Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Shakespeare Stolen Folio, The Plot Thickens !!
A little bit of referencing has revealed the following;

A story from last year gives a clue to the gang behind the Shakespeare folio theft:

Happy ending for stolen rare book


A RARE book, worth more than £2,000, stolen five years ago from an Alnwick bookshop has been returned home – all the way from America.

George Adams Senior’s 1746 title – Micrographia Illustrata, First Edition – was swiped from Barter Books in 2002 and later taken across the Atlantic to an Alabama antiques store.
But, the store’s owner Axel Hein became suspicious of the Barter Books bandit as he was looking “shifty and changing his story a lot”.

Mr Hein looked on the Antiquarian Booksellers Association website, which notifies browsers of stolen books, and matched the description of the lost book to the one he had seen in his store.
Barter Books had described the book as: “Edges soiled. In need restoration. First four plates are loose and damaged.” Mr Hein subsequently alerted Interpol, the international police organisation.

Barter Books owner Stuart Manley said: “The condition of the book and the way the man acted led Axel to believe that it was our book. He alerted Interpol who then contacted Northumbria Police. Then in June last year, we received a call from the police telling us they had found it.”
The book, which, if in mint condition can fetch up to around £11,000, is one of the earliest books on microscopes and there are only about half a dozen in the world.
Barter Books had placed the title under the “very special books” category in their appeal for its return.

Because of this, Micrographia – along with other titles – was kept in a glass case in the shop.
Stuart said: “There was no damage to the case so he must have distracted a shop assistant and taken the book. The price of the book was £2,200. We didn’t know straight away and we thought it had gone forever at that point. We registered it on the website but we heard nothing for four years.

“To get the book back was an unexpected surprise because we didn’t expect to see it again. It has been all the way to Alabama and back.”

The thief, Paul William Powell, 60, from the Trimdon area of County Durham, subsequently served a year’s probation. Stuart added: “We have already thanked Axel and we are going to send him a $200 cheque – and a copy of the Gazette when it comes out!”

Last Updated: 03 May 2007

Art Hostage comments:

Cannot believe the Harry Potter connection was not made for this good news story.

As Alnwick Castle, the masterpiece of the Northumberland English town of Alnwick, and is the scene of many of Harry Potter's exploits, filmed at the castle, I am sure some of the Harry Potter magic has contributed to this wonderful turn of events and Young Potter's magic must be given credit.

New Comment about truth behind stolen Alnwick book recovery

Well my dear friends I appreciate being linked to Harry Potter. Now the truth about the return of the book.

Interpol had very little to do with the recovery of the book.

The FBI and US Customs are responsible. Mr Powell was not convicted on the book because no one from the UK side would identify the book and testify for the US gov.

Mr Powell was convicted in the US for smuggling ivory and other items. For this he received 2yrs probation in the US.

The thief Paul William Powell has many more items, books , paintings jewelry in the US; but US authorities can not get the co-operation of UK authorities .

There are probably many more items that were owned by UK citizens but they will never be returned due to the lack of co-operation of UK authorities.

I have never received a thank you from the bookshop. Currently Mr. Powell has filed suit against me in a US court for 3000.00 USD.

I am still in possession of some of the property he brought to this country which are probably also stolen.

But I will not do the research to find the rightful owners.

Alnwck Book shop Has never thanked me in anyway.

Not that it matters ,I would have done that for anyone.But due to the expenses ,I can not continue to spend the time to find the rightful owners of the paintings,art objects and jewelry.brought to America by Mr. Powells little international enterprise.

Food for thought !!

Latest comment throws new light on this Powell chap

Thank you Mr. Manley of Barter Books.

He did as he said he would he did thank me and sent the 200.00 cheque. It is appreciated.I apologize for getting ahead of him.

He is a man of his word and honorable.A large part of the credit for the return of the book also goes to Special Agent Cary Straub of the FBI and Senior Agent James .

Also I was informed today, by another antique dealer that Mr. Powell is back in business trying to import items back into the US. He is currently seeking another patsy in the US.

So dear friends in the UK watch youre belongings and merchandise Powell is on the prowl again!!!
Follow-on from Paul William Powell 2007, Ray Scott 2008:

Art Hostage comments:

Now, Ray Scott 51 the man accused of handling the stolen Shakespeare folio, from above story, and he hails from the same area in England as Paul William Powell 61. Similar age group, both deal in antiques, books etc, both caught in America with stolen artworks/books.

By joining the dots these two are in cahoots and I am certain they know each-other very well.

As I said before the whole Shakespeare folio charade was an attempt to extort money from the University by way of preventing a costly legal action to determine the rightful owners.

Gathering from what has been said about Paul William Powell by the previous comments I declare these two are part of an organised gang that steals and sells stolen artworks/books in the United States of America.

Blimey, better than playing Cluedo !!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Stories and Comments Removed !!

Da Vinci Madonna

To whom it may concern.

Art Hostage would like to offer unreserved apologies.
All Da Vinci Madonna stories and comments have been removed.

Art Hostage has removed all references to the Da Vinci Madonna case and will not be making any further comments until after the trial.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Anthony Amore Unplugged !!!

Art Hostage Interviews Anthony Amore

(1) What is your favourite colour

Anthony Amore: That’s easy: the Azzurro of the Italian national soccer team.

(2) What is your favourite curse word

AA: I have too large a stable to choose from to pick just one.

(3) When you reach Heaven what would you like God to say to you

AA: Anthony, you did your best.

(4) The public reward offer made by the Gardner Museum contains the line “in good condition” can you elaborate on this because some of the stolen Gardner paintings were cut from their frames, therefore their condition could not be described as good.

AA: The Museum’s Board of Trustees is aware that two of the stolen paintings were cut from their frames and were damaged in the process.

This fact was taken into account when the verbiage surrounding the reward offer was crafted and the fact that the paintings were cut from their frames will not adversely affect an individual/s eligibility to cash in on the $5 million reward if the stolen artworks are returned in otherwise good condition.

(5) Can you confirm the amount of stolen artworks from the Gardner museum as there have been indications the list is not completely true, i.e. Eagle was not stolen

AA: I can definitively confirm that thirteen works of art were stolen. The Napoleonic finial which rested atop the flag of Napoleon’s first regiment was indeed among the art objects that were stolen during the heist. Some early newspaper accounts incorrectly stated that twelve pieces were stolen and that reporting error is still perpetuated in articles now and then.

(6) It is common knowledge within the stolen art world, both the Criminal underworld and those who recover stolen art, that Mark Dalrymple and Dick Ellis both met with Gardner Museum Director Anne Hawley and subsequent to those meetings both Mark Dalrymple and Dick Ellis came to the conclusion the reward offer was not sincere, can you please put the record straight once and for all.

AA: If your readers can take away only one message from this interview, it is that Anne Hawley is a woman of the utmost integrity.
For more than 18 years, Hawley has stated publicly that the Museum is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading directly to the recovery of the all 13 pieces in good condition.

She would not make this statement if it were not absolutely true. Further, Anne’s commitment is echoed and fully supported by the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

It also bears mention that the Board of Trustees re-authorized the reward this past November – and all of us at the museum look forward to the day when the stolen artworks are returned to the museum and to an awaiting public where they belong and can make good on the $5 million offer.

(7) To prevent any stings and arrests at the actual recovery of the stolen Gardner art, do you agree a neutral place should be chosen and then authorities, or better still Anthony Amore, is directed to the location to collect the stolen Gardner art?

AA: The museum can ensure confidentiality to anyone with information leading to the recovery of the stolen artworks. My hope is that whoever is in possession of Mrs. Gardner’s art will come forward in a manner that best protects the condition of the artwork.

(8) If you agree with a neutral location to receive the stolen Gardner art, do you also agree a Catholic Church confession box would be ideal, not least because of the symbol of absolution and also because a Catholic church confession box prevents any trace as to who handed back the stolen Gardner art.

AA: In an absolute best case scenario, I believe it best that the art not be moved at all so that the museum’s conservators can handle any movement, thus protecting the art in the best possible manner. In line with this, I would remind those in possession of the art that it should be stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity.

My hope is that an individual/individuals with information that will help us locate the stolen artwork will come forward – and that he or she will come forward in a manner that best protects the condition of the artwork. Again, the museum can ensure complete confidentiality of anyone with information leading to the recovery of the stolen artworks.

(9) Geoff Kelly, lead FBI Agent in charge of the Gardner Heist investigation is clearly a thoroughly decent and honest hardworking FBI Agent, how will the FBI react if they are not included in your recovery of the stolen Gardner art, will they allow it to happen, will they stand aside.

AA: Special Agent Kelly has proven to me that his main concern is the return of all of the art in good condition. The FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office, have given me every reason to believe that they are, as is the museum, seeking a successful resolution to this tragedy, not credit.

(10) There have been many references to Ireland during the Gardner Heist investigation can you confirm your findings

AA: As an open, active investigation, I cannot speak to any specific theories or leads in the case – other than to say that the museum follows each and every lead and encourages anyone with any information about the stolen artworks and/or the investigation–no matter how seemingly small – to contact me, Anthony Amore, Director of Security, directly at 617/278-5114 or .

The museum is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading directly to the recovery of the stolen artworks in good condition, and can ensure confidentiality.

(11) Dick Ellis claims he obtained an immunity agreement from the Boston D.A. in 2002, have you obtained an immunity agreement, if so, would it be possible for Art Hostage to post it on the blog so the public, and those in control of the stolen Gardner art can review it.

AA: Because the matter is in the hands of the Federal government, your question would pertain to an immunity agreement from the United States Attorney for Massachusetts. I have no information about such an agreement, although, I can say that United States Attorney Sullivan has in the past expressed a willingness to grant immunity (depending on the circumstances, of course) in this matter.

(12) We have, and the criminal underworld have, seen the Lawyers and private detectives who handed back the Da Vinci Madonna arrested and indicted, what assurances can you offer to allay the fears of those with the stolen Gardner art they will not suffer the same fate

AA: The Museum’s sole concern is the recovery of all of the art in good condition. The Museum is offering a reward for $5 million for information leading to the recovery of the stolen artworks in good condition – and can ensure confidentiality. Anyone with information about the theft or the location of the stolen artworks can contact the museum – and me directly via or my direct line, 617 278 5114. Matters related to arrests and indictment are the responsibility of Federal law enforcement authorities.

(14) Some people have said over the years they thought the Gardner art was really insured and the $5 million reward offer is coming from the insurance payout, can you confirm whether the Gardner art was really insured, and if not, where has the $5 million reward come from and is it sitting in an account waiting to be paid.

AA: The Gardner art was most definitely not insured. These stolen artworks are invaluable and irreplaceable. The $5 million reward is indeed real, and the Museum is eager to disburse the full $5 million the reward for information that leads directly to the return of the stolen artwork in good condition.

(15) How do you intend to pay the reward, have you obtained permission from the FBI and the Boston D.A. to pay the reward without informing them.

AA: The reward is being offered by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, not the FBI or the D.A. and will be paid by the Museum at its discretion on the receipt of information that leads to the return of all of the stolen artworks in good condition. The reward will be awarded at our discretion.

(16) Do you intend to keep FBI Agent Geoff Kelly informed as to your negotiations, or will you work without a net, so to speak.

AA: Special Agent Kelly has expressed his willingness to support me and the museum’s efforts to recover our art. He respects our working relationship and the museum’s needs to pursue its interests directly

(17) Would you be prepared to recover the stolen Gardner art covertly and face the wrath of law enforcement post-recovery.

AA: I don’t foresee facing “the wrath of law enforcement.” I see law enforcement as an understanding partner in my efforts to recover the Gardner’s stolen artworks – and to return them to the museum, and an awaiting public, where they belong.

(18) Would you be prepared to break the law, even go to jail, in recovering the stolen Gardner art.

AA: Absolutely not.

(19) If you were able to only choose one stolen Gardner painting to recover, which one would that be, Art Hostage would choose the Vermeer.

AA: I am well aware of Art Hostage’s love for the Vermeer, and it speaks to your good taste in art! We at the Museum see all 13 pieces as parts separated from the entirety of Mrs. Gardner’s collective work. She placed each of the thousands of pieces of work in the Museum in an exact location in order to create a larger work of art. With even one piece gone, her work is incomplete.
(20) How do you react to those (Mark Dalrymple) who accuses you of being nothing more than a civil servant pen pusher who has no authority and experience in recovering stolen art.

AA: Mr. Dalrymple and I do not know each other. I’ll assume that this accusation—if truly made—was taken out of context.

(21) Rocky has been working for the Gardner Museum for a few years now and has received payment for his work, how do you react to those (Mark Dalrymple) who say Rocky is just scamming the Gardner Museum without any realistic prospect of recovering any of the stolen artworks.

AA: I cannot confirm that your depiction of Mr. Rokoszynski’s relationship with the Museum is accurate. I can say that I know Mr. Rokoszynski very well. He is an investigator with a record of remarkable success in his distinguished career with Scotland Yard. I trust him and consider him a close friend and valued mentor. In my years of dealing with him, he has acted with honor and integrity. I seek his counsel regularly, and the Museum welcomes his guidance and assistance in our recovery efforts

(22) Finally Anthony, imagine Art Hostage could convince those with the Gardner art to hand the Vermeer back via a Catholic Church confession box, how would they get paid the reward.

AA: I don’t know that it serves the Museum or those in possession of the art well to disclose publicly how the reward would be handled, other than to say that it would be handled legitimately and discreetly. Further, there are myriad ways in which the reward could be paid out, so it is difficult to speak to this with any useful specificity.

(23) Alternatively, lets take it step by step, Anthony could you take us through each step of your proposed recovery of the stolen Gardner art, avoiding arrests and ending with the reward payments made.

AA: Art Hostage, I welcome you to ask me that question again after the recovery!

Thank you for the opportunity to address these important matters – and for the work you do.

Breaking news


Apparently, and it is yet to be confirmed, Charlie Hill or Michel Van Rign have told Interpol, who in turn told the Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto Canada, that Whitey Bulger was holed up at an address in Toronto with the Gardner art in his possession.


Needless to say the Canadian Mounted Police in Toronto raided the address earlier without luck.


Furthermore, the Toronto Canadian Mounted Police arrested a man locally in a diner who turns out not to be Whitey Bulger, so far !!

More to follow.........................................

Update !!!

An ex-colleague of Charlie Hill claims Charlie Hill told Interpol his sources were Mr Sheridan from Essex and Mr McGinley from Letterkenny Ireland on the Toronto location for Whitey Bulger and the Gardner art.

More gossip, sorry, News developing.................................

Stolen Art Watch, Stradivarius is Sound of Music for Von Johnson's !!

Art Hostage has learnt from Otto Von Johnson that old Roddy von Bennigsen, whilst at his London home, suffered a dramatic loss last Friday at his Hanover manor house back in Germany.

On a hit list for some time due the lack of security, the Manor was approached over farmland by thieves driving 4x4's.

A simple lifting of sash windows was all that was needed, no alarms, then once inside the thieves headed for the the prize, a Stradivarius violin.

However, as the thieves were not experts they also took other violins to make sure they got the Stradivarius.

These included violins by Olgemalde and a couple of Silberleuchter's.

The Stradivarius is worth upward of $3million and could be valued at $10 million for insurance.

The other violins are worth a couple of million dollars $2 million.

The thieves left through the window and fled across the fields in the 4x4's, making good their escape.

After a period of being laid down locally the Stradivarius will be offered in the Underworld as collateral before heading to a criminal venture capitalist, who will have a long term investment view.
Perhaps the Balkanisation of these violins initially ??

The Bennigsen Stradivarius joins the Oistrakh, Ames, Lamourex, Davidov-Morini, Colossus, Le Maurien, and Lipinski Stradivarius violins that have been stolen or thought missing as with the Lipinski.

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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Donnie Brasco in Rescue Attempt of FBI Agent on Trial for Murder !!

'Donnie Brasco' refuses to testify in Connolly trial

By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff

MIAMI -- He infiltrated the Mafia for six years as an undercover FBI agent. He wrote a book about it that was turned into a 1997 movie, "Donnie Brasco," starring Johnny Depp. His photo is all over the Internet, most recently on a blog promoting his alleged efforts to solve the 1990 theft of $300 million worth of artwork from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

But today, Joseph D. Pistone, refused to take the witness stand at the state murder trial of his longtime friend, former FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr., because the judge rejected his request for an order prohibiting the media from filming or photographing him as he testified.

Pistone, who was slated to testify for the defense, made it as far as the Miami-Dade county courthouse. He wore large brown-tinted sunglasses as he ate lunch with Connolly's lawyers in a busy cafeteria on the first floor.

Judge Stanford Blake offered to let Pistone take the stand wearing a hat and sunglasses, but defense attorney Manuel L. Casabielle said that wasn't good enough because Pistone had told them that his wife didn't want him to be photographed at all.

Casabielle explained that after Pistone infiltrated New York's Bonanno family in 1976 and helped put away numerous mobsters, the five New York Mafia families had allegedly put a contract on his life.

"He's not in witness protection,'' said Blake, noting that in the decades since he went undercover Pistone has been a very public figure, promoting his two books, appearing on television, and all over the Internet -- his face clearly recognizable.

Holding a recent photograph of Pistone that had been pulled from a website, Blake said, "Unless his disguise was combed back thinning hair and glasses that were so crystal clear you couldn't see them, there does not appear to be any disguise.''

Blake said he just couldn't justify an order barring photographs of Pistone. However, the judge said he would find Pistone in contempt if he refused to comply with a subpoena from the defense seeking his testimony. But, Connolly told the court he didn't want to force Pistone to take the stand.

"He's a friend of mine,'' Connolly told the judge. "His wife is a friend of mine. I know his children. If something happened to him I couldn't live with myself.''

Sixty-eight-year-old Connolly is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the 1982 gangland slaying of Boston business consultant John B. Callahan. Connolly is accused of leaking sensitive information to his longtime informants, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, that prompted them to enlist hitman pal, John Martorano, to kill Callahan.

Callahan's bullet-riddled body was found Aug. 2, 1982 in the trunk of his Cadillac at Miami International Airport.

The defense had planned to call Pistone to talk about the Mafia, FBI informant relationships, and some of his dealings with Connolly.

One night in the mid-1980s, Pistone was introduced to Bulger and Flemmi during a dinner with Connolly at the Peabody home of an FBI agent, according to testimony in earlier court proceedings in Boston.

And after Connolly was convicted of federal racketeering charges in 2002, Pistone wrote a letter to the sentencing judge urging leniency.

"John Connolly should never have been singled out to take the hit for the admitted flawed policies of a government that benefited from his skills, courage and dedication," Pistone wrote.

Connolly is serving a 10-year prison term in that case.

Art Hostage comments:

The blog in question, is of course this one, Stolen Vermeer, see link to original post from March 2008:

The truth of the matter is there was no intention of Joe Pistone giving evidence in the Zip Connolly trial.
It was all a ruse to introduce the name and reputation of Joe Pistone (Donnie Brasco) into proceedings and to try and convince the jury the Undercover work of Zip Connolly can be likened to that of Joe Pistone and therefore the possibility of a conviction beyond reasonable doubt is much harder.

Joe Pistone is aware of his photo being used on the Internet, why he is trying to smoke out the stolen Gardner paintings held in Ireland by offering a Hollywood movie to those who could help recover the Gardner Vermeer and co. "Donnie Brasco goes to Ireland"

Nice try Joe, shame those with the Gardner art have seen through this attempt.

It remains to be seen if this Donnie Brasco charade in the Zip Connolly trial ultimately gets an acquittal.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Stolen Smart Sells Right Under the Noses of Law Enforcement !!

Christie’s sells miniatures stolen from public gallery

The auction house consulted stolen art databases but was not made aware of theft

Martin Bailey and Brook Mason 2.10.08 Issue 195

LONDON. Fourteen stolen portrait miniatures were inadvertently sold in Christie’s King Street saleroom on 10 June, because their loss from a UK public gallery had not been publicised. The works were part of a private collection on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal, Cumbria, two years ago.

Abbot Hall is a grand house built in 1759 which was converted into an art gallery in 1962 to display British art from the 18th century to the present. The theft took place on the evening of 31 August 2006, when thieves broke into the museum and smashed an 18th-century glass-fronted cabinet, stealing 69 English portrait miniatures. The works were on loan from a distinguished local collector, whose family had collected them a century ago.

The theft was not publicised in the press, and the loss was not recorded with the Art Loss Register, which routinely checks catalogues of the major auction houses, including Christie’s. It was, however, registered with Trace, the other main computerised database of stolen art (Trace was bought in 2006 by the company MyThings), but without images. It is not known why neither Abbot Hall nor the police supplied images.

A Christie’s spokesman said: “This catalogue, like all our catalogues, was sent to both the Art Loss Register and Trace, but the stolen items were not picked up.” A Trace spokesman agreed that the miniatures had been registered and the catalogue searched, saying that the matter “is now under investigation with Christie’s”. He suggested that the lack of images from Abbot Hall had caused difficulties.

Fourteen of the 69 miniatures were offered in the Christie’s sale. These included works by John Smart, £25,000 and £30,000 ($45,000 and $54,000); Richard Cosway, £17,500 ($31,500); and Horace Hone, £15,000 ($27,000). It was only after the sale that it was realised the works were stolen.

The Art Newspaper understands that the vendor acquired and offered the works through Christie’s in good faith. The police have traced the miniatures through a chain of several buyers in the intervening two years.

Abbot Hall’s chairman Dr Adam Nailor has told us that they are “optimistic” that all 69 miniatures will now be recovered. This suggests that the others have remained with the Christie’s vendor and that only a small proportion had been put up for sale.

The whole collection had been insured when it was put on display at Abbot Hall. It is expected that the private lender will return the insurance money in exchange for the recovered miniatures.

Art Hostage comments:

Oops, someone dropped the ball here.

To think these highly recognisable miniatures, stolen from a well known country mansion, slipped through the net at a top London auction house should beggar belief today in 2008.

Sadly, there is not a central govt funded database linked to the Police computer data bank that would automatically enter every single art and antiques theft.

If high profile stolen artworks like these can slip through the net, just imagine the lorry loads of stolen art and antiques from residential private houses that are filtered via the trade and auction houses every week.

During the 1970's, 80's and most of the 90's stolen art and antiques, especially "Headache stolen art" recognizable and publicized, could be sold with impunity at auction, mostly first via provincial auction houses who were only too pleased to be able to sell some cream choice high value pieces they would not normally be trusted with, even entered in false names and then payout in cash.

The only stolen art and antiques list was produced by Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad, who would circulate the stolen list to all the dealers. The dealers in turn would check the list and any stolen art and antiques that did not appear would be safe to put through auction.

Then we had Trace around 1990 and the Art Loss register.

Today any stolen art and antiques that are properly reported to the Art Loss Register will normally not appear at auction and will be restricted to being passed around the trade before being sold to an "end user" This "end user" is normally a person who has made allot of money from legitimate business but retains their working class roots.

To this new money the thought of a £100,000 stolen painting hanging on their wall for a price of £10,000 is appealing, even better if it is for £5,000, 5%.

As to them getting caught, well their business may be legitimate and they do not commit any crime other than handling stolen high profile art therefore they would not show up on the radar of law enforcement.

I bet the Police investigation will show the chain of selling these items will lead back to the last one saying they bought them at an antiques fair or market from a man who "Walks with a lisp and talks with a limp !!" a dead end.

More on this subject to follow............