Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Vermeer Deal, Focus on Abu Dhabi, Update, !!

Breaking news

Art Hostage has learnt that Vermeer's "The Concert" stolen from the Gardner Museum Boston, may have been offered to a Middle man in Abu Dhabi, second largest city in the United Arab Emirates.

The Abu Dhabi middleman has been trying to check out how much the Vermeer is worth.

Apparently, there is frustration in Ireland at authorities not taking "Yes" for an answer and it is fast becoming time to cash in any Irish interest in the stolen Gardner Vermeer.

Whether Prince Waleed is the end buyer remains to be seen, but this could be another opportunity for FBI Icon Robert Wittman to don his Arab robes, before descending on the United Arab Emirates, to assume the role of hero once again.

Are there any Catholic Church Confession boxes in Abu Dhabi ??

If not then Dubai may be better for the hand-over.

U'm, did you know that the reclaimed islands off Dubai, Palm Island and the World, site of luxury homes, houses many stolen artifacts, away from the prying eyes of law enforcement in Europe and America. Home to many stolen artworks from Europe, America and Asia.

Promo below:

Upon another, much more important note, Bob Wittman, as he races to Abu Dhabi, has just received a text from Mrs Wittman concerning his dinner.

Reads: "Bob, your dinner's in the Dog !!"

To be continued........

The pursuit of the Vermeer, not Bob's dinner !!


Art Hostage has news hot off the press !!

As FBI Icon Robert Wittman arrived in the United Arab Emirates he had some time to kill awaiting further news on the Vermeer being offered to an Abu Dhabi middleman.

Unlike the Palestinians, who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, FBI Icon Robert Wittman, on the advice of Art Hostage, took a stroll down to the Sharjah Port, Sharjah, where he recovered 23 smuggled items and uncovered a smuggling network that stretches from Turkey to the United States of America via Switzerland.

This has been confirmed by the story linked below:

Next stop is the Palm Island and World off-shore resorts to bust some high profile millionaires and Billionaires who have been collecting stolen artworks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Lawyers to the Global Underworld, Comeskey, Cutler, Liebrucks and Dane-Geld !!

Bruce Cutler above left, represents Underworld mafia figures in America, while Chris Comeskey, above represents Underworld mafia figueres in New Zealand.

Common denominator, representing underworld figures is not good for the hairline !!
Career criminal said to be behind medals theft

Sunday February 24, 2008

By Stephen Cook
A notorious criminal with nearly 100 convictions is understood to have masterminded the theft of the New Zealand war medals from behind bars.

The former gang member - with a criminal history dating back to the late 1960s - is serving several years on methamphetamine-related charges, and is widely regarded as one of the godfathers of the underworld.

He appeared in court last week on a number of violence-related charges. He had been eligible for parole earlier this year, but his application was declined and he remains behind bars.

Sources have confirmed the man was in regular contact, from Auckland's Mt Eden Prison, with another suspect in the case so the pair could collect the reward.

The officer leading the hunt for the thieves, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann, could not be reached for comment last night.

The Herald on Sunday is legally prevented from naming the man because it could lead to the identification of the man's accomplice - another career criminal with more than 130 convictions - who has name suppression.

However, the newspaper is preparing to release its information to police.

Sources said police already knew the identity of the two men and were "hot on their trail" but could have difficulty gathering sufficient evidence to pin the men to the crime.

In October, the second of the men, who can be referred to only as "W", offered to repatriate a Goldie painting and other artefacts stolen from the University of Auckland in return for a lesser sentence on fraud charges.

Police then arranged for minor charges against the man to be dropped in exchange for the return of the 1920s painting Planning Revenge, a copy of the Oxford Lectern Bible and a set of seven Colin McCahon poems stolen from the university.

They were stolen from its library during the 2005 Christmas holidays and a $20,000 reward was put up by the London insurers of the painting, through investigators GAB Robins.

Auckland lawyer Chris Comeskey, who arranged the deal for the return of the medals, also brokered the Goldie deal, but it is unclear whether any reward was paid out.

Six weeks after arranging for the exchange to take place, "W", working closely with his accomplice, is suspected of breaking into the Waiouru Army Museum and stealing the war medals. Three days later "W" was back in court on fraud charges and taken into custody, where he has remained since.

Some reports have suggested that while in Mt Eden Prison, "W" was in contact with leading gang figure Daniel William Crichton, who last week claimed he received a bail-for-medals deal from police after negotiating with the thieves.

Comeskey would not comment on this, but sources close to the case rubbished that theory, saying Crichton had no involvement in the return of the medals.

"He's clearly embellishing his role in the whole thing," a source said. "Chris was the first person to find out about this." Another source said Comeskey had been negotiating for the return of the medals days after they were stolen and Crichton was trying to use the medals as a way of getting a reduction in his sentence on serious drugs charges.

Last week, Comeskey told the Herald on Sunday he had used his contacts in the criminal underworld to locate the medals. He also spoke of the day the medals were returned, and what it meant to him. "Holding the Upham medal in my hand, knowing what it signified, was something else." He clarified a line in last week's Herald on Sunday, saying he was "as nervous as the day my kids were born".

He did not want to discuss the role of "W" or his accomplice, saying he was tired of the matter.

"W" was eventually sentenced this month to 27 months' jail on the fraud charges, with the case's judge criticising the man's attempts to lessen his sentence by arranging for the return of the Goldie and other artefacts.
Art Hostage comments:

What is the common denominator in all these stolen art recoveries ?

The Lawyers, some who can walk the legal tightrope and others like the Da Vinci Madonna lawyers who fall on their swords.

In Britain there have been some high value stolen art recoveries that have been orchestrated by a senior Global Godfather in return for favours, early retirement.

Furthermore, there have been some very, very significant drug busts over recent months costing several drug gangs millions and also some gangs have been arrested, effectively taken out of the equation. People traffikers, money launders, fraudsters, art burglar gangs, all fallen like dominoes.

The successes by Law Enforcement in recovering high value stolen art, Da Vinci Madonna included, and also the disruption of major international drug syndicates is a result of one very, very senior Global Underworld source.

Such has been the success, both S.O.C.A. (Serious Organised Crime Agency) and New Scotland Yard have been at each others throats for the services of this top echelon Global Godfather.

Why, both New Scotland Yard and S.O.C.A. have been lobbying Jackie Smith to appoint one or other to handle the Global Godfather, currently it is S.O.C.A. with New Scotland Yard being given a little taste.

Even the security services MI5/MI6 are involved, they have got a sniff about a possible link to terrorists via the drugs trade and want to run with it exclusively without S.O.C.A.

With a once in a lifetime opportunity to utilise an elder statesman Global Godfather figure, lets see how they fare. I bet that who-ever loses out will accidentially, on purpose, leak the Global Godfathers identity with the attitude of "If we can't have him, no-one can"

Then we will see this happen again, linked below:

If they can't get the target, family is next best.
Family used to be a "No, no" not anymore !!
Interestingly, the Dublin/Limerick drug gangs have suffered more than most recently, ironically, with inside information gathered from the Global Godfather.

The gangs are already asking questions and there is one name that keeps coming up, see the article below for more, although it does not name the suspected Global Godfather. Word on the street is ***** *****

Furthermore, the Global Godfather has opened a door for a top undercover agent to assume a long term role, even working his/her way up the chain, to assume a place at the top table of the Global Underworld, before dismantling the network from within.
Well 2008 is the Chinese year of the Rat !!

Within this world of deals and double cross would the return of the Vermeer be such a tough thing to do ?

I mean, its just one bloody painting that just by chance happens to be the most coverted stolen artwork in the world, followed closely by Rembrandts Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Art Hostage promises not to ask for any other stolen artwork to be handed back if the Vermeer can appear in a Catholic Church confession box.

Upon another note, expect some good news from Zurich, Switzerland via Germany about the safe return of the two Picasso's followed by the Cezanne and Degas, brokered by Edgar Liebrucks, above, yes you've guessed it, another Lawyer representing another Godfather, Serbian Stevo V.

O'h what webs they weave !!

Stolen Art Watch, $50 Million Cross, Gone in a Flash !!

Armed robbery at Tournai Cathedral, Belgium
Stolen Cross Worth $50 million
On Monday 18 February at approximately 10.15, two armed robbers broke glass display cabinets containing items from the Cathedral Treasury and stole a Byzantine cross, eight 17th-century chalices, two episcopal rings and two episcopal crosses.

The robbers escaped in a dark-coloured Audi driven by an accomplice.


5th-century Byzantine cross, 20 cm x 20 cm, gold set with precious stones, pearls and paste. Value: priceless.

A witness had observed two men acting suspiciously on 14 February 2008, four days before the robbery. They had examined the Byzantine cross very closely and persistently questioned the employee at the Cathedral Treasury cash desk.

Description of one of the men:

Aged 40 to 45, 185 - 190 cm, heavy build, black hair, dark eyes, light skin, European, spoke French well (see composite picture).

Anyone with any information concerning the robbery , the whereabouts of the cross or the identity of the person in the composite picture is asked to contact the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Brussels (Reference: ZZ/OBJ32/ 016290/08/1P) and the INTERPOL General Secretariat (Reference: 2008/6996).

Art Hostage comments:

Risk, several years jailtime if caught.

Reward, exchanged for drugs or to settle a debt, this is an easy piece to use as collateral.

However, I bet Michel Van Rijn could make a fake and pass it off within the underworld as the original, not that he would !!

All the time risk is low and penalties are even lower, the targeting of major iconic artworks will go on unabated.

Time for a re-think on penalties for theft from public museums and collections.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Art Hostage Knows, He's Been There !!

Seven Questions: A Reformed Stolen-Art Dealer Tells All

Posted February 2008

To recover stolen masterpieces, museums must often deal with the criminal underworld.

This is where informants like “Art Hostage” come in.

Once a dealer in stolen art and antiques, he now assists with stolen-art investigations.

He spoke with FP about why high-profile art theft is on the rise and how authorities can stop it.

Foreign Policy: You’ve said that you got out of the stolen-art game to provide an example for your son. Can you tell me how you came to find art theft morally objectionable?

Art Hostage: Look, I’m not justifying handling stolen stuff, but that’s going to go on.

What really annoys me—and I’m sure it would annoy you and your readers—is when they steal stuff from public buildings and museums, which denies the public access to those pictures.

I want to create an environment where we create dispersal, and people are frightened to steal from museums and public galleries because of the penalties, and then they might start robbing private collectors.
Now, don’t get me wrong; private collectors are in a better place to protect themselves with added security, whereas public museums and buildings don’t have the finances to do that.

You have to be a bit more subtle in your approach.

FP: Do art thieves usually rely on these thefts as their main source of income, or are they typically involved in other sorts of crimes?

AH: Well, mostly you’re talking about burglars who go into people’s houses to steal things.

Back in the 1980s, they would steal VCRs and TVs, but then people found that antiques and art were worth more money. …

We get these big headline-grabbing thefts, but the majority of thefts come off the public, and they’re normally $100,000 or less.

Now, we’ve had two major heists in one week [four impressionist paintings stolen from the E.G. Bührle collection in Zurich and two Picasso paintings stolen in the nearby town of Pfaeffikon], but just in the U.S. you’re talking about 100 or 200 a day of art thefts from domestic properties.

That’s really where the problem is. It’s all right that these big ones make the headlines, but underneath that you’ll find the majority of art theft is against the private citizen.

For every Picasso that’s stolen, there are hundreds of paintings worth $20,000 or so rather than $20 million.

FP: What typically happens to famous or iconic works of art after they are stolen?

AH: When they get them, they can be exchanged for an amount of drugs which can then be sold. They can be sold to what’s called a “criminal venture capitalist” who might, let’s say, give $1 million for the painting, and then there’s a $5 million reward for them.

Even if it takes five years [to sell], that’s a 500 percent return on investment.

Say I’m a drug importer and you come to me with those pictures and I give you $1 million worth of Class A drugs to sell.

I would then pass them on to a criminal venture capitalist or to someone else to settle a debt, and that’s how they change hands.

Sometimes, they’ll put it away as a bargaining chip and then later on they might offer it back to get a lesser sentence for something else.

FP: So stolen art is like a form of currency?

AH: Yes, it is.

I mean, the mainstream media whores always run out the same line that, “Oh, they’ll never be able to sell it. There’s no market.” I understand why they do that, but it’s a bit disingenuous.

Sure, they won’t sell famous art for market value.

But if you’ve got four men who steal four pictures in a half-hour heist, plus planning, and sell it for a million, that’s $250,000 for a very small amount of work.

Robbers that used to go into a bank or hold up an armored truck found it very difficult to escape and found that they would get very big sentences.

But if an armed robber goes into a museum and makes off with art, he can get a similar type of return for a lot less risk, and if he gets caught, the actual penalties are a slap on the wrist.

Those guys who took The Scream in Norway? One guy got six years, and one got four years.

That’s not really a deterrent, is it?

FP: Back when you were in the business, were you ever approached about buying art of that value?

AH: Well, there was one painting that was stolen that was valued at £5 million.

I paid $20,000 for it and sold it for $100,000 within two days.

I made $80,000 in two days, and I didn’t care that it was worth £5 million.

To be honest with you, the kind of stuff we’re talking about now, Vermeer and all that, I would put that in a class I call “headache stuff.”

I’d much rather deal with a $100,000 piece of silver or $20,000 bits and pieces, but lots of it.

FP: Are there any specific museums or works that you’ve seen that seem particularly at risk to you?

AH: Yes. I’ve written about it. It’s the Vermeer that’s been stolen twice already in Ireland, Lady Writing a Letter With Her Maid.

It now sits in the National Gallery [of Ireland] in Dublin. It’s already been stolen on two occasions, and it’s sitting on a wall in a place where it would be easy to just rip it down and flee across Dublin on a motorbike because it’s very small. That’s one that’s under threat, and I’ve even contacted the curator about it.

Also, the National Gallery in London is quite at risk because in the first gallery, you’ve got Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and several other pictures right by the entrance.

The factors to consider are blank spots in security, location, the size of the articles for movability, the estimated response of law enforcement. Probably the best ingredient is inside information.

FP: What steps do you think museums or law enforcement officials could take to deter high-profile art thefts in the future?

AH: Number one: There should be [sentencing] guidelines to judges that anyone stealing from a public building over a certain value gets a mandatory 10 years.

By doing that, you will put off a lot of people, though not everyone, because it ups the risk-reward factor.

At the moment, if you walked into a museum in D.C. and took a Rembrandt, you’d get about three to five years and maybe a plea bargain.
But if you equated the value of the Rembrandt to other commodities, you’d be looking at 25 to life.

The second thing they could do is have a blanket ban on offering rewards for works that have been stolen out of public buildings and museums.

The refusal to pay a reward means that the benchmark for its value in the underworld is more uncertain.

Art Hostage has been working for years to broker a deal for the return of the paintings stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

His opinions on news and rumors from the world of art theft can be found at the blogs Art Hostage and Stolen Vermeer.

He prefers to remain anonymous, but FP confirmed his identity and background independently.

The Art of the Steal

By David Shillingford

By some estimates, the trade in stolen art is the world’s fourth-largest black market—behind only drugs, money laundering, and weapons.

David Shillingford is director of North American operations for the Art Loss Register, a private, international database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Danger of Dane-geld !!

Gang figure 'negotiated return of medals'

Watch the video:

Controversy around return of medals

The return of priceless stolen war medals was negotiated by a leading gang figure who has since been released from jail, reports say.

Daniel Crichton was granted bail on serious drugs charges after he negotiated with the thieves who stole the 96 medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, from the Waiouru Army Museum in December, the New Zealand Herald reported today.

The paper said his release was part of the deal which saw the thieves paid some of the $300,000 reward offered from within New Zealand and overseas for the return of the medals.

Crichton was a former Black Power member linked to the feared Headhunters gang.

He was in Auckland's Mt Eden Prison on drugs charges after police charged him for his part of an alleged drugs ring.

Crichton raised the issue of the stolen medals when he appeared at a depositions hearing at Manukau District Court last month when he was represented by lawyer Chris Comeskey.

He was in jail when the medals were stolen but when asked for proof he could arrange for the medals to be returned, he arranged the return of a George Cross.

After negotiations with the Crown and police, Crichton was released on bail on January 21 in a decision the Herald said was "allied to the medals".

The other 95 medals were returned last week in good condition and undamaged.

Mr Comeskey, who apparently brokered the deal refused to comment to the paper last night, saying it was "not helpful".

The policeman leading the hunt for the thieves, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann, also refused to comment.

Police say the return of the medals does not mean there will be immunity from prosecution.

The Herald said the return of the medals had similarities to a case last year where an accused criminal held police to ransom over the return of treasured New Zealand artefacts, including a priceless Charles Goldie artwork.

Police arranged for minor charges to be dropped against the man in exchange for the return last October of the 1920s painting Planning Revenge, a copy of the Oxford Lectern Bible and a set of seven Colin McCahon poems stolen from the University of Auckland.

The artefacts, stolen from the university library late in 2005, were valued at $207,000 but were irreplaceable.

Details of the exchange were suppressed to protect the man's identity during Auckland District Court hearing last year. Details of charges he faced were also suppressed.

As a "show of good faith" the man returned the Oxford Lectern Bible. He was not involved in the theft but said police would never find the thieves.

A $20,000 was offered for the paintings but it is not clear if the reward was paid.

Art Hostage comments:

Danger of Danegeld as predicted by Art Hostage, linked below:

Deals of this nature are done all the time, the secret is to keep your bloody mouth shut !!!

The offering of rewards in public should be universally forbidden, each case is treated on its own merit away from the spotlight.

The payment of favours or money to recover stolen art should be subject to a confidentiality clause whereby if leaked then the reward/favour is null and void.

Mr Crichton should count himself very lucky he is not re-arrested and all deals are off, especially as the medals have been recovered.

Last word to Rudyard Kipling on ransom demands:

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,

For fear they should succumb and go astray;

So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,

You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,

No matter how trifling the cost;

For the end of that game is oppression and shame,

And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Stolen Art Watch, Jean Marie Messier Latest Dr No in Spotlight, Sorry, They are not Meant to Exist !!

Italy Shows Off Looted Artifacts Seized by Police

ROME—An ancient mosaic of a dark-haired boy and a fresco from Pompeii were among more than 400 looted archaeological treasures Italian police put on show on Tuesday that had been recovered during a three-year hunt across Europe.

The artifacts, including delicate Etruscan goblets and large Greek vases, were illegally dug up and spirited out of Italy decades ago, many of them assumed to be lost forever.

Some of the most precious antiquities, including the fragmented fresco, were found at an elegant Paris mansion owned by a French publishing magnate, whose name was not disclosed. The Italian authorities said they had pressed charges against 31 people—including the publisher.

The other artifacts, most of them illegally excavated in the provinces of Tuscany and Lazio, were traced to Milan, Geneva and Brussels.

"These artifacts are of inestimable value," said Vito Augelli of Italy's Guardia di Finanza financial police force, which coordinated the investigation and showed reporters the antiquities—soon to go on display in museums.

"These are all objects that had been excavated illegally from underground tombs and taken out of the country," he said.

Investigators identified the colourful Pompeiian fresco as perhaps the most prized object. Probably a 1st century A.D. work, the fragments show gardens, fountains and parts of a villa that was once home to Poppea Sabina, the wife of Emperor Nero.

Other significant finds included a virtually intact mosaic showing a young boy with cropped black hair and large black eyes, and a rare Kalpis—a Greek vase used for holding oil or water—featuring delicate figures.

An assortment of jugs, saucers, chalices and vases bearing figures in red, beige and black completed the rich collection.

Italy has carried out a sustained drive to bring home artifacts dug up by tomb raiders and sold abroad to museums or ignorant or unscrupulous collectors.

Last month it celebrated the return of a prized 2,500-year-old vase that it says was looted and sold illegally to New York's Metropolitan Museum more than 30 years ago.

It also put on display in Rome nearly 70 other ancient artifacts that had been looted and sold to galleries abroad.

Many came from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and were returned after the Italian authorities struck a deal with the museum.

Art Hostage comments:

Dr No does not exist, so the mainstream media and so-called art recovery experts keep telling us.

Well the Art Hostage Billionaires Stolen Art Collecting Club is coming to fruition.

Back story below:

Alex Boyle the writer named Jean-Marie Messier below:

Jean-Marie Messier only had the Flink from the Gardner Heist and maybe the Manet ?

Vermeer's The Concert is reputed to be in Ireland, with all that entails.

The rest is held hostage by Prince Waleed, Sumner Redstone, Semion Mogilevich and a few people holding minor works.
Could there be some (public) good news for the Gardner Museum eighteen years after the nightmare began ?
Keep you posted

Stolen Art Watch, Serbian Political Protest at Heart of Swiss Art Heist !!

Switzerland (AP) - Two Impressionist paintings stolen in one of Europe's largest art thefts have been recovered in an abandoned car, Swiss police said Tuesday.

The pictures, by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, were among four paintings worth 180 million Swiss francs (US$163 million; ¤112 million) that were stolen from a private museum in a Feb. 10 armed robbery.

Art Hostage comments:

Swiss Police have not mentioned the ransom demand, not mentioned the Serbian protest at Kosovo independence, and also, not mentioned FBI Icon Robert Wittman is still on the ground in Zurich.

Mrs Wittman is livid with the thieves as she thought Bob had recovered all four paintings.

Bob has just recieved a text from Mrs Wittman stating that

"Your salad is in the Oven"

Art Hostage advises that the demands be restricted to a statement being released into the media about Serbian/Russian disquiet concerning the Kosovo declaration of independence, and how that will be a benchmark for other separatist movements.

Then the final two Swiss paintings, the Degas and especailly the Cezanne can be recovered in similar fashion, a Catholic church confession box will be safest.

Any notion that serious money will exchange hands is pure folly and will inevitably lead to arrests and convictions.

Ask yourself what would Arkan do in this situation ?

Take the media statement and move on !!

The Headline is waiting:
"Arkan Tigers Take Kosovo Protest Headline for Degas and Cezanne in defence of Serbia"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Swiss Art Heist, Paintings Recovered, Good Old Edgar Liebrucks !!

Update !!
Only three pictures may have been recovered along with a ransom note saying this was as a protest at Kosovo declaration of independence.
The most valuable, the Cezanne, worth $100 million plus, could still be be held Art Hostage.
Diplomatic activity is reaching fever pitch as this art theft takes on a political dimension.
Breaking news: Kosovo Independence Triggers Swiss Art Recovery, Heist was Serbian protest !!
They have been recovered, Seems Crazy, how Mental is that !!!

Report: Swiss police find paintings stolen in Zurich art heist

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) - A Swiss radio station reported Monday that paintings stolen in one of Europe's largest art thefts have been discovered on the grounds of a Zurich mental hospital.

The area around the Psychiatric University Clinic was closed off Monday evening, and Zurich police spokeswoman Judith Hoedl said that a suspicious vehicle had been

She declined to say whether it was connected with the Feb. 10 robbery from a Zurich museum.

The stolen works by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet from the private E.G. Buehrle Collection are worth 180 million Swiss francs (US$163.2 million; ¤112.4 million).

Local radio station Radio 24 reported Monday that the building supervisor at the hospital found the paintings in an unlocked car on the grounds of the clinic.

The station said the area was cordoned off by police, and a switchboard operator confirmed to The Associated Press that the police were there, but that she was not allowed to say what was happening.

A witness told Radio 24 that paintings removed from the vehicle had markings that identified them as belonging to the Buehrle museum.

Art Hostage comments:

News coming in all the time

One things for sure, as I write, FBI Icon Robert Wittman is sitting in the departure lounge waiting for his flight out of Zurich.

This latest recovery is all in a days work for the "King of Sting, Master of Disaster" FBI Art Crime Icon Robert K. Wittman.

Mrs Wittman is about to prepare Bob's dinner for when he gets home in about 12 hours.

Meatloaf, or Stew, slowly cooked to tenderise the meat and thicken the gravy.

More to follow.

So, anyway, there I was briefing FBI Icon Robert Wittman on how to get the Swiss paintings back, when a flash of inspiration, caused me to exclaim

"Bob, if we say to these guys they will not get money but can gain some credibility in Serbia by handing back the paintings and declaring the theft as a protest at Kosovo declaring independence"

"Brilliant," says Bob, "I'll get on it"

So, this theft will turn out as a protest at Kosovo declaring independence and it will be used by the Serbian exiles as a bargining chip that will allow them free access to conduct criminality from Serbia and also be able to hide criminal profits away from pursuing law enforcement.

As ever, Bob Wittman ran with this, did not drop the ball, and low and behold, Kosovo declares Independence, day after the Swiss Four re-appear.

Did you like the Mental Hospital touch ?

Could'nt find a suitable Catholic Church Confession box in time.

So, anyway, what about those bloody Picasso's ??

O'h and not forgetting the paintings stolen yesterday, Sunday, see below:

There has been another art robbery in the canton of Zurich. Eleven paintings worth CHF300,000 have been stolen from an apartment in Kilchberg, after thieves forced their way in through a balcony door.

Twenty works from the 19th century worth almost CHF500,000 were taken from the same building at the end of last month.

There is still no sign of the Picasso oil paintings stolen in nearby Pfäffikon recently.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Exclusive, Swiss Art Heists, First Break in the Case !!

Breaking News

Art Hostage has learnt that the Lawyer Edgar Liebrucks, above, is about to be approached, if not already, by the thieves associates, (Stevie Boy) to try and brocker a deal similar to that of the Stolen Turners which were recovered in 1999 and 2002.

However, good old Edgar will be asked to "just find a buyer," even if that means Prince Waleed, rather than facilitate the return of the Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Monet, and not forgetting the two Picasso's stolen a few days earlier, (which originate from, you've guessed it, Germany), to their rightful owners.

FBI Alert----FBI Alert---FBI Alert

Calling FBI Icon Robert Wittman, here we go again, finish your dinner Bob, don your Arab outfit like Peter O'Toole in Laurence of Arabia, and get yourself over to the offices of Edgar Liebrucks.
Here are the Edgar Liebrucks contact details,
* LIEBRUCKS, EDGAR , Heiligkreuzgasse 29, 60313 Frankfurt/Main, Tel: (069) 20897,
Fax: (069) 20414.
Born 1944.
Admitted to Lower and District Court in Frankfurt/Main in civil cases (divorces).
Admitted to all German courts in criminal cases. Specialized in criminal law, interested in all criminal cases.
Notary public. Languages: German, English

With a bit of luck the stolen paintings can be back home in time for you to have your dinner.


How the Tate Gallery Bought back their Stolen Turners, well nearly !!

For almost a decade two Turner masterpieces disappeared from public view into the hands of criminal gangs. Eventually they were recovered but only after the Tate had handed over several million pounds to a well-placed intermediary.

Did the Tate pull off a remarkable rescue or did they in effect pay a ransom and set a dangerous precedent that makes future art theft more likely?

In July 1994 two of the Tate's Turner paintings - "Shade and Darkness" and "Light and Colour" - were stolen while on loan to the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt.

A leading figure in Frankfurt's Balkan mafia was believed to be the brains behind the theft, but only the two actual thieves and a handler were ever convicted.

But exactly six years after the robbery, the first painting was returned to London, followed by the second 18 months later.

So what happened during those first six years to guide the paintings home again?

Initial gamble

At the time of the robbery, each painting had been insured for £12m and the Tate put in its claim for £24m.

But this also meant that if the stolen Turners were ever found, the paintings would belong to the insurance company.

Dissatisfied with this arrangement, the Tate took a gamble.

In July 1998 they paid back £8m to the insurance company for the ownership rights and would later seek permission from the High Court in the UK to spend £3m of the Turner Bequest fund to try and recover the paintings.

If the masterpieces were indeed in the hands of the Balkan mafia, this would be no easy undertaking.

Unlikely trio

Two retired policemen who had previously worked on the case for Scotland Yard - Detective Superintendent Mick Lawrence and Detective Sergeant Jurek Rokoszynski (known as Rocky) - came on board as private detectives to help the Tate reclaim two of Britain's national treasures.

The end game began in the summer of 1999, when the Metropolitan Police received confidential intelligence suggesting that a German solicitor may be able to assist in the recovery of the paintings.

The man's name was Edgar Liebrucks and he said he was in direct contact with the people who were in possession of the paintings.

He signed a contract with the gallery, but also asked the Frankfurt public prosecutor's office for legal immunity and, according to Liebrucks, this was granted.

"This made it possible for me to talk to people in the certainty that I wouldn't be called upon as a witness in a trial and made to tell a court what was discussed," he says.


This mission was a big culture shock for Lawrence and Rocky.

"I'd never been in a situation like this," says Lawrence, "where the recovery of the property was far more important than the arrest of the people who were in possession of the property."

The operation was extremely delicate.

"Edgar was working on behalf, I suppose you could say, on behalf of the criminals, but he was also working for the Tate," says Lawrence, "whereas we were working solely for the Tate. At times the situations became blurred."

But in July 2000, Liebrucks recovered the first Turner painting.

The sum of DM5m (£1.7m) had been paid by the Tate, plus an extra DM300,000 (£100,000) for Liebrucks' services.

Secret location

The second Turner was more difficult to retrieve.

One day Liebrucks got a visit from a second gang, who said they had the picture.

Were they simply fall guys for the Balkan mafia worried about the police closing in on them?

"They were very amateurish," the lawyer recalls, "not like violent criminals."

But the deal with them did materialise and a couple of days before Christmas 2002, Rocky was driven to a flat outside Frankfurt where he could inspect the painting.

Photographs of it were taken and forwarded to the Tate's expert in London, before money (£1.7m) was made available to Rocky for Liebrucks' clients.

Safe return

The private home, where the photographs were taken, held the key to the whole story.

The man who lived there led us to the two men who had possession of the second Turner.

One of them was Josef Stohl, who had hidden the masterpieces for the Balkan mafia behind spare car parts.

Stohl's business affairs were in a mess, and his mate Hartmut Klatt came up with a big but very dangerous idea: they could make a fortune by selling the Turner Stohl was guarding for the mafia and keeping the money for themselves.

They sold the second Turner painting to Liebrucks and ran away from the mafia with the money, first to Cuba and then to Brazil.

The masterpieces were returned to the walls of the Tate.

But had the gallery actually bought the Turners back from the Frankfurt underworld, effectively giving money to criminals?

Or, as the gallery insist, did they only pay for the crucial information that led them to the paintings' whereabouts?

The Tate rigorously defends the actions it took to recover the missing Turners.

A gallery spokeswoman insists that any money handed over was for information and that "no ransom was paid".

She also told the BBC: "The Tate acted throughout the investigation with the assistance and advice of the Metropolitan Police and dealt with a reputable German lawyer."

Sandy Nairne, former Director of Programmes at the Tate who oversaw the operation, also emphasises the Tate's working relationship with the appropriate authorities.

He said: "I think what we knew in all the different stages of investigation was that a reward would be necessary... but it only emerged rather later that there might be a particular kind of discussion through intermediaries, and that discussion could only take place with the approval of the various authorities. That meant authorities both in London and in Germany.

He added: "They (the paintings) belong to the public and they should be seen by the public."

Art Hostage comments:

The above story about the Turner recovery is not entirely true.

A slight alternative is here:

First and foremost, Rocky and Mick were mere goffers who only fetched and collected the stolen Turners. However, Mick and Rocky got £500,000 for their Goffer work.

Mark Dalrymple was the brains behind the recovery and is certainly needed in the Swiss case.

The so-called guys Stohl etc who supposedly fled to Brazil was an elaborate hoax to try and cover the real fact, Stevie Boy planned the Turner theft and then got paid for the return of the Stolen Turners.

When questions were asked about the lawfulness of the Tates actions, see story below:

A quick telephone call followed by a clandestine meeting resulted in the whole matter being dropped in traditional Saudi fashion

However, law enforcement, Germany and Britain have been left licking their wounds and have vowed to prevent high value stolen art being ransomed in the future.

Ooh the German prosecutors office will be caught in a Catch 22, do they deal and get back the two Picasso's, (which are German property after all), and the Swiss Four, or do they demand a sting operation ??

The Turner buy-back has proved to be a stone in the shoe for law enforcement and they are determind it does not happen again, hence why the naive Da Vinci Madonna Lawyers were arrested and charged, mainly for window dressing, but also to stop any money being paid for the Da Vinci Madonna recovery.

U'm, we'll see about that !!!

Bob, are you packed, Edgar Liebrucks is waiting for your Laurence of Arabia performance.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Sunday See's Swiss Suffer Second Major Art Snatch !!

Where's Waleed, as Robbers Steal $100m in Art From Zurich
45 minutes ago

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) — Armed robbers have stolen art worth $100 million, including works by Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh, from a Zurich museum, police said Monday.

The Zurich police said the robbery took place Sunday. Also among the works stolen were oil paintings by Paul Cezanne and Edgar Degas.

Police called the heist a "spectacular art robbery," but did not identify the museum, saying only that it is in the city's eighth district.

Last week, Swiss police reported that two Pablo Picasso paintings were stolen from a Swiss exhibition near Zurich. The two oil paintings, "Tete de cheval" ("Head of horse") and "Verre et pichet" ("Glass and pitcher"), were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.

Impressionist artworks stolen in Zurich: police
1 hour ago

ZURICH (AFP) — Armed robbers have stolen paintings by Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh and Monet worth more than 91 million dollars from a museum in Zurich, police said Monday.

They did not reveal the name of the museum where Sunday's theft took place, saying only that it is in the 8th district of the city.

That district is home to the Emil Buehrle Foundation, a private collection founded by a Zurich industrialist which boasts many Impressionist works.

"French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism constitute the core of the collection," the museum's website says. The foundation was unavailable for comment Monday.

The theft worth 100 million Swiss francs (91 million dollars, 63 million euros) came just days after thieves stole two paintings by Pablo Picasso worth 4.5 million dollars from a cultural centre in eastern Switzerland.

A police press conference is expected later Monday.

Armed robbers steal 4 paintings worth $163 million from Zurich museum

ZURICH, Switzerland - Paintings by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet worth $163.2 million have been stolen from a Zurich museum by a gang of armed roobers, Swiss police said Monday.

The robbery of the four paintings occurred Sunday at the E.G. Buehrle Collection, one of Europe's finest private museums for Impressionist and post-Impressionist art, police said.

Three masked men who entered the building with pistols were still at large.
A police statement said the three robbers, wearing ski masks and dark clothing, entered the museum a half-hour before closing time Sunday.

While one of the men used a pistol to force museum personnel to the floor, the other two went into the exhibition hall and collected the four masterpieces.

The men were about five feet, nine inches tall and one of them spoke German with a Slavic accent, the police said. They loaded the paintings into a white vehicle parked in front of the museum.

Police, asking for witnesses to come forward, said it was possible that the paintings were partly sticking out of the trunk as the robbers made their getaway.

A reward of $91,000 was offered for information leading to the recovery of the paintings - Claude Monet's "Poppy field at Vetheuil"; Edgar Degas' "Ludovic Lepic and his daughter"; Vincent van Gogh's "Blooming chestnut branches"; and Paul Cezanne's "Boy in the red waistcoat."

The FBI estimates the market for stolen art at $6 billion annually, and Interpol has about 30,000 pieces of stolen art in its database.

While only a fraction of pieces are ever found, the theft of iconic objects, especially by force, is rarer because of the intense police work that follows and because the works are so difficult to sell.

Sunday's theft came days after Swiss police reported that two Pablo Picasso paintings were stolen from an exhibition near Zurich. The two oil paintings, "Tete de cheval" ("Head of horse") and "Verre et pichet" ("Glass and pitcher"), were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.

In 1994, seven Picasso paintings worth an estimated $44 million were stolen from a gallery in Zurich. They were recovered in 2000, and a Swiss man and two Italians were jailed for the theft.
In the late 1980s, three armed men robbed a Zurich art gallery, making off with 21 Renaissance paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Art Hostage comments:

$91,000 offered as an uncollectable reward, what a joke, best of luck !!

Old Vincent Van Gogh will be turning in his grave

After a successful dry run, this seems to be the "real thing" like Coke V Pepsi !!

Getting more coming through, will update later !!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Picasso Deux, Pinched for the Prince !! Updated !!

Two Picasso paintings stolen from Swiss exhibition, police say

PFAEFFIKON, Switzerland: Two Pablo Picasso paintings worth millions of dollars (euros) were reported stolen from a Swiss exhibition of works by the Spanish painter, police said Thursday.

The paintings were stolen Wednesday evening after closing time at the Seedamm-Kulturzentrum in the small town of Pfaeffikon, near Zurich. Police have yet to catch the culprits, they said in a statement.

It was unclear how the burglars entered the culture center, but they set off a security alarm when leaving the building. Police said they are investigating whether the burglars locked themselves in the building before it closed.

The two oil paintings, "Tete de cheval" ("Head of horse") of 1962 and Verre et pichet ("Glass and pitcher") of 1944, were on loan from the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany, police said.

The German museum has promised an award for those assisting in the arrest of the burglars and recovery of the paintings. The Sprengel declined to say how much the award was worth.

The Swiss exhibition is made up entirely of works loaned to the museum. It includes 20 original Picasso paintings and 170 other works by him, including etchings, linoleum cuts and prints.

Art Hostage comments:

Prince Al-Waleed by proxy ?

Balkan Bandits Burgled Booty !!

Local criminals taking advantage of low security in this rural small town ?

One thing is apparent, if these two Picasso's reach the Global Underworld then the end buyer will be none other than Prince Waleed.

Why, well for a start he has a villa in Switzerland, second he can send them to Saudi Arabia as Picasso in Saudi Arabia is something of a staus symbol.

Why on earth some Saudi Arabian billionaires would want anything to do with stolen art is beyond me, status symbol or not ?

However, Stendhal syndrome could be the answer, see link below:

A kind of Billionaires way of getting his or her "Rocks off"

Bloody inconvenient for the rest of us though !!

Update !!!
The Prince Waleed shopping list includes a Van Gogh and Cezanne that will be next to be targeted and stolen in an armed raid coming shortly, Balkan Bandits are preparing as we speak so "Brace yourself"

It must be said however, Prince Waleed does keep some of his vast stolen art collection on his luxury Private converted airliner and 282ft Yacht called Kingdom 5KR.

Already an owner of a Boeing 747 jet converted to private use, at the 2007 Dubai Air Show Al-Walid was confirmed by Airbus to be the prospective owner of the first private Airbus A380, the world's largest aircraft.

Bob, Check designs at Boeing for secret compartments to stash stolen artworks and contraband.

So, if FBI Icon Robert Wittman would like to check out both the Al-Waleed planes and boats I am certain a number of high value stolen artworks will be recovered.

The original designs for the Kingdom 5KR Yacht will reveal a secret room built for secret meetings by the previous owners, now used by Prince Al-Waleed for his personal stolen art collection and also used to import and export contraband from country to country.

Please read the role call of Billionaire Prince Al-Waleed and ask youself why does this man need to deprive the masses from viewing iconic works of art ??

Memo to Prince Al-Waleed

Prince Al-Waleed, why don't you set yourself up as the Hero and declare you are going to recover some of the worlds most wanted stolen art ?

Then you can hand back your stolen art collection and scoop up other stolen art before being declared the saviour of the global art loving public.

Think of the prestige you will recieve for this selfless act.

From Stolen Art Collector to Stolen Art Slueth, Prince Al-Waleed can redeem himself.

"To have once been a criminal is no disgrace, to remain a criminal is the disgrace"

If I were a (Mega) Rich Man I would use my wealth to recover stolen art, not only collect fine art for my ego and own cultural enrichment, it sounds better with music below:

Stolen Art Watch, Jury Out in Biggest Art Theft Trial of 21st Century !!

Because of reporting restrictions Art Hostage can only say the jury are considering verdicts in the most sensational art theft trial of the 21st century.

This trial is the second in a trilogy that rivals the Lord of the Rings.

Whether the reporting restrictions are lifted and the verdicts can be made public remains to be seen.

Trust me when I say this story will knock your socks off and leave you open-mouthed.