Culture crime news 13–26 November 2017


Hot this week: Dark web art dupes in New Zealand?

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The Long Ethical Arc of Displaying Human Remains
(16 November 2017; Atlas Obscura)

Artificial Intelligence Can Now Spot Art Forgeries by Comparing Brush Strokes
(21 November 2017; ArtNet News)


A broken museum, in a broken country: Meet the man trying to save CAR’s history (Central African Republic)
(24 November 2017; Mail & Guardian)

International law prevents recovery of Rosetta Stone from UK, Egypt’s antiquities minister tells MPs (Egypt, UK)
(20 November 2017; Ahram Online)

Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry struggles with smuggling (Egypt)
(21 November 2017; Al Monitor)

Egypt awaits return of stolen Ramses II ship from Cyprus (Egypt, Cyprus)
(21 November 2017; Egypt Independent)

Minister of Antiquities: 33,000 Egyptian Artefacts are Missing (Egypt)
(22 November 2017; Asharq Al-Awsat)


Accused of Having Wanted to Sell a Fake Riopelle on eBay (Canada)
(23 November 2017; The Quebec Telegram)

The legally murky hobby of metal detecting in Nova Scotia (Canada)
(24 November 2017; The Signal)

INAH inicia procedimiento legal contra foto de Chichén, tomada por un dron (Mexico)
(15 November 2017; La Jornada Maya)

Hacen misa para recuperar imagen robada de templo (Mexico)
(16 November 2017; AM)

La Victoria: se llevan S/ 90.000 en joyas de iglesia y profanan imagen del Señor de Los Milagros (La Victoria: 90,000 soles in jewels taken from church and statue of Señor de Los Milagros desecrated; Peru)
(19 November 2017; La República)

Marina Abramovic raised $2M for canceled art project, hasn’t given money back (USA)
(11 November 2017; New York Post)

Woman wanted for questioning after shipping stolen photos worth $105G back to MoMA PS1 (USA)
(12 November 2017; New York Daily News)

Art, antiquities among victims of warfare (USA)
(15 November 2017; The Journal Gazette)

The Theft of the Gods (USA)
(16 November 2017; Pacific Standard)

‘Banksy’ restored: Post-Katrina mural brought back to life in Faubourg Marigny (USA)
(16 November 2017; The Ad)

Man has $20,000 artwork stolen from Atlanta studio (USA)
(16 November 2017; WENY)

Bankrupt Manhattan Art Gallery Accused of Defrauding Clients (USA)
(16 November 2017; Bloomberg)

Apollo astronaut watch, stolen in Ecuador, recovered 30 years later (USA, Ecuador)
(16 November 2017; Collect Space)

Police: Man stole painting from Saratoga Springs art gallery (USA)
(17 November 2017; Post Star)

We Should Toss That $450M da Vinci into a Particle Accelerator (USA)
(17 November 2017; Discover)

Knoxville man arrested in Maryville oil painting theft (USA)
(19 November 2017; The Daily Times)

The art of solving crimes involving missing treasures (USA)
(20 November 2017; Lockport Journal)

Desecrated in macabre ways, the ancestral remains of Catalina’s Native Americans finally come home (USA)
(22 November 2017; Los Angeles Times)

Gardner Heist Gangster Robert Gentile Decries “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” (USA)
(17 November 2017; Hartford Courant)

Man linked to Gardner art heist seeks prison release in weapons case (USA)
(18 November 2017;

Most Wanted: Vermeer’s `The Concert,’ the World’s Most Expensive Missing Work of Art (USA)
(18 November 2017; Daily Beast)

Man linked to art heist will remain held in weapons case (USA)
(22 November 2017; The Washington Post)

Judge Will Not Free Gardner Heist Suspect Robert Gentile (USA)
(22 November 2017; The Hartford Courant)

Washington’s new $500m Museum of the Bible claims ‘non-sectarian’ mission (USA)
(17 November 2017; The Art Newspaper)

Forgeries may hide in Museum of the Bible’s dead see scrolls (USA)
(19 November 2017; National Geographic)

International suspect slows Aspen police in slashed painting case (USA)
(19 November 2017; Aspen Times)

Six months after a man slashed a $3 million painting in Aspen, police have a suspect but not an arrest (USA)
(20 November 2017; Vail Daily)


Accidental archaeology: Roman ruins found under ‘illegally’ demolished house in Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
(12 November 2017; The Sofia Globe)

MPs want stolen ‘Sisi gift’ to remain as part of police probe (Cyprus, Egypt)
(17 November 2017; Cyprus Mail)

Egypt to retrieve 14 artifacts from Cyprus (Cyprus, Egypt)
(19 November 2017; Egypt Independent)

Egypt requests return of ancient vessel through normal procedure (Cyprus, Egypt)
(19 November 2017; Cyprus Mail)

Priceless’ Italian painting stolen from French museum (France)
(22 November 2017; The Local)

Stolen John Lennon items recovered in Berlin (Germany, Turkey)
(21 November 2017; BBC News)

Düsseldorf abruptly cancels exhibition about Jewish dealer Max Stern (Germany)
(15 November 2017; The Art Newspaper)

German museum cancels Max Stern exhibit because of ‘restitution claims’ (Germany)
(16 November 2017; Montreal Gazette)

Cancellation of Max Stern exhibition an affront to memory (Germany, Canada)
(17 November 2017; Montreal Gazette)

Govt set to publish ‘Heritage and Antiquities’ act this month (Gibralter)
(20 November 2017; Gibraltar Chronicle)

Twenty Six Antiquities to Be Repatriated from Austria (Greece, Austria)
(19 November 2017; Greek Reporter)

Stolen art had $350,000 ransom (Ireland)
(12 November 2017; The Times)

Italy police confiscate millions of euros from Mafia-linked art dealer (Italy)
(15 November 2017; Daily Sabah)

Putting the Con in Constructivism: Russian Avant-Garde Fakes Found in European Museums (Russia)
(14 November 2017; ArtNet News)

Putin to return famous Vrubel painting to Sargsayan (Russia)
(16 November 2017; Armen Press)

Who is Dmitry Rybolovlev? Meet the Russian billionaiore who just sold Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for a record $450m (Russia)
(17 November 2017; Evening Standard)

Tres detenidos por el robo de azulejos históricos de El Torbiscal valorados en 63.000 euros (Spain)
(15 November 2017; El Correo)

Thousands of archaeological items recovered by police in Spain (Spain)
(18 November 2017; EuroWeekly)

The Void at the Heart of ‘Gurlitt: Status Report’ (Switzerland, Germany)
(19 November 2017; The New York Times)

Queen Victoria’s Cranach turns out to be the real thing (UK)
(14 November 2017; The Guardian)

How London became a hotspot for art theft – the world’s third most profitable criminal enterprise (UK)
(15 November 2017; Evening Standard)

Bucket Trail designer at war with Asda over design theft claims (UK)
(20 November 2017; The Courier)

‘Detectorist’ finds on the rise as treasure hunters are inspired by TV shows (UK)
(22 November 2017; The Telegraph)


The long way: fire and smoke for Mungo Man and the ancestors on their road home (Australia)
(17 November 2017; The Age)

‘Indiana Joan’: 95-year-old accused of looting Middle East tombs (Australia, Egypt)
(24 November 2017; BBC News)

‘Indiana Joan’: Perth woman, 95, accused of looting Egypt artefacts (Australia, Egypt)
(24 November 2017; The Guardian)

Police investigating ram raid on Waikato art gallery (New Zealand)
(15 November 2017;

A rare painting is stolen… then it appears for sale on the dark web (New Zealand)
(24 November 2017; Wired)

Stolen Lindauer painting appears in dark web auction – but auction image appears to be fake (New Zealand)
(24 November 2017; TVNZ)

South and East Asia

Patriotic collectors boost market for ancient Chinese artefacts (China)
(18 November 2017; Financial Times)

New Website Aims to Bring Home Missing Treasures (China)
(17 November 2017; Sixth Tone)

China launches lost cultural relics information website (China)
(17 November 2017; GB Times)

Tomb raider gangs arrested after Chinese police smash ring that stole priceless artefacts from Han dynasty graves (China)
(19 November 2017; South China Morning Post)

Chinese gang face charges over Buddhist temple raid (China)
(22 November 2017; South China Morning Post)

Police recover Buddha heads (China)
(23 November 2017; ECNS)

Thieves target Jain temple 2nd time in 2 months, get away with 25kg silver (India)
(12 November 2017; Times of India)

Mumbai Unit Of DRI Arrests Antique Sculpture Smuggler In Delhi (India)
(14 November 2017; Mid-day)

Delhi museum thieves held in Kolkata (India)
(15 November 2017; The Times of India)

Golden idol lifter arrested, articles seized (India)
(15 November 2017; Siasat)

Aussie museum seeks more info on six stolen TN idols (India, Australia)
(19 November 2017; The Times of India)

Devout thief at Howrah temple (India)
(20 November 2017; The Telegraph)

CBI pulled up for ‘shoddy probe’ in idol theft case (India)
(20 November 2017; The Hindu)

Idol theft case: Witness identifies suspended DSP (India)
(20 November 2017; The Times of India)

Inspired by Dhoom, man posed as scholar and stole shawls worth Rs 2cr from Delhi museum (India)
(24 November 2017; Hindustan Times)

Goddess Lakshmi’s crown missing in Puri Jagannath Temple (India)
(24 November 2017; Pragativadi)

FIR Against Air India Ex-Executive Director For Allegedly Stealing Painting By Renowned Artist (India)
(12 November 2017; NDTV)

Air India’s massive art collection comes under scrutiny (India)
(20 November 2017; The National)

Indonesia Can’t Stop Its Illegal Treasure Hunters (Indonesia)
(20 November 2017; Vice)

Trio Busted with 60 Stolen Pagoda Statues (Myanmar)
(24 November 2017; Coconuts Yangon)

Idols stolen from Lalitpur’s Rudrayani Temple (Nepal)
(24 November 2017; The Himalayan Times)

Officials negligence leads to gold ornaments theft (Pakistan)
(15 November 2017; The Nation)

1,500 year old statues left in the trash at National Museum (Pakistan)
(17 November 2017; The Express Tribune)

Archaeology dept to probe gold antiquities theft in Sirkap (Pakistan)
(19 November 2017; Dawn)

West and Central Asia

Islamic State militant sentenced to death for smashing monuments in Mosul (Iraq)
(13 November 2017; Iraqi News)

Iraq investigating ‘stolen artifacts’ at the Louvre Abu Dhabi (Iraq, UAE)
(13 November 2017; The New Arab)

Louvre Abu Dhabi Displaying Stolen Artifacts, Iraqis Claim (Iraq, UAE)
(18 November 2017; Albawaba)

Training IDF Soldiers Uncover Large Scale Antiquities Robbery in Gush Etzion (Israel)
(15 November 2017; Jewish Press)

Trade in Dead Sea Scrolls awash with suspected forgeries, experts warn (Israel, Palestine, USA)
(21 November 2017; The Guardian)

Torah Scrolls Stolen From Jaffa Synagogue Are Found in Hebron and Returned After Cooperation Between Israeli, Palestinian Police (Palestine, Israel)
(19 November 2017; The Algemeiner)

Palestinian police help recover Torah scrolls stolen from Israeli shul (Palestine, Israel)
(22 November 2017; The Jewish Chronicle)

Saudi Arabia thanks Bend woman for return of ancient ceramic pot (Saudi Arabia)
(22 November 2017; KTVZ)

In Other News

Australian antiques dealer facing prison term in US for wildlife smuggling (Australia, USA)
(19 November 2017; The Sydney Morning Herald)

Final Piece of Lost Magritte Painting Discovered after 85 Years (Belgium)
(15 November 2017; Artsy)

China butterfly smugglers jailed and fined by Jinan court (China)
(8 November 2017; BBC News)

Whiskey of 700,000 worth was stolen — Only one bottle of it costs 100,000 € (France)
(16 November 2017; Weekly Observer)

The art of the steal: When does a copyright go too far? (General)
(23 November 2017; CBB)

Another blow for embattled museum as senior official quits (Ireland)
(19 November 2017; The Times)

The meteorite hunters (Morocco)
(16 November 2017; Financial Times)

Arrest made in connection to N Idaho family’s stolen crystals (USA)
(14 November 2017; KREM)

US to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe, USA)
(16 November 2017; The Guardian)