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May 31, 2014

Joris Kila's "Mission Report: Civil-Military Assessment Mission for Malian Heritage" Published in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Joris Kila is a researcher at the Kompetenzzentrum Kulturelles Erbe und Kulturgüterschutz of the University of Vienna in Austria. He has been acting chairman of the cultural affairs department at the Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Group North in the Netherlands, and in that capacity he undertook several cultural rescue missions in Iraq and FYROM (Macedonia). He is Editor in Chief of the Peer Reviewed series Heritage and Identity at Brill Academic Publishers (Leiden-Boston) and author and co-author of many academic publications on the subject of cultural property protection in times of armed conflict utilizing militarized experts. He holds degrees in Art history and Classical Archaeology and a PhD in Cultural Sciences. He is a reserve Lieutenant Colonel and is regularly asked to advice on Cultural Property Protection issues.

Dr. Kila published the Mission Report on Civil-Military Assessment Mission for Malian Heritage. This is how he describes the mission's objective:
The objective of the mission was to evaluate the current situation of Cultural Heritage (including monuments, archaeological and historical sites and archives) in Northern Mali after the recent armed conflict. Especially possibilities to establish contacts with the Malian Armed Forces resulting in support for their eventual endeavors to help protecting Cultural Heritage following international legal obligations had to be assessed. The latter should preferably lead to military participation in a, yet to be created, National committee of the Blue Shield in Mali. 
Different accounts and statements regarding iconoclasm, looting and vandalism were published regarding locations in Northern and Central Mali that were, until recently under control of Jihadist forces. Sometimes such reports were contradictive and vague therefore it was necessary to send a mission, especially to those sites that were reportedly affected by both criminal and supposedly military ‘’justified’’ acts. Aim was to document the situation, to state damages incurred and to encourage and motivate the parties involved, especially the Armed Forces of Mali, to further efforts to protect the invaluable Cultural Heritage of Mali. 
The team took advantage of their former experiences during Civil-Military Assessment Missions on the status of Egyptian and Libyan Heritage. 
The objectives of the Malian mission went beyond mere damage assessment. Considered were also typical post war problems such as illegal digging, looting and illicit traffic of cultural property. An international, timely and independent fact finding mission generally provides support on a wide (international) level while at the same time giving perspectives, at least for the mid-term. In addition signs of international concern and solidarity can encourage those Malians who protected their heritage under difficult and dangerous conditions during the recent occupation. It was of vital importance to make contacts, or stay in contact with those, currently responsible for Mali's heritage, especially in the Armed Forces. This way it will be possible to assist with raising awareness on the protection of cultural property while stimulating potential international professional support to be offered and also discuss issues on a personal and direct level.
You may finish reading this column in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

Noah Charney on "The British Origin of the Monuments Men" in "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Noah Charney is a professor of art history specializing in art crime and an international best-selling author of fiction (The Art Thief) and non-fiction (Stealing the Mystic Lamb). He teaches for American University of Rome and Brown University, and is an award-winning columnist for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers. He is the founder of ARCA, and has served as its president since its inception. In his column "Lessons from the History of Art Crime", Noah Charney writes about “The British Origin of the Monuments Men”: 
This winter, when George Clooney’s drama comes out about the Monuments Men and their adventures in saving Europe’s art treasures during the Second World War, viewers will be privy to a Hollywoodization of a true, dramatic, epic story of the race to rescue an estimated five million cultural heritage objects, from paintings and sculptures to rare books and valuable archival materials, that were looted by the Nazis and risked complete destruction. The Clooney film is only loosely based on historical fact—it necessarily compresses, condenses, and alters reality to fit the rules of a Hollywood feature. But one aspect of the Monuments Men that most American accounts skip past or exclude altogether is the fact that the Monuments Men began as a British operation—its spearhead was a most British brand of hero, Sir Leonard Woolley. 
The Monuments Men was the nickname of a group of some three-hundred Allied officers, members of the art world during their civilian lives (architects, conservators, archaeologists, art historians), who were charged with identifying art and monuments that might be in the line of fighting in Europe during the Second World War. Once these works, from Notre Dame Cathedral to the entire contents of the Uffizi, were identified, the officers would advise the Allied armies they accompanied on how, whenever possible, to avoid damage to these cultural monuments. That part of their call of duty was the British plan. But their role changed in practice, once the officers were in the field and it became clear, only late in the war, that there was an enormous, proactive art-looting plan that the Nazis had put into operation, led by their art theft unit, the ERR, and intended to both enrich the Nazi war effort and fill Hitler’s planned “super museum” that would occupy the entirety of his boyhood town of Linz, Austria, which would contain every important artwork in the world. Once in the field, as an under-appreciated and under-supported twig attached to the massive Allied armies, the Monuments Men began to act as war-time art detectives, seeking out key stolen works, piecing together clues as to the overall Nazi art theft plan, and eventually rescuing tens of thousands of looted masterpieces, including van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb and Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna—the twin focal points of the Clooney film.
You may finish reading this column in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 29, 2014

Marc Balcells on "The Case of the Muñoz Ramonet Legacy (Barcelona, Spain)" in his column "Not in the Headlines" in the Spring 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Spanish criminologist Marc Balcells holds degrees in Law, Criminology and Human Sciences, and masters both in Criminal Law, and the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. A Fulbright scholar, he is currently completing his PhD in Criminal Justice at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research revolves around criminological aspects of archaeological looting, though he has also written about other forms of art crime. He has taught both Criminal Law and Criminology courses as an associate at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) and is a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Political Science department at John Jay College. He is also a criminal defense attorney whose practice is located in Barcelona. Dr. Balcells' new column in The Journal of Art Crime will "delve deep in cases that might happen in less attention-prone countries when it concerns to cultural heritage crimes." Here's an introduction to his first subject, "The Case of the Muñoz Ramonet Legacy (Barcelona, Spain)”
Allow me to show some hometown pride and start with a case that has been quite notorious in Barcelona: the disappearance of part of the legacy of Julio Muñoz Ramonet, a deceased industrialist who amassed a vast, multi-million, impressive art collection. The story has some shady characters, never-ending legal battles, and the disappearance of the artworks, which has prompted recently more legal battles, still pending resolution. 
First of all, it is interesting to see not only how the collection was amassed, but also who was the person doing it. Julio Muñoz Ramonet was a self-made man: from his humble origins he was already planning the way of becoming rich. And that he did: the starting point was for Muñoz Ramonet and some of his closest family members to save in order to buy a tiny factory devoted to cotton threading. The Spanish Civil war (1936-1939) did much of the rest for the business to prosper. He acted as a spy for Franco’s regime when he joined the republican militia: eventually all the spying would pay off when the dictator won the war, which allowed him to climb the ranks of the francoist establishment. In times were absolutely everything had to be rationed, he had, thanks to the black market, enough material for his business to operate in a situation of monopoly. His vast patrimony allowed him to acquire emblematic buildings in the best avenues of the city, like the Casa Batlló (designed by Antoni Gaudí himself), the Palau Robert, or even the Ritz Hotel. His entrance to bourgeois stardom was his marriage to the Villalonga family, which erased totally his humble origin: with her they had four daughters who will be key players in the case.
You may finish reading this column in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney. 

May 28, 2014

ARTNews' Laurie Hurwitz relates tale of how French Rembrandt thief coveted painting for 15 years (just like the character in Donna Tartt's novel 'Goldfinch'

Child with Soap Bubble by Rembrandt?
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

ARTNews' Laurie Hurwitz describes how one man stole a painting attributed to Rembrandt from a French museum and kept it to admire for 15 years until he sold it to two men who were arrested by police in "French Rembrandt Thief Lives Real-Life Version of 'Goldfinch' Story" (May 28, 2014 online). According to Hurwitz's story as told to her by the thief, the alarm technician was 28 years old when he 'crawled into a large cabinet' right before the municipal museum in Draguignan closed and waited until the noise of the boisterous Bastille Day celebrations covered up his crime of jimmying open the painting's bullet proof case and exiting the building before police could respond to the alarm. The motive? Too have the 'Rembrandt' painting to himself which the thief fancied himself to resemble the model in the painting, Child with Soap Bubble. The irony? Journalist Vincent Noce on reporting the painting's recovery earlier this year noted that the painting may not be by the Dutch master.

David Gill on "The So-Called Crosby Garrett Helmet" in his column "Context Matters" for the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

David Gill is Head of the Division of Humanities and Professor of Archaeological Heritage at University Campus Suffolk. He is a former Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, and was a Sir James Knott Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was previously a member of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and a Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at Swansea University (where he also chaired the university’s e-learning sub-committee). He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and holder of the 2012 Archaeology Institute of America (AIA) Outstanding Public Service Award, and the 2012 SAFE Beacon Award.
David Gill 
Context Matters 
The So-Called Crosby Garrett Helmet 
In late January 2014 a Roman bronze parade helmet went on display in the British Museum. It was said to have been found outside the small Cumbrian village of Crosby Garrett in north-west England. The helmet, now owned by an anonymous private collector, had previously been displayed at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle (November 2013 to January 2014). The display in Carlisle was accompanied by a short illustrated booklet with contributions from a range of individuals (Breeze and Bishop 2013). Although the helmet reportedly surfaced within the last four years, a number of unanswered questions still remain. 
The helmet itself is a good example of a “sports helmet” probably for use in the hippia gymnasia of a Roman cavalry unit (Bishop 2013). It appears to date from the late second or the third century AD (Bishop and Coulston 2013; Symonds 2014, 16). Three examples of “sports helmets” were found at the Roman fort of Newstead (Trimontium) in Scotland (Toynbee 1962, 166-67, pls. 104-106, nos. 98-100; Maxwell 2005, 63; Breeze 2006, 85, fig. 64). The Crosby Garrett helmet shared a case in the British Museum with the second century AD Roman parade helmet found as part of a hoard of metalwork at Ribchester, Lancashire in 1796 (Toynbee 1962, 167, pl. 108, no. 101). 
The “Crosby Garrett” helmet is reported to have been found by one—though some reports suggested two—metal-detectorists from Peterlee in Co. Durham in May 2010 (on the east side of England). Peterlee is just under 80 km (50 miles) from Crosby Garrett as the crow flies. The helmet appears to have been “in 33 fragments, with 34 smaller fragments found in association” (quoted in Gill 2010a, 5). The site of the reported find was not shown to the Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs), Dot Boughton and Stuart Noon, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) until August 30, 2010, more than three months after the discovery (Worrell 2010, 30). Noon recalls being shown the spot by the metal-detectorists who claimed it was “not a particularly rewarding area” (Symonds 2014, 13). This is in contrast to the recognised significance of the area in the study of the indigenous population during the period of Roman occupation (Higham and Jones 1985, 83-85). Boughton, the FLO for Lancashire and Cumbria, has now given a brief account of the “Discovery” (Boughton 2013). She supports the suggestion that there were two individuals, a father and son, present at the discovery. It should be noted that the first photographs of the helmet appear in the hands of a woman with manicured fingernails and wearing a striped jumper. It appears that helmet’s visor had been placed “face-down in the ground, and the back of the helmet broken off but folded and deposited inside the visor” (Boughton 2013, 17). There is the suggestion that if PAS officers had not confirmed the find-spot, then UK museums would not have been in a position to bid for the helmet when it had appeared at auction (Worrell et al. 2011).
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 27, 2014

Anna M. C. Knutsson on "It's Beyond My Control": A Historical and Psychiatric Investigation into the Claim of Bibliomania in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Anna Knutsson studied history at the University of St Andrews before going on to work in the auction world. Since then she has worked as an editor for the Council of Europe and a library manager. She has lately been working on a publication about early books on geology and have been a regular contributor to the ARCA blog since the summer of 2013. In December 2013 she completed the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Heritage Protection and was awarded with the Outstanding Dissertation Award for her treatment of bibliomania. She is currently working as a freelance writer based in London.
“It’s Beyond My Control” A Historical and Psychiatric Investigation into the Claim of Bibliomania
Book theft has been an on-going problem ever since books first appeared. The list of prominent book thieves includes such illustrious names as King Ptolemaios and Pope Innocent X. However, whilst book thieves have occurred in the popular literature from time to time an academic overview of the phenomenon has been remarkably absent. The fact that they are rarely caught might have contributed to their elusive character. What makes them particularly interesting is that they, as opposed to most other art criminals, are nearly all collectors themselves. This article considers why book thieves willingly risk their own security and reputation to acquire books and exactly how far compulsive collecting might reach into the dark crevasses of the mind. This article strives to give a brief historical overview of the argument that bibliomania is a diagnosable condition. Having established the historic link between bibliomania and the psychiatric discipline article analyses past and current psychoanalyst ideas on bibliomania in order to explore what bibliomania is and how it works. Whilst by the mid twentieth century the scientific concern with bibliomania had all but disappeared this article explores what recent developments in neuroscience might reveal about bibliomania and whether this could affect the treatment and punishment of book thieves. 
Looking from the outside, the love of books can seem like a folly. People spending large amounts of money on some dusty old boards and some ink-spotted leaves. From the inside, book collecting can be the most rewarding and mysterious element of their lives. So rewarding and mysterious, in fact, that it might be in danger of taking over their lives. This is what is known as bibliomania, book obsession. Bibliomania occurs when the love of books, bibliophilia, takes a turn down the darker corridors of the human mind. Books suddenly become the ruling passion and nothing is considered that is not in relation to books: where to live, who to marry and so on. 
The bibliomaniacs usually find nothing wrong in the affliction, but see book love as the most elevated form of love and whilst they may joke about the ‘book-disease’, they are rarely serious about the adverse effects. Despite this, bibliomania has often been related to bibliokleptomania, the stealing of books. 
The theft of books has alternatively been described as the most heinous and the most forgivable of crimes. Some would say that taking a book amounts to taking a part of the possessor’s soul, whilst others would argue that the person who loves the book the most is its ‘natural’ possessor, and the real crime would persist in actually damaging the book. Occasionally, bibliomania, or an ‘uncontrollable passion for books’ has been used as a defense for book theft, and on some rare occasions it has indeed worked in the favor of the accused. 
This article investigates whether bibliomania can indeed be considered a disorder. One of the few attempts to diagnose bibliomania in the modern period was conducted in 1966 by Norman D. Weiner in ‘On Bibliomania’. However, his article focuses almost solely on interpreting bibliomania in the light of psychoanalytic literature. In addition to this there are some highly dated articles such as Paul F. Cranefield’s ‘Diagnosis and Treatment of Book Collecting’ from 1964, where bibliomania is linked to cigarette smoking, air pollution and even explained as a viral infection. It seems that what is needed is an updated attempt to consider bibliomania in the light of new psychiatric developments and neuroscientific discoveries. 
Although book collectors at large will be passing through these pages the main focus for this investigation is looking at how and why book collecting can turn into a real obsession that takes over the subject’s life. Therefore, book thieves stealing for profit will not be considered as they have different motivations. Rather the intention of this article is to assess the defense of compulsion and whether or not this might viably be used by the chronic book-collecting thief. 
It is also important to mention that I am not an educated psychiatrist or neuroscientist but an historian. I do not propose to develop a diagnosis for bibliomania, rather, this investigation intends to evaluate the claims of bibliomania and see whether there could be any scientific backing for them.
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 26, 2014

Christiana O'Connell-Schizas on "The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus" in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Christiana O’Connell-Schizas read Law at the University of Kent in England and subsequently completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law. She was also a student on the ARCA 2013 Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Christiana grew up in the Middle East and has recently returned to Saudi Arabia, a frequent topic for her ARCA blog articles. Christiana is a corporate lawyer currently at a leading international firm in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus 
Christiana O’Connell-Schizas 
The Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus paved the way for the destruction and plunder of Cyprus' cultural heritage. All religious monuments fell victim to vandalism and art theft. Invaluable icons, frescoes and mosaics were stolen. They were then smuggled off the island, laundered and sold. The mastermind behind this process was a Turkish gentleman by the name of Aydin Dikmen. Many individuals and organisations depredated Cypriot patrimony, but the focus is on Dikmen as the centrifugal force in the illicit removal, journey and trade of religious artefacts. This is a study of the three main phases the ecclesiastic objects went through once they were removed from their context. Looters, smugglers, middlemen and dealers are addressed through cases that directly involved Dikmen. His arrest and trial are discussed and the study is concluded with the most recent repatriation effort. Introduction The northern third region of Cyprus has been under Turkish occupation since their invasion of the island in 1974. All Cypriot authorities were denied access ever since. This in turn encouraged crime and corruption to flourish under the auspices of the occupying regime. The most shocking of these crimes was the destruction and plunder of Cyprus' cultural heritage. No museum, private collection, castle or excavation site was spared. All Christian religious monuments fell victim to vandalism and art theft. Over 500 Greek Orthodox churches monasteries and chapels suffered as a result. 20,000 icons, gospels, vessels made of precious metals, votive lamps, chalices and censers were taken, along with fixed items, such as: frescoes, mosaics, iconostasis, crosses and chandeliers. These are the ecclesiastical antiquities that will be discussed with particular focus on icons, frescoes and mosaics. The artefacts were then smuggled off the island, laundered and many sold on the ‘licit’ market. The mastermind behind most of this was a Turkish gentleman by the name of Aydin Dikmen. 
Dikmen was the Giacomo Medici of looted religious objects from Cyprus hence the title's play on words of Watson and Todeschini's The Medici Conspiracy. This is not a comparative study but an investigation into the three main phases the ecclesiastical antiquities went through once extracted from context. Most of the material presented is historical information that is publicly accessible but no source presents the material in this order or argues that Dikmen was the heart of the three phases, hence the title.
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 25, 2014

University of Glasgow's Neil Brodie on "Aramaic Incantation Bowls in War and in Peace" in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Neil Brodie is Senior Research Fellow in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow. Neil is an archaeologist by training, and has held positions at the British School at Athens, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, where he was Research Director of the Illicit Antiquities Research Centre, and Stanford University’s Archaeology Center. He was co-author (with Jennifer Doole and Peter Watson) of the report Stealing History, commissioned by the Museums Association and ICOM-UK to advise upon the illicit trade in cultural material. He also co-edited Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade (with Morag M. Kersel, Christina Luke and Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2006), Illicit Antiquities: The Theft of Culture and the Extinction of Archaeology (with Kathryn Walker Tubb, 2002), and Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World’s Archaeological Heritage (with Jennifer Doole and Colin Renfrew, 2001). He has worked on archaeological projects in the United Kingdom, Greece and Jordan, and continues to work in Greece.
Abstract for Aramaic Incantation Bowls in War and in Peace by Neil Brodie: 
Since 1991, hundreds of previously unknown Aramaic incantation bowls have appeared on the antiquities market and in private collections. In the absence of any reliably documented provenance, it is widely believed that these bowls must have derived from illegal digging in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. Many of them are now being studied by university-based scholars. This chapter examines the legal and ethical challenges posed by their study.
Here's the introduction to Neil Brodie's article:
The archaeological sites and museums of Iraq have been subject to intermittent and sometimes serious looting since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Stolen and illegally exported artifacts have been traded and collected on the international market without any indication of provenance (ownership history) that might help to reveal their illicit pedigrees. The act of looting destroys material evidence of the past and the trade is in the hands of criminals. Nevertheless, many of these artifacts that are now in private hands are being published and studied by university-based scholars. This paper offers a brief overview of the legal and ethical issues that the collection and study of unprovenanced but likely looted and criminally-traded objects entails by reference to the example of Aramaic-inscribed incantation bowls.
You may finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 24, 2014

Martin Kemp on "The Theft, Recovery and Forensic Investigation of Leonardo da Vinci's "Madonna of the Yarnwinder" in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Oxford's Martin Kemp publishes "The Theft, Recovery and Forensic Investigation of Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna and the Yarnwinder" in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime.

Martin Kemp is Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University. He has written and broadcast extensively on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. He speaks on issues of visualization and lateral thinking to a wide range of audiences. Leonardo da Vinci has been the subject of books written by him, including Leonardo (Oxford University Press 2004). He has published on imagery in the sciences of anatomy, natural history and optics, including The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale University Press). He was trained in Natural Sciences and Art History at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He was British Academy Wolfson Research Professor (1993-98). For more than 25 years he was based in Scotland (University of Glasgow and University of St Andrews). He has held visiting posts in Princeton, New York, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Montreal. He has curated a series of exhibitions on Leonardo and other themes, including “Spectacular Bodies” at the Hayward Gallery in London, “Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006 and “Seduced: Sex and Art from Antiquity to Now,” Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2007. He was also guest curator for “Circa 1492” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1992.
In 2003, Leonardo’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland. Several years later it was recovered at a Glasgow law firm, and it then underwent forensic analysis. This essay, part academic article and part personal memoir by the world’s leading Leonardo scholar, art historian Martin Kemp, provides a more personal look at the crime and the painting.
On 27 August 2003, I am sitting under an umbrella on the terrace of the Villa Vignamaggio above Greve in Chianti, a villa once owned by the Gherardini family and haunted by the shade of a famous daughter known as Mona Lisa, when Thereza Wells, my former research student and co-author, calls to report the theft of the Duke of Bucceluch’s treasured Leonardo painting, the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, from Drumlanrig Castle in the Scottish borders. The news is as yet hazy. It seems that some men driving a VW Golf GTI had abruptly removed it shortly before the rooms were to close to the public that day. They had overpowered the female custodian and threatened her with a knife. I receive the call when I am in the process of writing a new book on Leonardo for Oxford University Press, which involves, of course, a discussion of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder. A coincidence of the worst kind.
You can finish reading this article in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney. The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.

May 23, 2014

The Spring/Summer 2014 issue of The Journal of Art Crime Is Now Available

The Spring/Summer 2014 issue (#11) of The Journal of Art Crime edited by ARCA founder Noah Charney is now available. The Table of Contents is listed on ARCA's website here. The Associate Editors are Marc Balcells (John Jay College of Law) and Christos Tsirogiannis (University of Cambridge). Design and layout (including the front cover illustration) are produced by Urška Charney.
Letter from the Editor Spring/Summer 2014
Welcome to the new issue of The Journal of Art Crime, and thank you for subscribing. Your subscription supports ARCA in our research and educational endeavors, and we are grateful for it. 
In this issue you’ll find academic papers from graduates of ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program, as well as the work of world-renowned experts in the field, who likely need no introduction, Neil Brodie and Martin Kemp. This precisely embodies what ARCA and the JAC is all about: supporting new scholars and established experts in a common venue. Where else can a young postgraduate student find her name alongside Martin Kemp’s, a man who is quite probably the most famous art historian living today? I would particularly like to thank Drs. Kemp and Brodie for including their fine essays in this issue of the JAC. They were originally prepared for a forthcoming essay collection, to be published by Palgrave. This collection, as yet untitled, will function as a follow-up to ARCA’s Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009), and will feature a dozen new essays by top scholars and professionals, as well as a selection of the finest essays already published in the JAC, over its first five years in print. More information on this volume will follow, but these two essays will give you a preview of “coming attractions,” as it were. 
We hope that you will enjoy these articles. Best wishes and thanks again for your support.
Noah Charney Founder, ARCA Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Art Crime
 The Journal of Art Crime may be accessed through subscription or in paperback from 

May 22, 2014

Fox 25 News ( "FBI talks exclusively to Bob Ward about Stolen Art" [The 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Unsolved Heist]; Compare it to what Ulrich Boser reported in his book in 2009

"FBI has confirmed sighting of Gardner artwork after heist" reports Bob Ward in a television segment on May 21 for Fox 25 News (
In his first TV interview, FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, the Bureau's leading investigator on the Gardner Case, tells FOX 25's Bob Ward the trail for the missing Gardner artwork has not grown cold. Kelly said the Bureau has confirmed sightings, from sources the Bureau deems credible, of the Gardner artwork in the years after it was stolen. He also identified three persons of interest in the Gardner case, all with ties to organized crime: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile. Kelly said in the late 1990's, two FBI informants told the Bureau that Merlino was preparing to return Rembrandt's Storm on the Sea of Galilee, in an effort to collect the reward. However, Merlino and his crew were soon arrested in an aborted armored car heist and the painting was never returned. Kelly believes Guarente somehow passed control of the stolen Gardner artwork to Gentile, a Manchester, Conn. man. Kelly believes Gentile has ties to organized crime in Philadelphia, PA and that Gentile helped bring some or all of the stolen Gardner artwork to Philadelphia where it was last seen in 2000, offered for sale. In 2012 Gentile's home and property in Manchester, Conn. were extensively searched but no sign of the stolen Gardner artwork was located. However, Kelly said authorities recovered police paraphernalia, including "clothing, articles of clothing with police and FBI insignias on it, handcuffs, a scanner, two way radios, and Tasers" and these are not common items. Gentile, through his lawyer, denied having any connection to the Gardner art heist or with moving the artwork after the fact. Both Merlino and Guarente are now dead. If you have any information about the Gardner Museum artwork, call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. There is a $5 million reward in this case. 
Read more (and see the video which includes an appearance by Anthony Amore, security director of the Gardner museum):

In Ulrich Boser's book, The Gardner Heist: The True Store of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft (HarperCollins, 2009) the index included 11 references to Carmello Merlino who died in prison in 2005. Merlino is described as the "gangland captain" of David Turner who was picked up by the FBI on Feb. 7, 1999 and questioned about the Gardner heist (page 100):
"The FBI told me that they had information from several sources that I was an actual participant in the robbery," Turner recalled. "What was said was 'Give us the paintings right now, and you can go home."
Boser described Merlino as a 'South Boston mobster' (p. 101) whose:
'body shop grew into an underworld flea market for looted goods. "If there was something you wanted stolen, that was the place. You could go there and just put in an order, and they would have crews running all sorts of places, South Shore Malls, downtown, everywhere," retired state police officer Eddie Whelan told me.
[Interesting sidebar -- the art stolen from Jeffrey Gundlach was recovered by police in an automobile stereo shop in Pasadena, CA in 2012.]

Boser wrote on pages 105-107 that:
Merlino was picked up on a drug charge in 1992, and through an intermediary, he offered to return the paintings for a reduced prison sentence. He told prosecutors that the masterpieces were "very big and international," that the deal has to be kept quiet or he would be killed. But Merlino never offered any hard evidence of the lost art ... [but] it was clear that Merlino did not have direct access to the art, that he was attempting to secure the masterpieces from someone else.
Boser wrote on page 201:
Perhaps mob associate Robert Guarente was the mastermind? He was a friend of Turner's, a frequent visitor to Merlino's body shop, and had connections to Myles Connor. But Guarente died in 2004 without any sign of the paintings. The FBI confidential informant reports also imply that Turner himself had the loot. That seems impossible. Turner would have almost certainly given up the canvases to get out of his thirty-eight year prison sentence. 

May 21, 2014

LA Times' Mike Boehm on the return of the "Temple Wrestler" from the Norton Simon Museum to Cambodia

Mike Boehm, an arts reporter for the Los Angeles Times, publishes today on the return of the "Temple Wrestler" from the Norton Simon Museum to Cambodia (see here for the museum's announcements earlier this month).

Boehm quoted the museum's legal status in avoiding a lawsuit:
The Norton Simon took a different approach, based on past cordial relations with Cambodia's cultural authorities. Without a suit having been filed, museum representatives went to Phnom Penh for discussions earlier this year. Despite what the museum characterized as "a good-faith difference of views" with Cambodia over whether the Norton Simon was legally obliged to send the statue back, its leaders concluded that there were special reasons to send it home. "While there are extremely strong legal arguments for why we could defeat a claim, and while the Cambodian law is ambiguous at best, in this circumstance it seems appropriate and in keeping with the positive relationship the Norton Simon has had with Cambodia over the years to gift the statue to them," said Luis Li, an attorney for the museum. "They have a very specific archaeological context they want to create, and I think the Norton Simon was moved by that."
And on other Cambodian art at the Norton Simon Museum, Boehm writes:
The Norton Simon Museum will still own 40 ancient Cambodian objects, including a gigantic standing figure of Buddha that serves as a greeter in its lobby, and a lion that crouches on guard near the entrance to the gallery where Bhima will soon no longer preside. It's uncertain whether a dozen other pieces are from Cambodia or from Thailand. "We have not been approached by Cambodian or U.S. officials about other works in the collection and have no indication of future requests," museum spokeswoman Leslie Denk said this week.

May 17, 2014

Norton Simon Museum announces "Temple Wrestler" last day on display in Pasadena will be May 22

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

Today the Norton Simon Museum here in Pasadena sent out an email to the community:
Dear members and friends, 
You may have read in the newspaper that the Norton Simon Art Foundation is making a gift of its “Temple Wrestler” statue to the Kingdom of Cambodia. This monumental 10th-century sandstone sculpture depicting Bhima, a heroic figure from the Hindu masterpiece The Mahabharata, has been exhibited continuously at the Norton Simon Museum for nearly four decades. During this period, the Museum has taken great care to preserve the work, and to highlight its significance through scholarly research and publication. Now, following a compelling request from officials in Cambodia, the piece will return to its country of origin, joining several other sculptures that are believed to have once stood at a temple in Koh Ker. 
We wanted to inform you that the last day this remarkable artwork will be on public view is next Thursday, May 22nd. For those of you interested in seeing it before it makes its journey to Phnom Penh and to the National Museum there, we hope you will visit us in the coming days. 
Kind regards, 
Leslie C. Denk Director of Public Affairs
On May 6, 2014, the museum had issued a press release announcing the return of the "Temple Wrestler" to the Kingdom of Cambodia "in response to a unique and compelling request by top officials in Cambodia to help rebuild its “soul” as a nation, the Norton Simon has decided to make a gift of the Bhima to the Kingdom of Cambodia and to its people":
The Norton Simon properly acquired the Bhima from a reputable art dealer in New York in 1976. However, the facts about the Bhima’s provenance prior to the dealer’s ownership are unclear because of the chaotic wartime conditions in Cambodia during the 1970s. Even though the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Norton Simon have a good faith difference of views in relation to the meaning and scope of Cambodian law and guidelines governing the determination of ownership of the Bhima, the Norton Simon worked directly with Cambodia to come up with a mutually acceptable solution.
Page 287 of the Handbook of the Norton Simon Museum (2003) contains the image of this statue, identified as a sandstone TEMPLE GUARDIAN 'typical of those found at the site of Koh Ker, which for a brief period (921-928) served as the capital of the Khmer empire'. Other than the acquisition date of 1980, no other information is provided about how the statue traveled from Cambodia to the United States.

May 15, 2014

Dutch media reports that Gutmann family porcelain auctioned in 1934 ended up in museums in The Netherlands

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

Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand sent me a link to an article posted in English on May 14 by Maxime Zech in the, "Nazi-stolen art in Rijksmuseum, Palace Het Loo:Report". I asked Mr. Brand if people in The Netherlands were surprised, and here's his response:
Yes, people are highly surprised. Just recently an extensive search has been closed and those items were not discovered. Some huge names are involved. There is no doubt that these 15 items, divided amongst five museums, including Palace Het Loo and the Rijksmuseum, have to be considered as looted. They were all auctioned in 1934 and that particular auction has been considered by both the German and Austrian government as being an "involuntary sale". This absolutely does not mean that the Palace or the museums did know that they once bought looted art. Far from that: this is a worldwide problem that just shows that we have done too little, too late regarding provenance-research...
Here's the article:
The art collection of Palace Het Loo, the Rijksmuseum and three other museums are thought to include pieces and artifacts that were looted from a Jewish family during a Nazi plunder, the Telegraaf reports. In total, 15 pieces of a valuable Meissen porcelain dinnerware ware set may have been stolen from the Gutmann family. The items may have been put up for auction in 1934 under coercion from the Nazis. Now, 80 years after the fact, Amsterdam investigation bureau Artiaz was able to trace the pieces, to the museums. “We are taking this very seriously, and are going to establish an origins research action immediately”, a spokesperson of the Paleis Het Loo National Museum Foundation said in a reaction.
Artiaz traced the dinnerware set pieces by looking through old auction documents.
“Salacious is that the Ekkart commission concluded a big investigation into looted art in Dutch museums without detecting these set pieces”, says Arthur Brand who executed the investigations with David Kleefstra and Alex Omhoff. 
The Facts and Files bureau in Berlin investigated the case for the Gutmann family, who live in Germany, and concludes that the 15 porcelain gravy boats and plates were still registered as lost until yesterday. “We are expecting that the Gutmanns will request us to contact the Netherlands State and the Restitution Commission, so that the pieces can hopefully return to the family” says investigator Beate Schreiber. The items are part of a unique 435-piece Meissen dinnerware set depicting village scenes, which was given to Willem V around 1774 as a gift from the United East-Indian Company. The prince sold the set during exile in England. Later, 26 items were bought by Herbert Gutmann, son of banker Eugen Gutmann who set up the Dresdner Bank. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they saddled him with a sky high debt.

May 13, 2014

ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference in Amelia, Italy - June 27-29, 2014

Amelia, Italy
The Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) will be hosting its sixth annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference the weekend of June 27-29, 2014. This 2-day conference is open to the public and all are welcome. Registration is required, but the conference is free of charge subject to space availability.

Held in the beautiful town of Amelia (Umbria), the seat of ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. The conference will include multidisciplinary panel sessions, key note speakers, an ice-breaker cocktail reception and an awards dinner on Saturday evening honoring this year’s recipients of ARCA’s annual award for outstanding scholarship and professional dedication to the protection and recovery of cultural heritage.

Porta de la valle, Amelia
Providing an arena for intellectual and professional exchange, this annual art crime conference highlights the nonprofit’s mission and serves as a forum that aims to facilitate a critical appraisal of the protection of art and heritage worldwide. Bringing together international scholars, law enforcement experts, art professionals, the general public and participants in ARCA’s postgraduate certificate program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection, attendees have the opportunity to examine contemporary issues of common concern in this important field.

To reserve a placement for one or both day’s sessions, please write to the association conference coordinators at: italy.conference (at) Provide your full name and names of those attending with you, your email address, and your preference for either or both day’s sessions.

The 2014 ARCA Award Winners are:

Art Policing, Recovery, Protection and Security
Dr. Daniela Rizzo and Mr Maurizio Pellegrini, Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici Etruria Meridionale – Villa Giulia
Past winners: Vernon Rapley (2009), Francesco Rutelli (2009), Charlie Hill (2010), Dick Drent (2010), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (2011), Lord Colin Renfrew (2011), Stuttgart Detective Ernst Schöller (2012), Karl von Habsburg and Dr. Joris Kila (Jointly – 2012), Sharon Cohen Levin (2013), Christos Tsirogiannis (2013)

Eleanor and Anthony Vallombroso Award for Excellence in Art Crime Scholarship
Simon Mackenzie, Trafficking Culture project at the University of Glasgow
Past winners: Norman Palmer (2009), Larry Rothfield (2010), Neil Brodie (2011), Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino (Jointly – 2012), Duncan Chappell (2013)

Lifetime Achievement in Defense of Art Award
Anne Webber, founder and director of The Commission for Looted Art In Europe
Past winners: Carabinieri TPC collectively (2009), Howard Spiegler (2010), John Merryman (2011), Dr. George H. O. Abungu (2012), Blanca Niño Norton (2013)

The list of presenters and topics scheduled for the 2014 Art Crime Conference:

Panel I:  Highlights from Recent US and EU Investigations

The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté
James C Moore, Esq
Arbitrator and mediator of commercial disputes
Formerly, partner and trial lawyer with large New York law firm and president of New York State Bar Association

Hello Dalí: Anatomy of a Modern Day Art Theft Investigation
Jordan Arnold Esq.
K2 Intelligence
Former Assistant District Attorney and Head, Financial Intelligence Unit, New York County District Attorney’s Office

The Gurlitt Case: German and international responses to the legal and ethical questions to ownership rights in looting cases
Duncan Chappell, PhD Lawyer and Criminologist, Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney
Saskia Hufnagel, PhD
Lecturer in Criminal Law, Queen Mary University of London
Rechtsanwalt – Fachanwalt Strafrecht, Hufnagel und Partner

The Gurlitt Case: An Inside View From Christopher A. Marinello, Lawyer and Representative for the Heirs of Paul Rosenberg
Christopher A. Marinello, Esq
Director and Founder, Art Recovery International

Panel II: The Many Faces of the Illegal Heritage Trade - Panel led by Christos Tsirogiannis PhD.

Papyri, collectors and the antiquities market: a survey and some questions
Roberta Mazza, PhD University of Bologna
Lecturer (Assistant Professor), Classics and Ancient History, University of Manchester Research Fellow, John Rylands Research Institute – John Rylands Library

Using open-source data to identify participation in the illicit antiquities trade: A case study on the intercommunal conflict in Cyprus, 1963-1974
Sam Hardy, DPhil University of Sussex
Illicit antiquities trade researcher
Research Associate, Centre for Applied Archaeology, University College London

The Dikmen Conspiracy: The Illicit Removal, Journey and Trade of Looted Ecclesiastical Antiquities from Occupied Cyprus
Christiana O’Connell-Schizas, LLB University of Kent, LPC University of Law
Baker & McKenzie, Riyadh

Panel III: The Vulnerabilities of Sacred Art In Situ: Yesterday and Still Today

The Theft and Ransom of Caravaggio’s “St. Jerome Writing”, Co-Cathedral of St. John
Rev. Dr. Marius Zerafa, O.P. S.T.L., Lect. Th., A.R. Hist. S., Dr. Sc.Soc
Founder of the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, Malta
Former Curator and Director of the Malta Museums

Fighting the Thieves in Italian Churches
Judith Harris, Journalist (ARTnews;
Author, Pompeii Awakened, The Monster in the Closet

Evacuate the objects from vulnerable religious sites? No, protect them in situ!
Stéphane Théfo
Police Officer/Project Manager, INTERPOL Office of Legal Affairs

Panel IV: The Genuine Article: Fakes and Forgeries and the Art of Deception

Would the real Mr. Goldie please stand up?
Penelope Jackson M. Phil, University of Queensland, MA University of Auckland
Director, Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga, New Zealand

Forgery and Offenses Resembling Forgery
Susan Douglas, PhD Concordia University
Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Contemporary Art and Theory, University of Guelph

In the Red Corner: “Connoisseurship and Art History”, and the Blue Corner: “Scientific Testing and Analysis” – Who’s right in determining Authenticity?
Toby Bull, Senior Inspector of Police, Hong Kong Police Force
Founder, TrackArt (Art Risk Consultancy), Hong Kong

Panel V: Looting, Litigation and Repatriation

Will it be the Getty Bronze or L'atleta di Fano? Italy's ongoing case for the return of the bronze statue of the Victorious Youth
Maurizio Fiorilli. Avvocato della Stato, Italy (Ret) and Stefano Alessandrini, Consultant

The Duryodhana, the Balarama and the Bhima: a Cambodian perspective on the return of three pre-Angkorian sandstone statues from Prasat Chen at the Koh Ker temple complex
His Highness Sisowath Ravivaddhana Monipong of Cambodia

Panel VI: The Mental Condition and its Role in Art Crime

'It's beyond my control' An historic and psychiatric investigation into the claim of bibliomania
Anna Knutsson MA (Hon) University of St. Andrews
Research Editor Smith Library

Art Vandalism from a Forensic Behavioral Perspective
Frans Koenraadt PhD
Professor, Universiteit Utrecht, Willem Pompe Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology

Panel VII: Cultural Heritage and Armed Conflict, Reflections from Past and Present

File Zadar: New insights on art works taken from Zadar to Italy during World War II
Antonija Mlikota, PhD University of Zagreb
Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Zadar

IMCuRWG Blue Shield cultural assessment mission to Timbuktu
Joris Kila, PhD University of Amsterdam
Chairman of the ‘International Military Cultural Resources Work Group’ (IMCuRWG).
Universität Wien, Kompetenzzentrum Kulturelles Erbe und Kulturgüterschutz, Universität Wien, Alois-Musil-Center für Orientalische Archäologie, U.S. AFRICOM

A modern look at an Eternal Problem: Sixty years after the creation of the 1954 Hague Convention
Cinnamon Stephens, JD

Panel VIII: Smart Collecting and Connoisseurship and When Art is Stolen

What’s wrong with this picture? Standards and issues of connoisseurship
Tanya Pia Starrett, MA HONS LLB, University of Glasgow

Crossborder Collecting in the XXI Century: Comparative Law Issues
Massimo Sterpi, Avvocato
Partner, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati 

Bicycles vs. Rembrandt
Martin Finkelnberg
Head of the Art and Antiques Crime Unit
National Criminal Intelligence Division, The Netherlands

Key Note Closing – A Look to the Future

Is International Law for the Protection of Artistic Freedom Adequate?
Eleni Tokmakidou – Moschouri, PhD University of Manchester
MJur University of Birmingham
Attorney at Law at the Supreme Court of Greece

This event opens with a icebreaker cocktail on Friday, June 27th at the Palazzo Farrattini. The conference will be held Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29, 2014 at the Sala Boccarini, inside the cloister of the Biblioteca Comunale L.Lama adjacent to the Museo Civico Archeologico e Pinacoteca “Edilberto Rosa” in Amelia, Italy. Sessions begin promptly at 9:00 am, with a break for coffee and optional Saturday lunch as well as an optional Italian slow food dinner Saturday evening.

ARCA Alum ('13) Gerald Fitzgerald publishes opinion piece in Art Papers on art market due diligence concerning provenance and the public record

ARCA Alum '13 and trial lawyer Gerald Fitzgerald published an opinion piece, "Give Us CPR" (May/June issue, 2014) in Art Papers (here's the first two paragraphs, you can read the rest of the text online):
A call for art market due diligence, concerning provenance and the public record. 
Provenance is the origin and history of ownership of a painting or object, and it is essential to determining the object's authenticity, monetary value, and secure title. Although reveling in sales boosted both by new market interest and freshly minted dotcom billionaires, the international art and antiquities market will soon stumble badly unless it embraces new technologies to centralize and to radically increase the scope, quality, and authority of provenance research.
The art market currently generates about $60 billion annually. It does so without meaningful regulation and is myopic in the intelligent use of contemporary tools. It functions almost precisely as it did in the early 19th century. Trust still governs in an increasingly untrustworthy environment. As a result this market is rife with forgery, fakery, looting, and sales of stolen objects, all accompanied by a morass of litigation. The way out of this quagmire lies not with increased legal action but in sewing shut the gaping holes in provenance research that permit such chicanery. The creation of a nonprofit Center for Provenance Research (CPR), funded by a small levy on market sales, is sorely needed to vet the legitimacy of what is traded. The greatest deterrent to fraud on the market is a decreasing ability to get away with it.

Ginanne Brownell quotes ARCA Founder Noah Charney in "New Arms for Fighting Back Against the Looters" (International New York Times, May 8)

ARCA Founder Noah Charney quoted in GINANNE BROWNELL's piece on MAY 8, 2014, "New Arms for Fighting Back Against the Looters" in the International New York Times:
WARSAW, POLAND — The Division of Looted Art at Poland’s Ministry of Culture is a small office with a big mandate. Since 1992, the four-person unit has been charged with collecting and digitizing information about the more than 63,000 objects stolen from the Polish state, churches and private citizens during World War II. Until now, the division’s website was only able to exhibit 3,000 of the objects. Thanks to an upgrade and reintroduction in March, today almost 14,000 lost pieces — including Raphael’s “Portrait of a Young Man,” taken by the Nazis from a family collection in Krakow — will have a virtual home. 
“The Internet has become the main source of finding information on Polish looted art,” said Karina Chabowska, an employee, seated next to several filing cabinets full of photographs and files about stolen works waiting to be uploaded. “The new site will be important to exchange information with auction houses, with people from museums and also to give them some tips of what to do if they find pieces of art that could have been looted or stolen from Poland.” 
Technology has given new impetus to the search for lost and stolen art. Through projects ranging from websites to digital fingerprinting of artworks, governments and organizations are now able to share information and images of missing works widely, allowing the images to be recognized and, it is hoped, returned. 
“For people interested in lost treasure, technology has made it much more likely that we will find things like, for example, locations to excavate to find dozens of other hiding places,” said Noah Charney, an art historian and founder of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art. “So technology has made the world both smaller and more transparent.”

Listen to 'Art Crime with Arthur Tompkins: Four Horses of San Marco' on Radio New Zealand

Judge Arthur Tompkins
District Court Judge Arthur Tompkins, a member of 'Interpols DNA Monitoring Expert Group, has a special interest in crimes involving artistic masterpieces. He discusses the ancient sculpture The Four Horses of San Marco. Listen now on Radio New Zealand.

Judge Tompkins teaches a course, "Art in War", at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. Last month, Judge Tompkins discussed The Ghent Altarpiece on Radio New Zealand.

Dan Brown used Judge Tompkins' research on this subject in the fictional book Inferno (2011).

Exhibit Review: "Catastrophe! Ten Years Later: The Looting and Destruction of Iraq's Past" at the Royal Ontario Museum June 2013 – January 2014

By Dr. Susan Douglas, professor at the University of Guelph, Canada and ARCA writer-in-residence 2013

In April 2003, the plunder of the Iraq National Museum became headline news. The museum was ransacked systematically. Many priceless antiquities were stolen, including the museum’s entire collection of cylinder seals and the Warka vase, a masterpiece. Other items were badly damaged or destroyed, many of them permanently.

Along with material culture, institutional memory was altered dramatically during the events of April 8-12. The Library and the offices and archives of the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage were targeted specifically. As looters raided the historic museum arsonists destroyed the National Library ruining a valuable scholarly database in the process. The database, maintained by museum staff, contained extensive records of Iraq’s ancient cultures; it is now slowly and painstakingly being rebuilt with help from specialists in many countries.

Catastrophe! succinctly presented the subtle consequences of political conflict and war. Originally developed by The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and revamped for the Royal Ontario Museum, this exhibition aimed to educate the public as to the devastation of Iraq’s cultural heritage. It drew attention to the issues, illuminating the threat stealing history and civilization poses for society. It delivered the message that iconic collections, historic buildings, archeological sites, and information are all under constant threat as part of the world’s cultural heritage.

The space was filled with texts and images, signs, rather than objects: powerful emblems of the underlying losses we’ve collectively suffered in the “land of two rivers,” former Mesopotamia.

There were six sections in this exhibit: Introduction; The Museum; Archaeological and Heritage Sites in Iraq; The Importance of Archaeological Context; Looted Artifacts; and What Has Been Done: What Can be Done? Protecting the Past. Site destruction -- the physical removal of objects from archeological sites, was a critical theme. Along with the destruction of Bagdad came the plundering of archeological sites in the region, a more pernicious threat to cultural heritage. In May 2003, over 300 looters were digging at Isin, a former capital of Mesopotamia discovered by Europeans in the 1970s. Isin was a significant center in the twentieth century BCE, when pilgrims travelled there to worship Gula, the goddess of healing, and to be cured. Signs and ritual tokens, in the form of cuneiform tablets and cylinders seals, were thought to aid in the healing process. When the worshippers left, these relics were left behind, and now they are the record of an ancient civilization and a resource be preserved and shared. They tell us, first and foremost, about our common history and identity. When archeological sites are desecrated our ability to understand past cultures is seriously hindered. This is why the protection of historic sites is a crucial.

We can all do our part as a society to stem the illicit trade in antiquities. The Looted Artifacts section shows looters brazenly producing “fresh” artifacts for sale, exploiting war conflict. Many articles are smuggled out of their countries of origin by organized criminals into the hands of collectors in just this way. The link between collecting and trade is clear; as an image of a box discovered in a market crammed with cylinder seals and other small relics still bearing accession numbers illustrates. In Iraq, though a few of the 15,000 items reportedly looted from the museum’s storerooms have since been recovered, most of them have disappeared into the illicit art market and are never likely to be found unless we all take responsibility as stakeholders.

This was a didactic exhibition. Warning: New knowledge. Some visitors might have left saddened. Others may have experienced a call to action.

Catastrophe! Ten Years Later: The Looting and Destruction of Iraq's Past was presented at the Royal Ontario Museum as a complement to Mesopotamia: Inventing our World that I will review in my next post.

Dr. Douglas, a writer and curator in Toronto, is the founding editor of the Glossary of Modern Latin American Art (Wordpress). Http:// The Glossary (GALA for short) contains many references to art and crime in Latin America and a University of Guelph project.

May 10, 2014

A Report on the second day (and conclusion) of Authentication in Art at The Hague

Presentation on discovery of a new van Gogh painting
by Virginia M. Curry

The second session of the Authentication in Art Congress at The Hague presented a tour de force of scions defining the new intersections of science, art history and the law.

Dr. Ella Hendricks (Senior Paintings Conservator, Van Gogh Museum) and Muriel Geldof (Conservation Scientist, Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands) in ‘Evaluating technical and analytical studies of Van Gogh’s paintings in support of attribution 'contemplated the  role of art-technological studies in the process of attributing and authenticating paintings by Vincent van Gogh in terms of consistency of the materials and techniques used, also leading to improved connoisseurship by informing and therefore refining our perception of the artist’s changing styles and techniques' (program).

In ‘Van Gogh and his oeuvre: the attribution process evaluated’ Dr. Tilborough (Senior Researcher, Van Gogh Museum) and  Teio Meedendorp (Researcher, Van Gogh Museum) emphasized that both transparency and access are key to their research.  This philosophy of transparency in research recently permitted Dr. van Tilborough and his team to discover and authenticate a new van Gogh painting, “Sunset at Montmajour”. The team compared “Sunset” to  van Gogh’s “The Rocks” from the Fine Arts Museum in Houston, and they were able to discern that the paintings were completed within two weeks of each other.

Dr. Ellen Landau discussed Pollock's "Mural" 
“We carried out art historical research into the style, depiction, use of materials and context, and found that everything indicated that the work is by van Gogh," according to Dr. Tilborough. " We were able to track the provenance to Theo’s collection in 1890 and it was sold  in 1901.  Letters from the artist refer to this painting."

Many thanks to Dr. Ellen Landau (Professor  emeritus of Art History, Case Western Reserve University) for her presentation, “Conservation as a Connoisseurship Tool: Jackson Pollock’s 1943 Mural for Peggy Guggenheim, A Case Study” which highlighted the joint analysis of Pollock’s 1943 painting “Mural” recently undertaken by the Getty.  The analysis debunked many misconceptions concerning the manner in which Pollock worked, and converted me thereby, to a deeper understanding and appreciation of his art.

Professor Robyn Slogget (Director, Center for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne) and her associate, paintings conservator Vanessa Kowalski, highlighted several case studies involving the forgery of aborigine art and the pitfalls eventually overcome to develop a protocol of examination and non-invasive analysis -- assisting in successfully prosecuting a case of forgery of aborigine art in Melbourne.

PhD Student Elke Cwiertnia (Northumbria University, Newcastle) in ‘Examining artworks attributed to Francis Bacon (1909-1992) to aid authentication’ presented the methodology of examination and preservation employed by the Francis Bacon research project in their efforts to publish a catalogue raisonné of Bacon's work.

Panel chaired by Lawrence Shindell
The lively panel discussion led by art law attorney Lawrence Shindell examined the impact of current authenticity issues on the art market. The expertise of the responding panel drew on multiple perspectives ranging from those of the legal and academic communities to market economics.  The panel included Dr. Friederike Grafin von Bruhl, William Charron, Randall Willette, Dr. Jeroen Euwe and D. Anna Dempster.

Following the panel discussion, the congress group traveled for an exclusive view of the exhibition "Mondrian and Cubism, Paris 1912-1914” (in partnership with MOMA) at an opening hosted by the Mayor of The Hague, Jozias van Aartsen, and presentation by Hans Janssen, curator at large for modern art.

Ms. Curry is a retired FBI agent, a licensed private investigator, and an art historian.