Culture crime news 15–21 September 2014


Hot this week: I focused on nothing by the Scottish referendum, to be honest.

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Egypt recovers stolen fragments of Cheops pyramid
(17 September 2014, Al-Arabiya)
This is from those German pseudoscience people. I still want to know how they were in there in the first place.


Key to Wellington returned after theft (New Zealand)
(17 September 2014, The New Zealand Herald)
Hooray! I really do like this museum and I am happy to see this return.

West and Central Asia

This law will ensure that the UAE’s past has a future
(15 September 2014, The National)
Support for a law that would start to address protection of UAE sites and artefacts.

New high-resolution satellite image analysis: 5 of 6 Syrian World Heritage sites ‘exhibit significant damage’
(18 September 2014, Science Daily)
A worthwhile read. And depressing.

Islamic State sells ‘blood antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria to raise money
(14 September 2014, Washington Post)
An op-ed by Mark Vlasic.

South and East Asia

Ancient Vishnu idol stolen from Bhilwara (India)
(15 September 2014, Hindustan Times)
The statue is missing from Dhandhola village and was separated from its upper torso. This exact same idol was stolen in 2000 but recovered 11 months later.

Idols’ Trail Leads US Team to TN (India)
(21 September 2014, The New Indian Express)
This is part of ongoing investigations into the Subhas Kapoor smuggling case.

Idol wing of Tamil Nadu police on the trail of lost icons (India)
(15 September 2014, The Times of India)
More on the Tamil Nadu police investigations into the National Gallery of Australia idols.

Rs 10 crore worth artefacts smuggled in as clay objects? (India)
(20 September 2014, The Times of India)
The individual, presented here as a respected dealer, was trying to bring Indian object TO (?) Switzerland from India by wrongly declaring them.


Chicago officials investigate human bones sent to Japanese consulate
(18 September 2014, Reuters)
The skulls etc were sent with a letter saying these were WW2 soldier remains. Probably they are trophies taken by a US soldier.

LAPD’s art theft unit is a piece of work
(17 September 2014, Los Angeles Register)
Profile of Detective Don Hrycyk.

142 volumes of rare Chinese books stolen from Cornell library (USA)
(19 September 2014, The Ithaca Voice)
They were taken from 15 cases over an unknown period of time.

Banksy Vandal Can Avoid Jail by Paying $13,000 for Restoration
(17 September 2013, Artnet News)
The artist apparently was caught defacing two Banksy pieces in protest in Park City, Utah.


Stolen WW1 medals return to Quarry Bank Mill after 36 years (UK)
(16 September 2014, BBC News)
They are believed to have been in private collections since the theft in 1978.

St Albans man held over wartime firearms find
(17 September 2014, BBC News)
The man is suspected of having stolen them from a nearby POW camp and other protected heritage sites.

Metal detectors object to digs by Mackenzie Crook about ‘dysfunctional’ hobby in BBC4’s ‘Detectorists’
(17 September 2014, Independent)
Oh, dear…I really feel for them. Perhaps I want to watch this show after all.

Did a 2,000-year-old archaeological artefact go home in a Dundee youngster’s pocket?
(15 September 2014, The Courier)
The littlest artefact theft. Parents, teach your kids not to pocket artefacts.

The Shifting Identity of Paris’s Biennale des Antiquaires
(15 September 2014, T Magazine)
In a world where buyers won’t visit galleries but insist on seeing antiquities before buying, enter the rise of the fair.

American tourists caught with Pompeii relic
(16 September 2014, The Local)
The pair had a 30 kg architectural piece stashed in their luggage which they had stolen from the site.

Vienna’s Jewish Museum returns painting seized by Nazis to heirs
(20 September 2014, DNA)
The work by Jehudo Epstein was given to the Jewish Museum in 2010 and the museum’s own provenance inquiry resulted in the return to heirs.

Fake Picasso anyone? Austrian police search for fraud victims
(16 September 2014, Reuters)
This Serbian art fraud gang charged over £200k for their Picasso fakes which came with forged authenticity documents.

Stolen icon rescued from Swiss auction (Cyprus)
(18 September 2014, Cyprus Mail)
The 16th century piece is from the Christ Antifonitis church and was probably looted just after the Turkish invasion in 1974.

In other news

Five diamond thieves arrested at Hong Kong gem fair
(18 September 2014, Yahoo News)
Apparently this is part of a spate of gem fair attempted thefts.