June 30, 2014

His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong presented "The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex" at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference

These photos were provided by M. Bertrand Porte, French
School for Asian Arts (EFEO), who is the head of the
restoration workshop of the National Museum in
Phnom Penh.
His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of Cambodia presented "The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex" at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference.

After apologizing for his accented English (he explained that he usually delivers his talks in French or Italian), he showed a video of archaeologist and cultural property lawyer Tess Davis who for the last decade has documented the plunder of Cambodia's ancient temples and worked for the return of the country's looted antiquities.

The Prince told the audience:
In Cambodia the preservation of the archeological patrimony has become one of the main topics discussed among members of the local intelligensia, but it is a recent phenomenon and it occurs mostly in western-influenced environments. The will of the Royal Governement is to educate in the most accessible way, to make people understand how sacred and holy these artcrafts are in our patrimony as Cambodians, and moreover, as survivors of a genocide, during which art and culture were cancelled. Sculpture schools, archeological trainings and preservation technique lessons are improving in quality and quantity all over the Kingdom. Little by little, more and more people are being educated to the duty to preserve and defend our cultural patrimony. Nevertheless, the wounds of war, poverty and the powerful groups sponsoring lootings and international art traffic are still prevailing and as long as there will be such a taste for Khmer Antiques, we will not be able to eradicate this sadly human lust for money.
Here's a link to Tess Davis' project at Trafficking Culture and another link to an article, "Temple Looting in Cambodia: Anatomy of a Statue Trafficking Network", co-written with Simon Mackenzie and published in the British Journal of Criminology.

His Highness Prince Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong, was born in Phnom Penh in 1970; has been living mainly in Italy, in Rome, since 1997. Educated in France, holds a Master of Arts in Contemporary British Literature; founded in 1992 the Institute of the Royal Household of Cambodia with Professor Jacques Népote (CNRS). Recognised specialist of the history and the culture of Cambodia, has published books and articles regarding the social structures of Cambodia and the genealogy of the Khmer Royal Family. After a career as sales officer in various multinational private companies such as IBM and ACCOR, has collaborated as a Programme Officer and Consultant for many years with the United Nations (WFP, FAO & IFAD) and private sector with interests in Southeast Asia; has been for many years representative of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism for Italy. You may follow him at his blog here: "Ravivaddhana Sisowath: Never Complain, Never Explain".

University of Glasgow's Simon MacKenzie received Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship for his work on the Trafficking Culture project

Noah Charney (left) and Simon Mackenzie (right) in Amelia
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

AMELIA - ARCA Founder Noah Charney presented the 2014 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship to Simon MacKenzie, Trafficking Culture project at The University of Glasgow,  at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference.

"I would like to thank ARCA for the award and my colleagues and graduate students at the University of Glasgow for their support and their individual contributions to the great research team we now have," Simon Mackenzie said about the award. "It's really valuable to receive peer recognition for research and I take this award as encouragement to continue with our efforts in the Trafficking Culture project to produce systematic and reliable empirical work in support of the development of crime reduction policies in this field."

Simon Mackenzie discussing Temple Looting in Cambodia
Upon receipt of the award, Professor Mackenzie invited attendees to visit the Trafficking Culture website and download the article on "Temple Looting in Cambodia: Anatomy of a Trafficking Network" (free for a limited time) via the British Journal of Criminology website here.

You may read more about Professor Mackenzie here.


Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013).

June 29, 2014

ARCA '14 Art Crime Conference: Program for second (and last) day

Amelia, Umbria - Sunday, June 24

9:00 -10:00 am:  The Mental Condition and its Role in Art Crime
Panel chaired by Liza Weber, ARCA 2014 participant

‘It’s beyond my control’  An historic and psychiatric investigation into the claim of bibliomania
Anna Knutsson MA (Hon) University of St. Andrews
Research Editor Smith Library

Art Vandalism from a Forensic Behavioral Perspective
Frans Koenraadt PhD
Professor, Universiteit Utrecht, Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology

QA

10:00 – 11:15 am:  Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict, Reflections from Past and Present
Panel chaired by Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

File Zadar:  New insights on art works taken from Zadar to Italy during World War II
Antonija Mlikota, PhD University of Zagreb
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Zadar

IMCuRWG Blue Shield cultural assessment mission to Timbuktu 
Joris Kila, PhD University of Amsterdam
Chairman of the ‘International Military Cultural Resources Work Group’ (IMCuRWG).
Universität Wien, Kompetenzzentrum Kulturelles Erbe und Kulturgüterschutz, Universität Wien, Alois-Musil-Center für Orientalische Archäologie, U.S. AFRICOM

A modern look at an Eternal Problem: Sixty years after the creation of the 1954 Hague Convention 
Cinnamon Stephens, JD
Esquire

QA

11:15 am: Coffee Break

11:30 am-12:45 pm: Smart Collecting and Connoisseurship and When Art is Stolen
Panel chaired by Noah Charney, ARCA President and Chief Editor, The Journal of Art Crime

What’s wrong with this picture?  Standards and issues of connoisseurship
Tanya Pia Starrett, MA HONS LLB, University of Glasgow
Solicitor

Cross-border Collecting in the XXI Century:  Comparative Law Issues
Massimo Sterpi, Avvocato
Partner, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati

Bicycles vs. Rembrandt
Martin Finkelnberg
Head of the Art and Antiques Crime Unit
National Criminal Intelligence Division, The Netherlands

QA

12:45 – 1:05 pm: Key Note Closing – A look to the future

Is International Law for the Protection of Artistic Freedom Adequate?
Eleni Tokmakidou – Moschouri, PhD University of Manchester
MJur University of Birmingham
Attorney at Law at the Supreme Court of Greece

1:05 – 1:30 pm: Closing Remarks

June 28, 2014

ARCA '14 Art Crime Conference Begins Now

The garden of Palazzo Farrattini - the morning after
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

Palazzo Farrattini, Amelia -- A cocktail party in the garden of the 500-year-old Palazzo Farrattini opened ARCA's sixth annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference last night. The conference has begun. Here's today's program:

Saturday, June 28 (Sala Boccarrini)
8:15-9:00 am: Welcome and Registration

9:00-9:10 am: Conference Opening, Noah Charney, ARCA President

9:10 -11:00 am: Highlights from Recent US and EU Investigations Panel
Chair: Judge Arthur Tompkins, ARCA Professor District Court Judge in New Zealand

The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté
 James C Moore, Esq Arbitrator and mediator of commercial disputes Formerly, partner and trial lawyer with large New York law firm and President of New York State Bar Association

Hello Dalí: Anatomy of a Modern Day Art Theft Investigation
Jordan Arnold Esq. K2 Intelligence Former Assistant District Attorney and Head, Financial Intelligence Unit New York County District Attorney's Office QA

The Gurlitt Case: German and International Responses to the Legal and Ethical Questions to Ownership Rights in Looting Cases
 Duncan Chappell, PhD Lawyer and Criminologist, Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney Saskia Hufnagel, PhD Lecturer in Criminal Law, Queen Mary University of London Rechtsanwalt - Fachanwalt Strafrecht, Hufnagel und Partner

The Gurlitt Case: An Inside View from the Lawyer and Representative of the Heirs of Paul Rosenberg
Chris Marinello Director and Founder, Art Recovery International

11:00 am: Coffee Break

11:15 am – 12:30 pm: The Many Faces of the Illegal Heritage Trade
Panel Chair: Christos Tsirogiannis PhD., ARCA Writer in Residence, Forensic Archaeologist, Illicit antiquities researcher, University of Cambridge

Papyri, Collectors and the Antiquities Market: a Survey and Some Questions
Roberta Mazza, PhD University of Bologna Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Classics and Ancient History University of Manchester Research Fellow, John Rylands Research Institute John Rylands Library

Using Open-Source Data to Identify Participation in the Illicit Antiquities Trade: A Case Study on the Intercommunal Conflict in Cyprus, 1963-1974
Sam Hardy, DPhil University of Sussex Illicit antiquities trade researcher Research Associate, Centre for Applied Archaeology University College London

The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus
Christiana O'Connell-Schizas, LLB University of Kent LPC University of Law, Baker & McKenzie, Riyadh

12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch Break in the Cloister

1:30– 3:00 pm: The Vulnerabilities of Sacred Art In situ: Yesterday and Today Panel
Chair: Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

The Theft and Ransom of Caravaggio’s “St. Jerome Writing” from the Co-Cathedral of St. John
Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa, O.P. S.T.L., Lect. Th., A.R. Hist. S., Dr. Sc.Soc Founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta, Former Curator and Director of the Malta Museums

Fighting the Thieves in Italian Churches
Judith Harris, Journalist (ARTnews; www.i-italy.org) Author, Pompeii Awakened, The Monster in the Closet

Evacuate the objects from vulnerable religious sites? No, protect them in situ!
Stéphane Théfo Police Officer and Project Manager, INTERPOL General Secretariat, Office of Legal Affairs

3:15 pm: Coffee Break

3:30 – 5:00 pm: The Genuine Article: Fakes and Forgeries and the Art of Deception Panel Chair: Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Would the real Mr. Goldie please stand up?
Penelope Jackson M. Phil, University of Queensland, MA University of Auckland Director, Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, New Zealand

Forgery and Offenses Resembling Forgery
Susan Douglas, PhD Concordia University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Contemporary Art and Theory University of Guelph, ARCA Writer-in-Residence 2013

In the Red Corner: “Connoisseurship and Art History”, and the Blue Corner: “Scientific Testing and Analysis” – Who’s right in determining Authenticity?
Toby Bull, Senior Inspector of Police, Hong Kong Police Force Founder, TrackArt (Art Risk Consultancy), Hong Kong

5:00 – 5:30 pm: Looting, Litigation and Repatriation - Panel chaired by Noah Charney, ARCA President and Chief Editor, The Journal of Art Crime

Italian Culture in the Courts: The fate of L'atleta di Fano and Trafficked antiquities vs. Tax obligations Stefano Alessandrini, ARCA Lecturer, Consultant to Il Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali – Rome

The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex
His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of Cambodia

5:45 – 6:30 pm: 2014 ARCA Awards presented by ARCA founder, Noah Charney and ARCA CEO Lynda Albertson

8:00 pm: Conference Dinner at La Locanda Restaurant

June 27, 2014

June 26, 2014

Report from ARCA Amelia '14: Inside the lecture hall with criminologist Marc Balcells amongst medieval festivities in Amelia

The end of Marc's class.  Photo by S. Kelley-Bell
By Summer Tappmeyer, ARCA '13 graduate and ‘14 intern

Three weeks of being in Italy has flown by so quickly! We have had such a spectacular time so far, and it’s not even halfway through the program. The third week started off with Marc Balcells’ course: “Breitwiesers, Medicis, Beltracchis, Gurlitts and Other Shady Artsy Characters: A Course on How to Analyze Their Crimes Empirically.” Marc had a few adventures in travel in order to make it to Amelia: coming from New York where he has been teaching at John Jay College of Law, with a brief stopover in Spain to visit family, and then finally settling into the city for the beginning of his course. Despite Marc’s long journey to Amelia, he started off his class with a bang. An ARCA 2011 alumnus, Marc has unique insights into student life. It was a pleasant surprise to have someone who has previously walked in our shoes only a few years ago. 

This criminology course focused on the theoretical framework of the subject, as well as gave insight into the different foundations of the Classical, Positivist, and Critical school of thinking. Marc proved to be a fascinating professor, as he engaged the class in discussions and told us stories using his animated personality to bring those stories to life. One of the greatest aspects of this course is that you do not have to have a criminology background. Marc was adamant about us being able to understand the “nuts and bolts” of the essentials of criminology and was able to simplify information in a way that allowed the students to understand the concepts and theories. Overall, Marc was able to command and capture the attention of his audience, making us all feel incredibly comfortable to engage in scholarly debates throughout the duration of his course.

The Champion of Volterra.
Photo by L. Albertson
The city of Amelia was able to cool off this week, due to the plush amount of rain it received during the third week of our stay. We appreciated the break from the heat, but that did not leave much time for extracurricular activities and a few of our weekly adventures had to be postponed. Most students enjoyed the pitter-patter of rain as they slept at night though, and by the weekend the rain was gone and scheduled activities continued. As soon as Marc’s class ended on Friday, the ARCA 2014 class went across the street to “Park Bar” and savored a refreshing afternoon spritzer. Since this was the professor’s last evening in Amelia, we all gathered around a few tables to learn more about Marc and his experience as a student with ARCA three years ago. Saturday and Sunday consisted of rest and relaxation. A few students went on a shopping spree in Rome, others enjoyed a rare chance to see none other than the Rolling Stones play in Rome at Circo Massimo.

Amelia hosted a medieval crossbow competition Saturday and Sunday for everyone to enjoy. The Balestra Antica da Banco is the national championship and offered everything from costumes to the special seated crossbows. Amelia also celebrated a religious holiday known as Corpus Domini. This celebration included a procession through the town on a bed of flowers.

We are looking forward to welcoming Noah Charney and his new course, "Art Forgers and Thieves", this week.

This weekend the ARCA 2014 Conference will bring together students and professionals in two days of panels on art crimes ranging from Nazi-looted art to stolen antiquities in Cyprus and Cambodia.

ARCA '14 Conference, Panel VIII: Smart Collecting and Connoisseurship and When Art is Stolen

Panel VIII: Smart Collecting and Connoisseurship and When Art is Stolen

What’s wrong with this picture? Standards and issues of connoisseurship
Tanya Pia Starrett, MA HONS LLB, University of Glasgow
Solicitor

Crossborder Collecting in the XXI Century: Comparative Law Issues
Massimo Sterpi, Avvocato
Partner, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati 

Bicycles vs. Rembrandt
Martin Finkelnberg
Head of the Art and Antiques Crime Unit


National Criminal Intelligence Division, The Netherlands

June 25, 2014

ARCA '14 Conference, Panel VII: Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict, Reflections from Past and Present

Panel VII: Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict, Reflections from Past and Present

File Zadar: New insights on art works taken from Zadar to Italy during World War II
Antonija Mlikota, PhD University of Zagreb
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Zadar

IMCuRWG Blue Shield cultural assessment mission to Timbuktu
Joris Kila, PhD University of Amsterdam
Chairman of the ‘International Military Cultural Resources Work Group’ (IMCuRWG).
Universität Wien, Kompetenzzentrum Kulturelles Erbe und Kulturgüterschutz, Universität Wien, Alois-Musil-Center für Orientalische Archäologie, U.S. AFRICOM

A modern look at an Eternal Problem: Sixty years after the creation of the 1954 Hague Convention
Cinnamon Stephens, JD


Esquire

June 24, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 - , No comments

ARCA '14 Conference: Panel on "The Mental Condition and its Role in Art Crime:

Panel VI: The Mental Condition and its Role in Art Crime

'It's beyond my control' An historic and psychiatric investigation into the claim of bibliomania
Anna Knutsson MA (Hon) University of St. Andrews
Research Editor Smith Library

Art Vandalism from a Forensic Behavioral Perspective
Frans Koenraadt PhD
Professor, Universiteit Utrecht, Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology

June 23, 2014

ARCA '14 Conference: Winners of 2014 Awards for Art Policing and Defense of Art will be presented after Amelia event

Two awards will be presented after ARCA's conference in Amelia:

Art Policing, Recovery, Protection and Security
Dr. Daniela Rizzo and Mr Maurizio Pellegrini, Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici Etruria Meridionale – Villa Giulia
(In) absentia to be presented in Rome in July
Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Francesco Rutelli (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Dick Drent (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), Lord Colin Renfrew (2011), Stuttgart Detective Ernst Schöller (2012), Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila (Jointly – 2012), Sharon Cohen Levin (2013), Christos Tsirogiannis (2013)

Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award
Anne Webber, founder and director of The Commission for Looted Art In Europe
(In) absentia to be presented in London this fall


Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), Dr. George H. O. Abungu (2012), Blanca Niño Norton (2013)

June 22, 2014

ARCA '14 Conference: Presenting Simon Mackenzie with 2014 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship

ARCA Founder Noah Charney will present Simon MacKenzie, Trafficking Culture project at the University of Glasgow, the 2014 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference on June 28 in Amelia. You may read more about Professor Mackenzie here.

Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013).

June 21, 2014

ARCA '14 Conference, Panel V: Looting, Litigation and Repatriation

The fifth panel at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference will feature:

Will it be the Getty Bronze or L'atleta di Fano? Italy's ongoing case for the return of the bronze statue of the Victorious Youth
Maurizio Fiorilli. Avvocato della Stato, Italy (Ret) and Stefano Alessandrini, Consultant

The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex
His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of Cambodia

June 20, 2014

The Tenth Islamic Manuscript Conference: Manuscripts and Conflict in Cambridge Aug. 31-Sep. 2

The Tenth Islamic Manuscript Conference: Manuscripts and Conflict, 31 August-2 September 2014, will be held at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, UK.

There will also be a special programme on 3 September 2014, including a workshop on disaster planning for Islamic manuscript collections. Please find more information about the conference programme online.

The Tenth Islamic Manuscript Conference will be an occasion to reflect on progress in conservation, preservation, cataloguing, digitisation and research relating to Islamic manuscripts and manuscript collections during the decade since the founding of the Association, and to look ahead to anticipated developments in these fields over the next ten years. The conference’s special theme — Manuscripts and Conflict — will also constitute a timely opportunity to consider the above subject areas within the intensifying contexts of acute social and political instability or military conflict. Invited keynote speakers, round table sessions, poster presentations and workshops will promote active participation in a cutting-edge discussion of these subjects.

Poster presentations

Students and other interested persons are encouraged to submit posters about their work with Islamic manuscript collections for presentation at the conference. Please find more information about this online.

ARCA '14 Conference, Panel IV: The Genuine Article: Fakes and Forgeries and the Art of Deception

On Saturday June 28 in Amelia, these presenters will make up the panel on fakes and forgeries at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference:

Would the real Mr. Goldie please stand up?
Penelope Jackson M. Phil, University of Queensland, MA University of Auckland
Director, Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, New Zealand

Forgery and Offenses Resembling Forgery
Susan Douglas, PhD Concordia University
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Contemporary Art and Theory, University of Guelph

In the Red Corner: “Connoisseurship and Art History”, and the Blue Corner: “Scientific Testing and Analysis” – Who’s right in determining Authenticity?
Toby Bull, Senior Inspector of Police, Hong Kong Police Force
Founder, TrackArt (Art Risk Consultancy), Hong Kong

June 19, 2014

Report from ARCA Amelia '14: Second week of courses by Flynn and Ellis bookended with visit to Orvieto

The end of Dr. Flynn's class.  Photo by Summer Kelley-Bell
By Camille Knop, ARCA '14 Intern

Professor Tom Flynn’s course, ‘The International Art Market and Associated Risk’, resumed last Monday with discussions on the tensions between the aesthetic and economic values of works of art. The class concluded two days later with the screening of Furcht, a 1917 German Expressionist film written and directed by Robert Wiene that explores the colonialist roots of collections and the magical haptic quality of works of art that moves one to possess them (even at the risk of one’s safety, in this case). In order to fulfill the course requirements, students composed a 1,500-word response to Gregory Day’s article, “Explaining the Art Market Thefts, Frauds, and Forgeries (And Why the Art Market Does Not Seem to Care).” This exercise allowed students to synthesize and expand on the consequences of the logic of art when put at odds (or not) with the logic of capital.

The End of Dick Ellis' class. Photo by Summer Kelley-Bell

Professor Dick Ellis’ course (“Art Policing, Protection, and Investigating”) the second half of the week included student presentations on art-related crime, focusing on issues regarding due diligence, motivations, and legal and jurisdictional frameworks. Cases ranged from paintings stolen from private property, to an Egyptian pectoral stolen from a university library, to manuscripts smuggled out of Mali, to underwater archaeological looting. The weekend began with many students joining Professor Ellis at two local spots in Amelia: Bar Leonardi and Bar Vertigo.

Despite the forecast of heavy rain, students enjoyed various weekend activities without the stress of any coursework. On Saturday morning, a small group of eight went on an optional trip to Orvieto, which rests on a small plateau of volcanic tuff. After arriving at the foot of the city by bus at around 9:00 a.m., they enjoyed a ride up the funicular that took them right to the edge of the city walls. While some students visited a Roman double-helix well, others wandered around the city, which was preparing for an annual festival that afternoon. Eventually, everyone reunited in the Duomo di Orvieto, whose impressive exterior decoration drew them in like flies to bright lights. Luckily, the group left minutes before a large thunderstorm, which had been seen making its way through the valley towards the city.

Duomo di Orvieto. Photo by Summer Kelley-Bell
By the end of the second week of the ARCA program, the initial nervous excitement of orientation and move-in had worn off, and students began to feel more comfortable as they established their daily routines. In my case, the owners of Caffe Grande, concerned with my poor Italian, have been helping me expand my vocabulary from simply “Grazie!” and “Ciao!” by teaching me alternative greetings through some very animated gestures and universal sign language. Although I was not yet prepared to help a lady who had asked me for directions that week, I was still ecstatic over the fact that I had even been asked! By the end of the second week of classes, ARCA students, including myself, have begun to feel (and apparently appear) less like newcomers and more like Amerini.

You may read about the first week of the program here.

Panel on "The Vulnerabilities of Sacred Art In Situ: Yesterday and Still Today" for ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference

The panel on "The Vulnerabilities of Sacred Art in Situ" will highlight these issues:

The Theft and Ransom of Caravaggio’s “St. Jerome Writing”, Co-Cathedral of St. John
Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa, O.P. S.T.L., Lect. Th., A.R. Hist. S., Dr. Sc.Soc Founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta Former Curator and Director of the Malta Museums

Fighting the Thieves in Italian Churches
Judith Harris, Journalist (ARTnews; www.i-italy.org) Author, Pompeii Awakened, The Monster in the Closet

Evacuate the objects from vulnerable religious sites? No, protect them in situ!
Stéphane Théfo, Police Officer/Project Manager, INTERPOL Office of Legal Affairs

You may read more about the conference to be held June 27-29 in Amelia here.

June 18, 2014

The Legal Case of the Mummy Mask of Lady Ka-nefer-nefer at the St. Louis Art Museum Ignites Discussion on Museum Security Network after Courthouse News Reports US Court Rules US Government Could Not Prove Theft

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Updated to reflect published comment by Rick St. Hilaire

In 2011, the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) took legal action to keep the  Mummy Mask of Lady Ka-nefer-nefer from being taken by the U.S. government on the grounds that authorities knew about the mask as early as 2005 and that a five-year-statue of limitations period had expired ("St. Louis Art Museum Sues the United States to Preclude a Forfeiture", ARCA blog, Feb. 16, 2011). Jack Bouboushian reported in "Egyptian Mummy Mask Will Stay in St. Louis" for Courthouse News Service on June 17:
(CN) - An ancient Egyptian mummy mask will remain in the St. Louis Art Museum because the U.S. government cannot prove the mask was stolen from Egypt when it went missing 40 years ago, the 8th Circuit ruled.
[Rick St. Hilaire submitted a comment to the ARCA blog which we published and are reprinting here for your ease of reading -- you may also refer to his blog, Cultural Heritage Lawyer:
The CN article is inaccurate. The appeals court did not rule that the U.S. government failed to prove that the mask was stolen from Egypt. Instead, the appeals court ruled that the lower district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the government’s post-dismissal motion asking for leave to file an amended civil forfeiture complaint. That amended complaint, if accepted by the lower court, contained the allegations that the mummy mask was stolen property. Therefore, the substantive case involving whether the mask was stolen was never litigated. That is what prompted appeals court judge Diana Murphy to write a concurring opinion that agreed with the dismissal of the Ka Nefer Nefer case on procedural grounds, but addressing a caution because of the substantive matters raised but never addressed by the case: "Museums and other participants in the international market for art and antiquities need to exercise caution and care in their dealings in order to protect this heritage and to understand that the United States might ultimately be able to recover such purchases."
Security Consultant Ton Cremers, whose emails were cited in SLAM's 2011 complaint (see ARCA Blog post here), initiated a discussion today on Museum Security Network (MSN) then told the ARCA blog:
In cases of looted, stolen and smuggled cultural goods always the laws of the 'consumer' countries prevail, and most unfortunately not the laws of the victim countries. There is no doubt at all that the Ka-nefer-nefer mask was stolen. The Saint Louis Art Museum is not a member of ICOM [International Council of Museums] and never should be as well.
Dick Ellis, retired police officer for Scotland Yard and an ARCA Lecturer on a course on art investigations, wrote on MSN (quoted here with his permission):
If nothing else, this case identifies a lack of understanding in the processes available to those wishing to recover their stolen cultural property. We may not like the laws or legal processes of a country, but they are what you have to work with and if the wrong option is taken in the recovery process and you fail to meet the required deadlines then your case will fail, as it has in this case. 
Having followed the twists and turns of this case and actually obtained a copy of the records that exist in Egypt showing where the mask was at specific dates it is clear to me that the wrong process was adopted. Rather than sue for the return of the mask, Egypt should have resorted to the same process that put Fred Schultz in prison for contravening US property law. This would have resulted in the FBI actually having to investigate the conduct of those involved in the sale of the mask to the museum and the provenance that was provided in support of it. 
If these investigations had produced evidence that criminal offences had been committed within the jurisdiction of the US courts then those responsible may well have faced a trial under the criminal process, and had the provenance as supplied to the museum been proven to be bogus then it is doubtful that the museum would, or could have resisted a subsequent claim for the return of the mask. 
Having worked with the Egyptian authorities on the successful prosecution of Tokeley Parry, Fred Schultz and others, which established the effectiveness of prosecuting under national property laws rather than cultural property laws, it is disappointing to find that the many lessons of that case appear to have been forgotten so quickly.
Virginia Curry, a retired agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), also wrote on MSN (quoted here with her permission):
While I am not an attorney, I've been successful in all my investigations and have investigated hundreds of similar cases involving  international  property theft and smuggling. Generally, a U.S.  Federal Inter-pleader action, which is a civil, not criminal procedure, occurs AFTER the federal criminal case has been proven that property is in fact stolen and has a nexus to interstate-international transportation or communication (Title 18 United States Code Section 2314, 2315.)
  
Dick you will remember that our collaboration (under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Request)  the theft of the Teniers painting by a U.S. citizen was just that.  The painting was proven stolen at federal criminal  trial in the U.S. -- even though it was stolen from a London dealer, in London.  That court trial, which led to the guilty plea of the thief of the action of transporting property internationally, determined that the painting was stolen.  The court then acknowledged the ownership of the property by the London dealer. 
In my opinion, a case which FIRST proved that the mask was illegally imported to the United States, rather than relying on the logical presumption, especially when there is sufficient extant evidence to do so, would have prevailed.  
I agree with Dick: Consulting with field experts such as he and myself and a dozen others with well known, actual convictions with restitution in similar criminal cases can avoid such "procedural issues" -- such as the "untested legal theory" (that I interpret as the presumption of stolen and smuggled, rather than the presentation of evidence) as expressed by Judge Murphy.
For background on the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask residing at the Saint Louis Museum, Ton Cremers referred readers of MSN to Malcolm Gay's 2006 article "Out of Egypt: From a long-buried pyramid to the Saint Louis Art Museum: The mysterious voyage of the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask", Riverfront Times, Feb. 15, 2006.

In 2012 at ARCA's Conference on the Study of Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, Leila Amineddoleh discussed the issue of this Egyptian Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask and its probably looted origins.

SLAM's website describes the provenance for the Mummy Mask of the Lady Ka-nefer-nefer:
Provenance:1951/1952 -Mohammed Zakaria Goneim, excavated at Saqqara, Egypt [1]
by 1952 - Unknown Dealer, Brussels, Belgium [2]
- early 1960sKaloterna Collection [3]
early 1960s -Private Collection, Switzerland, acquired from Kaloterna collection [4]
by 1997 - 1998Phoenix Art, S.A. (Hicham Aboutaam), Geneva, Switzerland, purchased from private collection [5]
1998/03/30 -Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A. [6]
Notes:[1] Excavated by Mohammed Zakaria Goneim, Keeper of the Antiquities of Saqqara, at Saqqara, during his first season (1951-1952) at the site [Goneim, Mohammed Zakaria,"Excavations at Saqqara; Horus Sekhem-Khet, the Unfinished Step Pyramid at Saqqara." Vol. 1. Cairo: Imprimerie de L'Institut Français D'Archéologie Orientale, 1957].
A letter from a scholar, dated December 12, 1999, indicates that the other objects from the Saqqara excavation group were displayed together in the Cairo Museum, suggesting that they were put on display right after Goneim's excavation. The scholar suggests that the mask was never displayed with the other excavated objects and was probably awarded to the excavator himself. This would correspond with its appearance on the European art market soon after its excavation [SLAM document files].
[2] In a letter dated February 11, 1997, Charly Mathez confirms that he saw the mask in a gallery in Brussels in 1952. According to a letter dated October 5, 1999, he did not remember the name of the gallery [SLAM document files].
[3] In a letter dated March 19, 1998, Hicham Aboutaam indicated that an anonymous Swiss collector acquired the mask from the Kaloterna (possibly Kaliterna) family. In a letter of July 2, 1997, addressed to Hicham Aboutaam, the Swiss collector stated that this acquisition took place in the early 1960s [SLAM document files]. The name "Kaloterna" may be a misspelling of the common Croatian name "Kaliterna." The Swiss collector also had an address in Croatia, and it is possible that the collector became acquainted with the Kaloterna (or Kaliterna) family there. 
[4] See note [3]. The Swiss collector requested anonymity.
[5] The Swiss collector's letter of July 2, 1997 confirms the sale of the mask to Aboutaam [SLAM document files]. Aboutaam also states that the mask was in the United States from 1995 until 1997, possibly indicating that it was in the possession of the New York branch of Phoenix Ancient Art, S.A. during that time [letter, September 23, 1997, SLAM document files]. 
[6] Invoice to the Saint Louis Art Museum dated March 12, 1998 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, March 18, 1998.
In The New York Times article "Do You Know Where That Art Has Been?" (Rod Stodghill, March 18, 2007) Hicham Aboutaam's legal problems (and that of his gallery, Phoenix Ancient Art were identified:
For the Aboutaams, whose father started the gallery in Beirut in the 1960s, the makeover will require not only overhauling some of its business practices, but also restoring a public image dogged by legal and ethical questions. In 2004, after an investigation by the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Hicham Aboutaam pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with his importing and selling for $950,000 a silver ceremonial drinking vessel that at the time was alleged to be part of the plundered Iranian Western Cave Treasure. He paid a $5,000 fine. That same year, an Egyptian court sentenced Ali Aboutaam in absentia to 15 years in prison after he was accused of smuggling artifacts from Egypt to Switzerland. The charges against him were later dropped by the Egyptian court due to a lack of evidence. Such run-ins with the law have made big museums nervous even when nothing may appear untoward. In 2001, the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth returned a 2600 B.C. Sumerian statue it had bought from the brothers for $2.7 million for a refund. Hicham Aboutaam said that questions surrounding the taxes on his parents’ estate unraveled the deal.

Christos Tsirogiannis Phd to lead panel on "The Many Faces of the Illegal Heritage Trade" for ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference June 28

The second panel of ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference will be led by Christos Tsirogiannis and presented by:

Papyri, collectors and the antiquities market: a survey and some questions
Roberta Mazza, PhD University of Bologna Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester Research Fellow, John Rylands Research Institute – John Rylands Library

Using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade: A case study on the intercommunal conflict in Cyprus, 1963-1974
Sam Hardy, DPhil University of Sussex Illicit antiquities trade researcher Research Associate, Centre for Applied Archaeology, University College London

The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus
Christiana O’Connell-Schizas, LLB University of Kent, LPC University of Law Baker & McKenzie, Riyadh

June 17, 2014

ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference to open June 28th with panel highlighting "Recent US and EU Investigations"

The 2014 ARCA Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference will open with:

The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté
Presenter: James C Moore, Esquire, Arbitrator and mediator of commercial disputes; Formerly, partner and trial lawyer with large New York law firm and president of New York State Bar Association

Hello Dalí: Anatomy of a Modern Day Art Theft Investigation
Presenter: Jordan Arnold, Esquire, K2 Intelligence; Former Assistant District Attorney and Head, Financial Intelligence Unit, New York County District Attorney’s Office

The Gurlitt Case: German and international responses to the legal and ethical questions to ownership rights in looting cases
Presenters: Duncan Chappell, PhD Lawyer and Criminologist, Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and Saskia Hufnagel, PhD Lecturer in Criminal Law; Queen Mary University of London Rechtsanwalt – Fachanwalt Strafrecht, Hufnagel und Partner

The Gurlitt Case: An Inside View From Christopher A. Marinello, Lawyer and Representative for the Heirs of Paul Rosenberg
Presenter: Christopher A. Marinello, Esq Director and Founder, Art Recovery International

The Knoedler Case: NYT's Cohen questions how art dealers weren't suspicious when artist signature was misspelled

Journalist Patricia Cohen in her June 11 article in The New York Times, "Note to Forgers: Don't Forget to Spell Check", says the misspelled artist signature was a clue:
When angry collectors started suing Knoedler & Company for selling dozens of multimillion-dollar forgeries, the gallery’s former president, Ann Freedman, insisted that she and her colleagues had had no reason to think that any of the paintings were counterfeit. “If Ann Freedman had any questions about these works, she and her husband would not have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in them,” her lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., said of the paintings attributed to modern masters like Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Now, newly released documents in a continuing civil case show that at least one of the works bought in 2000 by Ms. Freedman herself contained a prominent clue that something was awry. The artist’s signature was spelled incorrectly: Pollok instead of Pollock.
You can finish reading Ms. Cohen's article online for The New York Times.

Attorney James C. Moore will discuss the Knoedler case ("The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté") on June 28 at ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference in Amelia.

History of Art Crime: Fabio Isman's 1992 reporting of the discovery of Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ" in Dublin

The National Gallery of Ireland's "The Taking of Christ"
Caravaggio, 1602
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Jonathan Harr's The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece (Random House, New York, 2005) -- includes the story of how Fabio Isman, an Italian journalist who regularly attends ARCA's Art Crime Conference in Amelia (and a key advisor to ARCA), broke the news that a restorer at the National Gallery of Ireland, Sergio Benedetti, had found Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ" (1602) at the residence of the Society of Jesus in Dublin.

Harr recounts how in 1992, Isman, an investigative journalist with Rome's daily newspaper Il Messaggero, heard from scholar Sir Denis Mahon that another Caravaggio masterpiece had been found. Mahon would did not specify the work or the location, but Isman persisted in ferreting out the information by calling 'one Caravaggio scholar after another' and chancing upon 'a Caravaggio show with no Caravaggios except for The Supper at Emmaus, which Dublin had somehow managed to get on loan from London.'

This book describes how scholars hunt for authenticity through archives and publications, the differences between record keeping in Britain and Italy, and the competition amongst researchers. A perfect warmup to ARCA's Conference June 27-29 in Amelia.

ARCA Lecturer Dorit Straus Elected to Board of Directors for AXA Art

Art insurance specialist AXA Art announced last week the election of fine art insurance expert Dorit Straus to its Board of Directors:
Ms. Straus is an accomplished professional with a successful career in providing solutions on art and insurance matters, globally. She is widely recognized for her expertise in insurance and risk transfer needs of museums and cultural institutions, auction houses, galleries and private collectors. She has broad proficiency in legal issues relating to confiscation, repatriation and provenance.... For over 30 years, Dorit Straus has been an important contributor to the fine art insurance industry. She has authored commentary on the implications of art theft on the insurance industry and on insuring art. She currently serves on the faculty of ARCA (the Association for Research on Crimes Against Art) teaching a course on art crime and insurance in Amelia, Italy.
Ms. Straus will teach "Insurance Claims and the Art Trade" in July. She also recently joined Chris Marinello at Art Recovery International.

June 16, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014 - ,,, No comments

Art or crime? Palais de Tokyo exhibits graffiti artists who have been arrested for their works

Artdaily.org's Hugo Vitrani (who is identified as a "curator") has written here about the graffiti exhibit, LASCO PROJECT #3, at the Palais de Tokyo, pointing to both the awards and the arrest records of some of the artists:
Successions of black windows, balconies, shadows, satellite dishes: Evol (b. 1970, lives and works in Berlin) highjacks urban space with his stencils of miniature housing projects, placing the peripheral, the invisible, at the heart of cities and institutions. His installation work was awarded the Prix Arte/ Slick in 2010. His scattering of buildings in ruins is a pointed comment on the failure of an architectural and political utopia. Arrested by the police’s anti-graffiti task force in 2012, Cokney (b. 1985, lives and works in Paris) was tried and was fined over 200,000 euro for his illegal paintings on trains and subway cars, a decision which he contested. This incident, and the publicity it received, compelled the artist to eschew the secrecy and clandestinity typically associated with graffiti art, paradoxically allowing him to own up to—and even lay claim—to his work. A celebrated tattoo artist, Cokney worked at Seen (NYC) before setting up at Hand In Glove (Paris). In his installation at the Palais de Tokyo, Cokney combines paintings with the estimates, complaints and reports generated during his trial, thus emphasizing that the police archives and the judicial examination of his work constitute an integral part of his production. More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/70804/Palais-de-Tokyo-in-Paris-brings-together-the-works-of-various-graffiti-and-street-artists#.U58cPJSwKwI[/url] Copyright © artdaily.org
In 2012, Fernanda Hinke wrote in Underground Paris about another exhibit on graffiti culture, including an explanation about urbex -- the creation of "artistic interventions" in abandoned spaces or places forbidden to the public such as the Mines of Paris.

Related topics: Caitlin Willis wrote about graffiti in contemporary Rome in The Journal of Art Crime; Harvard's Robert Darnton spoke about graffiti at the Getty in 2011; and this post discussed the exhibit at the Geffen in 2011.

June 12, 2014

Report from ARCA Amelia '14: Inside the lecture hall, Dick Ellis on art investigations and Tom Flynn on the art market; outside: students explore Narni and Amelia

by Paula Carretero, ARCA '14 Intern

Friday, June 30th marked the official start of the 2014 Graduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, with the arrival of the students to Italy. Students managed to arrive and find their way from Rome to Amelia after navigating the occasionally chaotic Italian transport infrastructure. The bus strike going on that day for sure made it interesting for the students, but everyone arrived safely to the welcome cocktail at La Locanda del Conte Nitto , one of the restaurants in town that, friendly as always, took in all the ARCA students as a welcome to the start of the summer. Over the weekend, students started exploring the city and guided tours were organized during which some of the city’s most wonderful corners were discovered. Among them, students walked into the centro storico of the town, wandering through the medieval streets and exploring some wonderful places: such as the Duomo, the Roman cisterns, and the Teatro Sociale
"Interns in the Cisterns" by Camille Knop

Week one of classes started with Dr. Tom Flynn, a RICS-Accredited Art Market and Art Appraisal lecturer at Kingston University in London.  His course in this year's program was “The International Art Market and Associated Risk.” Though the first half of the week, students explored the history and evolution of the art market; how early collections were gathered in the Cabinets of curiosities (also known as Kunstkabinett, Kunstkammer, Wunderkammer, Cabinets of Wonder, and wonder-rooms); the mechanisms of auctions houses, dealers and collectors; and issues on the value of art. The vast experience of Dr. Flynn, and the relaxed atmosphere in class, helped in creating interesting debates that were enriched by the multiple backgrounds of students from all over the world.

Dick Ellis took over the second half of the week with the course on “Art Policing, Protection and Investigating.” The founder of Scotland Yard’s Art & Antiquities squad introduced the students to the world of art theft, covert operations, money laundering using art, and the mechanism of organized crime as well as thieves motivations to steal art. By the end of the week, students were blown away by the vast experience of Professor Ellis and his generosity in sharing his wisdom with the class.

View from the top of Narni (Photo by 
ARCA Intern Camille Knop)
After this first week full of activities, and with the students’ heads full of plenty of new and valuable knowledge, a well-deserved weekend break arrived. Some of the students, using their remaining energy, took part in a trip to Narni on Saturday, a nearby town. The students enjoyed discovering and walking around the medieval-like streets of the town and went to visit some of the most important monuments like Rocca Albornoz, a 14th century fortress that became the home of popes and cardinals. In Subterranean Narni, the guided tour included the old convent of San Domenico, ancient Roman water tanks, prison cells used during the Inquisition, and 12th century frescoes in a medieval church (here's a link to an article on archaeologist Robert Nini who discovered the former Benedictine abbey in 1979 through an entrance from an old man's garden).

The ones who stayed in Amelia did not miss the chance to explore in their own way. Some of them went to the movie club organized at Chiostro Boccarini each weekend and started getting to know and interact with the Amerini, the citizens of Amelia, to confirm that they are as friendly as their reputation says. Finally, and to help fight the hot temperatures that are starting to arrive, some of the students spent some time hanging out around the pool house and recovering energy for the upcoming weeks. Summer has just arrived and courses are just beginning, but many other adventures are yet to come.

June 9, 2014

Art or Crime: Performance artist Deborah De Robertis re-enacts Courbet's "L'origine du monde" in Musee d'Orsay

Performance artist Deborah De Robertis in Musée d'Orsay
(Luxemburger Wort, screenshot of YouTube video)
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

As reported by Luxemburger Wort last week in "Luxembourg artist flashes Paris museum-goers", performance artist Deborah De Robertis exposed her female genitalia in front of Gustave Courbet's L'origine du monde (1866) in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris on May 29:
Dressed in a gold sequin dress, the artist walked into the museum on May 29, sat down below the painting and spread her legs to reveal her vagina in a reflection of the artwork, which shows a woman's genitals and abdomen under the title The Origin of the World. A museum guard alerted police who took De Robertis into custody for indecent exposure. However, the prosecution decided not to press charges and the Luxembourg artist was released. Speaking to wort.lu, De Robertis explained that her performance was not simply an act of exhibitionism, but a reflected action, creating a new tableau in play with the original artwork. An invitation to the performance, distributed to a limited number of people, said that De Robertis aims to destabilise power relations, as well as reflecting on relationships between men and women, and artists and control over their work.
The video De Robertis posted on YouTube shows the performance artist somberly performing while two security guards engage with the artist and a supportive -- as evidenced by their clapping -- audience. Museum officials are shown to be clearing the room while the artist performs.

Here another video shows the new gallery at the Musée d'Orsay dedicated to the larger paintings by Gustave Courbet -- and a close up of the controversial L'origine du monde which entered the French national collection in 1995. It was originally in the collection of Khalil-Bey, an Ottoman diplomat and art collector. Last year, the foremost Courbet scholar claimed to have found the "face" of "L'Origine du Monde".

Art Crime with Judge Arthur Tompkins on New Zealand's National Radio: The 1961 Theft of Francisco de Goya's portrait of the Duke of Wellington

Francisco de Goya, The Duke of Wellington, 1812-1814
oil on mahogany, 64.3 x 52.4 cm
Judge Arthur Tompkins, who teaches "Art in War" for ARCA's certificate program, appears monthly with Kim Hill on New Zealand's National public radio. This month, he discusses the 1961 theft from the National Gallery of London of Francisco de Goya's Duke of Ellington. Previous shows covered the Four Horses of San Marcos and the Ghent Altarpiece.

Judge Tompkins talks about the myth of the theft, the suspected "real" thief, and the legislation that followed.

Here's a link to the painting at the National Gallery of London where you can find it on display in Room 39.

And here's a direct link to the broadcast.

Art Detective: the website designed to identify works of art in UK public collections

Here's a link to a website with an intriguing name ("Art Detective") by the Public Catalogue Foundation at The University of Glasgow who's mission is to identify works of art in art collections in the United Kingdom:
Art Detective aims to improve knowledge of the UK’s public art collection. It is a free-to-use online network that connects public art collections with members of the public and providers of specialist knowledge. Art Detective Launched in March 2014, Art Detective comprises a digital network built on top of the Public Catalogue Foundation’s (PCF) existing art object database. Art Detective is accessed through the Your Paintings website and the PCF website.
www.LostArt.de posted about Art Detective here

June 8, 2014

ARCA's 2014 Writer in Residence: Forensic Archaeologist Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis writing about the Symes-Michaelides archive

Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis
Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis will be ARCA's 2014 Writer in Residence in Amelia, Italy from June 27th through August 9, 2014.

Each year, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art honors distinguished and emerging writers, specializing in art crime and cultural heritage preservation, by inviting them to spend a portion of their summer with us working on a book or manuscript project. Designed to promote critical and reflective writing, the Amelia Writer in Residence Program reflects ARCA’s belief that the basis for any critical and comprehensive writing involves the opportunity for contemplation, research, collaboration and support.

Christos Tsirogiannis, a Greek forensic archaeologist, studied archaeology and history of art in the University of Athens. He worked for the Greek Ministry of Culture from 1994 to 2008, excavating throughout Greece and recording antiquities in private hands. He voluntarily cooperated with the Greek police Art Squad on a daily basis (August 2004 – December 2008). He was a member of the Greek Task Force Team that repatriated looted, smuggled and stolen antiquities from the Getty Museum, the Shelby White/Leon Levy collection, the Jean-David Cahn AG galleries, and others. Since 2007, Tsirogiannis has been identifying antiquities in museums, galleries, auction houses, private collections and museums, depicted in the confiscated Medici, Becchina and Symes-Michaelides archives, notifying public prosecutor Dr. Paolo Giorgio Ferri and the Greek authorities. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, on the international illicit antiquities network viewed through the Robin Symes–Christos Michaelides archive.

Dr. Tsirogiannis explained his work, Unravelling the hidden market of illicit antiquities: The Robin Symes–Christos Michaelides network and its international implications:
This study is the first academic approach to an immense and incriminating body of material: the confiscated photographic archive of Robin Symes and Christos Michaelides, the top antiquities dealers in the world until 1999. I show how this archive interacts with the archives previously confiscated from the dealers Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina. Forensic research by Italian and Greek police authorities on those archives first proved that - from at least 1972 until 2006 - the antiquities market was based largely on looted and smuggled objects, controlled by an international network of looters, middlemen, dealers, auction houses, conservators, academics, museums and private collectors. During the last seven years, this situation has worsened, despite the convictions of Symes, Medici, Becchina and multiple repatriations of their looted and smuggled antiquities from North American museums, collectors and dealers to Italy. My PhD tackled this most recent period. 
The project of demonstrating the involvement of reputable institutions, companies and individuals in the illicit antiquities trade, as well as the corruption of the art market, is by its nature interdisciplinary; its results are important for the fields of archaeology, art history, criminology, politics and law. I brought to the PhD a unique combination of an academic background in archaeology and extensive work experience in the field. Following my undergraduate degree, I was employed for several years by the Greek ministry of Culture as an archaeologist before receiving an invitation to work on the exposure of the international illicit antiquities network with the Greek Police Art Squad. My specific interest in Symes-Michaelides comes from the fact that I participated in the police raid on their home on Schinousa, from where the archive was seized, and I was later the sole investigator of the contents, working as forensic archaeologist at the Greek Ministry of Justice. 
The PhD began with a historical review, and then surveyed the main members of the international illicit antiquities network (ch. 1). I systematically catalogued the contents of the Symes-Michaelides archive (ch. 2) and then outlined, with examples, the ways in which Symes traded with Medici and Becchina (ch. 3). The central chapter documents ways in which academics from reputable institutions were involved in ‘laundering’ this illicit material, via publications then used by museums and auction houses (ch. 4). In the last main chapter, I presented and analyzed a series of hitherto undiscovered cases of illicit antiquities in the antiquities market, mainly in auction houses since 2007. My conclusion drew out the wider picture (implications) from the network’s activities and suggested solutions towards different attitudes in antiquities trading, as well as fighting the antiquities trafficking. 
The project I would be concerned with as Writer-in-Residence this summer, therefore, is the transformation of the completed PhD into a book. As well as editing the text, I need to update the story of some individual case studies, and my description of the ways in which protagonists are selling artifacts. The PhD was about 77,000 words, plus three appendices of transcripts etc. and bibliography; I expect that the book would be c.100,000 words all told. I am currently putting together a book proposal to send to publishers in the next month; I hope that by July I would have a sense of what the publisher requires by way of editing and expansion. 
The ARCA Writer-in-Residence also offers me a rare opportunity to check the publications of auction houses, galleries, museums and private collections kept in libraries in Rome. These publications have proved valuable to forensic archaeologists Maurizio Pellegrini and Daniela Rizzo in the identification of dozens of antiquities from the same archives (Medici, Becchina, Symes) for the Italian state during the period 1995-2008. No library in Europe has a complete series of auction house -- and gallery -- publications, but I expect to add to my own catalogue from a systematic check in Rome, due to the recent successful repatriation claims of the Italian state.
 Dr. Tsirogiannis will also teach "Unravelling the Hidden Market of Illicit Antiquities: Lessons from Greece and Italy".

June 7, 2014

Marc Balcells reviews Robert Bevan's "The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War" in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Marc Balcells, a criminologist and an associate editor for The Journal of Art Crime, reviews Robert Bevan's 2006 book, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War (Reaktion Books) in the Spring 2014 issue:
I was drawn to Robert Bevan’s book after conducting a literature review for an article I was working on. After reading the sections I was interested in, I left the book nearby, as I was eager to read the entirety of its contents the sooner the better. Bevan, former editor of the magazine Building design, chronicles and deeply analyzes along the 240 pages of the book (divided in seven chapters) several cases of architectonical destruction and how it has an impact in obliterating not only an ethnic group but also what they represent. 
Chapter one sets the tone for the chapters that follow: in an introductory, broader approach if compared to the rest of the chapters, which are more specific and deal with particular issues of cultural heritage destruction, the author explains how architecture achieves a totemic status with a meaning that needs to be destroyed in order to ensure the eradication of a particular ethnic group. It is interesting to see how the author delineates the history of architectonical destruction, and for the readers interested in the legislation related to destruction of cultural heritage, it is also briefly described in this chapter. 
Chapter two talks about cultural cleansing: the author looks for similarities and differences between kristallnacht and the beginning of the treatment of the Jewish by the Nazi regime, and the Balkan wars. The genocide of the Armenians, another important one of the twentieth century, is explained in order to highlight the need not only to eradicate the individuals but also its collective memory and identity.
You may finish reading this review in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime by subscribing through the website or ordering a printed copy through Amazon.com.

June 6, 2014

Tess "Indiana Jane" Davis credited with helping return looted Hindu statues to Cambodia in the case of the Looted Temples of Koh ker

In a June 6th article in The Diplomat, journalist Luke Hunt points to the "critical" efforts of American researcher Tess Davis in the successful restitution of three looted Hindu statues returned to Cambodia this week:
Critical to their return was Tess Davis, a U.S. art lawyer and affiliate researcher at the University of Glasgow, who stressed Cambodia had only won the first in a series of battles, in what could prove to be a protracted war over the return of looted art. “The kingdom has taken on the art market, an entire industry, and a powerful one at that,” Davis told The Diplomat. “Collectors, dealers, museums, auction houses, they have deep pockets and top lawyers on their side. But Cambodia has something even more important: the truth and the law. And that’s something no amount of money can buy.”
[...]
Davis, dubbed by some as ‘Indiana Jane,’ said the looting and trafficking of antiquities was a crime that would no longer be tolerated, “not by governments, not by law enforcement, and not by the leaders in the art world itself.” The thefts have also been seen as a symbol of Cambodia’s perennial problems, ranging from corruption to a culture of impunity among the country’s well-heeled and politically connected. Davis said Cambodia had given the art world a simple choice, “to do the right thing or not.” She said the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Christie’s had stepped up and fulfilled their obligations, but others like the Cleveland Museum of Art and Sotheby’s have been more reluctant. “They are fighting with everything they have to stay in the past, a past where they could do whatever they wanted. They act like antiquated colonial relics, while their competitors have entered the 21st-century, and are thriving in it,” Davis said.
Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter @lukeanthonyhunt [and you can follow Tess Davis @Terressa_davis.

Ms. Davis taught the course, Cultural Property Law, at ARCA's postgraduate certificate program in art crime in 2009.

Noah Charney Interviews Three Leading Art Lawyers: Ian de Freitas, Howard Spiegler and Fabio Moretti in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

by Noah Charney

The Journal of Art Crime had the pleasure of interviewing three leading art lawyers, Ian de Freitas, Howard Spiegler, and Fabio Moretti. We spoke of art law, forgery, intellectual property, and fashion law, with each responding to questions related to their personal specializations. Ian de Freitas practices in the UK with Berwin Leighton Paisner and specializes in intellectual properties law. Howard Spiegler practices in the US with Herrick, Feinstein and is an expert in art reparations and repatriation, particularly with regard to art that changed hands during the Second World War and its aftermath. Fabio Moretti practices in Italy with Moretti & Burgio, and is an expert in fashion law. All three will be speaking at the UIA (Union Internationale des Avocats) conference held in Florence, Italy on October 31, 2014, a conference in which ARCA representatives will be participating.

Noah Charney: I like to give my students a puzzle, Howard. Whose culture heritage is a Titian painting of a Habsburg prince that hangs in Madrid? It might be claimed by Spain, Italy, Venice (which likes to think of itself as a different state, and was when Titian was around), or even Austria or Switzerland (where the Habsburgs originated). In legal terms, it is the property of the last legal owner, but in the moral debate of whose “cultural heritage” it is, how do you deal with the situation when multiple nations can claim a single work?

Howard Spiegler: I like to say that as an attorney, my job is relatively straightforward: I just have to deal with the law and not the often complex policies and moral issues that may pertain to these kinds of questions. In general, if the country from which the work has been illegally expropriated has a so-called patrimony law providing for ownership by that country’s government of every antiquity found in or on the ground, and the effective date of that law is prior to the time that the antiquity was expropriated, then the US courts will permit the foreign government to sue in the United States to recover it, subject to defenses like the statute of limitations. If I were to venture into the moral realm, it would be difficult for me not to favor the return of items to a country from which it was expropriated without permission, but if such a position is not viable under the existing law, I would encourage negotiation to ensure a mutually acceptable resolution. This might involve, for example, a confirmation by the possessor that the antiquity is rightfully owned by the source nation, but could provide for a long-term loan of the item, perhaps in return for similar loans to the country involved, especially if the possessor is a museum. As far as multiple nations claiming the same antiquity, when this has occurred in a U.S. litigation, the jury essentially decided that none of the countries involved were able to establish that the antiquity involved had been illegally excavated from one rather than another of the countries, and ruled in favor of the possessor, even though it was clear that it must have come from one of these lands. Proving that the illegal excavation took place in a particular country is often one of the hardest elements of the plaintiff’s case in these actions, mainly because ancient boundaries of nation-states do not necessarily correspond to the current boundaries of modern nations. 

NC: The Internet Age has seen a lot of lawsuits dealing with art looted during the world wars, because all of a sudden families could locate online the works lost to their families decades prior. Before the digitalization of museum collections, it was a lot harder to know where your art might be, if you didn’t just stumble on it. We hear a lot about the restitution of Nazi-looted art, but very little about art looted by the Red Army. Why is that?

HS: Actually, there have been claims brought against Russia with respect to artworks taken during the War, but in general, Russia subscribes to the concept that anything taken from Germany during and after the War represents just compensation for the enormous losses of life and property suffered by Russia during the War. This concept is not in accord with usual precepts of international law, however, and obviously makes it more difficult to resolve these claims. In one case, currently pending in the U.S., the Jewish religious sect Chabad brought an action to compel Russia to turn over archives and a library to Chabad, allegedly misappropriated by Russia or its predecessor governments. After losing a motion to dismiss, Russia remarkably refused to participate in the lawsuit any further, and the court imposed a default judgment against it. Attempts to enforce the judgment, including with sanctions levied against Russia, have been met with resistance from the U.S. government and have yet to be resolved.

You may finish reading this interview in the Spring 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime by subscribing through the ARCA website or ordering an issue through Amazon.com.

Noah Charney is a professor of art history specializing in art crime and an international best-selling author of fiction (The Art Thief) and non-fiction (Stealing the Mystic Lamb). He teaches for American University of Rome and Brown University, and is an award-winning columnist for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers. He is the founder of ARCA, and has served as its president since its inception.