Culture crime news 18–24 January 2016


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Does Art Crime pay? 5 stolen artefacts and what they sold for
(19 January 2016; FutureLearn)
True stories behind trafficked antiquities

New course sheds light on antiquities trafficking and art crime underworld
(19 January 2016; University of Glasgow)
About my free online course starting 1 Feb.

Framed: the new course that teaches you about art crime and antiquities trafficking
(24 January 2016; The Herald)
In which I call certain art criminals ‘idiots’!

A Name Game With the Old Masters
(15 January 2016; The New York Times)
Attribution creep and the urge to ‘prove’ that anonymous artworks are really by famous folks. Where the money is at.


Allegations of botched restoration of Cairo’s medieval walls are ‘lies’: Antiquities ministry (Egypt)
(19 January 2016; Ahram Online)
The latest story in the back and forth between heritage activists and the government.

Tomb Raiding Is a Growing Problem in the Middle East (Egypt)
(21 January 2016; Vice)
Some comments from various people (my self included) about the lack of movement forward on this topic.

8 antiquities employees referred to trial over damage to Tutankamun mask (Egypt)
(24 January 2016; Daily News Egypt)
A step by step of how the mask came to be broken and improperly restored.

The race to save ancient Islamic manuscripts from terrorists who want them destroyed (Mali)
(21 January 2016; The Washington Post)
The on going threat to Mali’s sacred heritage.

Vigilante foils robbery attempt at Kwara Museum (Nigeria)
(18 January 2016; Daily Trust)
Five suspects in the robbery of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments were stopped by locals.


Thieves make off with prized art works from Iqaluit museum (Canada)
(22 January 2016; Nunatsiaq Online)
Four polar bear carvings and a narwhal tusk were taken from Iqaluit’s Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum.

‘Malarky’ Is Latest Graffiti Artist to Sue Fashion Designer (USA)
(8 January 2016; BNA)
The artist says his designs have appeared on handbags at a New York boutique without his permission.

WMass Artist to Madonna: ‘You Stole My Material, Girl’ (USA)
(18 January 2016; New England Public Radio)
Danny Quirk’s modified work appeared on Madonna’s social media accounts.

Sheriff’s Dept. seeking glass artwork stolen from Green Valley house (USA)
(19 January 2016; Arizona Daily Star)
There was no indication of forced entry; the glass art is valued at $100,000.

Trailer containing works by Matisse, Chagall stolen from Chatsworth industrial park (USA)
(19 January 2016; Los Angeles Times)
What was this stuff doing in a trailer? Who can say?

Chicago Art Institute accuses Level 3 Construction of damaging underground vault (USA)
(20 January 2016; Cook County Record)
The vault’s roof was allegedly damaged and had to be replaced. It seems like nothing in the vault was harmed.

Family agrees to let MSU museum keep ancient elk (USA)
(20 January 2016; The Detroit News)
It was stolen from an active dig site that was on private property and the property owners are letting the museum keep it.

Art-Forgery Trial Set to Begin (USA)
(21 January 2016; The Wall Street Journal)
Did Knoedler gallery director know she was selling fakes? We’ll see.

Utah tribes say public-lands bill ‘adds insult to injury,’ petition Obama to designate monument (USA)
(21 January 2016; The Salt Lake Tribune)
The draft has been dismissed as “woefully inadequate” for protecting this sacred landscape.

Lawmakers to decide: Will artifacts be studied or sold? (USA)
(22 January 2016; Tallahassee Democrat)
More on the disastrous proposal that Floridians be allowed to loot archaeological sites with a permit.

Love Locket sculpture vandalized at Container Park (USA)
(22 January 2016; Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The interactive piece by Nova May went missing and is presumed stolen.

Man, boy arrested for theft of artifacts, cell phone (USA)
(22 January 2016; Taft Midway Driller)
Unclear where the got the antiquities but they were trying to sell them on eBay

Oregon Occupiers May Have Violated Federal Law by Damaging a Native American Archeological Site (USA)
(22 January 2016; Hyperallergic)
This, of course, isn’t the only federal law they’ve broken.

Militants bulldoze through Native American archeological site, share video rifling through artifacts (USA)
(21 January 2016; Daily Kos)
More on the fate of artefacts during this standoff. Disturbing video.


National Library employee to face trial over theft of 216 books (Ireland)
(21 January 2016; The Irish Times)
The books were taken between 2004 and 2013 from the National Library in Dublin.

Dipinti rubati recuperati dai Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio di Ancona (Stolen paintings recovered by the Carabinieri Heritage Unit in Ancona; Italy)
(20 January 2016; ETV Marche)
The three 17th century paintings were stolen from a private home in Siena in 2007.

Meet the Indiana Jones of Stolen Art (Netherlands)
(21 January 2016; Vice)
A profile of Dr Arthur Brand

Widespread forgery of avant-garde artist exposed at Russian Art Week (Russia)
(7 January 2016; The Art Newspaper)
“95% of Natalia Goncharova’s 1901-13 oil paintings are fake”

Los robos y falsificaciones de arte abortados en el último lustro superan los 150 millones (Robberies and forgeries of seized art in the last year tops 150 million; Spain)
(20 January 2016; Ideal)
There has been some serious art crime busts in Spain this year

Kunstmuseum Bern Director Questions Expectation Surrounding Gurlitt Trove (Switzerland)
(21 January 2016; ArtNet News)
He expects more restitutions but says we probably didn’t understand the complexity of the job.

Lords put pressure on UK government to sign Hague Convention this year (UK)
(21 January 2016; The Art Newspaper)
With the possibility of a Blue Shield HQ in London


‘Scumbags’ steal Altona Homestead artefacts (Australia)
(20 January 2016; Star Weekly)
The historic weights and measures taken from the museum are thought to have been stolen for scrap.

Museum-quality heirloom stolen from Hamilton home (New Zealand)
(19 January 2016;
A 150-year-old wooden chain and anchor was stolen from a Rotokauri home.

Stolen artwork returned to gallery (New Zealand)
(23 January 2016;
Again, gallery owners, lock your doors.

South and East Asia

France’s Guimet Museum returns looted statue head to national museum in Phnom Penh (Cambodia, France)
(20 January 2016; Art Daily)
“The head and the body of the statue had been separated for 130 years”

Government’s Search for Antiques Boundless as Harihara Ceremony a Success (Cambodia, France)
(21 January 2016; Khmer Times)
Recent successes in antiquities repatriation show that the Cambodian government are committed to return.

At National Museum, Decapitated Harihara Statue to Headline (Cambodia)
(18 January 2016; Khmer Times)
With the return of the Harihara statue the Cambodian government urges other countries to return stolen heritage.

Ayyappa temple announces award for clues about stolen lamp (India)
(19 January 2016; Hindustan Times)
The 400kg lamp was taken from Lord Ayyappa temple in Bhopal and now a major reward is being offered for it.

Plea on ‘Missing’ Jewels of Rameswaram Temple (India)
(19 January 2016; The New Indian Express)
The jewellery, which was once on the idol of Goddess Paravathavarthini, was stolen at some point.

Three held for stealing idols from Jain temples (India)
(20 January 2016; Hindustan Times)
The gang is thought to have hit several Jain temples across the country.

शहर चुने आपके शहर की ख़बरें मंदिर से लक्ष्मण की मूर्ति चोरी (Statue stolen from the temple; India)
(20 January 2016; Amar Ujala)
This same temple was subject to an idol theft 11 years ago.

Theft of furniture designed by Le Corbusier at Chandigarh College of Arts (India)
(19 January 2016; The Times of India)
The last of several recent thefts of Le Corbusier items from Chandigarh.

Probe team seeks record of Corbusier furniture (India)
(21 January 2016; The Times of India)
Following up on the theft, records of exactly what the school owned are being sought.

Heritage theft ahead of Hollande’s visit (India)
(19 January 2016; The Tribune)
More on the theft of Le Corbusier furniture from the Chandigarh Govt College of Arts

Removal of Shah Jahan mosque relics termed theft of history (Pakistan)
(21 January 2016; Dawn)
Carved stones and tablets with Quranic verses have been removed from the structure by Sindh tourism officials.

Shah Jehan mosque started losing tiles in the 70s, claims khatib (Pakistan)
(22 January 2016; The Express Tribune)
The mosque khatib Professor Mufti Hafiz Abdul Bari says that the removal of the tiles is not a new thing.

West and Central Asia

Destruction in Kabul: I watched as the Taliban destroyed my life’s work (Afghanistan)
(20 January 2016; BBC News)
Video: Yahya Muhibzada discusses the destruction of artefacts in the national museum and efforts to restore and rebuild.

Terrorists are destroying our cultural heritage. It’s time to fight back (Iraq, Syria)
(18 January 2016; World Economic Forum)
The Director-General of UNESCO offers suggestions for ‘fighting back’ but they aren’t the sorts of things that seem significantly different or effective.

Satellite proves ISIS destroyed 1,500-year-old monastery (Iraq)
(20 January 2016; Arutz Sheva)
St. Elijah’s Monastery near Mosul appears to now be rubble.

To make a case against Islamic State’s cultural vandalism, Western armies must set an example (Iraq, Syria)
(22 January 2016; The Economist)
Claiming hypocrisy in various western nations lack of implementation of international conventions and protocols.

Curator Christine Tohmé Denied Passport by Lebanese Authorities (Lebanon)
(22 January 2016; Hyperallergic)
“Tohmé believes the issue is symptomatic of a new wave of crackdowns across the region” against artists.

New laws to curb antiques trade (Saudi Arabia)
(24 January 2016; Arab News)
“The new regulations strictly prohibit trafficking in archaeological items or the holding of heritage auctions aimed at selling antiquities without first obtaining the necessary permits.”

Partying for Palmyra: A Davos party with a difference (Syria)
(22 January 2016; BBC News)
Trying to make those with the power to change things care about this issue.