WARSAW, Poland (AP) — According to Polish lore, a Nazi train loaded with gold, artworks and weapons vanished into a mountain at the end of World War II, as the Germans fled the Soviet advance. Now two men claim they know the location of the mystery train and are demanding 10 percent of its value in exchange for revealing its location.
Historians say the existence of the train has never been conclusively proven, but authorities are not passing up this chance at possibly recovering treasures that locals and the government have sought for 70 years.
“We believe that a train has been found. We are taking this information seriously,” Marika Tokarska, an official in the southwestern Polish district of Walbrzych, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
She said her office received two letters this month from a law firm representing the men, a Pole and a German who have chosen to remain anonymous, saying they are seeking 10 percent of the value of the train’s contents for revealing its location. The documents from the lawyers say the train is 150-meters (490-feet) long and loaded with guns, valuables and precious metals, but do not specify where it is. Authorities say they are willing to pay the reward if the information pans out.
A lawyer for the men, Jaroslaw Chmielewski, compared the find to the “wreck of the Titanic” in an interview on a local radio station.
Tokarska said that hiring a law firm gives a degree of credibility to the two men’s claims, as do indications that they are familiar with the train’s contents. But there are also reasons for caution: The first letter included some references to the area’s topography that indicated they might not know the area very well.
Joanna Lamparska, an author who has written about the train and the region’s history, says she believes it could be a scam. . . . .
Italy’s culture ministry has appointed 20 new directors to manage some of its top museums, including Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, with a number of foreigners brought in to revamp the way the country’s vast heritage is presented to the public.
Fourteen art historians, four archaeologists, one cultural manager and a museum specialist make up the new directors, who will be at the forefront of cultural reform in Italy. The majority have international backgrounds and half are women, although the culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said nationality and gender had no influence on Tuesday’s appointments.
Beyond daily museum management, each director will be tasked with coming up with innovative cultural programmes and impressing both local and international visitors. The new bosses will also need to bring a creative flair to financing, making way for alternative funding models such as philanthropic donations in the face of tight government budgets.
“Now THAT’S delicate work! Artists carve intricate portraits onto egg shells in quirky new art trend”
Yunnan born Zhao Zexi is the artist behind the egg carvings.
The 27 year old revealed in an interview that he’s been carving egg shells for around 10 years and has worked with everything from hen’s eggs to duck and ostrich eggs.
He said: ‘I liked drawing from a young age. When I went to Hangzhou to train as a chef, my main job was food carving.’
‘I stumbled across egg carving by accident after seeing it on television. Since then I’ve been obsessed with the idea so started learning to do it.’
Initially he found that every egg shell he tried to carve collapsed as soon as the blade touched its surface.
Zhao Zexi creates human portraits, like Abraham Lincoln above, as well as Chinese landscapes and plants
Egg art created by Zhao Zexi start from 500 Yuan (£50) for hen’s egg and 6,000 Yuan (£600) for an ostrich egg
But with hard work, determination and a little help from other egg carving artists, he soon progressed from carving words to landscapes to human portraits.
The work is extremely time consuming.
Carvings on hen’s eggs require one or two days to complete while goose and ostrich eggs need 10 to 15 days.
However, he is able to charge 500 Yuan (£50) for a finished hen’s egg and around 6,000 Yuan (£600) for an ostrich egg.
Last year, he quit his job as a chef to concentrate on egg carving.
Speaking of his decision, he said: ‘There’s people who ask about my work every day. I’ve already received 10 commissions from art collectors.’
Zhu De featured in the egg shell carving by Li, above, was one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party
Li’s work include Chinese leaders such as Mao Zedong and Soviet figures like Carl Marx and Joseph Stalin
Zhao Zexi is not the only egg shell artist to emerge recently.
A 29 year old woman in Jiangsu, eastern China, named as Han Liping shared her work in January this year.
Han normally works at a fast food restaurant but started egg carving as a hobby.
She empties the eggs of their content before starting work but says that every stage of the carving throws up challenges.
The shells breaking is the most obvious concern but if she makes any mistakes, she will have to start over again as there is no way to repair the damage. . . . .
Federal investigators in Boston on Thursday released 25-year-old surveillance video showing a security guard admitting a man to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum the night before it was robbed of $500 million worth of art in the largest such heist in U.S. history.
The six-minute, 40-second video shows a young white man with a short jacket being let in by the guard through a rear entrance to the museum shortly after midnight on March 17, 1990, about 24 hours before the heist.
The statute of limitations on the crime has long passed, meaning that if the thieves are found they will not face prosecution. But the FBI, the Boston office of the Justice Department and the museum hope to recover the art.
“This latest request for the public’s assistance illustrates the FBI’s continued commitment to the Gardner investigation,” said Vincent Lisi, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston. “By releasing this video, we hope to generate meaningful leads and ultimately recover the stolen artwork.”
The newly released grainy video shows a car pulling up to the museum that matches the description of a vehicle spotted outside shortly before the heist.
The theft occurred when two men dressed as police officers were admitted by security guards to the museum in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990. They allegedly went on to overpower the guards who were found duct-taped to chairs in the museum’s basement the next morning.
Works of art including Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” Vermeer’s “The Concert” and Manet’s “Chez Tortoni,” were among the 13 pieces stolen from the museum, which features the collection of the eccentric Boston socialite Gardner.
Due to a quirk in Gardner’s will, the empty frames from which the paintings were cut still hang on the museum’s walls. . . . .