Culture crime news 2–8 May 2016


Hot this week: Gardner Museum heist paintings still unsurprisingly missing.

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How Not to Buy Stolen, Looted or Forged Art
(4 May 2016; Observer)
“Ask about the provenance, then actively check it”

Art Demystified: Art Auctions and Minimum Price Guarantees
(6 May 2016; ArtNet News)
Promises of money that don’t always pan out which leads to lawsuits.


Thieves desecrate temple (South Africa)
(3 May 2016; News 24)
The temple wall was smashed down and idols were stolen.


Grave destrucción de Zona Arqueológica (Serious destruction of archaeological site; Mexico)
(1 May 2016; Diario de Poza Rica)
Twelve mounds at La Reforma were destroyed during house building, no looting took place.

Roban objetos de incalculable valor histórico de la iglesia de Capiatá (Objects of incalculable historical value stolen from church of Capiatá; Paraguay)
(6 May 2016; ABC)
A hole was made in the roof of the church to access a number of historic items of sacred art.

‘Warhol Uncanned’ exhibit at Springfield Art Museum also a food drive (USA)
(1 May 2016; The News Leader)
“Colorado artist Lindsey Wohlman donated the pieces to fill the void left in the museum’s collection after the theft earlier this month.”

Bronze statues stolen from Woodbury shopping center (USA)
(2 May 2016; Duluth News Tribune)
The missing piece of the statue by Michael Roess weighs about 500 pounds.

Cedar mask artwork stolen from Juneau Arts & Culture Center (USA)
(3 May 2016; Juneau Empire)
An alder mask of a mountain goat by a local artist was taken.

Aby Rosen To Pay $7 Million To Settle Art Tax Dodge Investigation (USA)
(4 May 2016; ArtNet News)
The collector has agreed to a settlement “following an investigation into the use of resale certificates on over 200 works of art”.

Vandalized Bronx WWI Statue To Be Renovated and Returned to Post by 2017 (USA)
(5 May 2016; DNA Info)
The piece was badly vandalised in the 1970s and is only just now being restored.

Headstones of Native Americans missing for decades returned to relatives (USA)
(5 May 2016; Chicago Tribune)
The return of the gravestone Alexander Robinson, Che-Che-Pin-Qua.

BLM wants to pay people who help find looters, vandals (USA)
(6 May 2016; The Salt Lake Tribune)
“For the first time, the agency is offering a standing reward of $2,500 for information leading to the conviction of those who steal or vandalize archaeological sites and artifacts on Utah’s public lands.”

Police make deal with suspected art thief, angering artist (USA)
(7 May 2016; KDVR)
“A suspected art thief won’t face criminal charges after a Denver detective made a deal with the suspect even though the victim said she never approved.”

The Ins and Outs of Stolen Art, Explained (USA)
(7 May 2016; Artsy)
Lawyer Leila Aminedoleh explains US statute for stolen art.

Art installation stolen and vandalized at Las Vegas intersection (USA)
(2 May 2016; News 3)
“The art installation at the Decatur and Flamingo intersection had the lion stolen and “alligators” vandalized.”

FOUND: Golden lion art installation stolen, dumped, and turned into police (USA)
(2 May 2016; News 3)
“Night Eyes” by artist Chris Bauder is back!

FBI searches property of man at center of Gardner heist case (USA)
(2 May 2016; The Boston Globe)
This is the third time that Robert Gentile’s house has been searched.

Why the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s stolen art may never be found (USA)
(4 May 2016; Apollo)
Remember, stolen art has no value.

Missing art not found at Robert Gentile’s house (USA)
(5 May 2016; WHDH)
The stolen Gardner Museum paints remain not at that man’s house.

If the Gardner Paintings Are Ever Found, How Damaged Will They Be? (USA)
(5 May 2016; WNPR)
Probably very damaged.

Artwork valued at $15,000 stolen from Reed College (USA)
(3 May 2016; Oregon Live)
The teak carving by Leroy Setziol had been hanging in the college for 10 years.

Stolen Reed College artwork found with $1,500 to $2,000 in damage, official says (USA)
(4 May 2016; Oregon Live)
The piece was found dumped on the college campus.

Major German Expressionist Painting Finds Its Way Home to VMFA (USA)
(5 May 2016; Style Weekly)
The Kirchner piece had been restituted after a 10 year legal battle and now will hang in the VMFA.

Dallas Holocaust Museum gets menorah taken from Europe in WWII (USA)
(6 May 2016; Times of Israel)
The piece was donated by the Monuments Men Foundation


Bosnia Urged to Tackle Art Trafficking (Bosnia)
(6 May 2016; Balkan Insight)
The Bosnian Centre Against Trafficking in Works of Art, an NGO, says the country is not doing enough to combat and punish past and present art trafficking.

Fire at Rosemarie Trockel’s House Ruins $34 Million Worth of Art (Germany)
(4 May 2016; ArtNet News)
The art’s Cologne home was destroyed as was her personal art collection.

#ReturnTheMarbles campaign uses cheeky billboard to seek return of Parthenon sculptures (Greece, UK)
(6 May 2016; ABC News)
Cheeky or ballsy?

Armi, droga e reperti archeologici nel “box delle meraviglie”: arrestato 32enne denunciata la moglie (Weapons, drugs, and archaeological finds in “box of wonders”: 32 year old arrested, implicates wife; Italy)
(29 April 2016; Corriere Salentino)
The items were seized in the raid of a garage in Lecce

Six items stolen from chapels still missing (Malta)
(6 May 2016; Times of Malta)
Bells and other metal items stolen from Malta churches which have still not turned up.

El robo en la necrópolis de Elorrio abre el debate sobre la protección del patrimonio (Theft in the necropolis of Elorrio starts debate about the protection of heritage; Spain)
(6 May 2016; Deia)
A theft from one of the most important funerary sites in Basque Country.

Detenido por robar dos candelabros de plata de la iglesia de la Victoria (Arrest for stealing two silver candelabras from the church of la Victoria; Spain)
(3 May 2016; Jerez Sin Fronteras)
The pieces were recovered following the arrest.

Roban el Sagrario de la Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro (The tabernacle of the Church of Perpetual Sorrow stolen; Spain)
(4 May 2016; Radio Huesca)
A number of liturgical items were stolen.

Las iglesias de Torres, Almendra y Almaraz, últimas “víctimas” de la oleada de robos (The churches of Torres, Almendra, and Almaraz, latest “victims” of theft spree; Spain)
(5 May 2016; La Opinión de Zamora)
Thefts of sacred art in 25 parishes.

Desarticulada una banda por robo con fuerza en iglesias (Gang busted for aggravated theft in churches; Spain)
(5 May 2016; La Cronica de Badajoz)
The gang hit homes and churches across 6 provinces.

Hertfordshire Puddingstone stolen from museum site (UK)
(4 May 2016; BBC News)
Taken were pieces of “one of the world’s rarest rocks” and part of the county’s heritage.

Church raider jailed after stealing priceless relics, including ancient coffin (UK)
(6 May 2016; Birmingham Mail)
The man “netted £150k from scam which saw him target country parish churches”

Art forger goes straight selling £5,000 fakes (UK)
(7 May 2016; The Telegraph)
David Henty of Brighton now sells reproductions, not fakes.

South and East Asia

Fifty-year-old Hindu idols stolen from Netrokona temple (Bangladesh)
(4 May 2016; BD News 24)
Little information; the pieces were heavy but not made of basalt.

Centre refuses to share information on bringing back Kohinoor (India)
(1 May 2016; The Indian Express)
Information is sought from the External Affairs Ministry for details on what steps have been taken to get the diamond back.

Stolen artefacts: Cops to raid another warehouse (India)
(4 May 2016; The Times of India)
A warehouse maintained by smuggler Anurag Tiwari was raided in Jaipur.

Theft in temple in Siddapura (India)
(6 May 2016; The Hindu)
Silver items were stolen from the sanctum sanctorum of the Chitteri Mahaganapati Temple at Siddapura village

The Heritage Warriors (India)
(8 May 2016; DNA)
More information about the work of the India Pride Project

Getting back the bronzes of Sivapuram Natarajar temple (India)
(8 May 2016; Performance Gurus)
Theft and return of Chola bronzes

West and Central Asia

The man who helped save Afghanistan’s treasures from ravages of war (Afghanistan)
(5 May 2016; The Guardian)
Najibullah Popal, who managed to hide the treasures of the national museum from years of unrest.

IS Files Reveal Assad’s Deals With Militants (Syria)
(3 May 2016; Sky News)
Concerning Palmyra. Use caution when assessing such claims.

In Other News

A fierce battle over who created a new Snapchat filter is tearing this community of artists apart (General)
(4 May 2016; Fusion)
Snapchap clearly took the filter from an artist, but which one?

Uncontrolled Collecting: An Impulse Control Disorder? (General)
(5 May 2016; Physician’s Money Digest)
“This is either because the prefrontal cortex itself is damaged or the drive to collect is so strong that it overpowers the expected function of the prefrontal cortex.”

The Nazi Underground: Is treasure buried beneath the mountains of Poland? (Poland)
(9 May 2016; The New Yorker)
“There are so many tunnels, who knows what else is there”? Probably not the Amber Room.