Culture crime news 12–18 June 2017


Hot this week: Return demands with formal requests required

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AUC hands over Egyptian artefacts from 1964 excavation in Fustat (Egypt)
(13 June 2017; Ahram Online)
Legally partaged, but the Uni has done the right thing in handing them over to Egypt.

Encroachments made since 2011 removed from Egypt’s Dahshur Necropolis (Egypt)
(15 June 2017; Ahram Online)
Made during the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, inhabitants said to be compensated with other land.

Qurans from Ottoman era seized at Cairo International Airport (Egypt, Ethiopia)
(17 June 2017; Ahram Online)
Parcels arriving from Ethiopia, artefacts in bad condition and in need of conservation

Egypt’s sunken antiquities threatened by ship waste (Egypt)
(18 June 2017; TRT World)
Oil spills around Pharos Lighthouse

484 antiques were returned to Egypt: Anany (Egypt)
(18 June 2017; Daily News Egypt)
From various countries

FG to reward whistleblowers of stolen artifacts — Minister (Nigeria)
(16 June 2017; Daily Trust)
Nigeria goes after corruption related to antiquities trafficking

R12m to fix vandalised museum (South Africa)
(14 June 2017; Herald Live)
To deal with structural problems at Port Elizabeth’s Red Location Museum


El Gobierno entrega siete obras del siglo XVIII a Taraco (Government returns seven work from the 18th century to Taraco; Bolivia)
(13 June 2017; Página Siete)
These were the painting not stolen in a theft and removed for safety and upkeep in 1995.

Renewed demand made to Scotland for return of stolen native American skulls (Canada, UK)
(12 June 2017; iNews)
The museum awaits a formal request and will deal with the case according to published policy.

Carving honouring man’s late wife stolen from Burnaby home (Canada)
(13 June 2017; CTV)
Inspired by a work of April Whites, stolen of the fella’s back porch.

En Las Choapas, recuperan imagen de la virgen de la maternidad (In Las Choapas, statue of the Virgin of Maternity recovered; Mexico)
(12 June 2017; Presencia)
Found abandoned in a black bag

The scalp from Sand Creek (USA)
(8 June 2017; Aeon)
“Does returning artefacts help to heal the scars of conquest?”

Agency returning tribal artifacts (USA)
(11 June 2017; Arkansas Online)
“Wilson said she has worked on behalf of tribes for about 20 years to repatriate items.”

World War II Veteran Robbed Of Priceless Military Memorabilia (USA)
(12 June 2017; CBS)
Among the items taken: “a Marine Ka-Bar knife, an officer ceremonial sword and a vintage World War I Hamburg rifle”

Evidence in Gardner Museum thefts that might bear DNA is missing (USA)
(12 June 2017; The Boston Globe)
“Despite an exhaustive internal search, the FBI has been unable to find the missing evidence in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist.”

Judge Declines To Dismiss Art Forgery Case Involving Former Franklin Pierce Professor (USA)
(12 June 2017; New Hampshire Public Radio)
The prof and her son are accused of “misrepresenting the authenticity and provenance of 24 paintings by the artist Leon Golub.”

David Choe’s Controversial Bowery Mural Tagged with Giant Letters (USA)
(12 June 2017; Hyperallergic)
Controversial because of Choe’s history of sexual assault; rapist was sprayed on the mural.

Art pieces created for the Taubman, stolen and recovered in NYC (USA)
(13 June 2017; WDBJ)
The truck that Paul Villinski’s piece was in was stolen then recovered.

Native American artifacts worth thousands stolen from Durango storage (USA)
(13 June 2017; Durango Herald)
“Former archaeologist” says they were got legally but had decided to stop buying: “I figured it wasn’t right that they should be bought, so I just stopped.”

Sculpture Stolen From Edina Park Found In Richfield Yard (USA)
(14 June 2017; CBS)
“Dreams Take Flight” was dumped in a lawn

Historical sign missing from Buffalo waterfront (USA)
(15 June 2017; WGRZ)
Documenting location of the city’s first grain elevator.

NOPD arrests reputed art forger wanted in New York (USA)
(15 June 2017; The Times-Picayune)
Vincent Lopreto previously was convicted of selling Damien Hirst fakes

Son attempted to sell painting stolen from mother’s Portland home to N.Y. art gallery for $60,000, feds allege (USA)
(16 June 2017; The Oregonian)
Gallery became suspicious when they were given multiple addresses to send the money to; Tom Wesselmann’s “Study for Monica with Tulips”

Art thief swipes $12M in paintings from Queens storage unit (USA)
(16 June 2017; Daily News)
Stella and Toulouse-Lautrec among the casualties, or so says the owner in this strange case.

U.S. Moves to Seize Diamonds, a Picasso and Hollywood Films in Malaysian Case (USA, Malaysia)
(16 June 2017; The New York Times)
Picosso given to Leonardo DiCaprio is on the dock for being seized in a case against the 1MDB fund

Historian Allegedly Stole WWII Dog Tags From National Archives (USA)
(13 June 2017; WBAL)
“Antonin DeHays, 32, allegedly…stole dog tags and other items belonging to servicemen whose planes had crashed in World War II. “

Historian Charged In Federal Court With Theft Of Government Records From The National Archives (USA)
(15 June 2017; Southern Maryland News Net)
“DeHays sold the stolen dog tags on eBay” and gave one tag to a museum.


Paris Louvre Museum Evacuated (Again) After Security Scare (France)
(12 June 2017; ArtNet News)
Few details as to why.

Getty agrees to return 1st century BC sculpture to Italy (Italy, USA)
(13 June 2017; Los Angeles Times)
“Statue of Zeus Enthroned”, from the Fleischman collection, matched a fragment from Naples in the possession of the Italian government.

Recuperan la reliquia de Don Bosco (Italy)
(16 June 2017; Periodista Digital)
Suspect was detained by police, he planned on selling what he thought was a solid gold piece.

Romanian police recover Dacian and Roman coins stolen from Hunedoara fortresses (Romania, Czech Republic)
(12 June 2017; Romania Insider)
Four Czechs are accused of unlawful metal detecting at the site.

Row over bronze age bracelet found in Meon Valley (UK)
(14 June 2017; Hampshire Chronicle)
Metal detecting drama

Vandals daub anti-christian messages on Tamworth’s St Editha’s Church (UK)
(15 June 2017; Tamworth Herald)
Ancient church has suffered hundreds of pounds worth of damage in this very teenage stunt.

Demonstrators Rally Against the Destruction of Banksy’s Iconic Brexit Mural (UK)
(16 June 2017; ArtNet News)
It is on a building that is set to be demolished.

The forger who fooled the art world (UK)
(17 June 2017; The Spectator)
Lots of claims from Shaun Greenhalgh


Aboriginal man demands Cambridge University return his ancestor’s spears (Australia, UK)
(16 June 2017; Cambridge News)
Taken by Captain James Cook in Botany Bay and now in the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; museum says claim isn’t accredited by Gweagal people.

‘You’ve got to be joking’: Brazen art theft in Swan Valley caught on CCTV (Australia)
(11 June 2017; WA Today)
All 25 kilograms of portrait ripped off the wall.

Man attempts painting theft at WA winery (Australia)
(12 June 2017; Sky News)
Paintings don’t normally come gratis with a winery tour.

Man charged with WA winery painting theft (Australia)
(15 June 2017; AAP)
Wine bus tour and a run into the bush, not the best getaway

South and East Asia

Imaging helps to spot fake ancient daggers (General)
(12 June 2017; Science Daily)
Collectors want the real deal, of course.

Miscreants target temple, flee with five crowns, donation box (India)
(11 June 2017; The Hitavada)
They cut the iron grill placed over the windows.

2 arrested for trying to smuggle out antique idol (India)
(12 June 2017; Millennium Post)
Two youths were found to be carrying the stolen idol in a bag.

Mumbai: Vandalism threat looms over restored Mulji Jetha Fountain (India)
(16 June 2017; Mid-day)
Continued drama over the restoration of this 123-year-old fountain.

A month later, burglar caught in Ulhasnagar with jewellery stolen from Challiaha temple (India)
(17 June 2017; The Times of India)
Caught when he tried to sell the temple items at a jewellery shop

Officials start fencing seized stone idols at Egmore govt museum (India)
(17 June 2017; The Times of India)
More than 250 confiscated idols are in the space but there has been criticism of their upkeep.

Thief arrested, stolen items recovered (India)
(18 June 2017; Daily Excelsior)
Among the items recovered were stolen religious idols

Diamond in the bluff: Koh-i-noor stories lose their shine (India, UK)
(14 June 2017; The Guardian)
“The diamond has never been more controversial.”

Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond – review (India, UK)
(18 June 2017; The Guardian)
Review of a new book about this infamous, contested diamond.

In a Historic First, Australia Agrees to Return Ainu Remains to Japan (Japan, Australia)
(15 June 2017; Hyperallergic)
Exhumed without permission in early 20th century and now two museums have returned three sets of remains.

Religious figures returned (Nepal)
(18 June 2017; Nepali Times)
Stolen from Kathmandu valley temples and willed back to Nepal by an American collector

Audit report shows 227 artefacts missing from Bahawalpur museum (Pakistan)
(18 June 2017; Dawn)
227 are missing or destroyed and 5 are known to be stolen

Ancient carved tusks stolen from Karen village (Thailand, Myanmar)
(10 June 2017; Bangkok Post)
They were sacred objects in the village and are thought to have been taken across the Myanmar border.

Police locate centuries-old carved elephant tusks stolen from Karen village (Thailand, Myanmar)
(11 June 2017; The Nation)
Recovered in Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) territory in Myanmar.

Stolen tusks returned but suspected ‘hermit’ thief still at large (Thailand, Myanmar)
(12 June 2017; The Nation)
A positive outcome but the suspected thief, a village headman, had not been located.

West and Central Asia

ICOM to draw up Iranian antiquities ‘red list’ (Iran)
(10 June 2017; Tehran Times)
A much-needed addition to the Red Lists.

Nader Shah’s sword stolen from Russian museum (Iran, Russia)
(14 June 2017; Tehran Times)
More than 90 items were stolen from the Republic of Dagestan

Israel Nabs ‘Antiquities Pirates’ at Archaeological Site (Israel)
(12 June 2017; The Jerusalem Post)
The looting and arrest occurred at the Roman period site of Tzipori.

In Other News

Teenagers rescued from Paris catacombs after three-day ordeal (France)
(14 June 2017; The Guardian)
Only a limited portion of the catacombs are meant to be accessible for this reason.

Fine art insurance market: “Insurers are knocking on our doors” (General)
(13 June 2017; Insurance Business Magazine)
Art insurers know that art thieves aren’t so very sophisticated.

Agnes Gund Sells a Lichtenstein to Start Criminal Justice Fund (USA)
(11 June 2017; The New York Times)
$165 million of art sold for criminal justice reform to reduce mass incarceration. Excellent!

Inside the Multi-million-dollar World of Eel Trafficking (USA)
(13 June 2017; National Geographic)
Illicit eels for sushi

Replica of iconic car in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ stolen (USA)
(13 June 2017; 570 News)
$500 reward for it.

Uganda: Ivory Scam – Shame As Uganda Apologises to China (Uganda, China)
(12 June 2017; All Africa)
President Museveni “mistakenly named two Chinese ‘diplomats’ in the illegal sale of ivory”