri searched the administrator’s luxurious villa in Basle, they found extensive documentation detailing antiquities that were illegally taken from sites around Italy. The documents indicated that Geneva’s free port was used as a clearing centre for the illicitly imported artefacts. In December 2008, nine properties and warehouses were sequestered. This is where the 20,000 archaeological artefacts were discovered.

The objects included bronze artefacts from Sardinia, Etruscan candelabra and vases stolen from Necropolises in Cerveteri and Vulci, as well as frescoes from Pompeii. Photo by B Knowles
It took the authorities the whole of 2009 to catalogue the antiquities. The 337 objects repatriated back to Italy have been proved to be from illicit Italian excavations. The majority of the objects remain under Swiss jurisdiction.

Many of the antiquities display in the Colosseum are from Puglia. There are important Kylixes, ceramic vases from Etruscan necropolises at Cerveteri and Vulci and Etruscan candelabra. The area of ancient Etruria is one of the areas that has been particularly targeted by looters.
What will happen to these objects now? That hasn’t been decided yet. According to Francesco Maria Giro, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture’s undersecretary, it will take time to scientifically examine the artefacts, but it is hoped that they will be housed in museums near to the sites they were looted from.

Photos by Bija Knowles.

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About The Author

Bija Knowles (follow me: e-mail or )
Last three pieces by this author:
Hoard of 52,500 Roman Coins Discovered Near Frome by Metal Detectorist | Roman Villa Discovered Near Tewkesbury | Review: July’s American Journal of Archaeology Focuses on the Classical World
Bija Knowles is a freelance journalist based outside Rome, Italy. She graduated in Italian and English Literature from the University of Birmingham, UK, and her main areas of interest are art, travel and history in Italy.

July 17th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

July 12, 2010 20:13 PM
Hamas Foils Antiques Smuggling In Gaza
http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=512948

GAZA, July 12 (Bernama) — Hamas authorities on Monday said they have foiled an attempt to smuggle ancient antiques from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

The police arrested four smugglers who were trying to take the antiques out through the security fence separating Gaza and Israel, Ayman al-Batniji, spokesman for the police told China’s Xinhua news agency, adding that the arrested have been sent for interrogation.

Al-Batniji said “the antiquities are owned by the state.”

According to sources from the Hamas-run Ministry of Tourism, the seized antiques could date back to the Canaanite era in 2300 BC and the Roman era.

The unnamed sources said Gaza, controlled by the Hamas since 2007, had been the place of several civilization, but many of its monuments were stolen during the occupations and mandates it suffered during the last century.

Some rich people in Gaza used to collect antiques. In 2008, a Gaza businessman opened the first museum in the enclave, housing what he could collect and buy from people.

— BERNAMA

July 13th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Undercover avenger
http://www.jpost.com/Features/MagazineFeatures/Article.aspx?id=180818

By NOAH LEDERMAN
07/09/2010 16:58

Restoring the Holocaust’s stolen art.

Talkbacks (2)

On the West Side of Manhattan, in a gray-walled waiting room of the Department of Homeland Security, a photograph reminds visitors of the calamity, now almost a decade old, that brought down two towers, left more than 3,000 dead and scarred a nation. But, behind the scenes, in the secured offices, was one agent who helps to remind the world of another tragedy that began more than seven decades ago and left six million dead – the Holocaust.

Conjuring images of the Holocaust brings to mind those dreadful chimneys funneling human smoke over the European continent or shaven, gaunt prisoners standing beside piles of corpses. Some may visualize those pits filled with eyeglasses and shoes, things that belonged to the murdered, now on display in museums. It’s rare that one would equate artists such as Klimt, Cezanne or Degas with the genocide.

But Senior Special Agent Bonnie Goldblatt of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the agencies under the DHS umbrella, does. Goldblatt is among the few working to recover stolen Holocaust art and antiquities, though unlike the others, she does so with a badge and a gun.

During Hitler’s rise to power, the Führer, who had failed as an artist, had dreamed up more than just the Final Solution and world domination. It was his goal to plunder art for Germany and purge “degenerate” work – a term Hitler adopted to describe the art of Jews, avant-garde German artists and those whose vision echoed beliefs incompatible with Nazi ideology. All across Europe, museums packed up shop, Nazi castles filled with looted artwork and Jewish art collectors were coerced into selling their collections for a pittance they would never receive.

When the war ended, some works were repatriated; yet numerous masterpieces and valuable religious artifacts were destroyed, looted once more by soldiers or remained missing.

Today, these pieces are reemerging at auctions, on museum walls, or in private collections.

That’s where Goldblatt comes in.

“I’m here to pick up a painting from Bonnie Goldblatt,” a young woman announced while I sat in the waiting room prior to the interview. As it happened, Goldblatt was returning Paul Klee’s Portrait in the Garden, a painting stolen from a Manhattan art gallery 21 years earlier, to the young woman.

After the repatriation, I was escorted into the locked-down compound to meet with Goldblatt. (Along for the interview was the public affairs officer who stayed on to censor questions that would put her cloak-and-dagger tactics at stake. “We’re not going to get into that,” he’d say).

FOR BONNIE GOLDBLATT, art had always been a part of life. As a child, she toured museums with her mother. As an agent, she started in Customs, stopping questionable artwork entering the US. Her first case ended with the recovery of Winslow Homer’s Off Gloucester Harbor, which thieves tried to disguise by painting seagulls and two sailboats onto the original watercolor seascape.

It was 1995 when the Holocaust became a part of her professional canvas. She was reading the arts section of The New York Times when she noticed that a panel would convene in New York to debate ownership rights of art stolen during World War II. Goldblatt attended the conference, acquired the names of those present and sent a letter to the attendees – lawyers, archivists, researchers and art buffs – introducing her program. Those who responded became her sources.

From there, her role at the agency changed. She was no longer just a seizer of artwork, but graduated to become a fixer of past misdeeds, repatriating Holocaust art to the rightful owners.

“It is my heritage. I’m sensitive to all of this… The United States wasn’t involved when [the Holocaust] was happening. As part of the United States government, I recognize…we recognize what needs to be done,” Goldblatt said.

Being stationed in New York City – where numerous survivors settled and works of art with questionable provenances surfaced – allowed her “to develop this niche.” It’s also the site of the Holocaust Claims Processing Office.

Goldblatt’s job is not the cat-and-mouse pursuit that the 1999 film The Thomas Crown Affair painted of art thieves and detectives.

Think The Old Man and the Sea: Much patience is required to hook the big one. There are online databases to pore over and “war rooms,” a term she uses to describe the massive foreign archives, to scour, all in the hope of finding art whose provenances were erased in the ’30s and ’40s by Nazi invasions, liquidations and murders.

In Goldblatt’s line of work, to hook the big one sometimes means waiting for death.

“Whoever is in possession of the paintings now is more likely to sell them,” she explained, because some of this art has been handed down to heirs oblivious to the painting’s provenance. These looted pieces then start popping up for sale. Furthermore, criminals who are aware of their paintings’ origins are also becoming more brazen and bringing the pieces to market since the last true owners are likely gone.

Goldblatt does, however, have some faith in the inheritors: “As the heirs start receiving the artwork and they do some research and find out where it comes from, they step forward and surrender the object to us.”

But safeguards are in place to prevent the unscrupulous from succeeding. Countries and individuals are registering with stolen art databases, springing Goldblatt into action, dutifully helping to right a 70-year wrong. Each piece she repatriates helps to echo remembrance.

GOLDBLATT’S FIRST Holocaust repatriation was in 2003, when she recovered the Sefer Yetzira, a rare 14th-century kabbalistic manuscript that had been looted by the Nazis from Vienna’s Jewish library and was listed in the auction catalog of Kestenbaum and Company.

The auction house turned the manuscript over to the authorities upon request.

Afterward, there was a big gap in Holocaust repatriations. The agency had undergone many changes after 9/11 and priorities shifted, drawing resources away from art and antiquities work. However, 2009 was the year of Goldblatt’s resurgence. With the help of the US Attorney’s Office, she repatriated four objects that had been looted by the Nazis.

It began with two works once belonging to the late Jewish art dealer Dr. Max Stern, who had been coerced into selling 228 pieces.

First, on April 2, Goldblatt seized Portrait of a Musician Playing a Bagpipe from Lawrence Steigrad’s art gallery and returned the piece on Holocaust Remembrance Day later that month. In early May, because of the media coverage of the Bagpipe repatriation, art dealer Richard Feigen voluntarily revealed that he had unknowingly purchased another Stern piece – Ludovico Carracci’s depiction of St. Jerome – in 2000 from the very auction house in Cologne, Germany, that Stern had been forced to consign his collection to in 1937, proceeds that Stern never saw.

Steigrad, who was unaware that Bagpipe had been stolen when he acquired it, recalls Goldblatt’s arrival to his dealership in an e-mail message. She was incognito and “insisted on seeing Bagpipe. I came out to explain that we had just found out [days before] that that particular painting was being returned because we were informed that it was in a forced sale. At that point Bonnie took out her gold badge… I was shocked at the deception and very mad,” Steigrad said about the agent, whom he described as “a very attractive young lady.”

“The work is great and we support it 100 percent,” Steigrad said about Goldblatt’s efforts, but added, “She just should know who the crooks are and treat respectable citizens (art dealers as well) in a more honest way.”

BUT THIS IS the protocol for an undercover agent dealing in a world where patient criminals profit from the stolen fragments of one of the world’s worst crimes. Though Goldblatt may be angering and deceiving art dealers, repatriations like Stern’s have brought her unit recognition.

“The more we do, the better we get,” she told me. “The more we do, the more our name gets out there.”

On November 9, the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht – when Nazis destroyed Jewish shops, homes and synagogues, and battered and arrested Jewish citizens in Germany and Austria – Goldblatt returned a 16th-century two-volume rabbinic Bible to Vienna’s Jewish community. The manuscripts turned up at Kestenbaum’s again, and an undercover Goldblatt arrived. After confirming that the stolen Bible was on the premises by locating the obliterated tag WIEN, Goldblatt met with Kestenbaum, who had recognized her from six years before.

Once again he cooperated and removed the piece from auction so it could begin its journey back home.

One month later, Goldblatt seized a rare Antoine Carte portrait, which depicted a little girl with blonde pigtails, wearing a blue dress, sitting beside her pet rabbit. The painting had belonged to a Jewish family in Belgium who had been forced to flee during the war. The Art Loss Register, an international database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles, located the painting at a Long Island dealership.

Goldblatt moved in, matching the portrait to a photograph of the same child. Sixty-nine years after it had been stolen, the painting was returned to its owner, who happened to be the timeless little girl in the blue dress.

“The Holocaust left her with such a scar,” Goldblatt said, “that she was scared if she came out with the painting” – to the ceremonial repatriation at the Jewish Museum of Belgium – “it would be stolen again.”

These restitutions, however, were uncomplicated in comparison to the seizure of Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally, which was seized from the Museum of Modern Art in 1998.

“It’s mammoth,” Goldblatt said when describing the case, adding that if all goes in their favor, the “law would set big precedents.”

The battle for Wally was prompted by a special report in The New York Times entitled “The Zealous Collector” by Judith Dobrzynski.

The article, published on December 24, 1997, explained how Lea Bondi Jarray, a Viennese art dealer, was forced to surrender the painting to the Nazis before fleeing for her life. After the war, Mrs. Bondi, as she was known, discovered that Wally had been found by American officials and was being housed in the Belvedere, a palace for Austrian modern art. However, while at the Belvedere, it was accidentally mixed in with another person’s collection. Bondi asked a seemingly trustworthy art collector, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, to retrieve the painting for her. But Leopold purchased it for himself and disregarded Bondi’s pleas for her property.

At the time of the Times report, Wally was on loan to MoMA from the Leopold Museum.

It was set to leave New York for Vienna despite the allegations that it had been looted and never returned to its rightful owner.

“My husband said to me, ‘Can’t you do something about this?’” Goldblatt recalled. So she did. Goldblatt confiscated the portrait, which has sat in storage under court order ever since. The trial is set for July and the lawyers for Bondi’s heirs must prove that the Leopold Museum knew that the painting had been looted when it was acquired.

DESPITE THE IMPASSE, Wally’s seizure has already set the wheels of restitution in motion for plundered paintings like Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Furthermore, it has prompted Austria’s parliament to pass a law that expedites the return of art looted from Jews, from which it appears there are vast amounts in the country’s museums.

“All governments and museums should take a good look at the provenance of their inventory,” Goldblatt suggested. “If they have something they shouldn’t have… they should return it. I don’t think museums should be treated any differently than individuals. They still have a duty to return things to their rightful owner.”

Goldblatt also convenes with the State Department’s Office of Holocaust Issues. “We want to establish guidelines that other countries will adhere to that make it easier for us to identify and possibly return artwork that was taken during the Holocaust,” she explained.

“Bonnie is unlike any civil servant I have encountered before,” said Chris Marinello of the Art Loss Register, one of the organizations she often collaborates with. “She is extremely dedicated and passionate about her work…Bonnie’s efforts and those of her art and antiquities team” – who are trained by Goldblatt – “keep the pressure on the art world and the memory of these events alive.”

“Every time I return a Holocaust painting I just get teary-eyed,” Goldblatt said.

“Make no mistake,” Marinello warned, “there is one tough agent behind that gentle demeanor and pleasant smile.”

“There’s a reason why I signed up to be an agent,” said Goldblatt. “I’d like to get it all back.”

The writer is completing a nonfiction book, My Grandparents’ Holocaust. He is a columnist for The Faster Times.

July 12th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Stolen paintings of great Bulgarian artist found in London galley?
http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n225121

11 July 2010 | 16:24 | FOCUS News Agency
Home / Bulgaria
Sofia. Bulgarian Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov has received a signal that a gallery in London shelters paintings of Bulgarian artist Nikola Tanev, which have been stolen from a museum-house in Sofia some 11 years ago, the Ministry of Culture announced.
The ministry will take all necessary actions under the Cultural Heritage Act.
In July 1999, 28 paintings by Nikola Tanev have been stolen from his house, which is now turned into a museum.
Most of the paintings are photographed and described in detail in a registry.
Around 10 days ago, thanks to the registry and photos, the National Art Gallery identified one of the 28 stolen paintings, which have been brought to the gallery by a person who wanted to ascertain its authenticity.
On July 15, at 6 p.m., the National Art Gallery, with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture, will open an exposition themed ‘Nikola Tanev in National Art Gallery’s collections’.
The exposition is dedicated to the 120th anniversary since the birth of the great Bulgarian painter Nikola Tanev (1890-1962).

July 11th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Museum helps save Iraqi treasures
http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/arts/bs-ae-walters-iraq-20100703,0,3581670,full.story

Walters’ conservator Terry Drayman-Weisser helped train Iraqi museum employees to repair their damaged treasures

Terry Drayman-Weisser, the Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director of Conservation and Technical Research at the Walters Art Museum, discusses her work in one of the museum’s conservation labs. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun / June 30, 2010)

By Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun
4:14 p.m. EDT, July 2, 2010

After nearly two decades of bombing in Iraq, the priceless Nimrud ivories were covered with mold and reduced to near-rubble.

Some of the artifacts — elaborate plaques carved with scenes from mythology and daily life found at the site of a former palace and believed to be more than 3,000 years old — had become glued to the packing materials designed to protect them. Fragments of several of the ivories were jumbled together, making any effort to reassemble them into a high-stakes jigsaw puzzle.

Terry Drayman-Weisser, the director of conservation and technical research at the Walters Art Museum, knew she had to do what she could to help get the treasures repaired, even if it meant flying to a country where Americans are still being targeted. Late last month, she returned from the northern city of Erbil, where she helped found a training academy to teach Iraqi museum employees how to restore precious artworks damaged by the war.

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“When I saw the photographs of what had happened to the ivories, I felt so helpless,” Drayman-Weisser says. “I have never in my all years seen ivories in such bad condition. I was horrified, and I knew I had to do something.”

“Something” turned into a series of related programs that took place over five years, and which are part of an ambitious initiative to save Iraq’s cultural treasures that is unprecedented in U.S. conservation history.

“I don’t know of anything quite like it,” says Eryl Wentworth, the executive director of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

“It’s really rather remarkable. Conservators have gone to specific sites over the years to work on artworks that have been damaged in times of war and by natural disasters. But I’ve never heard of a museum actually traveling to a country like Iraq and setting up an academic program.”

The Walters is a small museum. But from the very beginning, it has been a key part of efforts by the U.S. State Department and the American Association of Museums to help Iraq preserve its endangered gold pieces and ivories, as well as its bombed-out archeological sites. It is fair to say that the museum is becoming an increasingly important player among the nation’s arts institutes.

“We were chosen on a national basis, and we were chosen because of Terry’s reputation,” says Walters Director Gary Vikan. “The little Walters. It was an immense honor.”

Drayman-Weisser has spent large chunks of the past five years or so working on the Iraq projects. That might seem like an awfully big undertaking on behalf of a bunch of 3,000-year-old elephant tusks located halfway across the world. But the Nimrud ivories aren’t important only to residents of the Persian Gulf.

“Iraq is the cradle of civilization,” says Ford Bell, president of the American Association of Museums. “It’s from whence we all ultimately came. We can’t understand our own history if the world’s great cultural treasures disappear.”

Even before the first Persian Gulf War broke out, Iraq’s ivories were separated into three groups for safekeeping.

The first group was stored in a bank vault, which flooded when the security system was breached. The second was placed in a metal box in an underground location that periodically took on water as the Tigris River rose and fell — steeping the ivories in a foul stew of bacteria and sewage for a dozen years.

Other pieces that had been locked in a storage room and bathroom of the Iraq National Museum were knocked to the ground and crushed underfoot during the infamous 2003 looting, when about 15,000 objects in the museum’s collection were stolen.

There was an international outcry once news of the vandalism and thefts became public. In 2005, Vikan contacted the State Department to offer the Walters’ assistance.

“When [then-Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfield responded to the looting by saying, ‘Stuff happens,’ it really irritated me,” Vikan says. “Once the dust began to settle, I learned that the British Museum was involved in conservation efforts. I’ve always admired them, and I wanted to see if there was anything at all we could do to help.”

Rather than risk the safety of staff members by sending them to war-torn Baghdad, the Walters opted to bring two conservators from the Iraq museum to Baltimore, where they would train with Drayman-Weisser, who has an international reputation as an ivory expert.

In May 2006, the Iraqi conservators — an older woman and younger man — arrived in Baltimore for a monthlong stay. Only the conservators’ immediate families knew they were in the U.S., and to protect their safety, their names have never been made public. Initially, neither the woman, a physicist, nor the man, a geologist, spoke much English. The culture shock was profound.

“It was a very traumatic time for them,” Vikan says. “Their lives were torn up, and their families were torn up. They’d never been in a Western environment. The extent to which they’d been sequestered was amazing to me. We had to learn things like not putting out your hand to shake the hand of an Iraqi woman.

“Terry was like their mother. She determined what they ate, when they ate, how they got around. When they got back, they wrote her letters that began ‘My dearest Terry’ and ‘Darling friend.’ It was so charming.”

Unfortunately, after the two conservators returned to Iraq, neither was able to put the new knowledge to use. The National Museum had closed, and its director had left the country.

Baghdad was very dangerous. The male conservator fled Iraq with his family; his female counterpart couldn’t return to work for three years, until the museum reopened.

“The ivories remained in perilous condition, and I continued to fear for them,” Drayman-Weisser says.

So when she was approached again by the State Department in the summer of 2008 about setting up a school in Erbil, she jumped at the chance.

The project to found the school was funded by a two-year grant from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which was working jointly with Virginia-based International Relief and Development.

Drayman-Weisser worked with experts from the University of Delaware and the nearby Winterthur Museum. They devised the curriculum, selected a site in the northern part of the nation far from Baghdad and rounded up a slate of instructors. A building in Erbil was donated and renovated.

And in June, Drayman-Weisser herself went to Erbil for a week to teach eight students advanced techniques in ivory preservation.

From the first, teaching there presented unique challenges.

Because the Nimrud ivories couldn’t be removed from Baghdad, teacher and students had to rely on photographs of the damage to devise treatment techniques.

Great clouds of dust were everywhere. And to demonstrate respect for Iraqi customs, Drayman-Weisser made sure she was covered from neck to toe in the 100-degree heat.

“I was struck by how many bridal shops there are in Erbil,” she said during one of her visits there. “In fact, one of the streets looks a lot like Eastern Avenue in Baltimore. The house I am in has everything one needs to live a simple, comfortable life. So why do all of the bathroom fixtures look as if they were looted from Saddam’s palaces?”

The teacher and her students had to use a translator for even the simplest communications; when Drayman-Weisser ventured alone into a local shop to buy supplies, she had to try to figure out how to ask for a “protractor” with hand signals.

Nonetheless, she and her students quickly became attached. On her fourth day in Iraq, one student re-enacted a time-honored American tradition by presenting the teacher with an apple.

The most important part of her job, Drayman-Weisser says, was teaching the Iraqis a different method of problem-solving.

“Iraqis tend to learn by rote,” she says. “They want recipes for things. That’s very different from the way American conservators are taught. It’s the difference between being trained as a technician and being taught how to make your own diagnosis. They’d never before been exposed to that kind of thinking about art objects, and they became very excited. This whole new world opened up for them.”

Drayman-Weisser taught the Iraqis about the structural differences between ivories taken from elephants, mammoths, walruses, rhinos, sperm whales and hippopotamuses, and how to identify a tusk long separated from the animal it once grew on.

She taught them to analyze the chemicals and other materials they would use to restore and care for the treasures, because using an improper solution, or inserting the blade of a knife into the wrong part of a piece of ivory, could harm the objects the conservators were working to preserve. And she taught them how to do computer research on different treatment methods.

“One of the things that I was very moved by was the students’ real hunger for knowledge,” she says.

“They’d hang on my every word. We forget just how isolated the Iraqi population is. They were using techniques and books that we stopped using in the United States 30 years ago.”

As the visit was wrapping up, Drayman-Weisser was approached after class by one of her students.

“She told me, ‘The thing I’m most worried about is your leaving. Once you go back, there will be no one to answer our questions.’ ”

Drayman-Weisser thought long and hard about that problem. She told her students that she plans to return to Erbil in December to teach a second class at the newly founded Iraq Institute for the Conservation and Preservation of Antiquities and Heritage.

But six months is a long time to wait.

So at the graduation ceremony, the students received a certificate from the University of Delaware and a business card holder from Drayman-Weisser.

In each, the teacher had placed her card with the bronze and black lettering that contains her contact information at the Walters. As she handed out her gifts, she made the same little speech:

“I told each one,” she says, “‘You are not alone.’ ”

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

July 3rd, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Bather found in bushes on Furby Street
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/bather-found-in-bushes-on-furby-street-97651089.html

Leo Mol sculpture stolen days earlier from garden

By: Sandy Klowak

2/07/2010 1:00 AM

The sculpture stolen from the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in Assiniboine Park earlier this week was recovered by police on Thursday morning.

The Bather, a 44-inch bronze sculpture by renowned Winnipeg artist Leo Mol, was spotted in bushes by residents on Furby Street around 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Police collected the work of art, which was stolen from the Assiniboine Park late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

“We’re very pleased to get it back,” said Lorne Perrin, vice-president of marketing and park services at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

“It’s a valuable piece of the (Mol) collection.”

Perrin said other than damage to the base of the statue when it was ripped off its base, The Bather is in decent shape.

“It’s got some scratches on the shoulder from where they dragged it,” Perrin said.

He couldn’t speculate on when the statue, along with another sculpture, Marijka, that was toppled over and slightly damaged during the theft, will be back up for display.

The repair time will depend on how long it takes to find an artist who can work with the specific bronze metal the statues are made from. “You just can’t take it in to any old welder,” he said.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said the sculpture was stolen sometime between 10 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“The (garden security) gates close at 10 p.m. and when staff returned the next morning they noticed it was gone,” Michalyshen said.

The sculpture weighs about 68 kilograms.

The garden was created in 1992 when Mol donated many of his works to the City of Winnipeg, to be housed in an outdoor venue at Assiniboine Park.

Perrin said about 40 Mol pieces are housed in the garden.

The Bather was last appraised at $18,000, he said, but added its value has likely increased since Mol’s death a year ago. The Bather is one of several bronze sculptures in the garden that depict unclothed teenage girls in various poses.

The two sculptures were mounted on a granite base.

Michalyshen said there is no indication any tools were used to remove the sculpture, adding The Bather appeared ripped from its base.

Michalyshen, who spoke to the Free Press before the statue was recovered, said the stolen artwork is an important piece of the city’s heritage.

“This goes beyond the act of property damage, it’s disrespect,” Michalyshen said. “It’s disrespect and we hate to see it.” Michalyshen said it’s not known if the theft was a targeted heist or the work of inexperienced vandals.

But the man who helped create the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden said he believes it was “just kids doing what they do” who stole the sculpture.

Art dealer David Loch said the circumstances surrounding the theft don’t indicate the work of thieves who appreciated the value of their theft.

Loch said Mol’s works are in high demand around the world but added no profit could have been made from the stolen statue. Stolen art of value is recorded on a central registry in London, Loch said, adding the publicity surrounding this theft ensures it can’t be resold.

Loch said he believes kids were responsible for the theft, adding they only took one of two Mol pieces that were knocked off the granite base.

“If they were trying to steal Leo’s work, why not take both pieces… why leave one behind?” Loch said. “If they were trying to steal it to re-sell it, they can’t because stolen art is of no use. You really can’t sell it.”

Perrin said the Conservancy will be doing a review of security around the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden in the wake of the theft, which may result in increased security measures.

With files from Gabrielle Giroday and Aldo Santin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 2, 2010 A5

July 2nd, 2010

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June 29th, 2010

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June 29th, 2010

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Stolen Caravaggio work recovered in Germany
http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2010/06/28/caravaggio-recovered-theft.html

Last Updated: Monday, June 28, 2010 | 10:31 AM ET Comments0Recommend1
CBC News

A valuable Caravaggio painting stolen two years ago in Ukraine has been recovered in a joint effort by German and Ukrainian authorities, police announced in Berlin on Monday.

The large chiaroscuro painting, known as The Taking of Christ (and alternately as The Kiss of Judas), was recovered on Friday and has since been verified and authenticated by German art experts, according to a statement from German federal police.

“The Ukrainian authorities have valued the painting in the tens of millions,” the police statement said.

Others have estimated that the work could fetch up to $100 million US on the black market.

On Friday, German police arrested four men — three Ukrainians and one Russian — who were attempting to sell the canvas to a buyer in Berlin. The men are suspected to be members of an international art theft ring.

In Ukraine, officers then arrested another 20 individuals suspected to be involved with the gang of art thieves.

Painted around 1602, The Taking of Christ depicts Jesus being dragged by soldiers after being kissed by his disciple Judas. Though some believe the work to be a student’s replica of a Caravaggio painting on display at National Gallery of Ireland, in 1950 a Soviet art expert declared The Taking of Christ a work of the Italian baroque master.

The painting was snatched from Ukraine’s Museum of Western European and Oriental Art in Odessa in July 2008, with officials admitting that the thief or thieves bypassed the facility’s outdated alarm system by simply removing panes of glass to enter at night.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2010/06/28/caravaggio-recovered-theft.html#ixzz0s9uXdSA0

June 28th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Stolen clock recovered after owners saw it for sale on eBay
http://www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk/news/8240112.Stolen_clock_recovered_after_owners_saw_it_for_sale_on_eBay/

3:17pm Friday 25th June 2010
By Andy Woolfoot »

A RARE antique clock stolen from a home in Cirencester was recovered after its owners spotted it for sale on eBay.

Jackie Shopland-Reed, who lives in Lancashire, told the Standard the Liberty Clock had belonged to her mother who died last year and was one of the possessions her and her two brothers had decided to keep.

It had been handed down through their family for three generations and is valued at around £4,000.

Two weeks ago it was stolen from their mother’s house in Somerford Road.

Several days later one of Jackie’s brothers did an internet search for the make and model of the clock and was stunned to find it listed for sale on eBay.

Jackie said they instantly knew it was theirs as the clock had a purple face which was an unusual colour for that design of clock.

Cirencester police were informed and after contacting the auction website managed to track down an address in the nearby town of Highworth in Wiltshire where the clock was recovered.

“We were upset when we realised it was gone because it has been passed down through our family for generations and for the sentimental value as much as the monetary value,” Jackie said. “We were stunned when we saw it listed on eBay.

“Cirencester police had it back within 24 hours – they did a wonderful job.”

A 36-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman from Highworth have been arrested in connection with the theft. They have been bailed until August 17.

June 26th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

2 ‘Blue Dog’ paintings recovered; police search for art thief
http://www.wwltv.com/news/crime/2-Blue-Dog-paintings-recovered-police-search-for-art-thief-96940719.html

by WWLTV.com
Posted on June 22, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Updated yesterday at 10:34 PM

NEW ORLEANS – Police have recovered two Blue Dog paintings and are now looking for a suspect who allegedly took them from George Rodrigue’s gallery.

Less than 24 hours after airing footage of the thief on television, police displayed the two paintings, which are valued at over $30,000, at the 8th District station.

Anonymous tips, Monday evening and Tuesday, led police to the paintings in an old abandoned shed on North Broad Street.

Police have identified Lee Szakats as the suspected thief. The paintings were taken Friday afternoon.

The two stolen paintings are part of a three-painting series called “Three Coins in a Fountain.”

The three paintings are meant to hang together, and are valued at $55,000 for the series.

The thief was captured on surveillance tape strolling down Royal Street and into Rodrigue’s gallery.

“Either he wasn’t aware of the cameras, or he didn’t care about the cameras,” said Rodrigue. “He didn’t disguise himself and he just walked right in front of the three cameras.”

The suspect on the tape went to the back of the gallery, opened a door marked “Private” and looked inside. With the back of the gallery unoccupied, the man walked to the side wall, out of range of cameras, and put two of the paintings in his bag.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Hillman at the 8th District station at 658-6080.

June 23rd, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Italian police recover stolen art
http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=24&art_id=nw20100619115143479C667796
June 19 2010 at 11:58AM

Rome – Italian police recovered 14 paintings and sculptures, including works by De Chirico and Kandinsky, worth an estimated 30 million euros (37 million dollars), and arrested two people for receiving stolen goods, the Italian news agency Ansa reported Saturday.

The art works were found in a farm close to the Italian capital in the course of an investigation into a theft from a house in Rome’s historic centre.

The operation prevented them being sold off on the parallel black market for stolen works of art, Ansa said. – Sapa-AFP

June 20th, 2010

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June 18th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Missing statue reunited with owner
http://www.gazettetimes.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_e2f17…

By Bennett Hall, Gazette-Times reporter | Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 6:22 pm | 1 Comment

‘Exaltation’ has been recovered and returned to its owner. (Contributed photo)

A valuable statue stolen by burglars last month has found its way home and four suspects are under arrest, thanks to some methodical detective work and some timely exposure in the newspaper.

“Exaltation,” a lucite carving depicting a nude woman that is valued at up to $22,000, was taken from the Corvallis-area home of high-tech entrepreneur Rich Carone. Also stolen in the daylight burglary were two flat-screen televisions, a computer, a Nintendo gaming system and several video games.

Deputy Adam Miller of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office was sent to investigate, but he found very little to go on.

“I’ve got no suspects at that point,” he said Tuesday. “None of the neighbors saw anything at all.”

But two days later, after a report on the crime appeared in the Gazette-Times, a witness came forward with some key information. She had been driving past Carone’s house about the time of the burglary when she saw an unfamiliar maroon pickup truck pull into the driveway.

“She didn’t think anything about it until the article came out in the paper,” Miller said.

The woman was able to describe the truck and the driver, giving Miller his first clues in the case.

Then a Corvallis police officer showed Miller some photos of petty theft suspects taken by security personnel at the Corvallis Fred Meyer store. One of the pictures showed a maroon pickup and three people, one of whom matched the driver described by the witness.

“I was able to trace the truck back to one of the individuals in the photograph,” Miller said.

After that, the dominoes started to fall. On Monday, deputies took four suspects into custody: Ryan Christopher Garrette, 37, of Philomath; Christopher Charles Gantt, 40, of Corvallis; Lori Eillen Lemhouse, 37, of Corvallis; and Cynthia Diane Kramer, 52, of Corvallis.

They face a variety of charges, ranging from hindering prosecution and theft by receiving to first-degree burglary and aggravated theft.

Miller said he believes Garrette entered Carone’s house and came out with the stolen goods while Gantt acted as driver and lookout. Lemhouse is the owner of the truck.

When the arrests were made Monday, Miller said, deputies recovered Carone’s 36-inch flat-screen TV and desktop computer at Garrette and Kramer’s residence. But the other items were still missing — including “Exaltation.”

“Once the article came out in the paper, the heat was on, and Ryan gave the statue to Cindy to dispose of,” Miller said.

“The rumor was she’d thrown it in the river,” he added, “but none of us really believed that.”

Instead, Miller said, Kramer gave the 23-inch-by-13-inch-by-13-inch block of acrylic to an unknown person for safekeeping. That person then gave it to two other individuals, who anonymously turned in the statue at the Law Enforcement Building on Tuesday.

By about 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, Carone was at the Law Enforcement Building to bring his missing artwork home.

He credited Miller and the Sheriff’s Office for solving a case that at first looked hopeless.

“It’s almost unbelievable,” Carone said. “It wasn’t obvious.”

Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.h…@lee.net.

June 16th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Authorities recover stolen Hindu statue
http://www.wrcbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=12648333

Associated Press – June 14, 2010 6:54 PM ET

CAPSHAW, Ala. (AP) – Limestone County investigators have recovered 1 of 2 giant statues of winged demigods stolen from the entrance to a Hindu Temple in Capshaw.

Limestone Sheriff’s Capt. Stanley McNatt says a man was mowing a field about a mile from the temple when he discovered the yard-tall, black granite statue Friday. McNatt says authorities believe the thieves had abandoned the statue with plans to return.

Authorities believe the theft occurred at the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama on the evening of June 4.

Temple officials say the statues are images of Lord Jaya and Lord Vijaya. It was unclear Monday which of the two had been found.

Bhagabat Sahu, the founding chairman of the board of the temple, says the hand-carved statues could be worth as much as $50,000 on the market.

Information from: The Huntsville Times, http://www.al.com/huntsville

June 15th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Confiscated relics submitted to ICHTO
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=130151&sectionid=351020105
Sat, 12 Jun 2010 18:06:39 GMT
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Over 6 tons of relics were confiscated from Argentine diplomat Sebastian Zavala.
The Persian relics confiscated from an Argentinean diplomat last year have been submitted to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

Over 6 tons of handcrafts and relics were found among the possessions of Sebastian Zavala when he attempted to leave Iran in June 2009, after his seven-year service in Tehran.

Ancient earthenware and paintings, age-old manuscripts, a collection of antique guns, and a whole set of ancient coins were only part of the items packed in 318 cardboard boxes.

Indian, Buddhist, Chinese and Armenian manuscripts, Pharaonic Egypt, African and Buddhist figurines and early 1900 handguns and military medals were also among the recovered objects.

Zavalla was not the first foreign diplomat who tried to smuggle Persian antiquities out of the country.

In March 2009, the third secretary of the South Korean Embassy in Tehran was also caught smuggling a priceless relic dating to the Achaemenid era out of Iran.

Customs officials at Shiraz Airport seized the remnant after they found it in the South Korean diplomat’s luggage at check-in. The envoy was later released due to his diplomatic immunity.

TE/HGH

June 13th, 2010

Posted In: art theft, recovery

‘I posed as an agent for a wheeler-dealer’
http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/interview_i-posed-as-an-agent-for-a-wheeler-dealer_1395617

Sunday, June 13, 2010 0:54 IST

What has been your most exciting experience as an art detective?
On September 1, 1993, I was acting as an undercover cop portraying myself as a middleman for Middle Eastern wheeler-dealers. A Belgian gendarme was posing as my driver/bodyguard at Antwerp Airport. We went into the airport restaurant that morning and met two Irish gangsters who were part of a gang run by Martin “The General” Cahill in Dublin. After initial pleasantries, I went outside with one of the two gangsters to the airport car park where in the back of a Peugeot sports car were several large sports bags. In one was the famous painting of A Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid by Jan Vermeer and in another was Goya’s famous portrait of Dona Antonia Zarate. I gave a secret signal and two large cars quietly pulled up with the Gendarme SWAT Squad in them. They all piled out and pointed their ‘Dirty Harry’ .44 Magnums at us and shouted in Flemish (which I don’t speak) to lie on the ground. And that was it, our plan had worked. It had taken seven years from the time of the theft of those paintings from Russborough House in County Wicklow, Ireland in May 1986.

Since the pieces stolen are impossible to sell, what could be the reasons for art theft?
There must be individual quirks among those who steal masterpieces. In my experience, there are no Dr No, Mr Big or Captain Nemo types who collect these kinds of things for themselves, nor as you point out is there a market for them. So, the allure or aesthetic magnetism of a given masterpiece is a factor, but stupid greed is more often the over-riding factor in their theft.

What do you like about art detective work?
The opportunity to take part in an investigation into armed robberies led me to become an undercover cop specialising in art crime when I was at Scotland Yard. The greatest appeals to me were that I was good at it and it was worth doing. It is difficult to become a police art detective because it is time-consuming and expensive. I would suggest that investigative journalism and computer research are the future for art detective work.

June 13th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Austria Urges Return of Altar Panels to Jewish Heir (Update1)
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-10/austria-urges-return-of-altar-panels-to-jewish-heir-update1-.html

June 10, 2010, 11:54 AM EDT
More From Businessweek

By Catherine Hickley

June 10 (Bloomberg) — An Austrian government council recommended that two 16th-century Dutch altar panels, two paintings and two statuettes seized by the Nazis should be returned to the heir of their Jewish prewar owner.

The council today recommended that the items be restituted from the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna to Thomas Selldorff, 82, the Boston-based grandson of Richard Neumann, a textiles industrialist who was forced to flee Austria in 1938. Selldorff said he wants to keep the art in the family.

“We are very happy, it’s a wonderful thing,” Selldorff said by telephone from the U.S. “It is great to have a tangible thing to pass on from my grandfather, and to be able to do it while I am still alive. We are enormously grateful.”

Austria set up the Commission for Provenance Research in 1998 after 44 countries agreed on non-binding principles to return Nazi-seized art in public collections to the prewar owners or their heirs. The commission passes its findings to a council, which makes recommendations to the culture minister.

The council in 2005 rejected Selldorff’s claim, saying it couldn’t restitute works for which compensation had already been paid. Yet an amendment easing restitutions, passed last year, paved the way for today’s decision.

Collecting Passion

The altar panels, by the Dutch painter Maerten van Heemskerck, are the most valuable of the objects to be returned. A Heemskerck painting sold for $360,000 at Sotheby’s in London in July 2008. The two paintings are by Giovanni Battista Pittoni and Alessandro Magnasco, and the two religious statuettes by Alessandro Algardi.

A passionate collector, Neumann amassed more than 200 art works in his Vienna villa. He escaped Austria after the Nazi annexation via Switzerland to Paris. When the Nazis occupied France, he fled by foot through the Pyrenees to Spain. From there he reached Cuba, where he settled, and participated in the 1954 founding of an art museum in Havana. He later moved to New York to be with his daughter, and died there in 1961, age 82.

Neumann’s artworks were seized by the Nazis, then released shortly afterward to allow a sale to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Neumann’s daughter sold the altar panels in 1938. The money went into a frozen account to pay Neumann’s “emigration tax.”

Export Ban

After the war, Neumann sought restitution of the artworks. The Kunsthistorisches Museum insisted that he refund their purchase price, regardless of the fact that he never got the money. Neumann was prepared to pay as the only means of retrieving his property. Yet a ban on the export of cultural goods prevented him from taking possession of the altarpieces.

In 1952, Neumann, who was then a textiles worker in Cuba, lodged another complaint against the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The museum offered compensation: Instead of the altarpieces, paintings and statuettes, Neumann could have other, less valuable works and $3,000.

“The compulsory repayment of a fictional purchase price, together with the export ban, forced Neumann to accept compensation that was disadvantageous to him just to get back a part of what was taken from him,” said Sophie Lillie, a Vienna-based art historian who researched the provenance of the artworks. “Austria used his extreme desperation to its own economic advantage.”

Under the terms of today’s decision, Selldorff will have to return the original compensation paid to his grandfather.

Klimt Claim

At today’s meeting, the commission rejected a restitution claim for Gustav Klimt’s “Mohnwiese” (Poppy Field, 1907). The painting belonged to Fritz Zuckerkandl, the son of a famous anatomist and his wife, Berta Zuckerkandl, a well-known society hostess and intellectual who counted Klimt and Auguste Rodin among her friends.

Zuckerkandl emigrated to Paris in 1935, and his family followed in 1938, after Hitler’s annexation of Austria. Their possessions were seized by the Nazis and sold.

After the war, “Mohnwiese” was restituted to the family, though was also subject to an export ban. Zuckerkandl sold the painting to Rudolf Leopold, the founder of the Leopold Museum. Leopold swapped it in 1957 for two works by Egon Schiele with the Oesterreichische Galerie, now the Belvedere, where “Mohnwiese” hangs today.

The commission said that under the new law, it can only recommend the restitution of works that were returned but subject to the export ban in cases where there was a clear intention to keep the art in public collections. That was not the case with “Mohnwiese,” it said.

–Editor: Mark Beech, Jim Ruane.

To contact the writer on the story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chick…@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbe…@bloomberg.net.

June 10th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Press release: Wednesday 9 June 2010
UK appoints Envoy for post-Holocaust Issues

Foreign Secretary William Hague has appointed Sir Andrew Burns as the United Kingdom’s first Envoy for post-Holocaust Issues.

Sir Andrew, a former UK Ambassador to Israel, will be responsible for leading the Government’s efforts on a range of important post-Holocaust work. This includes driving forward implementation of the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets, resolving outstanding issues related to property and art restitution, and ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of discussions on the vital work of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research and of the International Tracing Service.

The Foreign Secretary said:

“The UK is determined to preserve the memory of the Holocaust for future generations. Sir Andrew’s appointment will ensure that we continue to support those working to right past wrongs and remain at the forefront of international discussions, to make sure that the lessons of this terrible period in our history are never forgotten.

“As a former UK Ambassador to Israel and chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association, Sir Andrew’s wealth of experience means he is ideally placed to tackle the challenges this post presents.”

Sir Andrew Burns said:

“I am deeply honoured by the confidence the Government places in me to develop and drive forward policy on such a wide range of post-Holocaust issues.

The UK already plays a leading and active role in promoting Holocaust education, remembrance and research, in tackling and resolving outstanding issues and claims and in raising public awareness of the continuing relevance of the lessons and legacy of that terrible moment in European history. I shall make it an early priority to talk to a broad range of experts and others with an interest in or knowledge of post-Holocaust subjects, in Whitehall and Parliament and in the wider community, in order to understand as well as I can the scope and substance of the issues involved and can develop a properly co-ordinated and strategic way forward in international discussions.”

Anne Webber, Co-Chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, and Michael Newman, Director of the Association of Jewish Refugees, said:

“We have worked closely with the Government to achieve this historic post and very much look forward to working with Sir Andrew at this crucial time with several post-Holocaust issues requiring urgent attention and decisive leadership.”

Sir Andrew Burns’ CV:

Sir Andrew Burns is currently Chair of the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) and Chairman of the Council of Royal Holloway, University of London. He also chairs the Executive Committee of the Anglo-Israel Association.
Career
2005 to 2006: BBC International Governor
2000 to 2003: British High Commissioner to Canada
1997 to 2000: British Consul-General to the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau
1995 to 1997: Deputy Under Secretary of State, responsible for the Government’s bilateral and trade relations outside Europe
1992 to 1995: British Ambassador to Israel
1990 to 1992: Under-Secretary for Asia
1988 to 1990: Press Secretary to the Foreign Secretary and Head of the FCO News Department
1983 to 1986: Information Counsellor and Head of British Information Services in the United States

Notes to editors:

1. As part of its ongoing work on post-Holocaust issues, the UK government provides funding to the Holocaust Educational Trust “Lessons from Auschwitz project”. This aim of this project is to achieve the participation of two students (aged 16-18) from every school/sixth form college in England in visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Since 2006, almost 6,000 students and over 1,000 teachers have taken part.

2. In June 2009 the Czech Government hosted the Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets to assess progress on Holocaust Era Assets restitution since the 1997 London Nazi Gold Conference and the 1998 Washington Conference. Issues covered included looted art, Judaica, property, social welfare for survivors and Holocaust remembrance and research. Forty-six countries attended. The key outcome of the Conference was the Terezin Declaration, a political and non-legally binding document that set out measures and principles for advancing the various restitution issues.

3. The Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF) was initiated in 1998 by Swedish Prime Minister Persson, President Clinton and Prime Minster Tony Blair to place political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance, and research both nationally and internationally. When the Stockholm Declaration on the Holocaust was adopted in 2000 it became the Charter of the Task Force. There are currently 28 member countries.

4. The main work of the (ITF) is to finance projects aimed at improving Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Examples of projects financed by the Task Force are teacher training courses, travelling exhibitions, memorials, teaching materials and academic research. Whilst the focus of the Task Force is on the Holocaust, the aim is to spread an understanding of the forces that led to it, and the lessons and relevance for today.

5. The International Tracing Service was set up towards the end of the Second World War to discover and document the fate of victims of Nazi persecution and their families and to help individuals trace family members. It holds a unique archive of records from concentration camps and from post-war displaced persons’ camps from the four Allied sectors, as well as the records of tracing enquiries made over the past 65 years. It responds to tracing requests, other humanitarian requests, and provides formal confirmation of persecution for compensation or pension purposes. It has also provided evidence for the prosecution of people alleged to have committed war crimes. It is based in Germany. The UK is one of the 11 member countries of its governing board.

All the latest news is available on our website at: www.fco.gov.uk/news.

FCO press office: 020 7008 3100

June 9th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution, WWII

Descartes letter returned to French library
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5SktlpbtRb96K1jjLQrBrFxZopgD9G78LKG1
(AP) – 16 hours ago

PARIS — A letter by 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes that languished unnoticed in a U.S. college library for more than a century has been restored to France.

The president of Haverford College — which has had the letter since 1902 — handed over the plastic-covered missive at a ceremony Tuesday at Paris’ Institut de France.

The 1641 letter had been donated to Haverford, near Philadelphia, by the widow of an alumnus and remained in the college library, unnoticed by scholars, until a librarian posted about its existence online last fall.

The letter turned out to be one of thousands pilfered from French libraries in the 1800s. Haverford officials volunteered to return the stolen letter.

Descartes penned the words, “I think, therefore I am.”

June 9th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Looting Matters: Italian Prosecutor Calls for Return of Antiquities

http://lootingmatters.blogspot.com/2010/06/italian-prosecutor-we-want-to.html

SWANSEA, Wales, June 4 /PRNewswire/ — David Gill, archaeologist, reflects on the call by an Italian prosecutor for the return of three lots due to be auctioned in New York.

The seizure of a major photographic dossier in the Geneva Freeport continues to have an impact for those seeking to sell antiquities. Three items due to be auctioned in June 2010 appear to be close to items that feature in the Polaroid images. The objects consist of a Roman marble youth, a South Italian terracotta figure of a woman, and an Apulian drinking-cup.

A spokesperson for Christie’s stressed that the auction-house’s due diligence process did not provide any indication that the objects were “problematic”. The sale of the three lots would be proceeding.

The provenance, or more accurately the collecting histories, for the three lots in question show that they surfaced via another auction-house in 1984, 1992 and 1994. The collecting histories for these pieces prior to their appearance on the London and New York markets is unclear.

A similar link was made between a Geneva Polaroid and a Roman statue that had been due to be auctioned in London in April 2010. In that case the auction-house withdrew the lot.

In 2009 three items, a Corinthian krater, an Attic pelike and an Apulian situla, were seized from Christie’s: one just before, and two after the June sale. A spokesperson for the auction-houses noted in a statement that the transparency of the auction system had allowed the objects to be identified.

Auction-houses need to conduct rigorous due diligence searches to ensure that objects do not come onto the market as a result of illicit diggings on archaeological sites. It has been suggested that dealers adopt the internationally recognized benchmark of 1970, the date for the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

In the meantime Rome prosecutor, Paolo Ferri, has made his position clear: “We want to repatriate those objects.”

June 7th, 2010

Posted In: Auction Houses and stolen objects, recovery, restitution

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June 2nd, 2010

Posted In: looting and illegal art traffickers, recovery, restitution

Six selling 16th-century idol walk into cop trap
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Six-selling-16th-century-idol-walk-into-cop-trap/articleshow/5989922.cms

Vineet Gill, TNN, May 30, 2010, 04.04am IST

NEW DELHI: The special staff of central district police on Friday arrested six people who were allegedly trying to sell a 16-century idol. Officials of Archaelogical Survey of India said the idol of Lord Adinath dating back to 1559 would have fetched more than Rs 10 crore in the international market.

The police said that after receiving a tip-off, a team was formed under captain Satbir of special staff and a decision was taken to send a decoy customer to the accused. ‘‘A meeting with the accused was fixed for Friday afternoon at DDU Marg, near the government school. Around 3:15pm, two persons came there and the deal was finalized. The two then called accomplices who were carrying the idol. As soon as the four others came in a Maruti Swift car, we arrested them and seized the idol,’’ said Jaspal Singh, DCP (central district).

‘‘During the interrogation, the six men disclosed they had taken this idol from two of their acquaintances, John and Arif. They were reportedly told that the idol was stolen from a Jain temple in Rajasthan,’’ said Singh.

Police said the accused were looking for buyers over the internet, and had made attempts to sell the idol to one of the museums in London. ‘‘A case has been registered against the six at the Kamla Market police station and the idol has been preserved,’’ said Singh.

May 31st, 2010

Posted In: recovery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                May 18, 2010

National Archives Office of the Inspector General Launches Facebook page

Archival Recovery Team Facebook page encourages public involvement

Washington, DC. . . The National Archives Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has launched an Archival Recovery Team Facebook page.  Through this new social media outreach, the OIG expands its effort to identify and recover alienated Federal holdings that belong in the collection of the National Archives.  The URL is http://www.facebook.com/archivalrecoveryteam

“Thousands of researchers each year have access to our nation’s priceless documentary heritage, using original records at National Archives facilities across the nation. This allows American citizens to see for themselves the workings of the Federal government and the accountability of Federal officials.  These priceless records must be protected and preserved,” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero

This Facebook page urges the public to assist the OIG’s Archival Recovery Team in identifying and recovering missing Federal records. “Federal public records tell the story of the American experience. Our Facebook page features a number of missing items that are of significance in telling our great American story. We need the public’s help in locating and restoring these National Treasures to their rightful place,” said National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld.

Each month the Archival Recovery Team Facebook page will feature an item (or related group of items) that is missing from the collection of the National Archives.  The May “Missing Item-of-the-Month” is the collection of 35 documents from the Wright Brothers Flying Machine patent file, last seen at the National Archives in 1979.

Background

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is an independent office within the National Archives that helps the Agency to more effectively and efficiently ensure ready access to essential evidence.  The OIG serves as an independent internal advocate for efficiency and effectiveness.

To contact the Office of the Inspector General, please call 301-837-3500 or 800-786-2551 (toll-free).

#    #    #

For PRESS information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.

10-97

May 26th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

‘Of all that we are fighting to preserve’
http://www.thonline.com/article.cfm?id=283507
BY BRUCE KAUFFMANN FOR THE TH
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Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during the Second World War, was not your typical soldier, as evidenced by the order he issued this week (May 26) in 1944, right before the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

Ike’s order directed his officers to “protect and respect,” to the extent possible, any cultural monuments — paintings, artwork, sculptures, historically significant buildings, etc. — that they encountered as they marched across Western Europe toward Nazi Germany.

Ike’s order stemmed from his horror at Allied destruction of the historic Abbey of Monte Cassino during the invasion of German-occupied Italy. Allied bombers had pulverized the centuries-old monastery — built around 529 A.D. — to root out German troops, only to discover no German troops were hiding there. Eisenhower was determined not to repeat that mistake.

He was helped immeasurably by an all-volunteer outfit of former art dealers, collectors, appraisers and general art aficionados who joined a  little-known U.S. Army unit called the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section. They called themselves the Monuments Men for short.

Their job was to attach themselves to Allied army units fighting across Europe, and whenever historically significant buildings or art works were identified as being in harm’s way, they were tasked with convincing battle-hardened army commanders — whose sole objective was to defeat the Germans regardless of the cost — to spare these cultural icons, even if it meant altering their military plans and objectives.

Given the intensity of combat against a German army fighting for survival, the Monuments Men were not always successful, at which point their job was to record the destruction of these cultural treasures for later repair and reconstruction.

The Monuments Men also spent significant time tracking down famous artworks stolen by high-ranking German officers and Nazi Party members. Among the most famous of these art thieves was Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Hitler’s second-in-command, whose personal collection of stolen art was hidden throughout Germany.

Artists whose work was recovered by this special unit included Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Vermeer and Michelangelo.

It was dangerous and often thankless work, and many Monuments Men were killed attempting to preserve the best of Europe’s cultural identity, meaning they died as much to save great art as to save democracy.

For decades their work was unknown and unsung. Indeed, it wasn’t until 2007 that the Monuments Men were honored for their mission, and  those honors came not from the U.S. Army, but from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which recognized them for having “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities.”

Ike, were he alive, would have approved. As he said of these cultural treasures, they are especially symbolic “of all that we are fighting to preserve.”

Kauffmann’s e-mail address is bruce@historylessons.net.

May 24th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

Police in Argentina Recover 77 Paintings Stolen Last November
http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=38089

Police officers stand behind a section of the recovered 74 paintings in Bueno Aires May 15, 2010. The paintings, stolen on November 2009 from a private museum and are valued at about $3 million, could be one of the biggest recoveries in terms of quantity in the police’s history according to police sources. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian.

BUENOS AIRES (REUTERS).- Some 77 paintings and other art objects by national and international artists valued at about $ 4 million were recovered by police in Argentina on Saturday.

Among the recovered works are paintings by artists like Antonio Berni, Raul Soldi, Lino Spilimbergo and other Argentine artists, together with original porcelain of high value.

The objects were stolen last November from a private collection in the town of Pilar about 60 kilometers from Buenos Aires.

The collection belongs to Doctor Omar Mantovani, who worked with the current coach of Argentina’s National soccer team, Diego Maradona, said sources consulted.

Police sources said that five persons had been arrested and that ten paintings still had to be recovered.

May 18th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Stolen gold Buddha statue recovered
http://www.dailynews.lk/2010/05/10/sec04.asp

Edward Weerasinghe – Kelaniya group correspondent

Kiribathgoda police has arrested three suspects wanted in connection with stealing a Gold Buddha statue worth over Rs. 250 lakhs. Western Province North DIG H. S. Dayananda, SSP Kelaniya Kithsiri Ganegama, ASP Kelaniya Anton Sirikumara directing investigations conducted by OIC Kiribathgoda Police I. P. Chaminda Edirisuriya and SI S. N. S. Samarasinghe and a police party recovered the stolen Gold Buddha statue in a CTB bus plying from Hanwella to Colombo on last Sunday night.

According to police investigations the Buddha statue was robbed by a gang of four who entered the house of Former PS Member Kelaniya Gaminie Senadeera at Dalugama, Kelaniya. The main culprit, who is from Horana is evading arrest.

Police also said that a person had come to buy this Buddha Statue from the main suspect for Rs. 250 lakhs. He had brought an advance of Rs 50 lakhs, OIC Chaminda Edirisuriya said.

The recovered Buddha statue was carved in 1864 and weighs 10 kilos. The Owner of the Buddha statue said the valuable Buddha statue was given to him by his father for daily veneration.

May 11th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Reassembled 15th-century altarpiece to go home
http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/Reassembled-15th-century-altarpiece-to-go-home/20696
St Korbinian panels by Friedrich Pacher will return to the Austrian pilgrimage church

By Martin Bailey | From issue 213, May 2010
Published online 6 May 10 (Conservation)

St Korbinian altarpiece

london. A 500-year altarpiece by Friedrich Pacher has recently been reassembled and will go back to the Alpine village for which it was commissioned. The wings were lost in the mid 19th century and have been purchased after a Nazi-era restitution case.

Dating from around 1480, the St Korbinian altarpiece has now been restored and is on temporary display in Vienna’s Belvedere gallery (until 18 July), before it returns to the pilgrimage church in Assling, in East Tyrol.

The panels were made by Tyrolean painter Friedrich Pacher. In the centre of the altarpiece is a sculpture of St Korbinian by Hans Klocker. The 3.5m-high ensemble remained on Assling’s high altar until 1660, when a baroque altarpiece was installed, and the earlier one was moved to a side wall.

Between 1850 and 1864 the double-sided wings were removed, and presumably sold off. In August 1927 its predella with scenes of the life of St Korbinian was stolen, but was recovered two months later.

It was not until 1999 that the wings were identified by German art historian Ulrich Söding. They were then on loan from the Dutch state art collection to the Stedelijk Museum in Zutphen. Further research revealed that by the early 1930s they were at St Ignatius College in Valkenburg, near Maastricht. The double-sided wings had already been separated, creating four panels, of which two had also been cut down at the top and bottom. In 1936 the wings were bought by Amsterdam dealer Jacques Goudstikker, whose collection was subject to a forced sale by the Nazis in 1940. The panels then went to Hermann Göring’s hunting lodge at Carinhall (and were returned to the Netherlands after the war).

In 2006 the Dutch government restituted the Goudstikker paintings to his heirs, who consigned most of them to Christie’s in 2007. The two pairs of wing paintings were sold as different lots, which means that they might have become separated after more than five centuries. The outer pair fetched £24,000 and the inner pair £192,000. Both were bought by the Tyrol authorities.

Conservation of the wings has proved complex. The double-sided wings had been sawn in two, and the wooden panels had then been thinned and later mounted on a chipboard support. The previous restoration, in 1963, was very poorly done, and retouched colours had aged and whitened, leaving blotches.

At the Vienna conservation studio of the Bundes denkmalamt (federal monument office) the ensemble was examined with x-rays and infrared reflectography, revealing Pacher’s underdrawing. The panels were cleaned and the damaged 1963 retouchings were removed and redone. The two which had been cut down were brought back to their original dimensions, with modern additions. The wings were then inserted into new frames, so that they can be displayed as originally intended.

May 6th, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

‘Monuments Men’ recovered art stolen by the Nazis
http://telegram.com/article/20100426/NEWS/4260395/1101
Author describes WWII heroics; 3 men had ties to Worcester Art Museum

Robert Edsel talks about soldiers who located and saved thousands of works of art stolen from European museums by the Nazis. (T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS)

By Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
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Nearly 65 years after the end of World War II, works of art stolen by the Nazis and numbering in the hundreds of thousands remain missing.

But in the years immediately after the war, 5 million items of cultural significance were returned thanks to the Monuments Men, an obscure group of museum directors, curators and others in the field of art.

They joined the military and were charged with finding missing art, usually stolen by the Nazis but sometimes stashed away for safekeeping by museum curators, and with returning it. Many times they put themselves in peril.

Some of those involved were from Massachusetts, including Lt. Cmdr. Perry Blythe Cott, Lt. Cmdr. George L. Stout and Pfc. Charles H. Sawyer, who all had ties to the Worcester Art Museum. Yesterday, members of the Stephen Salisbury Society heard of their exploits from author Robert M. Edsel.

Mr. Edsel explained that after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a telegram was sent to museums around the country notifying them of an emergency meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They would discuss plans to save culturally important items, including artwork.

The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program was soon born.

Adolf Hitler, who had hoped to become an artist or an architect, made lists of artwork he wanted displayed in the Fuhrermuseum he planned to build in his home town. He kept log books of the artwork he had stolen or bought, as well.

During yesterday’s presentation, Mr. Edsel, who wrote, “Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” showed slides depicting the discovery of artwork stashed in a copper mine.

The group also found gold, currency, and paintings by Rembrandt, da Vinci and Manet inside a salt mine. The works were returned.

At most, there were 350 Monuments Men and women from 13 countries. When other troops were leaving after the war, their work was continuing at full speed. They returned home in 1951.

Most people have never heard of the group, and it’s something that bothered Mr. Edsel. After he learned of their sacrifices, he set about making sure their story was told. He developed the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which works to find members of the group and to find missing works so they can be returned.

The foundation recently helped return to Germany the Gemaldegalerie Linz Album XIII, one of Hitler’s valued books in which he listed artwork he possessed.

It was, like many items, taken by a soldier as a souvenir. When he learned it was significant, he worked with the Monuments Men to return it.

The album is one of 31 believed kept by Hitler. Of those, 19 are believed to have survived the war and others are believed to have been destroyed, according to the Monuments Men newsletter.

Mr. Edsel said he believes we are entering a time in which some of the missing items may surface.

As soldiers from that era die and their families discover items they may have brought back from the war, he is hopeful they will contact the group and try to return the items to their rightful owners.

He said he hopes the public speaking he does, his book and the work of the remaining Monuments Men will encourage young people to have an interest in hearing the stories of the Monuments Men — and women. He said they may be encouraged to take a second look at the things their grandparents have and ask about them.

Items taken can never be sold, he explained, and as they are passed from generation to generation, their significance may be overlooked.

Those interested in learning more about the Monuments Men can visit www.monumentsmenfoundation.org.

May 3rd, 2010

Posted In: recovery, restitution

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April 28th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Stolen £20m masterpiece set to go back on display – with extra security
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2010/04/25/stolen-20m-masterpiece-set-to-go-back-on-display-with-extra-security-86908-22210965/
Apr 25 2010 Exclusive by Steve Smith, Sunday Mail

THE Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece stolen from a Scots castle is to go back on display – protected by new alarms and security systems.

We can reveal that plans have been drawn up to return the painting – worth an estimated £20million – to the Duke of Buccleuch’s Drumlanrig Castle, near Dumfries.

The artwork – Madonna Of The Yarnwinder – was stolen during a daring robbery at the castle almost seven years ago by a gang posing as tourists.

After threatening terrified staff with an axe, the raiders snatched the painting from the wall and escaped in a getaway car, which was later found abandoned.

Relatives of the then owner – the late Duke of Buccleuch – said he was devastated by the loss He died in September 2007, just weeks before it was eventually recovered.

Now his son, Richard Montagu Douglas Scott, the 10th Duke, is to be reunited with the family’s most prized possession, currently on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. A source said: “Plans are in place to return the painting to Drumlanrig after the loan period ends.

“It is likely that it will back on display at the castle early next year.

“This will be a huge occasion for the family because they felt such a devastating loss.”

The painting will be protected by the latest computerised systems following a massive overhaul of security.

Pressure pads and movement-detection lasers have been installed to protect the Duke’s art collection.

The CCTV network – which captured images of the 2003 robbery – has also been extended.

Extra security guards have not been employed but visitors to the castle must follow a tour guide through its halls and rooms.

The source added: “It is fair to say that security at Drumlanrig was extensively reviewed and seriously beefed-up following the robbery and is now state-of-the-art.

“The Duke’s family have taken advice from the police and security experts around the world to make sure their collection is protected to the highest level.”

Earlier this week five men charged with holding the masterpiece to ransom were cleared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

English lawyer Marshall Ronald, 53, and private detectives Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, were acquitted on not proven verdicts.

Two Scottish lawyers, David Boyce, 63, and Callum Jones, 45, were unanimously found not guilty. The men had been accused of hatching a plot to demand a £4.25million ransom from the late duke to get the painting back.

The court heard that Graham and Doyle contacted Ronald after being tipped off by contacts in Liverpool about the possible return of the masterpiece.

Police later launched an undercover operation which led to the arrests and the artwork being seized from Boyce and Jones’ Glasgow offices.

The present Duke told the court of the devastation the robbery had caused the family.

He said: “It was hugely emotionally important for all of us in the family, but I think for my father in particular, who felt most keenly its loss.

“It was clear to anyone who knew him that he was deeply upset by the loss and by the lack of any progress in recovering the painting.”

Detectives are continuing their hunt for the robbers and have issued new CCTV images of two men who visited Drumlanrig days before the painting was stolen.

April 25th, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Gold stolen from Hillsboro museum recovered
Associated Press – April 22, 2010 10:25 AM ET
http://www.ktvz.com/Global/story.asp?S=12355890

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) – The Washington County sheriff’s office says detectives have recovered nearly all the gold that was stolen from the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals in Hillsboro.

Detectives were led to the gold at an apartment in Tigard by a suspect who was arrested Wednesday in Portland.

He’s identified as 28-year-old Jeff Harvey of Portland, the great-grandson of Richard and Helen Rice who founded the museum in the 1930s and the grandson of Bill and Sharleen Rice who donated most of the gold.

The gold, valued at more than $250,000, was taken from a safe in a Saturday night burglary at the museum west of Portland. Assistant museum director Linda Kepford said one 42-ounce nugget is valued at more than $50,000.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

April 23rd, 2010

Posted In: Museum thefts, recovery

Stolen art found
http://www2.canada.com/burnabynow/news/story.html?id=abbe7321-a604-465a-be99-221e6bd4d91e
Burnaby artist’s work is part of Haiti fundraiser on May 1

Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Bob Garlick was relieved to find his art piece The Telephone Buddha leaning against a fence in his neighbourhood after it was taken from his home last week.

Garlick had been searching the area near Alpha Secondary, at 4600 Parker St., over the weekend. He found the piece about two blocks from the school on Sunday afternoon.

He was very relieved, as the artwork is going to be part of the One World Art Show and Haiti Fundraiser on May 1.

View Larger Image
Recovered: Bob Garlick’s work The Telephone Buddha.

Photo contributed/BURNABY NOW

Garlick was prepared to recreate the piece, if necessary.

“I think that’s why I found it,” he said, laughing. “The universe realized I was not giving up.”

The work was not damaged, though Garlick said it would not be an issue if it was, as it is a distressed piece and had been left out in the elements as part of the creative process.

The foundation for The Telephone Buddha is driftwood held together with rusty bolts. It displays a decayed wooden Buddha attached by copper wire to gold cellphones. The circular design represents the Wheel of Dhamma, an important Buddhist symbol.

The piece is Garlick’s commentary on consumerism and Buddhism in Thai society, according to a review by Thanom Chapakdee.

“With it, he simultaneously explains and criticizes Thai society and focuses our attention on the conflict between consumerism and Buddhism,” Chapakdee wrote in a review posted on Garlick’s website.

The piece represents the situation in Haiti, as well, Garlick said, because it is rough and distressed.

While other artwork in the show will be in good condition and reflect reality in Canada, he believes his reflects the reality in Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean island nation last January.

“It is a little out of sync with the reality in Canada and more in sync with the situation in Haiti,” Garlick said.

Garlick is listing the piece at $10,000 and will donate half of that to Safewater Nexus if it sells.

One World is a fundraiser for Safewater Nexus, a non-governmental organization based in Tennessee that has been working in Haiti since the earthquake hit.

Matt Chambers, director and co-founder of Safewater Nexus, is slated to speak at the fundraiser.

All proceeds from artwork auctioned at the event will go to Safewater Nexus, said organizer Monika Blichar. Ticket sales will go to Blichar’s company, Mab Ventures Inc. The company is raising funds for a community art centre in the future, she added.

One World has sold about 300 tickets so far, Blichar said. More than 40 sponsors are supporting the fundraiser.

The event will feature work from more than 60 artists, a body art competition, live art by Jim Cummins – also known as I, Braineater – and a silent auction.

An auction will take place at 11:30 p.m., as well, for some of the bigger ticket items.

Safewater Nexus was in Haiti six days after the quake hit, mobilizing specialty relief teams and distributing food, water, tents and medical supplies, as well as helping with evacuations.

The group is now developing intermediate and long-term rebuilding solutions, including a new village community, school, orphanage, church, clean water project, garden initiative, medical clinic and mission compound.

The Haitian government has reported that more than 200,000 people died in the quake and approximately one million were displaced.

The One World fundraiser takes place on Saturday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Science World in Vancouver.

Tickets are $25. Buy at www.clubzone.com or from Blichar by calling 604-999-6177 or e-mailing monika_blichar@hotmail.com.

© Burnaby Now 2010

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April 22nd, 2010

Posted In: recovery

Davy Crockett’s Marriage License Returned to Jefferson County
posted April 20, 2010
http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_173834.asp
He is known in as “King of the Wild Frontier” – a frontiersman, soldier and politician who, according to legend, could wade the Mississippi River, leap the Ohio River or ride a streak of lightning.

Yet early in his life, Davy Crockett was also a jilted lover. He obtained a marriage license to wed Margaret Elder, who broke his heart by marrying someone else instead. Although the marriage never happened, the marriage license remained on file at the Jefferson County Courthouse until it was lost decades ago.

Now, thanks to the hard work and persistence of officials in Jefferson County and the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, the document has been safely returned to the Jefferson County Clerk’s vault.

“This important historical document has now been returned to its rightful place in the public domain,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees the State Library and Archives. “I am grateful for the role our dedicated staff played in securing this item.”

Margaret Smith, a Tampa resident, claimed that her family obtained the document long ago, when Jefferson County court officials were discarding old records. Smith maintained that her uncle had saved the license from certain destruction.

The license was featured on the Antiques Roadshow television program in 2005, where appraisers estimated its value between $25,000 and $50,000.

However valuable the document may be to collectors, Assistant State Archivist Wayne Moore said it remains public property under state law.

Moore said that according to Tennessee Codes Annotated 39-16-504 – the state’s “Replevin” law – public records cannot be bought or sold.

“Tennessee has a Replevin law that allows for the restoration of public documents to public control,” Moore said. “Lost or stolen public records should not and cannot be owned by private individuals.”

Lura Hinchey, Jefferson County’s archivist, was unsuccessful in her efforts to convince Smith to turn over the document when Smith visited the county archives in 1999.

Moore said the State Library and Archives staff tries to advise and assist Tennessee counties that encounter problems with lost or stolen records.

Moore has become a national authority on the subject of Replevin laws, acting as chairman of a national task force for the Council of State Archivists which is dedicated to stopping the trafficking of government records

After a lengthy legal battle, Davy Crockett’s marriage license was returned to Jefferson County after the Circuit Court there ruled the document legally belonged to the county.

“I didn’t think it would take thirteen years,” Hinchey said of the battle to return the document to its proper home.

Replevin cases in Tennessee do not always involve famous figures in Tennessee history. Moore said the case of Davy Crockett’s marriage license was unusual not only because it involved a famous person.

“It is rare for a county to go after its records – it takes a lot of effort and persistence,” Moore said. “Jefferson County officials and the county archivists, Mr. and Mrs. (James and Lura) Hinchey, deserve a lot of credit for bringing this piece of Tennessee history home to Dandridge.”

For more information about the Replevin law and public records in Tennessee, go to: http://tn.gov/tsla/aps/replevin/replevin.htm.

April 21st, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports, recovery