July 11, 2012

Noah Charney's "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" features "Mark Landis: the Forger Who Has Yet to Commit a Crime" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Noah Charney's column "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" features "Mark Landis: the Forger Who Has Yet to Commit a Crime" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.
To trick the art world has been the primary motivation of nearly all of history’s known forgers. The financial gains aside, forgers often seek to fool the art community as revenge for having dismissed their own original creations. Traditionally, this takes two forms: first, forgers demonstrate their ability to equal renowned artists, by passing their work off as that of a famous master; and second, they show the so-called experts to be foolish, by thinking that the forgers’ work is authentic. Money has been only a secondary concern for many of history’s known forgers — an added bonus after the initial thrill of success at having fooled the art community. But one very unusual forger, the subject of an exhibition called “Faux Real” at the University of Cincinnati that opened on April Fools’ Day of this year, is an exception to just about every rule.
Noah Charney is the Founder and President of ARCA and the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Art Crime. Recently a Visiting Lecturer at Yale University, he currently is a professor at the American University of Rome and Brown University. He is the editor of ARCA’s first book, Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009) and The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World’s Most Famous Painting (ARCA Press 2011).

July 9, 2012

"Princeton and Recently Surfaced Antiquities" in David Gill's column "Context Matters" for Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

In the column "Context Matters", David Gill writes on "Princeton and Recently Surfaced Antiquities" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.
In 1983 the USA ratified the 1970 Unesco Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (Paris, 14 November 1970). Article 7 includes the statement,
To take the necessary measures, consistent with national legislation, to prevent museums and similar institutions within their territories from acquiring cultural property originating in another State Party which has been illegally exported after entry into force of this Convention, in the States concerned.
In 2002 the Princeton University Art Museum agreed to return the fragmentary pediment of a Roman funerary relief that it had acquired in 1985 from New York dealer Peter Sharrer with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Leon Levy (inv. 85-34: Princeton University Art Museum 1986, 38, 39 [ill.]; Padgett 2001b, 47-51, no. 11). It turned out that the fragment had been discovered in 1981-82 at Colle Tasso near Tivoli and had been published by Zaccaria Mari. Michael Padgett, the then curator at Princeton and who was preparing a catalogue of the Roman sculptures, notified the museum’s acting director who in turn contacted the Italian authorities (Anon. 2002). Susan M. Taylor, the museum’s newly appointed director, was quoted in the press release about the return: “We are proud to be an active partner in the ongoing international effort to resolve ownership claims for stolen objects and in discouraging the illegal trade of art and cultural artifacts.” 
This was not to be the end of the museum’s return of antiquities.
Dr. Gill is Head of the Division of Humanities and Professor of Archaeological Heritage at University Campus Suffolk, at Ipswich, Suffolk, England. He is the author of 2011 book, "Sifting the soil of Greece: the early years of the British School at Athens (1886-1919)".

July 8, 2012

Ton Cremers on "Rise in Thefts from Museums: Due to Economic Crisis?" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Columnist Ton Cremers speculates on the "Rise in Thefts from Museums: Due to Economic Crisis?" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime.

Mr. Cremers is a security consultant and the founder of The Museum Security Network (MSN). He was awarded the 2003 Robert B. Burke Award for excellence in cultural property protection. Here's an excerpt:
The Museum Security Network (www.museum-security.org) has been on line since December 1996. In the past fifteen years over 40,000 reports have been disseminated about incidents with cultural property, such as thefts, fakes and forgeries, vandalism, and embezzlement. The number of thefts of sculptures from gardens and towns has grown tremendously, so much so that we have stopped trying to record all of them.
This year alone (and this is just a brief summary, far from complete) Stone Age axes were stolen from the Yorkshire Museum, a number of Lord Nelson artifacts were stolen from the Norwich Museum, as well as Buddhas from Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, artifacts worth £1.8m from Durham University’s Oriental Museum, watches from Silverton Country Historical Society museum, a lifeboat from RNLI’s museum; Museum Gouda (in The Netherlands) was robbed of a 17th century religious object, after the museum door was forced open using explosives; the National Gallery in Athens suffered a theft of Picasso and Mondrian paintings; and the Olympia Museum in Greece lost over 70 objects, after a early morning robbery. Thieves have wrenched the horns off stuffed rhinoceroses in European museums: Bamberg, Germany, Florence, Italy, Haslemere Educational Museum, Ritterhaus Museum Offenburg, Germany, Sworders Auctioneers, Stansted Mountfitchet, and more. Officials at Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency, claim the number of thefts of rhinoceros horns has increased sharply in Europe during the past year. Since 2011, the agency has recorded 56 successful, and 10 attempted, thefts.
According to a U.K. report 75,000 heritage crimes were committed in one year (experts warn that the “alarming” figures show that Britain’s history is being destroyed in an “insidious and often irreversible way” for future generations): the study found nearly a fifth of the country’s 31,000 Grade I or II* buildings were subject to criminal acts, while more than 63,000 Grade II buildings were targeted. The report, compiled by the Council for British Archaeology and Newcastle and Loughborough universities, found that crimes such as metal theft were more likely to occur in the north, while at least 750 sites were hit by “devastating” arson attacks.
All together an alarming development, or is this just business as usual?

The Journal of Art Crime is now available to subscribers.

July 7, 2012

Donn Zaretsky writes on "When Photography Might be Illegal" in his Art Law and Policy column for the Spring/Summer 20112 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

Attorney Donn Zaretsky writes on "When Photography Might be Illegal" in his Art Law and Policy column in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime (available via subscription).

Donn Zaretsky is an art law specialist at the firm John Silberman Associates. Zaretsky published the Art Law Blog at http://theartlawblog.blogspot.com/.
In an earlier Art Law and Policy column (Spring 2011), I looked at the question of whether a state can declare subject matter off-limits to photographers. In that case, the subject matter was farms: the state of Florida was considering a bill that would have made it illegal to take photographs of a farm without consent. I argued that such a statute would be clearly unconstitutional. “[As] a general matter,” the Supreme Court has said, “the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U.S. 564, 573 (2002) (internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added). 
Texas Penal Code § 21.15(b)(1) presents a related question. What if it’s not the subject matter that’s off-limits, but the subject matter combined with the photographer’s intent in taking the photograph? The statute makes it a crime to photograph someone “without the person’s consent” and “with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” Late last year, a Texas appellate court upheld the statute. Ex parte Nyabwa (Tex. Ct. App. Dec. 13, 2011). The Court acknowledged that “[photography] is a form of speech normally protected by the First Amendment,” but accepted the State’s argument that “the statute is not a regulation of speech at all, but instead is a regulation of the photographer’s or videographer’s intent.” Just as a statute criminalizing harassment by telephone (which will typically involve speech) does not violate the First Amendment because it focuses on the actor’s intent (in that case, “to inflict emotional distress”), this statute regulates “a person’s intent in creating a visual record,” as distinct from “the contents of the record itself.” On this basis, the Court concluded that the statute “is not a regulation of speech” and therefore does not violate the First Amendment.

July 6, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Thierry Lenain on "The Forger's Point of View"

Thierry Lenain writes about the psychology of a forger in "The Forger's Point of View" in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of The Journal of Art Crime (now available with a subscription).
Abstract: Adopting an interpretative perspective aiming to shed light on the forger’s point of view – the ideas he has of the art, of its history and of his own practice – implies an initial paradox. By definition, the forger would not attribute his productions to any other but himself without concealing his own artistic subjectivity. This is why only failure on the forger’s part or a discovery of the fake can lead to an understanding of his point of view. Under this condition, two pathways open up to the hermeneutic inquiry. It can first be based on the examination of the works themselves. The stylistic distortions and, more importantly, the way of combining the iconographic borrowings betray the imaginary of the forger, working with the intention of deceiving. Their study most often shows a figurative spirit torn between literal imitation and the paradoxical desire to invent what the imitated artists could have created. But beyond that, the words and writings of the forgers also call for interpretation. Whether it means, for them, to revive the destabilizing power of their practice or, in contrast, to legitimize it, their discourse assumes a “theory” of the history of art that inscribes itself as well in the realm of tension and paradox. We see them, indeed, dismiss the historicist reason while at the same time relying on it. On the one hand, they rely upon an aesthetic of the expressive trace according to which all original work translates the spirit of its author as a historically placed subject. On the other, they like to imagine that the spirit of the imitated masters comes to visit them across time (spiritualism), unless they refer to eternal laws of art (idealism), whose notion leaves no room to the difference between the fake and the authentic.
Thierry Lenain is a professor of art theory at Université Libre de Bruxelles. His latest book is Art Forgery: the History of a Modern Obsession.

July 5, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Duncan Chappell and Saskia Hufnagel on "The Beltracchi Affair: A Comment on the "Most Spectacular" German Art Forgery Case in Recent Times

Australian criminologist Duncan Chappell and Dr. Saskia Hufnagel write on "The Beltracchi Affair: A Comment on the  "Most Spectacular" German Art Forgery Case in Recent Times" in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of The Journal of Art Crime (now available by subscription).
Abstract: On the 27th of October 2011 the four persons accused of the ‘most spectacular’ art forgery case in German post-war history were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 21 months to 6 years. The accused were Wolfgang Beltracchi (61), the painter of the forged works; his wife Helene Beltracchi (53) and her sister Jeanette Spurzem (54) who helped him in various ways; and the ‘logistical expert’ in the case, Otto Schulte-Kellinghaus (68). Considering the financial damage the forger group had caused, the embarrassment of buyers, dealers, experts and auction houses, as well as the considerable publicity the trial incurred, this seemed a remarkably mild verdict. However, observing the way in which art forgers at large appear to be dealt with by the justice systems of various countries, it could be said that the case just confirms a reoccurring pattern of lenient sentencing. This article will examine the case and its repercussions.
Duncan Chappell is a lawyer, criminologist and former Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology. He is also the Chair of the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence in Policing and Security. Currently an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney he has researched and published on art crime as well as acting as an expert in art crime cases. His recent publications include Manacorda, S. and Chappell, D. Crime in the Art and Antiquities World. Illegal Trafficking in Cultural Property (New York: Springer, 2011).

Saskia Hufnagel is a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. Her PhD studies were completed at the Australian National University (ANU) on the topic ‘Comparison of EU and Australian cross-border law enforcement strategies.’ Her current work focuses on comparing legal frameworks in Australia and the EU, particularly in the fields of mass gatherings, surface transport, maritime and aviation security. She conducts further research in the field of EU and Australian police cooperation and more specifically the policing of art crime. Her publications include 114 ‘Cross-border police co-operation: Traversing domestic and international frontiers’ (2011) Crim LJ 333 and she co-edited ‘Cross-border Law Enforcement - Regional Law Enforcement Cooperation - European, Australian and Asia-Pacific Perspectives’ (2011) Routledge. Saskia is a qualified German legal professional and accredited specialist in criminal law.

July 4, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Aleksandra Sheftel on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel"

Aleksandra Sheftel's article on "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel" is published in the Spring/Summer 2012 electronic issue of the Journal of Art Crime.
Abstract: The state of Israel has numerous historically and culturally significant archaeological sites. Some of these date back to as early as 8000-7000 B.C, and are important to three of the world’s great religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Unfortunately, many of these sites are targeted by looters who illegally excavate the sites and, in doing so, erase history. This paper is an overview of the antiquities looting problem in Israel. It discusses Israel’s existing laws regarding the antiquities trade, describes the effects that Israel’s wars have had on the illicit antiquities trade, and the different motivations and attitudes of the looters in Israel. The paper also discusses the market players in this trade, analysing the roles the middlemen, the dealers, and the collectors play. It discusses who the looters are, why they engage in their illicit activities, and how they go about their business. The paper discusses ways in which the Israeli government has tried to stop the trade in illicit antiquities, and the debates that surround these and other proposed solutions. The paper concludes by analysing three alternative solutions that Israel could consider implementing in order to curb the looting.
Aleksandra Sheftel graduated “With Distinction” from the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection in 2011.

July 3, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: John Daab on "Daubertizing the Art Expert"

Fraud expert John Daab writes about the delicate nature of art authentication in his article "Daubertizing the Art Expert" in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of the Journal of Art Crime, which can now be electronically downloaded with a subscription.
Abstract: Most industries in the United States are regulated by law. The world of art, although regulated in a general framework, is not regulated when it comes to selling that which is authentic (Mccullough, 2012). Million dollar allegedly authentic works of fine and decorative art are vetted and sold by art “experts” with little or unrelated education, questionable training, non-mentored or no specific expert work experience, hyped commendations, bloated resumes and unreferenced mass media professional status. With the help of the mass media, such individuals achieve expert status without satisfying the standards of that which the law or scholarship requires (Briefel, 2006). In the recent Wolfgang Beltracchi forgery case, 47 million dollars of paintings from the “hand of various artists” were authenticated with the note made by the experts that “...using science was a waste of time” (Wright, 2012). Science entered with the result that the material make-up of the works precluded that they were created during the period of artist involvement. Out of 44 paintings, not one survived the scalpel of scientific analysis. This article addresses the conditions associated with the proliferation of wrong calls by so-called art experts and examines how scholarship, Daubert rulings, and Federal Rules of Evidence standards may assist in reducing the bad calls and consequentially art scamming, forgery and fraud.
John Daab was formerly a NYCTP Police Officer and NYU Professor. John is currently a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a Certified Forensics Consultant (CFC), Accredited Forensic Counselor (AFC) and a Certified Criminal Investigator, specializing in art forensics research with the American College of Forensic Examiners International (ABFEI). John holds Diplomate (DABFE) status and is a board member of the American Board of Forensic Examiners (ABFE), Criminal Investigator division. John is a Certified Homeland Security 1, (CHS1) and a Certified Intelligence Analyst (IAC) member of the American Board of Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS). John has won awards for teaching management and service to NYU. John has published over 70 articles and recently authored, “The Art Fraud Protection Handbook.” John is currently completing studies in Art Appraisal at NYU, beginning a docent program at Princeton, and has completed a second book, "Forensic Applications in Detecting Fine, Decorative, and Collectible Art Fakes".

July 2, 2012

The Journal of Art Crime, Spring/Summer 2012: Stephen Mihm on "Bordering on Alchemy: A Nation of Counterfeiters"

In the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Stephen Mihm writes on counterfeiting currency which has parallels to the story of art forgery.

Mr. Mihm is an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia. He is the author of A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States (Harvard University Press, 2007). He is also the co-author (with Nouriel Roubini) of Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance (Penguin, 2010).
Few of us question the slips of green paper that come and go in our purses, pockets, and wallets. Yet confidence in the money supply is a recent phenomenon: prior to the Civil War, the United States did not have a single, national currency. Instead, countless banks issued paper money in a bewildering variety of denominations and designs – more than ten thousand different kinds by 1860. Counterfeiters flourished amid this anarchy, putting vast quantities of bogus bills into circulation. This article, adapted from the 2009 book A Nation of Counterfeiters (Harvard University Press), discusses the origins of American counterfeiting of currency, a story that runs parallel to the story of art forgery.

July 1, 2012

The Spring/Summer 2012 Issue of The Journal of Art Crime is now available to download by subscription

The PDF edition of the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of The Journal of Art Crime can now be downloaded by subscribers. This seventh issue is edited by Noah Charney and published by ARCA.
Academic articles: "Bordering on Alchemy: A Nation of Counterfeiters" by Stephen Mihm; "Daubertizing the Art Expert" by John Daab; "Looting History: An Analysis of the Illicit Antiquities Trade in Israel" by Aleksandra Sheftel; "The Beltracchi Affair: A Comment on the "Most Spectacular" German Art Forgery Case in Recent Times" by Duncan Chappell and Saskia Hufnagel; and "The Forger's Point of View" by Thierry Lenain.

Regular columns: Donn Zaretsky's Art Law and Policy on "When Photography Might be Illegal"; Ton Cremers on "Rise in Thefts from Museums: Due to Economic Crisis?"; David Gill's Context Matters on "Princeton and Recently Surfaced Antiquities"; and Noah Charney's Lessons from the History of Art Crime on "Mark Landis: the Forger Who Has Yet to Commit a Crime".

Editorial Essays: Joshua Knelman on "Headache Art"; Noah Charney on "Appendix on Forensics of Forgery Investigation"; and Noah Charney on "Art Crime in North America".

Reviews: Stuart George reviews "Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists" by Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg; David Gill reviews "Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum" by James Cuno; Catherine Schofield Sezgin reviews "Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art" by Joshua Knelman; Noah Charney reviews "The Deceivers: Art Forgery and Identity in the Nineteenth Century" by Aviva Briefel; and John Kleberg reviews "Leonardo's Lost Princess" by Peter Silverman with Catherine Whitney.

Extras: Noah Charney's interviews with George H. O. Abungu; Ernst Schöller; Joris Kila and Karl von Habsburg; Ralph Frammolino and Jason Felch; Thierry Lenain; and a Q&A on "Art Crime in Canada".  

There is also a list of the 2012 ARCA Awards.