July 8, 2011

Art Loss Register's Chris Marinello Will Lead Keynote Panel on the 40th Anniversary of the 1970 Convention at ARCA's Third Annual Art Crime Conference on Sunday July 10

The 40th Anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention will be the subject of the keynote panel at ARCA's third annual International Art Crime Conference on Sunday, July 10th in Amelia.

Both Chris Marinello, Executive Director and General Counsel for the Art Loss Register, and Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief, attended the UNESCO meeting in March 2011 in Paris to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention, an international treaty designed to promote cooperation between countries to stop the sale of illicit cultural property which was increasing the illegal excavating or plundering of archaeological sites.
Last March in Paris, UNESCO commemorated the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Convention which was a landmark treaty negotiated to define illegal trafficking of cultural property for the international community and provide policies for nations to adopt to stem the demand and sale of cultural property. Subjects covered included legal instruments employed for the fight against illicit trafficking of archaeological objects. The 1970 Convention has been ratified by 120 Member States and is seeking ratification by 80 more. After 40 years, effective has the 1970 convention been in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property?
In 2010, Christopher Marinello was appointed Worldwide Recoveries Manager for his success management of recoveries in North America. Before joining the Art Loss Register, Marinello worked as a litigator in the realm of the arts with clients such as museums and collectors.

Catherine Schofield Sezgin received her Postgraduate Certificate in ARCA's International Art Crimes Studies Program in 2009. She has written about the efforts of law enforcement to stop trafficking of stolen antiquities on the blog and in the Journal of Art Crime. In the past two decades Catherine has also traveled extensively to ancient sites in modern day Turkey. Since October 2010 Catherine has worked as the editor-in-chief of ARCA’s Blog.

Mark Durney, Larry Rothfield, and Katharyn Hanson Will Discuss "Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict" at ARCA's Third Annual International Art Crime Conference on July 10

Mark Durney, Larry Rothfield and Katharyn Hanson will participate in the panel, "Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict" at ARCA's third annual International Art Crime Conference on Sunday, July 10, in Amelia.

Mark Durney, ARCA's Business and Admissions Director at ARCA, has assisted with the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate since 2009. He has published a number of articles in the Journal of Art Crime, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Crime, Law and Social Change, and the American Society of International Law Cultural Heritage and Arts Review. In 2010, he was invited to moderate the Museum Security Network, which redistributes news related to cultural property protection, preservation, and security. The MSN is recognized as a key heritage resource by UNESCO, the Smithsonian, the Getty, and the Museums Association, among many other organizations. Since 2008, he has maintained the site Art Theft Central, which delivers news and insights on the field of art crime.
"In light of the recent Egyptian crisis that featured mixed reports made by journalists, culture leaders, and archaeologists, among others related to the uncertain status of the country's cultural institutions and sites, it is all the more relevant to discuss the importance of maintaining accurate collection inventories. They play a critical role in the aftermath of any theft, natural disaster, or period of civil unrest. This paper utilizes quantitative as well as qualitative evidence to underscore the benefits derived from maintaining comprehensive documentation and collection inventories."
Larry Rothfield is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, where he co-founded and directed the Cultural Policy Center from 1999-2008. He has published on a wide array of subjects in cultural policy. His last book, The Rape of Mesopotamia (University of Chicago Press, 2009) offers a behind-the-scenes look at the causes for the failure of US forces to secure the Iraq National Museum and the country's archaeological sites from looters in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Rothfield also edited a volume of essays on this topic, Antiquities Under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection after the Iraq War (Altamira Press, 2008), focusing on the policy changes that need to be made by various stakeholders -- ranging from war-planners and State Department bureaucrats to cultural heritage NGOs -- to ensure that the disaster suffered by Iraq is not repeated ever again. The theft of antiquities in time of war is a special case of the problem of market-driven looting, and Rothfield's new project seeks better policy options for bringing looting under control, based on a clearer understanding of the complicated economic incentives involved.
"The recent revolution in Egypt provided a natural experiment or stress test of the security system that normally protects antiquities, whether in museums, or on sites or remote storerooms. What can we learn from the looting of the Cairo Museum (and from storerooms and archaeological sites around the country) about how other heritage professionals could and should be planning ahead to cope with similar situations of political instability that might strike their country?"
Katharyn Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate in Mesopotamian Archaeology at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation is entitled: Considerations of Cultural Heritage: Threats to Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites. She is also the co-curator of the University’s Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit: Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past. Katharyn is also co-editor of the exhibit volume. She has published on cultural heritage protection as well as related policy issues. Despite her abiding interest in policy, her true passion is archaeological fieldwork. To date, she has excavated in 6 countries on 3 continents. Her most recent fieldwork has been in Syria on agricultural damage to Mesopotamian sites.
"In April 2003, the looted Iraq National Museum in Baghdad briefly focused international media attention on the plight of Iraq’s cultural heritage. This theft and destruction is only one part of a much larger problem. The looting of archaeological sites throughout the country poses a continuing threat to Iraq’s past. Although the initial flurry of destruction has subsided, important archaeological sites continue to be looted. While we will never fully know the extent of the material and information stolen from these sites, satellite imagery allows us an opportunity to better understand which sites were targets, when looters were active, and what type of material is reaching the market. While it is important to increase awareness about these current patterns in looting and the market for artifacts stolen from Iraq, it is also necessary to discuss the tools available to help prevent this destruction. Among these tools are recent developments in international and U.S. legal framework to help protect Iraq’s cultural heritage. As we begin to address the damage to cultural heritage sites other areas with recent unrest what can we learn from these tools created in response to the loss in Iraq?"

"Writers of Art Crime" to Speak at ARCA's Third Annual International Art Crime Conference in Amelia on July 9

Vernon Silver, Fabio Isman and Peter Watson will speak as part of a panel, "Writers of Art Crime" tomorrow at ARCA's third annual International Art Crime Conference in Amelia, Umbria.

Vernon Silver is author of The Lost Chalice, "The Real Life Chase for One of the World's Rarest Masterpieces - a Priceless, 2,500 year old Artifact Depicting the Fall of Troy". Silver, an Oxford-trained archaeologist and award-winning journalist, is a senior writer at Bloomberg News in Rome. The Lost Chalice can be immediately downloaded from the iTunes store.

Italian journalist Fabio Isman has published 32 books on subjects ranging from restoration to conservation. He is a contributor to the Giornale dell’Arte, The Art Newspaper, Art e Dossier, Bell’Italia. Through Skira, he published I Predatori dell’Arte Perduta, il Saccheggio dell’Archeologia in Italia (Predators of Lost Art, the Archeological Plunder of Italy, 2009), the only published study on the “Grande Razzia” (The Great Plunder) and illegal excavations, since 1970, of a million archeological finds in the country, many of which are found in noteworthy museums abroad.

Peter Watson, described as an intellectual historian and former journalist, is the co-author of The Medici Conspiracy: The Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities From Italy's Tomb Raiders to the World's Greatest Museums, and author of Sotheby's: The Inside Story and The Caravaggio Conspiracy.

Stolen Picasso drawing "Tete de Femme" recovered two days after theft in San Francisco

Police arrested a 30-year-old man in Napa Valley, California, two days after he allegedly stole 1965 pencil drawing by Pablo Picasso, Tete de Femme, from a San Francisco gallery. The artwork is undamaged and the motive is unknown. You may find further information as reported by Mike Aldax in San Francisco's Examiner here.

July 7, 2011

Thief Walks Away with Picasso Sketch a San Francisco Gallery Had Hung Close to the Entrance to "make it accessible to the public"

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

Ari Burack reports in "Picasso sketch stolen from Geary Street gallery in daytime heist" for The Examiner in San Francisco that on July 5 a man "plucked" a Picasso sketch off the wall and left in a taxicab.

The Union Square gallery had insured the artwork before displaying it:

The framed piece, which had been perched on a pillar near the front of the gallery, was double hooked to the wall to try to prevent such a theft, Weinstein said.

The Examiner reports that "The stolen piece is part of Picasso’s Bresnu Collection. Maurice Bresnu was Picasso’s chauffeur. Picasso used to give sketch drawings as gifts to Bresnu and his housekeeper."

This is reminiscent of the story Picasso's electrician has told about receiving work from the artist. Now those works have been confiscated by the courts, the electrician is facing charges, and the question is whether or not the case will be settled in the electrician's lifetime.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2011/07/picasso-sketch-stolen-geary-st-gallery-daytime-heist#ixzz1RONMMO7n including a related story about a neighboring surveillance camera that may have recorded the thief leaving the gallery.

Leila Amineddoleh, Courtney McWhorter, Michelle D'Ippolito and Sarah Zimmer will form the panel “Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime” at ARCA's Third Annual International Art Crime Conference in Amelia on July 10

"Fresh Perspectives on Art and Heritage Crime", a panel leading the schedule on the second day of ARCA's International Art Crime Conference, will feature Leila Aminddoleh, Courtney McWhorter, Michelle D'Ippolito, and Sarah Zimmer.

Leila Amineddoleh, an alumnus of ARCA’s postgraduate program and Boston College Law School, will present: “The Pillaging of the Abandoned Spanish Countryside”:
"Spain is rich in art treasures: artwork ranging from religious works, modern paintings, ancient architecture, Roman ruins, and Visigoth remnants are densely scattered across Spain’s cities and countryside. Whereas some of the art is world-renowned and protected, much of the art is still hidden in churches and in depopulated towns and is left vulnerable to damage and theft. Spain’s cache of hidden works has great cultural value to the Spanish cultural identity; however, these works are often misappropriated because their existence is virtually unknown or unprotected. This paper sets forth recommendations for Spain to follow to protect is patrimony, most importantly the necessity of creating an extensive catalogue, encompassing both State and Church property."
Leila Amineddoleh has twice published articles in the Art & Cultural Heritage Law Newsletter of the Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee of the ABA Section of International Law, including “The Getty Museum’s Non-Victorious Bid to Keep the ‘Victorious Youth’ Bronze” (Winter 2011, Vol. III). She is currently Intellectual Property Legal Consultant at Independent Legal Counsel and Of Counsel at Lysaght, Lysaght & Ertel in New York.

Courtney McWhorter is currently completing her final year as an Honors student at Brigham Young University, for a Bachelors in Art History. She has worked as a teaching assistant and is an art student to John McNaughton. She has done extensive travel while studying abroad, visiting places such as Greece, Italy, Austria, and Belgium, as well as completing graduate courses while studying in Mexico. She is also a committee member of the Art History Association. Ms. McWhorter will present “Perception of Forgery According to the Role of Art”:
"How we view forgery is dependent upon how we view art as a society. In this paper I will argue that forgeries have been received differently according to the role art is playing at the time they are discovered. I will show how the role of art began changing during World War II, due to the looting of Nazi leaders, and how this affected forgery, using the case of the Van Meegeren forgeries as an example. I will show how art is valued today according to its historicity, rather than its aesthetic capabilities. Such a claim explains why forgeries could have once been acceptable, but now are not because they falsify history. They are placed into historical contexts where they do not fit and thereby misconstrue the public view of history. This paper is important because it shows that by understanding the perception of forgeries at certain periods, we can better understand the role of art and the values placed upon it in society."
Michelle D’Ippolito is completing her final year at the Univeristy of Maryland College Park, majoring in Anthropology with minors in Art History and French. She has interned for the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of the Interior, where she wrote an online course in basic museum collections care. Michelle has an article, “The Role of Museums in the Illegal Antiquities Market,” under review for publication. Ms. D’Ippolito will present “Discrepancies in Data: The Role of Museums in Recovering Stolen Works of Art”:
"The ability of investigative agencies like Interpol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to effectively recover stolen works of art depends in part on how comprehensive and complete their databases of stolen works are. The scope of these databases and their effectiveness in recovering artwork depends on how many reports of theft are submitted by museums to the investigative agencies. This paper looks at the various influences that inform a museum’s response to theft, including sending in reports of theft. It examines how a concern with public image and a lack of funding affect the resources museums have at their disposal to handle museum theft and provides some strategies to improve the deterrence of museum theft worldwide."
Sarah Zimmer is a part-time faculty member in the Photography department of the Art Institute of Michigan. She has studied in both the United States and Italy.  She graduated from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2010 with a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography. Ms. Zimmer's works of art have appeared in many different exhibitions, including two solo exhibitions: “Presenting” at Four White Walls in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2005, and “Presence” at the Galleria La Corte in Florence, Italy, in 2007. Ms. Zimmer will present “The Investigation of Object TH 1988.18: Rembrandt’s 100 Guilder Print”.
In 2008, while working at an archive of an unnamed institution it was discovered that an etching by Rembrandt van Rijn was missing from the collection. According to a letter on file it was approved to be sent out for restoration in 1998. However, no record was ever found to confirm that it was sent out for treatment. It was last accounted for in a 1990 inventory. Months were dedicated to digging through files and paperwork. After attempting to track the object starting with its provenance, port of entry, and adoption into the collection, the paper work dropped off and a more rigorous search began. Emails were sent and searches commenced, until one afternoon in 2009 I received a letter from the head of the institution asking me to halt the investigation with no explanation offered. While the particular piece’s rarity and monetary value hold no comparison to the Rembrandt cut from its frame during the 1990 Gardener Museum heist, the unnamed institution continues to guard the knowledge of the prints disappearance. This object and the circumstances that ensued led me to further investigate and explore a larger system of values using Rembrandt as a model. I began by questioning the institutional value of maintaining the secret of a missing artwork that was not of any particular rarity or monetary significance.

July 6, 2011

One Year Later, Peter Paul Biro Takes Offense to David Gann's Profile of Him in The New Yorker

Julia Filip writing for Courthouse News Service reports in "Art Analyst Sues The New Yorker" that Peter Paul Biro of Montreal has complained about the treatment he received by David Gann in The New Yorker last year.  You can read about the lawsuit here and the article in The New Yorker here.  Gann's article is a must-read for anyone curious about fingerprints and authentication.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011 - , No comments

Maria Elena Versari, Annika Kuhn, Elena Franchi and Charlotte Woodhead will be on the panel "Historical Perspectives on Looting and Recovery" at ARCA's Third Annual Art Crime Conference in Amelia on July 9th

"Historical Perspectives on Looting and Recovery", the third panel at ARCA's International Art Crime Conference in Amelia, will feature Maria Elena Versari, Annika Kuhn, Elena Franchi and Charlotte Woodhead.

Maria Elena Versari, the Assistant Professor of Modern European Art and Architecture at the University of North Florida, will discuss "Iconoclasm by (Legal) Proxy: Restoration, Legislation and the Ideological Decay of Fascist Ruins":
"This paper addresses the ways in which the architectural and artistic production created under Fascism has been perceived, legally defined and handled by subsequent governments and authorities and how the status of iconoclastic actions against these works has changed over time. It focuses specifically on the way in which Fascist architecture offers a significant example of how the fate of politically tainted works challenges the conceptual boundaries that define the distance between legal and illegal, approved and criminal actions in the art world."
After graduating with her PhD from Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Dr. Versari has taught in both Italy and the United States and published many scholarly works, including Constantin Brancusi (Florence: Scala Group/Rome: L’Espresso, 2005) and Wassily Kandinsky e l’astrattismo (Florence: Scala Group, 2007). In addition to teaching, she is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the online journal Art in Translation.

Annika Kuhn, is a Fellow of the Mercator Kolleg on International Affairs (German Academic Foundation/Federal Foreign Office), conducting research on the illicit trafficking and repatriation of antiquities.  Dr. Kuhn holds a DPhil in Ancient History from the University of Oxford. She will present “The Looting of Cultural Property: A View from Classical Antiquity”:
"The destruction and pillage of cultural property in times of war and peace reach far back in history, to the Greek and Roman periods – be it the excessive looting of Greek temples during the Persian Wars or Nero’s large-scale thefts of statues. This paper will examine ancient approaches to and discourses on the plundering of works of art and investigate early concepts of the protection of cultural objects as media of a collective memory and identity. By discussing selected historical examples, I will particularly focus on the different forms of ancient responses to the loss of significant religious and cultural artifacts, which range from the diplomatic negotiation of returns, the repatriation of looted property as symbolic political acts, the restoration of the religious and cultural order by the use of replicas as well as early antecedents of the ‘codification’ of norms to respect the inviolability of religious and cultural sites and prohibit the illicit appropriation of art. The parallels and differences which the ancient paradigms reveal with regard to modern concerns about cultural heritage will shed some new light on the complex nexus of political, religious, cultural and moral issues involved in debates over the protection of cultural property."
Elena Franchi is the author of two books on the protection of Italian cultural heritage during the Second World War: I viaggi dell’assunta: La protezione del patrimonio artistico veneziano durante i conflitti mondiali (Pisa, Edizioni PLUS, 2010), and Arte in assetto di guerra: Protezione e distruzione del patrimonio artistico a Pisa durante la seconda guerra mondiale (Pisa, ETS, 2006). She has been involved in a project on the study of “Kunstschutz”, a German military unit created for the protection of cultural heritage during the war. In 2009 she was nominated for an Emmy Award - “Research” for the American documentary The Rape of Europa, 2006, filmmakers Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen e Nicole Newnham, on the spoils of works of art in Europe during the Second World War.  Ms. Franchi will present “Under the Protection of the Holy See: The Florentine Works of Art and Their Moving to Alto Adige in 1944”.

Charlotte Woodhead, an Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick will present “Assessing the Moral Strength of Holocaust Art Restitution Claims”:
"This paper will analyze recent recommendations of the United Kingdom’s Spoliation Advisory Panel, which hears claims relating to World War II spoliation of cultural objects, and in particular the different aspects of the moral considerations. It will focus on the two primary considerations of the Panel: the circumstances in which the pre-war owner lost possession of the object (the immorality of deprivation) and any moral obligation of the institution in terms of the circumstances in which they acquired the object (the immorality of acquisition). However, other matters appear to influence the moral strength of the claimants’ claims or the remedy, which they receive. In cases where the claimants or their forbears received post-war compensation the Panel also analyses any potential unjust enrichment of claimants were the object to be returned or monetary recompense awarded. The public interest in the cultural object is also a consideration when determining whether or not to return the object rather than to make a financial award. This paper will analyze how far the Panel’s decisions differ from those which would be based on purely legal considerations (assuming the absence of statutes of limitation) and will make some comparisons with similar panels set up abroad to deal with the restitution of spoliated cultural objects."

Charlotte Woodhead's research focuses on cultural heritage law and in particular the recognition and enforcement of property rights in respect of objects of cultural heritage. She has written articles on the restitution and repatriation of objects from museum collections including the work of the Spoliation Advisory Panel and the repatriation of human remains. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in cultural heritage at the University of Leicester.

July 5, 2011

Courthouse News Service Reports from the Federal Court in Manhattan that a Gallery has been sued for $6.5 million for "overvalued and phony" Russian paintingsvaluation of Russian paintings

Courthouse News Service, a Pasadena, California-based news organization, has reported that a Manhattan Gallery has been sued for $6.5 million for "overvalued and phony" Russian paintings by a Luxembourg company, Arthur Properties.

Philip A. Janquart, the reporter, writes:
Arthur Properties, of Luxembourg, claims that Anatoly Bekkerman and his ABA Gallery conspired "in a multipronged and multifaceted intensive campaign to defraud" it for 18 pieces of 19th and 20th century Russian art, four of which were forged and the others being "of substantially lesser value than Bekkerman had represented." 
"ABA is an art gallery specializing in 19th and 20th century Russian art," the complaint states. "According to its website, 'for over thirty years ABA Gallery has been dealing in the finest examples of nineteenth and early twentieth century Russian painting and sculpture.' 'During that time, the gallery has placed important and rare works of art in major public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States.'" 
Arthur Properties claims that Bekkerman schemed with others, including his own daughter, to defraud Arthur's buying agent, Oleksandr Savchuk, for the "series of paintings purported to be by famous Russian artists."
The people behind Arthur Properties were not identified.  Famous and rich Russians and an auction house has been mentioned in the lawsuit, so this should continue to receive more press.