Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Paintings Worth $70m Stolen From Picasso's Granddaughter

The Master, Picasso ?
Pablo Picasso's "Maya with Doll," one of two paintings stolen from the Paris home of the artist's granddaughter.

Paintings Worth $70m+ Stolen From Picasso's Granddaughter

At least two paintings by Pablo Picasso have been stolen in Paris. Thieves broke into the home of his granddaughter on Monday night and made off with priceless works of art.

At least two paintings by Pablo Picasso have been stolen in Paris. French police announced Wednesday that the paintings were snatched from the home of the artist's granddaughter late on Monday night.

According to the authorities, thieves entered Diana Widmaier-Picasso's home in the smart seventh arrondissement of the French capital at some time between Monday night and Tuesday morning and made off with some very precious booty. Police say there was no obvious sign of a break-in.

The director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, Anne Baldassari, said that several paintings and drawings were stolen. "It was a very large theft," she told Associated Press.

However, the police have only confirmed the theft of two paintings: the small "Maya and the Doll" which depicts Picasso's daughter Maya -- Widmaier-Picasso's mother -- and a 170-by-150-centimeter portrait of Picasso's second wife Jacqueline.

The paintings are thought to be worth up to €50 million but the very fact that they are so well known would make it impossible to sell them on the international art market. Experts are now speculating that this could be a case of "theft to order." The case is being investigated by the police's organized crime division.

Paintings by Picasso, one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, normally fetch huge prices at auctions, and works by the Spanish artist appear three times on the list of the top ten most expensive paintings of all time. His most expensive painting to date has been "Boy With a Pipe," which was sold for $104 million in 2004.

Picasso was an incredibly prolific artist. When he died at the age of 91 in 1973, he left behind 1,900 paintings, 3,200 ceramic works, 7,000 drawings, 1,200 sculptures and 30,000 sketches.


Art Hostage comments:

High value stolen art is a merry go round.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Greedy Lawyer Collared For Cezanne Ransom Demand

Lawyer arrested in sale of works from 1978 art heist
CBC Canada
A retired lawyer was arrested Tuesday at Logan Airport in Boston in connection with a 29-year-old art heist that included a $29.3-million US Cézanne still life.

Robert Mardirosian, 72, has been charged with possessing, concealing, storing and attempting to sell stolen goods, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said.

Authorities alleged in a federal court Tuesday that Mardirosian moved the paintings from his Watertown, Mass., law office into Swiss banks and London auction houses under the cover of a Panamanian shell company he created to sell the works.

'People seem to get away with all kinds of stuff when it comes to art robbery.'
—Michael Bakwin, victim of art heist

He is not suspected in the original theft of the seven paintings, which went missing from a home in the Berkshire mountains in 1978.

"People seem to get away with all kinds of stuff when it comes to art robbery," said Michael Bakwin, the paintings' owner, now living in Suffolk, Va.

Mardirosian told the Boston Globe last year the paintings' alleged thief, David Colvin, left the pieces at his law office in Watertown, N.Y. He was representing Colvin in an unrelated case.

"He was going to bring them to Florida to fence them, but I told him that if he ever got caught with them with the other case hanging over his head, he'd be in real trouble," he told the Globe.

Colvin was killed in Pittsfield, Mass., in 1979 over a gambling debt.

Deal brokered
In an affidavit unsealed Tuesday, the FBI alleges Mardirosian moved the paintings to Monaco in 1988, thinking he might have a legal claim to ownership or to a "finder's fee."

Lloyd's of London was contacted in 1999 by an unknown person about insuring the paintings and discovered they were listed with the database Art Loss Register as having been stolen, the affidavit says.

A Panamanian corporation, Erie International Trading Co., was selling the paintings. Julian Radcliffe of the Art Loss Register brokered a deal with Erie, which agreed to return the Cézanne in exchange for the other six paintings. Julian Radcliffe went on to collect $2.9 million commission when the Cezanne was sold, in fact Bakwin was forced to sell the Cezanne to meet the demands of the Julian Radcliffe.

Bakwin agreed to the deal and auctioned the Cézanne through Sotheby's in London for $29.3 million US.

As part of the contract, the owner of Erie agreed to disclose his identity in a sealed envelope.

A British judge ordered the envelope to be unsealed because Bakwin agreed to the deal "under duress." Erie's owner was revealed as Mardirosian, and the judge ordered him to pay Bakwin $3 million US.

Four paintings, which authorities say Mardirosian tried to sell through Sotheby's in 2004, will be returned to Bakwin in Virginia. He said he plans to display them in his home.

Investigators believe the two remaining paintings, both by Geert Jan Jansen, are being held by a Swiss friend of Mardirosian.

Art Hostage comments:
It is interesting to note that Julian Radcliffe, founder of the Art Loss Register, was paid 10% of the sale proceeds of the Cezanne, $2.9 million on the auction sale price of $29 million.
Sotheby's got their 10% cut, $2.9 million as well, leaving the loser with $23.2 million.
The greedy Boston Lawyer wanted the same thing, 10%, but seems to have ended up as a defendant, rather than a saviour.
This case proves that someone is going to get paid for recovering stolen art the trick is not be the patsy who is left without reward or possibly Liberty.
The Art Loss Register requires losers to pay 10/15% of the market value of recovered stolen artworks, therefore, meaning in most cases, the stolen art is sold to pay the Art Loss Register.
Is this moral, any more moral than the greedy Boston Lawyer seeking his 10%???????

The reason why the Gardner art, and Vermeer in particular, are not registered with the Art Loss Register is because if they are recovered the Gardner Museum would have to pay the Art Loss Register 10/15% of the market value, as demanded in the Art Loss Register's terms and conditions.
Greed gets them in the end, lawyers that is !!