Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts

September 30, 2016

May 20, 1988 - Museum Theft, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the early morning hours of May 20, 1988, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, located on the Museumplein, was hit with its one and only museum theft to date. The value of the stolen works, which became part of the collection between 1949 and 1951, were estimated by the museum's director Wilhelmus Beeren at the time to be between 25 to 100 million Dutch gilder, the currency of the Netherlands from the 17th century until 2002. 

The Stedelijk was equipped with an electronic alarm system but at the time of the break-in the museum was unmanned.  The alarm went off at five in the morning which prompted the private security service hired by the museum, and who monitored the alarm system from a central office, to contact the Amsterdam police 20 minutes later.

Upon arriving on the scene, law enforcement found a broken window. During an inspection of the museum after the break-in, staff reported that three paintings had been taken from a room close to the entrance of the museum. 

The paintings stolen during the burglary were:

Vase with Carnations, 1886 
by Vincent van Gogh 
oil on canvas, 46.0 x 37.5 cm

Bouteilles et pêches (Bottles and Peaches), 1890
By Paul Cézanne
oil on canvas, 49 x 51 cm


La maison du maître Adam Billaud à Nevers (The House of Master Adam Billaud at Nevers) 1874 
By Johan Barthold Jongkind
oil on canvas, 56.5 x 42.5 cm

Interviewed shortly after the theft, Director Beeren stated that the theft could have been done by experts perhaps on a "made to Order" basis.  His hypothosis was based upon the fact that the museum contained many other, more valuable works of art and given the thief also chose to make-off with the paintings' frames. 

Eleven days later, on 31 May 1988, all three paintings were recovered undamaged by police, who had posed as potential buyers interested in Post-Impressionist art when dealing with the criminal. The culprit was then arrested for the burglary and convicted.

By: Lynda Albertson

February 17, 2014

Dick Drent, Corporate Security Manager for the Van Gogh Museum, returns to Amelia to teach "Risk Assessment and Museum Security"

Dick Drent
Dick Drent, Corporate Security Manger for the Van Gogh Museum, will return July 12 - 16 to Amelia to teach "Risk Assessment and Museum Security" for ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crimes and Cultural Heritage Protection.

Before joining the staff at the Van Gogh MuseumMr. Drent worked in law enforcement in the Netherlands for 25 years, mostly in teams fighting organized crime and for few years as a liaison for the Dutch police for the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. During the last 13 years in law enforcement, he worked as a coordinator with the National Undercover and Sensitive Operations Unit. In January 2005, he started as the Director of Security with the VGM before being appointed eight years later as Corporate Security Manager of the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam where he is responsible for the development and realisation of security related issues (like policy, strategy, operations, risk assessment and management within the whole of the enterprise). In addition, Mr. Drent has a security consulting company, Omnirisk, which has provided services on the new Vincent Van Gogh Museum opening in Arles in April 2014; the renovation project of the Noordbrabants museum in Den Bosch (opened in 2013); and the renovation of the Dordrecht Museum in Dordrecht (2008-2010).

What makes your course relevant in the study of art crime?

The relevancy of my course is actually the solution for fighting crime against art in general. This is a firm statement of course but solving a crime against art is re-active and not protecting the art or cultural heritage. In a sentence: It is a tool to get the bad guys and recover, preferably undamaged, the stolen items. The power and strength of protecting art lies within the pro-active phase. How do you protect and secure your items, whether they are paintings, objects or other parts of cultural heritage? How do you prevent that something or anything will happen to it? These are the questions that will try to answer in my course.

What will be the focus in your course?

The focus on my course is that by the end of this course students will have gained an understanding on:
• The reasons why security should be an intrinsic part of a museum or other cultural heritage organization;
• The structure necessary to secure cultural heritage by ways of thorough risks analysis, combined with security measurement and proper training of staff; 

• A working knowledge of how to conduct a facility check via an audit within a museum or cultural heritage organization.; and
• An overview of working in a security role in a museum.
Do you have a recommended reading list that students can read before the course?

In addition to various course materials, students will be asked to read my chapter "Security for Temporary Exhibitions: Regular, Customized, or Bespoke" in Art and Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger, 2009) from the ARCA library. I recommend that students read Managing the Unexpected, resilient performance in an age of uncertainty by Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe (Jossey-Bass, 2007).

August 22, 2013

2013 ARCA Art & Cultural Heritage Conference: Dutch Police Officer Ruth Godthelp Presented "The nature of crimes against Arts, Antiques and Cultural Heritage: A description of art-related crime in the Netherlands based on police registrations"

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Criminology doctoral candidate and Senior Amsterdam Police Officer (at the serious and organized crime department at the Amsterdam Police in The Netherlands), Ruth Godthelp looked at more than 4,000 police reports to study art crime in The Netherlands in her presentation "The nature of crimes against Arts, Antiques and Cultural Heritage: A description of art related crime in the Netherlands based on police registrations" at ARCA's Art & Cultural Heritage Conference on June 22, 2013.

After a legal career as both a judicial assistant of the Public Prosecutor and as a lawyer, Ms. Godthelp joined the police and became the first official national police officer combating art-related crime. She recently started a PhD in Criminology (VU University Amsterdam) purely based on police registrations to purify the basic discussion about the actual scope and nature of art-related crime in the Netherlands.

Although the last decade art-related crime acquired increased attention within the policing and academic field, a description of the phenomenon is often made based on theoretical possibilities and only a few case studies. The question therefore arises whether these limited sources of information give an accurate reproduction of the actual nature and scope of art-related crime. This presentation presents provisional outcomes of an ongoing research project uniquely using police registrations of art-related crime in the Netherlands from 2007 through 2012 and aims to provide more insight into the offense itself (1) the suspect (2) and (3) the victims of art-related crime.

For this study 4,000 registered art-related crimes were extracted from the Dutch national police database and submitted to set definitions and operational approaches which narrowed the dataset down to 1,100 registrations. These were analyzed from the aforementioned angles (offense, suspect and victim).

A first finding showed that a large number of registrations were registered in such a restricted way that, although valuable art, antiques or (international) cultural heritage were involved, any indication regarding further investigation was lacking, which led to limited useful information. Further, the paper discusses the type of offense occurring in the dataset. It showed us mainly (targeted) burglaries from private houses, involving quite a share of modern art-objects. But also cases with constructions of money laundering within the commercial world of art, museum thefts, illegal import of cultural heritage, fraud and high quality forgeries and recurring suspects are discussed.

Although research based purely on police-registrations also has restraints (such as the effects of black number and priority based information) this innovative survey offers the possibility to purify the basic discussion about the actual scope and nature of art-related crime. In addition it could serve as a starting-point for further required empirical research and priority setting within law enforcement.

"The characteristics of the majority of suspects in art-related crimes in the survey were male, average age of 40-45 years old, and 30% were employed in the art market," Ms. Godthelp told the audience. "In one case, two paintings stolen from a private residence changed hands three times and all three dealers admitted that they didn't verify provenance but trusted the person they had bought the painting from. This shows how the painting moves to the licit art market."

In addition, the cases involved people known to the police and selling art for financial gain. "Three-quarters of the cases, from theft to recovery, operated within 100 kilometers," Ms. Godthelp said. "The majority of the motives appeared to be financial -- and in some cases -- that the art was stolen to sell for cash or for drugs. Sixty percent of the suspects had police records, including art dealers with multiple records."

August 19, 2013

Noah Charney's "Q&A with Ruth Godthelp" (The Journal of Art Crime, Spring 2013)

Noah Charney, founder of ARCA and the editor of The Journal of Art Crime, interviews Ruth Godthelp, Senior Amsterdam Police Officer with the Dutch Art Squad ["Q&A with Ruth Godthelp" in the Spring 2013 issue].
Noah Charney: How did the Politie Art Squad first become established? I believe that prior to its establishment, Martin Finkelnberg was informally the go-to agent for art-related cases, but that there was no formal team in place.
Ruth Godthelp: In 2010, I was given the opportunity, by the serious and organized crime department of the Amsterdam Police, to explore the phenomenon of "art-related crime;" this being not only theft, fencing or embezzlement of art, antiques (possibly being cultural heritage) but, in addition, also more abstract variations, such as money laundering and types of fraud (forgeries of objects of art or their provenance documents, insurance fraud, etc.) 
This opportunity was the effect of the general acknowledgement, within the Amsterdam Police, that certain characteristics of the art world, and the involved objects, lead to risks on the illegal activities. These are defined as risks, mainly following from high and fluctuating art prices and the ease of acting anonymously which, knowing or unknowing, can have the effect of undermining activities which damage the legal structures of the art world and its players. 
To improve our information, the exploratory activities gradually led to the formation of a strong network of "players" in the art world. Not only art dealers and trade associations, but also representatives of auction houses, fairs, galleries, insurance companies, certified appraisers of art and antiquities, foundations, museums and, of course, the Ministry of Culture and its Heritage Inspection department. Where at first we noticed that "the art world" was reluctant to cooperate with the police because of an understandable fear of lack of action, later we saw this attitude change into a very cooperative modus. In recent years, lots of useful information about stolen objects, and bad faith/rogue buyers and dealers has come to us from our network. From exploring the art world, we fluently started dealing with actual cases, with the result that cases could be solved, and our intelligence became better and better.

This interview is continued in the ninth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, edited by ARCA Founder Noah Charney. It is available electronically (pdf) and in print via subscription and Associate Editor Marc Balcells (ARCA '11) is a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the Department of Political Science, John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- The City University of New York.

August 16, 2013

Art Investigator Arthur Brand assists in the return of artworks stolen in March from the Museum Van Bommel van Dam in Venlo

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog

Istanbul - Last night I received an email from art investigator Arthur Brand that he had just solved a museum robbery in The Netherlands. Mr. Brand's news was that three of the four artworks stolen on March 22 from the Museum Van Bommel van Dam in Venlo were delivered to Amsterdam police.

Arthur Brand wrote in an email to the ARCA blog: “We were smoking a cigarette outside the police-headquarters before going in. The guy knew that he would be arrested and discovered that he had no money left. He asked me for some to be able to buy some extra food while being detained. I gave him all I had with me, 35 euros. We embraced each other and walked in with a cheap plastic bag containing the stolen works of art.”

According to the police press release, due to an investigation by the Dutch police (Politie) and in cooperation with employees of an auction house, the police have recovered artwork by Jan van Schoonhoven:
This is one of four works stolen with an estimated value of more than 1 million euros. Last Wednesday a bag containing two of the other three remaining stolen artworks was delivered to the police headquarters in Amsterdam. The defendant, against whom an investigation was related to the work of art offered at auction, was immediately arrested and the bag with the two works confiscated. The suspect was surrounded and taken into police custody. The two works of art in the bag are probably also from the hand of Jan van Schoonhoven and almost certainly  from the theft in Venlo. The authenticity of these reliefs is yet to be determined. Detectives from the serious crime department worked under the supervision of the Amsterdam prosecutor. The Amsterdam detectives researched the theft of the paintings and the police unit in Limburg investigated the burglary and theft. The suspect will be brought before the magistrate on Friday, August 16.
Here in this Dutch newspaper is the story (loosely translated by Google):
Art investigator Arthur Brand reported on Twitter that he had returned two stolen artworks to the Amsterdam police. Dagblad de Limburger reported that the man who was arrested was in the presence of Arthur Brand. The police do not want to discuss the role of Brand who deals in tracking stolen and forged art. Amsterdam Police had been tracking the paintings before they were returned. The authenticity of the works has yet to be determined, but they are probably the three stolen works by the Dutch artists Jan Schoonhoven. The fourth work stolen from the Collection of Tomas Manders, is still missing. Together the works  have a total insured value of 1.1 million euros.

June 15, 2013

Amsterdam Diary: Personal suffering displayed at World Press Photo Exhibit Amidst Red Light District

World Press Photo Exhibit at De Oude Kerk, Amsterdam
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

SATURDAY, Amsterdam - Yesterday I arrived in Amsterdam and biked over to the World Press Photo exhibit at De Oude Kerk ('The Old Church') in the Red Light district famous for women selling their bodies in front windows and customers smoking marijuana in coffee shops.

The inside of the oldest building in Amsterdam (1300), De Oude Kerk is an impressive setting to display award-winning photographs from 2013 and the auxiliary exhibit, 'World Press Photo Laureates From Russian and the Soviet Union, 1956-2013.'

Rembrandt's wife Saskia is buried here.
Of particular interest to art history buffs, this is the church where Rembrandt received permission to marry Saskia van Uylenburgh (died 14 June 1642) and where she lies buried underneath a modest slab. Just as the church connects visitors to more than 700 years of Dutch history, the photo exhibit serves as a humble memorial to personal suffering in 2012.

Here's a link to the 2013 Photo Contest (winners were selected from over 100,000 images). The World Press Photo of the Year went to Swedish journalist Paul Hansen for Gaza Burial, 20 November 2012, in the Palestinian Territories, that showed two men carrying the bodies of two children through the street in a funeral procession. All the photos, such as scenes from the civil war in Syria to women who dare to play basketball in Somalia to a mother and daughter who survived an acid attack in Southern Iran, are accompanied by just enough information likely to draw visitors back to the news. These photographs make suffering personal.

Inside 'The Old Church'

Information accompanying photographs by Danish photographer Jan Grarup: 'Even though Somalia's UN-backed government has regained control of the capital Mogadishu, al-Qaeda-linked militants are still active in the city. Al-Shabaab and other radical Os;a,oc groups consider women playing sport to be un-Islamic. Members of the Somali national women's basketball team have received death threats.' The women have taken precautions. 'Team members have to exercise extreme discretion. They go veiled and conservatively dressed in public, and carry basketballs deep inside their bags.'

The Russian exhibit showed the passage of time, including toddlers learning to swim before walking (1979); the image of a deformed horse as a consequence of the nuclear explosion of Chernobyl in 1986; and from Georgia celebrating its membership as a Soviet bloc country in 1981 to its civil war in 1991.

The 2013 World Press Photo Exhibit will travel to 100 cities in 45 countries.

June 7, 2013

Retired Dutch Policemen Dick Steffens and Juul van der LInden's Form Private Detective Agency Missing Art

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

Two former Dutch policemen, Dick Steffens and Juul van der Linden, have formed Missing Art, a private detective agency dedicated to finding lost or stolen art.

Steffens and van der Linden met in the detective school 1979 for the Amsterdam Police. “In the Netherlands, all policemen start in uniform with the normal police work,” van der Linden explained in an email. “After years you may specialize if you want.”

A few years after helping to ransom the kidnapped Alfred Heineken in 1983, Dick Steffens started his own detective agency, Interludium International BV, specializing in counterfeit clothes and shoes. Two years after Juul van der Linden retired from the Amsterdam police force, he helped Dick Steffens set up Missing Art. Juul van der Linden manages the department of Missing-Art for the Interludium Investigations Group. Here’s a link to their website,

“In the Netherlands, there are not many private organization that find lost or stolen art,” van der Linden wrote.

I conducted an interview via email with Mr. van der Linden. 
If I were living in Amsterdam and had my painting stolen, would my first step be to report it to the police? What kind of action would then I then expect from the police?
One of the board members of the Dutch Federatie TMV ( once wrote that is was no use to go to the police to make a report when your painting is stolen. This was a statement made a few years ago, but with a lot of truth to it. At this moment I think there is insufficient knowledge of the world of art by the police force in Amsterdam. In the rest of the Netherlands, it is not better, although the Amsterdam police contracted three years ago with Mrs. Godthelp to start a better way to solve art crimes. She will make the first steps to making policemen on the front line aware of art crimes and that will take time.

The Dutch police have a unit working for the whole country, which is called KLPD. Mr Martin Finkelnberg with his team is making art crime visible with a computer.
What services does your private organization offer that the Dutch police cannot provide?
Missing Art can work faster and can in short time contact its network of experts. We also have frequent contact with our clients. We tell them step by step what we are going to do and we will have their support for that.
How does work? Is this service just in Europe? Does it have any connection to the Art Alerte in Canada?

Our Art Alert is ready to operate. In the last two years we collected more than 12,000 names of art collectors, auction houses and so on. At this moment we can warn in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux). We will like to expand this service to more countries in Europe and perhaps worldwide. We do not have connection to the Art Alerte in Canada.