Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Titian Targeted For The Second Time, "Main Course" Art Theft Summer 2009 !!


World Exclusive

Art Hostage has learnt the so called "Main Course" art theft this summer 2009 is to be Titian's "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" first stolen in 1995 and recovered in 2002, which is currently housed in the State Drawing Room at Longlest House, home to the Marquis of Bath.

Back-story:

Stolen £5m Titian found in carrier bag after seven-year hunt


The seven-year hunt for a stolen Titian masterpiece worth more than £5m has ended with the discovery of the painting, safe inside a plastic carrier bag.
The work, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, by the 16th century Venetian master, was taken from the first floor state drawing room of Lord Bath's Longleat estate in Wiltshire in January 1995.

Yesterday it emerged that the painting, which has lost its frame but is otherwise intact, had been discovered in the Greater London area in a plastic shopping bag after a search led by the leading art detective and former Scotland Yard officer Charles Hill, who is now security adviser to the Historic Houses Association.

A £100,000 reward was offered for information leading to its safe return following the theft. But details of what has happened with the reward and the recovery itself have not been revealed until now for what are described as operational reasons. Two years after the theft it was reported that Longleat received a ransom demand for the painting.

Painted on a wooden panel 2ft wide, the picture is one of Titian's most famous and depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus as an infant with Joseph looking on.

It was bought by the 4th Marquess of Bath at auction from Christie's in 1878.

Speaking yesterday, Longleat's general manager Tim Moore said he was delighted the work had been found intact. "It has been a long and difficult process but we are all extremely pleased that the painting is finally safe," he said.

"Mr Hill is the leading expert in his field and he has remained confident throughout that the picture would eventually turn up.

"He was appointed to recover the painting, he has succeeded and we are extremely grateful for all his hard work."

The painting will undergo conservation work before being returned to its country home, but it is not thought to be badly damaged.

Lord Bath, who is in France, was said to be delighted at the news of the painting's safe recovery. He said: "I will wait until I have been able to see it with my own eyes before I get too excited or make any further comments."

Interesting to note, Mark Dalrymple, the Art Loss Adjuster tasked with recovering the Titian was also in France because he could not be seen to be party to the paying of the £100,000 reward when in fact Mark Dalrymple knew full well Charlie Hill was going to buy the Titian back. Mark Dalrymple made sure he was in France so he could look innocent.

2009 Titian Under Threat

Moving onto 2009 and Art Hostage has been watching very carefully the increasing art thefts carried out by the Irish Pink Panthers and learnt there was going to be a spectacular art theft before August 31st 2009.

No details were given until now and Art Hostage felt caught between a rock and a hard place.

How to prevent this theft from happening and protect the Titian in the process.

Should Art Hostage contact Police and warn them ???

No, Police would not react and could try to allow this theft to happen so they can arrest the culprits, therefore putting the Titian in danger of being damaged.

Should Art Hostage contact the Marquis of Bath to warn him ?

No, because the Marquis of Bath will immediately contact Police who will in turn try to paint Art Hostage as being less than honourable.

A dilemma indeed, until Art Hostage took advice from a man who has become an inspiration to Art Hostage.

This man, who I will introduce at a later date, counseled Art Hostage on the virtues of the art and explained it is always the art that must take priority, especially Masterpieces on view to the Public.

Sure the Marquis of Bath is rich and enjoys a lavish lifestyle, but he is just a temporary custodian of the Titian and if the theft went down it would be the public that suffers.

With this in mind Art Hostage has decided to post this breaking news and that means both Police and the Underworld will both know the plan to steal the Titian has been exposed.

Memo to the Irish Pink Panthers
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Please leave the Marquis of Bath alone and stay clear of Longleat House.

On Monday, Police will race to Longleat House and security will be stepped up.

Any attempt to steal the Titian will not now succeed so please cross Longleat House off the list.

Memo to Police, Mark Dalrymple and Charlie Hill
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Art Hostage has given you fair warning in this case and hopefully you will race to Longleat and protect the Titian.
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The now seven year old personal dispute between Mark Dalrymple and Charlie Hill should be put to one side and both of you should attend Longleat House to disscuss with the Marquis of Bath how best to protect the Titian, which is now worth a stagering £25 million.
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Not convinced that Titian's Rest on the Flight into Egypt is worth £25 million, well see link below regarding the two Titians recently saved for the British nation, sold at a bargin price we are told:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/feb/02/art-titian-diana-actaeon

Art Hostage has decided detente is the best solution, whereby Police don't arrest thieves trying to steal the Titian and Thieves don't attempt to steal the Titian, possiblty damaging it in the process.
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A case of the Police lose, the thieves lose, but the Public win

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Declan Duffy, One Trial Over, One More To Go !!!


Former INLA leader gets four years in jail


The former leader of the INLA in Dublin, Declan `Whacker’ Duffy, has been jailed for four years for membership of the organisation.

Earlier this month, at the Special Criminal Court, Duffy publicly turned his back on the terrorist group and pleaded guilty to the INLA membership charge.

He admitted membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish National Liberation Army, otherwise the INLA on June 22, last year.

Det Supt Diarmaid O’Sullivan told the court that gardaí came into possession of confidential information in August 2007 that a businessman in Cork, Denis Maguire, had been made the potential target of a subversive organisation. He was to be detained and money extorted from him.

The court heard that Duffy was observed on October 18, 2007, in the company of another man. They drove to Cork and booked in at the Silver Springs Hotel under false names and addresses.

The following morning, Duffy and the other man were observed by gardaí driving to the home of the intended target of the extortion, a premises at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte.

Det Supt O’Sullivan said that a “circuitous route” was taken.

“This is an anti-surveillance tactic,” he said.

Duffy exited the car and entered the premises. The gardaí lost sight of him for five minutes. Duffy then left the property and returned with the other man to the Silver Springs.

Duffy was observed again on November 6 travelling to Cork, again booking into the Silver Springs using a false name and address.

Three other men – who booked into Jury’s Inn in Cork, using aliases - were also under surveillance on that date.

Det Supt O’Sullivan told the court that the three men left Jury’s Inn at 11.45am that morning and met Duffy in the car park of the Silver Springs.

They all travelled together to the house at Lover’s Walk, Montenotte. Once again, a circuitous route was taken.

The three men who had travelled with Duffy entered the premises. Duffy did not.

The four men then drove back to Cork city centre.

The following morning, Duffy was again observed outside the premises at Lover’s Walk. The wife of the proposed target drove into Cork city and was followed by Duffy.

Det Supt O’Sullivan told the court that the intended target, Mr Maguire, then made an unexpected trip to Spain.

“This created a problem for the people involved” in the intended extortion.

Duffy and the men were observed shaking hands and departing each other’s company.

The court was told that Duffy was observed at a meeting at the Mercantile pub on Dame St in Dublin on February 11 last year.

Gardaí approached those at the bar. Duffy gave his name to them.

Over a week later, five men were arrested in Cork in relation to the proposed extortion and were subsequently charged with INLA membership.

Two of those men have pleaded guilty while the other three are currently on trial.

Duffy was arrested on June 22 last year. His house was searched and books of evidence relating to three men charged with offences before the Special Criminal Court were found.

Duffy was interviewed twelve times by gardaí.

Det Supt O’Sullivan said that he “generally was evasive in relation to the answers.”

Duffy has previous convictions at the Special Criminal Court. In January 2001 he was sentenced to five years for possession of a handgun on October 6, 1999.

He was also sentenced to nine years each for four further convictions, which were the false imprisonment of four men, detaining them without their consent, also on October 6, 1999.

Det Supt O’Sullivan agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC that Duffy’s public disassociation from the INLA was a “significant factor” in the case.

He also agreed that it is easier to disassociate from a subversive organisation than it is to re-associate.

Paul Hogan, school principal and member of the Castlerea Prison Visiting Committee, told the court that he had a “degree of contact” with Duffy while he was serving time for his previous convictions.

He said that he believed the “penny has finally dropped” for Duffy.

“He has kids – eight and ten years old – who are at a critical point. They need a dad. His partner told me she put it up to him if he doesn’t disassociate with all forms of subversive activity, she’ll part ways with him.”

Mr Hogan said: “I honestly believe Declan is not going to re-offend.”

“I think Declan is ready to move on with his life if he’s given a chance.”

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, presiding at the three-judge, non-jury court, said that the offence is a “serious one”.

Duffy’s guilty plea also had to be taken into consideration, she said, adding that the court “places significant weight on the public disassociation from the INLA.”

However, Ms Justice Dunne said that another “significant factor” was the Duffy’s previous convictions, “arising out of the so-called Ballymount incident”.

She also said: “It is disturbing to note that within eight months of his release, the accused was involved in the events which led up to this offence.”

Duffy’s four-year sentence was backdated to July 2, last year.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Search Squeezes Declan McGlinchey With Ancient, Historic Allegation !!!!


The son of former INLA boss Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey has appeared in court on bomb charges.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/dissident-on-bomb-charges-14312507.html


Dissident republican Declan McGlinchey from Gulladuff Road, Bellaghy was released on continuing bail of £5,000 after appearing before Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The 32-year-old construction worker denies the four charges of making explosives with intent to endanger life; possession of explosives with intent to endanger life; making explosives with intent and making explosives under suspicious circumstances.

He is alleged to have committed the crimes between January 17 and July 3, 2006. It is understood a bomb was discovered in Bellaghy in July. Two sureties of £5,000 each were also ordered, the defendant was told to surrender his passport and to report to police twice weekly.

Art Hostage Comments;

All part of the squeezing process to try and recover the stolen Gardner art, Vermeer in partiqular.

Allegedly, Whitey Bulger gave the Vermeer and co to Declan and Dominic jnr McGlinchey as a tribute to their father and also for the shelter and cover provided for Whitey Bulger when he has been in Ireland on the Lam.

The plan offered is, First one to recover the Gardner art, Vermeer in partiqular, recieves the "get out of jail free" card"

Whatever the details lets get the Vermeer to the nearest Catholic Church Confession Box as soon as possible.
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Give them all "get out of jail free" cards if thats what it takes.
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Time to "look big and pay up"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Declan Duffy, Ex INLA Leader, "Just When I Thought I Was Out...., They Pull me Back In !!!!" Dessie O'Hare Update !!!





A SECOND man wanted by British authorities over the shooting dead of an unarmed British soldier in England more than 17 years ago has appeared before the High Court.

Declan Derek Patrick Duffy (35) originally from Armagh, but now of Hanover St West, Dublin, is being sought under a European Arrest Warrant alleging he murdered Sergeant Michael Newman (34) on April 13, 1992, outside an army careers office in Derby where the soldier worked.

Sgt Newman, a father-of-one, was shot in the head and died the following day. The INLA later claimed responsibility.

Extradition

Duffy is also facing a charge that he conspired to commit murder on dates between January 1, 1992 and April 13, 1992. He is currently in custody on domestic matters.

Another man is also facing extradition proceedings in relation the same matter. Anthony Patrick Gorman (39) originally from Co Armagh, but now of Bailieborough, Cavan, appeared before the High Court earlier this month and was later remanded on bail pending the hearing of the extradition proceedings.

Yesterday at the High Court, amid tight security, Mr Justice Michael Peart remanded Duffy in custody to appear again later this month.

Duffy, dressed in a cream jacket and sunglasses, did not speak during the brief hearing.

Det Sgt Jim Kirwan, of the Garda Extradition Unit, told the court that yesterday morning he arrested Duffy at the Four Courts in Dublin on foot of a warrant endorsed by the High Court earlier this year.

Nationality

Duffy acknowledged his name, age and place of birth. How-ever, when asked if his nationality was British, the court was told he made no reply.

The detective, in reply to counsel for the State, said that when Duffy was asked if he knew about the charges contained on the arrest warrant, he replied: "I know."

Earlier this month at the Special Criminal Court, Duffy pleaded guilty to membership of the INLA.

However, he publicly disassociated himself from the organisation before the three judge court. He is currently awaiting sentence.

The judge also informed Duffy he had a right to consent to his surrender should he so desire.

hnews@herald.ie

- Tim Healy
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Interesting to note this take from the Irish News:

THE British government will this morning apply for the extradition of a leading dissident republican being held in the Republic for questioning about the murder of a British army recruiting sergeant 17 years ago.

Declan Duffy (36) is due to be sentenced later this month at Dublin Special Criminal Court in the Republic on charges of belonging to an illegal organisation, namely the INLA.

However, it is understood that British government lawyers will this morning apply to the High Court in Dublin for the Co Armagh man to be extradited to England under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to be questioned about the 1992 murder of British army recruiting sergeant Michael Newman.

The 33-year-old had just lowered a flag outside the army recruiting office where he worked in Derby and was walking to his car when he was shot in the head.

Within days British police named Duffy and two other INLA men as being wanted in connection with the murder.

While the three were arrested in the Republic the following year, Duffy’s co-accused Anthony Gorman and Joseph Magee both successfully challenged attempts to have them extradited back to Britain to be questioned about the soldier’s murder.

Duffy and Gorman, who have both served jail terms in the Republic, have never been tried for their alleged involvement in the murder as they have refused to go to Britain for questioning.

However, in 2004 Magee was arrested when he secretly crossed the border into Northern Ireland to attend a funeral in his native Co Armagh.

He later pleaded guilty to the soldier’s murder and was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years behind bars.

However Magee walked free from prison in April 2006 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement’s early release scheme.

Earlier this month Gorman was arrested in

Co Cavan and questioned by gardai about the 1992 murder.

British government lawyers are believed to be seeking Gorman’s extradition alongside Duffy.

However, it was last night unclear whether Duffy, above, would be entitled to benefit from the Good Friday Agreement release scheme, if convicted of the killing.

In March this year it was claimed that Duffy had been dismissed as leader of its organisation in Dublin.

Earlier this week he publicly said he had en-ded his association with the INLA and wanted to serve his time a non-paramilitary prisoner.

However, the government is also understood to be under severe pressure to despecify the INLA’s ceasefire status following its involvement in the separate murders of three men in Derry in recent years.

If the government does decide to refuse to recognise the INLA’s ceasefire status and Duffy and Gorman are convicted of the soldier’s murder they could face 25 years in prison.

Art Hostage Comments:

Declan Duffy is trying to leave the Irish Republican stage as linked below:
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http://stolenvermeer.blogspot.com/2009/05/stolen-art-watch-declan-duffy-retires.html
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This one is for Declan Duffy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPw-3e_pzqU

And this one from Silvio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACIS1inmjFc&NR=1
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Update:
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Dessie O'Hare comes to the rescue and the Stolen Vermeer from the Gardner Museum in Boston is discovered in a Confession Box at the Brothers of Charity in Galway, thereby thwarting any attempts by the UVF to gain credit from the Vermeer recovery.
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Sad how "The Concert" by Vermeer has been held Art Hostage and passed around as collateral in contraband deals.
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It needs to go back home and break free from the shackles of being a pawn in underworld activity.
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Do the deal !!!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Declan Duffy, Just When He Thought He Was Out, They Pull Him Back In !!!!!!!


Two face extradition to UK over 1992 murder

http://sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/two-face-extradition-to-uk-over-1992-murder/

Two men are facing extradition from Ireland to the UK in connection with the INLA murder of British army recruitment officer, Michael Newman, in Derby in 1992.

Anthony Gorman, 39, was arrested in County Cavan last week and is currently remanded on bail, while Declan Duffy, 36, was arrested in Dublin today on a European Arrest Warrant.

Both men were named as suspects in the murder at the time but extradition attempts in 1994 failed.

A third man Joseph Magee was subsequently arrested in Armagh in 2004 and was jailed for 25 years in 2004 after pleading guilty to the murder on the understanding he would be released two years later under the terms of the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

Man remanded over murder of British army sergeant

http://www.argus.ie/breaking-news/national-news/man-remanded-over-murder-of-british-army-sergeant-1747342.html

A 34-year-old native of Armagh who is wanted in the UK on a charge of murdering a British Army Recruitment Officer has appeared before the High Court on foot of an extradition warrant.
Declan Duffy originally from Armagh but with an address at Hanover Street West in Dublin, was arrested this morning and when asked if he knew what it was in relation to he replied, " yes I know what it's about."

It is alleged by the UK authorities that he murdered 34-year-old father of one, army sergeant Michael Newman who was shot in the head outside an Army Careers Office in Derby in England in 1992.

Mr Justice Michael Peart remanded Mr Duffy in custody until May 27.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Want The $5 Million Reward, "Carmen Get It" Says New U.S. Attorney Ortiz !!!!

Kennedy picks first woman for state's U.S. attorney

http://www.necn.com/Boston/Politics/2009/05/19/Kennedy-picks-first-woman-for/1242748916.html

BOSTON (AP) - Sen. Edward Kennedy has recommended that President Obama nominate Carmen Ortiz, an assistant U.S. attorney who investigates and prosecutes white-collar crime, as the next U.S. attorney for Boston.

The Puerto Rican-born Ortiz would be the state's first Hispanic and first female U.S. attorney. She has worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston for more than a decade.

As the state's senior senator, Kennedy traditionally has been given preference to nominating the federal government's chief law enforcement office in the state. Kennedy made the announcement Tuesday in a joint statement with Sen. John Kerry.

The president's appointment still would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Ortiz would replace Michael Sullivan, a Republican who was appointed by President Bush in 2001 and left the job earlier this year.

Art Hostage comments:

Will any immunity agreement to recover the stolen Gardner art be published or will it remain a hollow promise ?????

If the Senate confirms Carmen Ortiz then she has the chance to really show sincerity by publishing an stolen Gardner art immunity agreement for all the world to see.

To dove-tail this the Gardner Museum can drop its "subject to good condition" clause and just offer the $5 million reward for the return of the Gardner art.

If we see these two things then those with the ability to end this thing may consider making contact.

Lets hope the motto will be:

"Gardner Heist, want the $5 million reward, Carmen get it"

Stolen Art Watch, Declan Duffy Retires to Spend Time with His Family !!!


Former INLA leader to move to north when sentence complete

FORMER INLA leader Declan 'Whacker' Duffy has said he will be moving back to Northern Ireland as soon as he completes a prison sentence for membership of the organisation. Duffy pleaded guilty last week at Dublin Special Criminal court to membership of an illegal organisation.

MEMBERSHIP: Declan Duffy is pleading guilty to charges of membership of the INLA but says he is no longer a member and plans to return to Armagh when his sentence is served.

However, the court was told the INLA veteran had since turned his back on the organisation and was no longer a member.

Speaking to The Irish News yesterday Duffy said he plans to move his family back to his former home in Armagh city as soon as he serves his pending jail term.

Now on bail, he is due to be sentenced on May 29 in Dublin. When jailed he says he will not be returning to Portlaoise prison’s INLA wing but will be placed in the prison’s non-aligned republican wing.

“I’m finished with violence and just want to have a normal life. I’m moving back to Armagh, it’s what my family wants,” he said.

In March the leadership of the INLA released a statement saying it had stood down members of its Dublin unit while an investigation into allegations of criminality was carried out.

The statement, while not naming him, referred to Duffy, who has been accused of involvement in a turf war with a well known Dublin drug cartel.

With a long history of violent activity, Duffy was jailed in 2001 for six years for his part in a bloody incident in Ballymount industrial estate in Walkinstown on the outskirts of Dublin.

Patrick Campbell (22), formerly of Ballymurphy in west Belfast, died after being beaten and hacked with a machete during the violent clash.

Duffy, a senior member of the INLA for almost two decades, claimed yesterday he had now turned his back on violent republicanism.

“I have been on bail for 10 days now and no-one has approached me to question me about any allegations or investigation,” he said.

“You would imagine if there was a thorough investigation being carried out by the INLA they would have at least came and spoke to me.

“I’m going back to prison and, you know, apart from the upset to my family I don’t really care.

“You think about things a lot when you’re inside and get your priorities straight.

“I can’t deny that I’m disappointed with the way the INLA has handled things but at the same time I’m not going to get into a sniping match with them.

“What’s happened has happened. That’s me finished with the INLA and done with Dublin. As soon as I get out I’m taking my family back to Armagh,” he said.

Art Hostage comments:

If John O'Donaghue was given a Four year suspended prison sentence as he had resigned from the INLA, it is only fitting Mr Declan Duffy is afforded a suspension to any prison sentence handed down by the Judge.
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A decision to leave any Republican organisation is a very difficult thing to do and I am sure Declan Duffy has done much soul searching.

Now Declan Duffy is about to leave the Irish Republican stage he should be allowed to retire and get on with the rest of his life with his family.
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Willie Gallagher what do you think ????
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Agree or disagree ???
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Declan Duffy, Art Hostage would like your side of the story
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Art Hostage can be contacted at arthostage@hotmail.co.uk for private comments.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Activity in Revere !!


Recent activity around the Club Caravan Revere has led some locals to speculate a search is being conducted for the stolen Gardner art.
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I am awaiting further news..........................

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers Named !



Paris - Two alleged members of the Pink Panther gang of international jewel thieves have been arrested in Paris on suspicion of carrying out armed smash-and-grab raids on stores in Monaco, Switzerland and Germany.

Two Serbs, 36-year-old Nicolai Ivanovic and 38-year-old Zoran Kostic, were arrested on Monday at their discreet hotel in the Pigalle entertainment district of Paris, according to police and judicial officials.

They are being held for carrying false identity documents but are expected to face charges under arrest warrants linking them to a spectacular series of crimes in Mediterranean resorts and Alpine tax havens, they said.

Police described them as "big fish" in the Pink Panthers, a nickname given by British detectives to a network of Balkan robbers blamed for the theft of goods worth €110m in the past decade.

"Everywhere, it's the same tactics, typical of the 'Pinks'," said a French police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're lightning fast hold-ups: daring, but carefully planned down to smallest detail.

"They're experts in covering their tracks after making their getaway, sending their booty by a variety of international means of delivery, and changing their own transport at will," he explained.

The Serbs were picked up after several days of surveillance following a tip-off to detectives of Paris's anti-organised crime squad.

They are suspected of carrying out raids in the Mediterranean millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo and the chic French Channel resort of Le Touquet, as well as in Germany and the Swiss cities of Lausanne and Geneva.

International officers also hope that the pair can shed light on robberies carried out as far afield as the United States, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, where the Panthers carried out a spectacular heist.
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Art Hostage comments:
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Will Dragan Mikic and Jelly be next ?
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Where will Dragan Mikic and Jelly strike next ?-
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Were the two arrested Pink panthers sacrificed because they were too hot to handle ??
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Apparently, Kostic and Ivanovic were out of control and several people lay dead in the wake of these Pink Panther Gang members activities.

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers Arrested Paris, Jelly and Maybe Dragan Mikic ????


Art Hostage has just been told Radovan Jelusic was one of the two Pink Panther gang members arrested yesterday in Paris.

Art Hostage is waiting for confirmation that Dragan Mikic is the other Pink Panther gang leader arrested yesterday in Paris.

Interpol tracked these two via Lausanne Switzerland where they had robbed a jewellers on May 5th escaping with 3 million euros worth of jewels.

The two boarded a train for Paris and were kept under surveillance for several days before the arrests yesterday May 12th 2009.

The stolen jewels had been posted via international transport and authorities are trying to track the haul.

More coming in...................................

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Milton Esterow's Take, Then the Irish Connection Latest !!


Inside the Gardner Case

http://artnews.com/issues/article.asp?art_id=2677

After two decades of tips, leads, hunches, forensic tests, psychic visions, and jailhouse confessions, the biggest art heist in history is still unsolved
by Milton Esterow


At 1:24 A.M. on March 18, 1990, two men wearing police uniforms walked up to a side entrance of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

One of the men pressed the buzzer near the door. “Police! Let us in,” he said. “We heard about a disturbance in the courtyard.” They were buzzed in.

Inside the four-story building were two guards. One was behind the main security desk, which had four video monitors. “You look familiar,” one of the intruders said to the guard. “I think we have a default warrant out for you.”

The guard was tricked into stepping out from behind his desk, where he had access to the only alarm button in the museum that would alert the police. He was ordered to stand facing a wall and was handcuffed. When the second guard arrived and was also put in handcuffs, he said to the intruders, “Why are you arresting me?”

“You’re not being arrested,” was the reply. “This is a robbery. Don’t give us any problems and you won’t get hurt.”

“Don’t worry,” one of the guards said. “They don’t pay me enough to get hurt.” The thieves wrapped duct tape around the guards’ hands, feet, and heads, leaving nose holes for breathing, took them to the museum’s basement, and handcuffed them to pipes.

Then the thieves went upstairs. As one of them approached a Rembrandt painting in the Dutch Room, an alarm sounded. They immediately smashed it.

They pulled Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait (1629) off the wall and tried unsuccessfully to take the wooden panel out of the heavy frame. They left it on the floor. Next they cut Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) out of the frame and cut out A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633), which the museum says is a Rembrandt but some scholars, including the Rembrandt Research Project in Amsterdam, say is not. (“We continue to think it’s a Rembrandt,” Gardner Museum director Anne Hawley said.)

They removed Vermeer’s The Concert (1658-60) from its frame and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638), which at one time was attributed to Rembrandt. They took a Rembrandt etching and a Chinese bronze beaker from the Shang dynasty (1200-1100 B.C.). Empty frames now hang where the paintings used to be in the Dutch Room.

Elsewhere in the museum, not far from a portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner, they removed five Degas drawings, a Manet oil, Chez Tortoni (1878-80), and a finial in the form of an eagle. To get to the finial, they passed two Raphaels and a Botticelli.

The thieves had to make two trips to their car with the loot. They were not unconcerned about the guards. “Are you comfortable?” one of the thieves asked. “Handcuffs too tight?” The guards couldn’t reply since their mouths were still taped. The theft lasted 81 minutes.

The guards remained tied and handcuffed until the police arrived at 8:15 that morning. The guard who had allowed the thieves into the building said that to pass the time he started humming a favorite Bob Dylan tune, “I Shall be Released.” The opening stanza includes the lines: “So I remember every face / Of every man who put me here.” The guard did remember the two faces and described them to the police.

“It’s difficult to understand why the thieves took what they did, an eclectic collection,” Geoffrey J. Kelly, the FBI agent who has been assigned to the Gardner case for the past eight years, told me in a telephone interview. “They were certainly in the museum long enough to take whatever they wanted. They treated the guards well. That’s professional.”

More than 19 years after the largest art theft in history—the works are now valued at between $500 million and $600 million—no one has been arrested, as ARTnews went to press. There have been no demands for ransom. None of the works has been recovered, even though the museum offers a $5 million reward and says that it “ensures complete confidentiality” for information leading to their return.

And despite thousands of tips and the efforts of the FBI, the United States attorney for Massachusetts, the Gardner’s director of security, the Boston police, and some of the world’s top private investigators, as well as a coded message the museum sent to an anonymous tipster through the financial pages of the Boston Globe, whose reporter Stephen Kurkjian said he had the first interview with one of the guards, none of the authorities knows for sure where the works are or who stole them.

“I don’t know if we can definitely say that we don’t know,” Anthony Amore, who has been director of the Gardner’s security for nearly four years, told me. “When I came to the museum I went through files and created a computerized database. It now contains 10,000 bits of information—all the tips, all the leads, all the suspects. It’s not 100 percent sure that no one ever gave us the right tip. It could be we’ve gotten bits of information from different people that if properly analyzed could hold some answers for us.”

Hawley said that paint chips from the missing canvases had been found on the floor after the theft. They were collected in vials and analyzed by conservators at several museums.

Amore has retraced the steps the thieves took. He has studied the history of every work that was stolen. “Through the museum’s motion detector equipment I’ve been able to see all their steps,” he said. “I’ve looked at them every way imaginable. One interesting part of the 81 minutes that they were in the museum is that only half was spent stealing works. The other half I don’t know. While one guy was stealing the Vermeer, another was in another gallery taking the Degas and the finial. Why Degas? I don’t know. Maybe he enjoyed equestrian art or liked to go to the track.”

Some of the unanswered questions:

Why were the thieves so comfortable that they could stay in the museum for 81 minutes knowing that no other alarm would be triggered?

Why didn’t they go to the third floor and take Titian’s Rape of Europa, which Peter Sutton, director of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a distinguished scholar, calls “arguably the greatest painting in America”?

Why did the thieves steal mainly Dutch and French works?

Was the theft arranged by the Irish Republican Army to raise money or bargain for the release of jailed comrades? Are the paintings now in Ireland, as some private investigators believe?

Do the thieves still have the works or did they pass them on to others?

The FBI says only 5 percent of stolen art is ever returned. Others believe the figure to be as high as 20 percent.

Among those questioned by the bureau: American drug lords, ex-museum guards, and Japanese underworld figures. An FBI agent flew with a colleague to Paris to discuss with French prosecutors a tip that a discredited French tycoon had bought the Rembrandts. The FBI reportedly put an undercover informant in the jail cell of a suspect in the theft. But the suspect didn’t cooperate.

A prison inmate said that some of the paintings were shipped via Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Genoa, Italy, and then to a dealer in France. A man said the art was in a pueblo somewhere in South America. One caller suggested the Vermeer was in a mobile home moving around the country.

“I have received information from psychics as to where the paintings are,” said Kelly. “People have said they have had visions pinpointing where the paintings are. One man said he had invented electronic equipment and had built it and that it could locate the paintings. It did not lead anywhere.”

He added: “I have to walk a fine line between being open-minded and not wasting my time.”

“One bizarre theory,” Amore said, “was from people who say Mrs. Gardner speaks to them and tells them who stole the paintings. Also, others say mythical figures have spoken to them about the thefts.”

The best and most complete story of the theft and its investigation is a new book, The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft by Ulrich Boser (Smithsonian/Collins, 260 pages, $25.99). He is a skillful investigative reporter who became so passionate about the case that it led him, he writes, to “stake out suspects, convene secret meetings with felons and fly thousands of miles to interview stolen-art fences who swore they could return the missing masterpieces. My life would be threatened more than once.”

A few museumgoers have been “so devastated that they can no longer visit the Gardner,” according to Boser. “They view the tragedy as an unholy tragedy, a monstrous corruption of beauty, and they refuse to even set foot in the building.” The empty frames were later placed back on the walls.

One woman came to the museum a few weeks after the theft with a bouquet of yellow tulips. She presented the flowers to an employee and said, “Yellow is for hope.”

John Updike wrote a poem entitled “Stolen” that appeared in the New Yorker in 2003 on how it would feel to be the stolen paintings. Part of it reads:

Think of how bored they get, stacked in the warehouse somewhere, say in Mattapan, gazing at the back of the butcher paper they are wrapped in, instead of at the rapt glad faces of those who love art. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . In their captivity, they may dream of rescue but cannot cry for help. Their paint is inert and crackled, their linen friable. They have one stratagem, the same old one: to be themselves, on and on.

On the anniversaries of the robbery the Gardner has frequently issued press releases restating its commitment to the $5 million reward and urging “the individual or individuals holding the stolen artworks to protect them. The artworks should be kept in optimal conditions that do not allow for swings in temperature and humidity, ideally at 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 percent humidity.”

The museum has asked that anyone with information about the theft contact Amore at 617-278-5114 or theft@gardnermuseum.org.

“The important thing is to get the paintings back, whether the information goes to the museum or the FBI,” Kelly said.

An FBI spokesperson said, “The statute of limitations has run out, but it’s illegal to possess stolen paintings.” Michael Sullivan, the United States attorney for Massachusetts, said regarding the theft: “We will review the option of immunity on a case-by-case basis.”

The works were not insured. “Mrs. Gardner didn’t want new works added to the collection,” Hawley said. “The trustees at the time of the theft decided that if there were a theft, they wouldn’t replace the works. That was their reasoning at the time. The works are insured now.”

Some years ago, an antiques dealer facing criminal charges for a firearms violation said he could mediate the return of the paintings if authorities dropped the charges, gave him the $5 million reward, and freed a friend in prison. Tom Mashberg, a reporter for the Boston Herald, investigated and was shown a painting that appeared to be The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. The dealer gave the FBI a vial of paint chips he said came from the picture, but tests showed they were not from the stolen Rembrandt.

In a recent series of articles in the Boston Herald, Mashberg and Laura Crimaldi reported that George Reissfelder, who had been thought to be a suspect in the theft, had had the Manet shortly before he died in 1991.

Reissfelder’s younger brother, Richard, a retired National Guard military policeman, was quoted as saying that “I know I saw it in his possession” but that the painting was gone when he went to his brother’s apartment after he died. Amore had contacted Richard Reissfelder last year.

Boser writes that Dick Ellis, former head of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques squad, and now a private investigator, explained to him that the stolen works appeared to have been collateralized and that a number of different groups now had a financial interest in the art. “Ellis has seen this happen in dozens of other cases,” Boser writes. “A thief will steal an artwork and then use it as a type of underworld cash, trading the painting for a stash of handguns or kilos of cocaine.”

Boser is convinced that one of the men who looted the museum was David Turner, a Boston gangster now serving a 38-year term for armed robbery. “It’s one of many theories we’ve known about,” Amore told me.

I mentioned the Ellis comment to Charley Hill, a former top member of Scotland Yard’s art and antiques squad and now a private investigator.

“What Dick says is speculation,” Hill said. “My theory is that the works are probably under the control of one person or a small group and they don’t know what to do with them. They’re simply biding their time.”

He added: “Nothing would have happened at the Gardner without Whitey Bulger having a hand in the crime somewhere. It’s as simple as that.”

However, a source close to the investigation disagreed. “There’s not a shred of evidence that Bulger was involved,” he said. “Also, there is no evidence that the Irish Republican Army is involved, although they were involved in a Vermeer theft many years ago.”

Although Boser lapses a bit too often into using such words as swiped, snatched, filched, pilfered, and pocketed and makes a few factual errors, he digs deeply and tells his story convincingly. It’s a pleasurable read.

When Boser asked Hawley if she thought that the paintings would ever be returned, she replied: “I live in hope. I dwell in possibility, as Emily Dickinson says. I just have to believe that the stolen paintings are still out there.”

Amore made a request to me. “Please pass this on,” he said. “I want people to understand that there’s no such thing as an insignificant tip. If you feel it should be passed on, please pass it on.”


Milton Esterow is editor and publisher of ARTnews. Additional research by Amanda Lynn Granek.

Art Hostage comments:

If we look at the supposed Irish connection mentioned by Dick Ellis and Charlie Hill we can see developments.

First, read this story from 2008:
http://stolenvermeer.blogspot.com/2008/05/stolen-art-watch-vermeer-gardner-art-in.html

Fast forward to April 23rd 2009:

http://www.wlrfm.com/tabId/503/itemId/2092/Suspended-sentence-for-Waterford-INLA-member.aspx


So, could a deal be in the making for the return of any Gardner art held by the INLA ????

Civilians are eligible for a reward, rather than serving paramilitaries.

To finally prove or disprove any INLA involvement in the current possession of some Gardner art, Art Hostage firmly believes Willie Gallagher of the IRSP should be used to negotiate.

If it is shown the INLA has no ability to recover the stolen Gardner art, but other Irish Republican organisations can help, Willie Gallagher should also be retained as a neutral, reliable, honest broker to mediate.

The Art Hostage Catholic Church Confession box may yet be the destination for the stolen Gardner art.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Recovery Depends on Burroughs or Harshbarger !!!!



Art Hostage has learnt that the shortlist for U.S. Attorney to replace Mike Sullivan is down to two, Allison D. Burroughs and Scott Harshbarger.

DOJ will flip a coin !!!!

Heads we get the Gardner art back, Tails means no deals and Gardner Art remains elusive !!!!

Take a look at their blurbs and decide for yourself who is best suited to recover the Gardner art:
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Allison D. Burroughs:
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DOJ are getting signals for the $500 an hour Scott Harshbarger but don't count Allison Burroughs out just yet.
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Update:
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Anything found in Maine ?????
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A Rembrandt, stolen from Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada in 1972, may be play, see link for back story;
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http://stolenvermeer.blogspot.com/2007/09/stolen-art-watch-montreal-35-years-and.html