Showing posts with label Degas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Degas. Show all posts

September 30, 2016

February 10, 2008 - Museum Theft, Foundation E.G. Bührle, Switzerland


An art heist at gunpoint occurred on February 10, 2008 at the private Zürich gallery run by the Foundation E.G. Bührle in Switzerland. Emil Bührle was a German-born industrialist who sold arms to the Nazis during World War II.  The private museum was established by the Bührle family foundation in order to make the Emil Georg Bührle's collection, of mostly European sculptures and paintings more accessible to the public. The art collection is housed in an elegant Zurich villa adjoining Bührle's former residence.

On the day of the heist, three thieves rushed the gallery shortly before its specified closing time.  Brandishing a handgun, the staff on duty were ordered to lay face-down on the floor, after which the thieves removed four late nineteenth century artworks from the wall.  

The artworks taken were:

Blossoming Chestnut Branches, 1890
by Vincent Van Gogh
Oil on canvas 72.0 x 91.0 cm
Completed in Auvers-sur-Oise



Poppies near Vétheuil, 1879
Signed lower right: Claude Monet
Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm
Wildenstein 536


Count Lepic and His Daughters, 1871
by Edgar Degas
oil on canvas, 65 x 81 cm
Lemoisne 272


Boy in the Red Waistcoat, 1895
by Paul Cézanne 
oil on canvas: overall: 89.5 x 72.4 cm


On February 18, 2008, eight days after the theft, two of the stolen paintings, Poppies near Vétheuil and Blossoming Chestnut Branches, were found. The artworks were discovered undamaged in the rear seat of the unlocked getaway car  which had been abandoned in the parking area of a nearby Zurich psychiatric hospital a short distance away from the Bührle.

The painting Poppies near Vétheuil by Edgar Degas, regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, was recovered four years later in April 2012. Information about its initial recovery was withheld from the public to avoid compromising an ongoing investigation with Swiss and Serbian authorities who were still actively working to recover the final painting by Paul Cézanne.

Lukas Gloor, director of the E.G. Buehrle Collection, speaks at a news conference
in front of the recovered paintings 'Blossoming Chestnut Branches,'
by Vincent van Gogh, Credit Christian Hartmann/Reuters
Cezanne's £68.3 million The Boy in the Red Vest was the last painting to be recovered.  It was located on April 12, 2012 inside a hidden roof car panel inside an automobile belonging to a suspect arrested in Belgrade, Serbia. 








April 17, 2013

B. A. Shapiro invents a fifth version of Degas' "After the Bath" in the book "The Art Forger" which focuses on the Boston art world and the 1990 theft of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Degas' After the Bath c 1883
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

B. A. Shapiro's The Art Forger (Algonquin Books, 2012) mixes elements with the 1990 theft of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Theft with the Boston art world and art forgery. Ms. Shapiro uses a fictional painting by Edgar Degas, After the Bath, in this art crime novel.

Here's a link to the book review in The New York Times by Maxwell Carter, an associate vice president and a specialist in Impressionist and modern art at Christie’s, which provides a nice synopsis of the plot.

Here's a link to the author B. A. Shapiro's website which includes information on art thefts, art forgeries, and encouraging words about writing novels.

This link to a book review last January in the Salisbury Post ("'Art Forger' leaves readers wondering what's real") highlights the author's note at the end of the book:
Shapiro does several clever things. She uses real artists and real connoisseurs like Gardner in the telling of the book. All the forgers Claire learns from are real, as are the techniques they used. She mixes in chapters of Isabella Gardner’s letters to her niece detailing her adventures with Degas — these are juicy fiction. She offers “A Note on the Research” at the end of the book to make clear what is history and what is fiction.
Barbara Shapiro writes in this "Note on the Research":
The painting techniques that Claire uses for both her forgery and her own work are consistent with current practices, as are the descriptions of the struggles of a young artists. The forgers and dealers she discovers through her Internet research were/are actual people, including John Myratt, Ely Sakhai, and Han van Meegeren, and the specifics of their crimes, methods, inventions, and punishments are also accurate. 
The details of the 1990 robbery of Gardner Museum are factual -- it remains the largest unsolved art heist in history -- with the exception of the inclusion of Degas' fifth After the Bath, which neither was stolen nor exists, although it is a composite based on his other four After the Bath works.
Blogger Poul Webb (Arts & Artists) shows images from Degas' studies on women after bathing.

Here's a link to a discussion of Degas' After the Bath at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

July 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Edgar Degas: Works Recovered and Still Missing


Edgar Degas.  Count Lepic and His Daughters.
 1871.  Oil on canvas. 65.5 x 81 cm.
E.G. Bührle Collection, Zurich.

by Kirsten Hower, ARCA European Correspondent

 Today we honour the birthday of French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917).  Best known for his depictions of dancers, Degas was both a sculptor and painter who combined tradition with change in the 19th century art world.  Like many famous artists, his work has been admired and fallen prey to the criminal world.  One of his paintings, Count Lepic and His Daughters of 1871, was part of a four year recovery that was only recently announced upon its completion in April of this year.
   On the afternoon of Sunday, February 10, 2008, three masked gunman stole four paintings from the E.G. Bührle Collection in Zurich—one of the greatest Impressionist and Post-Impressionist museums in Europe.  The four paintings, one each by Cézanne, Degas, van Gogh, and Monet, were valued at $163 million and have all been recovered as of April 2012.[i]  Degas’ painting was actually recovered in 2009, but this information was kept quiet until the recovery of the final and most expensive painting, Cézanne’s The Boy in a Red Vest, was recovered in 2012.  There was some damage to the paintings which had been cut from their frames, including the Degas which thankfully only suffered damage to the edges of the painting.[ii] 
  Degas’ group portrait of Count Lepic and his two daughters has an entirely Impressionist look, particularly the girls who look rather Cassatt-like, though it has moments of looking far more like charcoal or watercolour rather than an oil painting on canvas.  Lepic’s face appears unfinished, his expression just shy of unreadable save for the attentive gaze of a father for his daughter.  The two girls stare out at the viewer with gazes both knowing and angelically innocent.  One can imagine even a hardened criminal becoming uneasy under such a gaze, especially after having damaged the painting during the theft.
   Thankfully for Degas, this particular theft of his artwork had a happy ending.  Five works by Degas do not have such a happy ending and are currently missing in conjunction to the infamous Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft of 1990, including Cotège aux Environs de Florence (pencil and wash on paper).  Hopefully these works will one day have their happy ending as well.

Kirsten Hower is the Academic Program Assistant for ARCA.  She is currently finishing her MLitt at Christie's Education.


[i]Uta Harnischfeger and Nicholas Kulish, “At Zurich Museum, a Theft of 4 Masterworks,” New York Times, February 12, 2008.
[ii] Swissinfo.ch, “Stolen Degas recovered damaged,” April 27, 2012.

April 14, 2012

Associated Press: Serbian officials announce recovery of Degas painting stolen from Bührle Collection in 2008; Ransom paid one year after theft

Degas' Ludovic Lepic and His Daughters/Bürle
by Catherine Sezgin, Editor-in-Chief

Serbian officials announced this week that payment of a 400,000 euro ransom returned Edgar Degas' painting Ludovic Lepic and His Daughters to the Bührle Collection one year after it was stolen, according to "SEE IT: Serbian and Swiss police raid nets stolen Cézanne painting", an article written by Dusan Stojanovic, Chief Correspondent for the Associated Press in Belgrade, and published April 13 on the website NYDailyNews.com.

This information was released at a news conference in Belgrade attended by Serbia's organized crime prosecutor Miljko Radisavljevic and Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, Stojanovic reported.

The FBI and Interpol had still listed the Degas painting as stolen and missing as of this week.

Other interesting details Stojanovic reported from the press conference:

The police raid recovered the Cézanne painting in the roof upholstery of a black van;

Four men, including the leader of the gang that conducted the robbery, were arrested in Belgrade and Cacak, according to Prosecutor Radisavljevic;

The police raids this week, planned since 2010, "took place when the suspected robbers decided to take the Cézanne painting to a wealthy Serb who agreed to buy it for (euro) 3.5 million ($4.6 million), according to Interior Minister Dacic.

Police also found $2 million in cash and firearms with the four men, according to Dacic.

Thank you to Marc Balcells, ARCA alum, who noticed the news on recovery of the Degas painting.