Culture crime news 31 October–6 November 2016


Hot this week: Pizza Nazis and antiquities sale payback

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Art in bunkers and high-security facilities
(3 November 2016; Live Mint)
On secreting art away


Egypt bans cooperation with Toledo Museum over antiquities’ sale (Egypt, USA)
(1 November 2016; Middle East Monitor)
“Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has banned any cooperation with Toledo Museum of Art in America, after the Ohio-based institution held auctions to sell ancient Egyptian artefacts”


Students questioned over cenotaph graffiti (Canada)
(1 November 2016; Well and Tribune)
Some students may have grafittied the Royal Canadian Legion cenotaph in Niagara Falls.

Ring the alarm: Legendary bell precious to Métis nation is missing — again (Canada)
(2 November 2016; CBC)
The bell is associated with the birth of the Métis nation and it’s missing.

Only a Fraction of Mexico’s Stolen Cultural Antiquities Are Recovered (Mexico)
(3 November 2016; Insight Crime)
A translated version of a similar piece. About the poor rate of recovery of looted antiquities.

Long-lost Toledo sword returns home (USA)
(30 October 2016; The Toledo Blade)
The sword was a gift from the original Toledo in Spain and had been taken about 80 years ago.

Former Harrisburg mayor’s trial pushed to 2017 (USA)
(31 October 2016; WITF)
Among other things, Reed is accused of misappropriating private funds which he used to buy artefacts.

The $6 Million Lawsuit against David Zwirner over a Jeff Koons Sculpture, Explained (USA)
(4 November 2016; Artsy)
Italian art dealer Moretti says that David Zwirner Inc didn’t provide legally required info about Koon’s Gazing Ball (Centaur and Lapith Maiden)

14th century Italian manuscript transferred to ICE following probe (USA, Italy, Switzerland)
(4 November 2016; ICE)
The museum was contacted by HSI after a second leaf stolen from the same manuscript appeared on the Swiss market.

Eternal unrest: How a Native American burial site was desecrated in Hamilton County (USA)
(5 November 2016; Indy Star)
“County, university officials aggressively excavated ancient burial site at Strawtown Park, trampling on rights of tribes to protect their dead”

Cleveland Museum of Art gives back manuscript page illegally cut from book in Italy (USA)
(4 November 2016;
“The removal of the leaf occurred sometime between 1933 and 1952, when the museum bought the work”

Outcry after Toledo Museum of Art sells ancient Greek and Egyptian objects at auction (USA, Egypt, Cyprus)
(5 November 2016; The Art Newspaper)
“The Cypriot ambassador urged the museum to keep the works, while Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities demanded their return and has blacklisted the institution”

Se robaron tres coronas de la Virgen (Three crowns of the Virgin stolen; Venezuela)
(4 November 2016; El Tiempo)
They were stolen from the church of Saint Lucia.


Louvre to offer shelter for world treasures rescued from war zones (France)
(1 November 2016; The Guardian)
It is unclear under what circumstances any objects from Syria and Iraq would come to this new storage facility.

Louvre may safeguard artefacts from war-torn areas (France)
(4 November 2016; The Art Newspaper)
I believe “may” is the important word here.

Picasso’s electrician admits he lied in court (France)
(1 November 2016; The Art Newspaper)
He originally said Picasso and his wife gave him the art. Now he says it was just Picasso’s wife.

Picasso widow accused of hiding art at electrician’s theft trial (France)
(1 November 2016; RFI)
The electricians statements now say that the artist’s widow was trying to hide the works from the artist’s son Claude.

German Frozen Pizza Maker Reveals Nazi Art Loot in Company Collection (Germany)
(31 October 2016; The Jewish Press)
“Dr. Oetker said it had contacted the heirs of the original Jewish owners to discuss a settlement”

Nobody Knows If These Nazi Home Movies Were Lost, Stolen or Destroyed at the National Archives (Germany, USA)
(3 November 2016; Gizmodo)
The National Archives (US) has copies of Eva Braun’s home movies, but where are the originals? They don’t really know.

Four arrested for illegal antiquities trading (Greece)
(2 November 2016; eKathimerini)
One of the suspects was arrested at an Athens hotel as he tried to sell a piece.

Facebook Censors Caravaggio’s Nude Cupid, Then Changes Mind (Italy)
(2 November 2016; ArtNet News)
It’s meant to be an edgy painting but, really Facebook? Again?

Terremoto, sparito un dipinto del ‘600, indagini per furto (Earthquake: Painting from 1600s disappears, investigated as theft; Italy)
(6 November 2016; Rai News)
“Perdono di Assisi”, painted in 1631 by Jean Lhomme, appears to be missing from an earthquake damaged church in Norcia

Debate intensifies over ‘Venus’ attribution to Cranach (Liechtenstein)
(4 November 2016; Antiques Trade Gazette)
Princely Collections of Liechtenstein says the Cranach is real.

Obras de arte en ‘busca y captura’ (Works of art in ‘search and capture’; Spain)
(5 November 2016; Voz Populi)
12k works of art are missing in Spain. Only 10 to 15% will ever be recovered.

The Scots noble stolen from his grave (UK)
(31 October 2016; The Scotsman)
“Alexander, 25th Earl of Crawford, was stolen from his triple coffin laid deep in the family tomb at Dunecht House in Aberdeenshire, with a local rat catcher put on trial for grave robbing in 1881.”

Thieves steal ancient stones from historic ruined castle near Nuneaton (UK)
(1 November 2016; Coventry Telegraph)
The stones were taken from Hartshill Castle and it is hoped that security will be improved.

How to record archaeological objects found at sea — MAS database launched (UK)
(1 November 2016; Classic Boat)
On the launch of the new Marine Antiquities Scheme (MAS)


‘They’ve got no claim’: Indigenous Australian demands British Museum return ancestral shield (Australia, UK)
(2 November 2016; CBC)
An interview with Rodney Kelly who is pushing for the return of these objects

South and East Asia

Gold ornaments of Kali idol stolen in Ctg (Bangladesh)
(3 November 2016; Dhaka Tribune)
The temple is located in the Hathazari area of Chittagong

Lakshmi idol recovered from mosque in Bangladesh, another temple torched (Bangladesh)
(5 November 2016; Business Standard)
An exceedingly complex situation which is difficult to understand or gain reliable information about from the outside.

Auctions for plundered cultural relics forbidden in China (China)
(1 November 2016; CRIEnglish)
“Chinese cultural relics which have been stolen, excavated and robbed, smuggled or illegally plundered historically shall not be sold as auction objects, and the state has the right of first refusal if any valuable cultural relics are offered for sale”

China cracks down on illegal trade of cultural artefacts (China)
(4 November 2016; The Art Newspaper)
The new rules replace a 2003 temporary order. This might be interesting to watch.

Cops seize stolen Salt Lake idol on its way to Chandernagore (India)
(1 November 2016; The Times of India)
The fibreglass Durga was only two years old, still it was stolen by youths who said they had a place to sell it on.

Idol wing police to seek French assistance in probe (India)
(1 November 2016; The Hindu)
A number of stolen idols were seized from the home of French citizens of Puducherry origin.

ASI for easier norms for private import of antiquities (India)
(2 November 2016; DNA)
A variety of changes, including the making of a national-level database. Something to watch closely.

A temple in the heart of Capital remains in ruins (Nepal)
(6 November 2016; The Kathmandu Post)
Several historic statues are still in the rubble of the temple that collapsed three months ago and locals fear they will be stolen

S. Korean museum rejects French forgery allegations (South Korea)
(4 November 2016; Yonhap News Agency)
MMCA says that Beautiful Woman by Chun Kyun-ja is just that, by Chun Kyun-ja, no matter what Lumiere Technology says. Note Chun Kyun-ja said it wasn’t hers.

West and Central Asia

‘Activists held’ at King Cyrus tomb in Iran (Iran)
(31 October 2016; BBC News)
Apparently an Iranian nationalist demonstration at the tomb was broken up with activists detained.

Iraqi heritage sites again at risk in Mosul operation (Iraq)
(31 October 2016; The Daily Mail)
Fighting continues near some major heritage sites which have already experienced damage.

Ancient Hebrew Papyrus Seized from Looters, But Is It Authentic? (Israel)
(26 October 2016; Live Science)
It is said to have been looted from a cave in the Judean desert but questions have been rasied.

Is Israel’s Big New Find a Hoax? (Israel, Palestine)
(6 November 2016; The Daily Beast)
A very political papyrus.

Palestinians make a play for Dead Sea Scrolls at UNESCO (Israel, Palestine)
(6 November 2016; The Jerusalem Post)
An spin on a series of events at a UNESCO meeting.

‘Lead Sea Scrolls’ row reopened (Jordan)
(6 November 2016; The Sunday Times)
Are these early Christian metal books real or crude fakes?

High court moved for retrieving dancing girl statuette from India (Pakistan, India)
(6 November 2016; The News)
The Indus Valley Civ piece was found at Mohenjodaro in 1926 and taken to India by Sir Mortimer Wheeler prior to partition. They stayed in India.