Showing posts with label Dutch Art Crime Team. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dutch Art Crime Team. Show all posts

August 19, 2013

Noah Charney's "Q&A with Ruth Godthelp" (The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2013)

Noah Charney, founder of ARCA and the editor of The Journal of Art Crime, interviews Ruth Godthelp, Senior Amsterdam Police Officer with the Dutch Art Squad ["Q&A with Ruth Godthelp" in the Spring 2013 issue].
Noah Charney: How did the Politie Art Squad first become established? I believe that prior to its establishment, Martin Finkelnberg was informally the go-to agent for art-related cases, but that there was no formal team in place.
Ruth Godthelp: In 2010, I was given the opportunity, by the serious and organized crime department of the Amsterdam Police, to explore the phenomenon of "art-related crime;" this being not only theft, fencing or embezzlement of art, antiques (possibly being cultural heritage) but, in addition, also more abstract variations, such as money laundering and types of fraud (forgeries of objects of art or their provenance documents, insurance fraud, etc.) 
This opportunity was the effect of the general acknowledgement, within the Amsterdam Police, that certain characteristics of the art world, and the involved objects, lead to risks on the illegal activities. These are defined as risks, mainly following from high and fluctuating art prices and the ease of acting anonymously which, knowing or unknowing, can have the effect of undermining activities which damage the legal structures of the art world and its players. 
To improve our information, the exploratory activities gradually led to the formation of a strong network of "players" in the art world. Not only art dealers and trade associations, but also representatives of auction houses, fairs, galleries, insurance companies, certified appraisers of art and antiquities, foundations, museums and, of course, the Ministry of Culture and its Heritage Inspection department. Where at first we noticed that "the art world" was reluctant to cooperate with the police because of an understandable fear of lack of action, later we saw this attitude change into a very cooperative modus. In recent years, lots of useful information about stolen objects, and bad faith/rogue buyers and dealers has come to us from our network. From exploring the art world, we fluently started dealing with actual cases, with the result that cases could be solved, and our intelligence became better and better.

This interview is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by ARCA Founder Noah Charney. It is available electronically (pdf) and in print via subscription and Associate Editor Marc Balcells (ARCA '11) is a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.

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).

February 20, 2011

Art Recovered: A Found Painting Identified by the Art Lost Register

Jacob van Ruisdael's Two Men with Dogs on a Forest Path
(Photo provided by the Art Loss Register)

By Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

In 2009, Dutch police found a painting at the railroad station at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. Martin Finkelnberg, head of the Arts and Antiques Crime Unit of IPOL, a department of the National Police Agency (KLPD), and Christopher A. Marinello, General Counsel with the Art Loss Register, discussed with ARCA how the police and the world's largest private database of lost and stolen art worked together to return Jacon van Ruisdael's painting, Two Men with Dogs on a Forest Path, to the owner who had misplaced it before boarding a train in Amsterdam.

The Dutch Police organization consists of 26 police forces, of which 25 operate on a regional level. The 26th force, the Netherlands Police Agency (KPLD, Korps Landelijke Politiediensten) carries out nationwide taskes like policing or patrolling water, road, air and rail traffic; provides security for the Royal family, politicians and diplomats; and combats international organized crime with the National Investigation Squad. The KPLD also provides criminal intelligence, specialised investigation expertise and crime analysis on a national level, and is responsible for dealing with international requests for mutual assitance.

The 17th century Baroque artist Jacob van Ruisdael (ca. 1628-1682) is often considered the greatest Dutch landscape painter. His works are found all over the world from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, to the Louvre in Paris, and to regional museums in the United States. Obsessed with trees, he imbued them with forceful personalities, according to the online entry on the artist in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

The police found the painting in the railway station, Mr. Finkelnberg explained. “Since the painting was neither registered in our national database nor in the Interpol database, I called the ALR and they almost instantly returned my call, telling me it was in their database. This is how we also found out the identity of the owner.”

I asked Mr. Finkelnberg if he thought that the painting in a railway station had anything to do with a ransom. “No, nothing of the kind,” he wrote in an email.

“Do you think there was another story?” I persisted. “Why would the owner claim he ‘forgot to take it with him on a train’?”

“This is what he stated to the police,” Mr. Finkelnberg responded. “What I think is not relevant. But it is rather curious isn’t it?”

Recently I had published a post on the blog about Christopher A. Marinello’s essay in The Journal of Art Crime “On Fakes”, so I emailed Mr. Marinello at The Art Loss Register to ask him a few questions about the case.
ARCA Blog: Mr. Marinello, the National Dutch Police credits The Art Loss Register with recovering the painting. Some people may think that the police and the ALR work separately. How did the ALR and the police approach this case?

Mr. Marinello: While separate from law enforcement, the ALR enjoys a unique working relationship with local and international police organizations in an effort to solve and prevent art crimes. We are a free service to law enforcement officials who know that they can contact us for the most accurate and reliable information and documentation surrounding a theft while maintaining the highest level of confidentiality.

In this case, Martin contacted us to determine if the van Ruisdael was ever listed as stolen. We confirmed that the work was stolen property and provided the victim and case details along with the insurance documentation. The ALR never deletes its records and can access police reports and insurance information that may have been purged from police archives.

ARCA blog: When I hear that the painting was recovered in a public place, such as a railroad station, I wonder if a ransom was paid. Is this typically true and was this the case here?

Mr. Marinello: The ALR does not pay ransoms. It is strict ALR policy and always has been. On occasion, a theft victim or their insurance company will offer a reward for information leading to the recovery of a valuable item. In that case, we will effectuate payment of a reward but never to the criminal or anyone connected with the theft or where contrary to the laws of the local jurisdiction.

ARCA blog: When the police are involved, what do you think the ALR can do that the police cannot?

Mr. Marinello: I don’t want to give away anything that will reduce our effectiveness, but generally speaking, the ALR can operate more efficiently than law enforcement in areas of cross border communications, strategy development/implementation and cases where instant action is necessary. As a private organisation, we do not have the bureaucratic restrictions that one would associate with a governmental entity. But let’s get one thing perfectly clear, the ALR is serious about operating ethically and within the confines of local and national law.

Martin Finkelnberg is one of the giants among international law enforcement in fighting art crime. Without officers like Martin Finkelnberg (KLPD), Jim Wynne (FBI), Michelle Roycroft and Ian Lawson (London Met. Police/Scotland Yard), Massimiliano Cretara and Fabrizio Rossi (Carabinieri), and Axel Poels (Belgian Federal Police), the art world would be a much more dangerous place.

The Journal of Art Crime: Q&A with Martin Finkelnberg, Head of the Dutch Art Crime Team

ARCA's Managing Director Joni Fincham interviews Martin Finkelnberg, Head of the Dutch Art Crime Team, in the fourth issue of The Journal of Art Crime. Mr. Finkelnberg has more than 34 years of experience in policing and investigating firearms, counter terrorism, questioned documents, counterfeit currency, and now, art crime. He leads the Dutch Art Crime Team which is part of The Netherlands Police Agency.

Mr. Finkelnberg discusses art crime in The Netherlands, the role of the Port of Rotterdam, security at the many great art museums in The Netherlands, and to the average day for the Dutch Art Crime Team.

To seek out this piece, and many others, consider a subscription to the Journal of Art Crime—the first peer-reviewed academic journal covering art and heritage crime. ARCA publishes two volumes annually in the Spring and Fall. Individual, Institutional, electronic and printed versions are all available, with subscriptions as low as 30 Euros. All proceeds go to ARCA's nonprofit research and education initiatives. Please see the publications page for more information.