Showing posts with label Triton Collection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Triton Collection. Show all posts

October 23, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Reuters reports "Ringleader in Dutch art theft claims he had inside help"

Credit: Reuters/Bogdan Cristel. The names of those charged with
stealing  paintings from a Dutch museum are seen on a trials
 list at a court in Bucharest October 22, 2013.
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Reuters' Ioana Patran reports from Bucharest ("Ringleader in Dutch art theft claims he had inside help") on the guilty pleas entered by three defendants for stealing seven paintings from the Triton Foundation while on display last October at the Kunsthal Rotterdam:
Radu Dogaru and two other Romanians have so far pleaded guilty in a Bucharest court to stealing artworks worth tens of millions of euros from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum in October 2012 - one of the art world's biggest heists in recent years. Two other defendants were expected to testify later while a sixth remains at large and is being tried in absentia. 
On Tuesday, defense lawyer Catalin Dancu told reporters during a break in proceedings his client said he had inside help in the heist. "That person helped them so that the one open door was the way in to the museum," he said. Dogaru refused to reveal the alleged accomplice's identity. "Radu Dogaru has said 'my life and my safety are more important than revealing the person's name'," Dancu said. 
A spokeswoman for the museum, Sabine Parmentier, declined to comment on the issue when contacted by Reuters. 
Asked by a judge whether he had inside help, Dogaru avoided answering and said: "I couldn't say if the theft was ordered. If Dutch (officials) do their job we will learn what happened."

May 31, 2013

Will the ashes in a stove in Romania prove to be the remains of the seven paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation exhibit at the Kunsthal Rotterdam?

Photograph of the image of the Matisse
painting from the Triton Foundation
 stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam
 on October 16, 2012.
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor 

The prosecutor's office in Romania suspects the seven Triton Foundation paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam last October 16 may have been destroyed, Agency France-Presse reported May 29. Art Hostage blogger blames this rumor on the failure to offer a reward for the return of this and other stolen art. Two years ago, reports surfaced that the paintings stolen from the Museé d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris had been thrown in the trash.

According to AFP, investigators are examining ashes taken from the home of the mother of one of the suspects Kunsthal Rotterdam thieves to determine if they include remains of the stolen paintings, including works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse. Seven Romanians have reportedly been charged with the theft. Destruction of the paintings would eliminate evidence in the even the stolen works could not be sold or ransomed back to the art gallery in The Netherlands.

The Dutch website NU.NL quotes the lawyer for one of the suspects as denying that the ashes are any proof that the paintings were destroyed.

Here is a link to previous posts on the ARCA blog covering the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft, including information about the stolen paintings.

On the blog Art Hostage, Paul "Turbo" Hendry, a self-described former stolen art trafficker, blames destruction of stolen paintings on the lack of financial incentives to recovering or returning stolen art.

March 16, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam art heist: German prosecutor arrests middle-man for blackmail after attempt is allegedly made to sell back stolen paintings to Dutch owner Triton Foundation

Harlequin Head by Pablo Picasso
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13, German prosecutors arrested a 46-year-old German man for attempting to sell seven of the paintings stolen from the the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16 back to their Dutch owner, the Triton Foundation [David Rising and Toby Sterling reporting from Berlin and Amsterdam, respectively, for the Associated Press ("Police name man claiming to sell back Picasso, Monet in $100 million heist"].
Three Romanian men suspected of carrying out the heist were arrested Jan. 22 in Bucharest and remain in custody there. A 19-year-old Romanian woman was arrested in Rotterdam on March 4 on suspicion of assisting the thieves.
Police believe the works were brought shortly after the theft to a home in Rotterdam where the young woman was staying and removed from their frames.
The suspect has contacted two lawyers in Cologne to negotiate the return of the paintings back to the owner and has been arrested for blackmail.

DutchNews.nl reports in "Romanians implicated in Kunsthal art heist to face trial at home" that the three men arrested for the theft will not be extradited to The Netherlands.
None of the works have been recovered and the mother of one of the defendants told a local Romanian broadcaster she had destroyed two to help her son [DutchNews.nl].
The suspects would prefer to avoid prison and Romania and have claimed that the paintings will never be seen again if their trial is not held in the Netherlands: "They have made this very clear," their lawyer said.

Here's another view of the  value of the stolen paintings.

October 18, 2012

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Conferring with Charley Hill, former Scotland Yard art detective and undercover agent

By Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Charley Hill, former Scotland Yard art detective (who helped to recover "The Scream") and private investigator, shared his expertise and opinion with the ARCA Blog on the Rotterdam art heist at the Kunsthal art gallery on October 16, 2012.

ARCA Blog: The space at the 20-year-old Kunsthal Rotterdam shows temporary exhibitions and has no permanent collection. Rotterdam Police have said that the Kunsthal had a very good technological security system but no on-site guards. Did this make the Triton Foundation's collection vulnerable to theft? After all, the exhibit featured paintings by artists known to fetch high prices at highly publicized auctions.
Mr. Hill: If a museum is to show works of great art, it cannot be Fort Knox, nor a high security prison. So whatever the security at a museum, and the state of its alarm system, it will be vulnerable to attack. The best system is a combination of locks, bolts, strengthened glass, CCTV (seeing someone walking around with a balaclava on should be a clue that all is not well, if anyone is watching the monitor) and alarms with good human resources managing them 24 hours a day. That is expensive, and most museums cannot afford that combination, but they should always aspire to it and try to achieve it as best they can, particularly when they have other people's art treasures on loan for an exhibition.
ARCA Blog: This month in Santa Monica, California, a private collector, Jeffrey Gundlach, recovered stolen art valued around $2 million after offering a reward. However, other paintings from art heists -- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1972, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, and the Van Gogh Museum in 2002 have never been recovered. What are the chances of seeing these seven stolen works taken from the Triton Foundation while on display at the Kunsthal?
Mr. Hill: These stolen works of art are likely to turn up again because they were stolen in an intelligent way, probably little damaged. But overall, stealing masterpieces is the most stupid thing a thief or thieves can do. They are not readily realisable as cash assets. They are unsaleable on the open market. The values attributed to them, and I read in the Independent this morning here in London that a figure for all of the stolen pictures was put at £250 million. What nonsense.
I also read that they were for some secret collector and his secret collection. More stuff and nonsense. In my experience the only Captain Nemo or Dr. No character I have ever met who collected stolen works of art is George Ortiz of Geneva. He used to show anyone his superb collection of looted antiquities, and every one of his friends and enemies knows what he has got. His main friends are the city fathers of Geneva who are set to inherit it all, and his enemies begin with Lord Renfrew, the famous Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at Cambridge University. Jules Verne and Ian Fleming (actually, Cubby Broccoli) invented all of that secret collector nonsense. These pictures will turn up in drugs raids and other searches over time, unless the police in Rotterdam get a good tip off soon and hit the place where they are stashed now.
ARCA Blog: The Santa Monica Police and Pasadena police in California were able to recover the stolen paintings from the Jeffrey Gundlach collection at a car stereo business and at a nearby residence. One of the paintings was recovered in Glendale during what appeared to be a sale preview. In the Gundlach robbery, the thieves also stole a Porsche and watches. This robbery is more focused on the art.
Mr. Hill: My view is that this theft was particularly well organised, done quickly and in the almost certain knowledge that the thieves and what they stole would be long gone by the time the police arrived. Also, the thieves were apparently not opportunists such as the two with a ladder at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam some years ago who smashed a window and took the two pictures nearest the broken glass, nor were they Balkan bandits with machine pistols like the ones who hit the Munch Museum in 2004, or the Buhrle Collection in Zurich a few years ago.
The closest pattern I know is of Irish Traveller raids on art in the 1980s through 2010. The pattern in Rotterdam the night before last was closer to that. See the art crimes of The General as he called himself, Martin Cahill of Dublin. Interestingly, one of Cahill's gang, George Mitchell, known as The Penguin, lives close to Rotterdam where he works in commodities with his Colombian, Russian, Dutch, Brit, Irish and other friends. I wonder if he has a part to play in this? He could do something about getting those pictures back, I'm sure, if any good Dutch police officer not in his pay asked him for some help.
Readers may read about Charley Hill's undercover work to recovery Edvard Munch's Scream stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 in Edward Dolnick's book The Rescue Artist. The exploits of Dublin criminal Martin Cahill are told in Mathew Hart's book The Irish Game.

We emailed a few questions to Mr. Hill that he thought we should address to our readers in the hopes of generating a thoughtful discussion:
What about the Serbian gangs who had been involved in the theft of the two Turners from the Tate Gallery which had been on loan to Frankfurt (as documented in Sandy Nairne's book Art Theft and The Case of the Stolen Turners)? Do you think the paintings, if taken by someone like that Irish gangs, would be shipped into Britain? If you were to steal these paintings from Rotterdam, what country would you ship them to?

October 17, 2012

Rotterdam Art Heist: What is the Triton Foundation?

Book cover for a volume Yale Press
 is publishing this December
by Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

The Triton Collection was built over twenty years by Rotterdam oil and shipping magnate Willem Cordia and his wife Marijke van der Laan.  The collection includes approximately 250 paintings, drawings and pieces of sculpture.  The core of the collection consists of Western art dating from 1870 to 1970 and is reputed to be one of the 200 most important private collections in the world.

An entrepreneur and investor, Willem Cordia served as an officer with the Holland-America Line and later became a strategic investment developer and port magnate in Rotterdam.  His wife’s family was well known in the Dutch shipping world, making their fortune in the worldwide transport of dry bulk cargo like ore, coal and grain.  At the time of his death, Cordia's wealth was estimated at  € 330 million.

The Triton Collection was bequeathed to the Dutch Foundation Triton at the time of Cordia’s death.  Starting with the goal of making the collection and new acquisitions more accessible to the general public, the foundation’s overseers have loaned works from the collection to museums and temporary exhibitions.  Artworks from the collection have been loaned to international art museums such as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Seoul Museum of Art and locally within the Netherlands to the Van Gogh Museum as well as the Hague Municipal Museum.

The Triton Collection focuses on innovators in modern art and includes artworks by Bonnard, Braque, Cézanne, De Kooning, Dufy, Fontana, Freud, Giacometti, Kelly, Klein, Manzoni, Modigliani, Mondrian, Monet, Picabia, Picasso, Stella, Uecker, Van Dongen, Van Gogh, and Vuillard.

From 2006 to 2011, Peter van Beveren served as curator of the Triton Foundation.  The Collection is now curated by Marlies Cordia-Roeloffs, daughter of Willem Cordia and his wife Marijke van der Laan.  The exhibit on loan to the Kunsthal Rotterdam from 7 October 2012 to 20 January 2013 included more than 150 artworks selected from over 100 different artists from the vanguard, the avant-garde of western art history.  Many of the works were on display for the first time publicly.

Between the evening of the 15th and the morning of the 16th of October 2012, the following seven paintings were stolen from the exhibition:

•           Pablo Picasso : Tête d'Arlequin (1971)
•           Henri Matisse : La Liseuse and Blanc et Jaune (1919)
•           Claude Monet : Waterloo Bridge, London (1901)
•           Claude Monet: Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901)
•           Paul Gauguin : Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, dite la Fiancée (1888)
•           Meijer de Haan : Autoportrait (circa 1889-1891)
•           Lucian Freud : Woman with Eyes Closed (2002)

October 16, 2012

Early morning art theft at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam

CNN: "An investigator searches the Rotterdam Kunsthal
 museum after a pre-dawn break-in on October 16, 2012.
  Photo by AFP/Getting Images".
By Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

Limited news coming out on the theft early this morning at the Kunsthal, an art gallery in Rotterdam.  Police are reviewing videotape footage from the museum and are asking for any possible witnesses to the crime to please contact them.

According to Ben Brumfield reporting for CNN ("Famous modern art stolen from museum in the Netherlands") with a contribution from Journalist Dominique Van Heerden:
The Kunsthal's alarm system went off shortly after 3 a.m. local time, alerting the exhibition hall's private security detail.  When security staffers arrived by car, they saw that the paintings were missing, Rotterdam police spokesman Roland Ekkers said.  They informed police, who started an investigation.
The Association Press via NPR ("Picasso, Matisse, Monets Stolen from Dutch Museum") reports:
Seven paintings by artists including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were stolen ... The theft at the Kunsthal museum is one of the largest in years in the Netherlands, and is a stunning blow for the private Triton Foundation collection, which was being exhibited publicly as a group for the first time.
The stolen works were Picasso's 1971 "Harlequin Head"; Monet's 1901 "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London"; Henri Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow"; Paul Gaugin's 1898 "Girl in Front of Open Window"; Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait," around 1890, and Lucian Freud's 2002 work "Women with Eyes Closed".
The museum's director Emily Ansenk had been in Istanbul, Turkey, on business but was returning Tuesday.
The Kunsthal (above, photo provided by Kunsthal) was
designed by Rem Koolhaas/Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Part of the twentieth anniversary celebrating the Kunsthal art gallery, the exhibition ‘Avant-Gardes' (which opened October 7) displayed works from the Triton Foundation assembled by the now deceased shipping industrialist, Willem Cordia and his wife Marijk Cordia-Van der Laan.   According to ARTnews the Triton Foundation collection belongs to the global top 200 most important collections.

Through the Kunsthal website, Willem van Hassel, Chairman of the Board, wrote in "Theft in the Kunsthal":
Due to the theft which occurred in the Kunsthal Rotterdam last night, the Kunsthal is closed to the public today. All contacts with the press run through the Information Department of the police (+31 10 - 274 8107). Concerning the ongoing investigation, no further statements will be made until further notice.
Reporter Charles Onians for AFP ("Picasso, Monet, Matisse stolen from Dutch museum") reports that Rotterdam police are collecting forensic evidence at the scene of the art heist and describes the robbery as "well-prepared" in a quiet area of the Rotterdam museum park.  The AFP lists the seven stolen paintings:
Pablo Picasso's "Tete d'Arlequin"
Henri Matisse's "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune"
Claude Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross, London"
Paul Gaugin's "Femme Devant une Fenetre Ouverte, dite La Fiancee"
Meyer de Haan's "Autoportrait"
Lucian Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed".