Showing posts with label Sharon Cohen Levin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sharon Cohen Levin. Show all posts

August 28, 2013

ARCA 2013 Conference: Presenting the Awards to this year's ARCA Award Winners

by Marc Balcells

After five years of meeting annually in beautiful Amelia, it is a fait accompli that ARCA’s conference is an established forum that reunites researchers and practitioners alike for the discussion of the latest advances in research on art crimes and cultural heritage protection. The good health of the conference year after year and the positive outcomes and feedback received year after year are motives of celebration; however, if there is a real moment for celebration in the conference is in the afternoon of the first day, when we award four outstanding persons regarding their efforts in saving and protecting cultural heritage.

This year’s award winners were Christos Tsirogiannis, an archaeologist conducting research in illicit antiquities trade at the University of Cambridge and former member of the Hellenic Ministry of Justice; Duncan Chappell, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney; Blanca Niño Norton, Consultant at the Petén Development Project for the conservation of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, depending from the Ministry of Environment of Natural Resources, and member of ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and ICCROM (the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property); and Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

Dr. Edgar Tijhuis, professor at the Postgraduate Program and a trustee of the organization, introduced Mr. Tsirogiannis’ award, on art protection and security. The awarded presented on his work, based on the illicit trade of looted archaeological goods. His presentation became an interesting and valuable who’s who of the characters of the gran razzia that happened recently in Italy: names like Marion True, Giacomo Medici, Robin Symes or Christos Michaelides became pivotal points of Mr. Tsirogiannis’ presentation, compiling stories of pieces recuperated by Italian law enforcement worldwide.

Ms. Lynda Albertson, ARCA’s CEO,  presented the Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Art Crime Scholarship to Dr. Duncan Chappell, who heartily thanked the organization for the honor bestowed upon him. Dr. Chappell greatly deserves this award, as he has written extensively on the topic of art crime from a criminological perspective. To everybody, but especially to us criminologists, his work is invaluable. He has written articles for ARCA’s Journal of Art Crime, and along with Stefano Manacorda edited Crime in the Art and Antiquities World: Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property (Springer 2011).

I had the honor to present the Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art to Mrs. Niño Norton. A true contemporary renaissance woman (besides being an architect she is a sculptor and a painter), Mrs. Niño Norton delivered a presentation based on Guatemala’s different forms of cultural heritage, its threats, and the different projects she spearheads for its protection, which range from architecture to the copying of Guatemalan statues in the middle of the jungle (so the originals can be properly preserved in cultural institutions) or the restoration of looted tombs by locals.    

Finally, HRH Ravivaddhana Sisowath, Prince of Cambodia, introduced the Art Policing and Recovery Award to Mrs. Sharon Cohen Levin; and accordingly, provided Mrs. Cohen Levin’s office fights for the 10th-century Khmer statue that Sotheby’s hopes to sell at auction. Mrs. Cohen Levin presented on art related asset forfeitures in recent cases she has dealt with. In her very lively presentation, the awarded prosecutor showed to the audience important cases like the forfeiture of the Portrait of Wally, by Egon Schiele, along more original cases like the prosecution of dealer Eric Prokopi and the forfeiture of… a dinosaur!

In sum, a feast for the arts, and a celebration for all of us who care about the protection of cultural heritage. These awards are small tokens to great works of love done by even greater people. Congratulations!

June 23, 2013

Il Tempo publishes piece on ARCA's Fifth International Art Crime Conference

Here's a link to an article by Giuseppe Grifeo in the Italian publication Il Tempo on ARCA's fifth international art crime conference held in the ancient Umbrian town of Amelia.

Here's a link to Google translating that same piece which essentially describes some of Amelia's historical and cultural significance: the medieval village likely emerged as early as the 9th century BC and is today surrounded by 4th century BC polygonal limestone bolders. Amelia was ruled by Romans, sacked by Goths, asserted its freedom from the papacy in the Middle Ages, and was the birthplace of the great painter Piermatteo d'Amelia and Alessandro Geraldini, a papal representative to the Spanish Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and the editor of a volume that first described the New World, Itinerarium ad regiones sub aequinoctiali plaga constitutas.

ARCA's International Art Crime Conference, organized by CEO Lynda Albertson and founder Noah Charney, was attended by officiers of law enforcement agencies around the world (at least from the countries of Canada, China (Hong Kong), and The Netherlands) fighting against crimes against art and the looting of antiquities and criminologist and academics and students from universities around the world.

The article notes that Prince Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of the ruling family in Cambodia presented an award to Sharon Cohen Levin, Head of Asset Forfeiture for the US Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York for the recovery of a sandstone statue of a 10th century statue stolen from the temple Prasat Chen, an archaeological site of Koh Ker.

March 25, 2013

Sharon Cohen Levin Wins ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award

Sharon Cohen Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, won ARCA's 2013 Art Policing and Recovery Award.

Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), and Ernst Schöller (2012).


Ms. Levin been instrumental in securing the return of innumerable antiquities and other cultural property to foreign governments, and artworks and other cultural property to the families of Holocaust victims from whom they had been looted or subjected to forced sale by the Nazis.

In 2010, Ms. Levin's office resolved the case of United States v. Portrait of Wally with the Leopold Museum in Vienna.  This case, involved the Estate of Lea Bondi Jaray and lasted over ten years that resulted in: payment of 19 million dollars to the Estate (reflecting at least the full value of the painting); an exhibit of the painting at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, before it returned to the Leopold Museum, and permanent signage to accompany the painting at the Leopold Museum and anywhere else in the world where it is exhibited, which sets forth in both English and German the true provenance of the painting and the legacy of Lea Bondi Jaray. The Wally case is credited with focusing the world's attention on the problem of Nazi-looted art.

In the past six years, the Southern District of New York has forfeited nearly $6 billion in crime proceeds. Ms. Levin pioneered the use of federal forfeiture laws to recover and return stolen art and cultural heritage property. The SDNY Asset Forfeiture Unit has initiated dozens of proceedings under the forfeiture laws -- seizing and returning artwork and cultural property to the persons and nations who rightfully own them.  Notable examples include the forfeiture and repatriation of stolen paintings by Lavinia Fontana, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Serge Poliakoff, Anton Graff and Winslow Homer; drawings by Rembrandt and Duhrer; an Etruscan bronze statute dated circa 490 BC; an antique gold platter dated circa 450 B.C.; a rare Mexican manuscript; a medieval carved wood panel which was originally inside the historic Great Mosque in Dvrigi; an Ancient Hebrew Bible owned by the Jewish Community of Vienna and stolen during the Holocaust and most recently, a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from the Gobi desert in Mongolia.