Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Philly Art Heist Could Prove Fatal for Thieves, Uncle Joe Ligambi and FBI Icon Robert Wittman Seriously Pissed !! Updated !!

Stolen Philly Painting Prompts Reward

Artwork depicting one of the most picturesque views in Philadelphia has been stolen, and a reward is being offered for its safe return.

John A. Woodside is believed to be the artist who painted the famous Water Works picture, long before the Philadelphia Museum of Art stood behind it in the Fairmount section of the city.

Until Monday morning, the painting hung on the wall of the city's Park Services office at 16th and Arch streets.

But an employee noticed it was missing from its 10th Floor location at the beginning of the week, NBC 10's Mike Strug reported.

Janic Fedarcyk, special agent in charge of the Philadelphia FBI Office, said the federal agency is investigating the case and trying to located the painting, which is worth more than $70,000.

She said the FBI doesn't want the stolen painting to slip below the radar, so they are offering a $10,000 reward. The local office has a history of recovering stolen art; they have found $215 million worth in recent years.

Investigators did not say if surveillance cameras captured the robbery on tape.

Art Hostage comments:

In the fullness of time this will go down as one of the dumbest crimes committed in Philly recently, why, because Philadelphia is home to the most pro-active FBI Art Crime team in America.

Also home to FBI Icon Robert Wittman.

Did you notice the value placed on this stolen artwork ?

$75,000, that's $5,000 over the amount needed for the FBI to involve itself in this investigation, a Bob Wittman touch to start the ball rolling.

Now the thieves are already being hotly pursued and I expect the painting to be recovered within 7 days safely intact because the FBI Art Crime Team reputation is on the line.

We see this added impetus with an immediate reward offer of $10,000.

O'h by the way, the true value of the artwork is closer to a million if it were to be offered for sale because of the cultural significance, but don't quote me as this is meant to be secret.

Memo to the Philly Steve Olsen, remember him the moron who stole the Goya ?

This John A. Woodside artwork is so radio-active the FBI will tear up the Philly Criminal Underworld looking for it so the best thing the thieves can do is take it to Uncle Joe Ligambi or one of his representatives and they will honestly hand it back to the people of Philadelphia.

The consequence for the thieves if they retain the artwork is the wrath of the Philly criminal underworld because of the extreme FBI heat applied to the Philly Underworld in pursuit of the stolen artwork.

The FBI Art Crime Team is the least of the thieves worries, so do yourself a favour and hand the stolen artwork to any associate of Uncle Joe Ligambi

You think I'm kidding ??

Well, let me tell you, when the Philly Criminal Underworld gets raided and loses money or contraband they will hold the John A. Woodside art thieves personally responsible.

So, in the future the story could be how the Philly art thieves were discovered in the Boon Docks !!

Finally, the choices at clear for the Philly art thieves, they can either hand the stolen artwork to Uncle Joe Ligambi or one of his associates, or they can contact the FBI Art Crime Team and tell them where they can collect the stolen artwork, following the recovery the reward will be paid in this instance because it will save any further embarrassment for the FBI Art Crime Team.

Failure to do either option within the next seven days will result in either arrest and conviction, or worse, at the hands of seriously pissed Philly Gangsters whose business has been disrupted by this foolish, dumb art theft.

Act now, you've been officially warned from both sides of the criminal divide !!

FBI Icon Bob Wittman Strikes Again as Florida Frenchie, Berny Ternus charged in '07 theft of art

Associated Press - June 27, 2008 10:34 AM ET

MIAMI (AP) - A French man is facing a U.S. indictment in Miami for involvement in the 2007 theft of 4 paintings from a museum in the French Riviera.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that 55-year-old Bernard Ternus is charged with conspiring to transport the stolen paintings. The paintings were stolen by masked gunman in August 2007 from a museum in Nice, France. They were works by Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

The paintings were recovered earlier this month in France and others involved in the theft arrested.

Ternus was already in U.S. custody on a visa fraud charge. His attorney in that case did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

French man faces US charge in theft of paintings

By CURT ANDERSON – 13 minutes ago

MIAMI (AP) — A French man allegedly involved in the theft of paintings by Claude Monet and two other artists has been charged in the U.S. with attempting to broker the sale of the stolen art to undercover FBI agents, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Bernard Jean Ternus, 55, was indicted by a grand jury on a single count of conspiring to sell the paintings stolen in August 2007 by masked gunmen from the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Nice, France, federal prosecutors said.

The paintings are Monet's "Cliffs Near Dieppe;" "The Lane of Poplars at Moret" by Alfred Sisley; and two works by Jan Brueghel the Elder: "Allegory of Earth" and "Allegory of Water."

All four were recovered in Marseilles, France, on June 4 after a deal was struck to sell them to the FBI undercover agents for 3 million euros, or about $4.7 million at current exchange rates. French national police arrested at least two other men when the art was found.

Ternus is a French citizen who lives in Cooper City, a suburb north of Miami, and several of the alleged meetings with the FBI agents took place in Miami, according to the indictment. Ternus was already in U.S. custody on a visa fraud charge. His lawyer in that case didn't immediately respond Friday to an e-mail seeking comment.

According to the indictment, Ternus first met with the FBI agents in October to begin negotiations for the sale of the paintings. Those talks continued for several months in Miami and other locations, including Barcelona, Spain.

The visa fraud charge involves Ternus' alleged failure to admit on a visa application that he had been arrested in the past. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents later determined that Ternus has been arrested at least seven times in France, accused of crimes ranging from breaking and entering to robbery to assault with a deadly weapon, according to court documents.

Art Hostage comments:


This Bernard Ternus guy was waiting on the cellphone in Florida pokey as FBI Icon Robert Wittman and French police swooped on the car that contained the stolen art in the South of France.

A slight whiff of a deal perhaps, ??????????????

The Informant is about to be outed, no not by Richard Armitage, someone else will get the Plame !!!!!!

More to come..............................................................

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, What Really Happened, Well Nearly !!

Art Hostage has been busy consulting many people regarding the Gardner Heist recently and here is what I have found.

A contact reveals that on the night of the actual Gardner Heist one of the security guards recognised a robber as non-other than David Turner. Fearing for his life the security guard did not reveal this to the FBI, but did confide this to another security guard who worked at the Gardner Museum.

The Grand Jury that met last fall:

interviewed some of the guards from the Gardner museum and it is still unclear if any revealed the knowledge of recognising David Turner as one of the robbers.

Apparently one of the security guards who was working at the Gardner museum on the night of the Gardner heist died in Paris under mysterious circumstances several year ago.

Post Gardner heist, David Turner was said to have sold some of the Gardner paintings to Joe Murray, who tried to use those Gardner paintings to have his longtime Staunch Irish Republican friend Dominic McGlinchey released from Jail.

The lesser valued stolen Gardner works of art were held back by David Turner and have been floating around David Turner's close circle ever since. These are supposedly several of the drawings taken from the Gardner museum.

Now the world and his wife have been looking for the elusive Gardner paintings and the recent coverage has put some of the David Turner gang held stolen Gardner paintings in play.

Enquiries have been made by Mr Frank Salemme as to the whereabouts of the stolen Gardner art and the results should be known by July 15th 2008.

As for the whereabouts of the Vermeer, well all indications it is, to some extent being controlled from Ireland as well as from America within certain Irish Republican circles.

However, there are also reports the Vermeer has been used as collateral against some drug deals that were intercepted and there is now an outstanding balance owed to the Underworld.

That was not the case last year when the Vermeer was free from Underworld debt and was offered back to authorities, who refused point blank, again to give any concessions.

As it stands there are two offers on the table for the return of the Gardner art.

First from Anthony Amore, head of security at the Gardner Museum, who will endeavour to pay the reward offered. However, this is fraught with danger for obvious reasons, although I am sure Anthony Amore could allay those fears with his own indomitable style.

Boston 6172785114
Ssh, Anthony Amore is so keen to recover the Gardner art he will make sure the art is recovered before telling anyone, and I mean anyone !!!

Second is the offer by Frank Salemme, of quietly paying a reward, out of his own pocket, quietly and discreetly, before Frank Salemme arranges for the stolen Gardner art to be placed in a Catholic Church confession box as a symbol of absolution.

For this act Frank Salemme gets released on July 15th 2008 instead of early 2009.

So, wherever the Gardner art is held hostage, the rightful way to recovery is to place the art in a Catholic Church Confession box and any subsequent credit, reward is given post recovery.

As for the Vermeer, still waiting, still hoping for a Catholic Church Confession box recovery !!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen Gardner Art Recovered by July 15th 2008, Mr Frank Salemme goes home July 15th 2008 !!

Former Mafia boss Cadillac Frank pleads guilty

Former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme pleaded guilty today to lying and obstruction of justice as part of a deal that may allow him to be released from prison by the end of January.

Salemme wore a charcoal-colored suit and a blue tie in US District Court this afternoon and took no chances as he formally entered his plea. He had mistakenly told Judge Richard Stearns that he was already 75 years old, and made it clear he did not want to be accused again of making a false statement.

“I want to make one correction,” Salemme said. “I won’t be 75 until Aug. 18th. Anything can happen, your honor.”

Stearns scheduled sentencing for July 15. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have both recommended that he serve five years in prison. With credit for the time he has served since his arrest on the charges in November 2004, plus earned good time, Salemme could be released by the end of January, prosecutors said.

Salemme pleaded guilty to a two-count indictment that charged him with making false statements and obstruction of justice after he began cooperating with investigators in 1999 in a probe into the FBI’s corrupt handling of longtime informants James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Salemme admitted he misled investigators when questioned about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

However, Salemme did not admit to allegations in the indictment that he watched his son, Frank, strangle DiSarro, then helped him dispose of the body. The younger Salemme died two years later of lymphoma. DiSarro’s remains have never been found.

A plea agreement signed by Salemme and filed with the court today says that he “denies any responsibility for the disappearance and presumed murder” of DiSarro. One of his lawyers, Steven C. Boozang, told the Globe in February that his client, “100 percent denies any involvement in DiSarro’s disappearance and presumed murder.”

Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly said today that prosecutors were prepared to prove at trial that the defendant was present at the killing. The plea deal did not require Salemme to admit to each allegation in the indictment.

Stearns does not have to follow the recommendations to sentence Salemme to five years. Under federal guidelines, which are advisory, Salemme faces a sentence ranging from 51 to 63 months.

Salemme was indicted on racketeering charges in 1995, along with Bulger and Flemmi, then began cooperating with the government after learning Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants who had given authorities information about local Mafia leaders, including him. He pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion charges and admitted participating in eight gangland murders in the 1960s.
Art Hostage comments:
The Feds drive a very hard bargain.

Part of this plea deal was Frank Salemme using his influence to recover some of the stolen Gardner art, sadly not the Vermeer.

Now sentencing was due on April 14th 2008 but put back by Judge Richard Stearns until July 15th 2008 to see if the stolen Gardner art is recovered.

Both Defence and prosecution have agreed on 5 years jail time, with time served means Frank goes home in January or February 2009.

However, Art Hostage would like to point out that if indeed Frank can use his influence and some of the Gardner art is recovered before July 15th 2008, would it be such a blow to allow Mr Frank Salemme to walk from court on July 15th 2008, would this act by Judge Richard Stearns be acceptable ?

Art Hostage firmly thinks Frank Salemme should be allowed to walk free from court July 15th 2008 as long as all the stolen Gardner art Frank can influence is recovered, after all it is only another six months off what has already been agreed by both Defence and prosecution.

Whilst all this is good news for the Gardner Museum and art lovers around the world, Art Hostage has some troubling news on an even bigger Art Heist that could be in the making.

Some Philadelphia wiseguys whilst discussing the Gardner art case focused their attention on the Barnes collection in Merion Philadelphia, it seems that these wiseguys have an inside contact, or a wannabe wiseguy has an inside contact at the Barnes collection, or closely associated to the Barnes collection. That source has said the Barnes can be robbed given the right inside information.

However, and this is important, the Philly wiseguys don't want to take this to Uncle Joe Ligambi because he will certainly deny permission to rob the Barnes collection.

Uncle Joe has worked tirelessly in the recent past to reinvigorate the Philly family and has kept a very low profile. A Gardner style heist at the Barnes collection would so undermine Uncle Joe and would cause so much FBI attention, the spotlight would be back on big time towards the Philly family.

An alternative being considered by the renegade Philly wiseguys is a Modus Vivendi with elements associated to the Providence Rhode Island family.

The Barnes Heist could be an even bigger art heist than the Gardner Heist, with Cezanne's Card Players as the main target.

Time for Uncle Joe Ligambi to rein in these over zealous Philly young guns and give them a historic lesson in staying below the Feds Radar, it will not be the first time Uncle Joe has had to step in and calm down some eager Philly family members. Not a August birthday present Uncle Joe would relish.

It has also been suggested that a raid on the Barnes Collection could serve as insurance against any Gardner art hand back deal not being honoured.

Enough already with the Barnes Collection Heist talk, just get the Gardner art recovered and lets see Frank Salemme go home on July 15th 2008.

Memo to FBI Icon Robert Wittman:

Another Wittman moment last Wednesday in France hey Bob !!

Now you have just got back to Philly, sort this Barnes stuff out, and a new security review is in order.

O'h and the disgruntled inside person at the Barnes, it shouldn't be too difficult to track them down.

Looks like the Barnes Collection is going to be on "Lock-Down" for a while.

Memo to those thinking of robbing the Barnes Collection:

You could have been caught in the act and sentenced to 25-life for the Barnes heist, in time you may be grateful to Art Hostage, rather than be angry.

There are plenty of things to do that steers clear of high value art theft, especially if the art is on public view in Museums, that if stolen, really gets the public and authorities pissed, and more importantly, focuses the spotlight on family business !!!

Finally, the Art Hostage Catholic Church Confession box remains the most suitable place for the stolen Gardner art to be discovered, symbolism of absolution and all that, got it !!!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Monday, Newby Tuesday !!

Art Hostage has learnt that the one of the Lowry's taken in a violent armed raid is about to be handed back as a sign of goodwill, hope it is "The Viaduct", all part of a plea deal as the robbers seem to be breaking rank.

Art Hostage would like to think Lowry Monday will be followed by Newby table Tuesday !!

Anniversaries always bring fresh hope !!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, FBI Sting Recovers Stolen Paintings Taken, France, August 2007 !!

French police recover four priceless works nabbed in 2007
3 days ago

MARSEILLE, France (AFP) — Two Bruegels, a Sisley and a Monet snatched from a French Riviera museum last year have been recovered and several people detained, French judicial sources said Wednesday.

The sources said the paintings had been found in Marseille and around 10 people detained.

The four priceless works were robbed in a brazen afternoon heist in Nice last August by a group of men who entered the Beaux-Arts Jules Cheret museum on a Sunday afternoon, when entry was free for the public.

The oil paintings include "Falaises pres de Dieppe," (Cliffs near Dieppe) painted by Monet in 1897 and Sisley's "Allee de peupliers de Moret" (The lane of poplars at Moret) dating back to 1980.

The two stolen works of Jan Breugel, a Flemish Baroque era painter who lived between 1568 and 1625, were "Allegorie de l'eau" (Allegory of Water) and "Allegorie de la terre" (Allegory of Earth).

Art Hostage comments:
So, anyway, a few months ago the FBI got a call about an American making a play for the stolen four priceless paintings taken in an armed raid in the South of France last August.

Not ones to allow the grass to grow beneath them, the FBI Art Crime Team pass this information to Paris and the sting commences. True value is many millions, not the low estimate advertised. $10-$20 million.

Now, the American buyer is waiting in Florida, his representative has arranged for a viewing of the painting's and wham, bam, thank-you Mam, the French police move in and recover the paintings, whilst at the same time arrests are made elsewhere and another notch is carved on the FBI Art Crime Team bedpost. Which part did Bob Wittman play, tell you later...

Now, those who try and sell stolen artworks via the underworld are fair game, those who desire the return of stolen art should be allowed to do so in a "Fetch and collect" manner.

I mean, the stolen artworks that are going to be returned should be placed in a safe location, untraceable, and the authorities should be informed of the location, then fetch and collect.

Any agreement made before the recovery should be addressed post-fetch and collect.

Art Hostage will say again, "A Catholic Church Confession box is just the place, untraceable, for the stolen Gardner Art to be placed for a "Fetch and Collect"

The olive branch was chosen by God to give Noah the news of the end of the flood. Since then it has been considered a symbol of absolution, therefore the placing of the stolen Gardner art in a Catholic Church Confession box will signal the end of the nightmare for the Gardner Museum and art lovers around the world.

The Symbolism of Absolution will be an attractive proposition for some !!

To be continued............................

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen Gardner Art in London Deposit Box Centre Raid, What Was I Flinking !!!

Police hope to lift lid on crime proceeds in safe deposit raids·

Saturday June 7 2008

Three vaults sealed off and boxes examined
· Directors arrested on suspicion of laundering

The Yorkshire-based property millionaire stepped out of his Mayfair house on
Wednesday morning and strolled down Park Lane to pick up some petty cash.

Normally the procedure would be simple, if highly security-conscious. A few
months ago he rented a safe deposit box at a business tucked away in a side street behind the Grosvenor House and Dorchester hotels. The service cost just over £300 a year. The box was little bigger than a laptop and inside was £40,000. He had provided ID, proof of his address and a palm recognition print for a hand-reading machine. In return he got two keys, two numbered codes and a swipe card that would finally give him access through the steel doors to "cages" where the boxes were stored.

But when he turned the corner into Park Street he found a police crime scene
tape and an officer carrying a Heckler & Koch machine gun. Park Lane Safe Deposit Ltd was off limits. The raid that closed it down — and two others in Hampstead and Edgware owned by the same people — had been planned for eight months with 300 officers, sniffer dogs and enough firepower to start a small war. The Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner John Yates said it was an "unprecedented operation". Each of the 7,000 boxes would be treated as a potential crime scene. Suspected offences involved ran the gamut of organised crime: drugs, human trafficking, prostitution, fraud, firearms and money laundering. Many of the boxes may have been rented with false identities.

Forty-eight hours after the police went in, they revealed some of their findings: £14m in cash, a firearm, counterfeit currency, passports, chequebooks and credit cards, a substantial amount of high value
jewellery and four paintings — three landscapes and still lives in the 17th century Dutch style and a 20th century Russian portrait. At the Hampstead centre, an Edwardian redbrick mansion block on Finchley Road, two police trucks were filled with crates yesterday. Police believe the total value will be in tens of millions.

It doesn't take an inspector Poirot to work out that safe deposit centres might
be an ideal place to hide the proceeds of crime. Traditionally no questions
have been asked and ID was not always required. It has even been possible to rent a walk-in room for larger items — the odd Gainsborough, perhaps, or suitcases of swag. There was no regulatory framework until December last year when the 2007 money laundering regulations brought safe deposit businesses under supervision of the Financial Services Authority. Like banks, owners would have to "know their customer" and report any suspicious activity. The 10 safe deposit companies in London — and the two in Manchester and Birmingham — are required to register with the FSA by June 15. At the time of the raids a search of the register showed no results for the parent company of the three vaults, Safe Deposit Centres Ltd. The FSA said an application could be pending.

Detectives have stressed that their main targets are criminals who may have
used the centres for proceeds of crime. But they also arrested three directors of the safe deposit firm on suspicion of money laundering. By Thursday morning Milton Woolf, 52, Jacqueline Swann, 44, and Leslie Sieff, 60, were released on police bail, to return early in September. Company records show that the business was set up as Hampstead Safe Deposit Vaults in 1983
by Sieff, an accountant from Port Elizabeth in South Africa who became a British citizen. With his wife Jill he also runs the Hampstead School of English in the same mansion block as the vaults. Sieff was joined in the business by Milton Woolf, 52, another South African expatriate.

Although hundreds of innocent box owners have been calling the special police centre to claim their belongings, others may be trying to cover their tracks.

After the prolific Italian robber Valerio Viccei raided the Knightsbridge safe
deposit centre in 1987, around 30 of more than 120 owners never came forward.

"I'm sure they have all got a story to tell," said the detective in charge of the case. The raids of 2008 will undoubtedly reveal many more.

Art Hostage comments:

Would it be too much to ask that one of the Landscape's found is the stolen Flink from the Gardner Museum, in a box registered to Jean Marie Messier ???

Unfortunately, I think these three are Still Life paintings, with a bit of landscape in the background and may not be stolen, but housed for security.

Could be wrong and there is still hope of other stolen artworks being discovered in the remaining deposit boxes yet to be opened.

Seems to be a "Lull before the Storm" in the Gardner art recovery efforts, if you excuse the pun.

Things are being considered and decisions may be imminent.

Was also hoping the Newby Table may have been housed in one of the Walk-in size deposit boxes.

Maybe some good news for Graff's, their stolen diamonds are in there somewhere.

Amongst this current cluster of high value stolen art recoveries, the Gardner art still remains elusive, hope springs eternal !!!


Apparently, security agencies such as the C.I.A., MI5/6 and others have also been using these deposit centres to stash slush fund money amongst other things.

Also there is rumoured to be certain govt documents stashed by potential whistle blowers and tapes of Govt ministers being compromised.

If the Police are allowed to, then expect some sensational headlines over the coming months relating to things other than Organised crime, political intrigue of the highest nature.

Stolen Gardner art in London Deposit box centre raid, what was I Flinking !!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Underworld hands back Bernadino Luini via Patsy Dealer !!

Stolen painting found in antique shop

A RENAISSANCE painting by Bernadino Luini, an Italian painter in Leonardo da Vinci’s circle, that was stolen from a Welsh church has been found, it emerged today.

The painting, Depicting Jesus Teaching by Bernadino Luini, a renowned Renaissance artist, was stolen from St Peter's Church Chancel in Evenjobb, near Presteigne.

The 500-year-old work of art had been a centrepiece in the chancel of the Presteigne church for more than a century.

The oil painting believed to be worth thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, has been found in an antique shop, a source from the Church in Wales said today.

One of the artist’s most famous paintings, The Executioner Presents John The Baptist’s Head to Herod, is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, one of the oldest and well known art museums in the world, where most major Italian artists are represented.

Luini’s was one of the most prominent followers in Lombardy of Leonardo Da Vinci, whose painting, the Mona Lisa, is arguably the most famous masterpiece of all time.

Art Hostage comments:

The stolen Luini painting has been handed back via an underworld friendly Antiques dealer, who will say he bought it off a man who "walks with a lisp and talks with a limp !! "

What the Underworld has received is still unclear.

What is clear, is the Painting will not be returned to the church, but it will be sold and a copy will take it's place in the church.

So, although the painting has been handed back, the church-goers will not have the chance to enjoy it, as the value will prevent it's public display.

The Church will get some of the money, with the rest going to Head Office.

More to come........

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Iconic Stolen Art found, London Deposit Box Raid, Harry Hyams, Lord Rothschild,Graff's, Harry Winston, America Holds their Breath !!

Security box raids: art and £16 million seized
Police have seized Renaissance artworks, £16 million cash, expensive jewellery and a gun after an unprecedented raid on concrete vaults holding 7,000 safety deposit boxes.

Scotland Yard believe the operation may unlock clues to every layer of serious crime in Britain - including murders, shootings, drug trafficking, fraud and paedophile gangs.

After two days of prizing open the boxes, police confirmed that the growing haul included several paintings. They are investigating whether they are stolen, or possibly forged.

Officers also found sheets of "uncut" counterfeit currency.

More than 300 officers and staff were involved in simultaneous raids at three depots in London's Park Lane, Hampstead and Edgware on Monday.

It is believed that a top tier of criminal masterminds may have rented out "the majority'' of the boxes from the company - Safe Deposit Centres Ltd - which has been operating for more than 20 years.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates, of the Metropolitan Police, said: "Each box will be treated as a crime scene in its own right.''

It is believed a potential £1 billion treasure trove of cash, drugs, artwork and stolen jewellery may be uncovered in the raids, codenamed Operation Rize.

Although police do not know how many of the £100-a-year boxes are being rented, detectives suspect that up to 90 per cent of them being used may hold criminal assets.

Commander Allan Gibson, Head of Economic and Specialist crime directorate said: "Operation Rize is a huge undertaking and we are still in an early phase of the enquiry.

"Search teams have been working around the clock to open all the boxes at the location and are progressing well, although we are likely to remain at the locations for some time yet. This is a complex and unique investigation that will use all of the expertise within the economic crime command and the findings are within our expectations at this stage.

"I am confident that this operation will have a damaging impact on organised crime in London and around the rest of the country."

Two directors of the company, Jacqueline Swan, 44, who was arrested at the Mayfair address, and Leslie Sieff, 60, who was detained in Hampstead, north-west London, have been bailed as the investigation continues.

Police said that a specially set up call centre has received a large number of calls from the public seeking the return of their property, which they claim is legally held and stored legitimately.

The number for members of the public who legitimately store property at the business is freephone 0800 030 4613.

Art Hostage comments:

When the U.S. Cavalry wanted to to find the Indians they used Indian trackers, in this case a top Underworld Godfather has dealt a blow to the global Criminal Underworld that will be remembered for years to come.
The legalities of this raid may be called into question but the resulting discoveries will far out way any legal oversight.
What will the Underworld Godfather who set this whole thing up receive....more later !!!
Although some stolen iconic art has already been discovered, Harry Hyams, Lord Rothschild's heart rate has increased, Graff's, Harry Winston on standby, this was known before the Police raided the deposit building, this was also used to obtain the warrants, much more is still locked away in boxes not yet opened.

The Police needed an "in" and stolen art was the intelligence.

More is coming in, funny enough from America !!

France, they recover stolen paintings taken last August , Britain, Manchester, Police charge a man with the violent Lowry theft, although no recoveries yet, this art recovery from London,above,
Please, please don't let the Gardner Museum be the Cinderella again !!!!!!!!!

The Gardner Museum shall go to the stolen art recovery Ball, arrests not needed !!