Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

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.

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