Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Cezanne Acquittal could Trigger Gardner art Recovery !!

One charge dismissed in art theft case against Watertown lawyer

The Cezanne painting at the middle of the dispute, above.
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff

A federal judge today dismissed one of two charges against a former Watertown lawyer who is on trial for allegedly trying to sell paintings he knew were stolen in one of the largest private art thefts in Massachusetts history.

US Chief District Judge Mark L. Wolf threw out a charge of transportation of stolen property against Robert M. Mardirosian because the transfer of four paintings stolen from a house in the Berkshires in 1978 occurred years later between Switzerland and England, and federal statutes do not apply, said Mardirosian's lawyer, Jeanne M. Kempthorne.

Mardirosian still faces a charge of possessing or concealing stolen property. The case is expected to go to a Boston jury later this afternoon. The trial began a week ago.

Mardirosian allegedly tried to sell millions of dollars worth of paintings, including a major work by Cezanne, that were stolen from Michael Bakwin's house in Stockbridge in 1978. The paintings were allegedly stolen by Mardirosian's law client, David Colvin.

Colvin was shot to death in 1979 but left the seven paintings behind in an office loft owned by Mardirosian, who discovered them in 1980, according to court records.

Mardirosian, who was told by Colvin that the paintings were stolen, did not try to return them, but instead had them stored in Switzerland. In 1999, using a shell company and lawyers, Mardirosian handed over the Cezanne in return for title to the six other, much less valuable paintings, according to records and testimony.

Bakwin testified last week that he considered the agreement extortion. But Mardirosian's lawyers have contended that their client wanted only to collect a finder's fee for the paintings.

Art Hostage comments:

If Mr Mardirosian is found not guilty on the remaining charge this could prove to be a window of opportunity for recovering the stolen Gardner art.

Why, well it means a deal can be brokered and as long as the stolen art is recovered from a neutral place without arrests, Catholic church confession box, claims for the public reward offered, $5 million could follow.

So, whilst a conviction may satisfy some, it could be counter productive in recovering the stolen Gardner art.

O'h and for good measure I am sure Mr Mardirosian would follow up his acquittal by launching his own legal action to recover a fee for the Cezanne recovery.

I feel an Art Hostage plan coming on, September when Bob Wittman has retired, Anthony Amore and Bob Wittman can use this potential acquittal to secure the stolen Gardner art.

A fitting way for Bob Wittman to enter the private sector.
Brazil police recover stolen Picasso print

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian police have recovered a Pablo Picasso print that was stolen with three other valuable artworks from Sao Paulo's Pinacoteca Museum in broad daylight in June.

The print, "Minotaur, Drinker and Women," was found on Friday night at an undisclosed location in the west of Sao Paulo, a spokesman for the city's Public Security Secretariat said on Monday, without providing further details.

The 1933 print by the late Spanish artist was stolen on June 12 by three armed robbers, who calmly strolled into the Pinacoteca Museum in downtown Sao Paulo and held security guards at gunpoint while they completed the heist.

They also made off with another Picasso print, "The Painter and the Model," from 1963, and two famous works by Lasar Segall and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, both prominent Brazilian artists in the 20th century.

The police already recovered those pieces and arrested two suspects.

The robbery marked the second time in less than a year that works by Picasso were stolen from museums in Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city.

In December, his "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch" was snatched from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art along with "The Coffee Worker" by Candido Portinari, another revered Brazilian painter.

Police recovered the paintings and arrested two suspects a few weeks later.

(Reporting by Fernanda Ezabella, Writing by Todd Benson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Art Hostage comments;

Told you it was local.

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