Culture crime news 11–17 April 2016


Hot this week: Antiquities looter sentenced to death in China

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A Galileo Forgery: Unmasking the New York Sidereus Nuncius edited by Horst Bredekamp, Irene Brückle, and Paul Needham
(17 April 2016)
“Pain, self-reproach, anger, curiosity…”: scholarly reactions to being horribly, publicly duped. A group of book scholars evaluate the forgery that fooled them all.


In Speech At Yale, UN Secretary-General Calls For Better Protection Of Ancient Historic Sites
(12 April 2016; WSHU)
Citing Palmyra and Timbuktu, Ban Ki Moon called on the international community to do more to prevent looting and destruction.

Panama Papers Shed Light on the Shadowy Art Market
(12 April 2016; Hyperallergic)
A rundown of some of the Art reveals from the Mossack Fonseca hack.


Se reúne el Comité de Lucha contra el Tráfico del Patrimonio Cultural (The Committee for the Fight Against the Trafficking of Cultural Heritage to Meet; Argentina)
(15 April 2016; Diario Panorama)
The meeting will include information and strategy sharing as well as discuss training.

Archeologist calls for national strategy to protect shipwrecks from looting (Canada)
(12 April 2016; City News)
Marine archaeologist Rob Rondeau calls on Canada to develop a more effective strategy to protect sensitive wrecks.

Crown of the Andes sold on the cheap? (Colombia, USA)
(14 April 2016; The City Paper)
The complicated story of a Colombian crown which is in the MET and not in Colombia.

Mysterious, ancient boulder vandalized; surveillance images released (USA)
(12 April 2016; WYFF4)
The Judaculla petroglyph rock in north Carolina was vandalized and images of the vandal have been released.

Police seek person who stole porcupine sculpture from the Jetport (USA)
(12 April 2016; WCSH6)
The Portland porcupine, part of Glimpse by Wendy Klemperer, was stolen sometime in March or April.

Senate Votes to Ban Imports of Syrian Art and Antiquities (USA, Syria)
(13 April 2016; The New York Times)
“The bill’s provisions would fulfill commitments the United States supported at the United Nations Security Council more than a year ago.”

EB-5 suspect Bollen’s love of ancient artifacts part of criminal case against him (USA)
(14 April 2016; The Rapid City Journal)
The South Dakota man raided a State bank account to buy Egyptian artefacts. A murky look at dealers, collectors, and museum donations.

Holocaust Art Act Would Help Facilitate Return of Stolen Works (USA)
(15 April 2016; The Forum)
More on The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act

Art Basel Miami Beach Stabber Was Motivated by Irrational Fear of ISIS (USA)
(15 April 2016; Hyperallergic)
Siyuan Zhao pleaded guilty to attempted murder but has been deported to China; she was hearing voiced and has a history of severe mental health issues.

Crooks hit Boca art gallery for second time in one week (USA)
(16 April 2016; WPTV)
Two large Peter Reginato sculptures are missing from Baker Sponder Gallery in Boca Raton

FBI announces reward of up to $25,000 in Springfield museum theft case (USA)
(12 April 2016; Springfield News Leader)
Seven of the ten Warhol soup cans were taken; the reward is for info leading to the recovery of the artworks.

Colorado artist makes ‘new’ soup prints to replace stolen ones at Springfield Art Museum (USA)
(16 April 2016; KSPR)
Not quite the resale of the Warhols but a nice though from artist Lindsey Wohlman.


Old Master Painting Pulled from Auction After French Government Inquiry (Austria)
(13 April 2016; ArtNet News)
Portrait of a man by Bartholomeus van der Heist was pulled from the April im Kinsky sale as it was sized during the Nazi invasion of France.

Belgium eliminates federal taskforce to fight trafficking in cultural property (Belgium)
(15 April 2016; The Art Newspaper)
“Interior minister says art and antiquities crime is `not considered a priority'”.

Storm clouds gather over German art market (Germany)
(14 April 2016; The Art Newspaper)
An article where they treat the possible end of the antiquities trade in Germany like a bad thing…

‘Valuable’ artworks found three years after Kiltullagh church theft (Ireland)
(12 April 2016; BBC News)
The paintings were stolen from Church of St Peter and St Paul in Kiltullagh, County Galway in June 2013.

Italian police recover jewels stolen in €3m heist organised by Russian woman (Italy, Russia)
(14 April 2016; The Guardian)
The pieces by Castellani were taken from the Villa Giulia museum.

Italy police stumble upon ‘priceless’ ancient artefacts (Italy)
(15 April 2016; BBC News)
The Officers were actually looking for arms during a house raid near Enna when the antiquities were found.

Painting seized in Geneva after Panama Papers tip-off (Switzerland)
(11 April 2016; Swiss Info)
More on the Modigliani seizure

How the Panama Papers revealed Nazi-looted art (Switzerland)
(11 April 2016; DW)
More on the Modigliani in Geneva and owned by and not by the Nahmads.

Leak Puts Focus On Lost Art Case (Switzerland)
(14 April 2016; The Wall Street Journal)
More on the Seated Man with a Cane case

Mouse figure stolen by ‘rat’ at opening day of Cambridge art exhibition (UK)
(13 April 2016; Cambridge News)
The small piece by Ann Gascoine was taken from the Cambridge Drawing Society Exhibition.

Art loss register reunites Stortford burglary victim with rare chronometer after six years (UK)
(14 April 2016; Herts & Essex Observer)
The piece was taken in a house raid and the ALR spotted it for sale at a regional auction house.

Gang of thieves make-off with distinctive £10,000 statue from resident’s garden as he slept (UK)
(16 April 2016; The Argus)
The bronze heron was taken from a private home in West Chiltington

Ukraine recovers four stolen Dutch paintings (Ukraine, Netherlands)
(14 April 2016; Reuters)
These are some of the paintings stolen from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn.


Theft and forgery from Whiteley to Warhol (Australia)
(14 April 2016; Arts Hub)
New evidence that three Brett Whiteley paintings were faked by conservator Mohame Aman.

South and East Asia

China’s Xi orders better protection of cultural heritage (China)
(12 April 2016; Reuters)
“Officials have repeatedly warned that China’s cultural sites are being threatened by breakneck development, theft, damage from a booming tourism industry and poor regulation.”

Tomb-raiding gang leader faces death (China)
(15 April 2016; Shanghai Daily)
Yao Yuzhong has been sentenced to death with a two year reprieve.

Tomb thieves sentenced for protected relics robbery (China)
(15 April 2016; ECNS)
Three others received life sentences. This is not the solution to the problem.

Silver items taken away from temple (India)
(12 April 2016; The Hindu)
The theft occurred at Sri Mahadevi Nandikeshwara Temple at Malyady in Thekkattee village of Kundapur taluk.

SC asks Centre to look into disappearance of Guwahati temple treasure (India)
(14 April 2016; Hindustan Times)
A complicated case, the gold, money, and other items was allegedly stolen in 2014, but had been collected on behalf of a banned militant group…

Art Works at Nageswara Park Stolen (India)
(16 April 2016; The New Indian Express)
Various pieces from the Beyond Frames public art fest in Chennai were stolen or vandalized.

कोतवाली पुलिस सोती रही, पड़ोस के जैन मंदिर में हो गई चोरी (Theft in Jain Temple Near Police Station, Gwalior; India)
(16 April 2016; Dainik Bhaskar)
A silver idol and other items were taken.

After delay, varsity to lodge FIR in coins theft (India)
(12 April 2016; The Times of India)
A complaint about the missing coins has been lodged with Ambazari police station.

Cops refuse to register NU’s ‘vague’ complaint in coin theft (India)
(13 April 2016; The Times of India)
The police said they needed a concrete base to file the complaint on and suggested Nagpur Uni conduct a department enquiry first.

Probe panel on coins theft likely next week (India)
(14 April 2016; The Times of India)
The panel to investigate the theft of the Vakataka era coins from Nagpur University is being put together.

HR victims stake claim on part of Marcos art collection (Philippines)
(15 April 2016; Rappler)
“To cover the $1.966 billion awarded to them by a US jury in 1992, and the $353-million compensatory judgment by the US District Court of Hawaii in 2011”

S. Korea unsure whether stolen Buddhist statue was previously plundered: broadcaster (South Korea)
(16 April 2016; Yonhap News Agency)
The statue was taken from a Buddhist temple but was it illegally brought to Japan?

Museum burglary main suspect further remanded (Sri Lanka)
(12 April 2016; Daily News)
“The burglary at the National Museum took place on March 17, 2012. The CID arrested eight suspects in connection with the incident.”

West and Central Asia

Shawnee State University’s Amr Al-Azm aids the fight against ISIS looting in Syria (photos) (Syria)
(14 April 2016;
A profile of archaeologist Amr Al-Azm

Why Gaziantep Became Hub for Smugglers Selling Historical Syrian Artifacts (Turkey, Syria)
(11 April 2016; Sputnik News)
An article with dubious figures about the Turkish border town, which is a known smuggling route.

In Other News

Illustrators and graphic designers fume as print vendors copy their designs (India)
(17 April 2016; Mid-day)
Rampant theft of independent artists’ and designers’ illusrations in the online pint industry.

Manager at flagship hospital given absolute discharge (UK)
(12 April 2016; The Herald)
…for a violent citizens arrest against the fella who was previously accused of extortion over a stolen Leonardo Da Vinci.

Ex-FBI agent from N.J. hunts for lost, priceless sports memorabilia (USA)
(13 April 2016;
A review of a new TV show “Sports Detectives”.

Rare ‘Inverted Jenny’ Stamp Turns Up 60 Years After Theft (USA)
(15 April 2016; NPR)
One of four stolen in 1955, the stamp turned up at an New York auction house.