Showing posts with label Carabinieri Art Squad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carabinieri Art Squad. Show all posts

June 16, 2013

Carabinieri Headquarters for the Protection of Cultural Heritage Publishes Annual Bulletins of Stolen Art Online

Ton Cremers for Museum Security Network sent out a valuable link to "Art in Ostaggio - Art in Hostage", bilingual bulletins of stolen works of art prepared by the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale from 2004-2012 designed to combat against the worldwide problem of the illegal art market.

The 124-page report for 2012 includes a statement from the Carabinieri Headquarters for the Protection of Cultural Heritage:
We believe that what has been stolen must not be considered as lost forever. On the contrary, we regard it as held hostage by offenders who can and must be defeated by the Italian and international police force, together with the Ministry of Culture, the art dealers and all the citizens.
The information for each stolen object registered includes: artist or school (with indications limiting or the fining its paternity, such as: attributed to, workshop of, copy by, etc.); title or subject of the work; material and technique of execution; Dimensions; carabinieri databank reference number; and images.

The report is divided into archaeology; woodwork; ecclesiastic objects; painting; and sculpture. The report concludes with an index of the stolen works and a list of recovered artworks reported in the Bulletin's previous issues.

A year-in-progress list for 2013 reports the recovery of 10 objects previously identified in earlier bulletins.

May 10, 2012

More confirmation of old news? Pietro Grasso, head of the anti-Mafia crime unit, confirms in May that Caravaggio's Nativity of Palermo eaten by pigs

Caravaggio's Nativity from Palermo
In 2009, Judith Harris wrote for the ARCA blog a post titled "Breaking News on the Stolen Caravaggio Nativity" that a member of the mafia told law officials that the painting was likely destroyed in the 1980s.  But just last week, Journalist Noel Grima for The Malta Independent online reported May 6th that Pietro Grasso, the head of the anti-Mafia crime unit, confirmed again that legal authorities believe that the Caravaggio of Palermo has been eaten by pigs.

Possibly no one wants to believe that the painting has been so carelessly destroyed; the FBI and Interpol still list the painting as stolen and missing.

Grima repeats a formerly published article in "Arezzo, il Procuratore antimafia Pietro Grasso: il Caravaggio di Palermo mangiato dai porci" dated April 22 reports that Grasso confirmed during a press conference earlier rumors that the Nativity paintings with Saints Lorenzo and Francis of Assisi has likely been tossed around by criminals and ended up in a pig sty and eaten by rats and pigs over the years.
"Ci verrobbe tempo perché è una lunga storia ... ma riteniamo che il quadro sia finito nelle mani di ignoranti che l'hanno hascosto in una porcilaia, dove magari porci poi se lo sono mangiato."
Grima translates:
The anti-Mafia's head's reply was a chilling one: "We need more time because the situation is rather complicated, but we believe the painting ended up in the hands of ignorant people who hit it in a pigsty where the pigs ate it."
The Malta connected dates back to the 17th century when the artist was imprisoned there.  Caravaggio himself lead a tumultuous lifestyle documented in Italian police records.

Grima claims that a painting similar to The "Nativity" by Caravaggio would be worth $200 million while the FBI website estimates the value at $20 million.

In October 1969, two thieves entered the Oratory of San Lorenzo in Palmero, Italy, according to the FBI, and removed Caravaggio's Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco from its frame.

Interpol still reports the painting as missing on its stolen art database and places the date of the theft as October 18, 1969.  Interpol lists nine other works by Caravaggio (or from the school of or in the manner of) as stolen: Portrait of an Old Woman, Montepulciano, Italy, December 22, 1970; Doubting Tomas from Frascati, Italy, March 15, 1974; Beggars and Invalids (copper painting) from San Sebastian, Spain, April 1978; Man with a Pendant Earring, The Draughts Players, and Venice Feeding the Cupids, from La Storta, Italy, December 1, 1979; Saint Gerolamo, from Dozza, Italy, June 4, 1985; Two Men Playing Dice, from Lessona, Italy, July 27, 1986; and Los Jugadores from Santa Fe de Bogata, Colombia, October 24, 1999.

April 20, 2012

Looted Nuraghic bronze statuettes from Sardinia Sold in Germany and the United States according to the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection unit in Sassari

Translation by Francesca Rossi, Our Correspondent in Amelia

ARCA blog asked Ms. Rossi to translate the first part of the article "Germania e Usa le ultime mete dei bronzetti trafugati" (Germany and the USA are the destinations for looted bronzes) published by, a daily newspaper in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia.

Forced to emigrate even after two or three thousands years spent in Sardinia: crammed into trucks or inside a bag between trousers and shirts, in the aircraft hold. They make stopovers of four to five years in Switzerland, ‘cause the rest is good (and certainly allows the dust to settle). And then they cross the continents: to the United States or Canada on one side, Japan on the other. This is the clandestine journey of nacelles and Nuraghic bronze statuettes. A new emergency, according to Paolo Montorsi, Commander of the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection nucleus of Sassari, who, during a conference organized by the Carabinieri during the Week of Culture, spoke about this argument.

The phenomenon of illegal excavations has declined compared to previous years, though. “Probably – clarified Montorsi – because the valuable pieces are already gone”. This doesn’t mean the Carabinieri do let their guard down: there’s a new line of investigation, which obviously is still secret, that takes us in Germany and United States. Pieces easy to take away because of their reduced dimensions, but of great value: some of those bronze statues, in the black market, are valued about 20.000€/cm.

In particular, the highest number of illegal excavations is recorded in the area of Nuoro. “It’s very important when a theft is reported – explained Montorsi – to provide a photo of the stolen handwork, so it can be inserted in a database interacting with the Interpol.”

March 26, 2012

List of artworks recovered by the Carabinieri TPC in Rome in March 2012 -- 41 years after they were reported stolen from a private residence in the same district

Guido Reni's Judith and Holofernes
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog editor

Earlier this month, the Carabinieri's del Reparto Operativo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale di Roma (TPC, Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) recovered 37 paintings that had been stolen from a private residence in 1971. The artworks hadn't left Rome's Parioli neighborhood from where they had been stolen.  Apparently, a couple had purchased 37 of the paintings twenty years ago in a private sale.  When the husband died, the 50-year-old widow placed four of the paintings in an auction sales catalogue.  In a routine operation, a Carabinieri officer had matched those images to the TPC's stolen art database which contains more than 3 million stolen artworks.  Eleven paintings stolen in 1971 were found in the woman's home in Rome and another 26 works in another home located outside the city.

The Carabinieri TPC provided a list of the most important recovered paintings (translated here):

A pair of paintings of oil on canvas attributed to Luca Giordano, rural landscapes, 49x76 cm;

Peter Paul Rubens' Christ on the Cross
Oil on canvas, Giuseppe Ruoppolo (1631-1710), still life with fruit, 50x38 cm;

Oil on canvas, Philipp Peter Roos/Rosa da Tivoli (1657-1706),  Three putti playing with a goat, 97x134 cm;

Oil on canvas, Andrea Meldolla/Lo Schiavone (1510-1563), Venus and Love, 98x123 cm;

Oil on canvas, Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), lake landscape with soldiers, 36x70 cm;

A pair of oil on canvas paintings, Antonio Diziani (1737-1797), country market, 40x60 cm;

Oil on canvas, Giulio Carpioni (1613-1678), Bacco and Arianna, 63x53 cm;

Oil on canvas, school of Paolo Caliari/Il Veronese (1528-1588), Scene with Saints, martyrs and angels, 75x62 cm;

Oil on canvas, Guido Reni (1575-1642), Judith and Holofernes, 39x30 cm;

Van Dyck's Portrait of a Knight
Oil on canvas, Pietro Longhi (1702-1785), carnival scene, 33x40 cm;

Oil on canvas, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Christ on the cross, 47x27 cm;

Oil on canvas, Antoon Van Dyck (1599-1641), Portrait of a Knight, 36x28 cm;

Oil on canvas, Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), Portrait of a Lady, 40x33 cm;

Tempera on wood panel with gold background, Berlinghiero Berlinghieri (late 12th century - 1236), Madonna with Child, 69x39 cm;

Tempera on wood panel with gold background, school of PisaMadonna with Child, 52x40 cm;

Nicolas Poussin's Baptism of Christ
Oil on canvas, Pieter Van Laer (1599-1642), rural scene with ladies and knights, 52x66 cm;

Oil on canvas, Giovan Battista Recco (1615-1660), still life with fish, 53x70 cm;

Oil on canvas, school of Caravaggio, depicting still life with fruit, 40x66 cm.

Oil on canvas, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665, Baptism of Christ, 50x66 cm; and

Tempera on wood panel, Taddeo Gaddi (1290-1366), Crucifixion, 55x23 cm.

March 25, 2012

Would you have recognized these paintings as stolen if they had been in the home of a friend?

The Carabinieri TPC listed the images of the paintings recovered earlier this month from a home in Rome's Parioli district because these are the paintings which were stolen from another house in the same neighborhood more than 40 years ago.  A Carabinieri officer recognized the images in an auction sales catalogue in a routine check against the TPC's stolen art database of more than 3 million artworks.  Thirty-seven paintings were recovered.

March 24, 2012

Carabinieri's TPC (Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage) Recovery of 37 Paintings Stolen from a private residence in Rome in 1971

Press conference photo from Comando Carabinieri Tutela
Patrimonio Culturale in Rome on March 8, 2012 
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

On March 9th Tom Kingston for The Guardian reported "Stolen paintings recovered in Rome 40 years after art heist" which you can read here.  Nick Squires reported from Rome for the Daily Telegraph here.  Noah Charney wrote about the discovery in his column, The Secret History of Art.

Where were the paintings found in Rome? "Italian police find stolen paintings hanging in a house in the same district of Rome from where 42 works disappeared."

The Parioli district is an elegant residential area which also includes the Villa Giulia and the Galleria Borghese.  Thieves had not shipped the paintings out of the country.  Eleven of the paintings were likely on display in a private home for two decades.  How many guests spent the night or ate dinner in this home of stolen paintings, never recognizing the paintings as stolen or maybe not knowing or remembering that another residence had been burglarized in 1971 in the same area? Interpol's Stolen Art Database had a record of these paintings but access to this information is limited.  Public access to Interpol's Stolen Art Database was not made available until 2009.  The public has limited access to the inventory of millions of paintings reported stolen to the Carabinieri.

How did the police find the stolen paintings? The owner, a widow, put four of the paintings up for sale.  In a routine check between for sale items and the stolen art database, Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (TPC, translated to the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection Operations Department) identified the four paintings as stolen in 1971.

Here's the link to the press release by the carabinieri on the recovery of 37 of 42 paintings dated from the 13th to the 19th century which were stolen from a private residence in Rome.  The TPC's investigation started in the first week of February in coordination with the Public Prosecutor of Rome. The woman tried to sell four of the paintings at auction was arrested for possession of stolen property.

Tomorrow's post will feature the images of the most recovered paintings as provided by the Carabinieri TPC. Would you recognize these artworks as stolen if you saw them hanging on the wall of a friend's house?

March 21, 2012

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March 2012: Noah Charney, Paul Denton, and John Kieberg on Art Theft

"Protecting Cultural Heritage from Art Theft" is an article by Noah Charney, Paul Denton and John Kleberg recently released in the March 2012 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.
When someone thinks of art crime, a Hollywood image is conjured, one of black-clad cat burglars and thieves in top hats and white gloves. But, the truth behind art crime, one misunderstood by the general public and professionals alike, is far more sinister and intriguing. Art crime has its share of cinematic thefts and larger-than-life characters, but it also is the realm of international organized crime syndicates, the involvement of which results in art crime funding all manner of other serious offenses, including those pertaining to the drug trade and terrorism. Art crime has shifted from a relatively innocuous, ideological crime into a major international plague. 
Over the last 50 years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has ranked art crime behind only drugs and arms in terms of highest-grossing criminal trades.1 There are hundreds of thousands of art crimes reported per year, but, despite this fact, the general public only hears about the handful of big-name museum heists that make international headlines. In Italy alone there are 20,000 to 30,000 thefts reported annually, and many more go unreported.2 In fact, even though reported art crime ranks third in the list of criminal trades, many more such incidents go unreported worldwide, rather than coming to the attention of authorities, making its true scale much broader and more difficult to estimate.
You may read the remainder of the article online here which includes a discussion of art police squads around the world (Scotland Yard Art and Antiquities Unit, Italy's Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and the Dutch Art Crime Team).

March 4, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Fall 2011: General B(a) CC Giovanni Pastore on "Archaeology and the Problem of Unauthorized Excavation in Italy"

In the Fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, General B(a) CC Giovanni Pastore writes of "Archaeology and the Problem of Unauthorized Excavation in Italy":

The public follows, with growing and increasingly alarmed attention, news on the destruction of historic sites because of speculation, pollution and even war. In contrast, little consideration is given to the rather serious state of danger in which the world’s archaeological heritage remains as a result of being the target of increasingly frequent episodes of looting at illegal excavations. 
In recent decades these depredations, due to the smuggling of archaeological material on the international arts market, have taken on such a scale that not even the specialists in this sector can assess the value of the losses with confidence. 
What is certain, however, is that the archaeological heritage of many regions of the world is constantly the subject of illegal activities involving not only the physical destruction of looted artifacts, but also the resulting loss of the rich heritage of historical information contained in those archaeological sites, destroyed by the violent action of the excavations themselves. 
The regions most severely affected by this phenomenon are in Central and South America, Italy, the Middle East, China and Turkey, while countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria increasingly report on looting at archaeological sites.

General B(a) CC Giovanni Pastore served as Vice- Commandant of the Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage from 1995 until his retirement in 2011. During that time he was widely considered the world’s finest art policeman, Colonel Pastore commanded the twelve Carabinieri art police divisions within Italy. Pastore was trained at the elite military academy in Modena. He studied art history, law, and security, and excelled in horsemanship. Over his long career, he has been decorated with numerous medals both in Italy, including the equivalent of a knighthood, and by grateful nations abroad, in appreciation for his professional service. He is one of the founding trustees of ARCA.

You may read the complete article by subscribing to The Journal of Art Crime.

June 16, 2010