Showing posts with label The New York Times. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The New York Times. Show all posts

September 4, 2013

Patricia Cohen Reports for The New York Times that the "Growth in Online Art Market Brings More Fraud"

September 3, 2012 -- Patricia Cohen reports for The New York Times on the "Growth in Online Art Market Brings More Fraud" in the article "A Picasso Online for Just $450? Yes, It Is a Steal".

Ms. Cohen describes how anyone can purchase affordable "original" and "authentic" art works by "Picasso" and Matisse" through Internet companies:
That these works are sometimes fake or misleadingly labeled is no surprise to art experts and to foundations that monitor online art sales. But fraud has saturated certain sectors of the art market, experts say. 
“In every country that I visit, even Abu Dhabi, I’m approached by artists or estates who are desperate about the fake situation,” said Véronique Wiesinger, the director and senior curator of the Alberto and Annette Giacometti Foundation in Paris. “We counted the other day 2,005 fake Giacometti sculptures for sale” on just one Web site, she added. 
Many reputable online sellers, of course, deliver precisely what they advertise. “There is a lot of buying online, and most people are satisfied,” said Alan Bamberger, an art consultant and appraiser. 
Over the last few years the Internet has broadened the art market far beyond the exclusivity and opaque jargon of its moneyed enclaves and has helped turn the slogan “art for everyone” into reality. But it has also become a sort of bazaar, where shoppers of varying sophistication routinely encounter all degrees of flimflammery, from the schemes of experienced grifters to the innocent mistakes of the unwitting and naïve. A recent study by statisticians at George Washington University and the University of California, Irvine, estimated that as many as 91 percent of the drawings and small sculptures sold online through eBay as the work of the artist Henry Moore were fake.

July 28, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Theft: Facebook played a part in Romanian sting operation to identify art thieves

Andrew Higgins reporting July 26 for The New York Times from Carcaliu, Romania in "A Trail of Masterpieces and a Web of Lies Leading to Anguish", describes one of the admitted thieves as using the internet in a failed attempt to dispose of seven paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012.

Mr. Higgins claims that Radu Dogardu used Facebook to tell alleged accomplice Mihai Alexander Bitu that he would agree to sell the stolen artworks to a local wine producer for 400,000 euro (US $531,000). However, the supposed buyer of the stolen paintings was cooperating with a Romanian prosecutor, Raluca Botea, in an "elaborate sting operation", according to Higgins who indicated that he'd seen 'a record of the exchange' on the social networking site.
Just a few hours later, however, the operation fell apart when Mr. Dogaru received a warning that the police were tapping his cellphone. Today, six months on, the fate of the paintings is still unknown, as law enforcement authorities in Romania and the Netherlands, as well as art lovers around the world, struggle to penetrate the fog of claims and counterclaims about what happened to the masterpieces, from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam.
Have they been burned, as Mr. Dogaru's mother, Olga, has at times claimed? Or perhaps spirited away by a tall mystery man in a fancy black car, as she has asserted at other times? Or could they, as many in the desolate village of Carcaliu believe, simply be hidden somewhere in this rural corner of Romania?
Mr. Higgins points out that the prosecutor, Mrs. Botea, has found 'contradictory lies' in what the Dogaru mother-and-son have told her office. This article looks at the village, the personal history of the suspect, and quotes 'an official indictment' that claims that the morning after the theft of the Kunsthal Rotterdam that Dogaru took five of the stolen paintings to Brussels to sell them to a mobster known as "George the Thief" then carried them back to Rotterdam after the sale failed.
Mr. Dogaru appears to have hidden the works initially in his family home but later moved at least some of them in a suitcase to the house of his mother’s sister, Marfa Marcu. Mrs. Marcu, in an interview, said she had never opened the suitcase. She says she last saw it when her sister took it away, along with a shovel, soon after Mr. Dogaru’s arrest. 
Mrs. Dogaru has told prosecutors that, with the help of her son’s girlfriend, she buried the case in the yard of an abandoned house. After a few days, they dug it up, wrapped the paintings in plastic and buried them in a nearby cemetery. 
The trail then goes cold. In an interview with prosecutors on Feb. 27, Mrs. Dogaru said that sometime in January, this time acting alone, she dug up the paintings and, desperate to destroy the evidence of her son’s theft, brought them home and burned them all — in a stove used to heat water for the bathroom and a sauna. 
How she managed to do this is not clear. The stove in which Mrs. Dogaru claimed to have shoved all the artworks is barely a foot wide and seems far too small to contain what would have been a bulky bundle of canvas and wood. 
In a written statement on Feb. 28, Mrs. Dogaru retracted the incineration story and said she had, in fact, handed the paintings to a Russian-speaking man, about 40, who arrived at her house in a black car. She explained that her son, whom she visited in prison to get instructions, had told her to expect such a visitor and to give him the paintings.

October 18, 2012

Rotterdam Art Heist: ARCA in the Media

Here's a few links to ARCA associates recently published in the media:

In Noah Charney's "Secret History of Art" column for, the founder of ARCA writes on "Rotterdam Art Heist Likely for Ransom".

In The New York Times, ARCA Trustee Anthony Amore, Security Director for The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, writes as an Op-Ed Contributor about "Debunking the Myth of Glamorous Art Thieves" in "No 'Thomas Crown Affair'".

Niels Rigter of Metro published an article online here (in Dutch, loosely translated into English) quotes ARCA's CEO Lynda Albertson (also pictured) about the difficultly of selling stolen art.

Bloomberg's Catherine Hickley article, "Art Thieves Struggle to Convert Monet, Picasso Into Cash", includes an interview with ARCA CEO Lynda Albertson.

ARCA Instructor Tom Flynn's blog "artknows" in "Will we never learn from art theft? Value is in the eye of the beholder" points out that  stealing art is done for all sorts of reasons -- especially if the paintings are displayed in buildings that are "woefully deficient in security"as pointed out by Dutch security consultant Ton Cremers.

March 1, 2012

Cambodia's Antiquities: Objects on hold pending legal status

A recent article in The New York Times again focused attention on the status of antiquities coming out of Cambodia, a country that changed statehood in the 20th century. Many countries, such as Turkey and Italy just to name two, wrote laws forbidding the export of art or cultural property beginning in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Turkey, like Cambodia, went from an imperialistic reign to a republic and rules were restated to be reapplied to the new sovereignty.

Tom Mashberg (co-author of Stealing Rembrandts and a veteran reporter on the theft of the 1990 theft of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum) and Ralph Blumenthal write in the NYT about the current status of an object from Ankor Wat in "Mythic Warrior is Captive in Global Art Theft" (subtitled "Sotheby's Caught in Dispute Over Prized Cambodian Statue"). Of particular note is research conducted by Cambodian scholar Tess Davis, executive director of the Lawyer's Committee for Cultural Heritage, who believes that a 1925 law that nationalizes Cambodian cultural property. International cooperation and agreement has been sought for more than four decades under UNESCO's 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

As the NYT reports:
If international legal authorities and American civil courts agree, the law could establish 1925, rather than 1993, as the dividing point after which Cambodian artifacts taken without government permits can be treated as stolen property. Cambodia would still have to prove that the statue was looted after 1925, “a high burden but not an impossible one,” according to Mr. Bogdanos, who agrees the 1925 law “appears to be valid.”
Further information about the sale of Cambodian cultural property through Sotheby's was covered last October on the ARCA blog here.

A recent email from Tess Davis sent to "Friends of Cambodia" requested the assistance for His Excellency Hab Touch, Director General of the Department of Heritage in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MOCFA) to attend the Tulane-Siena summer abroad law school courses in Cultural Heritage and the Arts in Italy this June. The purpose of the trip, according to Ms. Davis, is to "strengthen Cambodia's understanding of its legal options for protecting its patrimony within the country and repatriating those antiquities already looted and stolen from the country."

ARCA has offered material support to the Cambodian contingent, and has offered studentships to interested individuals from the Cambodian Department of Heritage.

The MOCFA does not have a lawyer or other legal expert on staff, nor is there a single Cambodian attorney working in this subject area, according to Ms. Davis: "This is greatly hindering the country's ability to legally safeguard and recover its cultural heritage." Anyone who would like to provide assistance, is welcome to contact Tess Davis at

February 3, 2011

Financial Times Reporter Interviews Benevolent Forger

Financial Times' columnist John Grapper
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

In case you missed this interview by the Financial Times' chief business commentator, we're giving you the link here to "The forger's story" (January 21, 2011). John Gapper writes about Mark Landis who dressed up as a priest to donate paintings to art institutions.
"For nearly three decades, Landis has visited ­museums across the US in various guises and tried to donate paintings he has forged. As well as Father Scott, he has posed as “Steven Gardiner” among other aliases. He never asks for money, although museums have often hosted meals for him and made small gifts. His only stipulation is that he is donating in his parents’ names – often his actual father, ­Lieutenant Commander Arthur Landis Jr, a former US Navy officer.

Landis has been prolific and amazingly persistent. A few weeks before he came to Lafayette, “Father Scott” arrived at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, with a ­forgery of Head of a Sioux by Alfred Jacob Miller that he said he was giving in memory of his mother, “Helen Mitchell Scott”. Landis has so far offered copies of that work to five other museums. Yet in all this time, although curators speculate about his motives, no one has found out why he is doing it."
There's a paragraph mentioning the The New York Times that I read as a competitive -- and well-earned -- jab:
"The New York Times reported recently that Landis “seems to have disappeared altogether”, but it did not take long to locate him. After I had visited the Lauren Rogers museum, I drove the few blocks over to the apartment where his mother had lived, in a gated community for the elderly called Sugar Hill Resort."
John Gapper reports on why the forger sat down with him and talked about his family and his motivations. Fascinating story -- Mr. Gapper made me feel as if I too was meeting with the forger in an intimate talk. On his blog, Mr. Gapper continues with information he obtained after the interview with forger Mark Landis about where he purchased some of his materials. No, I won't be a spoiler, you have to go to Mr. Gapper's blog here, it's his story.

Photo: John Gapper.