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October 29, 2013

Tonality and the Delay of George Clooney's film on The Monuments Men

by Fern Smiley, Art Researcher and Consultant on Holocaust Era Cultural Property

George Clooney recently announced that that release of his film, The Monuments Men, will be delayed until 2014. Sharon Waxman, editor of The Wrap and author of LOOT: The Battle Over The Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World (Henry Holt & Company, 2008), ascertains that the cause of the delay is because George Clooney is struggling with the tone of ‘Monuments Men’: “He’d been grappling with balancing the movie’s comic elements with the serious subject matter of World War II and the Nazis’ theft of Europe’s most valuable art.”

Except Clooney has since denied that the delay had anything to do with tonality, insisting that it's all about timing, mostly getting the visual effects right. Even so, Waxman had published on October 23 that a person close to the film claimed, “The hard-to-nail tone was more the issue than the visual effects”.

Context is everything except in Hollywood

The 1964 thriller, The Train starring Burt Lancaster, was inspired by the true story of train No. 40,044 “liberated” outside Paris in 1944 by members of the French Resistance who prevented the train from crossing the border into Germany at the war’s end. In 1964, the year that John Frankenheimer released the film, Hollywood did not acknowledge that the content of the train, priceless artwork, was, in reality, confiscated from Jewish dealers and collectors throughout France and Belgium, but the “Monuments Men” knew.

Lynn Nicolas’ Rape of Europa, the 1995 book which became the benchmark for the subject of Nazi art looting and restitution, reveals the ironic fact that the Jewish American soldier who commandeered the actual train was the son of Paul Rosenberg, the venerated Parisian art dealer. Lt. Alexandre Rosenberg liberated hundreds of French impressionists pictures (many which he recognized that had hung in his parents’ home). Before fleeing France, Paul Rosenberg had tried to safeguard his possessions in a bank in Libourne and a rented chateau in Floirac but both were purloined by Nazi agents.

Robert Edsel’s book of the same name and upon which George Clooney based his film details the recovery starting in 1944 of an astonishing number of works of art stored in salt mines and repositories throughout Europe. For six more years the Monuments Men uncovered deposits; protected, documented, and eventually returned what could be traced to the country of origin to be restituted to the rightful owners.

The meticulously detailed German records of confiscation of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) aided the officers in the recovery. Nancy Yeide, curator of the National Gallery of Art, once commented on the system of ERR plunder: "The very people they were eradicating, they were taking their art and keeping track of whom they take the art from”… except in the case of the M-Aktion, of course, where owners were unidentifiable, since the art and furnishings seized were from abandoned Jewish lodgings, constituting a rich haul of significant and not-so-significant works and objects.

Despite the remarkable recovery work of the "Monuments Men", the whereabouts of tens of thousands of works remained unknown. Meanwhile, according to Marc Masurovsky, founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, the art trade suddenly flourished, and an unprecedented boom in sales occurred throughout a newly infused international art market, ready to embrace stolen property.

Especially in North America

Collections assembled and museums opened during and after the WWII era are still coming to grips with the identification of ‘Holocaust Looted Art’. “The Monuments Men” returned to the US and Canada and Britain after WWII. Some found senior positions in the countries’ museums. Others were academics in the nations’ colleges and universities However, in at least one uncomfortable case, the estate of an ex-Monuments officer contained many seventeen and eighteenth century European works which, because of their unknown provenance, made their ultimate disposition difficult.

American museums have identified 16,000 objects in their possession that may have been seized by the Nazis. Chapter 6 of the 1972 catalogue of The National Gallery of Canada 1938-1955: “Great Years of Collecting” raises eyebrows. This April, Canada’s federal government announced the funding of $200,000 to support the research efforts in six Canadian museums to help establish the provenance of works of art. “It is an important initiative for researchers and heirs around the world who are trying to identify and locate artworks and other cultural artifacts displaced during the Holocaust” said Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, at the Ottawa’s Carleton University conference examining “If not now, when? Responsibility and Memory after the Holocaust.”

It is 2013. George Clooney has a challenge. Waiting a bit longer for a movie, which “means something” according to him, will necessitate a considered approach to the topic. (In the meantime, one could do well by reading the non-fiction book, the above mentioned, Rape of Europa.)

One simply cannot speak about Nazi art looting without referencing the Holocaust. There is international cooperation, legal papers, institutes and conferences examining Nazi art looting and restitution as a component of the Holocaust. News stories run weekly describing successes and failures of claimants, a popularized one, being Elizabeth Taylor’s 2007 pre-emptive lawsuit to keep her Van Gogh from the heirs of Mrs. Margaret Mauthner.

Even in Italy, even by Italians

In Italy, after the first Fascist Racial Laws took hold in the fall of 1938, seizure of works of art from Jews began even without any Nazi presence. Circular n. 43, issued by the Ministry of Education on 4th of March 1939, called upon Royal Customs Offices, responsible for granting export licenses for art and antiquities, to create difficulties and discourage exports of all Jewish emigrants. This was in response to an earlier measure, of the 7th of December 1938, ordering the actual expulsion of all foreign born Jews living on Italian soil, giving them six months to leave the country. According to the Italian scholar Dr. Ilaria Pavan, many of their possessions languished in crates at ports like Genoa. In 1947, the owner of such a crate, containing 558 works of art applied for removal of her property, according to archival material in the Superintendency in Liguria, but then returned them in 1948, their poor condition being in direct relation to the unsuitability of the storage space in which they had been held.

“Sequestrations” in Italian towns and cities took place in earnest, facilitated by the arrest and deportation of its Jewish citizens in 1943/44. A report dated 7 July 1944 from the Superintendency of Florence, Pistoia and Prato concerning removal of all property owned by Jews noted that “lesser objects be sold at Materazzi’s” with added commentary that translates, “it is better to leave as few traces as possible, either of receipts or of the stuff taken from Jews”. In this case sequestration of art was actually undertaken by the Italian local Fascist authorities, not the Nazis.

In the northeast where the German occupying forces carried out confiscations and deportations, records of the Pollitzer, Luzzato, Jesurum, Lescovitch and Morpurgo families, had their art given to local museums that is, after the Nazis skimmed off the best. Musei Civico Trieste and Udine were enriched according to OMGUS post-war documents of Preparations and Restitution Branch, Office of the Military Government (US).

Set in Italy, during this moment of genocide, “Monuments Men, the movie”, cannot sidestep the full historical record. George Clooney, thankfully, is exquisitely placed to increase understanding of Nazi art looting. As lives were threatened or lost by deportation to death camps, stolen private and communal Jewish cultural property shifted from one place to another. At the Italians’ pleading, shipments from museum deposits at risk from bombing were transported by the Germans to the Vatican for safety. Perhaps even the Vatican may have safeguarded objects of Jewish origin, which it still possesses. With the new Pope promising transparency and access to archives, that question may just get answered.

Now that would be a movie.

Ms. Smiley, a former arts volunteer and weblog editor, has advised the Canadian Jewish Congress on their file for Holocaust era art restitution and attended ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in 2011. 


Interministerial Commission for Works of Art
In October 1995, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities established this commission to research missing artwork plundered by the Nazis during World War II

The Commissione Anselmi did not carry out a detailed research in state and private museum in order to verify the presence of works of art taken from Jews. The  Interministerial Commission for the recovery of art works assured that no such instance is documented in its records.

Research carried out by the Historical Archive of the Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea. Examples of Material Losses suffered by the Jews in the period 1938-1945.

Series: Records Relating to Monuments. Museums, Libraries, Archives and Fine Arts of the Cultural Affairs Branch, OMGUS, 1946-49 and FA. NARA, RG 260.
Category: JI Allied Commission- Italy. 65 pp, 

Doctor Ilaria Pavan, Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa)
The Italian Experience. Paper delivered at Christie’s and International Union of Lawyers  “Holocaust Art Looting & Restitution Symposium”.
Milan, Italy. Thursday, June 23, 2011

L’Opera di Ritrovare. Sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for the Cultural and Environmental Heritage. Italian State Publishing House, 1995.

Today at the National Gallery in Prague: Photos from the Veletrzni Palace

Hall, Veletrzni Palace
(Photo by Dr. Nancy Walker)
Veletrzni Palace
(Photo by Dr. Nancy Walker)

PRAGUE - Today California educator (and blog subscriber) Dr. Nancy Walker visited the 20th and 21st century art collection at the National Gallery's Veletrzni Palace in Prague. Here's two photos -- "eye candy" for the readers of this blog who haven't been to this "open and fluid" space. In 1975, the original building designed by Oldfich Tyl and Josef Fuchs was destroyed by fire. It was reconstructed in 1995 to house the National Gallery's modern and contemporary art.

"The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story" showing twice a day this week at the Arclight Pasadena

The documentary, The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story, is playing now at the Arclight Theatre in the Paseo Colorado shopping center in Pasadena.

This award-winning documentary, directed and written and produced by the husband and wife team of Joe and Justine Medeiros, is a story of an audacious art theft - Vincenzo Peruggia, an immigrant house painter, walked into the Louvre on a Monday morning and then out with the Mona Lisa under his arm and onto the streets of Paris in late August (a notoriously quiet month in Paris when residents traditionally flee the humidity to the sea and the countryside). For two years Leonardo da Vinci's portrait allegedly of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo escalated in fame as the public wondered if the masterpiece would ever be recovered. The Medeiros team traveled to Peruggia's hometown in northern Italy to meet his daughter, then in her 80s, to find out from her about the man who had stolen La Joconde -- only to find out that her father had died before she turned two years old and she herself had not heard about the theft until she was about to marry. The Medeiros' promised Peruggia's daughter to find out why her father had become an art thief. They studied primary materials, including archival material related to the police investigation, and re-traced Peruggia's actions with his grandson and granddaughter.

The film will screen at noon and 2 p.m. Tuesday (October 29) through Sunday (November 3).

October 28, 2013

The Monuments Men: Harry Ettlinger describes finding the stained glass windows of Strasbourg Cathedral in a salt mine

Here's an eight minute video produced by Roberta Newman for the American Jewish Historical Society on activities of The Monuments Men who risked their lives to save art during World War II, including finding art masterpieces in two underground salt mines outside of Heilborn, Germany. This video includes narration by Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger who describes how nitro glycerin came 'within two months' of blowing up Europe's greatest art. "The first job I had was to get all 73 cases of stained glass windows that were taken out of the cathedral of Strasbourg," Mr. Ettlinger recalls. "I was the one who saw to it that all the boxes came to the top and got loaded onto trucks to be shipped to Strasbourg about an hour and a half away."

October 26, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013 - ,, No comments

Author Barry Lancet introduces Jim Brodie, antique dealer, as protagonist in debut thriller JAPANTOWN

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

Author Barry Lancet features a San Francisco antique dealer in Japantown: A Thriller who consults for the police in regards to evidence related to Japanese art and culture. Here's a link to a book review by Steve Sacks for the Washington Independent Review of Books. Between speaking engagements in California, Mr. Lancet spoke to the ARCA blog via email:
Why did you choose an antique dealer as your protagonists' profession?
So that I could talk about the high culture as well as the low points required of the genre. I much prefer the culture, which includes art, but you don't have a mystery/thriller without the low. Very few have both. 
JAPANTOWN and the Jim Brodie series will always have an art theme running through them either as a plot or subplot, or as background.  In JAPANTOWN, as you'll see, art provides color and culture and character, and sometimes provides clues or insights into character.  And then there's the calligraphy, but I'll leave it there to prevent spoilers.
In the books to follow in this series, will there be any art crimes -- thefts, forgeries or even smuggling?
Book 2 also has an art theme woven into the story, and so will the next book. In Jim Brodie's second outing, there are plenty of art crimes -- theft, a long-lost treasure (that is controversial but said to exist by some), an illegal art auction, an actual art object used for very unpleasant political purposes, and more.
Will art historians, art lovers, and collectors learn a lot about Japanese art from your book? Do you strive for authenticity? 
Without a doubt. One of my goals is to pass on some Japanese culture and history with each book, and much of that comes in the form of Japanese art. 
As a book editor for over two decades--and many of them art books--I'm very careful about how I present the culture and the art, and it's all authentic (unless I need to invent something for the story). I've got an About Authenticity section at the end of the book so readers can tell exactly what is accurate in regards to the art, history, culture, and so on.
Mr. Lancet will be speaking at the Northridge branch of the Los Angeles Library on November 2.

Here are a few interviews: NPR / CPR (Capitol Public Radio)interview with Beth Ruyak of INSIGHT (4th button); Out of Ink.  “From the US toJapan and back again – an interview with Barry Lancet”; and 5-in-5: Barry Lancet” by J. Daniel Parra  (Pieces of Tracy).

A wonderful contemporary Japanese tea bowl.  Jim Brodie, the art-dealer protagonist of JAPANTOWN, is working on just such a repair when he receives an urgent phone call from the SFPD.  For more Japanese pieces featured in the book see “Brodie’s Antiques” in the “Japan & More” section of the author’s website (click on the images to enlarge).  Iga tea bowl, with "half moon" gold repair by Shiro Tsujimura (b. 1947– ).

October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - ,,, No comments

Viking jewels stolen from archaeological museum in Sweden

by A. M. C. Knutsson

The Historical Museum in Lund was struck by a theft in the early hours of Tuesday morning. 02.47 the alarm went off and when the police arrived at 02.52 the thief was already gone. The culprit was traced as far as Lund cathedral to which he had made his way on foot. The vicious rain had rinsed away any further trace and it is uncertain whether he continued from the location by car. [1] One man was caught on CCTV but the police has not excluded the possibility that he was working with others. [2] Detective Chief Inspector Stephan Söderholm of the Lund police has said that the thief knew exactly what he was after. In only a minute and a half the man managed to remove the ballistic glass from a window on the ground floor, enter and break open a display case with 8 mm thick Plexiglas, remove half of the display and disappear.[3] The Chief of Security at the Museum, Per Gustafson, exclaimed that even though he is unsure exactly what was taken, a complete inventory will not be possible until the police have finished their investigations -- it appears that the most valuable items were left behind but a significant amount was damaged.[4] Meanwhile, a local newspaper has reported that the man escaped with gold jewelry from the archaeological site of Uppåkra.[5]

The site of Uppåkra, is one of the richest archaeological sites in Sweden. More than 20,000 objects were found when the site was excavated a few years ago. Artifacts of bone, bronze, silver and gold were recovered. Uppåkra is a rare site, giving an insight into the life of the Scandinavian region prior to the period commonly considered the Viking Age. Traces have been found of kings, priestesses, and warriors, Roman as well as Hun. The site was active from 200 AD until around 1000 AD and is unique in Sweden. The first excavations were conducted in the 1930s but not until the 21th century were serious efforts made to excavate the sites. [6]

Söderholm has indicated that professional criminals might have conducted the break-in. He has said that the items might have been stolen in order to sell them on to a collector, or the gold itself might have been the temptation. A professional break-in would indicate the former. [7] This was the first theft in the Sweden’s second largest archaeological museum since the 1950s.[8] Per Gustafson told Tidningarnas Telegrambyra that "People will do whatever it takes to get what they want these days. That is the world we live in."[9]

Thomas Lindblad,, accessed 22 Oct 2013;
Joakim Stierna -, accessed 22 October 2013;, accessed 22 Oct 2013;, accessed 22 Oct 2013

[1] Joakim Stierna -, accessed 22 October 2013
[2] Joakim Stierna –
[3] Joakim Stierna –
[4], accessed 22 Oct 2013
[5] Joakim Stierna –
[6] Thomas Lindblad, , accessed 22 Oct 2013
[7] Joakim Stierna –
[8], accessed 22 Oct 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."

October 22, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Three defendants plead guilty. Radu Dogaru criticizes museum's security

Radu Dogaru, Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie, pled guilty today in a Bucharest courtroom for their part in the October 16, 2012 theft of seven paintings (Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Picasso's Tete d'Arlequin, Gauguin's Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, Matisse's La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, De Haan's Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed) belonging to the Triton Foundation and on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam.

In his deposition to prosecutors, primary suspect Radu Dogaru contradicted his mother's earlier confession to burning the paintings telling the court that his mother made these statements under pressure from long interrogation by the Romanian police.

Criticisms of security

Dogaru went on to add disparaging comments about the perceived level of security at the Rotterdam museum saying "At first I thought the paintings were fake, because it was so easy to get inside."   He went on to contrast the security at the Kunsthal with that of the Louvre adding "where they have real security".  In pleading guilty Dogaru told the court he gained entry to the museum by opening the door with a screwdriver, adding he could even have entered without any tools. 

In an even more brassy twist of events, Dogaru's attorney, Cătălin Dancu, stated that they are considering hiring Dutch lawyers to introduce an action in court citing negligent security at the Kunsthal as the mitigating circumstance that led to her client's role in the late night thefts.   In addition to blaming the gallery for her client's sticky fingers, Dancu spoke with reporters during a break from the court proceedings and stated that Dogaru had inside help in the heist.  

When asked by the judge whether he had inside help, Dogaru refused to reveal the alleged unnamed accomplice's identity.


October 19, 2013

From Outside Neolithic Walls: It’s a Matter of Scale and Resources*

Participants attending PRTP-Zagreb
from March 10-15, 2013
Source: Holocaust Art Restitution Project
by Martin Terrazas, ARCA Class 2013

This is in response to several messages in the past weeks in retrospect of time spent in Amelia: 

The multidisciplinary approach undertaken by both the Association for Research into Crimes against Art and Provenance Research Training Program is enriching and valuable. As can be understood in headlines regarding the fight over control of auction houses; the demands of the international art market require broad perspectives, for example, where an art historian is able to discuss accounting, archaeology, criminology, finance, history, and law, to name just a few examples, in passing conversation. The future of sound due diligence and reasonable provenance research depend on these individuals to engage in collaborative dialogues in an organic fashion; to make it second nature to elicit information and ask for assistance when problems arise. Globalized business, proper execution of deliverables, and dignified presentation is no longer optional; partnerships, as can be seen by recent headlines, can destruct in moments.

Taking a page from military vocabulary: VUCA is an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. What has been the largest lesson from both programs is to embrace VUCA. When a “poison pill” comes your way, it is essential not to recourse into territoriality, but rather to accept and learn how to improve operations. Realizing that leadership is not a prize, but rather an obligation to serve, is something that many have forgotten on the way towards comfort: When cultural property has unknown provenance or has been stolen, it hurts not only the responsible parties, but all involved in the market. Provenance research and art crime prevention is a means to an end, whether or not that be restitution and repatriation or seizure and legal sentence by respective authorities. There is no reason for delay regarding important issues such as who has proper title and what occurred at the scene of the crime. Instead of bureaucracy, individuals are owed personal honesty and scientific investigation. Cooperation between parties is essential.

In Amelia, there were discussions regarding the need for a focus in the international art market through financial statements and the fundamentals of business. For example, sometimes artists don't know how to balance a check book. While easy to criticize, even seasoned businessmen and businesswomen in the industry are guilty of this lapse of judgement. This is a lesson that is particular poignant, not only after Mr. Loeb's letter regarding management at Sotheby's, the current controversy at the Detroit Institute of Arts, changes with the Art Loss Register, Art Recovery International, and the Art Compliance Company, but also with news of China Poly's planned Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. At the end of the day, these are also business. Despite its cost on the balance sheet, protecting the consumer through investigation of provenance, is a priority. It will be more expensive in the long-run selling damaged goods.

Conversations in the past months have made it clear that there is not one definitive individual or source regarding data authority in the art market. There is no one single panacea, roughly phrased, for the ill that is looted cultural property without good provenance: Anyone to state differently ought to be questioned. (The discussion over SB 2212: United States Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act can included in this reference. UNESCO has been notoriously absent in its opinion of the legislation.) A tide of transparency has been occurring in the art market whether desired or not. Maybe not in a year or a decade; given the current trends starting with past generations, it seems to be increasingly harder to hide and sell devalued illicit cultural property

To paraphrase Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter’s latest TEDx talk titled “Why business can be good a solving social problems”
What separates this time from any other brief time on earth is awareness.
Why are we having so much difficult struggling with these problems?
While clearly Mr. Porter referenced larger ills; the concept remains fundamental. The international art market, like all business, is charged to create shared value. Given the recent headlines, it is important to ask: 
Is the international art market properly creating this value? 

If not, how can it be improved? 
What is each of us doing to make it so?

* The author acknowledges that the article may seem convoluted and difficult to understand. All questions and commentary are welcome and will be answered on the Holocaust Art Restitution Facebook page after posting.

October 18, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013 - ,, No comments

Stamp theft: Coin expert and former head of a prestigious Swedish museum charged with stealing valuable stamps from auction house Philea in Stockholm

by A. M. C. Knutsson

A well-known coin expert and former head of a prestigious Swedish museum has just been charged with several stamp thefts from the auction house Philea in Stockholm. The man, a long standing client at the auction house, was suspected of stealing as early as February of this year. Whilst the staff were discussing what action to take, the man departed with the stolen objects. Philea reported the thefts to the police who suggested that as the man was a regular, they should plan a trap to acquire further evidence against the man.

On May 8th, the day of the next stamp auction at Philea, the police and the staff were ready. As soon as the coin expert left his home, the police shadowed him all the way to the auction house. Once there, the man took his regular corner seat which allowed him a full view of the room and the staff but not the CCTV camera straight behind him. Almost as soon as the stamps had arrived before him, the man started pocketing them. This lasted for an hour and a half. As soon as the man went to leave the building, the police emerged and arrested the culprit. Within his pockets, they found 94 stamps, with a total value of around 20,000 Swedish kronor. The man confessed to have stolen stamps on three separate occasions for a total loss estimated by the auction house of 100,000 kronor.

The expert targeted midrange stamps, ranging from 50 kronor up towards several thousands. According to Philea spokesman Christer Svensson, the most expensive stamps had a much higher level of security so the thief was clever to target the less conspicuous items.

The man who is well known in the museum world for his expertise in coins is also an avid stamp collector. The thefts started after he lost his position as the head of a well regarded museum. In interrogations, the suspect claims to have been suffering from depression and has been seeing a psychologist in order to deal with his stealing. According to sources, he is looking for help as he wants to control his stealing which he describes as a form of kleptomania. He firmly asserts that he has never stolen anything else. When the auction house sent a bill for the approximated amount of 100,000 kronor, the expert paid it promptly. In addition to this he was fined 9,500 kronor. The man has previously bought stamps at the auction house for about 1 million kronor but Philea has made clear that no one who steals is welcome back.

Further information:

October 17, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - , No comments

Film director Medeiros on whether or not Vincenzo Peruggia hid in the closet before he stole the Mona Lisa in 1911

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Did Vincenzo Peruggia just walk into the Louvre on a Monday morning and steal the Mona Lisa or did he hide overnight in the Paris museum? Was Peruggia an employee of the Louvre at the time of the theft? Did he pick Leonardo da Vinci's painting because it was small and portable (the easiest to take of the Italian works on display in the Salon Carré? I asked these questions to Joe Medeiros, writer and director of "The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story".
Actually, Peruggia wasn't working at the Louvre when he stole the painting.  He had finished putting the artwork behind glass in January.  But Gobier, the company he worked for, continued to work there repairing the glass roof of the museum.  Peruggia had left Gobier in July during a strike and had gone to work with another company. I do think he stole it for the size, but also -- possibly --because it was a Leonardo. According to his testimony -- and the police didn't dispute it -- he entered that morning and didn't hide overnight.  No reason to.  Security was very lax.
Here is a link to the documentary's blog where Mr. Medeiros posts all the screenings.

If you're in San Diego tonight, you might be able to catch the show!

October 13, 2013

"The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story" documents an art crime and a writer's obsession to understand motive

Joe and Justine Medeiros in Hollywood
 at the Arclight Documentary Festival
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

“The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, The True Story”, winner of the award for Best Historical Documentary in the San Antonio Film Festival, provides clarity on how and why an immigrant housepainter, Vincenzo Peruggia, stole Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” from the Louvre in 1911.

Written and directed by Joe Medeiros and produced by his wife Justine, this documentary of a Parisian art theft tells the story of one writer’s obsession that lead him to a Northern Italian village to meet the art thief’s only living offspring, 84-year-old Celestina. Joe Medeiros hoped that Peruggia’s daughter could explain why her father, an immigrant painter living in Paris, had stolen the da Vinci masterpiece from the Salon Carré and hidden it for two years. Was Peruggia a patriot who believed he was returning a masterpiece Napoleon had stolen from Italy? Or was he an ordinary criminal looking to make a fortune? Unfortunately, Celestina did not remember her father who had died of a heart attack in Paris before she was two years old. Not until the age of 20 did Celestina learn from her aunt that her father had stolen the Mona Lisa. After promising to find out what motivated Celestina's father to steal da Vinci's masterpiece, Joe and Justine Medeiros visited the Louvre and archives in Paris with Peruggia’s grandson before traveling with Peruggia's granddaughter to the hotel where the painting was recovered in Florence in 1913.

“The Missing Piece” documents the efforts to research, translate and retrace a century old art crime. Art crime specialists such as Charles Hill, Scotland Yard Art Squad (retired), and Robert Wittman, FBI Art Crime Team (retired), appear with Louvre curators and other writers on the Mona Lisa theft (Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, The Crimes of Paris). Medeiros draws conclusions from primary sources to explain how Peruggia stole the painting and got it out of his museum and to his apartment (apparently he used both a bus and a horse carriage); where he stored the painting for two years; how the French police investigated the crime and how close the great detective  came to identifying both the thief and the painting’s hiding place; and finally, the “missing piece” which leads conclusively to the motive for the theft. The story includes Peruggia’s bouts with lead poisoning, the truth about the psychological evaluation used in his trial, and how Peruggia returned to France after his imprisonment during World War I. The film ends with Joe Medeiros revealing the truth to Celestina, turning the story from art crime to that of family.

"It's not a big, budget Hollywood movie, but it does tell a good story that has a beginning, middle and, fortunately, a happy ending," Joe Medeiros said.

The movie's website and blog contains more information.

Tanya Lervik (ARCA 2011) reviewed this movie last year at a screening in Washington, D.C.

October 12, 2013

ARCA Symposium in London at the V&A on November 7, 2013 focuses on Art Recovery & Reward and Art Forgery & Provenance

The V&A will host a one-day symposium on art crime, organized by the Association for Research into Crimes against Art). The event will feature leading speakers in the fields of investigation and art crime research providing in-depth talks on the subjects of Art Recovery & Reward and Art Forgery & Provenance.

V & A Blue Gallery
Session 1 - Art Recovery & Reward - 10:00 am
Detective Sergeant Claire Hutcheon, Metropolitan Police, Head of the Art & Antiques Unit.
Charlie Hill, Security Adviser and Art Crime Researcher, Former Detective Chief Inspector, Metropolitan Police

Richard Ellis, Director of the Art Management Group, Former Head of the Art & Antiques Unit, Metropolitan Police.
Jonathan Jones, author, lecturer, journalist and art critic for The Guardian
                                                         Session 2 – Art Forgery & Provenance – 3:00 pm
by Moody, Francis Wollaston
Vernon Rapley, Head of Security and Visitor Services at the V&A, Chairman National Museum Security Group, Former Head of the Art & Antiques Unit, Metropolitan Police
Christopher Marsden, Sr. Archivist, V&A Museum and Chairman for the Standing Conference on Archives and Museums
Christos Tsirogiannis, Archaeologist and Art Crime Researcher, University of Cambridge, former member of the Hellenic Ministry of Justice
Noah Charney, Founder of ARCA, Author, Professor of Art History specialising in Art Crime
This symposium will be held in the Hochhauser Auditorium in the Sackler Centre at the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London SW7, on Thursday November 7, 2013. Sessions begin promptly at 10:00 am and 15:00 pm, with a two hour break for lunch. Attendance is free and open to the public.
To register for this event please email the symposium coordinators at on or before November 1, 2013. Please indicate the names and email addresses of the attendees and if attendance will be for one or both sessions of the programming. Space is limited and attendees are respectfully encouraged to reserve early.

October 11, 2013

The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation Presents The Monuments Men, Social Media, the Law and Cultural Heritage

The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation Presents "The Monuments Men, Social Media, the Law and Cultural Heritage" on Friday, November 1, 2013 at Fordham Law School in New York City. Map and directions:

The program will begin with Diane Penneys Edelman, Villanova University School of Law; President, Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation; Leila Amineddoleh, Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham Law School; Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation; and Irina Tarsis, Chair, American Society of International Law Cultural Heritage & the Arts Interest Group.

The first panel, Monuments Officers, the Roberts Commission, Rose Valland, Ardelia Hall, the protection of monuments in Europe and Asia during WWII, law governing the “Spoils of War Doctrine,” legacy issues for museums and the art market, will be chaired by Thomas R. Kline, Of Counsel, Andrews Kurth, LLP; Assistant Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University, Museum Studies. Speakers: Elizabeth Hudson, Chief Researcher, Monuments Men Foundation; Marc Masurovsky, Independent Historian and Author and formerly with U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; Anne Rothfeld, Independent Historian, Ph.D. Candidate, American University; and Victoria Reed, Curator for Provenance, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The second panel, Prevention efforts in problem areas since WWII: Evolution of U.S. law, policy and practice concerning looting prevention and restitution efforts in post-WWII conflicts, will be chaired by Lucille Roussin, Founder and Director, Holocaust Restitution and Claims Practicum, and Adjunct Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Speakers: Richard B. Jackson, Special Assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters; Salam al-Kuntar, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology; James McAndrew, Forensic Specialist, Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt.

Lunchtime Conversation with Lynn H. Nicholas, Independent Researcher and Author, The Rape of Europa: 12:15-1:30p.m. Interview by Thomas Kline.

The third panel, Present-day initiatives taken by the US armed forces, law enforcement, the art market and others to prevent and remedy looting and the trade of works looted during times of conflict, as well as law governing trade in looted objects, will be chaired by Chair: Elizabeth Varner, Executive Director, National Art Museum of Sport. Speakers: Corine Wegener, Preservation Specialist for Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution; Laurie W. Rush, Anthropologist and Cultural Resources Manager, United States Army; Thomas Mulhall, Supervisory Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security (ICE); Monica Dugot, Senior Vice President, International Director of Restitution, Christie’s.

The fourth panel, The use of the Internet, social media, television, news industry and film to raise awareness of looting, theft, and cultural heritage issues. A discussion about alternative channels used to reduce cultural heritage loss and increase restitution, will be chaired by Ms. Amineddoleh. Speakers: Darius Arya, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, American Institute for Culture; Jason Felch, Reporter, Los Angeles Times; Co-Author, Chasing Aphrodite; David D’Arcy, Correspondent, The Art Newspaper; Screenwriter/Producer, Portrait of Wally.

Afterword by Robert Edsel, Author and President, Monuments Men Foundation, WWII Monuments Men to the Present: What have we learned? What do we need to relearn? Introduction by Thomas R. Kline.

October 10, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - , No comments

The Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and the Ciric Law Firm, PLLC Sponsor Art Law CLE Program: Due Diligence in Cultural Heritage Litigation: Is There a Minimum Threshold?

Friday, October 11, 2013
8:00 AM to 1:00 PM (PDT)
Leo Baeck Institute | 212-294-8301
15 W 16th St
New York, NY 10011

This course will discuss the current legal standard defining due diligence, its limitations, and the varied approaches attempting to address due diligence requirements in the market, and provide a suggested framework and associated checklist to satisfy due diligence requirements in provenance research for cultural objects.  The courts have the means to enforce proper ownership rights of current possessors, good faith purchasers, and rightful owners, yet the market is encountering significant challenges in implementing due diligence standards to comply with legal requirements and stabilize the trade.

8:00am-8:45am: Welcome/Sign-in
8:45am-8:50am: Introduction
8:50am-10:05am: Have You Done Your Due Diligence?
10:05 am-10:15am: Break
10:15am-11:30am: Is Context Everything?
11:30am-11:40am Break
11:40pm-12:55pm: Do Your Research-Your Provenance Research
12:55 pm-1:00pm: Conclusion

Sharon Levin-Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
Charles A. Goldstein-Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Member, Art Law Group
Lawrence M. Kaye-Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Co-Chair, Art Law Group
Monica Dugot- Christie’s, Senior VP, International Director of Restitution
Lucian Simmons-Sotheby’s, Senior VP of Sotheby’s in New York, Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Restitution Team
Victoria S. Reed-Museum of Fine Arts, Monica S. Sadler Curator for Provenance
Lucille A. Roussin- Ph.D-Law Office of Lucille A. Roussin; Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law
Irina Tarsis-Center for Art Law, Attorney at Law, Consultant, Program Coordinator
Ori Z. Soltes-Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Co-Founder
Marc J. Masurovsky-Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Co-Founder
Pierre Ciric-The Ciric Law Firm, PLLC

CLE CREDITS (Accreditation Pending)
4.0 (1.5 - Ethics & Professionalism; 1.0 - Skills; 1.5 - Areas of Professional Practice) 

October 3, 2013

Thursday, October 03, 2013 - ,, No comments

After decade-long fight, Cyprus recovers icons of apostles from the Antiphonitis church in Kalograia

by Christiana O'Connell-Schizas

Last week, on September 24th, four icons stolen almost four decades ago returned to the small yet culturally rich island of Cyprus. In March 1975, these 16th century icons of the Apostles Peter, Paul, John and Mark were removed from the wooden iconostasis of the Antiphonitis church in Kalograia, Cyprus. They were illicitly exported, found their way into an Armenian art dealer's hands, and were purchased by the Lans, an elderly Dutch couple. In 1995, the Lans decided to sell the icons through Christie's auction house, who became alarmed at the icon's suspicious origin and provenance and  suggested that the couple refer the icons to the Cypriot Authorities.

Aside from their estimated value of €200,000[1], the repatriation of these icons is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, frescoes from the same church were returned to Cyprus in 1997 with the help of Michel van Rijn, an art dealer turned informant. He had purchased them off Aydin Dikman, the most renowned looter of Cypriot artifacts. Michel's continuing cooperation with Cypriot authorities led to what is estimated to be the largest haul of stolen art since World War II - the raid on Aydin Dikman's three Munich apartments. Police estimated all the antiquities found were worth more than $60 million.[2] Cypriot frescoes, mosaics, and icons, ancient coins, pre-Columbian pottery, stolen paintings, and an unauthenticated Picasso were found. Four thousand more pieces were discovered hidden in walls and floorboards.

Cyprus filed a civil suit against Dikman in 1997, but it was not until 2010 that the German courts ruled in favor of Cyprus. Dikman appealed, but the Higher Regional court of Munich upheld the decision for the repatriation of the items. The 173 artifacts were formally returned to the Republic of Cyprus in a special ceremony held in Munich in July this year (while many more are still being held by Bavarian police due to lack of evidence that they come from Northern Cyprus). Their arrival at the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia is eagerly anticipated later this month. Ironically, amongst these 173 artifacts are more frescoes from the church of Antiphonitis. This illustrates how the cultural property that was once looted from this single church is slowly getting pieced back together.

The return of these four icons is also important because the Church of Cyprus took the Lans to court, and lost! Autocefale Grieks-Orthodoxe Kerk te Cyprus v. W.O.A. Lans was the first ever case to invoke the Protocol to the Hague Convention 1954 (Section I-3 of the Protocol). The Dutch Government and district court refused restitution as this convention had not yet been implemented into Dutch law. They also found the Lans to be bona fide purchasers and therefore the rightful owners. The Church and the Republic continued fighting for the icons, but in 2002, the Court of Appeal found that the claim was time-barred under statutes of limitations. In 2007, the Netherlands passed the Cultural Property Originating From Occupied Territory Act which prohibits the import and ownership of cultural property originating from a territory that was occupied in an armed conflict after 1959. This reopened the door for Cyprus' claim as the North of Cyprus has been occupied by Turkish forces since 1974. (Although the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is in so called ‘power’ in the North, it is not a recognized entity and the area is de jure part of the Republic of Cyprus and its jurisdiction.) So in 2011, the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the Dutch formally requesting the return of the four icons. Some may argue that it is ridiculous for a country to be denied their cultural property for so long due to the bureaucracy of a country's national laws.

The rest as they say is history but it is noteworthy to mention that none of the above might have been possible without Tassoula Hadjitofi's ongoing efforts. She was the Honorary Council to the Netherlands when Christie's alerted the Lans in 1995 and the person van Rijn approached in 1997 which led to the Munich case. The icons will remain in the Byzantine Museum until the Republic of Cyprus regains access and administration of the occupied territories when the icons will be taken back to their rightful home, the church of Antiphonitis.

Autocefale Grieks-Orthodoxe Kerk te Cyprus v. W.O.A. Lans

"Επαναπατρίστηκαν 4 εικόνες από τη Μονή του Χριστού Αντιφωνητή."Επαναπατρίστηκαν 4 εικόνες από τη Μονή του Χριστού Αντιφωνητή. O Φιλελεύθερος, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <>.

"Επαναπατρίζονται στην Κύπρο σημαντικά εκκλησιαστικά έργα τέχνης." H KAΘHMEPINH. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <>.

Hickley, Catherine. "Looted Icons Seized by Dutch Government Return to Cyprus." Bloomberg, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <>.

Matyk, Stephen, ‘The Restitution of Cultural Objects and the Question of Giving Direct Effect to the Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1954’ (2000) 9(2)

Rose, Mark. "Special Report: Church Treasures of Cyprus - Archaeology Magazine Archive." Archaeology. Archaeological Institute of America, 51(4). July-Aug. 1998. Web. <>. (last accessed 29 Sept 2013)

Stevenson, Peter. "Returned Icons given a New Home." Cyprus Mail. N.p., 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <>.

"Stolen Icons Being Returned to Cyprus." Cyprus Mail. N.p., 18 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013. <>.

[1] Hickley, Catherine. "Looted Icons Seized by Dutch Government Return to Cyprus." Bloomberg, 17 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 Sept. 2013.

[2] Rose, Mark. "Special Report: Church Treasures of Cyprus - Archaeology Magazine Archive." Archeology. Archaeological Institute of America, 51(4). July-Aug. 1998. Web. 29 Sept. 2013