Culture crime news 20–26 June 2016


Hot this week: Lead theft abounds at UK churches

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Detrás del tráfico ilegal de piezas arqueológicas opera un círculo vicioso de poder: Renfrew (A vicious circle operates behind the illegal trafficking of archaeological objects: Renfrew)
(21 June 2016; La Journada de Oriente)
Lord Renfrew, speaking in Mexico, described the ‘network of corruption’ in the antiquities market.

8 Art Thefts That Went Wrong
(22 June 2016; Artsy)
Art theft usually don’t go as planned and hoped by the thieves.

So, Those Cool Souvenirs You Bought on Vacay Might Not Actually Be Legit
(24 June 2016; Yahoo News)
Buying antiquities souvenirs is harmful. Think and research before you buy.


Egypt to sign archaeological cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia (Egypt, Saudi Arabia)
(19 June 2016; Ahram Online)
Prevention of antiquities smuggling is on the list.

Ancient Egyptian Relics Returned After Surfacing at Israeli Auction (Egypt, Israel)
(21 June 2016; Haaretz)
The lids have arrived in Cairo and have been formally returned.

Rocky future for Somalia’s ancient cave art (Somalia)
(26 June 2016; The Daily Mail)
Somaliland doesn’t have the experience or financial resources to effectively protect their ancient art.


Stolen University of Victoria native art recovered (Canada)
(25 June 2016; CHEK)
“Someone threw the art covered in a blanket at a storefront”

B.C. Premier wants First Nations remains and cultural artifacts returned from U.S. museums (Canada)
(21 June 2016; Vancouver Sun)
The government has given First Nations their full support for return requests.

First Nations shrine collecting dust in New York museum’s basement (Canada, USA)
(23 June 2016; Vancouver Sun)
The Yuquot Whalers’ Shrine is in the American Museum of Natural History and, perhaps, shouldn’t be. The museum has not received a request for repatriation.

Ladrones roban imagen de una virgen bañada en oro en casa cural de Cartago (Thieves steal statue of the virgin decorated with gold in the rectory of Carthage; Costa Rica)
(20 June 2016; La Nación)
The piece dates to 1920.

Largest collection of Peruvian Antiques returned (Peru)
(23 June 2016; Peru This Week)
More than 4000 pieces were returned from a number of countries.

Guilty plea ends Native art scam in Juneau (USA)
(20 June 2016; Juneau Empire)
The trader pleaded guilty to two counts of misrepresenting Indian-produced goods.

Antique store worker returns stolen icon to Wichita church (USA)
(20 June 2016; KSN)
The thief told the trader that the icon was his grandmother’s.

Graffiti artist banned from 20% of US after Reddit users’ investigation (USA)
(21 June 2016; The Guardian)
Reddit’s hiking and climbing community tracked her down and reported her to the NPS.

9/11 Memorial by Concho River destroyed; steel stolen (USA)
(21 June 2016; Standard-Times)
The piece had a piece of steal from the World Trade Center wreckage.

Man arrested in theft of trailer containing $250,000 in artwork by Matisse and Chagall (USA)
(21 June 2016; The Los Angeles Times)
Detectives found the stolen trailer in the man’s backyard and the LA Police Department’s Art Theft Detail recovered some but not all of the stolen works.

Man beheads 800-year-old church statue in Florida, threatens to shoot priest in face, police say (USA)
(21 June 2016; Fox News)
St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church was imported from France by Hirst. The man’s mental state has been questioned.

Urn returns to Danvers library (USA)
(22 June 2016; The Salem News)
The George A. Peabody garden urn was stolen from the Danvers library in 2010.

Artwork stolen from library gallery (USA)
(22 June 2016; Daily Herald)
The student’s painting of Marilyn Monroe was taken from Grace Campbell Gallery, Prince Albert

Remains of 18 people stolen from cemetery in Stratford (USA)
(24 June 2016; Fox61)
It is unclear if the urns or the human remains were the target.

Assisted living center worker accused of stealing antiques, keepsakes (USA)
(24 June 2016; Journal Sentinel)
The missing antique items were found in the Wisconsin man’s possession.

Tribes hail shield’s halted sale; collectors ask what’s next (USA, France)
(22 June 2016; News Times)
It isn’t certain the shield will actually go back to Acoma Pueblo, the sale was just halted.

Navajo Nation supports cultural items bill (USA)
(24 June 2016; Daily Times)
The legislation would strengthen federal law regarding the exporting of Native American sacred items


Theatre built as tribute to Anglo-French friendship vandalised (France, UK)
(20 June 2016; The Guardian)
Spray-painted graffiti one week before it was due to open.

Trémel. Un joyau du XVIe siècle ravagé par un incendie (Trémel. A sixteenth century jewel destroyed by fire; France)
(21 June 2016; Le Télégramme)
The interior was mostly wood and the building is now ruined. An investigation has been opened into the cause of the fire.

Germany passes law to keep art of ‘national value’ in the country (Germany)
(23 June 2016; DW)
A step forward for the prevention of the trafficking of antiquities into Germany.

Police recover 16 ancient artifacts, man detained (Greece, Peru)
(21 June 2016; eKathimerini)
Half of the pieces are Hellenistic, the other half appear to be from Peru.

Locals fear alcohol fueled vandalism will destroy the last remaining relics of Old Palmerstown Church (Ireland)
(18 June 2016; Dublin Live)
Accusations that the South Dublin City Council is allowing a graveyard to be destroyed.

Stolen paintings found in Wicklow ditch to be auctioned in London (Ireland, UK)
(24 June 2016; The Irish Times)
The pieces are being sold by the insurance company that paid out for them.

Vandals target ancient monuments and sites (Isle of Man)
(24 June 2016; Isle of Man Today)
“Two standing stones at Cashtal yn Ard, in Maughold, have been defaced”

Over ten thousand stolen items con scated from Bullas antique collector (Spain)
(22 June 2016; Murcia Today)
The Guadia Civil has now inventoried the artefacts and sacred art seized from the home of Benito Amor.

Roban joyas y causan daños por valor de 90.000 euros en la parroquia de la Trinidad (Jewels robbed and 90,000 euros of damage caused in the parish church of Trinidad; Spain)
(23 June 2016; Diario Sur)
The thieves stole various rosaries and crowns and caused damage to the statues they were taken from.

War hero’s medals stolen from son on the train returning from his funeral (UK)
(19 June 2016; Bristol Post)
The medals were not targeted as they were in a bag on a train.

Muhammad Ali tribute mural stolen at Birmingham centre (UK)
(20 June 2016; BBC News)
It was painted on the gates of the former Muhammad Ali Centre

Arrests in Bulgaria over paintings stolen near Billy Connolly’s former home (UK, Bulgaria)
(20 June 2016; The Herald)
The pieces were identified by a routine Art Loss Register check.

Treasure hunter fined for stealing ancient gold ring (UK)
(23 June 2016; Mid Sussex Times)
The “illegal metal detectorist told the authorities he was ‘in it for the money'”.

Stolen medieval panels restored and reinstalled in Devon church (UK)
(24 June 2016; The Guardian)
“Screens bearing paintings of St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret of Antioch back on display at Holy Trinity church”

Art student’s agony as degree show submission is stolen (UK)
(25 June 2016; STV)
The piece was taken from an exhibition at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen

Thieves cause £20,000 of damage to one of Stockton’s most historic buildings (UK)
(23 June 2016; The Northern Echo)
Half a tonne of lead was taken from the roof of Stockton Parish Church.

Police appeal for witnesses after thieves steal lead from Hillhouse Parish Church roof (UK)
(24 June 2016; Daily Record)
The lead theft from the Hamilton church has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.


Talking Point: Neglect of ancient heritage (Australia)
(20 June 2016; The Mercury)
A string of failures in policy to prevent Tasmanian ancient art from being vandalised.

Mess marks spot when food splatters masterpieces (Australia)
(23 June 2016; The Australian)
The Art Gallery of NSW is under fire for allowing cooking for events to go on too close to artworks with food causing damage to the pieces.

Art heist or misplaced masterpiece? Missing painting baffles Nelson artist (New Zealand)
(23 June 2016;
The artist Marilyn Andrews is hoping people will keep an eye out for it as it is unclear how or why the painting has disappeared.

South and East Asia

CCTV surveillance at Golden Temple helps nail thieves (India)
(19 June 2016; The Tribune)
Not primarily for sacred art theft, but an interesting result of increased protection to a temple.

Archaeology Dept. awaits nod to beef up security (India)
(20 June 2016; The Hindu)
Tamil Nadu would like to use ex defence service personnel to protect monuments but haven’t had final approval.

Panchaloha Idol, Materials Stolen from Mariamma Temple (India)
(21 June 2016; Mangalorean News)
The thieves took an idol of Durga Devi, three silver vessels, and three silver face masks.

Govt has no record of artefacts stolen during militancy years (India)
(21 June 2016; The Tribune)
Proper documentation, which the state doesn’t have, is a must for repatriation claims.

Miscreants damage ancient Rameshwar temple at Halasi (India)
(21 June 2016; The Times of India)
The Kalash at the top of the 10th/11th century temple was toppled.

चोरों ने बनाया मठ को निशाना, एक साथ चुराईं अष्टधातु की आधा दर्जन मूर्तियां (Thieves stole statues of gods from temple in Muzaffarpur; India)
(22 June 2016; Pradesh 18)
Half a dozen statues were targeted

Over 14 lakh antiquities documented, data on NMMA website (India)
(23 June 2016; The Times of India)
Steps forward for antiquities documentation and information sharing.

Four students picked up for possessing ‘bronze’ idol, released (India)
(24 June 2016; The Times of India)
Working on a tip the police arrested the students but the statue turned out to be a replica.

बंद रहा दरवाजा और मंदिर से देवताओं की मूर्ति चुरा ले गए चोर (Thieves steal statues of the gods from temple in Madhubani; India)
(24 June 2016; Pradesh 18)
Four pieces were stolen from the locked temple.

Robbery attempt at Marakathambiga Sundarashwarar Temple caught on camera (India)
(24 June 2016; DNA)
Six robbers attempted to steal statues from the temple; guards were able to arrest two of them.

Theft at two temples (India)
(25 June 2016; The Hindu)
Mostly gold and silver ornaments taken from the two Karnataka temples.

On the trail of stolen artefacts (India)
(20 June 2016; The Hindu)
The India Pride Project, “a group of motivated stakeholders comprising people from across the globe”, working to bring Indian antiquities home.

Connoisseur & Smuggler:The 84-year-old art dealer and his collection of `stolen’ idols in Chennai (India)
(20 June 2016; The Indian Express)
Who is M. Deendayal, the 84-year-old at the centre of a major idol smuggling bust?

2 idols seized in Chennai could be from Tiruchi (India)
(20 June 2016; The Hindu)
Officials from 31 temples went to see the haul and two have been identified so far.

Art dealer arrested in Chennai for suspected temple artefacts theft (India)
(22 June 2016; Hindustan Times)
The arrest of G. Deenadhayalan for antiquities-related offences.

Police arrest idol smuggler, seize 9 ancient statues (India)
(25 June 2016; The Times of India)
The man was arrested in Mahabalipuram. This is a trickle-down arrest coming from info gathered during the Deenadhayalan arrest.

Connoisseur of art who turned temple raider (India)
(26 June 2016; The New Indian Express)
A closer look at arrested idol dealer G. Deenadayalan.

Why is Korean art market vulnerable to forgery? (South Korea)
(21 June 2016; The Korea Herald)
Fall out from the Lee U-fan forgeries.

West and Central Asia

Saudi heritage revival too late to save many cultural treasures (Saudi Arabia)
(22 June 2016; Reuters)
The country’s new heritage plan is financed to the tune of $1billion but deliberate destruction has been going on for decades.

In Other News

Snapchat Is (Allegedly) Back at It Again With Plagiarized Filters (General)
(21 June 2016; The Fashion Spot)
Two different artists have claimed their work has been stolen.

Japan Mint employee nabbed in theft of 15 kg gold bar (Japan)
(20 June 2016; Tokyo Reporter)
“Suspect said he stole it ‘to cover for losses in foreign currency trading'”

Viking axe mystery ends in student bloodshed on streets (UK)
(21 June 2016; South Wales Evening Post)
A fight in the streets of Wales is exactly what one should expect over a Viking reenactment axe theft.

Artists have recreated lost & stolen artwork using only Adobe stock photos and Photoshop (USA)
(21 June 2016; The Drum)
“At the `Make a Masterpiece’ website, viewers can check out each piece of recreated artwork along with the story behind the original and why it no longer exists today.”