Culture crime news 1–7 August 2016


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What do auction house private sales mean for collectors and the art market?
(4 August 2016; Apollo)
This involves the “auction house accepting a work on consignment, often for several months and, instead of offering it at public auction, approaching potential buyers discreetly”.

Historias que demuestran el oscuro amor de los ladrones de arte por el verano (Stories that demonstrate the curious love of art thieves for summer)
(4 August 2016; Voz Populi)
Are there really more art thefts in summer? If so, why?


Retrieving and Managing Heritages in Ethiopia (Ethiopia)
(31 July 2016; The Ethiopian Herald)
Discussion of the process of protecting Ethiopia’s heritage.


Robó en una ermita y fué detenido por querer venderles a los vecinos (Man robs chapel, is arrested trying to sell to neighbours.; Argentina)
(4 August 2016; Iguazu Noticias)
Among other things, the man stole two statues of the Virgin

Tráfico de bienes culturales: Esto es un robo, señores (Trafficking of cultural property: This is theft, folks; Argentina)
(7 August 2016; La Voz)
In light of recent thefts, words on art crime in Argentina

Chile: robaron un hueso de Santa Teresa de Los Andes (Chile: Bone of Saint Teresa de los Andes stolen; Chile)
(6 August 2016; Tiempo de San Juan)
The relic as well as other items were taken from the church in Vina del Mar

Tras 58 días detienen a 7 personas por ataque y destrucción a la Gratitud Nacional (After 58 days, 7 people arrested for destruction of the Gratitud Nacional; Chile)
(6 August 2016; 24 Horas)
A Christ sculpture was smashed and other items were stolen.

Este fue el hombre que robó en el museo religioso de San Pedro de los Milagro (This is the man who robbed the religious museum of San Pedro de Milagro; Colombia)
(2 August 2016; Minuto 30)
The thief, who stole a number of sacred art pieces, was caught on camera

Robaron imágenes de las estaciones del viacrucis de la catedral San Francisco de Asís (Stations of the cross from the Cathedral of San Francisco de Asisi stolen; Colombia)
(4 August 2016; Caracol Radio)
It is deemed equally possible that this was a metal theft for scrap or an art theft for art.

Devuelven imágenes de las estaciones del viacrucis que habían robado de la catedral de Sincelejo (Stations of the cross that were stolen from the Cathedral of Sincelejo returned; Colombia)
(4 August 2016; Caracol Radio)
The nine pieces were returned after a merchant who bought the stolen items called the priest.

Sospechan pobladores de posible saqueo de piezas arqueológicas en Totolapan (Locals suspected of possible looting of archaeological objects in Totolapan; Mexico)
(2 August 2016; La Unión de Morelos)
Many accusations are flying about possible bad acts in Totolapan.

Saquean zonas arqueológicas de los municipios de la Mixteca poblana (Archaeological sites looted in the municipalities of the Mixteca area; Mexico)
(6 August 2016; El Sol de Puebla)
A visit to a number of these looted sites with photos of destruction.

“Dieses Gemälde ist nicht von mir” (“This painting is not mine”; USA)
(28 July 2016; Zeit Online)
Peter Doig discusses the unbelievable authenticity lawsuit he is facing in the US

Ronald Lauder, Advocate of Art Restitution, Says His Museum Holds a Clouded Work (USA)
(2 August 2016; The New York Times)
“One of the Neue Galerie’s major works has a clouded history and may be returned to people who say they are the rightful owners.”

The Government Just Won a Long Legal Battle Over Rare Coins (USA)
(3 August 2016; Smithsonian)
“The coins in question, Double Eagles, were minted in 1933 and never officially released.”

The First Armed Art Heist in History Is Being Made Into a Movie (USA)
(3 August 2016; The Smithsonian)
A film about the 1972 Worcester Art Museum heist.

Utah Monument Fight Pits Native Americans Against Land-Use Militants (USA)
(3 August 2016; The American Prospect)
“By all accounts the looting was terrible”: the Bear Ears controversy.

Theft of three retablos from Spanish Market shocks, saddens artists (USA)
(5 August 2016; Santa Fe New Mexican)
Two modern saint paintings were stolen from a noted Saint Maker at the Santa Fe Spanish Market.

Why the booming contemporary art market is bad for art museums (USA)
(4 August 2016; The Washington Post)
“There are three reasons why different museums have different fates: fashion, demographics and billionaires.”

Rumblings in the Auction World (USA)
(5 August 2016; The New York Times)
“Things either stagnate, or they sell like hot cakes. There isn’t any middle ground any more.”

Brazen Thieves Take $10,000 Painting Off Gallery Wall in San Pedro and Walk Away With It; Reward Offered (USA)
(3 August 2016; KTLA)
“The painting is a 3 foot by 6 foot mixed media on canvas by Neil Nagy called “Escondido.””

Facebook credited with return of stolen $10,000 painting to San Pedro art gallery (USA)
(5 August 2016; Daily Breeze)
The thieves seem to have dropped the artwork over someone’s back fence.


Famous Salvador Dali sculpture vandalized in Quebec City (Canada)
(28 July 2016; Global News)
Alice in Wonderland has been on display for a month and part of the sculpture, her her crutch has been broken.

Heavy bronze plaques stolen from New Brunswick Museum (Canada)
(2 August 2016; CBC)
The historic markers appear to have been prised off with a crowbar.


Ancient Clay Figurine Repatriated to Cyprus from UK (Cyprus)
(5 August 2016; Greek Reporter)
“The figurine was identified by the Department of Antiquities on the website of a London-based antiquities dealer’s shop.”

Partial return of looted collection (Cyprus)
(7 August 2016; Cyprus Mail)
“The figurine was part of Hadjiprodromou’s declared private collection that he kept in his house in Famagusta prior to the Turkish invasion in 1974.”

Trésors pillés : « La France doit répondre positivement à la demande du Bénin » (Pillaged Treasures: France must respond positively to Benin’s demand; France, Benin)
(1 August 2016; Le Monde)
The government of Benin has requested the return of a number of cultural objects stolen during the colonial era.

German culture minister promises to reform Limbach Commission after mounting criticism (Germany)
(5 August 2016; The Art Newspaper)
“Nazi-era loot expert panel has no Jewish member and has mediated just 13 cases since 2003”

Magnus Art-Pricing App Pulled from Apple Store Amid Evidence of Extensive Data Theft (Germany)
(1 August 2016; ArtNet News)
Magnus Resch is accused of taking proprietary information from other databases for his app.

Magnus app founder hits back at critics (Germany)
(4 August 2016; The Art Newspaper)
Magnus Resch denies his app stole any information and says that he is pushing market transparency which others are resisting.

Returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece could ease Brexit negotiations (Greece, UK)
(3 August 2016; Spear’s)
Interesting, but unlikely, speculation about a possible return of the Parthenon Sculptures

‘Vandals’ damaging ancient ring fort (Ireland)
(6 August 2016; Independent)
People using motorbikes have caused ‘irreparable’ damage to the ring fort at Drumanagh, Fingal.

German tourists scale Colosseum in night time stunt (Italy, Germany)
(1 August 2016; Independent)
“Two people are seen in the film jumping over fencing surrounding the iconic Flavian Amphitheatre at night”. This is, of course, an illegal act.

How art detective Arthur Brand recovered two multi-million pound pieces of stolen art (Netherlands)
(3 August 2016; The Independent)
Another successful looted art return brokered by Arthur Brand.

McDonald’s advertising agency accused of plagiarising artist’s viral cows video (UK)
(2 August 2016; Independent)
“A McDonald’s advertising agency has copied the work of cult animator Cyriak without paying or acknowledging him, it has been claimed.”

Priceless stained glass window stolen from historic village church (UK)
(3 August 2016; Harborough Mail)
The 16th century window was taken from the tudor Withcote Chapel. It’s unclear when the theft happened.

100 Auction Houses Now Subscribing for Art Loss Register Due Diligence (UK)
(3 August 2016; Fine Books Magazine)
“This represents an increase of 50% in the number of auction houses checking their catalogues with the Art Loss Register in the last three years”

Vandals attack ancient castle with fire (UK)
(5 August 2016; The Northern Echo)
“The vandals took wood from the compound at Scarborough Castle – and then set it alight, blackening a section of the ancient walls.”

Ancient plaque welcoming visitors to Ayr’s historic Auld Kirk vanishes (UK)
(7 August 2016; Daily Record)
The piece had been on the 1656 lych gate for years. It was prised away.

Ukraine not letting go of stolen Dutch Art (Ukraine, Netherlands)
(4 August 2016; NL Times)
The pieces were stolen from the Westfries Museum but it seems like Ukraine might not be responding to documents.

South and East Asia

Ai Weiwei’s Lawyer, Zhou Shifeng, Sentenced to Seven Years for ‘Subversion’ (China)
(4 August 2016; ArtNet News)
The trial lasted only half a day and he has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Deities, not CM, to decide Raghunath temple’s fate, says Maheshwar Singh (India)
(1 August 2016; The Tribune)
Should the government run this important but private temple in the wake of a major theft?

Dacoit gang busted, 4 held (India)
(1 August 2016; The New Indian Express)
“Police recovered a pistol, six swords, two antique spears which were looted from Salepur museum”

Himachal HC stays takeover of historic Kullu temple (India)
(2 August 2016; The Hindu)
“The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday stayed till August 11 the process to transfer the 17th century temple of Lord Raghunath, the chief deity of the Kullu Valley, to the government.”

मंदिर से अष्टधातु की 4 मूर्तियां चोरी (4 ashtadhatu idols stolen from temple; India)
(3 August 2016; Inextlive)
The thieves entered the temple in Siwan by climbing the back wall.

US returned only eight antiquities during PM Narendra Modi’s visit: Govt (India, USA)
(3 August 2016; The Indian Express)
As opposed to reports that over 200 would be heading back.

WB govt wants to take over Nobel theft probe, to approach CBI (India)
(5 August 2016; Business Standard)
Rabindranath Tagore’s medal was taken in 2004 from Visva Bharati University.

राधाकृष्ण मंदिर से मूर्ति चोरी (Radhakrishna temple idol theft; India)
(6 August 2016; Amar Ujala)
An ashtadhatu statue was stolen from the shrine in the village of Dntuli Chorean.

Cops recover antique Krishna idol stolen from temple (India)
(7 August 2016; Deccan Herald)
The man said he got the idol from two men who stole it from a temple.

Theft in temple: Ornaments stolen (India)
(4 August 2016; Business Standard)
This was from the Uma Maheshwara temple in Attavar

Mangaluru: Theft at temple in Attavar – Items worth Rs 2 lac stolen (India)
(4 August 2016; Daijiworld)
Photos after the theft at Uma Maheshwara Ttemple in Attavar

Police Name Five More Suspects in North Sumatra Buddhist Temple Attacks (Indonesia)
(1 August 2016; Jakarta Globe)
Several more people were arrested in relation to the temple vandalism and theft.

Police Name Twelve Suspects in North Sumatra Temple Attacks (Indonesia)
(1 August 2016; Jakarta Globe)
They were charged with robbery and vandalism after several Buddhist temples and monasteries were ransacked by mobs in the city of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra

Cops nab man for stealing copper idol from Hindu temple in Penang (Malaysia)
(2 August 2016; Malay Mail)
The copper Dewi Sivagami idol was sold to buy drugs.

Donation boxes, antique clock stolen from mosque (Malaysia)
(7 August 2016; Free Malaysia Today)
The clock was stolen from the Sungai Kechil Mosque in Nibong Tebal.

Priceless Buri Ram lintel found in San Francisco (Thailand, USA)
(4 August 2016; Bangkok Post)
The pre-Angkorean pieces features Lord Yama, the god of death, was stolen from Nong Hong temple in Buri Ram’s Non Din Daeng district some 50 years ago and is in San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

Call for ancient lintel to be returned from US exhibition (Thailand, USA)
(5 August 2016; The Nation)
Including photographs of the site and building that the lintel was stolen from.

West and Central Asia

Jewish officials seek to save ancient Nahum tomb in Iraq (Iraq)
(3 August 2016; UPI)
“Jewish officials are appealing to save a 1,500-year-old tomb that is in danger of collapsing just 30 miles from Islamic State-controlled Mosul.”

Police detain 5 Wakf members for illegally renovating Dome of Rock (Israel)
(4 August 2016; The Jerusalem Post)
“According to police, the suspects erected scaffolding next to the Dome of the Rock and proceeded to make illegal structural changes without coordinating with the Antiquities Authority. “

80% of Aleppo Old City square destroyed, residents lack tools to rebuild (Syria)
(4 August 2016; Syria Direct)
An interview about the level of destruction in Aleppo.

Daesh destroys ancient treasures in Syria’s Tal Ajaja (Syria)
(7 August 2016; Gulf News)
Allegations of and evidence for looting at the site.

Salafists blow up 16-century mosque in Yemen (Yemen)
(31 July 2016; Al Arabiya)
“Gunmen led by a Salafist local chief known as Abu al-Abbas blew up the mosque of Sheikh Abdulhadi al-Sudi on Friday night”

In Other News

Public art cancelled in Rio due to cultural budget cuts (Brazil)
(3 August 2016; The Art Newspaper)
“The arts programme ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics has suffered another loss due to budget cuts”

90-Year-Old Vandalizes Crossword Artwork, Then Claims Copyright on the Result (Germany)
(5 August 2016; ArtNet News)
Her lawyer says she created a new artwork, didn’t vandalise.

‘Pink Panther’ jewel thief gang arrested after stealing £280MILLION in 380 armed robberies as they tried to escape wearing joke-shop wig and fake glasses (Spain)
(6 August 2016; The Daily Mail)
The five were Serbians.

Dram raid: Rare bottles nicked from distillery made famous by movie The Angels’ Share (UK)
(6 August 2016; Daily Record)
Made famous form a film heist, they’ve had a real one.

Apollo 11 lunar samples bag the focus of legal dispute after it was stolen and sold by former Space Center director (USA)
(6 August 2016; The Daily Mail)
The bag was stolen, sold, recovered by the government, then accidentally sold by the government again. Understandably the woman who bought it doesn’t want to give it back.