Day: April 3, 2014

“Italy Heritage Sleuths Launch Stolen Art App”

“Italy Heritage Sleuths Launch Stolen Art App” 

by AFP via “France 24”

Italy's top art detectives, global experts in finding stolen works, launched a smartphone app Wednesday to get people to collaborate on cracking crimesItaly's top art detectives, global experts in finding stolen works, launched a smartphone app Wednesday to get people to collaborate on cracking crimes

“Italy’s top art detectives, global experts in finding stolen works, launched a smartphone app Wednesday to get people to collaborate on cracking crimes.

The application, which will be available to download from AndroidMarket and AppleStore soon, was “thought up and created for citizens”, according to Mariano Mossa, the head of Italy’s heritage police.

“It represents a first for those who hope to contribute to the fight against heritage crimes,” he said at a press presentation of the new app.

Users who come across works of art they suspect have been stolen can take a photograph of it and send it straight to the police, who check in real time whether it matches any of the works in their archives. (more…)

Thousands of Artifacts Seized at Rural Indiana Home

I don’t have the whole story or all the facts. That said, if this article is true: they haven’t charged the man, there is no offered evidence as to reasonable suspicion, and there is no explanation given as to what precisely he did wrong. Instead they have taken items worth immeasurable value from a 90 year old man that will take more than his life for them to “catalog.” Just imagine the potential threat to all museums and private owners if it is considered acceptable for officials to take collections just to “verify,” without probable cause for suspicion.  It’s incomprehensible.   ** DB

“Thousands of Artifacts Seized at Rural Indiana Home”

by Diana Penner via “IndyStar”


“FBI agents Wednesday seized “thousands” of cultural artifacts, including American Indian items, from the private collection of a 91-year-old Rush County man who had acquired them over the past eight decades.

An FBI command vehicle and several tents were spotted at the property in rural Waldron, about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

The man, Don Miller, has not been arrested or charged.

FBI agents are working with art experts and museum curators, and neither they nor Jones would describe a single artifact involved in the investigation, but it is a massive collection. Jones added that cataloging of all of the items found will take longer than “weeks or months.”

“Frankly, overwhelmed,” is how Larry Zimmerman, professor of anthropology and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis described his reaction. “I have never seen a collection like this in my life except in some of the largest museums.”

The monetary value of the items and relics has not been determined, Jones said, but the cultural value is beyond measure. In addition to American Indian objects, the collection includes items from China, Russia, Peru, Haiti, Australia and New Guinea, he said.

The items were found in a main residence, in which Miller lives; a second, unoccupied residence on the property; and in several outbuildings, Jones said. The town originally was Iroquois land.

The objects were not stored to museum standards, Jones said, but it was apparent Miller had made an effort to maintain them well. (more…)

“French police recover painting by Rembrandt (or in the style of Rembrandt) stolen in 1999 from the municipal museum in Draguignan”

French police recover painting by Rembrandt (or in the style of Rembrandt) stolen in 1999 from the municipal museum in Draguignan

Via ArtCrime.Blogspot

“Journalist Vincent Noce reports in the French newspaper, Liberation, that a Rembrandt painting stolen in 1999 has been recovered in Nice (“Un Rembrandt volé en 1999 e été retrouvé à nice, 19 March 2014) although the thieves may have discovered the work was not by the ‘genius from Amsterdam’.
Noce reported that Tuesday afternoon French police from the unit assigned to fighting trafficking in cultural goods (OCBC) arrested two men (ages 44 and 51 years old) for trying to sell a painting stolen 15 years ago from the municipal museum in Draguignan in southeastern France. The oil painting, measuring 60 cm by 50, is attributed to Rembrandt and known as “Child with a Soap Bubble”. According to Noce’s article, the recovered painting has an estimated value of 4 million euros (U.S. $5.56 million) — if it is indeed by the Dutch master and not by an artist inspired by Rembrandt. According to the article, the museum’s inventory shows that the painting was taken from the Château de Valbelle [now in ruins] in Tourves during the revolution in 1794. 
Sophie Legras, writing for L’Agence France-Presse (AFP) and published in Le Figaro, reports that judicial police in Nice helped the OCBC in recovering the painting . . . . .”


“Saving Guangxi’s Cultural Heritage from Decline”

“Saving Guangxi’s Cultural Heritage from Decline”

via “South China Morning Post”


Dancers from the Zhuang ethnic group perform at the San Yue San festival in Wuming county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Wednesday. Photo: Xinhua


Residents of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are enjoying a new two-day official holiday the local government has offered to encourage them to participate in an annual ethnic minority singing festival.

Wednesday was the third day of the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when crowds traditionally gather to sing in the antiphonal, or call-and-answer, style to find love and make new friends.

Historically, it has been observed by more than 27 million people of Zhuang, Yao, Miao, Dong and Mulao ethnicities in Guangxi, or half the region’s total population.

However, the 1,300-year-old custom has lost its allure in the modern era, prompting government action to help it survive and regain popularity.

With the event’s auspicious date falling this year on a Wednesday, the day was a major test of whether the festival could thrive again.

Before dawn on Wednesday, Deng Zhiting from Dakeng village in Fangchenggang city got up to take part in the government-organised singalong attended by thousands of Zhuang and Yao people.

But the spritely 72-year-old, dressed in Yao traditional costume and carrying a flute-like instrument, frowned when he saw only a few young faces in the crowd.

“What a lean time for our group’s folk songs,” he grumbled. “We don’t have young people to inherit this treasure.” (more…)

“Battles Loom Over Crimea’s Cultural Heritage”

“Battles Loom Over Crimea’s Cultural Heritage”

via Reuters

“YALTA, CRIMEA/KYIV — From the 16th-century Tatar Khans’ palace in Bakhchisaray to the former tsarist residence that hosted the World War II Yalta conference, Crimea’s heritage sites have become a source of bitter contention since Russia seized the region from Ukraine.
For Kyiv, which does not recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, losing the cultural and historic legacy of the Black Sea peninsula would be another major blow and Ukraine is readying for long legal battles with Russia.
“We will never give up the valuable heritage in Crimea because that is the property of Ukraine,” the country’s prosecutor general, Oleh Makhnitsky, told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s Culture Minister, Yevgen Nishchuk, said Kyiv was amending its laws to seek justice internationally should Russia start removing cultural goods from Crimea or take over formal supervision of the region’s heritage sites.
One exhibition, put together by five museums – including four in Crimea – and currently on display in Amsterdam, has already fallen hostage to the conflict over the region, the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
Both Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities as well as Kyiv claim ownership of the exhibition, titled “Crimea – Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, which features golden artifacts and precious gems dating back to the fourth century BC.
The show is operated by the University of Amsterdam and spokesman Yasha Lange said a legal investigation was going on to determine to whom the collection should be returned after it closes at the end of August.
“The exhibition should return to Crimea,” said Valentina Mordvintseva, who works for Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Crimea’s provincial capital of Simferopol and who helped Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum set up the exhibit.
“So it has become a political issue,” she told Reuters. “If the things end up held in Kyiv, I think it would be bad for Ukraine itself because it would look like vengeance.”
She was referring to a March 16 referendum in Crimea, an impoverished region of two million with a narrow ethnic Russian majority, which yielded an overwhelming victory for those advocating a split from Ukraine to join Russia.
Kyiv and the West dismissed the hastily arranged vote as a sham but Moscow used it to justify formally incorporating Crimea on March 21.
Crimea has since then introduced the Russian ruble as its currency and switched to Moscow time, while Russian troops have taken over Ukrainian military bases, forcing Kyiv to pull out its soldiers with their families.
Tatars, Tsars and Stalin
Prosecutor Makhnitsky said the Justice Ministry in Kyiv was preparing to register lawsuits with international organizations to assert its rights to the historic and cultural sites in Crimea.
The ministry refused immediate comment on what exactly it plans to do, but any such endeavor is likely to be an uphill battle as Russia controls the region.
Underscoring how any efforts from Kyiv could face further obstacles, some directors of Crimea museums have welcomed unification with Russia in the hope it will lead to increased budget support from Moscow.
Valery Naumenko, director of a museum housed in the historic residence of the Crimean Khans in Bakhchisaray, complained that Kyiv had not allocated any funds for the upkeep of the palace, which is dominated by two slender minarets. (more…)