November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - ,, No comments

LA Times' Richard Winton Reports on the LA City Council's Mural Ban and the Lost Art

Street art and advertising mix (Beverly & La Brea)
Photo by Catherine Sezgin
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCA Blog editor-in-chief

Richard Winton reported for the Los Angeles Times on October 24th "L.A. to draw a finer line on murals as art, not ads". In his article, Winton reports that Los Angeles' City Council "is revising a 2002 law regulating the artworks as a commercial signage. He reported:
"Officials estimate that more than 300 murals have been painted over in the last several years, a fact that has frustrated artists as well as property owners who commission murals."
The issue is not graffiti, but the rights of building owners to commission art for the exterior buildings which apparently conflicts with the rights of advertisers to monopolize billboards and building façades in the city. Mr. Winton reports:
Mural near Gold Line stop in Little Tokyo
(Photo by Catherine Sezgin)
"City officials said they need to make a better distinction between art, which should be protected under the 1st Amendment, and commerce, which should be covered by the sign ordinance."
He identifies the destruction of "some of Los Angeles' most famous murals on public and private property".

Los Angeles' streets, filled with cars and slowed by traffic, are more interesting and more human with the display of public art.

November 14, 2011

ARCA Award Winner Paolo Ferri Featured in Smithsonian Magazine

Last summer ARCA awarded Paolo Ferri, a former Italian State prosecutor, for his work in Art Policing and Recovery, the first award the former Italian State prosecutor had received for his work, Ferri told the audience at the International Art Crime Conference. This month, Dr. Ferri's work is highlighted in an article by Ralph Frammolino in the Smithsonian Magazine, "The Goddess Goes Home." Frammolino is co-author with Jason Felch of "Chasing Aphrodite."

Frammolino discusses the extent of the Getty's purchases in building an antiquities section and Dr. Ferri's role in indicting Marion True.

November 13, 2011

Today's Zaman: "Turkey's museums at risk if hit by earthquake"

Today's Zaman reported November 10th that "few of Turkey's archaeology museums or storage facilities have been built to a code which could withstand an earthquake similar to the magnitude 7.2 temblor that struck Turkey's Van province on October 23."

Istanbul's Archaeology Museum consists of a main building constructed during Ottoman rule around the turn of the 20th century; the second is six-storeys; and the third is another Ottoman building which was once the Fine Art School. The Istanbul Archaeological Museum has not been upgraded like the Anatolian Civilization Museum in Ankara. It seems like a potpouri of artefacts from the eight thousand years of occupation of this land and the areas once attached throughout the Ottoman Empire. The depth of the collection challenges the visitor to think beyond the more traditional Classical Histories of the Greeks and Romans of Western Europe.

November 12, 2011

Jason Felch on Deadline LA (Radio): "See No Evil, The Policy of Art Looters at the Getty and other museums"

Barbara Osborn and Harold Bloom conduct a 30 minute discussion with Jason Felch, co-author with Ralph Frammolino of "Chasing Aphrodite", about museums complicity in art theft and the looting of archaeological sites since the accord of UNESCO's 1970 Convention meant to create international cooperation in stopping the sale of illegal antiquities. From essentially laundering the works of art from Italy through Switzerland and notable art collectors in the United States, Felch quickly and lucidly outlines how the Getty's spending of more than $150 million likely encouraged the unearthing of new objects to be sold to the billionaire institution in Los Angeles. However, the Getty wasn't the only museum to engage in such practices and as Harold Bloom says, put stolen art on public display.  Felch explains what finally prompted Italian authorities to take action against the practice by museums to purchase objects of antiquities without asking questions. Deadline LA (Bloom and Osborn's show) will also broadcast the second part of their interview with Felch next week.

November 11, 2011

Noah Charney for ArtInfo Interviews Sandy Nairne, National Portrait Gallery Director and Author of "Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners"

Noah Charney, ARCA founder and president, published on ArtInfo an interview with Sandy Nairne, the director of London's National Portrait Gallery and author of "Art Theft and the Case of the Stolen Turners (Reaktion, 2011)."

Charney and Nairne discuss symbolism of the Turners, the morality of ransom versus payment for information, and similar art thefts.

You may also read more about Sandy Nairne on previous ARCA blog posts here and here.

November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - ,,, 1 comment

Report from DC: American Friends of Turkey hosted lecture on the Sixty-Five Years of Perge Excavations

Ballroom of the Turkish Residence, Washington DC
 (Photo by Julia Brennan)
By Julia M. Brennan
ARCA Blog Washington Correspondent

The American Friends of Turkey hosted a fascinating lecture and exhibit about the excavations in Perge, Turkey last week in the elegant circa 1909 Turkish Residence in Washington DC.  The Embassy hosted a reception with delicious Turkish food, followed by the lecture. Incidentally, the ballroom of the Residence is famous for it’s post Ottoman embroidered and appliqué silk wall coverings. From 2003-2008, I cleaned, restored and then reinstalled these elegant turn of the century red and gold textiles. They create a spectacular backdrop for any function.

Celebrating 65 continuous years of archeological research, Istanbul University is touring a lecture series and photographic exhibit celebrating the fabled city of Perge, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also a celebration of an important recent repatriation. Dr. Inci Delemen, a long time archeologist on the project, gave a sweeping and colorful history of the sixty five years of discoveries and history of this ancient site. Using both aerial views and close ups of specific structures, we were drawn into the once vast and robust Roman city.

Perge, located close to the Mediterranean coast, near the city of Antalya, was the capital of ancient Pamphylia. It grew from the prehistoric era into a thriving Roman city. For centuries, Perge was a thriving walled metropolis; with extravagant water canal system, roads, agora, mosaic encrusted baths, gymnasium, theatre and the best preserved stadium in Asia Minor. It is a remarkable case study for Hellenistic, Imperial Roman and Late Roman history. Perge had eight significant benefactors who kept expanding the city, and developing a sophisticated urban plan. One of these benevolent priestesses was Plancia Magna, hailed as the daughter of the city. Her statue is simply beautiful.

Istanbul University has embarked on a project to resurrect the columns within the city. Each column is ‘adopted’ by a patron, contributing the funds to revive the colonnaded streets. The Theatre, which is in excellent condition, contains life size colossi statues and mythological reliefs of Dionysus making offerings to Tyche of Perge. Throughout Perge, Istanbul University has unearthed and preserved a vast number of imperial portraits and marble statues. One of the most realistic was a bearded curly haired youth, Lucius Verus.

Post of Herakles (Photo by Julia Brennan)
Another find from Perge is the Heracles Farnese or ‘Weary Heracles”. Known to many who study and follow ‘orphaned’ antiquities, the bottom half of Heracles lives in the Antalya Museum. His top half, had migrated to the USA, owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In the 1990’s the Turkish authorities set out to prove that the upper body in Boston belonged to the Perge statue. The negotiations for repatriation took over ten years. In September 2011, the Boston half of Heracles returned to meet his other half, and be reunited in the Antalya Museum. This recent repatriation is a focal part of the lecture and exhibit tour of the Perge project.

Next chapter will highlight the restoration project of the Ottoman style wall textiles at the Turkish Residence.

Dr. Delemen will tour and lecture in Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Charlottsville, Va. For more information contact American Friends of Turkey or email them at

Ms. Brennan graduated in 2009 from ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime Studies.

November 9, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine"

Da Vinci's "Lady
 with an Ermine"
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA blog editor-in-chief

Leonardo Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine created a sensation with the public in Berlin for the past few months during its first trip out of Poland since the masterpiece was recovered from the Nazis after the end of World War II.

Today it opened at the National Gallery in London as part of the exhibition, "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan". Conservationists have insisted that once the painting returns from London in February 2012 that it will remain in Krawków for at least ten years (The

In 1489, just some 20 years after artists began using oil paints, 37-year-old Da Vinci used oils when his employer, Lodovico "Il Moro" Sforza, the Duke of Milan, commission the Renaissance master to paint his 15-year-old mistress, Cecilia Gallerani, on a 21 by 15-inch walnut wood panel. When "Il Moro" married someone else, Cecilia had to leave the palace but took the portrait with her. "Il Moro gave her a dowry and a castle outside Milan where she spent the rest of her life with her husband Count Pergamino," according to the Czartoryski Museum.

Princess Isabela Czartorska founded the Czartoryski Museum in 1796. Two years later, her son, Prince Adam Jerzy, travelled to Italy and purchased Da Vinci's "The Lady with an Ermine" (and the still missing painting by Raphael "Portrait of a Young Man"). Condemned to death by the Russians after the 1830 November Uprising of the Russian-Polish war, Prince Jerzy fled to Paris, bought The Hotel Lambert, and set up the Living Museum of Poland (displaying all the objects from the first museum).

"Lady with an Ermine", which has only travelled cautiously since its return to Poland after World War II, travelled extensively in escaping to safety throughout various wars.

In 1871, after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Prince Jerzy's son packed or hid all of the museum's objects and fled. In 1874, the city of Krakow offered him a building and four years later the current museum opened.

To protect the works from war in 1914, the most important objects were taken to Dresden by the Czartorska family which continued to manage the museum. The collection was finally restored to the museum in Krakow in 1920.

In August 1939, on the eve of the invasion of Poland, cases of objects were hidden but later found by the Germans. In January 1940, 85 of the most important objects are sent back to Dresden to be part of Hitler's collection at Linz. The paintings went to Berlin then Neuhaus before being claimed by the Polish representative at the Allies Commission for the Retrieval of Works of Art on behalf of the Czartoryski Museum (excluding the Raphael and 843 other artefacts).

The communist government operated the museum behind the Iron Curtain until 1991 when the museum was returned to its rightful owner, Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski, who set up a foundation to oversee the museum today.

"The Lady with an Ermine" travelled to Milwaukee Art Museum in 2002 and to Houston and San Francisco in 2003. This year the painting travelled from Madrid to Berlin. 

November 7, 2011

Art Restitution: Klimt painting sold for $40.4m after being returned to owner's grandson

Klimt's "Litzlberg on the Attersee" 1918
by Catherine Schofiled Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-chief

BBC News (online) reported 'Klimt painting fetches $40.4m' when a 1915 landscape of a lake in western Austria ("Litzlberg on the Attersee") by Gustav Klimt was sold by Sotheby's in New York City.

In July the Museum of Modern Art in Saltzburg in Austria returned the painting stolen from Amalie Redlich in 1941 to her 83-year-old grandson, Georges Jorisch, now living in Montreal.

"The Austrian law calls for restitution," Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, responded in an email.  "That means the object is physically returned to the rightful owner.  The position of the Salzburg Museum, much like that of the Leopold Foundation in Vienna, is to reject outright restitution in favor of financial settlements, which allow them to retain title to the claimed object. Ideologically speaking, that stance runs counter to the principle of restitution.  Hence, I would not hail this moment as a victory for restitution but rather as the outcome of an arduous negotiation between an auction house, a claimant, and an Austrian museum, which led to a financial settlement."

You may read more about this case as reported by the CBC, "Nazi-looted Klimt sells for $40" which includes a video and an image of the only descendent of the painting's owners sitting down in his chair at the painting's auction.  CBC concludes it's segment by mentioning that many of the proceeds from the painting's sale will be used to build a new wing at the Saltzburg museum to be named after Amalie Redlich who was murdered after her deportation from Vienna.

November 6, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011 - No comments

Noah Charney on Studying Art Crime: A Program Taught by Police and Professors

By Noah Charney for ArtInfo

ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies is now taking applications for its fourth season as the first, and only, interdisciplinary program of study in the field of art crime and cultural heritage protection. Featured in The New York Times mid-way through its first year, in the summer of 2009, it is a good moment to reflect on the founding of this new and unusual academic program.

The idea for the program began with a conversation at a restaurant in Ljubljana, Slovenia with two trustees and friends, both professors of criminology. The problem was how to attract world-renowned faculty without the infrastructure or funds for a year-long program of study. It was important to retain quality-control by not simply running this unique program through a university, and yet we wanted to include as many of the best of the relatively few world experts in art crime and its related fields as we could. We also wanted a program that would be post-graduate level, and which would include as many or more course hours as normal, year-long European masters program. Having completed two European MA programs myself in art history (at The Courtauld Institute and University of Cambridge), I realized that the taught component to these programs actually took a relatively concise amount of time that was spread over 9-12 months. At The Courtauld Institute, the MA included twice-weekly meetings of 4 hours each over around 7 months (plus 2 months to write the dissertation), while at Cambridge the only required coursework was one 2-hour lecture per week—the rest of the time was one’s own, largely meant for research and writing of a substantial dissertation.

We decided that the scattered lecture hours, distributed over the course of many months, could reasonably be condensed into a concise period of time, for instance three months. By concentrating on intensive but acceptable 5-hour work days (2.5 hours in the morning, a generous lunch break, and 2.5 hours in the afternoon), we could create what is, logistically, a summer-intensive program that would run 10-11 weeks.  This format also allowed us to invite world-class faculty, from professors to professionals, who would come to Italy to teach a short, intensive course. This worked with faculty schedules, because it did not require them to be on-site for more than two weeks at a time (our courses are 25 hours long, divided over 5 days within a two-week period). Coming up with this highly unusual format (10 professors each summer, two teaching in each two-week period, one Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, the other Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, and Friday), allowed us to recruit the best faculty we could, and to allow students (who in many cases are older professionals using this unique program as a means of further professional training) to undertake the program over a reasonable period of time, one summer. We also allow students to divide the program over two consecutive summers, 5-6 weeks each, with the understanding that this would ideally fit into active professional schedules, or indeed could be taken by students enrolled full-time in another post-graduate program, but with a summer free.

Such was the discussion that we had in Ljubljana back in 2007, that led to the ARCA Postgraduate Certificate Program.

The program was established in 2009 when ARCA and its trustees realized that there was not one academic program available anywhere in the world in which students and professionals could study art crime. Individual courses had existed, but appeared rarely on curricula. But one of the difficulties, and exciting aspects, of studying art crime is that it is inherently interdisciplinary. To understand art crime, one must approach it theoretically as well as practically. A purely theoretical, scholarly program which provided no sense what was happening in “real life,” in the field, at night in the museums and countryside churches so often the victim of theft. But a course of study which solely explored the practical side of things, such as Italian police investigation techniques, ran the risk of being overly specific, teaching only based on the experience of the teacher and the country in which they worked. The ideal course of study would embrace the inherent interdisciplinary nature of the field, and would complement theoretical/historical courses with practical experiential courses. For example, last summer’s program includes courses on art policing and investigation taught by the former head of Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Unit (Dick Ellis) and the current head of Chubb International Art Insurance (Dorit Straus); but students also took a course on criminology, art, and organized crime taught by a world-famous criminology professor (Petrus van Duyne).

ARCA has become a point of union for the relatively few scholars, police, security experts, lawyers, archaeologists, insurers, and others around the world affected by art crime. The Postgraduate Certificate Program is a unique opportunity for students to learn from the top professionals and professors in the fields relevant to art crime and cultural heritage protection.

Because of its unique and ground-breaking nature, the ARCA Postgraduate Program was featured in The New York Times (21 July 2009), midway through its first year. It has since established itself and continues to attract passionate students and adult professionals from around the world to spend a summer studying with the world’s leading art crime experts in Italy.

The program provides in-depth, masters-level instruction in a wide variety of theoretical and practical elements of art and heritage crime: its history, its nature, its impact, and what can be done to curb it. Courses are taught by international experts, in the beautiful setting of Umbria, Italy. The topics taught include the history of art crime, art and antiquities law and policy, criminology, the laws of armed conflict, the art trade, art insurance, art security and policing, risk management, criminal investigation, law and policy, vandalism and iconoclasm, and cultural heritage protection throughout history and around the world.

Recent lecturers and faculty include: Maurizio Fiorilli (Advocate General of Italy), Francesco Rutelli (former Italian Minister of Culture and Mayor of Rome), Vernon Rapley (Director of Scotland Yard Arts and Antiques Unit), Col. Luigi Cortellessa (Vice-Comandante, Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage), Matjaz Jager (Director of the Institute of Criminology, University of Ljubljana), Anthony Amore (Security Director, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), Stefano Alessandrini (Head of Italy’s Archaeological Group), Dennis Ahern (Security Director, Tate Museums, UK), Paolo Giorgio Ferri (leading attorney in the Giacomo Medici case and in repatriation cases with the Getty and the Met), and Peter Watson (acclaimed author and former undercover investigator against art theft). At the heart of the program is the ARCA International Conference in the Study of Art Crime (this year 23-24 June 2012), which gives students a chance to meet with top professionals in the field.

Past program graduates include art police and security professionals, lawyers, insurers, curators, conservators, members of the art trade, and post-graduate students of criminology, law, security studies, sociology, art history, archaeology, and history. About one-third of the students are adult professionals, while two-thirds are post-graduate students, ranging in age from 21 up to 65.

The 2012 program runs from June 1 to August 12. We have received more interest than ever for the program this fall, and students should apply early for better chance of admission. For a complete schedule and prospectus, or with any questions, you can email education (at)

Noah Charney on Martin Kemp and Lost and Stolen Leonardo Da Vinci Paintings

Noah Charney, founder and president of ARCA, has recently published three articles covering the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 (The Patriotic Thief); an Interview with Martin Kemp on How to Spot a Lost Leonardo; and on the Los Angeles Time's Op Ed Page, The 'Lost' Leonardo, about London's National Gallery's exhibition of 'Salvator Mundi' in a show of paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci.