Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Friday, October 02, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pebble Beach Stolen Art Mystery, Time For the Big Guns, Robert Wittman and the L.A. FBI Art Crime Team !!!

Website for Retired FBI Icon Robert Wittman:
Owners of Stolen Art Question Law Enforcements Actions
PEBBLE BEACH -- The victims in last week's big Pebble Beach art heist and the Monterey County Sheriff's Office both said Thursday they were done talking about the case -- for the time being.

But they didn't fall silent before taking pokes at each other.

In a statement, Angelo Amadio and Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, who claim they lost up to $80 million worth of artwork in a Sept. 25 burglary at their rented Sunridge Road home, said they wouldn't do further press interviews or make statements about the case because of "concern that the investigation process could be adversely affected."

The Sheriff's Office said in a press release that it would not comment on the reported art theft until a press conference early next week.

Amadio and Kennaugh, business partners in a number of ventures, put out the first press release outlining the alleged burglary Sunday. They said they had lost 13 valuable pieces of art, including works by Rembrandt, Renoir, Van Gogh and Jackson Pollock, in an afternoon burglary at the Pebble Beach residence.

They initially put the value of the missing artwork at $27 million. By mid-week, after they said they were able to inventory their collection, the number of missing pieces grew to about 30, with a total value of $60 million to $80 million.

In their statement Thursday, the men said questions had arisen about "the delayed response of local law enforcement in Monterey County." They said the Sheriff's Office took the burglary report about 7 p.m. the day it happened, but did not send fingerprint technicians and detectives to the home until Tuesday.

Their statement said an extortion note that contained a demand for money and threats to kill them was found at the scene "by the officers present."

That contradicts information previously released by the Sheriff's Office, which said the purported extortion note was turned over to investigators after Amadio told the press about it.

"The Sheriff's Office is concerned about statements and information released by others compromising the integrity of the investigation," its press release said.

Sheriff's spokesman Cmdr. Mike Richards said he couldn't comment on the investigation.

In their statement, Amadio and Kennaugh said they appreciated media coverage of the burglary and said "some valuable tips have been provided to law enforcement officials."

The men said their collection of some 300 pieces of art had been shipped to the Pebble Beach home from Boston where they had operated a wholesale art business for about 10 years. They said most of the pieces were uninsured.

They said the most valuable piece, a Jackson Pollock painting they obtained in 2001, had never been publicly shown and could be worth more than $20 million.
Art theft victims aim to set record straight
Extortion note discovered by associate, not police, collector says
The men who say they lost tens of millions of dollars worth of fine art in a Pebble Beach home burglary sought Friday to patch a rift with the county Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile, a Sheriff's Office spokesman said the investigation into the large-scale art heist could lead to unrelated criminal charges.

An attorney for Angelo Amadio and Dr. Ralph Kennaugh clarified a dispute over who discovered a purported extortion note that was found at the Sunridge Road house earlier this week.

On Thursday, the men claimed that deputies "at the scene" found the note, which reportedly included a demand for money and death threats, while they were processing the scene Tuesday.

In a "correction" released Friday, they say the note "was discovered by one of Mr. Amadio's associates who was present."

The Sheriff's Office maintains the note was turned over to investigators after it was found in the house.

Amadio and Kennaugh say their rented house was burglarized Sept. 25 and that up to $80million worth of artwork from an extensive collection was taken, including works by Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt, Miro and Renoir.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Cmdr. Mike Richards said, "Basically my only comment is that we're glad Mr. Amadio has corrected one of the errors."

The two men, who say their art collection was shipped to the Pebble Beach home over the past two months, earlier criticized the Sheriff's Office for not sending investigators and evidence technicians to the home until four days after the reported break-in.
Richards said deputies continue to investigate the reported burglary, in which the men say they not only lost up to $100million worth of art, but a computer and $3,100 in cash.

"We are also exploring other possibilities and motivations which may or may not culminate in unrelated or related criminal charges," he said.

Richards declined to elaborate, citing the Sheriff's Office's decision to "maintain silence" about the ongoing investigation.

He said a news conference about the case will be held early next week.
Art Hostage Comments:

Those who read this blog and the Art Hostage blog will know Art Hostage has some informed opinions on global art theft, based upon a unblemished 15 year career in trafficking stolen art around the world and eight years M.A. and B.A. (Hons) University education.

So, the advice to the victims and local Law Enforcement from Art Hostage is take a deep breath and a step back.

Art Hostage does not apportion blame to either local Law Enforcement or to the victims.

Neither side were prepared for this huge art heist and neither side should be expected to take the heavy burden of investigating this tragic, specialised crime.

The investigation should now be co-ordinated between the L.A. FBI Art Crime Team and from the private sector Robert Wittman, who has retired from being the FBI Art Crime Team Guru.

Robert Wittman can be contacted here:

Robert Wittman brings to the table 30 years experience as an FBI Agent of distinction and was the Founding Father of the FBI Art Crime Team.

Robert Wittman also has the distinction of being a genuine art lover and his first concern, especially as he is now in the private sector, is the recovery of the stolen art.

However, since retiring FBI Icon Robert Wittman now brings to the table a pragmatism that means he is fully able to negotiate as well as investigate art crimes.

The whole process of recovering stolen art is a minefield littered with those who think they can act alone, be that from Law Enforcement or the private sector.

There are mechanisms which can see stolen art recovered and payments made without breaking the law and to the satisfaction of the victims, insurers and Law Enforcement.

The problem has always been to get agreement and getting all sides on board.

Until Robert Wittman retired most attempts to broker an acceptable deal had been a "Bridge to Nowhere" in recent times.

The Pebble Beach art theft is a Golden opportunity to demonstrate this new found pragmatism and show that with a little ingenuity the retention of Robert Wittman can be the key to a quick resolution to this and many other historic art theft cases.

All the while local Law Enforcement and the victims are competing for the headlines and playing a game of one-upmanship,*** ******* will not release findings that will speed up the investigation.

Art Hostage, whilst his attention is firmly fixed on California, he also has an eye cast on the past and East from Pebble Beach towards the East Coast.

Revelations could give juicy headlines, but do not serve to recover the art.

When the L.A. FBI Art Crime Team take over the criminal investigation and Robert Wittman takes over the private investigation, that is the time when the art will be recovered, unless someone breaks cover beforehand.
Cracks are starting to appear, how long can the Dam hold ???

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