17 May 2010 - Michel van Rijn: The Merry Drinker (After Frans Hals)
Michel Van Rijn, a dear friend of mine whom I dined with last October in Amsterdam, as The Merry Drinker of Frans Hals (I saw this famous painting by Hals, one of my favorite by the Dutch master, in the Rijksmuseum the day before I visited Michel and I was inspired to paint him like this); oil on canvas; 24" x 28"; 2010; by Charles Vincent Sabba Jr.
Michel is a former antiquities smuggler and a
self-proclaimed art world crusader. Michel wrote the book Hot Art Cold Cash.
18 March 2010 - Twenty Years ago Today....
6 March 2010 - Harold Smith: Art Loss Adjuster
Harold Smith is a New York fine art loss adjuster who was featured in Rebecca Dreyfus' film Stolen. I wish all the best to his son Greg (who followed in his father's footsteps) and his family; his loss must have been heartbreaking. .................................................................................................................................................
5 March 2010 - Myles J. Connor
To hear and buy Myles music:
2 March 2010 - William P. Youngworth III
What about the Bulger connection? Everyone is focused on Whitey Bulger as if he was the only Irish underworld boss in Massachusetts. Why isn't Joe Murray's connection to all this discussed more? He allegedly told an FBI agent that he could get his hands on some stolen artworks.
WY: " If it were not for his brother's position (then president of the Massachusetts Senate ) Whitey would have been found in a shallow grave. His life was dependent on this issue alone. In contrast, Joe Murray could make one phone call to Ireland and someone would show up the next day and shoot you in the back of the head. Whitey knew this and remained quite paranoid. He isolated himself for a decade before the end came. Before his being an informant for the F.B.I. became publicly known, we had already realized it, after Joe McDonald got picked off in Grand Central Station coming back to meet him (Joe Mac was an Irish hitman who was wanted by the Feds; Joe Mac called Bulger and told him that he was on a train to Boston and Bulger dropped a dime to the dirty FBI agent named Connolly. Joe Mac was grabbed off the train on September 15, 1982). Joe Murray stood out as much as one's grandfather would. That is how he remained a successful fugitive for as long as he did. With the small exception being one's granddad usually doesn't have two silenced Mac 10's in his carry-all bag. "
Now for the $500 million dollar question: If someone wanted to recover the Gardner loot, what does he have to do?
WY: "I will tell you the broker who moved the stuff was a foreign national. To get the stuff back now, you would need a passport. You would have to go to each and every buyer over seas and offer a profit. Why don't you ask the Gardner exactly how does one collect this reward that is offered, who exactly will pay it and how. When you offer a reward are those not part of the contract? They have a "subject to" laced diluted contract that was uncollectible for me".
William Youngworth is an antiques dealer who ended up in a stalemate with the Gardner and the authorities. After the Gardner Heist, William contacted Tom Mashberg of the Boston Herald and told him that he and Myles Connor could recover the Gardner loot. They denied involvement in the crime and demanded immunity from prosecution, Connor's release from prison, and the reward, in return for their services. After long, tiresome negotiations, William accused the Feds of using strong arm tactics to force his cooperation. He also stated that the whole affair has ruined his life. He has been hounded by investigators and reporters, criminals have threatened to kidnap his kids for info on the paintings whereabouts, his wife died, and his young son was was even harassed.
He claimed that the paintings could have been returned back in 1997, but the chances are slim to none at present. .................................................................................................................................................
28 February 2010 - Thomas "Slab" Murphy
This man prefers to stay low key. He cuts an inconsequential figure on his pig farm that straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. There are no displays of wealth. The 56-year-old bachelor has frugal tastes. He drinks a pint of orange juice at the local bars while playing darts and watching Gaelic football on TV.
In the early Nineties, MI5 labeled him the greatest threat to the internal security of the UK.
To many local people Murphy is a respected republican who has directed much of his fortune into the Irish Republican cause. In his 35-year career, Murphy allegedly has traveled the world in search of increasingly sophisticated weapons to support his Republican beliefs. Between 1984 and 1989, agencies ranging from MI5 to the FBI estimate that he visited Greece, the former Yugoslavia and the US. In the latter, he allegedly tried to set up an arms-smuggling network that would have shipped Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Ireland.
I leave an offer open to Mr. Murphy. If you agree to pose
for a portrait I will fly out to visit you immediately! I will paint two
Murphy portraits one for my portfolio and one which will be a gift of
gratitude for your home.
27 February 2010 - Michael van Rijn
Michel was considered an early suspect in the Gardner heist. He was living in Manhattan at the time of the robbery. Though denying any involvement in the case, he claimed, in a 2001 Atlantic Monthly article, that he had information about who had done it and a possible location of the stolen art. Shortly after the article appeared, he refused to say any more and went into hiding in England claiming fear for his life.
Michel has had an interesting list of art world antics in his life. He had a price on his head, has been shot at and once had to go into hiding. He has been hunting down art, first as a smuggler and now as an investigator, for 40 years. He is a rogue Dutch art dealer who helped Scotland Yard detectives set up many arts stings. His exploits has made him extremely unpopular with some very unpleasant people.
His most expensive recoveries have been while working on the right side of the law and it was his co-operation with German police in 1997 that forced him into hiding. The operation led to the recovery of $40m worth of frescoes, mosaics and icons looted from churches in Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Former Det. Sgt Richard Ellis, the respected founder of Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad, registered Mr. van Rijn as an informant. "Michel's quite an unusual character, full stop," said Mr. Ellis. "If he has information it's generally going to be good." The two have maintained both a very close working and personal relationship.
I visited with my old friend Michel in
Amsterdam last October and he is healthy and living well (who doesn't live
well in Amsterdam! ;-) I will be painting many portraits of both Michel and
Dick Ellis (an incredible art recovery agent who I respect very much) in the
27 February 2010 - Isabella Stewart Gardner
I love this lady! I can't put it any other way. In the first portrait I used a photo from when she was young as a reference. I tried to make her idealistically beautiful. This was not hard to do because she was young and also had a beautiful presence. In the second portrait, I copied a Sargent painting, in which we all know he spent less time on her more then ordinary face and emphasized her knock dead figure.
In a past e-mail Anthony Amore stressed that it was important to him that Isabella look pretty in her portrait. I figured that was just ra-ra pep talk from someone who is a loyal employee, but I vowed to myself that day I would do that for him. I remembered watching another Gardner Museum employee in the Rebecca Dreyfus documentary Stolen, who actually cried tears when talking about Isabella. I thought to myself "what a kiss ass. What a wanker sucking up to the admin. He couldn't possibly be so devoted to a woman who passed away before he was born." Wrong call. After I learned more about Isabella, a spunky New Yorker, not one of those boring Boston blue blood types, I started to realize that I would have dug hanging around this woman. She helped many artists and introduced them and their work to her wealthy friends. Artists always dig this! But, other then what I can read or hear in stories about her artistic nature, I was touched by this woman's beautiful eyes as I painted them. I felt her soul and her pain at losing works that she held precious (which is how she felt about her entire house and collection). As I painted her beautiful face and eyes, reality hit me hard. The museum staff are not victims, but she is and I feel for her memory. I feel for her lovely soul. She is watching our moves and waiting for results...and as we were joined in a communion of paint, I swore on my honor that I will do ALL within my power to help her. Don't let anyone tell you different: this lady is sexy, beautiful, and has a command of presence that is a very formidable power even from beyond.
26 February 2010 - Tom Ashbrook interview at Gardner Museum
At 36.47 minutes into this interview, Ann Hawley slipped and stated that "...there is a lot of violence involved with the people involved with the case." So Anne knows who "the people" are? Of course she, the F.B.I., and now Anthony Amore knew along along who the people were. In fact, they have known almost everything, except where the works are hidden and what the proper, respectful manner is to negotiate their return is. I thought it was funny how fast Anthony cut in to try and correct this civilian's very foolish and amateur mistake. I thought it even more amusing how retired F.B.I. agent Robert Wittman cut in and totally tried to lead the listeners away from the subject line (that is "the involved people") into a new subject line of "the reward". That's right...flash the cash and you can distract most listeners with ease. Fact is, maybe its time to publicly declare that total immunity is granted and clarify the conditions of a reward. I believe Anthony is sincere and wants to recover those beautiful masterpieces for that wonderful museum. My question is can he sincerely operate his own way without outside interference, or do "the parties responsible have to pay?" The art has to come first my good man. Art is a faith not a profession.
Another point to raise is that Wittman is writing a book (isn't everyone?) and he claims to know what country the art is held in. As Ubu Roi would say: "Merde!" Ulrich Boser touted the Turner theory only to be able to say he discovered new evidence of who committed the crime, in turn he would sell many books. Now retired undercover agent Wittman is following suit. He says "I know what country they are in" and art lovers rush the book shelves of Barnes and Noble. Wouldn't it be funny if some one beat both him and Kurjian to it and took the steam out of their book sales? ;-)
26 February 2010 - On Point with Tom Ashbrook NPR Radio
Listen to Tom Ashbrook interview Director Ann Hawley, Anthony Amore, and RETIRED F.B.I. agent who specialized in undercover work Robert Wittman: http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/02/stolen-art
Point one I would like to bring up is: At the end of this interview a caller asked Ann Hawley why the museum did not place good reproductions, such as John Myatt's Original Fakes, within those sad, empty frames. Ann replied that this would not be the right thing to do. My suggestion is to get a few high quality artist projectors and project the images into the frames.
The empty frames brought home the feeling of victimization to the art loving public. Those frames were not place holders, but were a sign of victimization much like a black eye that was given by a mugger. They have done their job, but now, twenty years later, it is time to remove them from the walls or project the images into them until the genuine masterpieces are recovered.
26 February 2010 - Brucennial: New York
26 February 2010 - Salvador Dali' and the Ku
18 February 2010 - Ubu Roi, still reining king of the Art World says MERDE!
Ubu Roi says the informant Colin is full of MERDE! Colin showed the FBI agent a knock off in that Dublin motel room. A good forgery. Many times when a major art work gets stolen, ten forgeries are made and greedy, wealthy collectors senza scrupoli are tempted to buy them. A few retired art detectives swear by Colin's word because he gave precise info in his past informant duties (or do they really believe him? ;-) As far as a federal agent , or any law enforcement agent for that matter, authenticating a Vermeer merely by glancing at it in a Dublin motel room... Merde! As Ubu Roi would say: MERDE! Even if the agent had a doctorate in art history or conservation , or was a connoisseur (which of course he didn't and wasn't, because he would never have joined the Bureau) he could never authenticate a Vermeer in a hotel room at a glance. So....Colin = Merde; the whole story is too simple to have been pushed so hard, unless they pushed that story just for a distraction, or some other cunningly crafted ploy.
15 February 2010 - A public suggestion to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum staff on how to fill those sad, empty, frames...
14 February 2010 - Soon to be Unveiled....
Soon, I will post all 64 faces that I have been painting on the Herculean 8 foot by 6 foot 8 inch canvas that is in the Oliver Samuel Hendry collection! Soon!!! I will start posting several of these faces every other day (details of larger canvas) right up to the unveiling on 18 March 2010, which is the 20th anniversary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist. On 18 March 2010 I will post a photo of the entire canvas!
11 February 2010 - Paul "Turbo" Henry
I could never thank Paul Turbo Hendry enough for the inspiration and encouragement he has given me to not only create a huge body of portraits, but to work very hard at becoming a better artist. Through his espresso charged energetic pushing, I have drawn hundreds more faces then I ever would have, and have studied much more intensely then ever the wonderful portraits painted by old masters such as Titian, De Messina, Frans Hals and of course Rembrandt, but also some of my modern art world heroes like Amedeo Modigliani, Picasso and painters from the Scuola Romana, to name a few. Grazie mille fratello mio!
25 January 2010 - Exhibition at Y Gallery in New York
Upcoming exhibition at Y Gallery: Hard-Boiled
Bohemianism by Charles Sabba. Curated by Cecilia Jurado and Ryan Brown.
March 18th to April 18th, 2010 Opening Reception: March 18th 7 - 9pm. The
Hendry commission will be unveiled at the opening at a different gallery,
curated by Cecilia Jurado, in the Bowery (location to be announced). Also
shown will be several smaller paintings of the Hendry collection and tens of
fingerprint ink drawings. The show will exhibit at the Y Gallery until 18
April 2010 following the opening. An artist talk between Cecilia Jurado and
Charlie Sabba to be announced.
22 January 2010 - Hard-boiled Bohemianism: Scream
For me, The Scream by Munch is now the icon of stolen art. An icon that represents ALL artworks stolen; all antiquities looted, all forgeries forged; etcetera. Yes, we do indeed have a lot to scream about in the art world.
16 January 2010 - William Youngworth III in Sabba's Young Bohemia Art Studio
William Youngworth III in Sabba's Young Bohemia Art Studio: "The Gardner had the chance to be a world class museum, but they failed to get back a national treasure that was stolen from them. They had the chance and they blew it. How can they spend millions on a non-exhibiting space in the rear of their museum and they are missing the heart of their collection. They have perverted Isabella Stewart Gardner's will and the foundation she left to the world. That institution will never be a world class museum until they restore the integrity of her collection. Letting the feds fold them in their efforts to deal with me privately was the epoch of this disaster; they should should feel their shame! Now they are exhibiting a crime scene instead of a Vermeer! A pathetic crime scene with empty frames and they are selling hot dogs and tee-shirts. Twenty years later we are talking about a major accident report. Ten years ago I told them they would end up at zero and now they have. They failed to recover a national treasure and now they just have to get used to the fact that they will never see it in their lifetime. It may be one hundred years before something resurfaces again."