Showing posts with label recovered stolen art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recovered stolen art. Show all posts

September 15, 2017

Recovery: Not all Ecclesiastical art that is stolen is lost forever



The brisk sales of "Individual A" buying objects from "Individual B"

As a result of the complex operation, twenty people are now under investigation by the Italian authorities for robbery, having received stolen goods, or other related violations of the law.  Those that have been charged, some with no prior police records, include middlemen fences who shopped desirable pieces to collectors of religious art who were apparently disinterested in the conspicuous origins of the ecclesiastical pieces they were purchasing.

Modus Operendi

Working to analyze the methodologies used to commit thefts in places of worship in neighboring municipalities, law enforcement officers saw a pattern evolving. 

Each of the thefts had occurred during daytime hours. 

Most of the incidents did not require any type of forced entry. 

To gain access to the objects the thief or thieves preferred to go about their work during opening hours, when the general public had free access to these religious institutions and where they were less likely to be impeded by burglar alarms or video surveillance systems.

Objects Recovered

The objects identified as recovered during this operation is quite extensive and paints a vivid picture of the frequency of church related thefts throughout Italy and in one case Belgium.

One of the more interesting pieces recovered was a 175 × 125 cm a 16th century Flemish panel painting stolen 37 years ago depicting the twelfth station of the cross.  The painting had been taken from the Treasury of the Collegiate of the Church of Sainte-Waudru in Mons, Belgium on July 2, 1980.   Thankfully the church had an inventory of their artworks so the alterpiece has been matched precisely and will be repatriated.

A white marble sculpture depicting a Madonna and child dating from the beginning of the sixteenth century stolen on July 4, 1997 from the church "Santa Marta" (Confraternity Of San Vitale) in Naples.

An 18th century wooden statue, depicting "San Biagio" stolen between May 10 and May 17, 2015 from the church Lady of the Angels located in Barrea.

An 18th century wooden statue of Saint Nicholas of Bari stolen between May 10 and May 17, 2015 from the church Lady of the Angels located in Barrea.

A 16th century stone statue of St Michael the Archangel,  a sword in silver with an ornate blade and a silver oval shield decorated with words "quis ut Deus" stolen on January 19 2016 from the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Monteroduni.

Fifteen 16th century oil paintings on canvas, mounted to panels depicting "The Mysteries of the Rosary", stolen on December 21, 2016 from the Church of Saint Bartolomeo Apostolo in Cassano Irpino.

Two 17th century wooden statues depicting angels, a 17th century gilded throne used for Eucharistic ceremonies, stolen on November 28, 1998 from La Libera church in Montella.

A 19th century monstrance, also known as an ostensorium or an ostensory, in embossed silver stolen on October 11, 2009 from the church "Santa Cristina" in Formicola.

A wooden statue of the baby Jesus and a silver embossed thurible in which incense is burned during worship services, stolen on March 3, 2016 from the church Saint Peter the Apostle in Sala Consilina.

A late 17th century panel painting depicting a river landscape with animals French stolen on July 16, 1990 at the Rome auction house Antonina dal 1890.

A 19th century painted paper mache statue of baby Jesus stolen on January 5, 2010 from the Cathedral of San Cassiano in Imola.

An 18th century silver monstrance, an 18th century silver reliquary with a stippled glass case, an 18th century metal reliquary, stolen on February 10, 2016 from the church of San Lorenzo located in Castelvetere sul Calore.

An 18th century breastplate with helmet, shield and sword, decorated in gold, which once served as ornamentation to a San Costanzo statue was stolen on January 10, 2016 in a burglary of the parish of "Santa Maria Maggiore" in Itri. NOTE:  Many of the other items stolen during this raid have not been recovered.

Two 19th century gilded wood reliquaries stolen on August 25, 2002 from the church of San Giacomo Apostolo in Gaeta.

Four carved and gilded wooden portapalma (holy) vases  stolen on January 31, 2012 from the church of San Francisco in Gubbio.

A gold plated cup,  a gold plated ciborium with matching lid used for eucharistic ceremonies stolen on January 12, 2016 from the church of Saint Lucia located in Olevano sul Tusciano - Salitto fraction.

A pendulum clock with bronze lyre-shaped inlays stolen on August 25, 1994 from a private residence in Rome.

A 19th century paper mache figurine depicting the Christ child stolen on November 5, 2009 from the church of Saint Augustine in Faenza.

Two 18th century winged putti, stolen on January 5, 2016 from the church of Saints John and Paul in Carinola (Ce) - Casale fraction.

An 18th century oil painting on canvas depicting baby Jesus lying with crown of flowers stolen on August 14, 1994 from a private residence in Lanciano.

An 18th century monstrance with silver and gold metal cross stolen September 29, 2015 from the church Santa Maria dell’orazione located in Pontelatone.

An 18th century chalice embossed and engraved in silver stolen on July 15, 2015 from the church of San Quirico and Julietta located in Serra San Quirico (An).

A 19th century monstrance in embossed silver stolen on January 20, 2016 from the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli located in Contursi Terme..

An 18th century silver reliquary engraved with "nm" stolen on October 4, 2011 from the parish of "Santa Maria Assunta" in Filettino.

August 26, 2017

Yes Virginia, there really are honest dealers in the world.


University of Arizona Museum of Art Curator Olivia Miller
authenticating Willem de Kooning’s “Woman-Ochre,”
on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017.  The painting has been missing since 1985
Often times it seems that antique and antiquities dealers are seldom mentioned on this blog unless there is negative news to share.  Today though, ARCA would like to give a shout out to some really swell folks at Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiques of Silver City, New Mexico. 

On the day after Thanksgiving, November 29, 1985, an unremarkable couple:  a woman in her mid-50s with shoulder-length reddish-blond hair and a man in his mid-20s, with short, wavy dark hair and a large mustache entered the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson at the start of the day.  Distracting one of the guards in a conversation on the stairs, the man continued upwards to the second floor gallery and quickly sliced Willem de Kooning's painting "Woman-Ochre" by Willem de Kooning, 1954-1955, 30 in. x 40 in., oil on canvas from its frame.   Hiding the painting under his blue water-repellant coat, the thief and his accomplice made their way back downstairs and out the exit in less than 15 minutes.  

For more than thirty years the painting remained missing, until it was scooped up by David Van Auker, who owns Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiques when visiting the home of deceased H. Jerome "Jerry" and Rita Alter to assess its contents as part of an estate sale.  Along with his business partners Richard Dean Johnson and Buck Burns Auker purchased the house's contents, including the painting for $2000.

Back at the shop and with a little help from their customers, the trio soon began to realize that they might have a valuable painting on their hands.  Doing a quick internet search on de Kooning, they came across a 2015 article on azcentral.com of one of the artist's paintings, “Woman-Ochre,” that had been stolen in a daring heist from the University of Arizona Museum.  Matching the photograph pictured on the website with the painting in their shop, the guys decided to do the right thing and give the museum a call.


If you want a chuckle, take a look at their video above, taken from their Facebook page here.   It will make your day, because yes Virginia, there really are honest dealers in the world who do the right thing when they find looted art.

December 2, 2016

Recovered: Marble head of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus

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Massimo Maresca, Commander, Archaeology section of the operational department of the Carabinieri TPC, Pietro Savarino, Amsterdam Police and Justice Officer Willem Nijkerk
The second century CE marble head of Julia Domna, wife of Emperor Septimius Severus, the founder of the Severan dynasty, which was stolen from the Museo del Canopo at Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli in 2012, is now coming home. 

The bust was identified in Amsterdam in May 2015 as having been part of the permanent collections at Hadrian's villa, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, just as it was about to be put up for consignment at Christies auction house in the Netherlands. Suspicious of the very recognizable bust, and the very unrecognizable couple selling it, who seemingly had not prior history as collectors of pricey ancient art, the auction house contacted Dutch authorities and the Italian Carabinieri del Comando Tutela Patrimonio Culturale - sezione Archeologia to report their concerns.  This was truly a proactive step forward in due diligence as the object was not represented in the stolen art databases. 

Working in collaboration with the Dutch police and the Italian authorities, the auction house informed the would-be consignors that they had declined to list the sculpture and Christies returned the marble head to their would-be sellers.  This allowed the legal authorities the opportunity to formally charge two Dutch citizens on suspicion of theft and receiving stolen property.  

As the investigation continued, the object was ultimately relinquished without the need for letters rogatory, which are the customary means of obtaining judicial assistance from overseas authorities in the absence of a treaty or other agreement.

Speaking at the Dutch press conference held in the offices of the Amsterdam public prosecutor Major Massimo Maresca, who led the Italian carabinieri a team said, "Each stolen piece of art that comes back to our museums is like a wound that has healed." Maresca also personally thanked the Amsterdam police for their collaboration.



The sculpture has now been relinquished to the Italian authorities, where it will be held in judicial custody at the disposal of the Public Prosecutor of Rome until such time as any criminal and civil court proceedings have been completed.  At the conclusion of the legal case, the Julia Domna bust, with her fabulous hairdo, will then be returned to Villa Adriana, where it will be displayed in the antiquarium.

While various websites have begun estimating the commercial value of the bust at €500,000 it should be remembered that public objects, especially one depicting the Empress of the Roman Empire from 170 to 217 CE, are not for sale in Italy and should not be expressed in terms of financial value.  Their loss, when stolen is a historic and cultural loss that is heavier than any monetary amount.  

Lastly, we would be remiss for saying thanks also to the employees of Christie's Amsterdam office for their due diligence and prompt notification to authorities that they had been offered an object with collecting irregularities. Bravi tutti. 

January 21, 2016

Three Stolen Paintings Recovered by the Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale in Ancona

© Copyright ANSA
The Carabinieri TPC (Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale) in Ancona have recovered three stolen paintings dating from the seventeenth century.  The investigation, started in early 2014 and coordinated by the Public Prosecutors at the Court of Rome and in Perugia involved two paintings stolen in a private home in the province of Siena in 2007 and a third which had been taken from a house in Rome in 1991.  

This is not the first time Ancona's Carabinieri TPC squad has been successful in recovering stolen art. In September 2015 the unit recovered an oil painting from an unknown artist dating from the XVI / XVII century, depicting a 'Madonna with Child'.  This artwork had been stolen sometime in the evening between the 5th and 6th of June 1990 from the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo where it had been displayed above the alter.  .The painting had turned up in an an antique store in San Benedetto del Tronto. 

Details on the recent paintings recovered and the conditions of the artworks are expected during a forthcoming Carabinieri TPC press conference. 

February 14, 2015

Raul Espinoza sentenced to more than four years in state prison for receiving art stolen from Encino home in 2008

Raul Espinoza
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Brian Melley reported in the Associated Press Feb. 13 ("Man who tried to sell stolen Encino art gets 4 years in state prison") that Raul Espinoza was 'sentenced Friday to more than four years in state prison' when he 'pleaded no contest to one count of receiving property stolen in 2008 from the Encino home of Susan and Anton Roland:
He [Espinoza] was asking $700,000 for works he said were worth $5 million, though the paintings have since been valued for as much as $23 million, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney.
Melley/AP wrote that Espinoza's restitution hearing is scheduled for March 25.

(CNN also identified the owners of the art collection here).

Veronica Rocha for The Los Angeles Times reported that Espinoza's sentence was "four years and four months".

In May 2012, Mash Leo for The Jewish Daily reported that Susan and Anton Roland donated 15 works of art (including a Francis Bacon triptych worth $75 million) to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art:
This collection was accumulated over a lifetime by Susan Roland and her husband, the late Anton Roland. A teary-eyed George Roland paid tribute to his parents’ passion for art collecting: “Father was born in Carpathia [Czechoslovakia]. Mother was born in Hungary. They married in Budapest. In 1946 they moved to Paris and dreamt of owning paintings…. In 1949 they bought a Chagall in Israel [and] kept on buying paintings all over Europe. When [Dad] bought the Francis Bacon painting, his wife remarked that it was immoral to pay so much money [for it]. He pacified her by saying that it would eventually go to the Tel Aviv Museum…. It was their greatest wish to have a collection and to donate it after our passing, to share it with the Israeli people.’”

A catalogue on the donation from the Rolands to the Israeli art gallery can be purchased on Amazon.

An online article in "15 Minutes Magazine" quoted George Roland on his parents:
"My parents were opposites," George said. His mother came from Hungary and father from the Carpathians. Dad studied in a yeshiva in Prague when the war broke out.
He found his future wife on the street wearing a Jewish star. "Why are you wearing that?"
"They told me to."
"Just because they told you to do it doesn’t mean you do it."

He ripped the star off her coat and took her to the underground where he was working as a forger for the resistance against the Nazis. They stayed together ever since.
Related ARCA blog posts:




September 25, 2014

Newsworks reports on exhibition in Delaware featuring stolen art recovered by Italy's Guardia di Finanza

Here's a link to the article and a 5-minute video on the website "Newsworks" which describes the show of 120 Greco-Roman-Etruscan antiquities recovered by Italy's Guardia di Finanza; the exhibit will run October 3 to December 21 at the Grand Opera House and in Newark at the University of Delaware's Old College Gallery. This is a link to the exhibit's website: treasuresandtales.com.