Culture crime news 30 October–5 November 2017


Hot this week: Gurlitt art hoard for all to see

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The Most Faked Artists in History
(31 October 2017; Mutual Art)
Your standard list

Buyer Beware: Looted Antiquities Flood Online Sites Like Amazon, Facebook
(1 November 2017; The Wall Street Journal)
“Every day there are at least 100,000 antiquities for sale online, valued at over $10 million, estimates Neil Brodie”


Buddhists give up on lost statue (Botswana)
(2 November 2017; Mmegi Online)
Stolen right when the Dalai Lama almost visited Botswana

Egypt retrieves 8 looted antiquities from France (Egypt, France, UK)
(28 October 2017; Egypt Today)
“The antiquities were previously looted in January 2010 from a Gare Du Nord in Paris”

Hurghada airport officials foil attempt to smuggle 18th-century Coptic icon (Egypt, Germany)
(29 October 2017; Ahram Online)
Was being smuggled to Germany in luggage

79 rare antiques stolen from Tel Al-Fara’een (Egypt)
(30 October 2017; Egypt Today)
Stolen after the January 2011 revolution; the site was also robbed in 2000.

ScanPyramids mission rushed in announcing ‘discovery of new void’ in Giza’s Khufu’: Egypt antiquities ministry (Egypt)
(2 November 2017; Ahram Online)
Egypt requires that they control the media narrative. Questions if announcement violated permit?

Gov. Obaseki Reinstates Commitment To Bring Back Stolen Benin Artifacts (Nigeria)
(31 October 2017; The Nigerian Observer)
“Working with the federal museum and monument and the Benin Palace to secure the return of the artifacts yet to be returned”

Plaques stolen from historic monument (South Africa)
(31 October 2017; Grocott’s Mail)
Presumed stolen for scrap, only one plaque remains.

No breakthrough in Thulamela gold theft (South Africa)
(1 November 2017; Lowvelder)
Taken from display at the museum in the Skukuza library.


‘The discussion is over’: Student calls for return of Louis Riel’s walking stick to Métis (Canada)
(2 November 2017; National Post)
An online petition has been started to return the surrendered stick to the Métis

Mexican artisans claim copyright infringement by corporations (Mexico)
(31 October 2017; The Yucatan Times)
“Artisans from the town of Tenango de Doria, Hidalgo, have filed a lawsuit against two large corporations”

Delincuentes roban joyas de plata del Cristo de Huamán en Reque (Delinquents steal silver jewels of the Cristo de Huamán in Reque; Peru)
(30 October 2017; RPP)
They forcefully broke open the door at the church of San Martín de Thours in the Chiclayano district

Artforum Publisher Knight Landesman Accused of Sexual Misconduct (USA)
(24 October 2017; ArtNet News)
A small step towards expelling art world creeps? We can hope.

Why Unesco Needs the United States (USA)
(30 October 2017; New York Times)
Opinion piece by Hugh Eakin.

Nearly 300 paintings stolen from the back of a truck in Los Banos (USA)
(30 October 2017; The Modesto Bee)
Artworks by Maximo Gonzales were taken from boxes in the back of a locked truck

Here’s how media and awareness led to recovery of stolen artwork in Los Banos (USA)
(2 November 2017; Los Banos Enterprise)
A woman found the paintings on a path and remembered hearing about them through the news.

Argentine artist thanks police for recovering stolen works of art in Los Banos (USA)
(2 November 2017; ABC United States)
Stolen from the artist’s vehicle as it sat at a motel.

Two stolen tourmaline pieces recovered intact (USA)
(28 October 2017; Fallbrook & Bonsall Village News)
A man was arrested for the robbery from the Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society Museum

Gem society ‘heartbroken’ over destruction of stolen piece (USA)
(2 November 2017; The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Recovered, sure, but broken.

Pair of Photos Worth $100K Stolen From MoMA PS1, Police Say (USA)
(31 October 2017; DNA Info)
No additional details and no statement from a spokeswoman from MoMA PS1

Two photos worth over $100G swiped from MoMA PS1 museum (USA)
(31 October 2017; Daily News)
No sign of forced entry and no alarm triggered.

Artist’s employee busted for trying to sell stolen art: cops (USA)
(28 October 2017; New York Post)
Bonham’s employees called the artist, Sean Scully, who said the piece was stolen

Artist Sean Scully’s Former Assistant Allegedly Stole Work to Sell at Auction (USA)
(1 November 2017; Hyperallergic)
Stealing a piece and then trying to sell it at Bonham’s may not be the smartest of art crimes.


Gurlitt Nazi Looted Art Collection Goes On Display (Germany, Switzerland)
(28 October 2017; Artlyst)
In Bonn or Bern? Have a peek.

Hidden Treasures of Nazis’ Art Dealer Finally Go on Display (Germany, Switzerland, Austria)
(1 November 2017; The New York Times)
450 of the “most valuable” Gurlitt works.

Nazi-era art hoard makes German exhibition debut in Bonn (Germany)
(2 November 2017; Reuters)
Curators are still investigating the existence of further restitutable art in the collection.

Zurich admits to ‘losing’ nearly a thousand works of art over the years (Switzerland)
(31 October 2017; The Local)
Missing means misplaced. Poor records and mismanagement.

Hungerford butler stole Faberge eggs, Picasso artwork and £1.9m of jewellery from friends of Prince Charles (UK)
(31 October 2017; The Reading Chronicle)
6 years after pleading guilty to the theft.

Wealthy Mayfair art dealers hit by cyber attack costing them up to £1m (UK)
(3 November 2017; Evening Standard)
Falling for fraudulent invoices.

The Victoria Cross mystery: museum accused of failing to properly investigate missing medal (UK)
(28 October 2017; The Telegraph)
Gen Sir Harry Prendergast’s Victoria Cross was loaned to the National Army Museum, but the one that is there now seems to be a fake.

Victoria Cross mystery deepens as it emerges thief may have stolen soldier hero’s ceremonial sword (UK)
(2 November 2017; The Telegraph)
But stolen from a different location than the Victoria Cross. Connected?


Fake art is an epidemic we must stop! (Australia)
(30 October 2017; The Au Review)
Assertion that 80% of Indigenous art sold in Australia is fake.

South and East Asia

Panchaloha idol worth Rs 5L stolen from temple (India)
(31 October 2017; The New Indian Express)
Idol of Vinayager taken from a temple near Pennaththur

16 Kashmiri shawls stolen from craft museum in Delhi (India)
(2 November 2017; Hindustan Times)
From the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum.

‘Antique smuggler’ booked by DRI: US Homeland Security starts investigation (India, USA)
(2 November 2017; The Indian Express)
Looking into Vijay Nanda’s emails: this should be interesting.

DRI to seek US help to probe purchase of smuggled Indian artefacts in Hong Kong (India, USA, Hong Kong)
(2 November 2017; Hindustan Times)
A Hong Kong national is accused of buying looted Indian antiquities in the US.

West and Central Asia

Persian Antiquities Dispute With US Remains Unresolved (Iran, USA)
(31 October 2017; Financial Times)
“The Persepolis Collection loaned to the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in 1937” and never returned.

Ancient tomb of Jewish prophet ‘in danger’ amid Iraq-Kurdish tensions (Iraq)
(28 October 2017; The Jerusalem Post)
Tomb of the Prophet Nahum in Al-Qosh

Outrage after Kyrgyzstan reburies its only ancient mummy (Kyrgyzstan)
(31 October 2017;
Allegedly due to the influence of a medium, the “1,500-year-old relic was taken from a museum and hastily reburied on the eve of a presidential election”

Lebanon battles to get its treasures back (Lebanon, USA)
(1 November 2017; Al Monitor)
Still fighting for the return of objects looted during the civil war.

KP govt urged to retrieve 3,147 artefacts from other provinces (Pakistan)
(31 October 2017; GeoTV)
The total is 3,147 pieces, mostly shifted for study purposes and not returned.

In Other News

How I threw away a work of modern art (France)
(3 November 2017; BBC News)
Maybe listen when someone tells you “That’s by Invader”

The Art World Reacts to Allegations of Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks (General)
(27 October 2017; Art News)
“The project of preventing further sexual misconduct, Hebron suggested, will require rectifying gender imbalances in the art world.”

Iran Says It Foiled ‘Illegal Gathering’ At Tomb Of Cyrus The Great (Iran)
(29 October 2017; Radio Farda)
….apparently the people were just trying to celebrate Cyrus day.

A visual history of Benin City returns home (Nigeria)
(30 October 2017; The Economist)
Chief S.O. Alonge’s photographs back from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC.

Attention, New Yorkers: If You See a Monument That Incites Hate You Can Now Report It to Bill de Blasio (USA)
(26 October 2017; ArtNet News)
“The survey’s results will be factored into the work of a committee that is reviewing the monuments”

Remarkable Dinosaur Finds Threatened By Trump Plan To Shrink Utah Monument (USA)
(29 October 2017; Huffington Post)
Removing federal protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will cause fossils to be threatened by coal mining.

Woman spray paints profanities on fence after political art stolen (USA)
(30 October 2017; News 4)
Obviously you’d would be a bit miffed if someone removed your 3D anti-Trump art.