26 December 2009 - Respect for Sinn Fein TD, Martin Ferris
We hold a very high level of respect for Martin Ferris for his devotion to his beliefs and the Irish people. This is why his face made it onto the large canvas.
Martin Ferris is Sinn Féín TD for Kerry North. Ferris could be a pivotal contributor to negotiating the return of the art works that were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston almost twenty years ago. Martin was part of the Sinn Féin negotiating team and participates in party delegations which meet with the Irish and British governments. He has travelled extensively in support of the peace process.
Martin Ferris is married with six children. Mr. Ferris was a foot-baller in his younger days and won an All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship medal with Kerry in 1973
He has been an active Republican since 1970. Ferris served ten years (1984-1994) in prison for his involvement in the attempted importation of arms from the United States. In September 1984, the fishing vessel Valhalla, sailed from Boston, while the trawler Marita Ann, sailed from Fenit, County Kerry. In the mid-Atlantic, seven tons of explosives, arms and ammunition were transferred from the Valhalla to the Marita Ann. Sometime afterwards, the Irish Navy vessels LÉ Emer and LÉ Aisling along with members of the Garda Síochána detained the Marita Ann and arrested its crew. Ferris was convicted for the possession of explosive substances for unlawful purpose and for possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life. He served his sentence in the maximum-security Portlaoise Prison, a prison often used to hold Irish Republican political prisoners.
16 December 2009 - John Myatt: A Soul of an Artist
I had a lot of adventures on my art-underworld explorations this past September and October. I spent many enjoyable days with Turbo and his son Oliver on the English Channel in Southern England. I had dinner in London with my friends from New Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Sqaud and had the most pleasant evening with these old friends and police colleagues. I had dinner with two of my friends, the very distinguished art loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple and the highly respected veteran of art theft investigation Dick Ellis; the conversation was most interesting and I could listen to their exciting stories of past investigations and recoveries all night! I had lunch with my old pal Michel Van Rijn in Amsterdam and I also had a most pleasurable experience when I visited the Savage Club in London, whose members are artists, writers, musicians, actors, doctors and lawyers. Here the conversation flowed deeply intellectual and the pints flowed just as deep and frequent ;-) I am a member of the Salmagundi Artist Club in Manhattan and possess a reciprocal membership. I was proud to represent my club at the Savage Club as well as the Artis et Amitie in Amsterdam, with which I am also a reciprocal member and my dear friend Alexandra's father is a member.
But the most influential visit I made, influential on me in an artistic sense, was the time I spent with John Myatt and his lovely wife in the small town of Chichester, England. All the aforementioned friends are wonderful, intelligent people and good company, but they are not artists and John Myatt, in my opinion, is England's greatest living artist! We had coffee and espressos underneath the Chichester Cathedral in the Cloister cafe'. When we finally walked into the Cathedral itself, construction of which was commenced back in 1076 AD by Norman invaders, John's love and enthusiasm for art shone forth like a Homeric sunrise! He approached a Cathedral employee/guide and eagerly questioned her and engaged her in the most inquisitive discourse. He was thrilled to find out that there was a tapetry by John Piper; there was also a painting by Graham Sutherland and a window done by Marc Chagall. Chichester is an enchanting town and has a most stunning cathedral. The cathedral guide informed John of the Scottish artists exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery and we then marched off. Inside the Pallant House Gallery, John excitedly dashed from painting to painting and dashed up and down hallways, climbed up and down staircases, his deeply intelligent and piercing eyes devouring everything in sight! He was excited and passionate and let me tell you he really loves art and is devoted to painting and the creation of beautiful things! I have so much respect for this man as an artist! He has the soul of an artist!
15 December 2009 - Sabba in "The Gardner Heist" by Ulrich Boser
Stolen Manet: Chez Tortoni
15 December 2009 - Thank You Ulrich Boser
I would like to thank the writer Ulrich Boser for the write up he did about our artistic adventure. You can view his write up here: http://theopencase.com/columns.php?page=blog&ctitle=The+Gardner+Heist&blog_id=11#413
1 December 2009 - Brian McDevitt, Art Theif
30 November 2009 - Bon Voyage Vincent - Salutami Amsterdam!
We wish a buon viaggio to Vincent Boschma and
all our Dutch friends who just passed the last month here in New York.
Vincent, a visual and video artist/documentarian, has provided invaluable
ground and technical support for the Hendry commission in Amsterdam as well
as here in NYC. Vincenzo was a great asset in the filming of me and Turbo in
our documentary short that will be viewed in a video room next to the large
canvas when it is unveiled next year. He is responsible for all of the
editing, downloading and technical stuff (that is another language I don't
30 November 2009 - A Note from Turbo Paul
My name is Turbo Paul Hendry
The reason why I am writing is to explain an extraordinary event that occurred regarding a New Jersey artist, Charles Sabba, who is a serving Police Officer and Forensic artist and myself.
First of all, I am a reformed International Stolen art trafficker who has gained both a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. degrees at university and I am dedicated to recovering the stolen Gardner art from Boston I also starred in the film Stolen with the late, great Harold Smith linked below: http://www.stolenthefilm.com/musings_turbo_talks.html
Charles Sabba has his own website, aptly named Your Brush With The Law, linked below: http://www.yourbrushwiththelaw.com/
Well, last year I was thinking about a way to get the message out to the wider public about the tragedy of the Gardner Heist and thought what better way than to commission a painting that would reflect the way the Gardner Heist has been investigated and how addictive the pursuit of the elusive Gardner art can become.
Both I and Charles Sabba were featured in the new book about the Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser and described the Gardner case as the "Crack Cocaine of Art Investigations" and the "Holy Grail of Art Thefts." http://www.boser.org/Site/Welcome.html
Charles Sabba, as if by divine intervention, contacted me a while back with a hand of friendship that stretched across the ocean to the UK, and it was at that moment an idea I had came to fruition. I had been thinking for some time how to get the message out to a wider global audience about the tragedy of the stolen Gardner art and thought the best way to do that would be to commission a painting that best reflects the way the Gardner case has been investigated.
I figured that if all of those who have been involved in any way with the Gardner case, whether it be the crime itself or the subsequent handling of the art, or the investigation into the theft and all of us using our contacts to try and crack the case, it could be documented on a huge oil on canvas in a similar manner.
Right, I was thinking about how all of the people who have been trying to recover the stolen Gardner art could be represented on canvas and the way we all talk about the latest news to try and be the most up to date.
It then dawned on me that Charles Sabba, forensic artist and all, would be perfect as he has made an academic study of the human face and he would bring a realism to life on the canvas.
I contacted Charles Sabba and asked him if he would paint a huge canvas as a commission, having all of us chasing the stolen Gardner art represented and talking to each other on the canvas.
Charles Sabba, gracious as ever, accepted my commission and we are now off like a Hare and Charles has already prepared a huge 8ft x 6ft 8 inch canvas as well as preparing a wall of mugshots akin to that in the film "The Usual Suspects"
The Gardner Heist has been in the news recently, not least on the latest edition of America's Most Wanted April 11th 2009.
The commissioned painting will be unveiled next March to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Gardner Heist, but Charles Sabba thinks he will complete the painting by Jan 2010.
I must say I am so pleased by the stoical work ethic Charles Sabba brings to the table. I really think this is a remarkable story given the fact our backgrounds are so different, and this has caused our partnership to explode with creativity in a Yin and Yang manner.
-Turbo Paul Hendry M.A. B.A. (Hons) A.H.E.C.
27 November 2009 - John Myatt: The artful forger who became one of the United Kingdom's greatest living artists by taking the "unconventional road"
"What happened, the crime that was committed, did show that the whole system of experts and history of painting was silly and stupid. It made a lot of experts look silly. I quite like that.
People are not ready to use their own eyes when looking at paintings. You don't need three years in a university before you can look at a painting and decide whether you like it or not. When you look at a fake, you feel all right saying you don't like it. Knowing it is a fake gives you the power to say "I don't like it" or "I like it". When you look at an original painting you spend too much time reading the card on the sides, looking at the signature, listening to the audio. People think to themselves "Oh, I have to go and study this artist and this painting". We have to give people the confidence to look at paintings and just enjoy them. The last thing people want is to feel stupid, so they wait for someone to tell them what art to like and dislike.
Also, once you learn to like an artist, you can't afford to buy his paintings because the prices are too high. Money limits the choices; that is where I come in. I paint pictures that people can afford. When I paint an artists painting, it is quite hard to tell it from an original." -J.M.
27 November 2009 - Robert Volpe: NYPD Detective and Founder of the Art Theft Detail
This Hendry commission is perfect for me and most suited to my artistic voice. I started doing "visual Investigations" through my art a few years ago. One of my dear friends and inspirations was the old NYPD art theft detective Robert Volpe; He was a pioneer and taught me a lot. He did express his concern about my desire to pursue art theft investigation as a career though. He made it clear that if I was a true artist (as he really was) I would devote my time only to art and creating visuals for the world to see. Police work was a distraction from my art. So I started doing my art theft related art works . I decided my time had to be devoted to my art or I would never create a significant body of work. My art theft investigations had to be "visual investigations" in an artistic sense. At first, I thought if I made a lot of friends and contacts of both art criminals and investigators, and mix those contacts with the New York art scene I was emerged in, I could pull a few good jobs off on my own. Bobby Volpe kept reminding me that without an organization, Bureau or department behind the work- both in terms of monetary backing, liability and back up (and my police department was noooot at all interested!;-) , all I would be doing would be meeting interesting characters and wasting my time , time I should be spending making art. It made a lot of sense to me after he died. The art world bewitches, and so does the Gardner caper. But that hypnotic bewitching that throws you into a fever can sure inspire an artist.
I truly believe Bobby would be very proud of me today if he could walk into my studio and see how busy I am and how large and significant a body of art work I have created. I will retire from the police department in 7 or 8 years and devote myself entirely to art!
21 November 2009 - Myles J. Connor Jr: The Art of the Heist
Buy Myles' riveting account of his art-under world antics
From New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the Smithsonian Institution in D.C., to Boston's Museum of Fine Art, to dozens of regional museums throughout the United States, no museum was off-limits to legendary art thief Myles Connor. He has used every technique in the book, from breaking and entering, to cat burglary, to false identities and elaborate con jobs. He once even grabbed a Rembrandt off a wall in broad daylight and simply ran like hell. His IQ is at genius level, and his charm is legendary. The fact that he was in jail at the time of the famous robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum—which remains the largest art theft in American history—has not stopped the FBI from considering him a top suspect in that still unsolved robbery.
How did the son of a decorated policeman grow up to become one of Boston's most notorious criminals? How did he survive a decades-long feud with the Boston police and the FBI? How did he manage to escape one jail sentence with a simple fake gun carved out of soap? How did he trade the return of a famous Rembrandt in exchange for early release from another sentence?
The Art of the Heist is a roller-coaster ride of a life, by a man who was drawn to misadventure at every turn. As a promising young rock star, Myles Connor started collecting Japanese swords and weapons. Soon his collection expanded through less than legitimate means, and his education in European masters and modern artists accelerated. Disguised as an art collector, he spent time in the archives of museums far and wide, and visited after hours to take advantage of what he learned by day.
Along the way, he robbed banks, warehouses, trailers, and estate homes. He engaged in rooftop shootouts with the police. He walked the streets of Boston in disguise while dozens of policemen were out searching for him. The Art of the Heist is part confession, part thrill ride, and impossible to put down.
View Myles' personal web site here: http://mylesconnor.com/
18 November 2009 - John Myatt: The United Kingdom's Greatest Living Artist!
I met with my dear friend John Myat and his charming wife in Chichester, England, which is undoubtedly one of the loveliest towns in the United Kingdom. I am currently working on three portraits of John Myatt (various sizes) for Oliver Samuel Hendry's collection. I am also painting a large portrait of John's lovely wife, which will be my gift to the Myatts. In a successive entry I will explain why I feel John Myatt is the greatest living artist in the United Kingdom today!
13 November 2009 - Art of the Heist: an Electric Sky TV Film
I first heard about Turbo during coffee break conversation when I attended the Art & Antiques Crime Course at New Scotland Yards in London that was held by the highly professional Art and Antiques Unit http://www.met.police.uk/artandantiques/index.htm I first crossed paths with Turbo when he, William Youngworth III, and I were all featured in the Electric Sky documentary Art of the Heist. The charming Italian Laura Salmi interviewed me for seven hours in my old art studio on 17th Street in Manhattan (it was Laura who introduced me to my good friend, the great artist, John Myatt; more on John in a later post). Turbo was filmed in the United Kingdom and Billy Youngworth was interviewed in his home in Massachusetts. Turbo, and the highly respected art detectives Dick Ellis and Charlie Hill, all insisted the entire Gardner loot was held by dangerous Irish paramilitaries in the West of Ireland. Billy and I stated confidently that most of the art works were still held under watchful American eyes on the eastern seaboard. The Electric Sky documentarians treated Billy fairly and with respect in this documentary. It is unfortunate that Billy, who is now living a good, honest (and prosperous) life and caring for his beautiful family, has gotten beat up on quite often over his knowledge of the stolen Gardner art's details.
I am still quite vexed over the ill treatment
my friend Ulrich Boser gave Billy in his book Gardner Heist. Ulrich Boser
was very unfair to Billy in this book and actually angered many people he
met with and wrote about; I'll write more on that in a future post on
The World's Biggest Heist: The Isabella
Stewart Gardner museum is one of the most eccentric in America. It houses
the fabulous collection of wealthy socialite Isabella Stewart. In her will
she stipulated that the collection should remain exactly as she left it. For
that reason none of the paintings was insured and where the stolen paintings
once hung there are now just empty frames. The FBI have got nowhere in their
search for the robbers or the paintings but a succession of former criminals
and policemen, enticed by a $5 million reward, have been on the trail of the
Gardner museum art.
The Forger and the Conman: For more than
a decade two Englishmen conned a gullible art market with fakes and
forgeries. Art teacher John Myatt produced over two hundred fake paintings
by leading 20th-century artists. He used household paint and petroleum
jelly. He could hardly believe he was getting away with it. John Drewe
forged the provenance of the paintings to make Myatt's fakes seem genuine.
To do that he altered and corrupted the archives of some of the most
prestigious galleries and museums in London. Drewe literally changed art
The Big Sting: In 2000 two Renoirs and a Rembrandt worth $80 million were stolen in an armed daylight raid on the National Museum in Stockholm
The Search for the Scream: In 2004 two robbers burst into the museum dedicated to the great Norwegian artist Edvard Munch and ripped The Scream and another Munch masterpiece, the Madonna, from the walls.
Chasing Cezanne: Nearly thirty years ago thieves walked into a remote Massachusetts home and stole seven paintings. Among them was a Cezanne, one of the most influential paintings in art history. They belonged to Michael Bakwin. His mother, heiress to a vast mid-West meat packing fortune, had created a fabulous collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings in the 1920s and 30s.
Plundered Mosaics: In 1974 in war torn
northern Cyprus a priceless mosaic is chipped from the walls of a Greek
orthodox church by Turkish looters. It is smuggled out of the country into
the underworld of stolen antiquities and broken into pieces before being
sold to the highest bidder. The highest bidder in this case is an
Indianapolis art dealer, Peg Goldberg, who falls in love with the mosaics,
pays $1 million for them and ships them back to the States.
12 November 2009 - Julian Radcliffe, Director of the Art Loss Register
12 November 2009 - Exploring the Under-World of Art: Michel Van Rijn in Amsterdam
In Oct 2009 I visited my old friend Michel Van Rijn, the controversial antiquities smuggler and art dealer, in Amsterdam. Michel has dropped out of sight and has been staying low key for a while. Many now wonder about his welfare since his notorious web site was shut down and he moved out of London. I'm delighted to say that Michel is living life well and is healthy and happy.
12 November 2009 - Exploring the Under-World of Art: Anthony Amore
There is no one involved in the Gardner Heist investigation that both myself and Turbo respect more then the new Director of security of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Anthony Amore is a genuine good man and an expert of security. He has diligently taken on the investigation of the museum heist and, more then anyone else today, works infatigably daily at this task. He has told me when we met for lunch in Boston on my first Under-World of Art explorations to Boston, that there is not one day that he doesn't wake up thinking about where the art is and not one working day does not go by that he is not working on the investigation that will lead to the recovery of the stolen masterpieces. Both I and Turbo pledge our full support and assistance to this man.
Very important point: it is Amore who has revamped the entire security system and operation at the Gardner Museum and has made it not only a harder establishment to rob, but a much safer museum to visit and enjoy! Auguri amico mio! And thank you (and your security staff) for your professionalism and hard work in safeguarding America's treasures!
12 November 2009 - Harold Smith, Respected Art World Gumshoe
12 November 2009 - Paul "Turbo" Hendry and the artist Charles Vincent Sabba
Paul "Turbo" Hendry is a former art world criminal. He began his career at a very young age and rose through the criminal ranks to become one of the biggest handlers of high value stolen art in Europe, exporting all over the world. At the birth of his son Oliver, Mr. Hendry retired from a life of crime and went to university where he achieved M.A. and B.A. (Hons) degrees. Besides the pride of earning his academic chops, Paul exclaims he took the long, difficult road of academic achievement to set a good example for his son.
Paul Hendry, who once saw himself as a sort of art world "Fagan", named his son Oliver as in Oliver Twist. Paul states that his respect for this Charles Dicken's classic comes, not from its painted picture of crime and colorful underworld characters, but from the allegories he reads in it of adults' exploitation of children, as well as society's exploitation of its people (in the case of society's arena of art, it translates into the corruption in the art world which is the excrement of an artworld that has sold its soul!). When Oliver Samuel Hendry was young he wisely stated "My Dad, Turbo, made it the fast way, I have a moral obligation to make it the right way."
Mr. Hendry now works as a liaison between
criminals and law enforcement to help retrieve stolen art.
STOLEN is a full exploration of the Gardner Museum Art Heist and the fascinating, disparate characters involved: from the 19th century Grand Dame Isabella Gardner to the 17th century Dutch masters to a 21st century terrorist organization with a penchant for stealing Vermeers.
At the heart of the film, is the unlikely hero
Harold Smith, the renowned art detective. STOLEN follows Mr. Smith as he
pursues the mystery of the stolen works. Despite his lifetime battle with
skin cancer, the cunning and witty Smith has made this case his personal
obsession, working with what hope remains. With Mr. Smith as a guide STOLEN
journeys into the mysterious and surreal world of stolen art and examines
the many possibilities as to where the art might be.
STOLEN brings the audience on a journey to understand not just a crime but also the nature of beauty itself\u2014its fragility and its power.
11 November 2009 - Gardner Art Heist, Investigation Through The Paintbrush!
Dear readers, it is with great pleasure Charles Sabba, Oliver Samuel Hendry and Turbo welcome you to the exiting new Gardner Art Heist Project "Gardner Gossips".
Since the original theft there have been thousands of articles, several books and a few films made about the world's most famous unsolved art theft, The Gardner Museum Heist March 18th 1990. For the first time the Gardner art theft and subsequent criminal investigation will be told through the paintbrush of Charles Sabba with inspiration provided by Turbo Paul Hendry. The 8ft X 6.8ft huge canvas will be completed by March 2010 and unveiled to the world. However, there are also 40 small oils that will give a flavour of what the Gardner Gossips project is all about. Images of these 40 oils will be posted here intermittently (and in the Usual Suspects page under Crime Scene and Capers) to give the viewers a taste of what is to come.
Turbo Paul Hendry says: "I'm here for the Vermeer"
We are pleased to announce that the brilliant, young British art collector, Oliver Samuel Hendry, in the spirit of that other titan of British art collecting, Charles Saatchi, has commissioned 40 small oil portraits and a large , 8’ by 6’ 8” oil painting by the Bohemian artist Charles Vincent Sabba (AKA: The Machiavellian Prince of Bohemia). To free Sig. Sabba from the field of financial obligations and enable him to spend less time on earning gold florins and concentrate more on his painting, the Hendry estate has paid him his handsome fee in full on a handshake, old school style.
This body of work is a visual investigation into the tragic robbery that occurred at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in which three Rembrandts, a Vermeer, a Manet and several works of Degas were stolen by thugs whose forte was armored cars, not art.
In addition to the aforementioned commission, the Hendry estate has also acquired the entire remaining back catalogue raisonne, paid in full on a gentleman’s handshake.
If you ask Sig. Sabba for comment on this art world blessing on his working artist studio he would respond in the parlance of Lelio (from George Sand’s The Last Aldini): “Let us mock the pride of the great, laugh at their foolishness, spend our wealth gaily when we have it, accept poverty without worry when it comes; above all, let us preserve our liberty, enjoy life whatever happen, and vive la Boheme!
For a constant and riveting account of this internation,
adventurous art theft investigation, please monitor the following blog:
3 September 2009 - B.O.L.O.
B.O.L.O. in October on our Heat Page for a new addition on Raoul Rigault, the arch-Bohemian who was several times arrested and imprisoned in his lifetime and seized the opportunity during the Commune to establish himself as the Prefect of Police (during the commune, the Prefecture of Police was re-named the “ex-Prefecture, but its functions did not change). While Rigault will always be remembered as a villainous, bloodthirsty Prefect who severely targeted the enemies of the Commune and ordered the swift prosecution and execution of these prisoners, he also managed to establish himself as a hero of the art world by saving Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life. In 1871, Renoir was captured by a group of Communards while he was sketching on the banks of the Seine. His captors suspected him of being a spy and were preparing to kill him and dump his body into the river, when Rigault arrived, recognized Renoir and saved his life. In earlier years, Rigault was on the run from police officials near Versailles and crossed paths with the artist Renoir who hid Rigault , thus facilitating his escape. On the banks of the Seine Rigault returned the life saving favor, thus blessing all art lovers to enjoy a wealth of Renoir’s work (Renoir lived to the age of 78).
Also: Be On The Look Out in the future on our Heat page for the life of the Prefect of Police Marc Caussidiere, who, like Rigault, was a Bohemian, a member of the revolutionary secret societies of Paris, and a famous fixture in the café culture of the Latin Quarter. Caussidiere, a veteran of revolutionary politics, best exemplified the notion that Bohemia merged elements of inventiveness and creativity with criminality; it combined the elements of the artistic world with the murkier world of anarchists, bandits, malcontents and assassins. During the confusion and chaos of the barricade fighting in 1848, Caussidiere and his men seized the Police Prefecture by force and the Privisional government was too fearful of him to remove him. Caussidiere formed new police units called Montgardes (named after the radical party of the 1790s). These new units were manned by released political prisoners and seasoned barricade fighters from the 1848 revolution. During the time Caussidiere was Prefect, crime stats were very low in Paris and calm prevailed on his streets!
18 August 2009 - Watch Joe Madeiros’ 5-minute featurette on the Vincenzo Peruggia caper (Aug 21st is the 98th anniversary of the Mona Lisa theft in Paris)
The 98th anniversary of the Theft of the Mona Lisa is coming up on this Friday, August 21.
In conjunction with that, we're releasing the 5-minute featurette on our documentary about Vincenzo Peruggia and his unthinkable theft.
You can access the featurette at our new website:
Please become a fan of our Facebook page... or if you
watch the featurette on youtube,
Thanks for your interest in our project. We'll keep you
updated on our progress.
From The Times
Ocean's 11 conman and a royal heist
It was one of the most audacious jewel thefts in history. In the middle of a crowded room, the famed Star of the Empress Sisi was stolen from its high-security case and replaced with a replica.
Nine years after the heist, a criminal mastermind has finally revealed how he stole the Austrian royal heirloom while travelling the world carrying out frauds and thefts on the orders of a mysterious British crime boss.
Details of Gerald Blanchard’s years as head of the most sophisticated crime gang in Canadian history has led to prosecutors comparing his activities to the Hollywood movie Ocean’s 11.
The 35-year-old computer expert has already admitted responsibility for stealing the famed Koechert Diamond Pearl, or Star of Empress Sisi, from the Castle Schonbrunn in Vienna, Austria.The jewel-encrusted brooch had been placed on public display in an alarmed case in 1998 to mark the centennial anniversary of the assassination of Elisabeth of Austria.
Posing as a tourist and accompanied by his wife and father-in-law, Blanchard disabled the case’s alarm and replaced the jewel with a replica bought at the castle’s souvenir shop. The swap was not discovered for more than a month and the loss of a priceless part of Austria’s history remained unsolved until Blanchard led police to its hiding place in his grandmother’s basement earlier this year.
Sheila Leinburd, a Crown attorney, told a Canadian court: “Cunning, clever, conniving and creative — add some foreign intrigue and this is the stuff movies are made of.”
Blanchard has admitted 16 charges of theft and fraud after police built up a picture of his activities during a massive investigation involving thousands of intercepted telephone calls and hundreds of hours of video which he had taken during his international travels.
Scotland Yard has now been asked to help trace the London-based criminal known as “The Boss” who co-ordinated many of the scams. Blanchard has told detectives that the man was raising money to fund Kurdish terrorists in northern Iraq.
Blanchard was a master of disguise and used at least eight aliases to travel the world with the help of forged identification documents and by changing his appearance with make-up, spectacles, beards or moustaches and dyed hair. He used his forgery skills to create fake VIP passes and media identification to interview celebrities and attend major sporting events. One week he would interview the singer Christina Aguilera, the next he was in the pits at the Monaco Grand Prix.
His jet-set lifestyle was funded by sophisticated thefts and frauds through what the Canadian authorities have named the “Gerald Blanchard Criminal Organisation”. With his leadership the gang was estimated to make millions of pounds a year. In one scam they targeted newly-built banking centres which contained cash machines from several banks. Using pinhole cameras and listening devices he monitored the construction work before emptying the cash machines of up to C$500,000 (£250,000) the night before their grand openings. Blanchard was also involved in a massive fraud using details of stolen credit cards to target the accounts of British bank customers in operations across Europe and Africa.
He was finally caught following an operation in November last year when “The Boss” ordered him to fly to Egypt. He was provided with the details of credit cards and PINs of tens of thousands of British bank accounts to create fake credit cards. Gang members wore burkhas while using the cards at cash machines in Cairo, withdrawing up to £500 from each account. When one of the gang disappeared with £25,000, Blanchard was held hostage in London until he could persuade the runaway to return.
Ms Leinburd told The Times: “He is a very charismatic guy and his gang would operate like the guys in Ocean’s 11. But at the same time he knew he was funding terrorism. We have intercepted telephone conversations with The Boss. I don’t think he had any political or religious reasons to support terrorism but saw it as a way to get the information for his operations.”
Blanchard was sentenced to eight years in jail this month but will be eligible for parole in two years. As part of his plea bargaining, he agreed to sell a number of luxury apartments he owns in Vancouver to repay the banks. He has given the banks details of his operations and is in negotiations to work with them on his release from jail.
Associate Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant told him: “I think you have a great future if you wish to pursue an honest style of life — although I’m not prepared to sign a reference.”
A life of crime
2 August 2009 - Art is Beautiful
"Art Is Beautiful"; video by Tim Maloney of Los Angeles,
6 July 2009 - Sabba Gives Lecture to High School Students
"A Lecture About Art Theft Investigation"
By Raquel Maria Dillon Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Homicide investigators probing a 1986 cold case murder on Friday arrested a veteran detective who worked across a hallway at police headquarters, top department officials said.
Stephanie Lazarus, 49, was booked for investigation of murdering an ex-boyfriend's wife after a sample of her DNA taken surreptitiously matched DNA extracted from crime scene evidence, Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said.
Police investigators expect to submit the case Monday to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which will decide whether to file criminal charges, Beck said.
Lazarus' DNA was legally collected from
"discards," Beck said, declining to be more specific. However, police have
been known to use such techniques as tricking a suspect into leaving DNA on
objects such as a coffee cup.
"Robbery-Homicide is on the third floor, commercial crimes is right next door," Beck said. "So this is one side of the hallway investigating a member of another. This is very difficult."
Beck said he believes Lazarus did not know she was about to be arrested.
The department has a policy and philosophy that "we're going to go where the truth and the facts take us," Chief William Bratton said.
He asserted that the arrest was "a very
positive reflection on us in the sense that we take our oath very
Lazarus had a long-term relationship with the husband before the marriage, Beck said.
Lazarus was being held without bail at the Los Angeles County jail and could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
She was mentioned in the original case file because of the relationship with the husband, but wasn't a suspect at the time because investigators believed Rasmussen was another victim of armed robbers who had confronted two men shortly after the killing, Beck told the Los Angeles Times.
No suspects was found and the case went cold for a decade.
"We look at every old case and examine all the evidence to see if it fits the requirements for entry into "... the national DNA database," Beck told the news conference. "This case had some evidence which in 1986 was of some value but not a key component, which when analyzed now with today's technology in the scientific investigation division, was able to add to the investigation."
Lazarus worked patrol duty in the San Fernando Valley when she joined the force. She was later promoted to detective and since 2006 has worked in a unit that tracks stolen art.
Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said her arrest is disturbing to the department and the public.
"If convicted, the actions of one police officer should not tarnish the trust and respect the public has for the more than 9,800 dedicated police officers," the union president said.
Art Hostage has learnt the so called "Main Course" art theft this summer 2009 is to be Titian's "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" first stolen in 1995 and recovered in 2002, which is currently housed in the State Drawing Room at Longlest House, home to the Marquis of Bath.
Milagros de la Torre
Opening Reception: Saturday, June 13th, from 6 to 9pm
Refer to Gardner Heist link on our Crime Scenes page for future updates and profiles of the Gardner Drama players.
This is the speech I gave to the Cultural Property
Advisory Committee in Washington DC on 23 Aug 2005. This speech was given as
the Committee was debating whether or not the Memorandum of Understanding
regarding trade in antiquities between the U.S. and Italy would be
re-signed. Here at Your Brush With The Law we possess a profound respect and
loyalty towards Italy’s champions of cultural property protection, the
Italian Carabinieri’s Tutela Patrimomio Culturale. Our support and prayers
are always with their efforts.
Dear Members of the Committee,
Italy is said to possess over 60% of the world’s artistic treasures. While this number is given as higher or lower depending according to whom you are speaking, I don’t think anyone can question the fact that Italy possesses an extremely large amount of the world’s artistic treasures. This treasure is first and foremost the property of the Italian people, but also it is the world’s heritage. This heritage is shared with the world through thousands of visitors who journey to Italy annually. In the huge global black market of illicit antiquities, Italy is one of the worst victims; a victim that has suffered irreparable damage from unscrupulous dealers, collectors, museum curators, and auction houses over the years, despite early and continuing efforts to block such trade through national legislation and investigative work.
To hinder this loss of irreplaceable patrimony, in 1969 the Italian government established a new branch of their national police force, the Carabinieri: the Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (TPC), an elite art crimes investigative unit. The TPC was founded in anticipation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention, which stipulates that all participating nations initiate these types of specialized units. Italy can proudly claim to be the first nation to go above and beyond normal police duties in the field of cultural patrimony protection.
The TPC set a fine early example, starting with an eight-man unit in 1969. The investigators involved in the early days of this specialized unit quickly familiarized themselves with both the legitimate and illegitimate art and antiquities market. The members of the TPC formed close relations with the art community, its experts and its scholars, and they also developed a huge intelligence base of confidential information. Today this unit has grown into a strong force of over one hundred members, with eleven offices (nuclei) which are located in eleven different cities of Italy. The TPC is respected worldwide as the most sophisticated art crimes investigative unit in existence.
All components of the Carabinieri’s forces are at their disposal during the course of their investigations, recoveries, arrests, and prosecutions. The TPC created a database that contains 2.5 million objects of art that have been illicitly removed from the nation. The TPC has recovered more than 450,000 archeological objects in the past thirty years and have been awarded four gold medals by the Italian government for their fine work. As you can see, Italy cares greatly about protecting its cultural heritage for future generations and has taken many steps to accomplish this goal.
My friends in the TPC have assured me that their command appreciates American efforts to curb their loss of patrimony, just as American authorites truly appreciate the Carabinieri’s invaluable assistance in both organized crime and terrorist investigations. Organized crime has been utilizing both stolen art and illicit antiquities to launder money earned from the narcotics and illegal arms trades for decades. From dear friend Detective Robert Volpe, NYPD art theft investigator from 1971 to 1981, is quoted as saying: “Drug trafficking and money laundering create a very easy pass for art. Art can be utilized in payment for other criminal activities. Drug dealers buy art with cash, transport the art and trade it to cover dirty deals.” Two of Scotland Yards most respected art theft investigators, John Butler and Dick Ellis, stated that there is now a new category for stolen art: collateral for drugs. Sgt Vernon Rapley of New Scotland Yard’s Art & Antiques Crimes Focus Desk, is quoted as saying “It’s a very good commodity for criminals…they can go to their fellow criminals and use it as collateral, as a down payment on drugs and firearms.”
Allow me to discuss the issue in relation to terrorism. As a police officer, I know that Italy, a major American ally in the war on terror, has been of great assistance in the protection of our American homeland. Several terrorist cells have been disbanded in Italy, many arrests of terrorists have been made, and numerous investigations are ongoing there. On May 18, 2005, the BBC reported that Italian authorities arrested six men in a crackdown on Islamic militant groups in Milan and Turin. One of the suspected terrorists who planted a bomb in London on July 21 was arrested in Rome. It is also important to mention the investigation, arrest, and prosecution involving an Al Qaeda cell in Cremona, Italy. After this investigation was concluded, the U.S. Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Stuart Levey, stated in a Treasury Department statement: “We will continue to stand with Italy and our other allies around the world to attack the financing of terrorism”. Such a pledge includes an implicit promise to help stop the illicit antiquities trade, which terrorists can use to fund their activities, as I will discuss.
I know, as a police officer, that terrorist organizations, such as the Taliban, the Irish Republican Army, and Al Qaeda have raised blood money funds from the stolen art and illicit antiquities trade. Members of the IRA were responsible for many major thefts of art and are suspects in both the Boston Gardner Heist and the theft of the DaVinci in Scotland. They use this money to fund operations and bargain for lighter prison sentences. While the Taliban publicly destroyed the Bamiyan Buddahs, they sold large numbers of artifacts to raise funds for their activities. Der Spiegal reported in July 2005 that Mohammed Atta approached a German professor in London inquiring about selling artifacts from Afghanistan. The professor directed him to Sotheby’s. Afghanistan, once an Al Qaeda stronghold, was an endless supply of funding through the sale of artifacts. Clearly, the importance of the illicit antiquities trade in funding terrorist activity cannot be ignored.
Sophisticated organized crime and bloodthirsty criminals are profiting from this trade. Bilateral agreements restricting importation of artifacts is an effective obstacle to such crimes. Without the MOU between Italy and the United States, dishonest collectors, middlemen, and dealers will continue to weave their dirty webs at an alarming rate. The business deals that they take part in will promote criminals to break laws and put good police officers in harm’s way. Money earned from the illicit antiquities trade may be used by terrorist organizations to put civilians and members of the armed forces alike in danger. Col. Matthew Bogdanos of the New York District Attorney’s office, an expert on the looting of the Iraq Museum, said that smugglers often move arms, drugs, and antiquities in the same shipments. They are paid for their evasive skills. He was quoted as saying that “those wealthy Madison Avenue and Bond Street dealers and collectors who believe they are engaged in benign criminal activity, then, are actually often financing arms shipments”.
There is no difference between an armed carjacker and an antiquities looter. There is no difference between a drug dealer and a dishonest antiquities dealer who sells a Greek Krater that has been looted from an Etruscan tomb. You can dress a criminal in an expensive suit, take him to Sotheby’s auctions and museum, shows, and wine and dine him in top shelf Manhattan restaurants, but if he promotes and participates in criminal enterprise he is just as despicable, and as dangerous, as the armed thug or drug dealer. These dishonest antiquities dealers, museum curators, and auction house representatives disgrace their honest counterparts and professions they share. It is very difficult for an honest dealer to compete with a dirty dealer, who besides dealing in illicit activities, may also be engaged in other criminal activity, such as art forgery.
The illicit antiquities trade is crime that promotes more crime. We must do everything we can to stop crime. As a member of law enforcement, I urge you to renew the MOU proposed by Italy. Do not take away this effective tool that helps us do our job: fighting crime.
Thank you for allowing me this great honor of addressing CPAC.
10 May 2009 - John Myatt The Book
In the summer of 2009 Penguin Press (New York) will publish a comprehensive biography of John Myatt's life. Written by authoress Laney Salisbury, a journalist who has reported from Africa, the Middle East and New York, the hardback book will provide an incredibly detailed insight into Myatt’s fascinating life, with first hand accounts from all the key players in Myatt's extraordinary story. The book is expected to be entitled 'Genuine Fakes'.
The TV series
Six of Britain's well-known faces from music, television and photography are immortalised in the style of six of the world's most renowned artists in the brand new series 'Brush with Fame', premiering on Sky Arts 1 and Sky Arts HD from Wednesday 4 February 2009 at 7.30pm each week.
Following on from John Myatt's first major art series for Sky Arts, the hugely popular 'Mastering the Art' series, Sky Arts has enlisted Myatt to bring John Cleese, David Bailey, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Robin Gibb, Jane Horrocks and Ian Brown to life on canvas in the style of one of the great masters.
Socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson talks about 'that kiss' with Prince Charles, whilst legendary photographer David Bailey reminisces about photographing Princess Diana and offers his controversial opinion on her looks.
Offering a fascinating insight into the process of portraiture, Myatt also explores the individual technique of each iconic master painter and highlights why his choice of artist is so appropriate to the subjects.
• John Cleese (Matisse)
"When I paint in the style
of one of the greats... Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh...I am not simply creating
a copy or pale imitation of the original. Just as an actor immerses himself
into a character, I climb into the minds and lives of each artist. I adopt
their techniques and search for the inspiration behind each great artist's
view of the world. Then, and only then, do I start to paint a 'Legitimate
»I once painted for 36 hours straight. My paintings got
really strange. I came up with the best and weirdest feet I ever painted.
Also one night at about 4:00 a.m., I was painting and standing on top of a
plastic milk crate with a crack in it. It broke and my leg got stuck like in
a bear trap. I had to crawl around on the floor whimpering and looking for
the carpet cutter. Painting is dangerous.« (Sue Williams)
5 May 2009
5 May 2009 - After Two Decades of Tips, Leads, and Hunches....
After two decades of tips, leads, hunches, forensic
tests, psychic visions, and jailhouse confessions, the biggest art heist in
history is still unsolved
At 1:24 A.M. on March 18, 1990, two men wearing police uniforms walked up to a side entrance of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
One of the men pressed the buzzer near the door. “Police! Let us in,” he said. “We heard about a disturbance in the courtyard.” They were buzzed in.
Inside the four-story building were two guards. One was behind the main security desk, which had four video monitors. “You look familiar,” one of the intruders said to the guard. “I think we have a default warrant out for you.”
The guard was tricked into stepping out from behind his desk, where he had access to the only alarm button in the museum that would alert the police. He was ordered to stand facing a wall and was handcuffed. When the second guard arrived and was also put in handcuffs, he said to the intruders, “Why are you arresting me?”
“You’re not being arrested,” was the reply.
“This is a robbery. Don’t give us any problems and you won’t get hurt.”
Then the thieves went upstairs. As one of them approached a Rembrandt painting in the Dutch Room, an alarm sounded. They immediately smashed it.
They pulled Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1629) off the wall and tried unsuccessfully to take the wooden panel out of the heavy frame. They left it on the floor. Next they cut Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) out of the frame and cut out A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633), which the museum says is a Rembrandt but some scholars, including the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam, say is not. (“We continue to think it’s a Rembrandt,” Gardner Museum director Anne Hawley said.)
They removed Vermeer’s The Concert (1658-60)
from its frame and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638), which
at one time was attributed to Rembrandt. They took a Rembrandt etching and a
Chinese bronze beaker from the Shang dynasty (1200-1100 B.C.). Empty frames
now hang where the paintings used to be in the Dutch Room.
The thieves had to make two trips to their car with the loot. They were not unconcerned about the guards. “Are you comfortable?” one of the thieves asked. “Handcuffs too tight?” The guards couldn’t reply since their mouths were still taped. The theft lasted 81 minutes.
The guards remained tied and handcuffed until the police arrived at 8:15 that morning. The guard who had allowed the thieves into the building said that to pass the time he started humming a favorite Bob Dylan tune, “I Shall be Released.” The opening stanza includes the lines: “So I remember every face / Of every man who put me here.” The guard did remember the two faces and described them to the police.
“It’s difficult to understand why the thieves took what they did, an eclectic collection,” Geoffrey J. Kelly, the FBI agent who has been assigned to the Gardner case for the past eight years, told me in a telephone interview. “They were certainly in the museum long enough to take whatever they wanted. They treated the guards well. That’s professional.”
More than 19 years after the largest art theft in history—the works are now valued at between $500 million and $600 million—no one has been arrested, as ARTnews went to press. There have been no demands for ransom. None of the works has been recovered, even though the museum offers a $5 million reward and says that it “ensures complete confidentiality” for information leading to their return.
And despite thousands of tips and the efforts of the FBI, the United States attorney for Massachusetts, the Gardner’s director of security, the Boston police, and some of the world’s top private investigators, as well as a coded message the museum sent to an anonymous tipster through the financial pages of the Boston Globe, whose reporter Stephen Kurkjian said he had the first interview with one of the guards, none of the authorities knows for sure where the works are or who stole them.
“I don’t know if we can definitely say that we don’t know,” Anthony Amore, who has been director of the Gardner’s security for nearly four years, told me. “When I came to the museum I went through files and created a computerized database. It now contains 10,000 bits of information—all the tips, all the leads, all the suspects. It’s not 100 percent sure that no one ever gave us the right tip. It could be we’ve gotten bits of information from different people that if properly analyzed could hold some answers for us.”
Hawley said that paint chips from the missing canvases had been found on the floor after the theft. They were collected in vials and analyzed by conservators at several museums.
Amore has retraced the steps the thieves took. He has studied the history of every work that was stolen. “Through the museum’s motion detector equipment I’ve been able to see all their steps,” he said. “I’ve looked at them every way imaginable. One interesting part of the 81 minutes that they were in the museum is that only half was spent stealing works. The other half I don’t know. While one guy was stealing the Vermeer, another was in another gallery taking the Degas and the finial. Why Degas? I don’t know. Maybe he enjoyed equestrian art or liked to go to the track.”
Some of the unanswered questions:
Why were the thieves so comfortable that they could stay in the museum for 81 minutes knowing that no other alarm would be triggered?
Why didn’t they go to the third floor and take
Titian’s Rape of Europa, which Peter Sutton, director of the Bruce Museum in
Greenwich, Connecticut, and a distinguished scholar, calls “arguably the
greatest painting in America”?
Was the theft arranged by the Irish Republican Army to raise money or bargain for the release of jailed comrades? Are the paintings now in Ireland, as some private investigators believe?
Do the thieves still have the works or did they pass them on to others?
The FBI says only 5 percent of stolen art is
ever returned. Others believe the figure to be as high as 20 percent.
A prison inmate said that some of the paintings were shipped via Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Genoa, Italy, and then to a dealer in France. A man said the art was in a pueblo somewhere in South America. One caller suggested the Vermeer was in a mobile home moving around the country.
“I have received information from psychics as to where the paintings are,” said Kelly. “People have said they have had visions pinpointing where the paintings are. One man said he had invented electronic equipment and had built it and that it could locate the paintings. It did not lead anywhere.”
He added: “I have to walk a fine line between being open-minded and not wasting my time.”
“One bizarre theory,” Amore said, “was from people who say Mrs. Gardner speaks to them and tells them who stole the paintings. Also, others say mythical figures have spoken to them about the thefts.”
The best and most complete story of the theft and its investigation is a new book, The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser (Smithsonian/Collins, 260 pages, $25.99). He is a skillful investigative reporter who became so passionate about the case that it led him, he writes, to “stake out suspects, convene secret meetings with felons and fly thousands of miles to interview stolen-art fences who swore they could return the missing masterpieces. My life would be threatened more than once.”
A few museum goers have been “so devastated that they can no longer visit the Gardner,” according to Boser. “They view the tragedy as an unholy tragedy, a monstrous corruption of beauty, and they refuse to even set foot in the building.” The empty frames were later placed back on the walls.
One woman came to the museum a few weeks after the theft with a bouquet of yellow tulips. She presented the flowers to an employee and said, “Yellow is for hope.”
John Updike wrote a poem entitled “Stolen” that appeared in the New Yorker in 2003 on how it would feel to be the stolen paintings. Part of it reads:
Think of how bored they get, stacked in the warehouse somewhere, say in Mattapan, gazing at the back of the butcher paper they are wrapped in, instead of at the rapt glad faces of those who love art. . . . . . . . . . In their captivity, they may dream of rescue but cannot cry for help. Their paint is inert and crackled, their linen friable. They have one stratagem, the same old one: to be themselves, on and on.
On the anniversaries of the robbery the Gardner has frequently issued press releases restating its commitment to the $5 million reward and urging “the individual or individuals holding the stolen artworks to protect them. The artworks should be kept in optimal conditions that do not allow for swings in temperature and humidity, ideally at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity.”
The museum has asked that anyone with information about the theft contact Amore at 617-278-5114 or email@example.com.
“The important thing is to get the paintings
back, whether the information goes to the museum or the FBI,” Kelly said.
The works were not insured. “Mrs. Gardner didn’t want new works added to the collection,” Hawley said. “The trustees at the time of the theft decided that if there were a theft, they wouldn’t replace the works. That was their reasoning at the time. The works are insured now.”
Some years ago, an antiques dealer facing criminal charges for a firearms violation said he could mediate the return of the paintings if authorities dropped the charges, gave him the $5 million reward, and freed a friend in prison. Tom Mashberg, a reporter for the Boston Herald, investigated and was shown a painting that appeared to be The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. The dealer gave the FBI a vial of paint chips he said came from the picture, but tests showed they were not from the stolen Rembrandt.
In a recent series of articles in the Boston Herald, Mashberg and Laura Crimaldi reported that George Reissfelder, who had been thought to be a suspect in the theft, had had the Manet shortly before he died in 1991.
Reissfelder’s younger brother, Richard, a retired National Guard military policeman, was quoted as saying that “I know I saw it in his possession” but that the painting was gone when he went to his brother’s apartment after he died. Amore had contacted Richard Reissfelder last year.
Boser writes that Dick Ellis, former head of
Scotland Yard’s art and antiques squad, and now a private investigator,
explained to him that the stolen works appeared to have been collateralized
and that a number of different groups now had a financial interest in the
art. “Ellis has seen this happen in dozens of other cases,” Boser writes. “A
thief will steal an artwork and then use it as a type of underworld cash,
trading the painting for a stash of handguns or kilos of cocaine.”
I mentioned the Ellis comment to Charley Hill, a former top member of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques squad and now a private investigator.
“What Dick says is speculation,” Hill said. “My theory is that the works are probably under the control of one person or a small group and they don’t know what to do with them. They’re simply biding their time.”
He added: “Nothing would have happened at the Gardner without Whitey Bulger having a hand in the crime somewhere. It’s as simple as that.”
However, a source close to the investigation disagreed. “There’s not a shred of evidence that Bulger was involved,” he said. “Also, there is no evidence that the Irish Republican Army is involved, although they were involved in a Vermeer theft many years ago.”
Although Boser lapses a bit too often into using such words as swiped, snatched, filched, pilfered, and pocketed and makes a few factual errors, he digs deeply and tells his story convincingly. It’s a pleasurable read.
When Boser asked Hawley if she thought that the paintings would ever be returned, she replied: “I live in hope. I dwell in possibility, as Emily Dickinson says. I just have to believe that the stolen paintings are still out there.”
Amore made a request to me. “Please pass this on,” he said. “I want people to understand that there’s no such thing as an insignificant tip. If you feel it should be passed on, please pass it on.”
Milton Esterow is editor and publisher of ARTnews. Additional research by Amanda Lynn Granek.
4 May 2009 - Armed robbers steal paintings from Dutch museum
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS -- Masked gunmen stole two paintings
from a Dutch museum today, including a work by surrealist Salvador Dali,
The robbers took "Adolescence," a 1941 gouache by Dali and "La Muscienne," an oil painting from 1929 by Polish-born art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka, the museum said in a statement.
The paintings' value was not released, but the museum says they are among the top works in its collection.
The Dali painting was 18 x 12 inches and the De Lempicka's was 46 x 29 inches.
"We deeply regret the theft and hope the works are traced
soon," according to a statement from the museum, which is 30 miles (50
kilometers) north of Amsterdam.
The Lempicka shows a woman in a vivid blue
dress playing a mandolin-like instrument.
4 May 2009
Refer for to Charlie Sabba link on our Contemporary Arts Page
1 May 2009 - Gardner Heist Book Review by Star-Ledger Book Contributors
Artful telling of museum heist
REVIEWED BY JEAN GRAHAM
It has been almost two decades since a dozen masterpieces were stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by two thieves posing as police officers.
Although the paintings, including a Vermeer and Rembrandt's only seascape, were uninsured, Harold Smith, an art theft insurance investigator, pursued the case until his death in 2005. Boser, whose interest began when he wrote a profile on Smith, took up where Smith left off.
Boser's investigation leads to encounters with some unsavory characters, including gangster David Turner, who resembles police sketches based on descriptions from the guards who let the "policemen" into the museum, and rocker/art thief Myles Connor, who was in jail at the time but might have been the mastermind. Boser makes a fairly convincing case against a couple of suspects, but has no proof.
Ultimately, family matters forced Boser to wind down his involvement, turning the case over to Smith's grandson, yet he tells a compelling story -- not only about the Gardner heist, but about the growing problem of art theft in general. As he puts it, "A gallery of stolen art would make the Louvre seem like a small-town art gallery in comparison."
Jean Graham is a freelance reviewer from Mendham.
23 April 2009 - The Art of The Heist
The Art of the Heist:
BOSTON & BOYNTON BEACH: Criminal trial attorney, Marty Leppo, together with client of 30 years, Myles Connor, as well as a host of other Boston-area notables with plenty to say about the Gardner heist, are lining up to make next March 18th--the 20th anniversay of the Gardner heist--a boffo media event. Leppo has already scored a huge hit with client Connor's memoir going to print with HarperCollins and tabbed for Hollywood by none other than Oscar-winning screenwiter and now director, William Monahan--another Boston native long curious about Connor's role in the still unsolved $500 Gardner Museum heist.
Leppo sees both books as a matching and complementary set that take fresh looks at both Connor and the Gardner. Leppo, who has closely followed everything "Gardner heist" for 20 years, has opened up his trove of Gardner-related paperwork and research to the authors of both books. He promised new information, new revelations, and really interesting new clues, and he delivered, say both authors. The results are two books that are quickly becoming hot items with both publishers and Hollywood studios alike.
The Patriot Ledger
After 19 years, pretty much any lead concerning the 1990 theft of paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is as cold as can be. But that’s not stopping former art thief Myles Connor, who said he’s chasing a few leads of his own.
Nine years after his release from federal prison and 12 years after the FBI sought his help to nab those behind the theft, Connor hasn’t changed his mind about who stole the masterpieces or where they might be.
“At least a few of them left immediately overseas” – to Ireland, perhaps, he said. As for the rest, “we really don’t know.”
While everyone from fugitive mob boss Whitey Bulger to Carmelo Merlino and George Reisfelder have been suggested as possible suspects, Connor remains convinced that two of his old crime partners, Bobby Donati and David Houghton, were behind the nighttime robbery.
Donati had helped Connor case the Gardner, which was robbed while Connor was in prison in California. Connor said Houghton told him during a prison visit that he and Donati and a third man committed the crime.
“Why else would a friend fly to see me except to say they’d done it?” Connor said.
Donati was murdered in 1991 and Houghton died of a heart attack in 1992. The other man is also dead. The FBI has dismissed their roles but has yet to name prime suspects.
How many other hands the paintings have passed through isn’t clear, Connor said, but he’s confident that the Irish Republican Army was never involved.
“I know some of those people, and they contacted me,” he said. “They wanted me to know the IRA had nothing to do with it.”
– Lane Lambert
1 April 2009 - Behind the Blue
Author Joseph Bost is a writer in New York City and a police officer in New Jersey. He is an accomplished judo practioner who competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada.
Learn more about Joey's latest book Behind the Blue
30 March 2009 - Vincenzo Peruggia is receiving a lot of attention lately.
Be On the Look Out for Joe Medeiros’ new
In Paris at the start of a radically new century, the most famous face in the history of art stepped out of her frame and into a sensational mystery.
On August 21, 1911, the unfathomable happened—Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa vanished from the Louvre. More than twenty-four hours passed before museum officials realized she was gone. The prime suspects were as shocking as the crime: Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire, young provocateurs of a new art. As French detectives using the latest methods of criminology, including fingerprinting, tried to trace the thieves, a burgeoning international media hyped news of the heist.
No story captured the imagination of the world quite like this one. Thousands flocked to the Louvre to see the empty space where the painting had hung. They mourned as if Mona Lisa were a lost loved one, left flowers and notes, and set new attendance records. For more than two years, Mona Lisa’s absence haunted the art world, provoking the question: Was she lost forever? A century later, questions still linger.
Part love story, part mystery, Vanished Smile reopens the case of the most audacious and perplexing art theft ever committed. R. A. Scotti’s riveting, ingeniously realized account is itself a masterly portrait of a world in transition. Combining her skills as a historian and a novelist, Scotti turns the tantalizing clues into a story of the painting’s transformation into the most familiar and lasting icon of all time.
For more info about the theft of the Mona Lisa
refer to our Crime Scenes and Capers page.
Art works looted by the Nazis could be returned to Holocaust survivors and their descendants under plans by ministers.
By Alastair Jamieson
A government bill would soften a long-standing ban on museums selling items of national importance in their collections.
The Holocaust (stolen art) Restitution Bill would allow curators to return paintings and other artefacts to families who did not wish them to remain in national collections.
Ministers have been promising to change the law for a decade but according to The Guardian, the government may finally support a private members' bill introduced by Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP for Hendon.
Mr Dismore said: "I hope it will close another chapter from the Holocaust. It means recognising a right that has been denied for decades.
"I suspect many people would be prepared to allow their artwork to stay in public collections but it's their right to decide what happens to it."
The Commission for Looted Art in Europe has helped to restore more than 3,000 items, including paintings, drawings, silver, books and manuscripts to their rightful owners over the past 10 years.
However, only a small number of items in Britain are expected to be affected by the change.
One such item could be Cupid Complaining to Venus, by Lucas Cranach, dated 1525. The painting, now in the National Gallery, was once part of Adolf Hitler's private collection but its ownership between 1909 and 1945 remains a mystery.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the
principle of the bill "is very much accepted ... There will be attempts to
broaden it beyond the Nazi era and one has to be aware of that and draft it
in such a way that the risk is eliminated."
24 March 2009 - Bushwick Culture: Irreverent Playtime at the Sanctuary of Hope
By Kevin Armento
There is something oddly appropriate and satisfying about the residents of the Sanctuary of Hope maintaining the status of “church” for their art colony, and retaining the religious marquee (from its earlier days as an actual church) that sits above the door as you walk in. “The Witnessing”, their latest show (cabaret, really), which entertained a healthy audience Saturday night in the Sanctuary’s modest-sized Ridgewood digs, was anything but a church service. One might be fooled by the projections of religious iconography on the walls, the authentic pews, or the collection of an offering by means of that familiar little pouch-on-a-stick, but no, this is a night of artistic expression, inebriation, and (there is no better word for it) commune.
The first hint of what is in store for you is impossible to miss, and it is the presence of two gorgeous (and surprisingly living) peacocks above you, perched unbelievably on a large tree branch and upside-down church pew, suspended from the ceiling (their names, I quickly learn, are Tinkerbell and Aeschylus… a pairing representative of the spirit of the Sanctuary itself?). AK Thompson supplies loud, pulsing music that fills the room, as the audience crowds around a projected live video feed coming from the Sanctuary’s basement, where two of the artists-in-residence, we learn, have been lured and locked in. There is a microphone and speaker with which you can send messages to the hostages below, and this serves as a sort of prologue to the night’s events.
The performances that follow reminded me, at their best, of those famed Dalí demonstrations of the thirties, and at their basest, of the backyard skits we put on in childhood. Almost anyone who is likely to be drawn to an evening billed as “a double trinity: the mitosis of three becomes six” (or indeed almost anyone who is drawn to live in the Greater Bushwick region to begin with) will take joy, as I did, in the spirit of the thing. Three artists sit perched up high at one end of the room, rhythmically beckoning to the mingling crowd below. Slowly, one by one, each audience member answers the call, crosses the room, and turns around to join in the beckoning. Eventually, a crowd forms at the foot of these performers, and the next piece is ready to begin.
What resembles a large white coffin (called a “mobile living pod”) is rolled into the room. A silent dancer emerges, her hair specked with snowflakes, wearing only a flowing, white skirt. She sets the tone with a delicate dance, and lures one of the artists sitting above (Ryan Brown) to come join her. He does, and we the audience crowd around them, watching as she strips him bare (wig and all), has him kneel gently to the ground, and, after they have each enjoyed a sip from a large pitcher of milk, douses him with what’s left. After this act of purification (or is it a rite of passage?) comes the celebration of unity, for which all the audience is invited to take a homemade noisemaker (so lovingly crafted!), kneel together in a circle, and make that timeless note of oneness. What does it all mean? What are these artists trying to communicate to their gathered flock? Like those peacocks perched above (and like those childhood skits), I don’t know that extrapolating meaning is the point.
Following this interactive piece of spiritual art, we migrate to the other side of the room for a more traditional performance, a haphazard production of Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter (co-starring, and loosely steered by Andy Janbek). The actors have difficulty maintaining the audience’s attention for this portion of the evening, but when you put this strictly-observable kind of art last (after everything else has been participatory), I suppose that is to be expected. It was while trying to stay focused (and for much of it, straining to hear at all), that my companions and I noted the lack of direction in the evening’s festivities, which would have helped immensely in stringing together some sense of cohesiveness.
But this is nitpicking, and in all candor I must admit there is something alternately refreshing and nostalgic about the lack of order in “The Witnessing” (the abundant supply of anyone’s intoxication du jour helps too). As we were smilingly encouraged to participate, to make noise, to interact, and indeed, to make art of our own, I could not help but reflect fondly that this was a night presented by Bushwick artists for Bushwick artists. It was a celebration of everything that it means (or whatever it means) to express one’s art. And while it reminded me in turns of summer camp, unbridled bohemia, and at times, downright playtime, it reminded me mostly of why people move to New York in the first place. Peacocks-in-residence? A mobile living pod? An impromptu performance of Pinter? This, if you allow it, is church for an artist. And so maybe leaving the marquee in place is the one thing here without irony at all.
By BENJAMIN WEISER
A federal judge in Manhattan said on Monday that he was deeply troubled by the secrecy of a settlement concerning two Picasso paintings purportedly sold under duress in Nazi Germany.
In the settlement announced last month, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum said they would continue to own the Picassos, and would pay a confidential sum to the heirs of the paintings' original owner, Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and his wife, to resolve the case.
The judge said that the heirs were demanding the terms remained confidential.
The works included "Boy Leading a Horse," which was donated to MoMA in 1964 and "Le Moulin de la Galette," which was given to the Guggenheim in 1963. In 2007, lawyers for Julius H. Schoeps, a great-nephew of Mr. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a German Jewish banker who died in 1935, told the museums that they believed the banker had sold the works to an art dealer against his will because of the Nazi regime, and demanded their return.
When the settlement was announced on the eve of trial, the judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court, expressed dismay at the secrecy, and asked whether the parties would disclose the terms, given the museums' role as quasi-public institutions and the gravity of the plaintiffs' accusations.
In his order late Monday addressing the secrecy issue, the judge said that the museums had agreed to disclosure, but the plaintiffs, "for reasons wholly unexplained and seemingly no more compelling than concealing the amount of money going into their pockets, remain opposed."
He added: "The fact that the plaintiffs, who repeatedly sought to clothe themselves as effectively representatives of victims of one of the most criminal political regimes in history, should believe that there is any public interest in maintaining the secrecy of their settlement baffles the mind and troubles the conscience."
Without the plaintiffs' consent, the judge said, he could not make the agreement public, but he said he hoped the plaintiffs, after reflection "on their public responsibilities," would change their position.
It is not unusual for civil lawsuits to be resolved secretly, but Judge Rakoff made clear that he did not consider the case to be typical, saying the issues were of considerable public importance.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, John J. Byrne Jr., said he had no comment on Monday night.
23 March 2009 - An evening dedicated to "La Scapigliatura"
Renato Miracco Director of the
Italian Cultural Institute Cordially invites you to
Annie Paule Luinsac-art Historian and curator of the exhibition “Scapigliatura. Un pandemonio per cambiare l’arte. Milano 1860 – 1900” Palazzo Reale – Milano (June 25 – November 23, 2009) Will talk on “La Scapigliatura: first Italian Vanguard in Art Letters” Followed by A lecture on Giuseppe Grandi, the prominent sculptor of the Scapigliatura movement By David M. Gariff – Senior lecturer –Division of Education, National Gallery of Art – Washington D.C.
Thursday March 26, 2009
Scapigliatura is the mid-19th-century avant-garde movement which developed in Italy after Risorgimento,1815-1871. The name Scapigliatura is the Italian equivalent of the French Boheme and Scapigliati (literally "dishevelled", "unkempt") the name given to this group of bohemian artists which included poets and writers, musicians, painters and sculptors. This movement was influenced by Baudelaire, the French Symbolist poets, Edgar Allan Poe, and German Romantic writers, it sought to replace the classical, Arcadian, and moralistic traditions of Italian literature with works that featured bizarre and pathological elements and direct, realistic narrative description.
21 March 2009 - Getty Ex-Curator Testifies in Rome Antiquities Trial
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
ROME — In a court appearance on Friday, Marion True, the former curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, defended herself against accusations that she knowingly bought antiquities that had been illegally excavated.
“If ever there was an indication of proof of an object coming from a certain place,” or an illegal excavation, “we would deaccession it and return the object, regardless of the statute of limitations,” Ms. True said. “And we have shown that we would.”
She listed artifacts that the Getty returned to Italy during her tenure as antiquities curator, from 1986 until 2005. They included a 2,500-year-old kylix, or drinking cup, by the Greek artists Onesimos and Euphronios; a bronze Etruscan tripod; and some 3,500 objects from the archaeological site at Francavilla Marittima in Calabria. In each case that the museum discovered that a piece had been stolen, she said, it gave the object back.
Ms. True was speaking in the Rome courtroom where she is on trial with the American antiquities dealer Robert Hecht on charges of conspiracy to traffic in antiquities looted from Italian soil. In Italian legal proceedings, defendants are allowed to make spontaneous comments, and Ms. True’s remarks came in response to testimony by Daniela Rizzo, an archaeologist and prosecution witness.
Ms. Rizzo said on Friday that Ms. True could have, and should have, done more to prevent the trade in looted antiquities. “Your cooperation has always been very positive,” she told Ms. True, who sat with her lawyers. “But you are an archaeologist, a scholar and a great expert, and you had the knowledge to recognize objects that could have come from Etruria.”
Perhaps “a closer, more direct collaboration with Italian archaeologists would have been more useful than to return objects over time,” Ms. Rizzo said.
It was the first time that Ms. True has appeared in court to refute the charges against her in a trial that began nearly four years ago.
Even as the proceedings have dragged on from hearing to hearing, often with months of delays in between, Italian Culture Ministry officials have negotiated deals with American museums and private collectors, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Cleveland Museum of Art, for the return of artifacts said to have been looted.
In 2007, after years of legal wrangling, the Getty agreed to turn over 40 objects from its collection, some of which are part of the prosecution’s case against Ms. True and Mr. Hecht. The return of the objects had no bearing on the case.
The charges against Ms. True surprised many in the art world. During her tenure at the Getty she tightened the museum’s policy on collecting antiquities and collaborated with Italian investigators looking into international trafficking in such pieces.
Sounding calm and sure of herself, Ms. True said the Getty had always followed proper procedures when buying objects on the international market, contacting Italian culture officials to determine if there were liens on specific artifacts. “I didn’t have the right to make informal inquiries” in Italy, she said.
The two archaeologists sparred as the defense lawyers began their first day of questioning of Ms. Rizzo, who has been on the stand for about a dozen hearings over the past two years. Citing documents on the purchase of several objects by the Getty, Alberto Sanjust, one of Ms. True’s lawyers, suggested that Italian officials might have been remiss in providing proof and that they failed to warn the museum that some artifacts might have been looted or illegally exported.
The defense plans an object-by-object rebuttal of the prosecution’s case for each of the 35 artifacts that Ms. True approved for acquisition and that the Italians say were looted.
“Just as long as the trial doesn’t drag on until it’s time for me to retire,” said the chief judge, Gustavo Barbalinardo, who has announced that he plans to step down in three years.
18 March 2009 - Vincenzo Perugia and the repatriated Giaconda
In the 1970s, writer and filmmaker Joe Medeiros was reading up on Leonardo da Vinci when a sentence in Liana Bortolon’s book The Life and Times of Leonardo caught his eye. It mentioned the infamous theft of August 21, 1911, when an Italian mason named Vincenzo Peruggia walked out of the Louvre with the Mona Lisa.
Medeiros, who had recently studied film at Temple University in his hometown of Philadelphia, dreamed of making a movie about the crime. He began collecting information on Peruggia, a workman and Louvre employee living in Paris, and his possible cohorts and motives. One of the first references he turned to, he says, was The Art Stealers (1966), by ARTnews editor and publisher Milton Esterow; the book dedicates two chapters to the crime.
Medeiros eventually moved to California and became head writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but the story of the theft stayed on his mind. He had even written several dramatic scripts based on the subject. Now, more than 30 years later, and with the 100th anniversary of the event nearing, Medeiros has decided to take a different approach. He and Justine Medeiros, his wife and executive producer, are piecing the crime together in a documentary film.
From May through October of last year, the couple trekked to Paris, London, Florence, and Dumenza, Italy (Peruggia’s hometown), to collect footage for the self-funded project. On their travels they interviewed the descendants of the people involved in the theft, visited historical locales, and examined official French and Italian documents from city archives, hospitals, and police departments. The Medeiroses hope to finish the feature-length film—tentatively titled The Missing Piece: The Puzzling Case of the Theft of the Mona Lisa—in the next year and shop it to TV networks and film festivals. The couple documented their travels online at monalisadocumentary.blogspot.com.
According to police reports, Peruggia kept the painting in his Paris apartment for nearly two and a half years and then, in December 1913, brought it to Florence, he said, as an act of patriotism. Peruggia claimed that Italian art in the Louvre collection had been looted by Napoleon and that he was returning La Joconde to her rightful place. But King Francis I had purchased the painting from Leonardo, so it was rightfully French property. The Italian government returned it to French soil in January 1914. In Italy, though, Peruggia became something of a folk hero, especially since the painting was permitted to tour the country before it was sent back to France. Admirers sent him food, wine, and money while he was in jail awaiting trial.
The proceedings began in June 1914 in Florence. Deemed “intellectually deficient” by a court-appointed psychiatrist and thus only partially responsible for the crime, Peruggia was sentenced to one year and 15 days in jail. Soon the sentence was reduced to seven months. When he was freed, Peruggia joined the Italian army to fight in World War I, and returned to Paris afterwards, where he died of a heart attack in 1925, at the age of 44.
The Medeiroses remain fascinated by the numerous “missing pieces to his puzzle,” including, Justine says, “how a simple workman outwitted the best police minds of the time, whether he was working alone or with accomplices, which entrance and exit he used, and what his true motivation was.” She adds that Peruggia has variously been described as “a patriot, a thief, or a man in love who wanted to impress a woman.”
One of the couple’s most significant encounters took place in Dumenza with Celestina, Peruggia’s 84-year-old daughter. Celestina hadn’t yet been born when the painting was stolen, and she didn’t know Peruggia particularly well (he died when she was 4 years old). But after finding out about her father’s misdeed when she was 20, Celestina told the Medeiroses, she “felt shame and ambivalence” over her heritage. One particularly upsetting moment came in 1978, when an Italian television show fictionalized the story of Peruggia’s theft. Celestina’s mother was portrayed as a bigamist who caused Peruggia to die of a broken heart. She did remarry, Celestina said, but not until two years after Peruggia’s death.
In Paris, the Medeiroses filmed Celestina’s son, Silvio, in his grandfather’s Tenth Arrondissement neighborhood, and in the apartment where Peruggia lived with Leonardo’s masterpiece. Silvio also accompanied the Medeiroses to the Louvre and retraced his grandfather’s escape route. Despite construction in progress (and the fact that the painting is now located in a different gallery), they were thrilled to gain access to the museum. They filmed on a Tuesday afternoon—when the Louvre was closed to the public—last fall, with no one else there except security guards and a cleaning crew.
As for Peruggia’s true motive, the Medeiroses are fairly certain they have it figured out (thanks to a selection of his letters they found in Florence’s national archives), but for now they’re keeping mum. “Will our film redeem him?” Joe asks. “You’ll have to wait and see.”
11 March 2009 - Art Thief in fur coat caught on CCTV at Swansea University’s Singleton campus
A well-dressed middle-aged woman, wearing a fur, is suspected of stealing an £800 bronze statue of a nude man from the Taliesin arts centre at Swansea university's Singleton campus last month.
The woman is believed to have walked out of the establishment with the art work hidden in her hand bag.
Anyone who can identify this woman, who is believed to be in her 50s, is asked to contact police on 01792 456999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The statue was taken at about 1720 GMT on 13 February and is 25 cm tall.
Police described the woman as white, approximately 5ft 5in and wearing a cowl necked jumper and a fake fur.
8 March 2009 - Cranach masterpiece stolen from Norwegian church
Sun Mar 8, 2009 10:47am EDT
OSLO (Reuters) - Thieves broke into a church in Norway and stole a valuable 16th century painting by the German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder, police said on Sunday.
One or more thieves climbed a ladder and broke a window to enter the church at Larvik, south of Oslo, and stole the painting in the early hours of Sunday, police officer Petter Aronsen said.
"We have no suspects so far in the investigation," Aronsen said.
Experts believe the painting could be worth $2 million to $3 million based on prices fetched at auction for works by Cranach (1472-1553), Norwegian online paper VG reported.
The precise date of the stolen painting "Let children come to me," which shows Christ in a blue robe holding two infants in his lap and surrounded by several women with small children and a few men, was not known.
Aronsen said it had hung in the Larvik church since it was built in 1677.
Cranach the Elder ranks among the most significant German Renaissance painters, along with masters such as Albrecht Durer.
The fire department responded to an alarm at 1:30 a.m. only to find the ladder remaining and the painting and thieves gone, Aronsen said.
They got away in a car that had been parked a short distance from the church beyond a small forest, he said.
(Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Giles Elgood)
27 February 2009 - Bene Joe!
Dear Your Brush with the Law:
25 February 2009 - New lead in Gardner Museum art theft with ties to Maine
On March 18, 1990, the
largest art theft in modern history took place at the Isabella Stewart
Gardner Museum in Boston (estimated at over $500,000,000).
Reissfelder is believed to
have stored the art in a “safe house” in Maine, where he periodically stored
various items. A friend owned the home where Reissfelder constructed a false
wall where the items were stored. The friend participated in the arrangement
without his wife’s knowledge. The homeowner unexpectedly died with the art
still stored in the home. Within a short time after the homeowner’s death,
Reissfelder also died never having retrieved the stolen art.
Working with his attorney, Beauchamp has been in constant communication with Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly of the FBI and Anthony Amore of the Gardner Museum. Given the information, it is believed that the exact location of the stolen art may be determined.
On February 20, 2009, a
Memorandum had been given to Amore detailing the circumstances of the crime
along with the potential location.
For further inquiry, please contact Attorney Alec Sohmer at (781) 248-3627.
24 February 2009 - Gardner Update!
Our federal operative at YourBrushWithTheLaw.com in Boston has informed us that there is a lot of renewed movement on the Gardner Heist investigation, including several visits from federal investigators to the Gardner Museum over the last couple of weeks. A climax that would correspond with the release of Ulrich Boser's outstanding new book would be wonderful, but don't hold your breath.
Any info regarding the theft of the Gardner artworks should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a $5 million dollar reward and your identity will be respected and protected. We at YourBrushWithTheLaw.com take immense pride in the level of respect and trust that is given to us by operatives and sources of info from both the law enforcement community and the art underworld.
23 February 2009
- The Gardner Heist:
"I just finished a book for HarperCollins about the largest art heist in history, the 1990 theft of 13 artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. While there have been thousands of leads, hundreds of interviews, and a $5 million reward, not a single painting has been recovered. Worth as much as $500 million, the missing masterpieces have become the Holy Grail of the art world and one of the nation’s most extraordinary unsolved mysteries. My book tells the story behind the theft, looking at the art, the museum, and reveals for the first time the identities of the men behind the caper."
The early press has been very good.
“Boser has produced a captivating portrait of the world's biggest unsolved art theft,” noted the Wall Street Journal.
The Guardian wrote that:"the book is a thrill."
The Associated Press said:
Information on the Gardner theft
Please contact us at
YourBrushWithTheLaw.com if you have any leads on the lost Gardner paintings
or the people who stole them.
Remember: There’s a $5 million reward for the missing art.
19 February 2009
The Gardner Heist
The Gardner Museum in Boston is a monument to the idiosyncrasies of the rich. A replica of a Venetian palazzo, it embodies the vision of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who built a world-class art collection and displayed it her way. The museum's holdings include "works by Titian, Velazquez, Raphael, Manet, and Botticelli." Until 1990, the Gardner housed even more treasures; that was when thieves dressed as cops faked their way inside and made off with a Rembrandt, a Vermeer and other paintings valued at more than $500 million. Ulrich Boser presents his solution to the mystery: The culprits were the minions of Boston-area gangsters. But loose ends remain, notably the whereabouts of the paintings. It can't be easy to dispose of such well-known artworks, and a recent federal law has added to the complexity. As a lawyer explained to Boser, "If someone buys the Gardner Rembrandt fifty years down the road, they can still be prosecuted."
Sketching in the details of the
Ulrich Boser's retelling of the greatest art theft in modern times doesn't provide a solution but captures the dedication required to build up an art collection - and to steal it.
It's fair to say that when a criminal investigation has detectives turning to the assistance of psychics and paranormals, it has hit a rocky point. And so it goes for the investigators working the notorious Gardner heist, one of history's greatest unsolved mysteries. But it's hardly for lack of effort. It's just that so many of the prime suspects have wound up murdered.
In The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, journalist-turned-gumshoe Ulrich Boser gives his own account of the burglary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. On 19 March 1990 - St Patrick's Day, a fact that would later become a clue - two men dressed as police officers talked their way into the museum after hours, gagged and bound two night watchmen, and made off with some of the world's most precious paintings. The 13 paintings ripped crudely from their frames, including masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Degas - a haul valued at around $500m (£347m) - have not been seen since.
The first of many obsessives to star in Boser's tale is none other than socialite Isabella Stewart Gardner, the museum's founder and namesake. Boser details the incredible dedication (and money) that the heiress put toward her pristine collection of Old Masters, early moderns, and other masterworks.
But it's not long before the story plunges into the murky depths of contemporary organised crime. Following in the footsteps of detective-to-the-art-world Harold Smith, Boser follows the works through whispers in the underworld. In following the old leads collected by Smith (who died in 2005), Boser tracks the true cast of characters that surround the missing paintings and brings new facts to light in a mystery now entering its second decade.
Boser rejects the idea of
a shadowy "Dr No" villain, presumed by many to have masterminded the heist
for personal enjoyment. He explains that art theft is more mundane and
fantastical than that: stolen art is sometimes fenced to insurance
adjusters, or serves as a black-market bond.
By Boser's accounting, every cat burglar between Boston and Dublin has a bead on the missing masterpieces. To his credit, the book is a thrill despite the frustrating nature of the investigation, in which he painstakingly tracks audacious leads from mendacious thugs only to arrive at dead ends. And a few dead suspects. And to be sure, no art.
Still, Boser does turn up some new evidence and makes a conclusive case for the identity of the thieves who did the job. The mystery remains unsolved, but the case is reinvigorated in its retelling by a man who fully appreciates the value of the masterpieces and the magnitude of the criminal conspiracy that carried them away in the night
10 January 2009 - Bon Jovi Drummer Loses His Art
Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres has been dabbling in painting, but saw three of his works stolen just days before they were to be featured at a gallery in the Hamptons.
Torres had loaned the
three painting to director Spike Lee, who used the works in his latest film,
"He Got Game," and the paintings were being stored in a prop truck until
they could be transported to the Lumina Gallery in West Hampton Beach.
However, the entire truck was stolen from the guarded lot where it was being
housed, and the paintings disappeared into the night. Despite the theft,
Torres says the show will go on this weekend, when he will be joined by his
wife, model Eva Herzigova, for the debut of the exhibit on Saturday.