4 March 2014

Saturday - March 15, 2014

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, the Westfield Art Association will host the "Gardner Heist Gossips" by Charles Vincent Sabba - fine artist and police officer. If you have not heard about the Gardner Heist, or if you thought you knew all there was to know about it, attend this presentation and discover that you really didn't know very much at all about it until now.

For the last 20 years, Charles Sabba has divided his life between being a career law enforcement officer and an artist. As an artist he got particularly involved in conducting visual investigations into the underworld of art and art crimes. While conducting these visual art theft investigations, Sabba has traveled to Boston, London, Amsterdam, Rome and beyond to meet with both notorious art thieves and world renowned art theft investigators who posed for him to paint their portraits.

Sabba has paid particular attention to the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist over the last 23 years and has befriended both the major suspects and investigators involved in the case. In this artist discussion Sabba will shed light on this on going mystery of a robbery that resulted in the loss of over $500 million dollars in masterpieces including works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet and Degas.


Charles Sabba explaining his Gardner Heist canvas to ex-Federal Prosecutor, now Director of United Intelligence, William Callahan and the NYPD's master art theft investigator Detective Mark Fishstein. This photo was taken in 2012 at the Salmagundi Art Club in Manhattan.


Charles Sabba pointing out one of the main suspects on the canvas to Unitel Director William Callahan and the NYPD's art theft investigator Mark Callahan. Sabba was previously the Consulting Art Loss Director of Unitel prior to its transfer of operations from New York to London.


This presentation will take place at the Community Room of the Westfield Municipal Building, 425 East Broad Street, Westfield, NJ 07090. The Community Room is handicapped-accessible and the presentation is open to the public. WAA members - no charge. A $10 donation at the door is requested from each non-member.


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4 March 2014

FBI reopens 40-year-old art-heist case at Amherst College

latimes.com
David Ng
February 26, 2014




A nearly 40-year-old cold case involving the theft of a valuable work of art from Amherst College has been reopened in the hopes of locating the Dutch Golden Age painting.

The FBI is working with Amherst's Mead Art Museum to locate a work stolen in 1975 from the museum in Massachusetts. The canvas, which dates from the 17th or 18th century, was one of three paintings torn from their frames during a break-in.

Mead Art Museum officials announced this month that they are working with the Boston division of the FBI and the FBI's Art Crime Team to try to solve the case.

The missing work is Jan Baptist Lambrechts' "Interior With Figures Smoking and Drinking." In the years since the theft, officials have recovered the other two pieces: Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet's "The Interior of the New Church, Delft" and Pieter Lastman's "St. John the Baptist."

In 1989, police in Illinois recovered the paintings by Van Vliet and Lastman during a drug sting. Myles Connor Jr., a notorious bank robber, was arrested for the theft and he later detailed the art heist in his 2009 book "The Art of the Heist."

The missing Lambrechts painting is registered with the National Stolen Art File.

Heath Cummings, the museum's director of security, said in a release this month that after collecting and reviewing old files, news articles and witness recollections, "it is safe to say we have learned all we can about the theft, enough to officially reopen the investigation."

Individuals with any information relating to the theft, or to the location of the painting, should contact the FBI at (617) 742-5533 or online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

The missing work is an oil on canvas painting and measures about 22 inches by 19.5 inches.


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10 November 2013

Congratulations to Christopher Marinello for the start up of his new company Art Recovery International!


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that after 7 years as General Counsel for the Art LossRegister, I have left the company to form Art Recovery International, a London based partnership that specializes in recovering stolen, missing, and looted works of art. I have assembled a small team of legal experts and other professionals who offer discreet and bespoke services to collectors, dealers, insurers, museums and artists.

While our primary focus is on art recovery and resolving complex title disputes, we also provide due diligence services and provenance research. We will be active in education on art crime and cultural heritage preservation and plan on instituting a pro bono service for artists, eligible claimants, and non-profit institutions.

We are also working with a number of developers to build what will be the most comprehensive central database of stolen and looted artwork, title disputes, fakes and forgeries, and works that may be subject to financial security interests. Utilizing the most advanced technology available, the database will be run ethically, responsibly and with respect for the rule of law.

This is the ground floor of a very exciting business. I am open-minded to ideas and policies and recognize that all of you have either years of experience or youthful brilliance to impart. I welcome and appreciate both and thank you in advance for your support.

Please visit us at http://www.artrecovery.com (currently under construction) and contact me as you wish at chris@artrecovery.com.

Yours sincerely,
Christopher A. Marinello
Director
Art Recovery International


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29 June 2012

Watch Charles Sabba's presentation of Gardner Gossips
to the Salmagundi Club in NYC



The May 16, 2012 revealing of Gardner Gossips at the Salmagundi Club in NYC is now available to watch on our Wire page.


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16 May 2012

Gardner Gossips is Revealed



This is a new approach to the Gardner Museum Art Robbery investigation and reporting on the caper, that is, an artist using art itself to investigate an art heist.

Over the years multiple informants have dropped names and gave info, investigators have expressed theories, reporters have written many article about the crime, TV show host, documentaries, film producers, all have something to say about the crime and each other. Paul "Turbo" Hendry who runs the Art Hostage blog, told me once "they are all a bunch of gossips aren't they." Yea, like Norman Rockwell's Gossips. We conceived of this large painting of everyone talking and he commissioned it that day.

My painting portrays many of the larger than life characters who were somehow involved in the Gardner Museum robbery investigation- thieves, suspects, investigators, agents, reporters, and TV show hosts, to name just a few. This canvas is made up of 32 involved people who were involved- either directly or by rumor and gossip- in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery in which $500 million worth of art was stolen. On this canvas I am portraying some of those numerous suspects, along with the agents and reporters, who have had a lot to say over the last 22 years and they are still talking.






All persons involved in art crimes who wish to pose for portraits should contact Charles Sabba at: sabba@yourbrushwiththelaw.com

All inquiries about our art consultant services should be sent to:
sabba@yourbrushwiththelaw.com

All confidential info should be forwarded to:
confidentialinfo@yourbrushwiththelaw.com

Info about Unitel can be found here:
http://unitel.com/art-loss-consultants
http://unitel.com/


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8 May 2012

Art Crimes Syposium

July 30-August 3, 2012

Join FBI art theft investigative expert Virginia Curry and the esteemed veteran of art theft investigation Dick Ellis at this art crimes symposium at Stonehill College, North Easton, Massachusetts

Presenting the Dick Ellis and Virginia Curry partnership with Stonehill College. We take full advantage of the beautiful campus and the rich resources of the greater Boston area.

We offer participants a "hands on" connection and an exceptional experience of scholarship and professionalism with art. There will be lecturers on campus each morning focusing on topics which initiate the student to the economics of art, provide suggestions for researching their own areas of art interest and of course we will discuss crimes against art. We share our first hand international experience, scholarship and current topics in the field.

In the afternoons we visit several museums, premier art galleries and conduct practical exercises, such as participation in a mock auction at Stonehill. We'll learn how auctions are conducted at a major Boston fine art auction house in our behind the scenes visit. We will meet museum professionals who will explain their function in regard to exhibition preparation and curation.

We’ll even try our hand at solving on site, the most important unsolved museum heist in U.S. history.

We will observe how conservation specialists work and how security managers manage the risk of the exposure of their treasures. We'll speak with the curator of an important corporate collection to see how business collects and presents investment art.

This unique seminar adventure equips you to pursue your interest in collecting and appreciating art and understanding the diverse crimes against art like none other. This is quite possibly the most interesting and exciting opportunity in which to spend your summer holiday this year!

Please note the new lower tuition which reflects several generous endowments we have received in support of this program

Tuition Fee is $699. U.S. Kindly review the Stonehill College page for details and registration

http://www.artcrimesymposium.com/

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19 April 2012

When Art Theft becomes art itself

When you ask him how as a policeman he got started in art, Charlie will politely correct your perception. "It's the other way around. I am an artist first and then a policeman," he states with a refreshing mix of artistic exuberance and sensibility that emits only from those who are clearly established 'in their element'. Actually, artist Charlie is a police sergeant, an art theft investigator and art loss consultant as well, formally speaking. Even though as Unitel's Director of Art Recovery Consultancy Unit, he's concentrated on some of the largest art theft mysteries in human history, not as traditional law enforcement does, but more akin to the enigmatic world of intelligence gathers, which is an unusual offshoot of the crime solving industry to begin with, leave it to an artist to take things to a whole new level. And this particular art theft consultant has done just that. On May 16th at 8pm, Charles Sabba will seamlessly blend both careers and present to the public some behind-the-scenes insight on the search for the thieves via The Gardner Museum Heist Exhibition-lecture at the Salmagundi Club in NYC.

Accompanying Charles at his lecture will be an 8' x 10' Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist freshly painted depiction, which includes many of the prominent figures that were and are involved in the 22 year old 'unsolved' case. If ever there were a way to artfully document this fascinating study of human behavior at it's worst and best - it is through Mr. Sabba, who paints with the unusual edge of an insider's eye. The estimated heist price was $500 million and included works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas and Manet. It connected an heiress, mobsters and politicians, and a host of prominent business men and women spanning over a few decades and continents. The incredible irony of this long-running hi-end drama and the upcoming unveiling in May is that the original criminals actually kicked off the heist - dressed in police uniforms.

Mr. Sabba, who can often be found in his art loft at The duCret School of Art, located in Plainfield NJ, is a typical artist only in that - as artists often do - he has managed to put a whole new and rather lighthearted twist on the redundant theme of 'humans stealing from other humans'. It temporarily lifts a soul's focus away from the similarly unsolvable political and banking industry foibles of recent years. Perhaps in the very near future, someone might even be savvy enough to commission Mr. Sabba to paint the connected-iconic figures involved in creating and proliferating the 'disappearing money syndrome' that became a devastated world economy!

Both the upcoming lecture and exhibition at the Salmagundi Club are open to the public and the admission is free. In the name of the world's largest 'whodunit' art theft case, this should be one very interesting crowd to mingle amongst. A reception party will begin at 6:30pm and the lecture will begin at 8pm. The Salmagundi Dining Room and bar will be open to the public during the exhibition. For dinner reservations, call (212) 255-7740. Dinner is served Tues - Fri, 6 - 9pm with the bar open Mon - Fri, 5:00 - 10:30pm. The Salmagundi Club is located at Forty-Seven Fifth Avenue | New York, NY 10003. For more information regarding Charles Sabba, contact duCret school of Art at 908-757-7171 between 9am - 4pm or ducret.edu


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18 April 2012

Charles Sabba's Visual Investigation into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist

The date: March 18, 1990. The time: 1:20 A.M. The place: Boston. Two lone figures sit quietly in a small hatchback on Palace Road, carefully watching the clock and waiting. As the clock strikes 1:24 A.M., the figures, dressed in police uniforms, move silently to a side door of a business and knock. These men do not appear threatening or out of place yet they are about to commit one of the greatest art thefts of all time: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist.

Twenty two years have passed since that night and the whereabouts of the stolen works still remain a mystery; works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas, Manet and others with an estimated worth of $300 million. How did this happen? Who was involved? Where are the works now?

On Wednesday, May 16, at 8:00 p.m. Salmagundi Member and Art Cop Charles V. Sabba will shed new light on these questions and others. As Director of Unitel’s Art Loss Re-covery Division, Mr. Sabba has been involved with the investigation for some time and has even gotten close enough to many of the suspects in the case to paint their portrait. These portraits as well as other works by Mr. Sabba, will be on view May 13-19 in the Patrons’ Gallery Exhibition, Charles Sabba’s Visual Investigation into the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum Heist.

Both the lecture and exhibition are open to the public and admission is free.

Click to print a .pdf of the flyer

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1 January 2012

Gardner Bullets V: A Sealed Case




Lets talk seriously now, and after over twenty years I think serious discussion is overdue since many of the principles have passed away, and if the few who are left go as well, they may take the secrets the possess with them, such as where the stolen art is (and we do believe the authorities know everything except WHERE the thirteen stolen items ended up). Seriously, the Gardner Museum security at the time of the robbery was a joke, so the museum administration and board members need to be held accountable and owe something to the American art loving people. They can rectify their negligence in the protection of our national treasures by taking drastic actions to recover the stolen art works. The head of security at the time of the robbery was incompetent and the guards were broken down valises who knew nothing about museum security. Why did these guards get off the hook so easy? Burnout musicians who opened the door to the museum even though the museum's policy clearly stated that they should never open the door for anyone. The Gardner guards allowed the robbers in and, after being duct taped up and secured to pipes in the basement, slept comfortably. Does a reasonable citizen relax enough to fall asleep into sweet dream land in this kind of situation while going through this kind of horrible ordeal? Then, after being discovered and liberated, these guards gave ridiculous descriptions to the police which culminated in those terrible composite sketches.

Two composite sketches of suspects: After Neville BPD; fingerprint ink on fingerprint card; Charles Sabba

Please recall (and refer to Gardner Bullets IV) that the Simmon's College guard was completely in on the 1982 robbery. Supposedly, the people who planned the Gardner heist never knew about the place until the Simmons guard turned them on to the score back in 1982, when he was covering for his pal at the Gardner Museum (the guard at the Gardner, a musician, was at a gig and the Simmon's guard was making his rounds).

It appears that the authorities are protecting these guards. The Gardner guard has never caught any public heat. These kids were no criminal masterminds, they could have never withstood the heat that they should have had to endure. I am positive they were pissing their pants in fear, being stuck between very dangerous underworld figures and the authorities/possible legal troubles. Please note the one little blurb in Tom Mashberg's & Anthony Amore's book about stolen Rembrandts that in Museum robberies it is usually an employee that is involved with thefts. There is usually an inside connection (and most museum security experts agree).

Where are they now? The Simmons guard died in the motor cycle accident. One of the Gardner guards supposedly died in France. One of the Gardner guards lived right around the corner from one of your William Youngworth's Allston antique stores at the time of the robbery. He allegedly was assaulted (reported recently in the Boston media) in front of the Allston antiques store. I personally would like to find and question all of the guards.

CVS: Why did Mashberg write about the guard living around the corner from the store on the twentieth anniversary of the heist?

WY: Who knows. Maybe its true. I didn’t know the guy. I vividly recall the argument I got into with Mashberg that started his attacking me the very next day. He probably printed the story to bait me into saying something about it. That was not so much a robbery as a gimme (staged robbery). I never saw two security guards on duty at anytime. That’s not to say there wasn’t but the security was a joke. In 1986 my friend had his own relationship going with a Gardner night security guard. The Gardner was just another score in the 80’s. In 86 we were just waiting for some security information. ...

CVS: During the negotiations with the Gardner Admin and the authorities, negotiations that eventually failed, did the authorities ask you to describe any of the circumstances of the theft? How about the condition of of the paintings? Did they ask to describe the backs, edges or under where the frame would hide?

WY: In the initial part of the negotiations they wanted me to describe things about the backs of the paintings I just did not know. They asked me about identification aspects that at the time I really never had a reason to note. They expected me to leave and go find those answers under intense surveillance. They obviously wanted me to access the package and lead them right to it. Now, many years later, as I understood it there was a Bernard Berenson tag on the piece and there were seals, or labels, that went between the stretcher bars and the canvas. The paintings were broken out of their frames and the seals were broken in the process.

These seals are designed to be like a seal indicating the actual artworks were original to the frames of that institution. Many museum collections do this. Its sort of a security/integrity feature ensuring the art work hadn’t been moneyed around with.

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29 December 2011

Turbo Exclusive!




The dual exclusive interviews of Charles V. Sabba and Paul "Turbo" Hendry are now available to view on our Wire page.

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26 December 2011

Gardner Bullets IV: Simmons College Robbery




This is a small excerpt of a much longer Your Brush With The Law exclusive interview that will be posted here in March for the anniversary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. This interview is going to reveal never before discussed details of the robbery and shed light onto the case.



CVS: Please shed light on the Simmons College robbery that occurred right across the street from the Gardner Museum eight years prior (1982) to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum robbery.

WY: Well, that night was our first trip into the Gardner Museum, our second was in like 1986 or 87. My god, its all such ancient history now. First I would like to address this criminal attachment to my name. In 1977 I was given a 13 year prison sentence for something I was cold blooded innocent of. I was indentified as a get away driver in an armed robbery that I did not do.

CVS: You weren't doing anything illegal back then?

WY: I wouldn’t go that far, but in my world back then it was then as legal as I could make it. I was working with a close friend making fake I.D.’s. My friend was a genius at photography. We were making licenses for Joe McDonald’s crew who used them in a horse racing fixing racket around the country. It all came tumbling down right about then.

We got $500 a piece for our I.D. kit which were so good that they could take a call from a cop if someone got pulled over. We had made our equipment portable. We were using the same equipment Massachusetts DMV’s were using. We would rent hotel rooms never in the same place twice, call Joe’s guys and tell them where to come. We would make ten I.D. kits per session, collect our $5,000 and be gone. We did it a few times per week and making good money for back then....

CVS: So how did you end up in the Gardner Museum?

WY: We first were walked through and shown the Gardner and we cased the museum a second time in 1986. Some guy that wasn’t in our crew got our ID cameras busted in a drug raid. He had been dealing coke right under our noses, which put our operation in jeapordy. He met this girl in a bar and brings her back to our safe house. One thing led to another, she saw too much, went to the cops and we lose all our equipment. During this same week we had a major ID order to fill. My other friend is this super connected guy in Boston and he put the world out we need Polariod 707 ID cameras and will pay $10,000 each for them. In less then two days we had a lead on some. They were in Simmons College in Boston.

CVS: The Simmons College robbery isn’t that widely known is it?

WY: I did let it out when I was pleading with the Gardner to act fast because I was losing my toe hold on my ability to assist them without it becoming drastically more complicated. They didn’t listen. But your right it was basically brushed aside. Funny, I’ve never had to prove how guilty I was before! Each time we looked at the Gardner Museum, we were cautioned that some of the frames were very possibly wired into the alarms. There were a lot of unknowns we were waiting for answers on. Before those answers came I had gotten picked up on an old charge.

CVS: For our readers that don’t know Boston, or haven’t been to the Gardner Museum, Simmons College and the Gardner are directly across a small street from one another.

WY: Anyway, my friend’s contact was the night time guard of the Simmons. Since the plan would give us the control over the entire college we cleaned out their Audio Visual lab and got our hands on equipment we had been wanting to lay our hands on for years.

CVS: This gets a little hard to ignore. Please tell us how Simmons was robbed.

WY: Sure. The exact same way the Gardner Museum was in 1990. It was knock, knock, "open up it’s the police". "Were here over a distress call we received". It took four of us, including the guard about four hours to clean the place out. We had a connection that ran a large commercial division of a rental truck company and had to get the truck back by 6:30AM before the day shift showed up at 7:00AM. This was our first tour of the Gardner. Our guard and their’s were both musicans and social buddies. Truthfully I never knew about the place and it was the Simmons guard who turned us on to the score. We got in there that night after we got done at Simmons. We put a look out up the street and he gave us the all clear for us to take the truck from around back of Simmon’s loading dock, a few hundred feet down Palace Road and around the block re-connecting to Huntintgon Ave.

CVS: What was the guard’s story who was involved? And you know I need to ask about your first trip into the Gardner.

WY: Certainly we’ll get back to that but his statement was that uniformed Boston Police Officers had handcuffed him, took him down into a basement stairwell and re-handcuffed him to a railing.

CVS: I have done some checking into this. Simmons has no comment about this, the Boston Police have such a brief report that’s it ridiculous and two paintings in the Dean’s office were cut from their frames.

WY: I actually believe that the original report was much more detailed. Actually I am certain of it. Our guard brought us a copy. We were actually using it as an information on the items we ended up selling and didn’t need. And your information about two paintings being cut from their frames is 100% correct. When our guard saw my friends ’passion’ for art he told us all about what was right next door.

CVS: You cut paintings from the frames?

WY: Heavens no! When I saw what he did I was very upset. These really weren’t that big a deal paintings. They weren’t worth much. Just two nice late 19th Century portraits of old faculty members. They were portraits of men and this is a women’s college. I recoiled when I saw what he had done. He didn’t really care and simply rolled them up. You know what, in re-telling that story I recall I never knew what happened to those paintings.

CVS: So let me get this straight. Right across the street from the Gardner, where eight years later a $500 million robbery occurs 100 feet away where the guard says he was summoned to the door by persons claiming to be police, the police over power the guard, hand cuff him in a basement, take control of the place and cut paintings out of frames...and that wasn’t a clue to investigators?

WY: That is correct.
Rembrandt; oil on canvas; 2010; detail of larger canvas by Charles Sabba


Van Rijn; oil on canvas; 2010; detail of larger canvas by Charles Sabba


Storm on Sea of Galilee; Rembrandt Van Rijn; Stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.



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5 December 2011 - The Wire Page

You can now view Sabba's art theft lectures and TV interviews, as well as other lectures on the art arena's underworld, on our new WIRE page.


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14 October 2011

My good friend Det Sgt Vernon Rapley served the Metropolitan Police honorably as the head of the Art & Antiques Crimes Squad at New Scotland Yard. Vernon is now in pension from The Yard and has assumed the distinguished post of director of security at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Ian Lawson and Michelle Roycroft's portraits are next!!! Good people with great faces!!!


Detective Segeant Vernon Rapley; oil on canvas; 2011; by Charles Sabba (8" x 12 " smaller study for larger 24" x 28" portrait of Vernon seated at table).


Det Sergeant Vernon Rapley and Sergeant Charles Sabba in London 2009.

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13 October 2011 - Happy Birthday Oliver!


Oliver Samuel Hendry: The Next Great British Art Collector; oil on canvas; 2011;
detail of much larger canvas by Charles Sabba.



Oliver with the Ryan and Cecilia Brown


Oliver and Paul Turbo Hendry in their backyard on the English Channel


Oliver with Cecilia Brown (the director of the Y Gallery on The Bowery) at Charles Sabba's Y Gallery art exhibit


Oliver at Christies New York.


Buon Compleanno!

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24 August 2011 - Art Thefts on the rise

Art thefts on the rise across North America
Experts and police say high profile of valuable works leads to crime increase

The Art Newspaper, London
by Charlotte Burns
24 Aug 2011

NEW YORK. A recent spate of high profile thefts suggests that art crime is increasing. The FBI estimates that international art crime, which includes fakes, forgeries and thefts, is now worth more than $6bn annually.

This figure has doubled from around $3bn a decade ago, according to former federal agent Robert Wittman. “Art crime is on the rise because it is basically an economic crime. Art is one of the safe havens at this point, as far as assets are concerned, and criminals are not immune to seeing that in the papers and seeing the rise in auction prices,” said Wittman, who now runs a private consultancy which specialises in recovering lost or stolen art.


Robert Whittman

Others argue that the volume of crime itself has not increased, but rather the public's awareness of it. As the value of art has soared, the media’s interest in it, and coverage of thefts, has risen in tandem, creating the perception of increased crime levels. “Art crime is seen as a sexy crime so is widely reported in the papers: an exciting heist makes a great news story,” said Robert Korzinek, fine art expert at specialist insurer Hiscox. The firm sustained a £85.6m pre-tax loss in the first half of the year. While the bulk of this figure is unrelated to art, due largely to natural catastrophes, hefty art claims took a notable toll, with large pay-outs on policies including a painting stolen from a Dutch museum and a work damaged in transit. However, Korzinek argues that art crime itself is not necessarily on the rise, but rather that “its importance is seen as different now. Ten years ago works of art were worth considerably less—the age of the $100m picture hadn’t arrived, and that injected a whole new glamour into the art world. It increases the attention.”

Art lawyer Donn Zaretsky of John Silberman Associates agrees: “The increased coverage of art theft may be leading to ever more art theft, because one common feature of many art theft stories is just how easy it is. You hear about underfunded museums, about lax security, about million dollar paintings hanging in busy hotel lobbies…That’s bound to have an impact.”

Nonetheless, most thieves are simply opportunists, said Detective Don Hrycyk art theft division. “Most of the street thugs we deal with will take whatever is inside a house—they don’t care if it is cash, cameras or bronze sculptures.” However, specialised art thieves are out there. Last month two Chinese Louhan sculptures, between 900 and 1,000 years old and worth $800,000 each, were stolen from Westport, Connecticut. “I was surprised. To see something like that taken gives you pause: it means someone knew what they were looking for,” said Wittman.


Detective Don Hrycyk

One noticeable feature of art crime is that the victim often knows the perpetrator, said Hrycyk. “With art crime, there are a greater number of suspects who have had an acquaintance with their victims, whether it’s a co-worker or the pool-man, there is an association through which they’ve come to know what [the victim] has. People who collect art can be very proud of what they have. Some give grand tours, and so whet appetites,” he added.

The good news is that looted art is difficult to off-load. Hrycyk’s two-man department has recovered $81m worth of art in the past 15 years, a better statistic than the 21 other theft squads in the LAPD. He said this is due to the nature of the material itself: “Art is ultimately one of the best types of property to recover. A thief is not going to try to change a work of art because that would destroy the value. Often a work can lay low for years before surfacing, but it will pop up years later—then we’re off and running.”

Wittman agrees: “Thieves may be good criminals, but they’re often terrible businessmen. Most are common criminals who will steal anything. In all other crime there is no problem in monetising the loot: if you steal drugs or jewellery, you get money. You can chop up a car and sell it for parts. You can’t shift a stolen Picasso,” he said.

One peculiarity of art theft, however, is that the crimes are not necessarily commercial. A cache of stolen art was discovered in a New Jersey apartment this July following the arrest of Mark Lugo, a former sommelier, for stealing Picasso’s pencil drawing, Tête de Femme, 1965, from San Francisco’s Weinstein gallery on 5 July. That arrest led police to Lugo’s apartment where they discovered a museum-quality collection of 11 works including a Leger sketch from the Manhattan’s Carlyle Hotel and a Malick Sidibé photograph from New York’s Jack Shainman gallery. Lugo has been arrested on three felony counts: commercial burglary, grand theft of personal property and possession of stolen property, and is awaiting trial. “The way it sounds, he just likes art,” Sgt Sam Williams of the Hoboken Police Department told the media. “That’s a collector mentality,” said Wittman. “It’s nothing new—but it doesn’t happen with bank robbers.”

Here are three more capers in a recent spate of high profile thefts
that suggest art crime is increasing in North America:


A thief stole $400,000 worth of historic gold pieces from New Jersey’s Sterling Hill Mining Museum in the middle of the day on 27 July. An axe was used to break through the Plexiglass that encased the 20-piece collection. The museum’s co-founder, Richard Hauck, is offering a $25,000 reward for the safe return of the collection.

A $100,000 poster by Brooklyn-based street artist KAWS, Untitled (Calvin Klein), 1999, was stolen from New York’s Marc Ecko gallery on 11 August.

A quill pen-and-ink drawing believed to be by Rembrandt, The Judgment, 1655, was stolen from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, California, on 13 August. Valued at $250,000, the work was recovered two days later in a rather unlikely place—St Nicholas Episcopal Church in Encino, 19 miles away. Police say the church’s pastor was not involved in the theft and are still searching for the suspect


Rembrandt Self Portrait; fingerprint ink on card done by Charles Sabba.

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20 August 2011 - Bulger/Youngworth Showdown.

Did Whitey Bulger just drop William Youngworth's name to the Feds as a past possessor of the stolen Gardner artworks? Obviously immunity is completely out of the question for Bulger who is facing multiple homicide charges, so even if he could (and he cannot!) negotiate the artworks return it would not benefit him one bit. But he must know something about America's most tragic cultural loss. We are Gardner Gossips hear from the street that Whitey is whispering about who was involved. Here is what Billy Youngworth has to say:

"And its strike three-They finally had to haul Whitey in and “No Art”. How sad for the Gardner. Maybe you're still holding out hope. Sometimes its all you have. I bet the “world’s biggest crime scene” attraction is even petering out. The original racketeering indictment against Whitey has been dismissed so we won’t have to go through 30 years of dirty laundry. How convenient! What still dumbfounds me is you had it (the art works) all in your hands. This all could have ended where everyone walked away happy and now its an investigative text book on failure. The are even going to that ass clown who wrote that silly Gardner book as an authority here. Face it-its all gone, gone, gone! If there ever is an ending it won’t make a bit of difference to anyone around now. After I’m gone come see my son and explain to him why he had to grow up without his mother then maybe he’ll tell you something I’ll pass onto to him. But for right now, save it. I can’t help you anymore. "
- William P. Youngworth, III

These are bold words that he is stating confidently. In January of 2010 William Youngworth III stated: "The Gardner had the chance to be a world class museum, but they failed to get back a national treasure that was stolen from them. They had the chance and they blew it. How can they spend millions on a non-exhibiting space in the rear of their museum and they are missing the heart of their collection. They have perverted Isabella Stewart Gardner's will and the foundation she left to the world. That institution will never be a world class museum until they restore the integrity of her collection. Letting the feds fold them in their efforts to deal with me privately was the epoch of this disaster; they should should feel their shame! Now they are exhibiting a crime scene instead of a Vermeer! A pathetic crime scene with empty frames and they are selling hot dogs and tee-shirts. Twenty years later we are talking about a major accident report. Ten years ago I told them they would end up at zero and now they have. They failed to recover a national treasure and now they just have to get used to the fact that they will never see it in their lifetime. It may be one hundred years before something resurfaces again."

Lets hope Youngworth is wrong, but he is boldly stating the works will definitely not resurface in our lifetime. Indeed, anyone who is anyone suspects the paintings are now overseas (and not in Ireland, but much harder to access countries). If Billy is bluffing, he would be taking a big chance to look silly if the paintings were to show up tomorrow. He may not have a clue where they are now and he states he definitely cannot help investigators anymore, but I know for a fact that back in the 1990s Billy and a couple of his mosted trusted colleagues gazed on those Rembrandts and the Vermeer in a quiet, private setting and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Federal investigators missed their best chance at recovering our nation's precious artworks. -CVS

William P. Youngworth III; oil on canvas; 2010; detail of the larger 8' x 6'8" Gardner Gossips canvas soon to be unveiled in New York's Salmagundi Club on Fith Ave

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17 August 2011 - SpongeBob, RedHands.

Gallerist sues “SpongeBob” artist over alleged heist
While cartoonist claims that dealer was operating a massive fraud

The Art Newspaper London
17 Aug 2011

By Leigh Kamping-Carder

LOS ANGELES. A California gallery owner has accused artist Todd White, a former designer on the “SpongeBob SquarePants” cartoon series, of hiring thugs to hold her hostage and steal $1.5m worth of art. White has shot back with his own claims of a massive forgery operation.

Margaret Howell, founder of The Gallery HB in Huntington Beach, sued White and several others in California state court on 12 August, seeking a total of $7.5m as compensation for what she said was extreme emotional trauma and damage to her business.

Howell, 62, claims that White, with whom she has worked for the past eight years, had enlisted his studio manager, attorney and two unidentified martial arts experts to execute “a malicious and brutal assault and robbery” on 2 August in order to sell his work directly to collectors.

“We look forward to prevailing at trial and showing the world just what kind of a person Mr White and his henchmen really are,” said Howell’s attorney, Jonathan M. Jenkins.

According to White, however, the men met with Howell to resolve a dispute over a widespread fraud they say they uncovered at the gallery. After a two-and-a-half month investigation, White determined that Howell had forged his signature on at least four pieces, and copied dozens of works from other artists, said Bryce Eddy, managing director of the artist’s studio and one of the alleged thugs.

“Obviously, the allegations she’s thrown out are just totally absurd,” he said. “For her to say what she said is so outrageous, I mean it's amazing.”

Along with his work on SpongeBob, White has created designs for The Coca-Cola Co and acted as the official artist for the 2007 Grammy Awards. The Gallery HB, located in a Hyatt Regency resort hotel, also sells works by the psychedelic artist Peter Max and Dean Torrence, one-half of the surfer band Jan and Dean.

In Howell’s version of the night of 2 August, the four men muscled their way into the gallery, threatened her with physical harm, and held her captive in her office. They took an estimated $1m worth of White’s art, then made her hand over additional paintings, worth another several hundred thousand dollars, from her home. Howell has hotel surveillance footage of “muscular men” dragging art from the gallery until 3:30am, Jenkins said.

They also pressured Howell to sign various documents, including one that supposedly told the Hyatt she would vacate the premises and turn over the operation to White, the suit claims. “She doesn’t even know what she signed, quite frankly,” Jenkins said. Since then, White has contacted collectors and offered to sell his works directly to them, he said.

But as far as White is concerned, the studio contacted the Hyatt and others to alert them to the alleged forgeries and “make them whole,” Eddy said. The men came to the studio to reach a confidential settlement that would have Howell give up the art in exchange for White dropping his fraud and copyright infringement claims, according to Eddy.

Howell surrendered the pieces willingly and even recorded a confession, he claimed. “At the end of the day, she voluntarily signed an agreement with the idea that she could get out from underneath this thing,” he said.

White first noticed something was amiss when Howell accidentally brought one of the alleged fakes to his studio, according to Eddy.

But Jenkins denied that Howell had ever copied White’s work, and wondered why the artist did not go to authorities with the information. “Why didn’t they do something other than show up in force in the middle of the night and assault, harass, threaten and emotionally demolish a 62-year-old woman there all by herself?” he said.

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15 August 2011 - A mega budget movie coming soon about the world’s largest unsolved art robbery?

YourBrushwiththeLaw.com has learned that prominent New England Antiques Dealer William P. Youngworth, III, has been approached by consortium representing a Hollywood Production Company with an intense interest in Boston based crime dramas. In 2010, with an Academy Award winning mega Boston colored success under their belts, their focus has now turned to the Holy Grail of all Boston crime mysteries-The 1990 robbery of Boston’s Gardner Museum! YourBrushwiththeLaw.com, like many others close to the case, has long considered Youngworth the key to solving the mystery of the World’s largest unsolved art robbery that has dogged investigators for over two decades. Youngworth, angered over what he calls “extortive strong arm methodology”, to force his cooperation in the multi million dollar 21 year old investigation into the robbery that’s stymied law enforcement, has walked away from the negotiating table for good. When asked for comment Youngworth said “Every few years someone has an idea for a book or a movie. I guess that after Bulger came up a dry hole its back to me again.” These days Youngworth, 52, is semi retired “living off a few small investments” dedicates his time to helping his son who has his own Antique Furniture and Collectibles business. “Its been a tough year on my boy”. In his son’s first year of business he lost one building to a fire and a second to a freak tornado suffering in access of a million dollars in losses. Despite two disasters Youngworth’s son William, IV has built such a successful business following his (late) mother’s & father’s business model that it continues to grow and prosper. Youngworth promises that if he did undertake any movie or book projects he would insist on some level of control that probably conflict with artistic license. “There is nothing formal at this stage but all parties are listening”. Youngworth promises that if he decides to undertake any projects that new details of one of the world’s greatest mysteries would be forthcoming. YourBrushwiththeLaw.com asked Youngworth if we all could be in on solving the Gardner case for the price of a movie ticket? Youngworth stated that “I wouldn’t go that far, the Gardner and the Feds will buy it on bootlegged DVD’s off street corners”. On a serious note Youngworth noted that the head of the Gardner Museum’s Security Anthony Amore teaming up with Boston tabloid reporter Tom Mashburg are now on the road promoting their book on Rembrandt thefts. “It just proves one more time that profiting off the theft as opposed to meaningfully trying to resolve it is the Gardner’s main objective”. More to come soon! -

William Youngworth has an open voice at www.YourBrushWithTheLaw.com and we will never censor him when he agrees to be interviewed. I would like to include a disclaimer however that his views and opinions do not express the viewpoints and opinions of YourBrushwiththeLaw.com . This should be especially noted as concerns our respect for Anthony Amore and our love and dedication to both the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Isabella's memory. We have stated many times that we think this little museum is one of the most precious in the United States and we are dedicated to assisting in the recovery of their treasures in any manner. -CVS

William P. Youngworth III and the artist Charles Vincent Sabba Jr. in front of the large Gardner Gossips canvas in its early, underpainting stage. Photo taken by Youngworth's son in Sabba's previous art studio

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1 August 2011 - Charles Vincent Sabba, B.F.A. - Newly appointed Consulting Art Loss Director at Unitel in New York.

Until his untimely death a few years back, former NYPD Detective and noted artist in his own right, Robert Volpe, the "Art Cop" who had headed up the NYPD's Art Fraud unit was Unitel's consulting director of our art loss services. We are pleased to announce the new appointment of Charles V. Sabba, Jr., as Unitel's consulting art loss director. Mr. Sabba maintains his primary duties as a career police officer in New Jersey, but will act as a special consultant to Unitel in the area of art thefts and advisor to Unitel concerning consulting advice for museums and other owners of art collections. Mr. Sabba, both an artist in his own right and a law enforcement officer, is presently a leading art theft chronicler and art historian. Mr. Sabba possesses an encyclopedic memory of all the world's major art thefts as well as a large database of known art criminals and informants throughout the world. Since 1990, Mr. Sabba, on his own personal time, has been studying the Isabella Gardner art theft – the largest unsolved art theft in the United States.

Mr. Sabba has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York and a certificate from the DuCret School of Art, Plainfield, New Jersey. He has completed courses at the FBI Academy, Quantico, VA in Forensic Facial Imaging and in 2004, completed a course in Art & Antiques Crime, New Scotland Yard, London. He has authored two articles: Sicilian Mystery: Where in the World is Caravaggio's stolen Nativity (US Italia Weekly); and, Museum of Stolen Art (US Italia weekly).

He is a member of the Salmagundi Club, New York, the leading American art club since 1871.

http://unitel.com/art-loss-consults-cons

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