Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pebble Beach Art Theft, Double Bubble, Toil and Trouble !!!

More art reported stolen during Pebble Beach heist

Inventory reveals 25 to 30 missing pieces with combined worth of $60 million to $80 million

Last week's big Pebble Beach art heist got bigger Tuesday.
A spokesman for two business partners renting a home in Pebble Beach who reported that 13 pieces of art worth $27 million were taken in a Friday burglary said the number of missing pieces has doubled as the victims inventoried their losses.

Chris Marohn, spokesman for Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, a retired Boston radiation oncologist, and business partner Angelo Benjamin Amadio said the inventory was about 75 percent complete, and the number of missing pieces stands at 25 to 30 with a combined worth of between $60 million and $80 million.

The victims said the artwork was shipped to their Sunridge Road home about two months ago as they made plans to buy land and build in Carmel Highlands. Artwork was missing from the garage and the main house at the residence, Marohn said.

In their original report, the victims said the stolen pieces, which included works by Miro, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, were worth about $27 million. Some of the items were insured, but most were not, Marohn said.

Amadio previously said they had not insured the pieces because it would have cost millions to insure the extensive collection. Marohn said Tuesday the men have contacted their insurance company and put in claims, but he wouldn't say for how much.

On Monday, the art collectors offered rewards of $1 million for the return of their artwork and $5 million for information leading to arrests and prosecutions of people

involved in the alleged theft.
Amadio said he thought the thieves were professional art thieves who knew about their collection and most likely had customers lined up in the art world's black market. The two men assembled the collection during the early part of the decade when they had a Boston gallery, he said.

Marohn said, "We have received a couple phone calls, and we have forwarded those phone calls to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office. I have no idea how promising they look."

He said the art theft was reported to the FBI, which advised the victims to contact Interpol and private investigators.

FBI offices in San Francisco and Watsonville didn't respond to phone messages from The Herald.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. Mike Richards said early Tuesday that deputies were at the Pebble Beach home "working on the scene." He said there were reports a window was pried open to gain access to the home.

"We're treating it at face value on what was reported to us," he said.

Later in the day, Richards said, "We have nothing new to report, but the investigation is progressing."

Marohn said Amadio and Kennaugh "don't believe they will ever see" the stolen items again. Other pieces in their collection were being transferred to a secure location Tuesday, he said.

He said the victims remain at the house, but are scouting for other locations on the Central Coast.

Amadio is the president of a recently incorporated investment company that he said specializes in high-value assets, including property, artwork and gems.

In an e-mail Monday, he said the two men hoped to start an auto museum in the Monterey area within a few years and display much of their artwork there.

Marohn said people who knew the men through their gallery have expressed concern about the massive theft. Others have been less kind, he said, saying, "It's our fault."

He said Amadio and Kennaugh's main goal was to alert police and the media "to get the word out that we want it back."

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or
Art Hostage Comments:

I realise I shouldn't strut, but this case is about to be cracked !!!!!
O'h, the ransom note, that's old news, keep up !!
Better be quick if you want a piece of the reward.
Just like an episode of Columbo, Art Hostage has solved this case in 60 minutes !!
Expect one or more of these stolen artworks to mysteriously turn up shortly and that will be followed by the disclosure one of the victims has secretly paid a ransom and recovered some of the stolen art without Police involvement.
That will be followed by a potential prosecution of both victims for paying the ransom.
In the meantime the thieves identity is known to the Police but they cannot recover the rest of the stolen art and have no direct evidence against the thieves or who organised the theft.
Then the delicate negotiations commence to make an Art Hostage, arrest free, ransom free, recovery.
Contact Art Hostage:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pebble Beach $27 million Art Heist, Update, Revised, $67 million Value, $6 million Reward Offer !!!

Big art theft reported in Pebble Beach

The Monterey County Herald

Updated: 09/28/2009 11:08:42 AM PDT

Two Pebble Beach residents say $27 million worth of art work, including works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, were stolen Friday from their Sunridge Road residence.
A. Benjamin Amadio said he and his housemate, Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, a retired Harvard medical professor, returned home about 6:50 p.m. Friday to find 13 pieces and other items stolen.

He said they reported the theft to the Monterey County Sheriff's Office, and he expects the FBI will also work the major art-theft case.

They have offered a $1 million reward for a return of all the pieces.

He said they have been renting the residence where the pieces were stored for a couple of months while preparing to build in Carmel Highlands.

Amadio said he suspects whoever took the pieces knew them and of their collection.

"The knew exactly what we had. We believe they were professional art thieves," Amadio said today. He said he is an entrepreneur who deals in assets such as property, gems and art work.

The stolen works were in the men's personal collection, he said.

The missing pieces include three by G.H. Rothe, one by Pollock, one by Matisse, four by Miro, two by Rembrandt, one by Renoir and one by Van Gogh, they said.
Art Hostage Comments:
Sorrow !!!!!
It now appears the value of the stolen art has been increased to around $67 million, with the Jackson Pollack being the most valuable at $30-$60 million.
Mr Amadio and Mr Kennaugh have sincerely offered a reward of $1 million for the safe return of the art and $5 million for the arrest and conviction of the thieves.
Initial checks made by Art Hostage about Mr Amadio and Mr Kennaugh reveal they are both thoroughly decent, honest, sincere, genuine gentlemen.
However, honourable as it may be, to pay the $1 million for the return of the art no questions asked would be against the law and would leave both Mr Amadio and Mr Kennaugh liable to be prosecuted.
Still, lets not forget this $6 million reward offer is the highest in American history and does expose the $5 million reward offer made for the return of the stolen Gardner art back in 1997 as out of date and out of touch with current market values.
That said, Anthony Amore, Director of security at the Gardner Museum is not one to allow the grass to grow beneath his feet and I am sure he will take on board this latest reward offer of $6 million and perhaps re-evaluate the $5 million reward offer made by the Gardner museum back in 1997.
Art Hostage has for the last two years urged Anthony Amore to consider doubling the Gardner museum reward offer from $5 million to $10 million next March 2010 to mark the 20 years since the Gardner Art Heist.
With this latest reward offer surpassing the Gardner Museum $5 million reward offer of 1997, the time has come to take another look at the Gardner Museum reward offer and adjust accordingly.
Art Hostage has already had many enquires about the Pebble Beach art heist, not least about how to collect the reward. Art Hostage will respond to you all as soon as possible.
Art Hostage is prepared to offer honest opinions and will also give a legal guide on how any reward may be obtained to those seeking a pathway to resolve the Pebble Beach art heist.
Contact Art Hostage at:
More to follow.....................

Stolen Art Watch, Yorkville Gallery Toronto, Latest Victim in Pandemic Art Theft !!!

Thieves take paintings in Yorkville gallery smash-and-grab

Posted: September 28, 2009, 9:43 AM by Rob Roberts

By Megan O'Toole, National Post

A brazen overnight smash-and-grab at an art gallery in Yorkville yesterday netted thieves more than $50,000 in rare paintings.

All three were composed by ailing Quebecois artist Pierre Gauvreau, whose abstract work was on display for a retrospective show at Gallery Gevik that opened the previous day. Mr. Gauvreau's wife and agent, Janine Carreau, was devastated to find out about the theft yesterday afternoon in a phone call with the National Post.

"No, no," Ms. Carreau said from the couple's Montreal home. "This is incredible.... This is very awful. It breaks the show down. These were the most rare pieces."

The Gevik show marked the 30th anniversary of Mr. Gauvreau's first solo exhibition in Toronto in 1979 at the Hazelton Avenue Gallery, the same building that now houses Gevik.

Police say thieves smashed the main window and grabbed the most easily accessible works, including the 32-inch-by-32-inch City in Turmoil (above), an $18,000 acrylic-on-canvas work that was on display in the gallery's front window.

The other two acrylic-on-paper works, each valued at $16,500, were titled Night Stuck Between Daylight and Ballad for John Wayne. All were originals from the early 1980s, and Mr. Gauvreau did not make any copies of the paintings, his wife said.

Gallery owner Phillip Gevik said his alarm went off around 1:30 a.m., and police arrived soon afterward. No one in the area reported hearing or seeing anything suspicious around that time, he said.

The gallery was not equipped with a video camera, Toronto Police Detective Jamie McCormack said, but authorities were planning to check surveillance video from surrounding stores for clues.

This type of burglary has become something of a regular occurrence in Yorkville's high-end art galleries, Det. McCormack said -- and the crime has also been rising throughout Canada.

"Generally these kinds of art thefts of originals go to a specific place; they don't generally end up in dealerships," Det. McCormack said. "They're stolen for a specific person, stolen to order. It's hard to say where they'll end up."

Across the country, art burglary has become more common in recent years as Canadians have gained confidence in the secure investment potential of artworks and cultural artifacts. Authorities have pointed to an increasing number of reports from border officials encountering art crime.

Most art thefts in the country have traditionally been probed simply as stolen property, with only a couple of investigators dedicated exclusively to stolen artworks.

The trio stolen from Gevik were some of the most valuable per square inch in Mr. Gauvreau's collection, Ms. Carreau said. It had been many years since Mr. Gauvreau displayed his work in Toronto, she added, and the pair had initially viewed the opportunity to present another show at the Hazelton site as "a good omen."

Mr. Gauvreau, who has been nicknamed "the born painter," has the craft "in his blood," Ms. Carreau said.

"Painting is very vital. He's a very great painter who has not received the attention, and now it's picking up. He's a great colourist," she said. "The way he renews himself from one painting to another is absolutely amazing."

Mr. Gauvreau has become quite well-known in the artistic community, Mr. Gevik said, calling the retrospective exhibition a "celebration" of his evolution over the past three decades.

"There aren't too many of his paintings out there," Mr. Gevik said. "That's why they're very important."

A note on the gallery's website describes Mr. Gauvreau's "subconscious" approach to painting: "The freshness, the immediacy and the freedom solidified his work as 'avant-garde.' "

One of the three stolen paintings was already on hold for a customer, after only one day of the three-week exhibition, Mr. Gevik said. All three were considered key showcase pieces, and though the exhibition will continue as scheduled until Oct. 16, it will not be the same, he said.

"Those are important paintings. He didn't want to sell them," Mr. Gevik said.

Mr. Gauvreau experienced a similar theft 10 years ago, when thieves broke into a Montreal gallery and stole five of his smaller paintings. The artworks were replaced and the show went on, but none of the stolen pieces were recovered until years later. Two are still missing.

Regardless, Ms. Carreau said, the paintings stolen in 1999 "were nothing compared to these.... These I can't replace. This is the problem."

Mr. Gauvreau's health has been declining in recent years since he suffered a stroke in the mid-1990s, Ms. Carreau said, which is why he could not make the trip to Toronto to attend his exhibition opening on Saturday.

"Although he can do lots of things, he has constant pain," she said. "He doesn't feel the pain when he paints."
Art Hostage Comments;
If there were to be a study of reported property theft worldwide, be it residential or commercial, and those involving art and antiques were to be separated from the rest, the true scale of the global pandemic in art related crime would become apparent.
However, if this were to happen Police might be forced to divert scarce resources towards combating art related crime.
The private sector can take up the slack but that is only in relation to post theft recovery and does nothing towards prevention.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Magritte's Olympia Will Have "Brush With The Law" Shortly !! Vermeer Alert !!!

THIEVES have stolen a painting by Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte in broad daylight from a Brussels museum dedicated to his life and works.

The 1948 nude, entitled Olympia and estimated to be worth up to €3 million ($5.07 million), was stolen by two people, one of them armed.

"Two individuals, one of them Asian - one speaking French, the other English - came into the museum armed with a pistol shortly after it opened" at around 10am local time, curator Andre Garitte said.

"The two men, whose faces weren't covered, forced two or three employees to lie down in the courtyard of the museum," he said. One of the thieves then climbed a glass panel protecting the work from the public and stole it.

A Brussels police spokesman said: "They fled on foot with the painting and left the scene in a car. The investigation is continuing but we have found no trace of the culprits."

The area was being checked for fingerprints, he said.

The museum, in the west of the Belgian capital, is in a house where the painter lived and worked for 24 years, and completed around half of his works.

Apart from paintings, there are about 100 personal objects and documents and can only be visited on request.

The oil painting depicts Magritte's wife Georgette laying with a shell on her stomach and measures 60 by 80 centimetres

Art Hostage Comments:

*+* were employed by * to steal this painting and it is headed your way Charlie !!

Sadly, * wants too many concessions at this stage for a quick recovery, before you get the Sliver Bird home.
Breaking News:
Word is coming through about the possible theft of a Vermeer in the Low Countries.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Art Stings Forced to the Middle East To Succeed !!!!

Three held in Iraqi art 'sting'

The bust of a Sumerian king is among eight stolen antiques recovered in an undercover operation by Iraqi police.

A local army commander said three men were arrested after trying to sell the pieces dating from the Sumerian period which ran from 2000 to 4000 BC.

Major General Abdul Amir al-Zaidi said the arrests were made south-west of Kirkuk.

It is not clear where the items came from but many treasures were looted from museums after the US-led invasion.

Major General al-Zaidi said the men were arrested after attempting to sell one of the artefacts for $160,000 (£98,000) to an undercover intelligence officer.

Fourth man

He said the sting operation took two weeks and was based on information gleaned from local residents.

"The duty of Iraqi army is not only to chase the terrorists but also to protect state treasures," he told reporters.

A fourth man is still being sought by police.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in 2003, robbers stole valuable treasures from the National Museum in Baghdad and other institutions.

The museums held collections from the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian cultures that covered 7,000 years of civilisation in ancient Mesopotamia.

Some items have been recovered but many are still missing.

Art Hostage Comments:

Law Enforcement sting operations are increasingly becoming a rarity in Europe and the U.S. because the Underworld have realised there is no mileage in attempting to hand back stolen art for reward or ransom.

Therefore it is only in countries lagging behind that allows Law Enforcement to successfully sting those in possession of stolen art and antiquities, whilst stolen art thieves and handlers in the West are much more aware of stings.

The conditions attached to any reward offer means unless the person with information becomes a Law Enforcement registered Informant the possibility of getting any money is remote to say the least.

The mysterious buyer of stolen art is almost always an undercover Police officer and history shows that there is a sting in tail of every stolen art recovery.

Those who try to pit themselves against Law Enforcement and end up with no reward, arrested and indicted, only have themselves to blame.

Those who offer proof of life and fail to follow through with a recovery, and then get themselves indicted for demonstrating control of the said stolen artwork also only have themselves to blame.

We can play the reward offer game all day and this panders to the public perception of huge reward payments, but those with control of, or access to, stolen art know full well the dangers in stepping forward.
Art Hostage has had enquires from Libya about the Gardner Art and also old Bernard Ternus continues to try and assist in the Gardner Art recovery.
More to follow..........................

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Absent Friends !!!

High Brow Reminder of Gaping Hole Left by Gardner Art Heist

BOSTON — .After midnight on March 18, 1990, two crooks disguised as cops bluffed their way into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, handcuffed security guards and went to the Dutch Room where they ripped a masterpiece by Vermeer, two by Rembrandt and another by Govaert Flinck from their frames.

Entering that second floor room 17 years later, artist-in-residence Su-Mei Tse saw the still empty frames and sensed "the power of absence."

From that encounter, the Luxembourg-based artist created "Floating Memories," an installation that, like the crime that spawned it, is both intriguing and elusive.

Entering the museum's first-floor gallery, visitors to her multimedia installation will see a slightly raised wooden platform with designs etched into two sides and partially covered by a sumptuous gold silk rug from China.

Making the installation, Tse collaborated with Jean-Lou Majerus who built the platform. Facing the platform, a rectangular screen hangs from a wall at the darkest end of the gallery. Taking up most of the screen, the videotaped image of a record revolves in an endless loop.

Except for a few visitors, the only sound is quiet crackling static as the record wobbles slightly around an unseen spindle.

"Is that it?" a woman asked a male companion.

After they left, a student snuck a photo and wondered aloud, "What more does she want?"

An older couple came in and watched for a few minutes. The man told the woman the image of the spinning record "puts me to sleep." As they were leaving, the woman paused at the gallery's edge and looked again.

Like the theft of 13 priceless works of art, Tse's installation leaves people guessing.

Since art is generally in the eye of the beholder, that's fine.

For one man, a wooden cross suggests the deepest mysteries of faith. For another, it's just two wooden sticks.

The Gardner's Public Relations Director Katherine Armstrong said the peacock pattern embossed into two sides of the platform replicates the designs of the wallpaper in the Dutch Room.

"The platform evokes the empty frames," she said. "The entire work is about loss and memory."

The empty frames are still displayed in the Dutch Room because Gardner's will requires her collection be maintained unchanged.

Tse said she "doesn't want to be too precise" explaining her work. But she said the empty frames "left me with strong feelings."

"For me, those empty frames were like abstract paintings," she said in a recent telephone interview from Luxembourg. "I wanted to explore a certain memory. Maybe there would be a possibility to express an idea, to be more than a visitor."

Tse said the spinning record recalled her earliest childhood memory in her parents' home, which is why the image was filmed from a child's perspective.

"For me, the image of the record is like a landscape looking to the past," she said. "Memory has to do with the power of art when it works over time."

A classically trained cellist, Tse burst onto the international arts scene in 2003 when she won a Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at the 50th Venice Biennale for her first show, "Air Conditioned."

Visitors to the installation might reasonably ask whether they're expected to know all the subtle references to Gardner's collection and the 1990 robbery to appreciate an installation that initially appears willfully enigmatic.

Are they expected to know the pattern carved into the platform resembles the 17th century Italian silk damask that covered the Dutch Room walls in 1990?

Should they be expected to enjoy plumbing Tse's memories? Shouldn't an artist make them feel something?

On the other hand, for nearly 20 years detectives have sifted through all the evidence, testimony and rumors and still haven't solved the crime.

Describing the installation, the Gardner's curator of contemporary art, Pieranna Cavalchini, said, "'Floating Memories' are distant memories that suddenly bubble up to the surface of consciousness, only to recede again. But they are never quite forgotten."

"Su-Mei Tse's installation resonated within the Gardner's collection, particularly in the Dutch Room, where time has come to a complete standstill, while a sense of absence, distant memory and longing fades in and out of every empty frame," she said.

Could Cavalchini be suggesting special kinds of art like unsolved crimes create mysteries that resist deciphering?

After all, the crooks who visited the Dutch Room 19 years ago didn't expect to be caught. Why should Su-Mei Tse?


The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is at 280 The Fenway, Boston. It is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Admission: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for college students with current ID. A $2 discount is offered to adults and seniors when visiting both the Gardner and the Museum of Fine Arts within two days. Admission is free for museum members, children under 18 and everyone named Isabella.

"Floating Memories" runs through Oct. 18.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, a Gallery Talk will be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Gallery talks are free with Gardner After Hours admission.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m., a catalog signing and conversation with Su-Mei Tse and Pieranna Cavalchini will take place followed by a wine reception; $10 general public, $5 members and seniors, free for students.

For more information, call 617-566-1401 or visit

Art Hostage Comments:

It would be easy to dismiss this as an elitist, high brow pastiche.

However, I really think the whole point is to keep the flame burning for the return of the stolen Gardner art.

The sheer magnitude of the Gardner Art Heist means any artistic reflection is welcome and the lack of direct clarity is what makes this installation a wonderful, provocative reminder of the emptiness left by the tragic loss of the Vermeer and Rembrandt's Storm to the world.
For this and other reasons Art Hostage applauds the Gardner Museum.