|Recovered: Astrolabe (Photo by ALR)|
Martinus Weiler, silvered brass
diameter 170 nm, depth mm
Today The Art Loss Register issued an 'Art Recovery Announcement' celebrating the return of Astrolabe to Skokloster Castle in a small ceremony on August 21, 2013:
It has been a good year from Swedish Museums. A few months after recovering Matisse's "Le Jardin" for Stockholm's Museum of Modern Art, Christopher Marinello, a lawyer who specializes in recovery stolen artwork, is returning to Sweden with a 16th century astrolabe stolen from a castle museum in 1999.
The astrolabe, signed by Martinus Weiler and dated 1590, can be classified as an early "astronomical computer" used to tell time and to map celestial objects. It is valued at over $400,000. The astrolabe was stolen from Skokloster Castle, one of the world's greatest baroque castles near Arlandal, Sweden. In the late 1990's and early 2000's the museum suffered a series of thefts of small objects including a rare book. The thefts were reported to INTERPOL and the Art Loss Register in London but no one was ever arrested for the crime.
Authorities suspect the notorious "KB man", a former head of the rare books department at Sweden's Royal Library, who admitted stealing millions of dollars worth of rare books and manuscripts from Swedish museums from 1986-2004. At the time of his arrest in 2004, KB told police that he quickly sold the stolen items to support his lifestyle of Armani suits, Cuban cigars, and Mercedes Benzes. A few weeks after his arrest and subsequent divorce, KB man committed suicide by cutting the gas line in his apartment, slitting his wrists, and then igniting the gas. The resulting explosion blew out the walls of his apartment forcing evacuation of his neighbours and causing a dozen serious injuries.
Mr. Marinello works closely with law enforcement and the Art Loss Register, a database of stolen objects based in London.
The astrolabe was being searched by a collector from Italy who had intended to offer it for sale in London. Once located, Marinello negotiated the return of the astrolabe with the lawyer for the Italian collector. He expects to return the work to Skokloster Castle later this week.
"While a 16th Century astrolabe may not be as 'sexy' as a major Picasso or Matisse, for a geek like me, recovering such an important planespheric and horological instrument is just as gratifying," said Marinello.
Bengt Kylsberg, the Museum's Curator commented, "Skokloster Castle is very grateful to Christopher Marinello and The Art Loss Register for their fantastic work. This instrument is an important part of our collection and has been at Skokloster Castle for more than 300 years. With this recovery, our scientific and rare instrument collection is nearly as complete as it was when Gustaf Wrangel, the founder of Skokloster Castle, died in 1676."
A gilt brass inclinometer signed by Johann Freidrich Franck and dated 1643 was also stolen from the castle and remains missing. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of this object is urged to contact:
Bengt Kylsberg, Curator, Skokloster Castle+46 (0)8-402 30 74Christopher A. Marinello, The Art Loss Register+44 (0)7702 206 913