Showing posts with label France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label France. Show all posts

November 4, 2019

Monday, November 04, 2019 - ,, No comments

The cathedral of Oloron-Sainte-Marie was attacked in a smash and grab


In the early morning of November 4th, robbers committed a smash and grab robbery at the Cathedral Sainte-Marie d'Oloron located in the town of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.  Awakened to the sounds of a Viking-inspired battering ram, nearby neighbors reported the ruckus to the local gendarmes who responded quickly, but not before the thieves had made their getaway.


Upon arrival, law enforcement discovered that the culprits had used a tree trunk mounted onto a vehicle, to break open a small door to the right of the cathedral's main entrance.  Clergy from the 12th century UNESCO World Heritage Site have stated that the culprits then sawed through metal bars and broke into storage cabinetry, taking only things they could easily and quickly carry such as ciboriums, chalices, and cruets.  The accomplices, believed to be three men, abandoned the car used to break their way into the church, leaving the crime scene in a second vehicle.  

Given the tools required to cut through metal bars and the time it would take to mount something on to an automobile to break through a solid door, it appears that the robbers were well prepared and knew precisely what they wanted to take and how they could gain entry into the historic church.


This morning, Hervé Lucbéreilh, the mayor of Oloron, spoke publicly about the attack. 


By: Vittoria Ricci

September 18, 2019

Mexican Foreign Ministry urges French auction house Millon (in Paris) to halt an auction of pre-Columbian art

Image Credit: Millon Drouot
The Mexican government, through its Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and its Ministry of Culture, have formally challenged the auctioning of 95 pieces of pre-Hispanic origin.  In doing so, they are calling upon French auction house Millon Drouot to halt its sale of the Manichak and Jean Aurance Collection of Pre-Columbian art which is scheduled to take place today and includes some 130 pre-Columbian art objects.  

During a press conference, the Mexican Ambassador to France, Juan Manuel Gómez-Robledo, indicated that a concern was lodged on September 12, 2019 by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, the competent authority in the matter asking that the auction be cancelled and that the objects in the collection contested restituted to the country. 

Raising their concerns about the provenance of the pieces, the Mexican authorities allege that some of the artifacts appear to have been stolen and/or illegally exported. Concerned with their status, María del Socorro Villarreal Escárrega, national coordinator of legal affairs for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History stated that the INAH has filed a corresponding complaint with the Prosecutor's Office General of the Republic, collaborating with diplomatic authorities in order to seek the restitution of the objects. 


In their formal statement, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry stated that 95 of the 120 objects up for auction appear to be from early Mesoamerican complex civilizations such as the Olmec, which inhabited the Gulf Coast territory of Mexico extending inland and southwards across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, from 1600 BCE until 350 BCE and the Maya who assimilated Olmec influences into the emerging the city-states of the Maya civilization.  

According to the Millon catalog, and the Antiques Trade Gazette collectors Manichek and Jean Aurance purchased their first pre-Columbian artwork in 1963 from the French dealer Olivier le Corneur who operated Galerie Le Corneur-Roudillon.  They continued purchasing tribal art  for their Art Deco lakeside home in Vésinet from le Corneur, Henri Kamer, Pierre Langlois, René Rasmussen and Charles Ratton.  Some of those pieces seem to have passed through Los Angeles art dealer Earl Stendahl.

Earlier last week Guatemala confirmed that following their own formal protests on August 28, 2019 Millon had suspended the sale, at least for a while, of one of the pre-Hispanic pieces up for auction.


Lot 55 -  A stone relief depicting the Spearthrower Owl, was discovered by Teobert Maler in 1899 and dates to 700 CE.  It was stolen from the powerful city-state of Piedras Negras in the remote northwest area of the Department of Petén in Guatemala's Sierra del Lacandón in the 1960s.

Drawing from CMHI
v. 9-1.
According to UT-Austin archaeologist and Mesoamerican art historian and epigrapher, Dr. David Stuart, who first reported (in English) about Guatemala's Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes' efforts  to stop the sale in late August, the disputed stolen relief is a portion of Stela 9 found by Teobert Maler at the ruins if Piedras Negras in 1899 on the large terrace to the east of Structure J-3, and originally placed between Stelae 10 and 40.

Allowing time for the seller, the State of Guatemala and Millon to discuss the contested object and the legality of the sale in France, Drouot Paris issued the following comment on Twitter, hinting that the sale was a legitimate one, despite the crime of removing it from the territory.
In cases of property dispute, French law, articles 2274 and 2262 of the Civil Code, tend to prefer the bona fide purchaser, in their purchase of a stolen or misappropriated movable object over that of the victim, which in this circumstance is Guatemala and Mexico.   French Law provides that title can be obtained by a good faith purchaser by way of prescription after 30 years.

As of the writing of this article, neither the consignor nor Millon has not announced a response to the Mexican government's request. 

By:  Lynda Albertson

February 23, 2018

Recovered: "Les Choristes" by Edgar Degas

Image Credit:  INTERPOL Works of Art Database
Stolen from the Musée Cantini in Marseille, France, on Thursday, December 31, 2009, a pastel by 19th century Impressionist painter, Edgar Degas titled "Les Choristes" (also referred to as Les Figurants) has been recovered. 

At the time of the theft, investigators found no apparent signs of a break-in and reported that the 27cm by 32cm pastel had simply been unfastened from the wall where it was being displayed while on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris for an exhibition showcasing twenty works by the famous artist. 

Hidden in the luggage compartment of a bus in Seine-et-Marne, the artwork was recovered by agents of the Marne-la-Vallée customs brigade on February 16, 2018 during a routine customs check in the area of ​​Ferrieres which borders the A4 motorway. No passengers on board the bus have admitted to placing it there.

 checked a bus stationed on the Ferrières-en-Brie motorway in Seine-et-Marne.
Even as the art work was still undergoing authentication, the official account of the French Customs Info Customs Service felt confident they have a match.

In a public announcement issued today, Françoise Nyssen, the French Minister of Culture, informed the public that the recovered Degas pastel "Les Choristes"  will be given a special place in the future exhibition Degas at the Opera scheduled at the Musée d'Orsay from September 23, 2019 through January 19, 2020.



November 25, 2017

Theft: Musée des Beaux-arts de Béziers


A self-portrait by Giorgio de Chirico, founder of the scuola metafisica art movement, titled "Composizione con autoritratto (Composition with self-portrait)" has been stolen. The artwork was cut from its frame in the top floor  Salle Jean Moulin sometime during museum opening hours during the afternoon of November 16, 2017.

"Composition with Self-Portrait" - 1926
60.8 cm by 50.2 cm
By: Giorgio di Chirico
Created in 1926 by de Chirico, the painting was originally part of the collection of French Resistance hero Jean Moulin and had been donated to the museum by Moulin's sister, along with other artworks.  It had been on display at the Hôtel Fabregat in Beziers as part of the Musée des Beaux Arts collection in Southern France.

Law enforcement authorities in Montpellier have advised that one of the two guards on duty noticed the empty frame while making closing rounds before setting the museum's alarms for the evening.  The artwork had been sliced from its frame and likely rolled up and hidden under a coat or other clothing by the thief.  The museum reported that there were only two guards on duty and that the gallery is not equipped with CCTV surveillance cameras.  

Stealing masterpieces is a terrible business, especially a painting as famous as a de Chirico. Well-documented paintings such as this would be easy to identify and absolutely impossible to fence.  This means the theft was either a naïf, who stole the painting with few plans beyond the theft itself, or a pro "theft to order" with a buyer already in mind. 



October 6, 2017

Friday, October 06, 2017 - ,,, No comments

Theft: Pierre-Auguste Renoir "Portrait d'une Jeune Fille Blonde"

Image Left: Pierre-Auguste Renoir self Portrait
Image Right: Stolen "Portrait d'une jeune fille blonde" 
Image Credit: La Gazette Drouot
Painting: Portrait d'une Jeune Fille Blonde
Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Medium: oil on canvas with dimensions of 14 cm by 12.2 cm
Identifying items: AR initials in the top left of the painting.  Frame labeling: Chaussegros (Vichy), and a canvas numbering "022"
Stolen: September 30, 2017
Location of Theft: l'Hôtel des Ventes de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines)
13, rue Thiers, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France

The painting was taken, unnoticed, from the wall of a gallery the Parisian auction l'Hôtel des Ventes de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines) operated by SGL Enchères/F. Laurent de Rummel where the artwork had been on display just prior to its auction.  

Image Credit:  Online Auction Catalog http://www.sgl-encheres.com/
The thief purportedly unhooked the painting and left the premises without being seen.  Value details can be seen in the screen capture from the auctioneers website above. 







July 15, 2015

Columnist Noah Charney on “Napoleon: Emperor of Art Theft” in "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

In his regular column "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" Noah Charney writes on “Napoleon: Emperor of Art Theft” in the Spring 2015 issue of The Journal of Art Crimeedited by Charney (with Marc Balcells and Christos Tsirogiannis) and published by ARCA:
When Citizen Wicar, one of the key members of the art theft division of Napoleon's army, died in 1843, he bequeathed 1436 artworks as a gift to his birthplace, the city of Lille. Though most were works on papers (prints and drawings), this is an astonishing number. But there are two more facts about this bit of historical trivia that make it that much more surprising. First, almost all of these works had been stolen by him, personally, over the course of his service to the Napoleonic Army, in which he and several other officers were charged with selecting, removing, boxing up and shipping back to Paris art from the collection of those vanquished by la Grande Armee. Stealing over a thousand artworks is no small feat for a single person, even when with the sort of unrestricted access his position with the army allowed. Impressive enough, until we reach the second fact: Citizen Wicar had already sold most of the art he had stolen over the course of his post-war life, but still had those thousand odd pieces left over, to bequeath. In terms of quality, Citizen Wicar, who would serve as Keeper of Antiquities at the Louvre Museum, is the most prolific art thief in history. But it is his boss, Napoleon Bonaparte, who is often crowned with that title.
Noah Charney holds Masters degrees in art history from The Courtauld Institute and University of Cambridge, and a PhD from University of Ljubljana. He is Adjunct Professor of Art History at the American University of Rome, a Visiting Lecturer for Brown University abroad programs, and is the founder of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, a non-profit research group on issues of art crimes. Charney is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, including a regular column in ArtInfo called “The Secret History of Art” and a weekly interview series in The Daily Beast called “How I Write.” His first novel, The Art Thief (Atria 2007), is currently translated into seventeen languages and is a best seller in five countries. He is the editor of an academic essay collection entitled Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009) and the Museum Time series of guides to museums in Spain (Planeta 2010). His is author of a critically acclaimed work of non-fiction, Stealing the Mystic Lamb: the True History of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece (PublicAffairs 2011), which is a best seller in two countries. His latest book is The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World’s Most Famous Painting (ARCA Publications 2011). Upcoming books include The Art of Forgery (Phaidon 2015), The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art (Norton 2015), and Art Crime: Terrorists, Tomb Raiders, Forgers and Thieves, an edited collection of essays on art crime (Palgrave 2014). 

Here's a link to ARCA's website about access to The Journal of Art Crime.