Showing posts with label Tom Mashberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Mashberg. Show all posts

February 5, 2014

Monuments Men Feature Film: George Clooney's new movie involves Nazi-looted art and seeing it is strictly professional

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog

Two more days until the new George Clooney movie on the Monuments Men. There are serious preparations to be done -- re-watch "The Rape of Europa" on Netflix; finish reading Robert E. Edsel's book on The Monuments Men (available in print, on audible, and in iBooks); peruse Lynn Nicholas' book The Rape of Europa (paperback and iBooks); and then watch tonight's show featuring ARCA founder Noah Charney on National Geographic, "Hunting Hitler's Treasures Stolen Treasures: the Monuments Men".

Nicholas' The Rape of Europa provides an overall view of the Nazi efforts to dominate and claim culture for the Third Reich, including the confiscation of "degenerate art" from German museums; theft from Jewish private collections; and the attempted obliteration of Slavic and Russian culture. Robert E. Edsel co-produced the film on Nichols' book and wrote Rescuing Da Vinci, a photographic essay on the Nazis' attempt to steal Europe's art.

Here's a link to an article published in the Harvard Gazette, "A monument to saved art: Harvard-trained conservators were key players in tracking, rescuing priceless works in World War II (written by Edward Mason, Harvard Correspondent)". The article, which covers a panel with Edsel and a Skype call from actor Matt Damon, points out that Clooney plays a fictional character.
The “Monuments Men” belonged to the U.S. Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section. Their ranks included Lincoln Kirstein ’30, the founder of the New York City Ballet; Paul Sachs, Class of 1900, a member of the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, which recruited many of the team’s members; and Stout. Born in 1897, Stout was a tall, dashing man with a pencil-thin mustache ­— not unlike actor George Clooney, who in the film plays the Stout-like team leader, Frank Stokes. Clooney also produced and directed the movie and co-wrote the screenplay. Stout helped pioneer the field of art conservation while a graduate assistant at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum. Long before World War II, he had the vision to see the risk aerial bombing and firebombing posed to art, Edsel said. Stout had spent the early ’40s pushing for a national art conservation plan. The Allies and Stout knew that bombs were hardly the only danger to art. The Nazis engaged in “premeditated, organized looting never before seen in war,” Edsel said. The hunger their leaders displayed for European art put Western treasures at risk.
Other articles to read while you wait for the George Clooney movie on Nazi-looted art and the team of middle-aged art professionals who tried to save Europe's culture:

Anna Goldenberg interviews MM's Harry Ettlinger in The Jewish Daily Forward.

"Monuments Men" is a popular phrase for the MFAA section, the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives, which did include women as this article by Tom Mashberg points out here in The New York Times.

December 30, 2013

Was the repatriation of a footless 10th century statue to Cambodia this month related to Sotheby's history of selling Khmer pieces with "no published provenance" or "weak" collecting histories?

This month's repatriation of a 10th century footless sandstone statue looted from an archaeological site in Cambodia has a backstory going back a few years. In an academic article published in July 2011, Tess Davis, then assistant director of Heritage Watch, wrote that Sotheby's Auction House had listed 377 Khmer pieces for sale between 1988 and 2010:
Seventy-one percent of the antiquities had no published provenance, or ownership history, meaning they could not be traced to previous collections, exhibitions, sales, or publications. Most of the provenances were weak, such as anonymous private collections, or even prior Sotheby’s sales. None established that any of the artifacts had entered the market legally, that is, that they initially came from archaeological excavations, colonial collections, or the Cambodian state and its institutions. While these statistics are alarming, in and of themselves, fluctuations in the sale of the unprovenanced pieces can also be linked to events that would affect the number of looted antiquities exiting Cambodia and entering the United States. This correlation suggests an illegal origin for much of the Khmer material put on the auction block by Sotheby’s
In the summer of 2011, Jane Levine of Sotheby's objected to Ms. Davis' article and demanded a retraction. About six months later, Cambodia asked that Ms. Levine be removed from a cultural panel based on perceived ethical conflicts.

At the end of February 2012, Tom Mashberg and Ralph Blumenthal wrote in The New York Times ("Mythic Warrior is Captive in Global Art Theft", February 28, 2012) that the Cambodian government had asked the U.S. for help to stop the sale of a reputedly looted 10th century Khmer Koh Ker footless sandstone statue Sotheby's intended to sell in March. This month, almost two years later, an agreement was reached to return the disputed statue, now described as a Duryodhana statue, to Cambodia ("Duryodhana statue from Prasat Chen, Cambodia: "Voluntary" Repatriation by Sotheby's and consigner").

Ms. Davis is now a Researcher in the Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow.

December 5, 2013

Thursday, December 05, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Isabella Stewart Gardner Theft: Boston's WGBH News' Emily Rooney reports Anne Hawley's first public comments about threats after the theft and interviews FBI Investigator Geoff Kelley about why suspect(s) not named and speculates about the paintings

Boston's WGBH's Emily Rooney reported Dec. 3 that the FBI has issued "wanted posters" for the 13 missing artworks stolen in 1990:
The posters don't sport the usual most-wanted suspects. instead, they display the missing artwork in an effort to get someone to come forward with what they know about the most significant art heist in history.
In addition, Ms. Rooney reported that "Gardner Museum director Anne Hawley is opening up about the loss":
"It was such a painful and horrible moment in the museum's life," Hawley said. Until now, Hawley has said little about the theft and what happened in the immediate aftermath. "We also are being threatened from the outside by criminals who want attention from the FBI, and so they were threatening us, and threatening putting bombs in the museum," she said. "We were evacuating museum, the staff members were under threat, no one really knew what kind of a conundrum we were in."
[...]

WGBH News' Emily Rooney interviewed Jeff Kelley, a special agent in the FBI's Boston field office, and a member of the art crime unit.

Emily Rooney: You have been in this for at least ten years.
Jeff Kelley: It is actually 11 years now I have been the investigator on this case.

Rooney: You essentially know who did it.

Kelley: Yes.

Rooney: Why can't you say?

Kelley: We have to temper what we put out there in the public, and we certainly want to get the assistance of the public and we feel it is important to kind of lay our cards out on the table and say we know who did it, and we know who is involved, but we need your help. 
[...]
Rooney: The former Boston Herald reporter Tom Mashburger has a great tale of being, essentially, blindfolded and taken to a place where somebody unrolled something and he got some chips. Is there any possibility what he saw is one of the real pieces?

Kelley: I know Tom and he has the utmost integrity. But from what I have learned about the art itself, I don't think that what he saw was the actual painting. He described it as being unrolled, kind of unfurled, but from speaking to the experts at the museum and at other museums, the paintings are so thick that they would really be almost impossible to roll up.

Rooney: Do you think that they are still in existence and do you think together — because with 13 objects, some of them are odd objects, they weren't all paintings — to think that they're together?

Kelley: I don't know if they are still together. I think they are all in existence.
Note: The correct name of the reporter "Tom Mashburger" is Tom Mashberg.
Here's a link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwnQs1BvvlU.

July 2, 2013

The New York Times' Tom Mashberg Points Out Turkish Claims over Lydian Bed in Storage at The Getty

Tom Mashberg writing for The New York Times on July 1 reports in "No Quick Answers in Fights Over Art" that quick resolutions over allegedly looted objects are 'rare':
More typical are disputes like one between Turkey and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles over a fifth-century bronze bed known as a Lydian kline, which has been an item of contention since 1995.
A PowerPoint Presentation available on the Internet and attributed to Brown University's Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World describes the bed for a Lydian princess: "This bed is a metallurgical masterpiece as it is made in iron, completely covered with leaded tin bronze and with a copper lattice cast-in." The presentation, who's author is not identified, writes:
Acquired by J. Paul Getty Museum in 1982, this Lydian masterpiece has never been on display. Looted from a tumulus chamber in Lydia in 1979. Identified as the Alahidir tumulus in Turkey, the bed will be reclaimed by the Turkish Authorities, who have visited the bed in the Getty storerooms.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art repatriated the Lydian Hoard in 1993 back to Turkey. Journalist Sharon Waxman wrote about "Chasing the Lydian Hoard" in Smithsonian Magazine in 2008.

March 25, 2013

The Gardner Heist: Journalist Tom Mashberg Weighs In

The FBI's press conference on the 23rd anniversary of the Gardner theft "was a hit, generating flashing Internet bulletins and global media coverage," wrote Tom Mashberg March 25 in "The Gardner Art Heist: The Thieves Who Couldn't Steal Straight" for Cognoscenti, Boston's NPR Radio Station.

Mashberg has covered the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum case for 16 years. Of the FBI's press conference on March 18, 2013, Mashberg writes:
Since crowd-sourcing was the goal, the FBI should be pleased. But we didn't really learn anything new beyond the assertion that some of the stolen paintings made their way to Philadelphia a decade ago. I was invited to speak with investigators alone for a few minutes after the news conference. They are dedicated men to be sure, and they were candid: they told me that for now the train has "gone cold."
 It was attention grabbing to hear them say they know the identities of the thieves. (Keeping the names secret is wise from an investigative standpoint -- imagine the media swarm.) But any careful follower of the case can boil the list of likely robbers down to three men -- all Boston-area felons. My belief is that two of the thieves are dead, and the third is in prison. The dead men will tell no tales, but there is still a chance to squeeze the guy behind bars.
In this article, Mashberg proposes that the bank robber Robert F. Guarante (who died in 2004) took the art from the two original thieves who didn't know what to do with it.
A lot of these characters, chief among them a gangster named Carmello Merlino, also deceased, can be heard yapping on wiretaps about their plans to return the art for the $5 million reward money -- if only they could find it. It's the gang that couldn't steal straight.
Mashberg also proposes that it was Robert A. Donati (dead) who cased the Gardner Museum in the 1980s with art thief Myles J. Connor (in prison on the night of the Gardner Heist) who stole the fluted Chinese bronze beaker that night as a gift for Connor.

Mashberg, who co-write "Stealing Rembrandts" (2011) with Anthony M. Amore, states that "the crime was always a local job."




June 30, 2012

Anthony Amore Discussing "Stealing Rembrandts" on "It's a Crime" Saturday afternoon on the radio

Anthony Amore, Security Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and co-author of "Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists", will be on "It's a Crime" on Saturday, June 30, at 1:00 p.m. The live radio show is hosted by Margaret McLean, an attorney and author of the legal thriller Under Fire (2011, Tor Forge McMillan). Here's a link to the program. "Stealing Rembrandts", written by Amore and journalist Tom Mashberg, will be released in paperback on July 3.