Showing posts with label Martin Finkelnberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martin Finkelnberg. Show all posts

June 7, 2013

Retired Dutch Policemen Dick Steffens and Juul van der LInden's Form Private Detective Agency Missing Art

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Two former Dutch policemen, Dick Steffens and Juul van der Linden, have formed Missing Art, a private detective agency dedicated to finding lost or stolen art.

Steffens and van der Linden met in the detective school 1979 for the Amsterdam Police. “In the Netherlands, all policemen start in uniform with the normal police work,” van der Linden explained in an email. “After years you may specialize if you want.”

A few years after helping to ransom the kidnapped Alfred Heineken in 1983, Dick Steffens started his own detective agency, Interludium International BV, specializing in counterfeit clothes and shoes. Two years after Juul van der Linden retired from the Amsterdam police force, he helped Dick Steffens set up Missing Art. Juul van der Linden manages the department of Missing-Art for the Interludium Investigations Group. Here’s a link to their website, www.Missing-Art.com.

“In the Netherlands, there are not many private organization that find lost or stolen art,” van der Linden wrote.

I conducted an interview via email with Mr. van der Linden. 
If I were living in Amsterdam and had my painting stolen, would my first step be to report it to the police? What kind of action would then I then expect from the police?
One of the board members of the Dutch Federatie TMV (www.tmv.nl) once wrote that is was no use to go to the police to make a report when your painting is stolen. This was a statement made a few years ago, but with a lot of truth to it. At this moment I think there is insufficient knowledge of the world of art by the police force in Amsterdam. In the rest of the Netherlands, it is not better, although the Amsterdam police contracted three years ago with Mrs. Godthelp to start a better way to solve art crimes. She will make the first steps to making policemen on the front line aware of art crimes and that will take time.

The Dutch police have a unit working for the whole country, which is called KLPD. Mr Martin Finkelnberg with his team is making art crime visible with a computer.
What services does your private organization offer that the Dutch police cannot provide?
Missing Art can work faster and can in short time contact its network of experts. We also have frequent contact with our clients. We tell them step by step what we are going to do and we will have their support for that.
How does Art-Alert.net work? Is this service just in Europe? Does it have any connection to the Art Alerte in Canada?

Our Art Alert is ready to operate. In the last two years we collected more than 12,000 names of art collectors, auction houses and so on. At this moment we can warn in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux). We will like to expand this service to more countries in Europe and perhaps worldwide. We do not have connection to the Art Alerte in Canada.

March 2, 2013

Continued coverage of the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia

Textile conservator Julia M. Brennan continues coverage of last month's conference.

The conference was structured into 3 thematic working sessions: Policy and Institutional Framework and Capacity Building (Session 1);  Technical Aspects of Protecting Cultural Heritage Property: Networking with INTERPOL and the International Community (Session 2); and Recovery of Cultural Property, post Theft or Disaster (Session 3).  Here are highlights of a few of the talks: 

Session 1 presentations dovetailed, making a strong case for the use of preventative measures to protect cultural heritage.

Mr. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director of UNESCO, Bangkok gave the opening talk for Session 1 covering national and international laws, international conventions such as the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict1970 UNESCO Convention on Illicit Trafficking, and the UNIDROIT. He made a compelling argument for nation states to adopt and use these conventions; teach cultural heritage personnel and police about them; and use them as a foundation tool for combatting the illicit trade in antiquities and art.

Mr. Tshewang Gyalpo, Chief of Bhutan’s Department of Culture, spoke about the country’s national database of heritage; defined Bhutanese heritage; outlined the role of the conservation department and regional cultural officers and the trainings in place to better secure sacred sites.

Mr. Karl-Heinz Kind, INTERPOL, provided an overview of the important and active role that his agency performs, advocating member states to join and participate. The effectiveness of  INTERPOL's stolen works of art database and Project PSCHE (designed to utilize the Italian Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage's help in modernizing the database). He emphasized that investigations and recovery are only supported by nations’ involvement and called for greater involvement by nations to make protection of cultural heritage a priority.

Julia Brennan (left) and Fiona MacAlister (right) with
 Dasho Dorjee Tshering, Secretary of Home and Culture
Ms. Fiona Macalister, a disaster preparedness expert from the UK, and I, a textile conservator and consultant for preventative conservation, made the case for employing preventative measures at the front end to protect cultural heritage. Fiona provided a clear blueprint for risk management and disaster planning, outlining different disaster scenarios in the event of  fire, flood, earthquake, and theft and provided standards, checklists, and constructive methods of training. I outlined methods adopted from conservation including secure storage, good protective housings, training of local caretakers and cultural heritage staffs, the importance of detailed and updated documentation, analysis, collaborating with and training of law enforcement, raising public awareness and ownership through media outlets, and engagement of community based groups and tourist infrastructure.

Session 2 featured talks specifically focused on law enforcement efforts to combat the illicit trade. Among the presentators were:

Mr. Gaspare Cilluffo, Customs, Italy, provided an introduction to the law enforcement real time platforms of ARCHEO and COLOSSEUM. He provided clear how-to-use steps for these programs, for both customs and police, in an effort to broaden the international communications and work in real time. He emphasized the goals of sharing information about seizures and new trends, background profiles, best practices, and official consulting experts.

Ms. Silvilie Karfeld, from the German Police, provided extremely useful and creative methods to combat the illicit trade across uncontrolled borders. From the macro of international law enforcement efforts, collaboration between nations, to micro solutions such as neighborhood watch programs, physically marking artifacts as ID, registration of artifacts with cut off dates, pressuring and working with major online sales sites and insurance industry. Like Clement and Brennan, she advocated enhancing the awareness by common people, utilizing the media, and encouraging source countries to take action and monitor the art markets themselves.

Both Mr. Martin Finkelberg, Art Crime Police, The Netherlands, and Mr. Iain Shearer, formerly with the UK Police, gave inspirational and personal talks about investigations and seizures, and the importance of networking. Iain outlined some British successes in seizing illicit Afghan antiquities since 2006. Both an archeologist and police officer, his talk was a lively history of ancient sites and their importance, how they are pillaged, and arrive in the end market. Martin used several case studies to show the success of having informants, a strong prosecutor, utilizing databases, to solve heritage thefts.

Session 3 focused on recovery and methods employed.

Professor Duncan Chappell from Australia outlined several recovery cases in the market country Australia of SEA artifacts and human remains blatantly for sale by BC Gallery:  While some artifacts were recovered or pressure was brought to bear to remove artifacts from sale, the Australian laws are toothless and do not support timely prosecution or seizure. As with many countries, the little slap of the hand does nothing to stem the trade, Professor Chappell said, and called for greater funding for research, investigation and cross border collaboration in the Asian Pacific region.

Major Guy Tubiana, Chief of Security for France’s Museums and Cultural Sites, provided some sound and simple tips for securing sites and training staff. He emphasized the sixth sense of police and security experts, and the constantly changing landscape of theft and trafficking.

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, Chief of Royal Bhutan Police, gave an excellent talk about the state of cultural heritage protection in Bhutan, the locations of highest thefts, the incentives and investigation methods employed, and some creative, if not controversial solutions to the problem of chorten vandalism.

The conference concluded with strategic working sessions on each of the three themes. Each group provided a set of recommendations for improving nation’s capacity building, and better protection of cultural heritage though the implementation of specific tasks, many adopted from the three days of presentations.

At the end of three days, attendees took away the strong message that as a global community, we must partner, deploy all the tools possible, engage and maintain strong active relationships across borders, and promote both loss and success more effectively through the media. It also underlined the greater need for the development of stronger Asian participation in law enforcement, liaison with INTERPOL and international customs, and prioritizing the protection of cultural heritage by Asian governments.

This conference was a good first step for combatting the illicit trade in Asia. And, to maintain the momentum, we need to follow up quickly, with additional sessions in Thailand, Singapore, and China, (at the very least), with a focused attempt to identify and bring key law enforcement and cultural heritage professionals to the table. In addition, we could strategically reinforce the message with post conference trainings of law enforcement, customs, and rural caretakers in methods of investigation, analysis, better security, filing stolen art, and monitoring of art sales. Too many major Asian players were missing in Bhutan, but there is a lot of opportunity ahead.  

Website of conference: www.mohca.gov.bt/conference

Published papers forthcoming in 2013

Julia M. Brennan is a Conservator and Cultural Heritage Protection Consultant www.caringfortextiles.com.

February 13, 2013

ARCA Alum Julia Brennan Invited to Speak at the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia, Feb. 15-18, 2013


Julia Brennan
ARCA Alum (2009) and textile conservator Julia Brennan will be one of the speakers at the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia in the Kingdom of Bhutan this week.  Ms. Brennan has worked in Bhutan and Thailand for more than a decade. She will be speaking on "Deterring the Illicit Art Trade and Preserving Cultural Heritage: The Essential Role of Collection Care Professionals and Preventive Conservation" on a panel moderated by Professor Wendy Larson, a specialist in East Asian Language and Literature at the University of Oregon.

Here's a link to the final agenda for the conference to be held Feb. 15-18.  Speakers include: Mr. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director, UNESCO, Bangkok, "International Convention on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Objects and other specific action by UNESCO"; Jean-Robert Gisler, Switzerland, "Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property in Switzerland as a Market Country: Organization, Perspective and Institutional Policy"; Karl-Heinz Kind, Germany: "Role of INTERPOL in the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property"; Tshewang Gyalpo, Bhutan: "Protecting Moveable Cultural Properties in Bhutan"; Martin Finkelnberg, The Netherlands, "Technical Aspects of Protecting Cultural Property - Networking: A case of The Netherlands"; Ann Shaftel, Canada, "Need for Implementing Security Training in Traditional Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries"; Dr. Iain Shearer, "The Trade in Illicit Afghan Cultural Property in London: The Response of Key British Institutions Since 2006"; Duncan Chappell, Australia and Damien Huffer, "Bringing Them Home: Some Contemporary Australian Perspectives on the Investigation, Prosecution, Seizure and Repatriation of Looted Asian Region Human Remains and Artefacts"; Major Guy Tubiana, France, "Experience of a Police Officer in the Protection of Cultural Property"; and Fabrizio Panone, Italy, "Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage: Oppositional Activities at International Level".

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.