Theft

FBI hopes grainy video will help solve 25-year-old $500 million art heist

“FBI hopes grainy video will help solve 25-year-old $500 million art heist”

by Scott Malone via “Yahoo News”

Security footage shows unidentified man allegedly being allowed inside the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston before 1990 theft

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. . . . .

READ MORE

Italian millionaire sues Christie’s over record-breaking $40m sale of his father’s ‘stolen’ pink Princie Diamond he claims the auction house had no right to sell

“Italian millionaire sues Christie’s over record-breaking $40m sale of his father’s ‘stolen’ pink Princie Diamond he claims the auction house had no right to sell”

by Pete D’Amato

A rare pink diamond that surfaced in 2013 to fetch $40million at auction has fueled a feud among relatives of a late Italian senator as his son claims the stone was stolen by a backstabbing step-sibling.

Amedeo Angiolillo, who currently lives in New York, filed suit against Christie’s on Friday, alleging the auction house had sold off the 300-year-old, 34.65-carat Indian diamond to an anonymous buyer on behalf of someone other than its rightful owner.

Named the Princie Diamond, the pink gem ‘is one the rarest, perhaps most famous and illustrious pink diamonds in the world,’ according to the complaint filed in Manhattan supreme court.

Rare: The Princie Diamond that surfaced in 2013 to fetch $40million at auction has fueled a feud among relatives of a late Italian senator as his son claims the stone was stolen by a backstabbing step-sibling

Rare: The Princie Diamond that surfaced in 2013 to fetch $40million at auction has fueled a feud among relatives of a late Italian senator as his son claims the stone was stolen by a backstabbing step-sibling

According to Christie’s website, the diamond received the name after being purchased at auction by jewelers Van Cleef & Arpels, who named it in honor of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, son of Maharani Sita Devi.

The gem had been passed down through generations of Indian rulers before landing in the possession of Mir Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad, who eventually sold it through Southeby’s.

The jewel came into Angiolillo’s family’s possession when his father, Renato Angiolillo, the founder of Italian newspaper Il Tempo, purchased the stone in 1961, the New York Post reports.

Having just wed his second wife, Maria Girani, Renato made a gift of the diamond – one that carried a caveat.

Renato’s new bride would ‘not have unfettered access to’ her husband’s collection of precious stones, according to the complaint.

The arrangement would last up until the newspaper magnate’s death in 1973, when Amedeo cut a deal with his step-mother that allowed her to continue wearing the diamond, the lawsuit states.

Prized possession: The jewel came into Angiolillo's family's possession when Renato Angiolillo (pictured), the founder of Italian newspaper Il Tempo, purchased the stone in 1961

Prized possession: The jewel came into Angiolillo’s family’s possession when Renato Angiolillo (pictured), the founder of Italian newspaper Il Tempo, purchased the stone in 1961

High society: Renato Angiolillo (right) had a taste for precious stones, and was reported to have bought the diamond in Paris after losing big at the Monte Carlo casino

High society: Renato Angiolillo (right) had a taste for precious stones, and was reported to have bought the diamond in Paris after losing big at the Monte Carlo casino

The younger Angiolillo agreed to let Girani hold onto the diamond ‘because she was quite active and influential in Italian politics and sponsored political, social and business meetings at her home,’ a gift Renato bequeathed her in his will.

‘Girani had a good relationship with her husband’s children and grandchildren, confirming on several occasions that the gems in her possession, including the Princie Diamond, belonged to them by inheritance, and that they would be returned to them after her death,’ according to documents filed.

Yet when Girani, too, passed away in 2009 and her husband’s heirs came looking for the precious stone, they say it wasn’t among her belongings.

READ MORE

Two historic statues lost in Libya’s Tripoli

“Two historic statues lost in Libya’s Tripoli”

via “Xinhuanet

TRIPOLI, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — Unidentified men have hid a historic statue of Omar Al-Mukhtar, a historic figure, in the Libyan capital Tripoli, an official in the Libyan Antiquities Authority announced on Sunday.

Omar Al-Mukhtar is a hero and the leader of the Libyan resistance against the Italian regime for 20 years in the 1920’s and 30’s. The statue was placed in front of the headquarters of the municipal council of Al-Maya region on the coastal road west of Tripoli.

“The archaeological statue disappeared in mysterious circumstances similar to the circumstances in which another archaeological statue, known the gazelle statue, one of the most important historical monuments located in downtown Tripoli, disappeared.” said the official, who requested anonymity.

The statue, known in Tripoli as gazelle statue, it is a small fountain with a statue of nude woman holding a deer. The fountain was designed by the Italian artist Angelo Vanity in early 1930s during the Italian occupation of Libya.

“The statue was uprooted from its place by an unknown group in early hours of Tuesday, most likely because of the nudity features of the statue, which are rejected for religious reasons.” Witnesses told Xinhua.

Several similar threats were issued earlier. In October, the statue was targeted by an RPG missile, causing damage. In 2012, Islamist militants threatened to remove it.

On the other hand, an explosion on last Monday destroyed a historic shrine in the Libyan capital. The shrine, located next to a mosque, is over 700 years old and is officially registered within the Libyan monuments.

Libya is a country rich in cultural and human heritage of Greek and Roman civilizations. However, the country has been unstable since the overthrow of former Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011.

The capital and several other Libyan cities witnessed similar attacks targeting religious monuments and shrines by Islamist groups described by the Libyan authorities as extremists.

READ ORIGINAL

Organized Crime, Military Linked to Theft of Cambodian Artifacts

Organized Crime, Military Linked to Theft of Cambodian Artifacts

by Robert Carmichael via “VOA News

Seoul

 —

Over the past 40 years Cambodia’s cultural heritage has been looted on a massive scale, with countless thousands of artifacts taken from hundreds of sites, smuggled out of the country and into museums and private collections around the world. New research indicates that not only was much of this the work of organized networks, but that most pieces have disappeared from public view – probably forever.

Between the start of Cambodia’s civil war in 1970 and the eventual end of hostilities some 30 years later, the country’s 1,000-year-old temples and other historic sites were comprehensively plundered. In one incident in the early 1970s, government soldiers used a military helicopter to airlift artifacts from the 12th century citadel of Banteay Chhmar in the northwest.

At the same complex in 1998 – generals spent a fortnight tearing down and carting away 30 tons of the building. Just one of the six military trucks that went to neighboring Thailand loaded with artifacts was stopped and its contents returned. The rest disappeared, likely sold on the black market.

The Duryodhana statue is one of three returned to Cambodia from the United States in early June, Phnom Penh. (Robert Carmichael/VOA)The Duryodhana statue is one of three returned to Cambodia from the United States in early June, Phnom Penh. (Robert Carmichael/VOA)

For many years, researchers assumed that such brazen, well-organized looting was the exception rather than the norm, and that most of the looting of Cambodia’s heritage was a low-level affair, with local people plundering ancient sites and selling statues, carvings and stone reliefs in haphazard fashion.

But a new study carried out by researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland shows that was not the case.

“The organized looting and trafficking of Cambodian antiquities was tied very closely to the Cambodian civil war and to organized crime in the country,” explained Tess Davis, a lawyer and archaeologist, and member of the study team that also included criminologists.

“It began with the war, but it long outlived it, and was actually a very complicated operation, a very organized operation, that brought antiquities directly from looted sites here in the country to the very top collectors, museums and auction houses in the world,” she added.

Davis said the Cambodian and Thai militaries were often involved in looting, as was organized crime. Local people were often forced to work as laborers.

Researchers say that at the end of the chain in Thailand was a Bangkok-based dealer who provided the laundering link between the criminals and the collectors and museums.

READ MORE

Peru: Recovery of Cultural Heritage Increases

Peru: Recovery of Cultural Heritage Increases

by Paola Pinedo García via “InfoSurHoy

In January, the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over 47 cultural artifacts repatriated from overseas to the Ministry of Culture. Highlights include a Moche-style jug and ceremonial cup from the former north coast of Peru, repatriated by the Consulate of Peru in San Francisco in the United States. (Courtesy of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

LIMA, Peru – Peruvian cultural artifacts illegally sold on the international black market are being returned to museums and archeological sites from where they never should have left.

The joint efforts by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have led to the repatriation of 3,018 pieces belonging to Peru’s cultural heritage since 2007.

Alongside the repatriated items, an additional 31,640 artifacts were recovered in Peru, according to Katie Navarro Vásquez, the director of recoveries in the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage Defense at the Ministry of Culture, which is dedicated to preventing and controlling the illegal trafficking in artifacts, and recovering and repatriating them domestically and internationally.

Prevention and security measures are carried out at three units the Ministry of Culture has established in Peru – at Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport, the Santa Rosa complex on the southern border with Chile and in the Postal Services office (Serpost) in the Peruvian capital.

“Our figures for rescued and repatriated items lead us to believe that our control units at strategic exit points from the country have definitely deterred traffickers from trying to smuggle heritage items through these points,” Navarro said.

Ongoing luggage and parcel checks at these three places are carried out by Ministry of Culture personnel alongside officers from the National Police and Customs, she added.

“Peru realized that the loss of its heritage is like somebody ripping out the pieces of our living jigsaw puzzle,” said Cecilia Bákula Budge, former director of the National Institute of Culture of Peru – today the Ministry of Culture – and current head of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank Museum. “I am confident that though we still have a lot to do, we are making progress on an uphill battle in terms of recoveries.”

Thanks to this, 340 cultural pieces destined to be smuggled out of the country were prevented from leaving Peru between January and May after 1,044 pieces were kept from being smuggled out of the country in 2013 and 1,870 in 2012.

“There has been a downward trend since 2007 in trafficking of cultural artifacts,” Navarro said. “This [is due to] our three units’ work. Now, [those] trying to smuggle cultural heritage are aware that we are at the main departure points in the country and that deters them. For us, it’s important that cultural heritage does not cross the border since, once outside, rescuing the pieces – though not impossible – is certainly more difficult [due to] long repatriation processes.” . . . .

READ MORE