Showing posts with label ARCA Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARCA Awards. Show all posts

May 3, 2015

ARCA's Annual 2015 Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference in Italy - Confirmed Speakers Announcement

The Association for Research into Crimes against Art  (ARCA) will be hosting its 7th annual interdisciplinary Art Crime conference in Amelia, Italy the weekend of June 26-28, 2015. 

Providing an arena for intellectual and professional exchange, this annual art crime conference highlights the nonprofit’s mission and serves as a forum that aims to facilitate a critical appraisal of the protection of art and heritage worldwide. Bringing together international scholars, law enforcement experts, art professionals, the general public and participants in ARCA’s postgraduate certificate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, attendees will have the opportunity to examine contemporary issues of common concern in this important field.

Held in the beautiful town of Amelia (Umbria), the seat of ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. The conference will include multidisciplinary panel sessions, key note speakers, a Friday evening ice-breaker cocktail reception and an awards dinner on Saturday evening — honoring the 2015 recipients of ARCA’s annual award for outstanding scholarship and professional dedication to the protection and recovery of cultural heritage.

This events opens with an optional icebreaker cocktail on Friday, June 26th at the Palazzo Farrattini. For the first time in the conference's history the event will cover two full days of speakers from Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28, 2015 at the Sala Boccarini, inside the cloister of the Biblioteca Comunale L.Lama adjacent to the Museo Civico Archeologico e Pinacoteca “Edilberto Rosa” in Amelia, Italy. Sessions begin promptly at 9:00 am, with breaks for coffee and optional Saturday and Sunday lunches as well as an optional Italian slow food dinner Saturday evening.

The 2015 conference is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. Registration for the conference is $75 for Saturday’s sessions and $25 for Sunday’s sessions. To reserve a placement for the each day’s speaking sessions, please register at the event’s Eventbrite page here.

Fees for optional networking meals and activities are payable at registration check-in at the venue.

Once registered, attendees will receive an email in March with information on directions to and lodging in Amelia as well as further details on the costs for the optional networking events planned.

Questions about this conference can be emailed to:   italy.conference (at) artcrimeresearch.org 

The annual award winners for previous years have been:

Art Policing, Recovery, Protection and Security

Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Francesco Rutelli (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Dick Drent (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), Lord Colin Renfrew (2011), Stuttgart Detective Ernst Schöller (2012), Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila (Jointly – 2012), Sharon Cohen Levin (2013), Christos Tsirogiannis (2013), Daniel Rizzo and Maurizio Pellegrini (Jointly – 2014)

Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship

Past winners:  Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013), Simon Mackenzie (2014)

Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award

Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), Dr. George H. O. Abungu (2012), Blanca Niño Norton (2013), Anne Webber (2014) 

The list of 2015 award nominees will be posted to the ARCA blog later this week.  

Confirmed Topics and Presenters for this year's conference include...

“So How Did We Get Here? Trying to Understand the Reasons Behind the Unprecedented Destruction of Archaeological Heritage"
Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly , MA Archaeology, MA Journalism
Biladi: Heritage for Peace Building (Lebanese N,G.O)

“Activities and Tools of INTERPOL’s Works of Art Unit in the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property”
Françoise Bortolotti, Criminal Intelligence Officer
INTERPOL General Secretariat (Lyon, France), Sub-Directorate - Drugs and Organized Crime - Works of Art Unit

“One Culture, Two Systems : Changing Attitudes to Cultural Heritage Protection and Illicit Smuggling in Hong Kong and China”
Toby Bull, MSc.,
Founder, TrackArt – Art Risk Consultancy, and
and
Steven Gallagher, Barrister
Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

“Connoisseurship in a Globalized Art Market: Reconciling the Conflict Between Artistic and Economic Values”
Clare Diamond, PhD., candidate
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

“Mediation, as an Alternative to the Court for Resolution of Art and Cultural Heritage Disputes”
Pierfrancesco C. Fasano, Attorney-at-Law
FASANO – Avvocati
and
Ivett Paulovics, Attorney-at-Law
FASANO – Avvocati

“EU = 28 Countries + 28 Legislations = 1 Million Problems"
Martin Finkelnberg, Head of the Art and Antique Crime Unit of the Netherlands
Dutch National Police

“Protecting China’s Archaeological Artefacts Against Looting and Illicit Art Trafficking”
Stefan Gruber, PhD.,
Associate Professor, Kyoto University

“A ‘Vital Source of Funding': Conflict Antiquities in the Syrian Civil War”
Sam Hardy, DPhil Law Studies 
American University of Rome

“Art Fraud in Germany or How Criminals Become Celebrities”
Saskia Hufnagel, PhD., Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law
Queen Mary University of London

“Siena, Dunedin, Rome: the Tale of Five Macchiaioli School Paintings”
Penelope Jackson, M.Phil
Trustee of the NZ Art Crime Research Trust

“Dealer Conversion of Consigned Art: When Drugs and Greed Make the Art Disappear"
Thomas R. Kline, J.D.
Of Counsel Andrews Kurth, LLP and Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University
and
Dorit Straus
Fine art Insurance Expert and ARCA Lecturer
and
Victor Wiener, Ph.D.,
Victor Wiener Associates, LLC, Adjunct Assistant Professor, New York University

“Give and Take: Museum Professionals’ Attitudes and Ethics Toward the Acquisition and Repatriation of West African Cultural Objects”
Meg Lambert, PhD Candidate
University of Glasgow

“A Collection of Thefts: What One Museum's Responses to Five Incidents Can Teach Us About Ideal Resolution"
Katherine Luer, ARCA alumna and future MLS graduate
Independent Researcher

“Opining on the Authentic"
Philippa Malas, Barrister, England and Wales
Law Lecturer, University of Glasgow and author of the MSc Art, Law and Business at Christie's Education, London

“The Opaque Market of Egyptian Papyri in a Globalised Context: Sellers, Buyers, Prices and the Role of Academics”
Roberta Mazza, Dr
Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester

The “PSYCHE” project,the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale and the Italian stolen W.O.A. database “Leonardo”
Salvatore Rapicavoli, Deputy Commander 
Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale

“Uncovering the Illicit Traffic of Russian Ancient Icons”
Laure Coupillaud Szustakowski, PhD Candidate
Chief Operating Officer at CAPABILIS

“Perspectives on Crime and Crime Control Policy from the Trafficking Culture Project”
Neil Brodie, PhD
Simon Mackenzie, PhD
Donna Yates, PhD
Trafficking Culture, SCCJR, University of Glasgow

“Sentencing the Art Thief: Deterrence, Responsibility, Protection, Reparation and Restoration - Uneasy Bedfellows in a Courtroom?"
Arthur Tompkins, Judge
New Zealand Ministry of Justice

“Discovering and Visualising the Criminological Value of The Medici Conspiracy”
Christos Tsirogiannis, PhD.,
Research Assistant, Trafficking Culture project, University of Glasgow

“Art CSI: When Science Solves the Puzzle of Forgery. The Case Study "Vase of Flowers", Painting Attributed to Filippo De Pisis (1896-1956)”
Lisa, Volpe, PhD., 
Research Fellow, Conservator Scientist, TekneHub - University of Ferrara

“Libya and Heritage Protection in the Absence of Security”
Hafed Walda, PhD.,
Research Fellow. King’s College London
Pending Deputy Ambassador to the permanent Libyan delegation at UNESCO

“Art Crime in Relation to Museum Security in the United States: A Survey of Recent Security Measures and Criminal Trends Within Accredited Art Museums”
Christine A. Weirich, PhD Candidate
School of Social and Political Science University of Glasgow

(please watch this space as a few key speakers are still confirming their travel and presentation titles).

May 13, 2014

ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference in Amelia, Italy - June 27-29, 2014

Amelia, Italy
The Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) will be hosting its sixth annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference the weekend of June 27-29, 2014. This 2-day conference is open to the public and all are welcome. Registration is required, but the conference is free of charge subject to space availability.

Held in the beautiful town of Amelia (Umbria), the seat of ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. The conference will include multidisciplinary panel sessions, key note speakers, an ice-breaker cocktail reception and an awards dinner on Saturday evening honoring this year’s recipients of ARCA’s annual award for outstanding scholarship and professional dedication to the protection and recovery of cultural heritage.

Porta de la valle, Amelia
Providing an arena for intellectual and professional exchange, this annual art crime conference highlights the nonprofit’s mission and serves as a forum that aims to facilitate a critical appraisal of the protection of art and heritage worldwide. Bringing together international scholars, law enforcement experts, art professionals, the general public and participants in ARCA’s postgraduate certificate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, attendees have the opportunity to examine contemporary issues of common concern in this important field.

To reserve a placement for one or both day’s sessions, please write to the association conference coordinators at: italy.conference (at) artcrimeresearch.org. Provide your full name and names of those attending with you, your email address, and your preference for either or both day’s sessions.


The 2014 ARCA Award Winners are:

Art Policing, Recovery, Protection and Security
Dr. Daniela Rizzo and Mr Maurizio Pellegrini, Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici Etruria Meridionale – Villa Giulia
Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Francesco Rutelli (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Dick Drent (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), Lord Colin Renfrew (2011), Stuttgart Detective Ernst Schöller (2012), Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila (Jointly – 2012), Sharon Cohen Levin (2013), Christos Tsirogiannis (2013)

Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship
Simon Mackenzie, Trafficking Culture project at the University of Glasgow
Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013)

Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award
Anne Webber, founder and director of The Commission for Looted Art In Europe
Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), Dr. George H. O. Abungu (2012), Blanca Niño Norton (2013)

The list of presenters and topics scheduled for the 2014 Art Crime Conference:

Panel I:  Highlights from Recent US and EU Investigations

The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté
James C Moore, Esq
Arbitrator and mediator of commercial disputes
Formerly, partner and trial lawyer with large New York law firm and president of New York State Bar Association

Hello Dalí: Anatomy of a Modern Day Art Theft Investigation
Jordan Arnold Esq.
K2 Intelligence
Former Assistant District Attorney and Head, Financial Intelligence Unit, New York County District Attorney’s Office

The Gurlitt Case: German and international responses to the legal and ethical questions to ownership rights in looting cases
Duncan Chappell, PhD Lawyer and Criminologist, Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney
 and
Saskia Hufnagel, PhD
Lecturer in Criminal Law, Queen Mary University of London
Rechtsanwalt – Fachanwalt Strafrecht, Hufnagel und Partner

The Gurlitt Case: An Inside View From Christopher A. Marinello, Lawyer and Representative for the Heirs of Paul Rosenberg
Christopher A. Marinello, Esq
Director and Founder, Art Recovery International

Panel II: The Many Faces of the Illegal Heritage Trade - Panel led by Christos Tsirogiannis PhD.

Papyri, collectors and the antiquities market: a survey and some questions
Roberta Mazza, PhD University of Bologna
Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester Research Fellow, John Rylands Research Institute – John Rylands Library

Using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade: A case study on the intercommunal conflict in Cyprus, 1963-1974
Sam Hardy, DPhil University of Sussex
Illicit antiquities trade researcher
Research Associate, Centre for Applied Archaeology, University College London

The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus
Christiana O’Connell-Schizas, LLB University of Kent, LPC University of Law
Baker & McKenzie, Riyadh

Panel III: The Vulnerabilities of Sacred Art In Situ: Yesterday and Still Today

The Theft and Ransom of Caravaggio’s “St. Jerome Writing”, Co-Cathedral of St. John
Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa, O.P. S.T.L., Lect. Th., A.R. Hist. S., Dr. Sc.Soc
Founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta
Former Curator and Director of the Malta Museums

Fighting the Thieves in Italian Churches
Judith Harris, Journalist (ARTnews; www.i-italy.org)
Author, Pompeii Awakened, The Monster in the Closet

Evacuate the objects from vulnerable religious sites? No, protect them in situ!
Stéphane Théfo
Police Officer/Project Manager, INTERPOL Office of Legal Affairs

Panel IV: The Genuine Article: Fakes and Forgeries and the Art of Deception

Would the real Mr. Goldie please stand up?
Penelope Jackson M. Phil, University of Queensland, MA University of Auckland
Director, Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, New Zealand

Forgery and Offenses Resembling Forgery
Susan Douglas, PhD Concordia University
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Contemporary Art and Theory, University of Guelph

In the Red Corner: “Connoisseurship and Art History”, and the Blue Corner: “Scientific Testing and Analysis” – Who’s right in determining Authenticity?
Toby Bull, Senior Inspector of Police, Hong Kong Police Force
Founder, TrackArt (Art Risk Consultancy), Hong Kong

Panel V: Looting, Litigation and Repatriation

Will it be the Getty Bronze or L'atleta di Fano? Italy's ongoing case for the return of the bronze statue of the Victorious Youth
Maurizio Fiorilli. Avvocato della Stato, Italy (Ret) and Stefano Alessandrini, Consultant

The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex
His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of Cambodia

Panel VI: The Mental Condition and its Role in Art Crime

'It's beyond my control' An historic and psychiatric investigation into the claim of bibliomania
Anna Knutsson MA (Hon) University of St. Andrews
Research Editor Smith Library

Art Vandalism from a Forensic Behavioral Perspective
Frans Koenraadt PhD
Professor, Universiteit Utrecht, Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology

Panel VII: Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict, Reflections from Past and Present

File Zadar: New insights on art works taken from Zadar to Italy during World War II
Antonija Mlikota, PhD University of Zagreb
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Zadar

IMCuRWG Blue Shield cultural assessment mission to Timbuktu
Joris Kila, PhD University of Amsterdam
Chairman of the ‘International Military Cultural Resources Work Group’ (IMCuRWG).
Universität Wien, Kompetenzzentrum Kulturelles Erbe und Kulturgüterschutz, Universität Wien, Alois-Musil-Center für Orientalische Archäologie, U.S. AFRICOM

A modern look at an Eternal Problem: Sixty years after the creation of the 1954 Hague Convention
Cinnamon Stephens, JD
Esquire

Panel VIII: Smart Collecting and Connoisseurship and When Art is Stolen

What’s wrong with this picture? Standards and issues of connoisseurship
Tanya Pia Starrett, MA HONS LLB, University of Glasgow
Solicitor

Crossborder Collecting in the XXI Century: Comparative Law Issues
Massimo Sterpi, Avvocato
Partner, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati 

Bicycles vs. Rembrandt
Martin Finkelnberg
Head of the Art and Antiques Crime Unit
National Criminal Intelligence Division, The Netherlands

Key Note Closing – A Look to the Future

Is International Law for the Protection of Artistic Freedom Adequate?
Eleni Tokmakidou – Moschouri, PhD University of Manchester
MJur University of Birmingham
Attorney at Law at the Supreme Court of Greece

This event opens with a icebreaker cocktail on Friday, June 27th at the Palazzo Farrattini. The conference will be held Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the Sala Boccarini, inside the cloister of the Biblioteca Comunale L.Lama adjacent to the Museo Civico Archeologico e Pinacoteca “Edilberto Rosa” in Amelia, Italy. Sessions begin promptly at 9:00 am, with a break for coffee and optional Saturday lunch as well as an optional Italian slow food dinner Saturday evening.

March 28, 2013

Blanca Niño Norton Wins ARCA's 2013 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art


Blanca Niño Norton -- Consultant Peten Development Project for the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Ministry of Environment of Natural Resources/Inter-American Development BAnk and Delegation of World Heritage Guatemala -- won ARCA's 2013 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art. This award usually goes to an individual or institution in recognition of many decades of excellence in the field. Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009); Howard Spiegler (2010); John Merryman (2011); and George H. O. Abungu (2012).

Ms. Norton is an architect and an artist, starting her career with an interest in Vernacular Architecture and completing her architectural thesis on this subject while working on collection inventory projects as a student in Guatemala and other countries of the region. In addition to her architectural degree, Blanca Niño Norton holds a masters degree in diplomacy and completed her thesis on “The action of consular and diplomatic affairs in relation to illicit traffic” which received recognition as the best thesis on diplomatic studies.

In her later years, Ms. Norton created the office of World Heritage in the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and directed it for 4 years, during which she worked on the presentation of the tentative list of World Heritage sites of Guatemala and worked on the theme of Intangible Heritage.

As such, Ms. Norton was elected and continues to serve as council member of ICCROM for the next 3 years. (3 times elected in General Assembly) and has participated in the meetings regarding international law in UNESCO Paris on the anniversary of the convention on World Heritage.

Blanca Niño Norton has participated in workshops in Italy with the Carabinieri, and lectured in Argentina, Roma, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Colombia. With the Carabinieri TPC especially with Dr Pastore, Blanca Niño Norton was able to do important training in Guatemala. Through this collaboration with the Carabineri TPC they conducted 4 courses for more than 80 people, each with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Ministero per i Bieni Culturale.

March 27, 2013

Australian Law Professor Duncan Chappell Wins ARCA's 2013 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship

Duncan Chappell, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, Australia, won ARCA's 2013 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship that usually goes to a professor or author. Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009); Larry Rothfield (2010); Neil Brodie (2011); and Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, jointly (2012).

Duncan Chappell, an Australian lawyer and criminologist now based at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, has had a long-standing interest in art crime which dates from the period during which he was the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology (1987-1994). Since that time he has been engaged in research and publishing on a range of art crime topics but with a particular focus on patterns of illegal trafficking of objects of cultural heritage in the South East Asian region. Much of this research and publishing has been undertaken in collaboration with a friend and colleague at the University of Melbourne, Professor Kenneth Polk.

Duncan Chappell’s publications include two coedited texts: Crime in the Art and Antiquities World. Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property (2011) Springer: New York (With Stefano Manacorda) and Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime (In Press) Ashgate: London (With Saskia Hufnagel). He has also had published a number of journal articles and book chapters on various aspects of art crime including fraud and fakery in the Australian Indigenous art market; the impact of corruption in the illicit trade in cultural property; and the linkages between art crime and organized crime.

In addition to his research and writing on art crime Duncan Chappell has acted as an expert in regard to court proceedings involving art crime and also been a strong supporter of  measures to enhance public awareness of the evils of looting behaviour and to strengthen the engagement of law enforcement agencies in investigation and prosecuting those responsible. In his present capacity as Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence in Policing and Security, he has sought to foster a far more proactive approach to the prevention and detection of art crime both in Australia and its neighbouring countries within the South East Asian region.

March 26, 2013

Cambridge Researcher Christos Tsirogiannis Wins ARCA's 2013 Award for Art Protection and Security

Christos Tsirogiannis, a researcher at Cambridge University and formerly an archaeologist with the Greek ministries of Culture, Justice and Home Office, has won ARCA's 2013 Award for Art Protection and Security. Tsirogiannis provided evidence that a marble statue and three limestone busts had been trafficked by the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici and Robin Symes, respectively, before appearing at an auction in Bonhams (London) in April 2010. All four antiquities were withdrawn from the auction due to this evidence.

This award usually goes to a security director or policy-maker. Past winners: Francesco Rutelli (2009); Dick Drent (2010); Lord Colin Renfrew (2011); and Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila, Jointly (2012).

Tsirogiannis is completing his Ph.D thesis on the International Illicit Antiquities Network (“Unravelling the International Illicit Antiquities Network through the Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides archive and its international implications”). His thesis is a result of his extensive experience as a forensic archaeologist at the Greek Ministry of Culture (1998-2002 and 2004-2008), the Greek Ministry of Justice (2006-2007) and as the only forensic archaeologist at the Greek police Art Squad (Home Office, 2004-2008, having participated in more than 173 investigations cases and raids). His participation in a 6-member core of the Greek Task Force contributed to the successful claim of looted and stolen antiquities from institutions and individuals, such as the Getty Museum (2007), as well as the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection and the Cahn Gallery in Switzerland (2008). Among many cases, he considers most memorable the raids at the summer residence of Dr Marion True (former curator of antiquities at the Getty Museum) and at the premises of the top illicit antiquities dealers in the world, Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides, in the Cyclades, where the famous archive was discovered.

Over the last five years (2007-present), Tsirogiannis has been identifying looted and ‘toxic’ antiquities at the most prominent auction houses (e.g., Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams) and galleries (e.g., “Royal-Athena Galleries”), as part of a project with the renowned academics Professor David Gill (University Campus Suffolk) and Dr. Christopher Chippindale (University of Cambridge). Some of the results of his research have been already demonstrated in The Journal of Art Crime (“Polaroids from the Medici Dossier: Continued Sightings on the Market”, 2011:27-33, with Professor David Gill). This part of his research has contributed to the withdrawal of antiquities (e.g., Bonhams case, April 2010) and to the disclosure of many scandals in the field (e.g., Christie’s June 2010, April 2011, December 2011). Tsirogiannis’ primary aim is to notify governments to retrieve their stolen cultural property and to raise public awareness regarding antiquities trafficking, through media coverage of these cases.

March 25, 2013

Sharon Cohen Levin Wins ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award

Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, won ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award.

Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), and Ernst Schöller (2012).


Ms. Levin been instrumental in securing the return of innumerable antiquities and other cultural property to foreign governments, and artworks and other cultural property to the families of Holocaust victims from whom they had been looted or subjected to forced sale by the Nazis.

In 2010, Ms. Levin's office resolved the case of United States v. Portrait of Wally with the Leopold Museum in Vienna.  This case, involved the Estate of Lea Bondi Jaray and lasted over ten years that resulted in: payment of 19 million dollars to the Estate (reflecting at least the full value of the painting); an exhibit of the painting at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, before it returned to the Leopold Museum, and permanent signage to accompany the painting at the Leopold Museum and anywhere else in the world where it is exhibited, which sets forth in both English and German the true provenance of the painting and the legacy of Lea Bondi Jaray. The Wally case is credited with focusing the world's attention on the problem of Nazi-looted art.

In the past six years, the Southern District of New York has forfeited nearly $6 billion in crime proceeds. Ms. Levin pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property. The SDNY Asset Forfeiture Unit has initiated dozens of proceedings under the forfeiture laws -- seizing and returning artwork and cultural property to the persons and nations who rightfully own them.  Notable examples include the forfeiture and repatriation of stolen paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Serge Poliakoff, Anton Graff and Winslow Homer; drawings by Rembrandt and Duhrer; an Etruscan bronze statute dated circa 490 BC; an antique gold platter dated circa 450 B.C.; a rare Mexican manuscript; a medieval carved wood panel which was originally inside the historic Great Mosque in Dvrigi; an Ancient Hebrew Bible owned by the Jewish Community of Vienna and stolen during the Holocaust and most recently, a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from the Gobi desert in Mongolia.

March 14, 2013

Nominees for ARCA's 2013 Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award


Here are the four nominees for ARCA's 2013 Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art, which usually goes to an individual or institution in recognition of many decades of excellence in the field). Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), and George H. O. Abungu (2012).

Ton Cremers, Museum Security and Safety Consultant, founded the MSN. Mr. Cremers is active in security and safety in museums, archives, libraries, churches with valuable collections, monuments, and old Dutch windmills for the past 30 years. He is the former director of security and safety of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the founding director of the Museum Security Network. The MSN mailing list, presently a Google Group, was the first WWW list-serv dedicated to the subject of museum security and has been active for over 15 years. In those years over 45,000 messages have been send to some 1,000 subscribers (average) in more than 50 countries. Ton Cremers was one of the founding members of the Leiden network on trade in illegal antiquities, dedicated to the struggle against the illicit trade in art and antiquities. Other founding members: Neil Brody, Colin Renfrew a.o.'s. Ton Cremers has been active in over 450 museums etc., in several European, and African countries, such as Zimbabwe where he audited the security and safety of all national museums, national archives, and national galleries.
Cremers  has published numerous articles in international magazines, and was the codeveloper of a self-audit software tool with which museums are able to investigate their security and safety. Thus far Cremers is the first non-American to have received the prestigious Burke Award for the protection of cultural property.  His publication about emergency management in museums is a standard in the Dutch language world. At the moment Cremers is working on a new initiative to build a museum in Athens, Greece and is active in 17 museums on six islands in the Dutch Caribbean, teaching and training museum workers.
Dr. David Gill is Professor of Archaeological Heritage and Head of the Division of Humanities at University Campus Suffolk, England. He is a former Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, and Sir James Knott Fellow at Newcastle University. He was a curator in the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, before moving to Swansea University where he was Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology.
He has published widely on archaeological ethics, often with Dr Christopher Chippindale (University of Cambridge). Their research has promoted the material and intellectual consequences of looting. Gill has provided a commentary on the impact of such activity through his research blog, “Looting Matters”. This research has formed part of the effort to restore antiquities to Italy and Greece in the wake of the “Medici Conspiracy”.
Maurizio Seracini is a pioneer in the use of multispectral imaging and other diagnostic as well as analytical technologies as applied to works of art and structures. He joined UC San Diego in 2006, more than thirty years after graduating from UCSD with a B.S. in bioengineering in 1973 and  a Laurea in “Ingegneria Elettronica” from the University of Padua in 1976.
He has studied more than 2,500 works of art and historic buildings, ranging from Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper” and Botticelli's "Allegory of Spring", to Caravaggio’s “Medusa”. Founder and Scientific Director of EDITECH (Electronics, Diagnostics and Technology) in 1977, the first center for authenticating works of art in Italy.
Blanca Niño Norton is an architect and an artist, starting her career with an interest in Vernacular Architecture and completing her architectural thesis on this subject while working on collection inventory projects as a student in Guatemala and other countries of the region. In addition to her architectural degree, Blanca Niño Norton holds a masters degree in diplomacy and completed her thesis on “The action of consular and diplomatic affairs in relation to illicit traffic” which received recognition as the best thesis on diplomatic studies. In her later years she created the office of World Heritage in the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and directed it for 4 years, during which she worked on the presentation of the tentative list of World Heritage sites of Guatemala and worked on the theme of Intangible Heritage.  As such she was elected and continues to serve as council member of ICCROM for the next 3 years. (3 times elected in General Assembly) and has participated in the meetings regarding international law in UNESCO Paris on the anniversary of the convention on World Heritage.
Blanca Niño Nortonhas participated in workshops in Italy with the Carabinieri, and lectured in Argentina, Roma, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Colombia. With the Carabinieri TPC especially with Dr Pastore, Blanca Niño Norton was able to do important training in Guatemala. Through this collaboration with the Carabineri TPC they conducted 4 courses for more than 80 people, each with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Ministero per i Bieni Culturale. 

March 13, 2013

Nominees for ARCA's 2013 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship


This year five people have been nominated for ARCA's 2013 Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship, which usually goes to a professor or author. Past winners:  Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), and Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, jointly (2012).

The Five (5) Nominees for 2013 are:

Duncan Chappell, an Australian lawyer and criminologist now based at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, has had a long-standing interest in art crime which dates from the period during which he was the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology (1987-1994). Since that time he has been engaged in research and publishing on a range of art crime topics but with a particular focus on patterns of illegal trafficking of objects of cultural heritage in the South East Asian region. Much of this research and publishing has been undertaken in collaboration with a friend and colleague at the University of Melbourne, Professor Kenneth Polk.
Duncan Chappell’s publications include two coedited texts: Crime in the Art and Antiquities World. Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property (2011) Springer: New York (With Stefano Manacorda) and Contemporary Perspectives on the Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Art Crime (In Press) Ashgate: London (With Saskia Hufnagel). He has also had published a number of journal articles and book chapters on various aspects of art crime including fraud and fakery in the Australian Indigenous art market; the impact of corruption in the illicit trade in cultural property; and the linkages between art crime and organized crime.
In addition to his research and writing on art crime Duncan Chappell has acted as an expert in regard to court proceedings involving art crime and also been a strong supporter of  measures to enhance public awareness of the evils of looting behaviour and to strengthen the engagement of law enforcement agencies in investigation and prosecuting those responsible. In his present capacity as Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence in Policing and Security, he has sought to foster a far more proactive approach to the prevention and detection of art crime both in Australia and its neighbouring countries within the South East Asian region.
Milton Esterow, author of The Art Stealers and editor of ArtNews, which has won 44 major awards for reporting, analysis, criticism, and design—the first and only art magazine to win these awards. Since Esterow bought ARTnews from Newsweek Magazine in 1972, he has guided its growth into the most widely circulated art magazine in the world. Since 1975, ARTnews has won most of the major journalism awards presented to magazines.  Its editors and reporters have been honored forty-four times for excellence in reporting, criticism, and design.
Under Mr. Esterow's direction, ARTnews became the first magazine to consistently apply rigorous standards of investigative reporting to the art world.  Mr. Esterow received a special award for lifetime achievement from the College Art Association, the national organization of educators, artists, art historians, curators, critics, and institutions in 2003. He was cited for “his exceptional contributions to art journalism and investigative art reporting” and for having “overseen the magazine’s financial success while enhancing its reputation and influence in the visual-arts community and beyond.”
Fabio Isman is a highly esteemed investigative journalist who has worked for Il Messaggero for 40 years .  He is a major contributor to the Giornale dell’Arte, The Art Newspaper, Art e Dossier, Bell’Italia. Through Skira, and has published I Predatori dell’Arte Perduta, il Saccheggio dell’Archeologia in Italia (Predators of Lost Art, the Archeological Plunder of Italy, 2009), and the study of the “Grande Razzia” (The Great Plunder) and illegal excavations since 1970 of a million archeological finds in Italy, many of which are found in noteworthy museums abroad.  His list of publications include 32 books and hundreds of articles.
In Italy and abroad, he has covered the “Six Day War” (1967) and the war in Lebanon (1982); the death of Mitterrand and the election of Chirac; the murder of Rabin; the voyages of Pertini, Cossiga and Scalfaro, the ascension of eight italian governments and two Popes; the trials of Piazza Fontana, the Lockheed scandal, the Ardeatine massacre and the “Mani Pulite” political corruption scandal of the 1990s in Italy.  Since 1980, he has been dedicated to writing about cultural heritage protection, with an emphasis on historic preservation not only in Italy, but worldwide.
Dr. Kenneth Polk, University of Melbourne, Australia, has written extensively in the topic of antiquities trafficking. While his previous work in criminology was in such areas as youth crime and crimes of violence, for the past 15 years Prof. Polk has concentrated on issues of art crime, including art theft, art fraud, and the problem of the illicit traffic in cultural heritage material.  He has recent or forthcoming publications in all of these areas.  Much of the work over the past ten years has dealt with the illicit traffic in antiquities, including articles (with Duncan Chappell) on the question of how this traffic fits into the large volume of work done on organized crime.  Because of emerging interest in recent months around the problem of art theft (in part provoked by the 100th anniversary of the well known events around the theft and recovery of the Mona Lisa), he has re-visited this topic in forthcoming works.  In Australia, Prof. Polk currently serves as a member of the National Cultural Heritage Committee (appointed by the Australian Government).

Lyndel V Prott is an Honorary Professor, University of Queensland and Honorary Member of The Australian Academy of the Humanities. She is the former Head of International Standards Section, UNESCO and then Director of the Cultural Heritage Division where she was instrumental in strengthening existing international instruments and the realisation of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention. Her terrific scholarly output has brought attention to the plague of antiquities looting and she has been a wonderful advocate for concerted international action to combat the theft of heritage and destruction of our collective past.
Lyndel Prott AO (1991), Öst. EKWuK(i) (2000), Hon FAHA; LL.D. (honoris causa) B.A. LL.B. (University of Sydney), Licence Spéciale en Droit international (ULB Brussels),  Dr. Juris (Tübingen) and member of Gray’s Inn, London, is former Director of UNESCO’s Division of cultural Heritage and former Professor of Cultural Heritage Law at the University of Sydney. She has had a distinguished career in teaching, research and practice, including co-operation with COM and INTERPOL to improve co-ordination between civil and criminal law to deal with illicit traffic.

At UNESCO 1990-2002 she was responsible for the administration of UNESCO’s Conventions and standard-setting Recommendations on the protection of cultural heritage and also for the negotiations on the 1999 Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1954 and the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001.  She contributed as Observer for UNESCO to the negotiations for the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects 1995. She has authored, co-authored or edited over 280 books, reports or articles, written in English, French or German and translated into 9 other languages.

March 12, 2013

Nominees for ARCA's 2013 Award for Art Protection and Security


Here are the four nominees for ARCA's 2013 Award for Art Protection and Security, which is usually given to a security director or policy-maker.  Past winners: Francesco Rutelli (2009), Dick Drent (2010), Lord Colin Renfrew (2011), Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila, Jointly (2012).

The Original Four (4) Nominees for 2013 are:

Ton Cremers, Museum Security and Safety Consultant, founded Museum Security Network (MSN). Mr. Cremers is active in security and safety in museums, archives, libraries, churches with valuable collections, monuments, and old Dutch windmills for the past 30 years. He is the former director of security and safety of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the founding director of the Museum Security Network. The MSN mailing list, presently a Google Group, was the first WWW list-serv dedicated to the subject of museum security and has been active for over 15 years. In those years over 45,000 messages have been send to some 1,000 subscribers (average) in more than 50 countries. Ton Cremers was one of the founding members of the Leiden network on trade in illegal antiquities, dedicated to the struggle against the illicit trade in art and antiquities. Other founding members: Neil Brody, Colin Renfrew a.o.'s.
Ton Cremers has been active in over 450 museums etc., in several European and African countries, such as Zimbabwe where he audited the security and safety of all national museums, national archives, and national galleries. Mr. Cremers  has published numerous articles in international magazines, and was the co-developer of a self-audit software tool with which museums are able to investigate their security and safety. Thus far Cremers is the first non-American to have received the prestigious Burke Award for the protection of cultural property.  His publication about emergency management in museums is a standard in the Dutch language world. At the moment Cremers is working on a new initiative to build a museum in Athens, Greece and is active in 17 museums on six islands in the Dutch Caribbean, teaching and training museum workers.
Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Ms. Levin has been instrumental in securing the return of innumerable antiquities and other cultural property to foreign governments, and artworks and other cultural property to the families of Holocaust victims from whom they had been looted or subjected to forced sale by the Nazis.  In 2010, Ms. Levin's office resolved the case of United States v. Portrait of Wally with the Leopold Museum in Vienna.

Under Ms. Levin's guidance, the Asset Forfeiture Unit handles all criminal and civil forfeiture actions in the Southern District of New York.  These cases include the forfeiture of the proceeds of corporate and securities fraud, economic crime, cybercrime, health care fraud, international narcotics trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and public corruption.  In the past six years, the Southern District of New York has forfeited nearly $6 billion in crime proceeds.
AUSA Levin pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property. The SDNY Asset Forfeiture Unit has initiated dozens of proceedings under the forfeiture laws -- seizing and returning artwork and cultural property to the persons and nations who rightfully own them.  Notable examples include the forfeiture and repatriation of stolen paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Serge Poliakoff, Anton Graff and Winslow Homer; drawings by Rembrandt and Duhrer; an Etruscan bronze statute dated circa 490 B.C.; an antique gold platter dated circa 450 B.C.; a rare Mexican manuscript; a medieval carved wood panel which was originally inside the historic Great Mosque in Dvrigi; an Ancient Hebrew Bible owned by the Jewish Community of Vienna and stolen during the Holocaust and most recently, a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from the Gobi desert in Mongolia.
Blanca Niño Norton is the founding president of ICOMOS Guatemala and the former vice president of the ICOMOS Scientific Committee on Vernacular Architecture.  She presently serves as a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Council of ICCROM, an intergovernmental organization (IGO) dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage which exists to serve the international community as represented by its 132 Member States. Ms. Niño Norton is an architect and an advisor to the Guatemala Minister of Culture and a former member of the faculty of the School of Architecture of Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala. Ms. Niño Norton has coordinated and promoted workshops on a variety of cultural themes and lectured on topics in including vernacular architecture, intangible heritage and illicit trafficking of cultural property. Her interest in the latter led her to create the Illicit Traffic Unit in the Guatemala Ministry of Culture. Ms. Niño Norton consults on national and international cultural heritage projects and is a Project Officer for Cultural Programs at UNESCO Guatemala. She also works on conservation projects for independent collections and museums. In addition to her architectural degree, Blanca Niño Norton holds a masters degree in diplomacy and completed her thesis on “The action of consular and diplomatic affairs in relation to illicit traffic” which received recognition as the best thesis on diplomatic studies.
As her early career progressed Blanca Niño Norton became the Vice President of the International Committee of CIAV within ICOMOS and worked on the international charter for its preservation.   During the early eighties she served to create ICOMOS Guatemala.
Blanca Niño Norton became motivated in this field having attended a private party once in Northern Italy where the owner of the house was proud of the stolen part of a column he had in his living room. It was a Guatemalan piece and she felt as if the object was stolen directly from her. Strongly motivated Blanca Niño Norton started working against illicit traffic of cultural property in 2000 and received a grant from the Getty Conservation Institute as a guest scholar. Since then she has also participated in the creation of the office of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Culture in Guatemala and created the office Against Illicit Traffic with the direct support of the Guatemala ministry.  This office was established to enhance communication at the ministry between Guatemalan Customs, the FBI, ICE, the Carabinieri TPC, and Scotland Yard.  In this capacity, she served as principle advisor for the Guatemalan Minister of Culture. In furtherance of that Blanca Niño Norton participated at the international meeting of UNESCO in Cambodia on the convention against illicit traffic of cultural property.  During this time Guatemala signed agreements with UNIDROIT, and the second protocol of Haya; becoming the first country in the region to have signed all of the international cooperation agreements.
Christos Tsirogiannis, a researcher at Cambridge University and formerly an archaeologist with the Greek ministries of Culture, Justice and Home Office provided evidence that a marble statue and three limestone busts had been trafficked by the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici and Robin Symes, respectively, before appearing at an auction in Bonhams (London) in April 2010. All four antiquities were withdrawn from the auction due to this evidence. Mr. Tsirogiannis is completing his Ph.D thesis on the International Illicit Antiquities Network (“Unravelling the International Illicit Antiquities Network through the Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides archive and its international implications”). His thesis is a result of his extensive experience as a forensic archaeologist at the Greek Ministry of Culture (1998-2002 and 2004-2008), the Greek Ministry of Justice (2006-2007) and as the only forensic archaeologist at the Greek police Art Squad (Home Office, 2004-2008, having participated in more than 173 investigations cases and raids). His participation in a 6-member core of the Greek Task Force contributed to the successful claim of looted and stolen antiquities from institutions and individuals, such as the Getty Museum (2007), as well as the Shelby White and Leon Levy collection and the Cahn Gallery in Switzerland (2008).
Among many cases, he considers most memorable the raids at the summer residence of Dr. Marion True (former curator of antiquities at the Getty Museum) and at the premises of the top illicit antiquities dealers in the world, Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides, in the Cyclades, where the famous archive was discovered.  Over the last five years (2007-present), Tsirogiannis has been identifying looted and ‘toxic’ antiquities at the most prominent auction houses (e.g., Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams) and galleries (e.g., “Royal-Athena Galleries”), as part of a project with the renowned academics Professor David Gill (University Campus Suffolk) and Dr Christopher Chippindale (University of Cambridge). Some of the results of his research have been already demonstrated in The Journal of Art Crime (“Polaroids from the Medici Dossier: Continued Sightings on the Market”, 2011:27-33, with Professor David Gill). This part of his research has contributed to the withdrawal of antiquities (e.g., Bonhams case, April 2010) and to the disclosure of many scandals in the field (e.g., Christie’s June 2010, April 2011, December 2011). Tsirogiannis’ primary aim is to notify governments to retrieve their stolen cultural property and to raise public awareness regarding antiquities trafficking, through media coverage of these cases.

Nominations for ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award


Here are this year's three nominees for ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award which usually goes to a police officer, investigator, or lawyer.  Past winners have included: Vernon Rapley (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), and Ernst Schöller (2012). 

Colonel Mathew Bogdanos, United States Marine Corps Reserves, Senior Investigative Counsel, Assistant District Attorney New York, investigated the looting from the Baghdad Museum and organized the security of it during the Iraq conflict. Colonel Bogdanos left active duty in the Marines in 1988 to join the New York County District Attorney's Office. Remaining in the Marine Corps Reserves in the 1990s, he led a counter-narcotics operation on the Mexican border and served in Desert Storm, South Korea, Lithuania, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo.
Losing his apartment near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he joined a counter-terrorism task force in Afghanistan, where he received a Bronze Star for actions against al-Qaeda. He then served in the Horn of Africa and three tours in Iraq—leading the investigation into the looting of Iraq’s National Museum—before deploying again to Afghanistan in 2009. Exposing the link between antiquities trafficking and terrorist financing, and presenting those findings to the United Nations, Interpol, British Parliament, and the Peace Palace in The Hague, he received a National Humanities Medal from President Bush for his work recovering more than 6,000 of Iraq's treasures in eight countries.  He holds a classics degree from Bucknell University; law degree and master’s in Classics from Columbia University; and master’s in Strategic Studies from the Army War College. Returning to the DA’s Office in October 2010, he continues the hunt for stolen antiquities. All royalties from his book, Thieves of Baghdad, are donated to The Iraq Museum.
Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, has been instrumental in securing the return of innumerable antiquities and other cultural property to foreign governments, and artworks and other cultural property to the families of Holocaust victims from whom they had been looted or subjected to forced sale by the Nazis.  In 2010, Ms. Levin's office resolved the case of United States v. Portrait of Wally with the Leopold Museum in Vienna.  This case, involved the Estate of Lea Bondi Jaray and lasted over ten years that resulted in: payment of 19 million dollars to the Estate (reflecting at least the full value of the painting); an exhibit of the painting at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, before it returned to the Leopold Museum, and permanent signage to accompany the painting at the Leopold Museum and anywhere else in the world where it is exhibited, which sets forth in both English and German the true provenance of the painting and the legacy of Lea Bondi Jaray. The Wally case is credited with focusing the world's attention on the problem of Nazi-looted art.
In the past six years, the Southern District of New York has forfeited nearly $6 billion in crime proceeds. Ms. Levin pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property. The SDNY Asset Forfeiture Unit has initiated dozens of proceedings under the forfeiture laws -- seizing and returning artwork and cultural property to the persons and nations who rightfully own them.  Notable examples include the forfeiture and repatriation of stolen paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Serge Poliakoff, Anton Graff and Winslow Homer; drawings by Rembrandt and Duhrer; an Etruscan bronze statute dated circa 490 B.C.; an antique gold platter dated circa 450 B.C.; a rare Mexican manuscript; a medieval carved wood panel which was originally inside the historic Great Mosque in Dvrigi; an Ancient Hebrew Bible owned by the Jewish Community of Vienna and stolen during the Holocaust and most recently, a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from the Gobi desert in Mongolia.
Christos Tsirogiannis is a forensic archaeologist at the University of Cambridge, completing his Ph.D thesis on the International Illicit Antiquities Network (“Unravelling the International Illicit Antiquities Network through the Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides archive and its international implications”). As a Reserve Officer of the Greek Army, he discovered two Archaic period settlements and a Classical period cemetery, for which he has been decorated with the Army Commendation Award (2003). For several years Tsirogiannis was the only archaeologist working for the Greek Police Art Squad in his native Athens and he remains actively involved in tracing stolen antiquities from both his native country and Italy. Roughly three times a year he will spot an object, perhaps a vase or a sculpture , that has come on to the art market with something about its provenance which serves to make him suspicious. Once alerted to the possibility that an illegally traded item may be about to change hands, he has used his experience to investigate auction houses and galleries, museums and private collections around the world making comparisons between evidence included in confiscated archives by police and judicial authorities. If, at that point, he reveals a trail that suggests the illicit origin of an antiquity, he contacts the relevant authorities of the robbed country.
Tsirogiannis, took his first degree in Archaeology and History of Art at the University of Athens and began his career as an archaeologist working for the Greek Ministry of Culture.  One morning in August 2004 he reported that his world changed when he got a phone call from the headquarters of the Athens police asking him to accompany them on a raid of a monastery where antiquities without any collecting history had been found. The Greek judicial system found the monks innocent – but it was a clearly problematic case that opened his eyes to the problems of trafficking. While in Greece, Tsirogiannis continued to work for the police as an unpaid volunteer, frequently escorting authorities on raids throughout Greece and identifying looted antiquities, while keeping his day job at the Ministry of Culture.  When his work with the police grew, he was offered a post with the Ministry of Justice. As an expert trusted by the authorities, he was directly involved in a series of high-profile investigations by specialist teams from the Greek and Italian police, researching archives of looted objects that had made their way along a clandestine network of looters, middlemen, famous auction houses and high-profile dealers working closely with top collectors.  The most notorious of these raids was that on the Robin Symes-Christos Michaelides summer residence in the Cyclades, where the authorities found an archive of professional photographs that recorded numerous looted and smuggled antiquities from nearly all the world’s ancient civilizations.

August 1, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - ,,, No comments

Noah Charney's Q&A with Geore H. O. Abungu in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

George Abungu is the winner of the 2012 ARCA Award for Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art. Dr. Abungu, a native of Kenya, has served as Chairman of the International Standing Committee on the Traffic of Illicit Antiquities since 1999, and as Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya from 1999-2002. Among his many projects, he was involved in the return to Kenya of looted vigango (traditional grave markers). For more information on him, see the article on ARCA Award winners in this issue.

1. How did you bring the vigango back to Africa from the United States?
Many greetings from Nairobi. I will now try to answer some of the questions you raised. First let me recognize the good work ARCA is doing, and to thank the membership for the award that I feel is a great privilege to me and to Africa as a whole. As an archaeologist and a heritage professional, I have spent a lot of my working life in museum and museum-related fields. I have dealt with the protection of works of art as a field archaeologist working on the Kenyan coast, as head of Coastal Museums Programmes, as Deputy Director of the National Museums of Kenya and, subsequently, from 1999-2002, as Director General of the National Museums of Kenya. The museum, apart from hosting the Gallery of East African Contemporary Art, was also in charge of all other heritage in the country, including the Mijikenda Kayas, where many of the vigango were stolen from in the past. 
I got involved with the vigango issue when I was still at the Coast of Kenya, working as the Coastal Archaeologist as well as Head of the Museums there. During that time we had to deal with thefts not only of the vigango but also the illegal sale and purchase of Swahili cultural materials such as chairs, doors and jewelry — all that qualify as works of art. With the cooperation of law enforcement agencies, we managed to apprehend a number of dealers who, unfortunately, due to the leniency of the law, often managed to get away with only small fines by way of penalty. However it was a lesson to others. 
As for the return of the vigango to Kenya, this happened after I left the museum. However I started the process of the return by working with two scholars from the USA who had worked on the Kenyan coast and knew the vigango and the families from whom they had been stolen. We basically blew the whistle, as well as contacted these institutions during my time at the museum, to inform them that we knew they had these items and, as a country, we wanted them back. As my successors at the museum continued to follow up through official channels with the institutions, I continued to write articles using these as examples of illicit and immoral acquisitions. In the end, both the Kenyan government, as well as the concerned institution, took the action to return two vigango. Since then, many have been returned.

You can continue reading this interview in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.