Culture crime news 9–15 November 2015


Hot this week: Too nude for TV & art censorship

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The Collector’s Cabinet: Tales, Facts & Fictions from the World of Antiques by Marc Allum
(14 November 2015)
99 textual “curiosities” from the world of curious collecting; a light holiday-style read.


Chi, DC, CT: I’m giving public talks in the US this month
(11 November, Anonymous Swiss Collector)
My Trafficking Culture colleagues and I are giving four talks in the US in the next two weeks. Further info on the Trafficking Culture website as well.


TED Prize Goes to Archaeologist Who Combats Looting With Satellite Technology (Egypt)
(8 November 2015; The New York Times)
Congrats to the spectacular Sarah Parcak!


Sanción al saqueo del patrimonio (Punish the looting of heritage; Bolivia)
(10 November 2015; Opinión)
Bolivian President Evo Morales, speaking at UNESCO, has called for the sanctioning of the trafficking of antiquities

Evo Morales pleads for the “globalization of peoples” at UNESCO’s General Conference (Bolivia)
(9 November 2015; UNESCO)
The UNESCO release about President Morales’ speech mentioning the return of the ancient Ekeko statue.

Bronze sculptures go missing from Beach gallery (Canada)
(10 November 2015; Inside Toronto)
The two bronzes by Julie Campagna were taken from Great Spirit Gallery

Stolen medals resurface in time for Remembrance Day (Canada)
(10 November 2015; The Hamilton Spectator)
The package of stolen medals was found at a bus stop.

Iniciaron la jornada sobre protección de los bienes culturales (Starting the quest to protect cultural heritage; Mexico)
(9 November 2015; Diario Panorama)
Comments from a conference on the protection of cultural property

Brinca convento, entra a robar a Iglesia y queda atrapado (Thief enters through convent to rob church and becomes trapped; Mexico)
(11 November 2015; Tiempo)
A thief who was attempting to steal sacred art from a historic church in Chihuahua was trapped and arrested.

Las zonas arqueológicas de La Montaña son objeto de saqueo y destrucción (The archaeological sites of La Montaña are objects of looting and destruction; Mexico)
(13 November 2015; La Journada Guerrero)
The 224 sites of the region suffer from poor protection.

Police Reportedly Seize Items From Lil Wayne’s Art Collection in Raid (USA)
(4 November 2015; Miami New Times)
Apparently there was $30mil in art in the mansion and some of it may have been seized to pay debts.

$9M lawsuit over damage to Andy Warhol paintings: court papers (USA)
(6 November 2015; New York Daily News)
No details on how 2 out of 12 Electric Chairs canvasses came to be damaged during an exhibition in Italy.

Experts question the authenticity of a group of works by Jackson Pollock (USA)
(9 November 2015; The Art Newspaper)
Pollocks seem particularly prone to faking and prone to scientific testing.

‘Happily married’ socialite stunned by surprise divorce (USA)
(9 November 2015; New York Post)
Tracey Hejailan-Amon claims her soon-to-be-ex husband moved a Warhol and a Basquiat out of their home then filed for divorce in Monoco and now he is trying to sell the art.

Court postpones hearing on alleged Connecticut mobster (USA)
(10 November 2015; Reuters)
This is Robert Gentile who has been linked to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist.

FBI joins hunt for Boxing Hall of Fame stolen championship belts (USA)
(10 November 2015;
Six belts were stolen from the International Boxing Hall of Fame

NASA’s Quest to Reclaim Lost Spacesuits Before They Were Auctioned (USA)
(11 November 2015; Motherboard)
NASA contends that they own every spacesuit that they didn’t officially give away.

Police locate 16 of 18 art works stolen at LHUCA after First Friday Art Trail (USA)
(11 November 2015; Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
They also have a lead on the other two clay warriors.

Panel talks how to get back stolen art (USA)
(12 November 2015; Queens Chronicle)
A forum in Queens on the return of Holocaust art.

Utah BLM Works To Return Stolen Tribal Artifacts To Owners (USA)
(12 November 2015; KJZZ)
“Nate Thomas, deputy preservation officer for the BLM-Utah” speaking on the radio about the four corners case.

Fla. dealer pleads guilty to smuggling artifacts from grave sites in Pakistan (USA)
(13 November 2015; The Washington Post)
The max he faces is 5 years. He also smuggled and sold fossils.

Too Nude for the News? Colbert on the Arbitrary Censorship of Art (USA)
(13 November 2015; Hyperallergic)
Stephen Colbert on the absurdity of blurring out breasts and pubic hair on a Modigliani nude.


Former head of ancient Italian abbey accused of embezzling charitable funds (Italy)
(12 November 2015; The Telegraph)
A former head of the ancient abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy is under investigation for allegedly stealing €500,000 of church funds

Monaco gives OK to million-dollar art fraud trial (Monaco)
(13 November 2015; News 24)
This is the Rybolovlev vs Bouvier suit.

Marina Abramović sued by former lover and collaborator Ulay (Netherlands)
(11 November 2015; The Guardian)
Ulay contends that Abramović violated a contract they both signed about joint works.

‘Nazi gold train’ investigators start surveying site in Poland (Poland)
(8 November 2015; The Guardian)
Still no Nazi gold train. You’d almost have to conclude that the whole thing was a massive time drain.

Cultura elevará el control sobre bienes de la Iglesia para frenar su deterioro (Spain)
(14 November 2015; Faro de Vigo)
Spain will implement a plan to regulate the protection of cultural heritage by 2017.

Police trace stolen WW1 East Surrey regimental colours (UK)
(8 November 2015; Surry Mirror)
The stolen colours were advertised online and a member of the public reported it.

Stolen Wrexham sheep ‘Champion’ found at the top of Dinas Bran (UK)
(11 November 2015; Daily Post)
This is one of the wayward sheep stolen in September.

Science Museum ends sponsorship deal with Shell (UK)
(12 November 2015; The Guardian)
The highly criticised sponsorship is over for now but may not be over for good.

Vandalised St Helen’s Church rises from the ashes to be rebuilt at Beamish Museum (UK)
(12 November 2015; The Northern Echo)
“St Helen’s Church in Eston, Middlesbrough, was dismantled after it suffered years of vandalism and was painstakingly rebuilt at Beamish Museum in County Durham.”


New Zealand Herald Reserve Bank apologises over stolen design on new $10 bank note (New Zealand)
(11 November 2015; The New Zealand Herald)
The design on the note turned out to be from a tukutuku panel inside the Te Hau ki Turanga meeting house which represented the bank using cultural property without permission.

South and East Asia

Kulen Mountain Security Beefs Up (Cambodia)
(10 November 2015; Khmer Times)
The shooting death of two forestry workers has caused an increase in security at jungle temple sites.

Over 200-year-old Kali idol stolen (India)
(9 November 2015; The Hindu)
The doors were broken on Jayantipur Kali Temple and the idol was taken.

18th century stolen idol recovered (India)
(13 November 2015; The Statesman)
The idol was found in a bag under a tree at the village where the temple was located.

32-year-old given 6 months’ jail for stealing temple bell (India)
(11 November 2015; Mumbai Mirror)
The bell was taken from Icchapurti Ganpati temple in Kalachowkie.

Artefacts stolen from CM’s palace recovered (India)
(11 November 2015; The Tribune)
Five were arrested in connection with the theft of religious items from the private palace temple

Nepalese teen held for theft at Virbhadra’s palace in Sarahan (India)
(12 November 2015; Hindustan Times)
A 17 year old Nepalese boy was arrested in relation to the theft from the private temple of the CM of Himachal Pradesh’s ancestral home.

Security tightened amid threat to temples (Indonesia)
(9 November 2015; The Jakarta Post)
The government is increasing security at temples in Yogyakarta and Central Java because of possible threats made by IS splinter groups

‘Register antiques with Museum Department’ (Malaysia)
(15 November 2015; The Borneo Post)
A reminder that, under the law, people must register any antiquities found in Borneo.

West and Central Asia

The art detective fighting to save Syria’s past (Syria)
(11 November 2015; BBC News)
A profile of Christopher Marinello

Here’s what we know about Daesh’s antiquities department (Syria, Iraq)
(8 November 2015; Albawaba)
Article with images of some of the seized Abu Sayyaf documents

Illegal digs unearth mosaics (Turkey)
(9 November 2015; Hurriyet Daily News)
Police conducted raids in 5 locations after hearing about illegal excavations in the village of Kayalı