Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, FBI Icon Bob Wittman Recovers Brazil Picasso !!

Brazil police hunt £28m art theft mastermind

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

Wednesday January 9, 2008
Guardian Unlimited,,2237888,00.html

Police in Brazil were today hunting the mastermind behind the theft of two paintings, including one by Picasso, from South America's most prestigious art gallery after the pictures were found.
The paintings - the other of which is by the Brazilian artist Candido Portinari - are worth a combined £28m and were recovered from a house in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Greater Sao Paulo, yesterday. They were stolen in December.

Heavily-armed officers from Sao Paulo's organized crime squad made two arrests.

Few details of the police operation have been released, although reports in the Brazilian press suggested a third suspect had led them to the safe house, where the paintings were found wrapped in plastic covers in a bedroom.
Museum directors said the pictures had not been damaged.

Brazilian authorities, including the culture minister, Gilberto Gil, said they believed the raid could have been commissioned by art thieves from overseas.

"Thefts like this were probably not carried out by Brazilians," Gil said. "They must be linked to international gangs."

At a press conference yesterday, at which the recovered paintings were paraded before the cameras, police chief Mauricio Freire said: "Evidently they [the two suspects] did not commit this crime for themselves, and the next step is the find the person who ordered the paintings."

According to the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, the rescue followed several attempts to extort money from Sao Paulo's Art Museum, known as Masp.

Today, the newspaper reported that the gallery's president, Julio Neves, had received a letter demanding $10m in exchange for the paintings on January 3.

It was reported that a further three phone calls had been made to the gallery, demanding smaller sums, although police are said to have considered these to be hoaxes.

In December, Brazil's art world was stunned when a gang of masked men launched a three-minute raid on Masp, making off with Picassso's 1904 Portrait of Suzanne Bloch and Portinari's 1939 painting The Coffee Worker.

When police arrived at the scene, they found a hydraulic jack, a crowbar and an earpiece they believed could have been used to communicate with other criminals waiting outside the museum.

The burglary was a major embarrassment to the museum, casting the spotlight on a deficient security system and the fact that many of the paintings on show were not insured.

The gallery has remained shut since the lightning raid on December 20. It is now expected to reopen on Friday with the two paintings restored to their positions.

Art Hostage comments:

Nice work Bob, now get over to Ireland and meet with Father Paddy Ryan to secure the return of the Boston Vermeer, via a confession box.

Currently Father Paddy Ryan is trying to negotiate a ceasefire between the feuding gangs of Limerick.

Feuding gangs look for republican priest's help

By Barry Duggan
Wednesday January 09 2008

SOME of the country's most dangerous criminals have held secret talks with controversial republican priest Fr Paddy Ryan in a bid to bring an end to the country's most notorious gangland feud.

The Irish Independent has learned that members of opposing Limerick crime gangs have been in contact with Fr Ryan, who came to public notice in the late 1980s when the British government unsuccessfully tried to have him extradited from Ireland to face charges in connection with serious explosive offences.

Limerick's gangland feud has claimed the lives of nine men. There have been at least three other gangland killings carried out by the city's criminals.

It is understood that Fr Ryan, who is living in the Dublin region, was contacted at the turn of the year by members from both sides of the feud.

An informed source said: "He has been approached by some of the crime families to act as a go-between to end the feud.

"These are young men who are serving long prison terms and their families see no future in continuing the feuds."

The Dundon-McCarthy gang, with the support of the Ryan family, are locked in a dispute with the Keane and Collopy gangs for control of the region's lucrative drugs trade since the turn of the millennium.

On Monday night, the home of murdered crime boss Kieran Keane was attacked by a gunman. His widow Sophie and teenage son escaped unhurt.

Separately, members of the Collopy gang who were recently released from prison have fled Limerick for Spain. It is unknown how long they intend to stay there.

Senior gardai were not aware of any communications with Fr Ryan by the criminals.

Officers who have closely investigated the activities of Limerick's criminals are treating any movements towards peace talks sceptically.

"If you look at the people involved, there has been a lot of bloodshed. It is extremely personal for some of these people and this is the only life they know. A whole generation is growing up here knowing nothing only the feud and criminal life," a garda source said.

- Barry Duggan

Art Hostage 9th Jan 2008

Because of the incestuous nature of Irish politics and the Underworld, a ceasefire will lead to the Gardner art being ready to be recovered, via a Catholic church confession box for every one's safety.

These are the words, below, needed.

"Forgive me Father Ryan for I have sinned, please accept the stolen Gardner art and claim the reward on my behalf"

P.S. Does anyone else think the Picasso portrait of Suzanne Bloch looks like Elvis Presley's mother, distinct Lip curl ???????

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