May 31, 2013

Will the ashes in a stove in Romania prove to be the remains of the seven paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation exhibit at the Kunsthal Rotterdam?

Photograph of the image of the Matisse
painting from the Triton Foundation
 stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam
 on October 16, 2012.
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor 

The prosecutor's office in Romania suspects the seven Triton Foundation paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam last October 16 may have been destroyed, Agency France-Presse reported May 29. Art Hostage blogger blames this rumor on the failure to offer a reward for the return of this and other stolen art. Two years ago, reports surfaced that the paintings stolen from the Museé d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris had been thrown in the trash.

According to AFP, investigators are examining ashes taken from the home of the mother of one of the suspects Kunsthal Rotterdam thieves to determine if they include remains of the stolen paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse. Seven Romanians have reportedly been charged with the theft. Destruction of the paintings would eliminate evidence in the even the stolen works could not be sold or ransomed back to the art gallery in The Netherlands.

The Dutch website NU.NL quotes the lawyer for one of the suspects as denying that the ashes are any proof that the paintings were destroyed.

Here is a link to previous posts on the ARCA blog covering the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft, including information about the stolen paintings.

On the blog Art Hostage, Paul "Turbo" Hendry, a self-described former stolen art trafficker, blames destruction of stolen paintings on the lack of financial incentives to recovering or returning stolen art.

May 30, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Getty Perspectives: James Cuno and Pico Iyer Discussed Travel and Museums above the fray

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCAblog Editor

Visitors taking the tram up the hill to the Getty Center now listen to a recording by James Cuno, President and CEO of the Getty Trust, welcoming them to visit the galleries and the gardens. Tuesday evening, Cuno, now into his third year at The Getty, joined writer Pico Iyer onstage to discuss travel and museums as part of the Getty Perspectives series.

Iyer, author of a book on his reflections on Graham Greene in The Man Within My Head, was introduced to the audience as someone who "defies classification", as a "resident of LAX", and an essayist on subjects including museums. Cuno, introduced as a man "who has a lot to say about museums" and author of Museums Matter, has spent two years at the Getty emphasizing "critical thinking and integrating digital initiatives".

Cuno spoke with Iyer about his book on Greene; Iyer blaming Greene's intense influence on himself to altitude sickness in La Paz, Bolivia, and a touch of cocoa tea. "I only trust those things you can't explain," Iyer said. In recommending Greene's "The Quiet American" as "still the book to read", describing Greene as the "patron saint of the foreigner alone drifting between uncertainties" and claimed that "travel gives you a privacy you can't get at home."

Travel, like museums, they discussed, can help people understand other parts of the world.

"Museums hold out the promise that museums can introduce people to the complexity of the world," Cuno said, "And open us to tolerance."

Cuno, author of the controversial Who Owns Antiquity?, spoke of the diversity of museum visitors, pointing out that 220 million people live in countries not their own, that a city such as Chicago has a large Greek community that can view objects from Greece in local museums.

"I am very skeptical of governments making claims on individual identities," Cuno said. "My view is that people don't come from governments. Art is not made for a nation. I am suspicious of governments staking claims on a legacy they wish to identify with for grandeur."

Pico noted that when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan that they destroyed what belongs to us all.

"We're responsible for what is within our jurisdiction," Cuno said. "The Taliban felt that these objects put their cultural identity at risk."

Pico Iyer described the Getty as the sanctuary next to the rush-hour freeway: "Taking us out of the fray and bringing us back to our better selves."

May 28, 2013

Dan Brown's fictional Robert Langdon uses the "ARCA Web site" in "Inferno" to research the Horses of St. Mark's in Venice

The Horses of St. Mark's (The Triamphal Quadriga)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

In Chapter 17 of Dan Brown's Inferno published May 14 by Doubleday, (and reviewed by Janet Maslin in The New York Times), the fourth book featuring Robert Langdon, the fictional Harvard University professor of religious iconography and symbology, researches the Horses of St. Mark's: 

As it turned out, the powerful bodies of the early Friesian horses had inspired the robust aesthetic of the Horses of St. Mark’s in Venice. According to the Web site, the Horses of St. Mark’s were so beautiful that they had become “history’s most frequently stolen pieces of art.”

Langdon had always believed that this dubious honor belonged to the Ghent Altarpiece and paid a quick visit to the ARCA Web site to confirm his theory. The Association for Research into Crimes Against Art offered no definitive ranking, but they did offer a concise history of the sculptures’ troubled life as a target of pillage and plunder.

This appears to be a reference to the blog post(s) by Judge ArthurTompkins, an ARCA Lecturer, written in June of 2011: The Four Horses of the Basilica San Marco, Venice (Part I); More on the History (Part II); Continued Short History (Part III); and The Four Horses Rest Inside St. Mark's Basilica in Venice After Being Plundered from Constantinople in the 13th Century (Part IV). On the ARCA blog is another post about the "The Triamphal Quadriga" in Paris Diary: Replica of Stolen Art at Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

Then Brown is a bit more definitive about what academics would question:

The four copper horses had been cast in the fourth century by an unknown Greek sculptor on the island of Chios, where they remained until Theodosius II whisked them off to Constantinople for display at the Hippodrome. Then, using the Fourth Crusade, when Venetian forces sacked Constantinople, the ruling doge demanded the four precious statues be transported via ship all the way back to Venice, a nearly impossible feat because of their size and weight. The horses arrived in Venice in 1254, and were installed in front of the façade of St. Mark’s Cathedral.

More than half a millennium later, in 1797, Napoleon conquered Venice and took the horses for himself. They were transported to Paris and prominently displayed atop the Arc de Triomphe. Finally, in 1815, following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and his exile, the horses were winched down from the Arc de Triomphe and shipped on a barge back to Venice, where they were reinstalled on the front balcony of St. Mark’s Basilica.

Although Langdon had been fairly familiar with the history of the horses, the ARCA site contained a passage that startled him.

The decorative collars were added to the horses’ necks in 1204 by the Venetians to conceal where the heads had been severed to facilitated their transportation by ship from Constantinople to Venice.

May 25, 2013

Speakers list released for ARCA's 5th Annual Art & Heritage Conference in Amelia June 21-23, 2013

View of the hilltop town of Amelia in Umbria
(Photo by C. Sezgin)
The Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) has released the speaker list for it's 5th Annual Art & Heritage Conference in Amelia from June 21 to 23.

Speakers anticipated:

Toby bull, Senior Inspector, Hong Kong Police Force, "Property of a Hong Kong Gentleman, Art Crime in Hong Kong - Buyer Beware";

Ruth Godthelp, PhD Candidate Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam, Senior Police officer art related crime, Amsterdam Police, "The nature of crimes against Arts, Antiques and Cultural Heritage: A description of art-related crime in the Netherlands";

Saskia Hufnagel, Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, "Shifting Responsibilities: The Intersection of Public and Private Policing in the Area of Art Crime";

James Moore, retired trial lawyer and student of Caravaggio, "The Outrageous Theft of Caravaggio's Masterpiece The Nativity with Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence";

James Bond, ARCA Alumnus, Certificate 2011, "The Theft of Rare Books from the largest Home in the United States";

Chris Dobson, Former Master Armourer to the Royal Armouries at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, "Claiming Fake 'Fakes' in the Trade in Arms and Armour";

Stefano Alessandrini and Derek Fincham will lead a discussion on the Fano Athlete/Getty Bronze;

Joris Kila, Senior Researcher at the University of Amsterdam, ARCA award winner 2012, "An update on Armed Conflict and Heritage";

Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Partner with Sullivan & Worcester LLP, "American Wartime Art Restitution Litigation in the 1990s and Beyond-- Has it All Been Worth it?"

Jerker Rydén, Senior Legal Advisor Royal Library of Sweden, "Skullduggering in the Stacks: Recovering stolen books for the Royal Library of Sweden";

Judith Harris, author and free-lance journalist, regular contributor to the New York monthly ARTnews, "The Role of Collectors";

Felicity Strong, PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne, "The mythology of the art forger";

Joshua Nelson, MA Candidate in Art & Visual Culture, University of Guelph, "Framing the Picture: The Canadian Print Media's Construction of an Atypical Crime and its Victims";

Theodosia latsi, MA in Global Criminology, Utrecht University, "The Art of Stealing: The Case of Museum Thefts in the Netherlands";

Verity Algar, Art History Student, University College London, "Cultural memory and the restitution of cultural property: Comparing Nazi-looted art and Melanesian malanggan";

Giulia Mezzi, PhD Candidate University of Reading, "The origins of Cultural Heritage Protection in Italy, a historical survey"

Carrie Johnson, JD Candidate South Texas College of Law, "Cultural Property in Crisis: Whose Burden is it?"

Alesia Koush, Foundation Romualdo Del Bianco-Life Beyond Tourism in Florence, MA Candidate at the University of Cologna under Prof. Luciana Carrino, "The Right to Culture"; and

Cynthia Roholt, JD Candidate South Texas College of Law, "Human Remains: Permission and Plastination".

The conference will open with cocktails at Palazzo Farrattini on Friday evening, June 21. The speakers will present at Chiosto Boccarini on Saturday and Sunday. Imbedded in the conference will be tthe ARCA Award Presentations: Art Policing and Recovery Award to Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York; Art Protection and Security Award to Christos Tsirogiannis, Archaeologist, Illicit antiquities researcher, University of Cambridge, former member of the Hellenic Ministry of Justice; Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship to Duncan Chappell, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, Australia; and the Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art to Bianco Nino Norton, Consultant Petén Development Project for the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Ministry of Environment of Natural Resources/BID, Delegation of World Heritage Guatemala, Treasurer ICOMOS Guatemala, Presently serving as a Council Member for ICCROM.

The 5th Annual Art & Heritage Conference will have a dinner Saturday night at Locanda.


May 24, 2013

Financial Times: Emma Jacobs profiles art investigator Dick Ellis (ARCA Lecturer) in "Lessons from an old master"

Emma Jacobs interviews former Scotland Yard detective Richard Ellis in "Lessons from an old master" (Financial Times, May 23, 2013) about how he goes about recovering stolen art as a private investigator. Jacobs reports that Ellis told her that he is one his way to meet with "someone who was classified as a former terrorist" because "that is how you learn to do stuff". Jacobs relays why Ellis believes art theft is a social problem reaching beyond a personal theft because stolen art is "being used as a currency to fund criminality, arms, drugs and terrorism". You can read the full article here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b27c1392-c2cf-11e2-bbbd-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3A5hsjn6S.

May 17, 2013

Padma Kaimal, author of "Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis" traveled to museums to study the legacy from a lost temple in South India



Kait Murphy (ARCA '11) in front of 10th
century 
Kanchipuram yogini
at the Sackler Galleries of Art in
Washington D.C. 
Kait Murphy (ARCA 2011) interviews Padma Kaimal, the Author of “Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis” which examines the cultural history, theft, and reunion of South Indian temple sculptures.

What happens to sacred objects lost over the centuries? What stories can they tell? Does their meaning change? Padma Kaimal, professor of art and art history and Asian studies at Colgate University, dreams of reuniting 10th century goddesses from a temple in South India. She chronicles the journey of these objects and their collective meaning.  Their creation, dispersal, theft, sale, and museum acquisitions paint a colorful history that has been pieced together to explore how and why objects travel around the globe.

In Kaimal's new book, "Scattered Goddesses: Travels with the Yoginis," we can look at the storied past of most (but not all) goddesses that once graced a now-lost temple in Kanchipuram, India.

Through Kaimal’s outreach to museums and scholars around the world, 19 sculptures re-emerged from the original 64 in museums and private collections planting the beginnings of a reunion and telling the tale of their travels, theft, sale, and current locations.

Some highlights from an interview with Padma Kaimal:
KM: How did you get involved in this project? 
PK: I became involved while looking at another 8th century monument in the same region and noticed the goddesses were really important.  Starting in 2003, I emailed museums and a bunch responded and invited me to look at their files. They would email scans of their images and I started diagramming and mapping where they all were. 
KM:  What is the history of the statues? 
PK: The only information to go on for dating them is from their style and comparison to carved objects in northern Tamilnadu in the first 3 quarters of the 10th c.  Sometime between the 10th c -19th c, the temple was broken into and each of the goddesses was damaged to some degree with features hacked off like their noses and hands.  Evidence from other research shows that all other religions were afraid of this sect of Hindu tantric goddesses.  This was a secret sect so most people viewing seductive powerful women were frightened and didn’t understand their message. 
At some point in the early 20th century, seven goddess sculptures were salvaged and reassembled into a new temple.  In 1926, a poor laborer reported to a French archeologist about interesting objects he found.  This archeologist sent photos and descriptions to an art dealer back in Paris, which traced the objects directly from India to France. 
Back in Paris, France, C.T. Loo was the single most important art dealer with access to Asian art. His markets were Europe and the United States.  He had high standards for the works he acquired. He re-educated museums on what they needed to be buying in terms of high art.  He got the museums on board and changed the collections.  His goal was about the art preservation and education in addition to being a profitable businessman.  Loo was behind the French archaeologist’s research in India and he paid his travel and room and board to find art.  Also perhaps involved in the acquisition of these objects was the British director of the Madras Government museum.  He was probably aware of the extraction and was able to retain two of the objects so that they would stay in Madras (now Chennai), India.  In 1926, Loo began to sell the objects to various collectors and museums with the last one sold in 1960. 
With the dispersal of the objects, the book exposes fragments along the path and helps   connect the vectors to figure out where the objects were and ended up.  There are still two goddesses that haven’t been found and it is thought that they are in private hands somewhere.  Further research will help continue the chase.  There is theft and rescue in this story but there is no separation between the good and bad guys.  The same people were acting with motives we admire as well as those we deplore. The goddesses will always be somewhere else, even if they are some day repatriated to India.  All trace of their original home has been lost. 
KM: What is the status of the project?
PK: I am continuing to travel around to the different museums I went to for the research where the statues are located. Now some of these museums want me to return to share with their communities the stories of these objects on permanent display. But they are displayed by themselves and have lost their context. 
One of my current projects is to go to each museum and re-contextualize the objects for curators and communities and those who support their museums.  I want them to be on board and know they have amazing objects.  Since government funding is disappearing and museums rely more on local buy in, that education is important. 
Some places identify the museums as the bad guys in cultural property theft appropriation, which is an unfortunate tendency of the blame game.  Museums are the last stop and we have to think about the whole chain of transport and extraction as well as the museums themselves. How do we support the museum’s responsibility and their response to the histories? We need to support them so they take care of the objects.  We also need to convince them to tell the journey of objects in the display.  Adding photographs and describing the long road of their history are important factors in leading to a reunion. 
KM: What's next?
PK: I will continue to speak to museums as long as they want me and I would be happy to help to broker some trades to begin to reunite the objects.  Each museum has one or a few object from various sites.  It may be possible to facilitate some switches to reassemble the goddesses in an historical recreation.  When you see these goddesses with each other, it is very exciting and they mean something different together than apart.  They are variations on a theme and share the same basic physical format but with different objects in hand, seated on platforms, different hair and eyes.  When the pattern emerges, it makes clear that visualizing Shakti, feminine force/power, was the part of the intent of the artists. 
The Freer and Sackler Galleries of Art in Washington DC, have put together an exhibition on yoga as a tantric practice which will open this October 2013. Kaimal is a consultant on which sculptures might join the Sackler Gallery’s Kanchipuram yogini. The exhibition will be open October 19, 2013 through January 26, 2014. 
Details on the exhibit can be found: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/future.asp

May 15, 2013

Scottish Museums Close Tomorrow Morning as Part of a Three-Day Strike for Better Pay & Pensions

Last month the Louvre staff protested against pickpockets (following a series of strikes in 1999 and 2009 against reductions in staff). This month, the staff of two Edinburgh museums will begin a three-day strike tomorrow for better pay and better pensions, reports The Scotsman:

THE National Museum of Scotland and National War Museum will be closed until lunchtime tomorrow as part of a three-day strike over pay and pensions. Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union began the series of strikes yesterday with staff from the justice sector. They will be joined today by staff from the two museums which has led to the early closures. 
A museum spokesman apologised for any inconvenience caused to visitors and said all of its museums would be open as normal from Thursday. He said: “Due to anticipated industrial action this week, the National Museum of Scotland and the National War Museum will be closing at 1pm today, and will not re-open until 1.30pm on Wednesday.
“The Tower Restaurant will remain open and access will be via the Tower entrance of the National Museum of Scotland as usual. The National Museum of Flight and the National Museum of Rural Life remain open.” 
The PCS began a campaign of industrial action on March 20, the day Chancellor George Osborne announced the Budget.

Decanter.com's John Stimpfig spotlights "The Wine Forger's Handbook" by wine journalist Stuart George and ARCA Founder Noah Charney

Wine connoisseur John Stimpfig spotlights the The Wine Forger's Handbook by wine journalist Stuart George and ARCA Founder Noah Charney in Decanter.com, the online publication of the international wine magazine:
The slim volume gives a short history of forgery and fraud in the wine world, before going on to detail two short case studies covering two of the best known alleged fine wine fraudsters of recent times: Hardy Rodenstock and Rudy Kurniawan. It also functions as a guide with practical tips and a checklist of actions on how to avoid becoming a victime of counterfeit wine. The book comes at a time when collector awareness and press interest in the subject of fraud has never been higher, after series of high-profile legal cases.
The ebook The Wine Forger's Handbook was published in March and can be ordered at Amazon.com.

Here's a link to a post on the ARCA blog about the FBI's investigation into wine fraud.

May 12, 2013

The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her thief, The True Story Headed to Denver Art Museum this Friday and to the Biografilm Festival in Bologna in June

The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story, the documentary about the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci's now famous portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo from the Louvre, premiered in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Film Festival on Saturday, May 11.

"We were thrilled to have The Missing Piece screen at Grauman's Chinese Theater for the Beverly Hills Film Festival," Director Joe Medeiros wrote to the ARCA Blog. "We had a very enthusiastic sold-out crowd.  It was our 9th festival and one of the best so far."

Medeiros bills the film as "the true story of how and why Vincenzo Peruggia, a simple Italian immigrant, stole the Mona Lisa and nearly got away with it".

The film will screen at the Denver Art Museum at 7 p.m. this Friday (May 17):
Come to a riveting and humorous documentary film about Vincent Peruggia, the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911, his 84-year-old daughter who thought he did it for patriotic reasons, and the filmmaker who spent more than 30 years trying to find the truth.  Written and produced by Joe Medeiros, former head writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, this documentary combines historical photographs, animation and interviews with Peruggia’s descendants to examine how an unassuming housepainter from Italy pulled off “the greatest little-known heist in modern time.”  The producers will be present for Q&A after the film.
The international premiere of the movie will be at the Biografilm Festival in Bologna on Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16.

Joe Medeiros, writer/director, and
Justine Medeiros, producer. 
ARCA Alum ('11) Tanya Lervik saw the movie last July in Georgetown and reviewed the movie here.

Last October Joe Medeiros weighed in on the Isleworth Mona Lisa, positioning that the painting had not been newly discovered but around for almost a century (see the ARCA blog post here).

This documentary is available for private screenings. Here are the project's links:

Twitter@monalisastolen

Updated May 15 to include information from the director Joe Medeiros.

May 11, 2013

Boston Globe's Todd Wallack on "Prized stolen art frequently resurfaces after decades"

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)
Painting of William Ponsonby,
Second Earl of Bessborough, 1790
The Boston Globe's Todd Wallack points to the increased chance of recovery stolen art years after the theft in "Prized stolen art frequently resurfaces after decades" (May 10, 2013).

Wallack recounts the recovery of John Singleton Copley's portrait of William Ponsonby stolen from Harvard University in 1971 at the 2006 Stair Gallerie's Auction of items from the William M. V. Kingsland Estate. Melvyn Kohn, who went by the name of Kingsland, was later discovered to have died with a private collection of stolen art. Alex Acevedo, owner of The Alexander Gallery, had purchased the unattributed painting for $85,000 then discovered it had likely belonged to Harvard and contacted the FBI.

Wallack writes:
Art detectives say long-lost works like the Copley are increasingly turning up after going missing for ­decades, thanks in large part to readily available information on the Internet or in electronic databases. The trend is feeding hopes of art fans that the prized pieces taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 23 years ago could eventually surface as well. 
Though the vast majority of missing artwork is never recovered, stolen items are often discovered when they change hand, sometimes many years later, when brokers and buyers research the pieces online and through databases, according to brokers and others in the business.
“We’ve got recoveries happening every week,” said ­Christopher A. Marinello, an ­attorney for the Art Loss Register of London, which maintains an international database of more than 360,000 stolen, looted, disputed, or missing works around the world, including 1,000 from Massachusetts and hundreds of pieces from ­Harvard alone.
“It’s not that unusual to find artwork that has been lost for more than a quarter of a century,” Marinello said. “The valuable pieces either are recovered right away, or they go underground for a generation.”

Two years after the Stolen Aphrodite is returned, the Getty Museum Exhibits Objects from Sicily with the cooperation of the Italian Government

About two years ago, The Getty Museum returned a Greek statue (formerly known as Aphrodite) to Sicily and appointed James Cuno as chief of the institution infamously associated with stolen antiquities. Today one of the world's richest cultural institutions is cooperating with Italian authorities. "Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome" is an exhibit in Malibu co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell'Identità Siciliana.

The Getty's website includes for the exhibit a list of objects and book edited by Claire L. Lyons, curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and a specialist in the archaeology of Sicily, Greece, and pre-Roman Italy; Michael Bennett, the Cleveland Museum of Art's first curator of Greek and Roman Art; and Clemente Marconi, James R. McCredie professor in the History of Greek Art and Archaeology at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.

Objects include The Mozia Charioteer, a statue discovered in 1976 on the island of Mozia, the first Phoenician colony in Sicily. The book includes an article by maria Luisa Famà on the discovery and ongoing discussion about the interpretation of this object.

May 10, 2013

Norway Celebrates 150 Anniversary of Munch's birth; BBC Broadcast Interviewed Charley Hill last February on the Successful Return of The Scream in 1994

Celebrating the 150 anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch, the National Museum and Munch Museum in Norway will exhibit more than 200 of the artist's paintings in "Munch 150" on June 2.

Here's a link to a BBC World Service broadcast last heard in February near the anniversary of the 1994 theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream. Charley Hill, former undercover police officer for Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad (his boss was ARCA Instructor Dick Ellis), describes how he posed as Chris Roberts, a consultant with the Getty Museum to negotiate the purchase of the stolen painting. The broadcast concludes the show with the statement that three of the four convicted of the theft successfully appealed on the grounds that Mr. Hill entered Norway under a fake passport.

Here's a summary of the facts on the 1994 theft as reported by the BBC.

Theresa Veier, an art history and lawyer in Oslo, wrote for the ARCA Blog about the artist and the theft of his work more than 65 years after Edvard Munch's death.

May 8, 2013

Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - , No comments

Raintree Publishes "Treasure Hunters Great Art Thefts" by Charlotte Guillain for Juvenile Market

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor

Raintree, an imprint of Capstone Global Library out of Chicago, has published a book in its series on Treasure Hunters introducing the subject of art theft to middle-school readers.

In "Great Art Thefts", Author Charlotte Guillain highlights the 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa; the 1990 burglary of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; the theft of Edvard Munch's The Scream in 1994; and the New Year's Eve theft in 2000 of Cézanne's View of Auvers-sur-Oise fron the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The book also opens the discussion on why art is targeted by thieves and what may happen to stolen works. A timeline, glossary of terms, and websites for additional information are provided along with an index.

Special appearances include Anthony Amore, director of security at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Charley Hill, 'ex-police officer who tracks down stolen art'; Alf Longhurst, museum and gallery security adviser; Superintendent John Carr of Oxford Police; Dr. Christopher Brown, director of the Ashmolean Museum; and Hugo Penning, head of security at the Ashmolean Museum. I had the pleasure of advising on early drafts -- relying upon my experience of introducing my own children to art and museums through the narratives of art thefts. 

Shipwreck Exhibit to Open End of the Month in NYC

Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NasdaqCM: OMEX) will exhibit silver recovered from the submerged ruins of a World War II at the show "Shipwreck!" in New York City's Discovery Times Square beginning May 24.

The company's press release explains that this will be the first public showing of treasures found last year:

Silver recovered from the World War II-era SS Gairsoppa shipwreck, which lies approximately three miles deep, will be on display. This is the first public showing of some of the 1,218 silver bars (approximately 48 tons) of silver recovered to date from the Gairsoppa, which is the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metal from a shipwreck in history. 
In addition to the Gairsoppa silver, Odyssey is expanding the SHIPWRECK! Treasure Room to include a large selection of never-before-displayed coins from both the SS Republic and the “Tortugas” shipwrecks.
OMEX reported in the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2012:
The majority of the silver recovered in 2012 from the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck was sold in the quarter with fourth quarter proceeds of $30.1 million to Odyssey ($17.8 million of this was credited in third quarter to expenses as recoupment of project costs).
A management comment notes that the company 'salvaged 48 tons of silver from a depth of more than 15,000 feet.'

In other findings, Odyssey Marine reportedly retrieved treasure from the sunken Spanish galleon Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario. In 2012, Odyssey Marine turned over treasure recovered from an 18th century Spanish shipwreck to Spain where it is now on display.

May 7, 2013

Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - , 1 comment

Lion Attacking A Horse Ends Exhibit at Getty Villa; First Time 4th Century BC Greek Statue has been on display since 1925

Lion Attacking a Horse in the atrium at the Getty Villa
(Photo by Catherine Sezgin) 
Today the 4th century BC Greek statue, Lion Attacking a Horse, ended its nine-month exhibition in the atrium of the Getty Villa.

This is the first time the sculpture has been on public display since 1925 and the first time it has left Rome in 2,000 years.
Depicting the figure of a fallen horse succumbing to the claws and fangs of a ferocious lion, the monumental group dates to the early Hellenistic period (the late 4th century B.C.), when Greek sculptors began to produce naturalistic portrayals of intense emotion and physical exertion. 
Close-up of Lion (Photo by C. Sezgin)
Although the original location of the sculpture is unknown, its massive scale and dramatic carving suggest that it embellished a monument in northern Greece or Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Created in the era of Alexander the Great’s conquest of Asia, the sculpture may have formed part of a larger composition with a melee of wild beasts and mounted hunters, which commemorated the young king’s famous lion-hunting exploits at Sidon (present-day Lebanon) in 332 B.C. and a royal game preserve in Basista (present-day Uzbekistan) in 328–327 B.C.
 
The sculpture was eventually brought to Rome, most likely as war booty seized by a victorious general for display in the imperial capital. It was ultimately discovered in the streambed near the Circus Maximus, a stadium used for chariot races, gladiatorial games, and animal combats. The work was first mentioned in an archival document in 1300.
Backside of 4th century BC Greek marble (Photo by Sezgin)
By 1347, the sculpture was prominently displayed on the Capitoline Hill in Rome, the seat of the city’s civic administration. During this time, Renaissance Rome was experiencing a great rebirth of interest in its glorious ancient past, which served as a model for the present. Remains of antiquity, such as Lion Attacking a Horse, were among the earliest expressions of the Renaissance spirit.
The work was initially installed on the staircase of the Palazzo Senatorio in the Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill. Presiding over an area used for pronouncing judicial sentences since antiquity, this powerful image of domination and retribution served as a symbol of Rome for over a century. In 1471 Pope Sixtus IV transferred a group of ancient bronze sculptures, including the famous statue of a she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, from the Lateran Palace to the Piazza del Campidoglio, as reminders of “ancient excellence and virtue.” Mounted on the facade of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, the she-wolf replaced the lion-and-horse image as the emblem of Rome. Lion Attacking a Horse was moved to various places on the Capitoline until it was eventually installed in the center of a fountain in the Caffarelli Garden in 1925.
This statue was loaned to the Getty by the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale - Musei Capitolini with funding provided by the Knights of Colombus and the J. Paul Getty Museum's Villa Council.