Hot this week: Art-thieving spidermen.

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It’s time the art market got tough on fakes
(2 February 2017; The Art Newspaper)
“But even simple provenance research may be impossible when a dealer or an agent mediates on behalf of an anonymous seller.”


Egypt retrieves 4,000-year-old figurine from London (Egypt)
(29 January 2017; Egypt Independent)
It was stolen from Aswan in 2013 where it had been excavated by Spanish archaeologists and was detected by a curator at the British Museum.

Egypt retrieves 2 artifacts from London (Egypt)
(1 February 2017; Egypt Independent)
The pieces were stolen following the Jan 25 revolution and were at a London auction house.

Police seize 801 artifacts, preventing illegal sale in Sharqiya (Egypt)
(2 February 2017; Egypt Independent)
A student and his mother were keeping the pieces for sale to an unauthorised dealer.

Nigeria: Govt Vows to Deal With Collaborators of Destroyed 190-Year Monument (Nigeria)
(29 January 2017; All Africa)
“The Federal Government says it will deal decisively with collaborators in the demolition of a 190-year old “Olaiya House” declared a national monument”

Thieves will battle to resell unique artworks heisted from Joburg gallery (South Africa)
(1 February 2017; Times Live)
The thieves will soon find that it is easier to steal a painting than it is to fence it.

Roof nicked, gallery floods (South Africa)
(2 February 2017; Times Live)
Rain fell directly into the basement gallery space of the Joburg Art Gallery after part of the roof was stolen.


Royal Canadian Mint employee who hid stolen gold in his bum gets 30 months in prison (Canada)
(2 February 2017; The Hamilton Spectator)
“Lawrence set off the metal detector more often than any other mint employee without metal implants, Doody said in his ruling. But follow-up searches with hand wands never discovered the smuggled gold hidden in his body cavity.”

Zona arqueológica, cerrada (Archaeological site, closed; Mexico)
(31 January 2017; El Diario Martinense)
El Cuajilote near Atzalan has been closed to tourists due to looting fears.

Encuentran dos momias prehispánicas abandonadas en un paraje del Cuzco (Peru)
(30 January 2017; El Comercio)
The looted adult mummies were dumped and their associated textiles and other remains are missing.

Space Archaeologist Funds Citizen Science Platform With $1M TED Prize (Peru)
(30 January 2017; Forbes)
The exciting, anti-looting focused crowd-detection platform built with Sarah Parcak’s TED prize.

Citizen scientists can now help stop archaeological looting (Peru)
(1 February 2017; BoingBoing)
Help Sarah Parcak detect looting at Peruvian archaeological sites with GlobalXplorer

Visa Ban Leaves Artists in Limbo, and Institutions Perplexed (USA)
(29 January 2017; The New York Times)
“This is such a mess” is an understatement.

Facebook objects to X-rated ads for Asian Art Museum antiquities (USA)
(30 January 2017; San Francisco Chronicle)
The latest “Facebook can’t handle art” news.

Find them! $70,000 Torah stolen from Jersey Shore Jewish school (USA)
(30 January 2017; New Jersey 101.5)
“Two men entered the Cheder Torah Zev school…and stole a safe containing the sacred scroll.”

Sarasota art theft suspects caught (USA)
(30 January 2017; 10 News)
The artworks have not been recovered and are thought to have been dumped.

No further jail time for Glafira Rosales for her role in $80m Knoedler forgery scandal (USA)
(31 January 2017; The Art Newspaper)
She spent a total of 82 days in prison and isn’t going back in. White collar crime, eh?

Three charged in theft by swindle art scheme (USA)
(2 February 2017; The Journal)
They convinced people they hadn’t met to pre-pay for art they had never seen. You can imagine how that went.

Jury indicts man accused of stealing memorabilia from Canfield museum (USA)
(2 February 2017; WKBN)
The items stolen from the veteran’s museum were then sold on Craigslist.

Maui temple bell stolen (USA)
(2 February 2017; Star Advertiser)
The bell was taken from the Wailuku Jodo Mission.

Republicans back off bill to sell 3.3m acres of public land after outcry (USA)
(2 February 2017; The Guardian)
More in the continuing pained debate about the fate of sacred and public land in the US>

‘Playful pup’ sculpture returns to Mercer Island park (USA)
(3 February 2017; Mercer Island Reporter)
“The pup was cut off of his base plate and taken in mid-October, but recovered shortly after”

Breaking: Governor signs resolution asking to rescind Bears Ears monument designation (USA)
(3 February 2017; Gephardt Daily)
A place of sacred fragile beauty put at risk of further looting and destruction by small, sour people.


Ex-owner of Hitler house sues Austria (Austria)
(1 February 2017; Art Daily)
“The state seized the dilapidated building in the northern town of Braunau in December after MPs approved an expropriation law specifically aimed at the controversial property.”

Belarus plans to return Shishkin’s painting to Russia (Belarus, Russia)
(30 January 2017; Belarus News)
The painting was seized in a drug and had been stolen from the Vyazniki History and Art Museum in 2013

Où sont les toiles de l’homme-araignée ? (Where are the Spider Man paintings?; France)
(26 January 2017; Le Parisien)
Three are on trial for the 2010 theft from the Museum of Modern art, but the paintings have not been recovered.

‘Spider-Man’ burglar on trial over €100m Paris art theft (France)
(30 January 2017; The Guardian)
Vjeran Tomic is facing 14 charges and up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the robbery of the Modern Art Museum.

Defendant Claims He Threw Out Modern and Impressionist Masterpieces After `Spider-Man’ Heist (France)
(31 January 2017; ArtNet News)
One of the three defendants in this case said that he threw the paintings in the trash. His co-defendants deny this.

How Paris’ 100-million-euro art heist happened (France)
(1 February 2017; DW)
“As the alleged thief stands trial, an art insurance expert explains why theft can’t always be prevented.”

Prosecution seeks jail time and heavy fines for Paris museum thieves (France)
(3 February 2017; The Art Newspaper)
“Heavy sentences were sought at the trial of three men involved in the 2010 burglary of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris”

For Paris ‘Spiderman,’ Stealing 5 Museum Masterpieces Was No Sweat (France)
(3 February 2017; The New York Times)
“It’s one of my easiest and biggest heists,” said Tomic, speaking about the Museum of Modern Art theft.

European countries are working together to tackle cultural property crime (General)
(2 February 2017; Apollo)
“The fight against both the trade in stolen art and antiquities requires strong cooperation between law enforcement agencies, customs officials, experts, and the art trade itself.”

Angry Pompeii workers ‘tear down part of ancient Roman house in clash with management’ (Italy)
(1 February 2017; Mirror)
A confusing situation. There is a labour dispute. Some part of the site collapsed. The two may not be connected.

Call for Italy’s quake-stricken works to return home for treatment (Italy)
(3 February 2017; The Art Newspaper)
Representatives from Marche are worried that objects taken for conservation and protection post quake will not be returned to the region.

Missing Paintings Stolen by Mobsters to Return to Van Gogh Museum (Netherlands, Italy)
(2 February 2017; ArtNet News)
They will be on display in Naples at the National Museum of Capodimonte for three weeks before they go home.

Date set for Chinese villagers’ Dutch court battle over ownership of 1,000-year-old ‘stolen’ gilded statute (Netherlands, China)
(3 February 2017; South China Morning Post)
The ‘statue’ contains human remains and residents of a Fujian village say it was stolen in 1995.

Belgians face decade in prison for Auschwitz theft (Poland, Belgium)
(31 January 2017; The Times of Israel)
This is for stealing part of the concentration camp fence.

Hermitage storage centre searched by FSB agents (Russia)
(4 February 2017; The Art Newspaper)
“The FSB search coincided with continuing controversy over a government decision to hand St Isaac’s Cathedral, a St Petersburg landmark that was turned into a museum in the Soviet era, over to the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Art thieves suspected of Francis Bacon heist arrested in Madrid (Spain)
(31 January 2017; The Local)
“Police raided six properties in the Madrid region and seized a gun, ammunition, manuals to cracking safes, laser devices and oxy-fuel cylinders used to cut metal”

Así protege la Armada de los piratas los tesoros submarinos (Here’s how the Armada is protected from pirates of underwater treasures; Spain)
(31 January 2017; El Español)
A discussion of how the Spanish Navy protects the Armada wrecks from looters.

Asociación denuncia saqueo y destrucción de restos arqueológicos en Salamanca (Association denounces looting and destruction of archaeological remains in Salamanca; Spain)
(3 February 2017; La Vanguardia)
A citizen group accuses the University of Salamanca of abandoning an archaeological site on its land to looters.

Two charged in theft from sunken World War I warship (UK)
(30 January 2017; UPI)
The theft occurred at the wreck of the HMS Hermes, a British warship sunk in October 1914.

Antiques dealer jailed for stealing painting from Chester Cathedral (UK)
(31 January 2017; The Guardian)
“A Latvian antiques dealer who stole a 19th-century religious painting from a cathedral because he was besotted with the artwork has been jailed for nine months.”

My grandfather left me a £2million Van Gogh – and we’ve spent £4k trying to prove it: Couple claim they own a piece from early in the artist’s career (UK, Netherlands)
(3 February 2017; The Daily Mail)
Instead the work appears to be by Willemina Vincent. They are sure treating it poorly in the photo.


New Zealand’s surprising history of art crime: ‘I continue to be flabbergasted’ (New Zealand)
(2 February 2017; The Guardian)
About Penelope Jackson’s book on the topic.

South and East Asia

Panchaloha idol stolen from temple in Tamil Nadu (India)
(30 January 2017; The Times of India)
“A 2.5-foot tall panchaloha idol, weighing around 40kg, was stolen from a temple in a village near Alangulam in Tirunelveli district”

Burglary in Chhota Udepur palace, antiques stolen (India)
(30 January 2017; The Times of India)
” Several antique pieces and silverware were stolen from the palace of Chhota Udepur’s royal family”

ठाकुरबाड़ी से अष्ट धातु की माँ सीता की मूर्ति चोरी (Ashta metal sculpture of Mother Sita stolen from Thakurbari; India)
(3 February 2017; Live Hindustan)
This is the second recent idol theft case in the area, they may be connected.

Chhattisgarh: Ancient Ganesha idol damaged by suspected Maoists successfully restored (India)
(2 February 2017; Business Standard)
“The remains of this idol were collected by the Armed Forces,” after being found by search parties following the report of its disappearance.

Art snatcher suspended (Japan, Thailand)
(30 January 2017; Bangkok Post)
Resigned, suspended, it all works out the same. Don’t steal art, folks.

Official apologizes for painting theft, resigns (Japan, Thailand)
(31 January 2017; Khaoso)
A senior Intellectual Property position is probably the wrong job for an art thief.

‘Art thief’ hearing to finish quickly (Japan, Thailand)
(31 January 2017; Bangkok Post)
The Thai Deputy Chief of the Department of Intellectual Property who allegedly stole paintings from a Japanese hotel will see a speedy probe into his actions.

The dancing girl in distress (Pakistan, India)
(29 January 2017; Pakistan Today)
Muhammad Majid Bashir and Minahil Ali discuss the international mechanisms that could effect the statue’s return to Pakistan.

Court approves stay of execution on return order for stolen Buddhist statue (South Korea, Japan)
(1 February 2017; Yonhap News Agency)
The stolen (maybe) and counter stolen statue will not be handed over to a local temple until the verdict to do so is confirmed.

Six Treasure Hunters Inside an Ancient Canal in Eppawala Arrested (Sri Lanka)
(31 January 2017; Hiru News)
Water was removed from a cave in this attempt to loot.

West and Central Asia

Official laments smuggling of invaluable Shia manuscripts (Iran)
(12 January 2017; Mehr News Agency)
“Shia manuscripts dating back to early and middle history of Islam had been neglected, destroyed, or smuggled outside the country”

Stacks of Stolen Historic Artifacts Seized in Acre (Israel)
(30 January 2017; The Jewish Press)
The looted objects were found when police stopped a suspicious vehicle.