Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, New Head FBI Boston, Dicky De Lauriers, Same Old Same Old !!!


Richard DesLauriers above, new head of Boston FBI already immortalised as Warren T Bamford Clone on (Boston FBI Field Office) toilet wall.

Warren T Bamford above, ex-head of Boston FBI, Stuffed Shirt Elitist.

Boston FBI chief says James "Whitey" Bulger, art heist priorities


BOSTON — The new head of the Boston FBI office says he will have a "laser-like focus" on finding fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger and solving the 1990 Gardner Museum art heist.

Richard DesLauriers said the two high-profile cases will be among his highest local priorities.

DesLauriers began work last month as special agent in charge. He is a 23-year veteran of the FBI with extensive experience in counterintelligence.

DesLauriers, a native of Longmeadow, oversees the FBI in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Bulger, a former FBI informant, is wanted in connection with 19 murders.

The largest art theft in history at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner museum remains unsolved 20 years after two thieves disguised as police officers made off with more than a half-billion dollars in art.

Art Hostage Comments:

Get the fuck outta here, this guy is a clone of Warren T Bamford.

"Laser like focus", who the fuck does this guy think he is ?

a Star Wars Jedi !!

You don't solve the Gardner case or capture Whitey Bulger from a manual, corporate speak makes you look like a stuffed shirt.

Do the FBI have a production line of stuffed shirts

We have seen them come and we have seen they go, heads of the Boston FBI always start their tenure with the same old rhetoric about apprehending Whitey Bulger and solving the Gardner case.

First, Whitey Bulger, well make it a $10 million reward, no conditions, just the capture of Whitey Bulger, dead or alive and you may get some takers.

Second, the Gardner case, well Richard DesLauriers, that is out of your control as Assistant U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Brian Kelly holds the key.

If you are really serious about recovering the Gardner art then a total immunity agreement has to be offered, not the shallow false one offered so far. This means anyone coming forward with information that leads to the recovery of the Gardner art does not, I repeat does not have to reveal where they obtained the information, or has to go before any Grand Jury and they will also retain their right to take the fifth amendment if they so desire.

Then and only then will someone step forward with the right information needed to recover the Gardner art.

However, a little pointer, Free of charge. Enquire over at the State Dept about the Iranian connection to stolen art which may give you a little enlightenment, not forgetting the Dissident Irish Republican link to stolen art. This will educate you a little about the global stolen art underworld.

Furthermore, the so-called reward offer by the Gardner Museum was increased all the way back in 1997 to $5million, which is nearly fourteen years ago.

The Gardner Museum reward offer needs to be doubled to $10 million at least to provoke any kind of interest.

To demonstrate the sincerity of Art Hostage.

Art Hostage declares here and now.

Art Hostage seeks not one dime, not a single dime from the Gardner Museum reward offer, even if they increase that reward offer to $10 million or more.

The intentions of Art Hostage is to see the Gardner art deposited in a Catholic church confession box and returned to the museum, and the Gardner Museum forced to pay the reward they have offered and not invoke all the hidden conditions attached to the current reward offer which means the Gardner Museum can wriggle out of paying any reward should the need arise.

If the FBI wants bodies, then best of luck, that hasn't happened for twenty years and counting.

The much maligned William Youngworth was right after all, the immunity must be a blanket immunity accepted in good faith that allows the Gardner Art to surface and the Gardner Museum reward offer is Fools Gold in its current form.

Until these two issues are resolved publicly then no one with any sense is going to step forward with information about the Gardner art.

Sorry for not being a Brown Nosed Yellow Sycophant like all the others, time for some home truths about the Gardner case to be aired.

Forget Proof of life, show Proof of reward and Proof of total immunity.

Welcome to Boston Dicky De-Lauriers, your name sounds like a brand of champagne, so get cork popping !!!!!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Van Gogh In De-nial, Cairo Calamity !!



Update over at Art Hostage:
http://arthostage.blogspot.com/2010/08/stolen-art-watch-van-gogh-cairo-culture.html

Thieves steal Van Gogh painting from Cairo museum


CAIRO — The Egyptian minister of culture says a painting by Vincent van Gogh valued at $50 million has been stolen from a Cairo museum.

The poppy flower painting was taken from Cairo's Mr & Mrs Mahmoud Khalil Museum, which is situated in a large villa on the banks of the Nile, a ministry statement said.

see link for history: http://www.egy.com/giza/95-05-06.shtml

The museum is home to one of the Middle East's finest collections of 19th and 20th century art put together by the politician Mohammed Mahmoud Khalil, who died in 1953.

Among works at the museum are pieces by Gauguin, Monet, Manet and Renoir.

Farouk Hosni says police are searching for unknown suspects who lifted the painting from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum on Saturday. The artwork is identified as the Dutch impressionist's "Vase and Flowers" on the museum's website.

Hosni said that authorities at all of Egypt's air and sea ports have been notified and that an investigation is under way at the museum

Art Hostage Comments:

Called the Boomerang Van Gogh, Poppy Flowers had been stolen before, In 1978, the same painting was stolen, but was returned shortly afterwards. It was reputed to be have been recovered in Kuwait after the thieves made a deal and got paid a ransom. One year later, 1979, a duplicate was sold for $43 million in London, sparking a debate in Egypt whether the returned painting was, in fact, a fake.

1979, h'm Islamic revolution in Iran.

Thieves got lucky, well almost, as the most valuable painting in the collection is , Gauguin’s Life and Death, followed closely by the Van Gogh Poppy Flowers, or vase with flowers.

The number two's got the number two so to speak !!!

The Van Gogh has been on tour around the globe, there's a clue already.............

Already news breaking from the Global Underworld the intention is to use the Van Gogh as collateral for arms and weapons, not drugs, not ransom, weapons.

Iran being the ultimate destination of this Van Gogh as deals on stolen art for weapons has a historic Iranian history. Madonna was in Iran and I don't mean a concert !!!

I reckon authorities have 24/48 hours to recover this Van Gogh..........

Check Diplomatic bags, cut out of its frame, rolled up and good to go Diplomatically !!

Check the border with Gaza !!!

Why did thieves leave the most valuable painting
, Gauguin’s Life and Death ?

Because Islamic law forbids artwork showing figures, so next best thing and second most valuable painting in the
Mr & Mrs Mahmoud Khalil Museum Collection is the Van Gogh, Poppy Flowers, and what comes from Poppies, Heroin.

Back in the 80's there was an influx of Iranian Heroin in western Europe smuggled in tee shirts and clothing, impregnated with the heroin. The Iranian links keep on coming.

Furthermore,
Nine paintings of 19th Century Egyptian ruler Mohammed Ibrahim Pasha were stolen from the same museum last year, but found 10 days later dumped outside.

(shhh, but money exchanged hands last year before these paintings were handed back)


Update 8.00pm:

Two Italians have been arrested trying to smuggle a $50m Vincent Van Gogh painting out of Cairo today, officials said this evening.

Minister Farouk Hosni says airport security confiscated the priceless painting from two Italians just hours after the artwork was 'cut from its frame' at the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in the Egyptian capital.

Airport security caught a young Italian man with the painting by the Dutch post-Impressionist master and also detained his companion, a young Italian woman.

Saturday's total of visitors had been only 11 at the museum, some Spanish and Russian visitors had been searched, nothing found so the attention focused on the Italians.

Security had tracked down visitors to the museum and the Italian couple had been suspected after an employee spotted them visiting a bathroom then swiftly leaving.

Further Update,10.00pm:

A Van Gogh painting worth an estimated $55 million (35.4 million pounds) was stolen from a Cairo museum on Saturday and after reporting it had been recovered, the state news agency quoted a minister as saying it was still missing.

Citing Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, the MENA news agency reported that security had caught a young Italian man with the painting by the Dutch post-Impressionist master at the airport and also had detained an Italian woman with him.

Later the agency, which said the painting was worth an estimated $55 million, issued another statement from the minister saying "measures were continuing to recover the painting," which according to the Arabic statement was called the "Poppy Flower."

The minister said information that initially had been given about its recovery was "not accurate and was not confirmed until now by the responsible agencies." He made similar comments to a state television channel.

It was not immediately clear how the confusion over the painting's fate arose.

The painting earlier in the day had been taken from Cairo's Mahmoud Khalil Museum on the banks of the River Nile.

The state news agency MENA had said security had tracked down visitors to the museum and the Italian couple had been suspected after an employee spotted them visiting a bathroom then swiftly leaving.

Update Sunday:

SECURITY cameras and alarms at the museum in Cairo, Egypt, from where a Van Gogh painting valued at more than $A56 million was stolen had been out of order "for a long time", an official says.

"The cameras had not been working for a long time, and neither had the alarm system," the security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that no image of the painting was therefore available.

"We don't exactly know how long they had been out of order, but it was a long time. The museum officials said they were looking for spare parts (for the security system) but hadn't managed to find them," by the time the theft took place, he said.

Egypt's top prosecutor says security lapses are to blame for the theft of a Vincent van Gogh painting from a Cairo museum.

Prosecutor general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud says none of the alarms and only seven out of 43 surveillance cameras at the Mahmoud Khalil Museum were functioning Saturday when the painting was stolen.

“Each painting in the museum has an alarm. Not a single alarm for any painting is working.” He declined to reveal the timing or the method of the theft.

The Italians had been arrested and later released.

Prosecutor general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud told Egypt's state news agency Sunday that the thieves used a box cutter to remove the painting from its frame. He blamed the theft on the museum's lax security measures, calling them "for the most part feeble and superficial."

He said the museum guards' daily rounds at closing time were inadequate and did not meet minimum security requirements to protect internationally renowned works of art.

Mahmoud also said his office had warned Egypt's museums to implement stricter security controls after nine paintings were stolen last year from another Cairo institute, the Mohammed Ali Museum. Similar security lapses were to blame in that theft.

Fifteen Egyptian officials, including the director of the Khalil museum, Reem Bahir, and the head of the fine arts department at the Ministry of Culture, have been barred from leaving Egypt until the investigation into the painting's theft is complete, Mahmoud said. He did elaborate.

Bahir refused to comment on the prosecutor general's statements, saying only that the investigation was still under way.

The Opera House was victim to thefts last year, but security pressures forced criminals to return the stolen paintings.
(After payment of course)

Art Hostage Comments:

Oops, gone again !!

Have they checked the mail, tubed up Pink Panther style, repeat style.

Please, no laughing, but this proves the Art Hostage title,

"Cairo Calamity"

Adding to the museum’s troubles today, a crowd of news photographers and cameramen attempting to take pictures of the prosecutor stumbled over a statue of Cupid, which shattered on the marble floor of the entrance courtyard, sparking cries of despair from museum staff.

“Another disaster!” shouted one female museum worker, hands on her head in disbelief.

If box cutters were used then the Van Gogh may still be attached to its stretcher and the canvas was not cut from frame as first reported. This will hopefully limit the damage.

Coming soon,

the Art Hostage Iran files on handling stolen art,

.exchanging weapons for holding stolen art.................

It's Showtime !!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iKuMVqht4U

Will everyone just, "Take it Easy":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lQpjPC-074

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Boston Relic Recovered, Sweet Jesus , Prayers Answered


Relic stolen from Boston church found in Vt.

http://www1.whdh.com/news/articles/local/12001968164875/religious-relic-stolen-in-boston-recovered-in-vt/

BOSTON -- For weeks, parishioners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross have been praying for the return of a treasured relic stolen back in July. Their prayers have been answered.

On June 30, a janitor noticed the circular brass case had been pried out of the base of a cross that sat in the sanctuary of the cathedral. In the case was a small piece of wood that Catholics believe is a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on.

"Criminals are criminals. They don't care. It can be art. It can be material, money, they don't care. If they want to go for it, they go for it, unfortunately," said Victor Armendariz.

Then, on August 9, Vermont State Police received a domestic disturbance call and found a transient with ties to Boston had the artifact and then called Boston Police. The man told officials he got the relic from another person in Rhode Island.

"I understand that people want to have something that holy for themselves, but it's sometimes hard to look beyond yourself and say you really need to share it with everybody," said Bandita Joarder.

The relic, which is even more priceless because it has a wax seal from the Pope, has been with the cathedral since it was completed in 1875, and is now home again, to the relief of many in the catholic community and beyond.

The Archodiocese of Boston released a statement that said, "God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive."

Church officials will hold a special service on Wednesday to welcome the relic back to the cathedral.

Prayers answered, relic is recovered

The man on the phone had a crazy story, something about a religious artifact stolen from a church in Boston. As Vermont State Trooper Steven Cuttita waited for him to come to the barracks, he started Googling.

“It seemed a little far-fetched to me, but I had to check it out anyway,’’ Cuttita said in an interview yesterday.

Six weeks after one of the Archdiocese of Boston’s most precious possessions was stolen from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, the object — a bit of wood Catholics believe to be a relic of the cross on which Jesus was crucified — turned up in a trailer park in rural Vermont.

It is not clear who took it or how the theft was executed. And the man who turned it in has disappeared.

But the relic is back in the hands of the archdiocese, and local Catholics were jubilant yesterday when they heard about its safe return.

“When I got the news, I burst into tears, and I started to pray in thanksgiving,’’ said Kelly Thatcher, who last month had been the first to report the theft of the relic, writing on her blog “The Lady in the Pew.’’

A service to pray for the relic’s return that had been scheduled for tomorrow has been turned into a celebration of its recovery, the archdiocese said yesterday.

“Our prayers have been answered,’’ the archdiocese said in a statement that also thanked Boston police and the Vermont State Police for their work. “God has blessed us with His love and capacity to forgive. We prayerfully carry on His call for forgiveness for those responsible.’’

Since the fourth century, many churches around the world have professed to have particles of the “True Cross.’’ Though their authenticity is often disputed, the relics are objects that help Catholics connect, through prayer and contemplation, with the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Boston’s relic was a gift to a French missionary priest who later became the first bishop of Boston, and it has been venerated by Boston Catholics since its arrival in the late 18th century.

The relic had been kept in a small case in the base of a crucifix that hung in the cathedral’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel, which is open much of the day as a place for passersby to stop and pray. A janitor noticed it was missing when he arrived to clean the chapel on July 1.

Since then, the archdiocese and Boston police have fielded numerous false reports from people claiming to have the relic. But the one that came into the State Police barracks on Aug. 9 in Royalton, Vt., — a small town about 25 miles northwest of White River Junction — turned out to be genuine.

A resident of Upper Eatons Trailer Park named Richard Duncan placed the call. He told Cuttita that he was having an argument with an acquaintance, Earl Frost, over some information Frost had, and that Duncan felt police should know. He put Frost on the phone.

Frost, who police said is 34 years old and unemployed, had been staying at Duncan’s home for a few days. He said he had a religious artifact that had been stolen from a church in Boston, but he wanted to turn it over to a priest, not the police. Cuttita persuaded Frost to bring it to the barracks.

While waiting for Frost to arrive, Cuttita pulled up news articles about the relic’s disappearance.

He called the Boston police, who told him that they had received multiple false reports from people who said they had it, according to Cuttita.

“It was uncertain whether the relic Frost was in possession of was, in fact, the relic that was stolen from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston,’’ said a summary of the incident released yesterday by Vermont State Police.

When Frost arrived, he told the police that he had not stolen the relic, but that he got it from “an unidentified third party while in Rhode Island,’’ according to the summary.

Frost also said that, using the pseudonym Bill, he had contacted the Rev. Kevin J. O’Leary, the cathedral’s rector, about returning it.

(The archdiocese confirmed that O’Leary recalled those phone calls.)

But because neither the archdiocese nor Boston police could immediately ascertain the authenticity of the relic, the Vermont State Police did not have enough evidence to charge Frost with anything.

After receiving photographs of the relic, an archdiocesan official traveled to Royalton on Sunday and confirmed that the object Frost had turned in was indeed the missing relic.

But by then, Frost was gone, Cuttita said. Vermont State Police are seeking an arrest warrant against him on a charge of possession of stolen property.

Archdiocesan officials told Vermont authorities the relic’s dollar value is between $2,300 and $3,800, according to the summary.

The officials also said that the church considered the relic to be priceless.

The archdiocese would not disclose the exact location of the relic yesterday, citing security reasons. Officials also said they have not yet determined where it will be kept in the future.

Peggy Ainsworth, a farmer and selectwoman from Royalton, had heard nothing about the relic’s disappearance and rediscovery yesterday until contacted by a reporter.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the world,’’ she said. “This is a fairly quiet little town.’’

Update:

Vt. man who turned in stolen relic arrested

The man wanted in connection with a stolen relic from a Boston church is now in custody in New Hampshire.

Police arrested Earl Frost, 34, at a pharmacy in Hanover, N.H., after they got a tip that he was at the CVS filling a prescription. He was taken into custody without incident and transferred to the Grafton County Sheriff's Department.

Frost was also wanted in New Hampshire for a parole violation. He's being held on that warrant while the Vermont arrest warrant for possession of stolen property is pending.

Frost turned the relic over to Vt. State Police before he went missing.

The relic from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is said to have been made from the cross Jesus was crucified on. It has been in Boston since the 18th century.

Art Hostage Comments:

A dress rehearsal for the return of the Gardner art.

This is why the reward offer by the Gardner Museum needs to be explained in full and proof of reward needs to be shown.

This is why the immunity offer by Brian Kelly for returning the Gardner art needs to be full immunity, without the need to explain where the person who steps forward to collect the reward got the location of the Gardner art from.

Until then, this is a dress rehearsal for the return of the Gardner art, sadly.

Art Hostage seeks not a single dime of the Gardner Museum $5 million reward offer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Sydney Art Heist Friends/Help/Rivals Did It !!!


$2m Sydney art heist: 18 paintings stolen from exclusive suburb

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/2m-sydney-art-heist-18-paintings-stolen-from-exclusive-suburb-20100813-1225j.html?autostart=1

Eighteen paintings that police say are worth up to $2 million have been stolen from a house in an exclusive Sydney suburb.

Police said artwork by Charles Blackman, Tim Storrier and Arthur Streeton were taken from a house in New Beach Road, Darling Point, between Saturday and Tuesday.

Rose Bay crime manager, Detective Inspector John Maricic, said the theft was reported on Tuesday evening when the owners, believed to be a couple, returned home.

There were signs of forced entry and police believed two people were involved, he said. It appeared the thieves knew "what they were after", Detective Inspector Maricic said.

"Certainly the owner is upset," he said.

Some paintings were cut out of their frames while others were taken with their frames, he said.

The paintings had been displayed throughout the house, police said in a statement earlier.

The thieves also made off with two 81-centimetre television sets and telephones.

Randi Linnegar, director of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, said more needed to be done by federal and local governments, police, art galleries and collectors to track lost artwork.

"There seems to have been a number of thefts and a suggestion of fakes over the last year particularly in the field of visual art.

"Is it saying that art is becoming more in the forefront of desirable things to have that can be resold under the table?"

Veteran art dealer Denis Savill said he did not believe the burglars went to the home just to steal the paintings, as they were "minor works by the artists".

"It's not a serious collection by eastern suburbs' standards.

"Most thieves are not educated people ... It won't be stolen-to-order because there's nothing in there you want."

He said the poor economic climate meant the paintings would not be worth even $1 million if they were sold.

"There's not a huge amount of value in them in the real sense in auction right now. So you couldn't get rid of them quickly.

"If a man was to walk those round an auction room in the next three months, he'll be very sadly disappointed at the return. It won't be anything like the police are quoting."

Police were investigating the possibility the artworks had already been sold, possibly overseas.

Police were appealing for information, especially from anyone in the art world, he said.

They called for anyone who saw any "suspicious behaviour" on the street between Saturday and Tuesday, or had any information about the sale of the paintings, to phone them on Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

"I understand that these pieces are all quite unique and should attract attention if being sold through galleries or to private collectors," Detective Inspector Maricic said.

Originally 17 paintings were reported missing but Detective Inspector Maricic confirmed a painting entitled Voyeur by Martine Emdur was also stolen.

The 18 paintings:

Victoria and Moonlight, Charles Blackman

Dreamer in the Glen, David Boyd

Nasturtiums, Iris and Blue Vase, Criss Canning

Tree of Life, John Coburn

The Crimson Scarf, Janet Cumbrae Stewart

The Girl in White, Robert Dickerson

The Red Gown, Judy Drew

The Red Silk Robe, Judy Drew

Wild Orchids, Pro Hart

Rita of the Seventies, Norman Lindsay

Seated Nude, Norman Lindsay

Gloria, Norman Lindsay

Tug Boat, Williamstown Port, John Perceval

Adieu Australia, Garry Shead

Capricorn Haze, Tim Storrier

Little Blue Bay, Sirius Cove, Sydney, Arthur Streeton

Nude with Blue Drape, Dora Lynell Wilson

Voyeur, Martine Emdur

Update:

PROPERTY developer Peter O'Mara believes the theft of 18 paintings from his Darling Point home had been planned for when he was abroad.

In an exclusive interview, the 57-year-old said it was a mystery how the thieves escaped with the large artworks, valued at around $2 million, without attracting attention.

"It's a gut feeling, but the whole thing had to be set up - I think it's been set up for a while," he said. "Not many people knew the artworks were here. You can't exactly see them from the road."

Mr O'Mara said the paintings, which included works by David Boyd, Pro Hart, Norman Lindsay, John Perceval, Arthur Streeton and John Coburn, represented a lifetime of collecting.

Burglars forced their way inside the waterfront building, Elandra on New Beach Rd, which has a video intercom at the street-level entry and requires a pass to operate the elevator. Mr O'Mara said.

Art Hostage Comments:

Remember the art theft from the NSW Gallery of the Frans van Mieris (1635-81) A Cavalier ?

Well, Art Hostage had a lead that would have led to its recovery. Unfortunately the man in charge of the recovery Michael Maher would not pay any fee or agree to any fee for services rendered, or any reward. At that point Art Hostage walked away.

See backstory:

http://arthostage.blogspot.com/2010/05/stolen-art-watch-cavalier-attitude-by.html

First of all Art Hostage got a lead in 2008 a year after the Cavalier was stolen.

Contacted by Greg and Nicole,(German Swiss), Art Hostage put out feelers to see what was on offer for the recovery of the Cavalier painting.

Art Hostage enquired with Police Officers Jeroen Huisman and also Police Officer Gavin McKean about a fee for the services of Art Hostage.

Art Hostage was told to contact Michael Maher who works as the investigator for the New South Wales Govt Insurance arm and who is tasked with the recovery of the Cavalier.

Art Hostage was told in no uncertain terms by Mike Maher there were no fee's, no reward, Nada, zero.

With those words ringing in his ears, Art Hostage withdrew.

Art Hostage finds it strange Edmund Capon is commenting about the lost Cavalier as the NSW Gallery was paid out in full, $1.4 million and have gone on to purchase further artworks with the insurance money.

The Cavalier is now owned by the NSW Govt Insurance arm and will not be returned to the NSW Gallery if recovered.

This story leaked in the press is designed to smoke out the Cavalier, but of course that is academic as the truth is already posted on Art Hostage from years passed.

Now it seems the Cavalier is back on the radar and Art Hostage warns those who may be suckered into this not to start whinging when they don't get any reward, don't complain when they are arrested handing back the Cavalier.

Just give a location where the Cavalier can be located, PLEASE do not be in the same Post/Zip code, let alone the same room as the Cavalier when it is recovered, if you do, you WILL be arrested.

Still, if money is not your motive contact Michael Maher below:
-
MICHAEL MAHER ASSOCIATES PTY. LIMITED
PH: 9977 1544 FAX: 9977 1983
Sydney Australia

Backstory: http://stolenvermeer.blogspot.com/2009/01/stolen-art-watch-homesick-cavalier.html

Friday, August 06, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Sweden, Royal Family Victim of Chinese Whispers !!!



A gang of thieves on Friday staged a remarkable break-in near the Swedish royal family’s residence in Stockholm, smashing display cases at a historic 18th-century Chinese-style landmark and getting away with artifacts that police called potentially priceless.

The heist at the ornate Chinese Pavilion, a birthday gift from King Adolf Fredrik to Queen Lovisa Ulrika in 1753, took just six minutes, and occurred just after security guards had made their rounds at 2 a.m., police spokeswoman Diana Sundin said.

“The alarm went off just as the guards had passed by,” she said. Guards immediately returned to the scene, but the burglars had already vanished, she said.

The burglars are believed to have entered the building by smashing the glass on the pavilion’s back door. Once inside, they shattered three display cases, she said, and made off with an unknown number of “old, beautiful Chinese objects.”

“It might not even be possible to put a value on these objects. That’s how bad it is,” she said. She could not say specifically what was stolen, but the pavilion is known for its display of Chinese artifacts including porcelain, China and vases.

The original small wooden Chinese pleasure palace was replaced by a more robust structure in the 1760s and has rich, European rococo interiors along with its collection of chinoiserie. It is located near the royal family’s permanent residence in the Drottningholm Palace park in western Stockholm. Both are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Sundin said there are currently no suspects in the case, but that there are indications that there were at least three people involved in the burglary.

She also said police are investigating a motor bike found abandoned in the nearby waterfront that borders the majestic park.

“Right now, everything points toward them having left via the water,” Sundin said, adding they may have had a boat waiting for them as they fled the scene.

Art Hostage Comments:

Baha and Dieya Kadhum in the frame, modus vivendi............

Here Come The Girls !!

League of organized burglars are operating in Stockholm.

The extent of their ‘business’ is bigger than previously anticipated.

As it seems; there are two groups which are responsible for a clear majority of the break-ins.

The groups normally work in a very professional way.

They make however mistakes; in the home of one of the victims the police found communication equipment and tools for climbing on the outside wall that were left on the scene of the crime.

One of the groups, with roots in South America, seems to have only females in leading positions which is a bit unusual.


This is just the tip of the iceberg

Update:
Breaking news: Meanwhile, a Degas and two Toulouse-Lautrec paintings were stolen from a home in the upmarket Neuilly area in the suburbs of Paris. Thieves broke in as the 80 year-old resident was away on holiday.

A total of five works of art, which include a picture of two of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, were stolen from the home of an elderly woman of 88 years in Neuilly-sur-Seine, outside Paris.

The woman, who at the time of the looting was on vacation, denounced last August 2 theft of five paintings.

The titles of the works or their market value have gone beyond the media.

The robbers entered the building through the roof and pierced a window with an object that could be a diamond, according to the victim, alerted to the incident by the doorman of the building.

The paintings were not insured and the house of the victim did not have an alarm system.

The paintings are the work of French subtracted Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas and Marie Laurencin.

Encore:

Edgar Degas “Les Choristes (The Chorus)", missing from the Cantini Museum Marseille since last December, time to put in an appearence me thinks.

Perhaps pressure on the guard bore fruit, or BRB made a raid and recovered it during the operation.

A sting operation, a hand back, secret talks have been going on in Paris, so, let the cards fall where they may !!!

Jacques Dallest is a bit of a maverick, has he made the deal and allowed the Degas “Les Choristes (The Chorus)" to surface ???

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Prince Andrew Art Heist Attempt, Queen Mother Desks Targeted, Who and What Next ????



Hugh Buchanan,
‘Desks in the Royal Lodge’, 2000
The Royal Collection

A GANG of sinister intruders smashed their way into the estate where Prince Andrew and Fergie live.

Three or four men, dressed in black and wearing balaclavas, demolished gates with a Range Rover.

They drove around the grounds at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, Berks, for several minutes before being spotted on CCTV and fleeing.

Andrew, 50, and his daughters Princesses Beatrice, 21, and Eugenie, 20, were on holiday in Scotland with the Queen. His ex-wife, the Duchess of York, 50, who lives in another part of the Lodge, was in Spain.

No police were on duty at the time because the royals were away.

The gang passed near the Royal Chapel of All Saints - a small church where the Queen often worships - and even briefly got out on foot to explore the gardens.

When they knew they had been rumbled they sped off and escaped through little-known back roads and tracks.

Investigation

A police source said last night: "They could have been burglars who didn't realise they were breaking into a royal home. Or they could have been terrorists bent on mayhem.

"It looked like a well-planned operation because they were disguised and knew how to escape through back roads."

Beatrice and Eugenie returned from holiday yesterday to find their home - where the Queen Mother used to live - crawling with armed cops.

The source said: "This incident highlights how easy it would be for someone to get in and plant a bomb or to hide. It should never be allowed to happen and a major investigation is under way."

The incident happened on Monday morning at around 5am. The source went on: "If they hadn't been seen, who knows what device they could have planted?"

Prince Andrew has constantly fought against proposed cutbacks to royal security, particularly for his daughters, who are fifth and sixth in line to the throne.

Prince Andrew inherited Royal Lodge after the Queen Mum's death in 2002.

Update:

A 43-year-old man was arrested on “suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft” after three people broke into the grounds of the home of Britain’s Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, police said on Thursday.

(He has since been released on bail until 16 September.)

The intruders entered the grounds of Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, west of London, in a car on Monday, but did not get into the building and nothing was taken, a police spokeswoman said.

The prince and his daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, were not there at the time. His ex-wife, Sarah, who has remained good friends with the prince and lives in a separate part of Royal Lodge, was also away.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Art Hostage Comments:

This was an attempt to steal high value art and antiques.

Specifically, the Queen Mother desks in the photo above, which is a watercolour by Hugh Buchanan commissioned for the 100th Birthday of Queen Mother in 2000.

Suspect has since been released on bail until 16 September.

"If at first they don't succeed, they will try, try and try again" is the message from the Art Crime Underworld.

What happened next, this below:

http://arthostage.blogspot.com/2010/08/stolen-art-watch-prince-andrew-lucky.html

Update:

I kid you not, the link below is for a festival that promotes art theft, teaches it as well,


"Get the fuck outta here" as they say in New York

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Arrest and Indictment Awaits Proof of Life, Let Alone Recovery !!!




Düsseldorf.
The Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor brought charges against four men at the local court. Stake in art theft the Bankhaus Lampe in July 2008. The crooks captured artworks worth a million.

Works of art worth one million euros disappeared in July 2008 from the Bankhaus Lampe in Düsseldorf. Now four men are accused. Whether they will help in understanding, remains to be seen.

The public prosecutor's Office confirmed that she has raised two charges at the District Court. In one of three men are charged with: two lawyers, 54 and 61 years, will have offered help recover the pictures commissioned a 46-jährigen Bank.
EUR 300 000 would have to pay the Bank for the works of art to almost 9000 euro Anwaltsgebühr. Attempted extortion or instigating and favouring is called the public prosecutor's Office. The accused should have been meaning to help the people who commit to make their prey money.
Images against money
The second indictment accuses those stolen or stolen. He should be involved in the theft or otherwise - possibly through a third - party access to the valuable images have had, because he should have shown pictures of them.

His lawyer Torsten Timm is but sure that these charges can not be proven: "I have at the District Court the request, not only allow the charges." It deems the accusations against his colleagues also groundless: "doing this to help bring the pictures to the owner is not punishable."
Images against money - yet another defendant had offered. But when the 43-jährigen the Prosecutor is safe only bluffing, never had the images. He is accused of fraud. His process would have on 8. July begin to. But because the Defender has applied for further investigation, it was postponed. There's a new date yet.

Art Hostage Comments:

You see this is what happens when proof of life is given and then not followed up upon. Authorities then try to pressure the lawyers by arresting them and charging them as seen in the Da Vinci Madonna case.

Just like the Da Vinci Madonna case, these Lawyers will walk, but unlike the Da Vinci Madonna case, the stolen art has not been recovered.

So, forget about proof of life in the Gardner case, how about Proof of reward and full immunity.

Anyone stepping forward with information about the Gardner case at this time leaves themselves open to arrest, Grand Jury, abuse and without proof of reward, no reward.
Lawyers won't go near the Gardner case at this time because they know what lies beneath.

Just to add again, Art Hostage requires not one dime, repeat, not a single dime, of the alleged Gardner Museum reward offer of $5 million for the return of all, all the stolen Gardner Paintings, in good condition as well as the many other hidden conditions.

Still, we await the time when Proof of Reward and Proof of full immunity in the Gardner case can be offered publicly, so the Gardner art can finally go home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Robert Wittman, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants !!!


Retired FBI special agent Robert K. Wittman led the agency’s Art Crime Team and is the author of “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures’’ (Crown).

http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2010/07/23/robert_k_wittman_and_the_art_of_undercover_work/

Q. You spent two years trying to locate the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Will that crime ever be solved and the artwork returned?

A. I think the paintings will be recovered. However, in many cases we never find out who the thieves were. Several Norman Rockwell paintings were stolen in Minneapolis and recovered in Rio de Janeiro, for example, and I still don’t know who stole them. The important thing always is to get the paintings back.

Q. Best guess where the Gardner Museum paintings are?

A. The south of France or Spain.

Q. Many potential culprits have surfaced over the years, including Whitey Bulger. Ever come close to crossing paths with Whitey?

A. No. There’s a lot of folklore surrounding this case that I never gave much credence to, either.

Q. If artwork this valuable is so hard to sell, why do thieves keep stealing it?

A. How many big art thefts have there been in the US recently? Not many. Fraud cases and forgeries, yes. But it’s a different story in Europe, where other legal systems come into play.

Q. Also less security?

A. To some degree, but that still begs the question: Why steal this stuff? To make money, of course, which is why I say the real art to art theft is not the stealing, it’s the selling. These guys are usually good crooks but terrible businessmen. Especially in Europe, though, thieves also use stolen artwork as bargaining chips.

Q. As in, I’ll trade you this missing Picasso for a lighter sentence in a drug case?

A. Exactly. In the US, we can’t negotiate like that.

Q. As an undercover agent, what’s the hairiest situation you found yourself in?

A. My biggest moments of terror were when I thought the bad guys had figured things out and we weren’t going to get the artwork back. Personal danger? That’s something cops and agents accept every day. I worried more that I’d said something wrong and lost a shot at closing the deal.

Q. You had a hand in recovering over $225 million in stolen art and antiquities. Proudest moment?

A. Recovering the Rembrandt self-portrait stolen from the Swedish National Museum — it was valued at $36 million — was great, because we’d just formed the Art Crime Team and that case gave us a big push. It’s not always about the money, though. I recovered a Civil War banner carried into battle by one of the country’s first African-American regiments. At least five soldiers died carrying it, which makes its historical value priceless.

Q. With your book out, you’ve become pretty recognizable. So, no more undercover work?

A. I don’t do that anymore, no, which has actually been a big relief. But I do help others do it.

Interview was condensed and edited.

Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at jkahn@globe.com.

Art Hostage Comments:

Despite the negative spin by some within the FBI and other Govt Agencies, Robert Wittman has secured a special place in the hearts of the American People.

His story is one of true grit, selfless determination and reflected in an honest, humble manner.

There are so many negative things about the FBI and other Govt agencies Robert Wittman could have said, been justified in saying, and most of us lesser mortals would have said.

However, integrity intact, Robert Wittman walked the fine line and has established himself as Standing on the shoulders of Giants.

In the not too distant future it will be revealed just how "straight as a gun barrel" Robert Wittman was in his career, via a court case concerning the recovery of two world famous stolen paintings.

Then we will never "Forget Paris"

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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, FBI "Good" Soldier Geoff Kelly Unplugged !!


First Person: Geoffrey Kelly

On March 18 1990 I was visiting New York’s Museum of Natural History when I overheard someone say that thieves at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston had just got away with the biggest art heist in history – half a billion dollars worth. I’d recently graduated from film school at Boston University, yet I’d never heard of the museum. I worked in the television industry and could never have predicted that eventually I’d spend eight years leading the FBI’s hunt to recover the artwork.

The heist was pulled off by two men who posed as police officers, tied up the museum guards with duct tape, and spent 81 minutes stealing 13 works of art. There are only 36 Vermeers in existence, and the one they stole, “The Concert”, is the only one that’s not accounted for. Their haul also included a Manet and three Rembrandts, one of which, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, was his only known seascape.

Although I went into television, I’d always wanted to be an FBI agent. I became a transit cop in New York and then joined the FBI. Eight years ago, I was on the organisation’s Violent Crime Squad, which is the squad that was working on the heist investigation, and the case was assigned to me. I had no experience working in this area, so there was a lot of on-the-job training with the FBI’s art crime team. We spoke to curators, restorers, specialists from auction houses and other art theft investigators. That doesn’t mean to say that we’re all art experts, but it helps us understand how the art black market works, and now I’m the FBI’s art theft co-ordinator. As for my own taste in art, maybe I’m biased from this case, but I’ve always liked the Dutch Masters.

After eight years, it would be difficult for me to not have my own theories on who stole the art. But one of the hardest things about being the lead investigator on a case of this magnitude is that while I have my own ideas, I have to be open-minded. I have to investigate all theories, and leads come in all the time. Sometimes the leads are obscure or ambiguous, where somebody calls up and says this guy they know looks like one of the subjects in the sketches. Then there are the ones where people have psychic visions. Once somebody said they had devised a scientific instrument that they believed could locate the paintings. In 2005, we had a tip that some of the artwork was in Paris so we went over and ran everything down to the ground. We got back in touch with Paris after the art heist there in May at the Museum of Modern Art, when $123m worth of art was stolen, but there didn’t seem to be any connections.

According to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s will, nothing can be added or removed from the collection, so the empty frames are still on the museum walls. The museum is offering a $5m reward, and the US Attorney’s office is willing to offer immunity in return for the paintings. I’m very optimistic that the artwork will come back – it’s just a question of when. In 1978, a Rembrandt was stolen from San Francisco’s de Young Museum and it was recovered 20 years later. People steal artwork and then sit on it, thinking that it’s going to stop being so hot. Unfortunately for the Boston thieves, they carried out the largest art heist in the world, so those paintings are always going to be hot.

Art Hostage Comments:

Comments to follow..............

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Christ's True Cross Boston, Art Hostage Had To Keep Quiet !!



Relic of cross stolen from cathedral

Archdiocese prays for its recover

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/13/relic_of_cross_stolen_from_cathedral/

A janitor at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross entered the church’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel early one recent morning and made a startling discovery: A thief had pried open a panel covering a small glass case and stolen a small piece of wood venerated by Catholics as a fragment of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

The relic, one of the oldest and most treasured possessions of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has not been seen since, and now on the wall in the dim chapel hangs a cross with its base pried open and an empty cavity where the relic once rested.

“We are deeply troubled that this sacred relic was stolen, and we pray for those responsible,’’ the Rev. Kevin J. O’Leary, rector of the cathedral, said yesterday. “We ask the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston to join the cathedral’s parishioners in praying every day for its return.’’

The relic disappeared sometime between 10 a.m. on June 30 and 8 a.m. on July 1, according to a police report. The theft was re ported Sunday by The Lady in the Pew, a blog written by Kelly Thatcher, who describes herself as “a Roman Catholic lady who loves being a Roman Catholic lady.’’ The theft was confirmed to the Globe yesterday by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Lieutenant Detective Michael Conley said police believe that the relic was stolen by someone who visited the chapel during the day because there were no signs of forced entry. The relic, he said, was last seen by a church official at 10 a.m. June 30. Nothing else was missing from the chapel, he said.

“Somebody knew what it was,’’ he said.

He said investigators are scouring eBay to see if the relic might turn up. Last night, a Globe search of eBay found a dozen items under a search for “true cross relic,’’ with price tags ranging from $105.49 to $3,800.

The relic arrived in Boston in the late 18th century, a gift to a French missionary priest, the Rev. Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, who later became the first bishop of Boston.

The relic was given to Cheverus by Abbe Claude de la Poterie, the first pastor of the cathedral, who was also a French priest, as well as a onetime chaplain in the French Navy.

De la Poterie celebrated the first public Mass in Boston on Nov. 2, 1788.

The relic is one of many around the world that are said to be parts of the “True Cross.’’ Churches have professed to have relics of the cross since the fourth century; the authenticity is often disputed, but the relics are nonetheless significant objects of prayer for many Catholics.

“The relic of the True Cross is an important sacramental that helps Christians contemplate the crucified Savior and the great suffering He endured for the salvation of the world,’’ said archdiocesan spokesman Terrence C. Donilon.

Boston’s first Catholic church, completed on Franklin Street in 1803, was named the Church of the Holy Cross.

The church was designated a cathedral in 1808, when the Diocese of Boston was established; the current cathedral, on Washington Street in the South End, was completed in 1875.

The north transept window at the cathedral depicts the legendary discovery of the cross by Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine. In the scene, a dead woman is restored to life after the cross is laid upon her.

The south transept window depicts another story associated with the cross: return of the relic to Jerusalem by a Byzantine emperor after it was stolen by the Persian army in the seventh century.

On a day-to-day basis, people visiting the chapel often stop to pray before the relic, said the Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, an aide to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley. Yesterday at midday, a lone man stood in the chapel, praying.

“What they’re doing many a time is they are uniting their own suffering, their own darkness, to the suffering of Christ, in the hope that through Christ’s power and mediation, they will have light and experience the glory, even in this life, of the resurrection,’’ Gaspar said.

On Good Friday, the cross that holds the relic is brought into the cathedral, and people are invited to come forward and venerate the cross by genuflecting and kneeling in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus, Gaspar said.

“When a bishop comes forward to venerate the cross on Good Friday, the Ceremonial of Bishops [the book of liturgical instruction for bishops] suggests that he come to venerate without the zucchetto [the bishop’s skull cap] and without shoes,’’ Gaspar said.

“He comes forward to venerate the cross as the Emperor Heraclius did, barefoot and bareheaded.’’

Art Hostage Comments:

Bad vibes, bad vibes, this is all bad vibes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Heist, Paris Heist, I Don't Like Mondays !!!!



Art Hostage has some news, well of a sort, can't give it all away just yet.

First of all it's "Brace Yourself" time again.

Excuse the French, no pun intended, "The Shit is about to hit the fan, big time"

All will become apparent in due course but there is a Cat and Mouse game going on here with certain parties waiting for Art Hostage to reveal too much, then they can use that excuse to harass Art Hostage again.

I will not play, well just a little then, he he !!!

Art Hostage has been called upon to give his advice on the current efforts being made in relation to the Gardner art and the Paris Heist.

First of all, Art Hostage wants not a dime, not a single cent of the $5 million reward offered in the Gardner case, which makes life a whole lot easier.

The Paris Heist is different, BRB are right in the middle of their active stuff, mustn't go into too much detail today, shh.

There is a Power Play going on in France at this time and two camps have emerged.

First camp are French political and they want to deal, release certain criminals early and drop charges against others and give lesser jail time in exchange for the Paris paintings to be returned.

This camp are supported by those who want the Gardner art to be included into the package and voices from America are getting louder. Still, the French connection to the Gardner art is a proxy and other entities need to agree. This may sound a little confusing, or Irish, because it is !!!

A little thing Robert Wittman left out of his book is Whitey Bulger's stay in France.

When the FBI proof read Bob's book they were more interested to see if Bob made any reference to Whitey Bulger, which was, and still is the main concern for the FBI.

The Nightmare scenario is about to become a reality regarding the Gardner case and the hidden secret is about to be revealed. All this time Law Enforcement and others have managed to suppress the Whitey Bulger secrets.

Funny how the Napoleon finial, given as a gift, presents appreciation, "you know who" loved it and cherished it. So, funny enough, the finial stolen from the Gardner Museum will prove to be the hardest thing to recover, funny old world !!!!

However, on the other side in the French battle to recover the Paris art and Gardner art, are Law Enforcement, BRB and others who want to be allowed to investigate as normal and try to sting the Paris art back and make further arrests, and also try to recover the Gardner art in that vain as well.

It is getting territorial and nasty, with both sides running to Politicians for support.

President Nickolas Sarkozy is on the deal-making side, not least as his ex-wife, Cecilia's stolen jewellery is on the menu to be recovered and that will give him less domestic grief.

The French Crime Minister wants no part of a hand back deal and is on the side of Law Enforcement and the BRB.

Hope to have good news soon, that is on the recovery side.

Art Hostage will take his lead from the French President, do the deal, or as Robert Wittman always said: "It's a done deal"

Next, yes, anyone giving information about the whereabouts of the Gardner Art will be required to testify to a Grand Jury about exactly what they know and how they came by the information that led to the recovery of the Gardner art. Yes also to the fact any taking of the Fifth Amendment is null and void before the Grand Jury and they will be expected to testify against those who may have been handling the Gardner art.

The current negotiations have been relayed to Art Hostage via Underworld contacts, "Top of the morning" and "Bonjour" and Art Hostage has been truthful throughout.

The link of course is idealistic Republican aspirations and cigarette smuggling.

The revolving door of art theft is going on as before with the Bob Wittman recoveries of the two Picasso's and the group involving Bernard Ternus coming back, and the Picasso, Matisse and Gardner art outstanding.

In the UK, things are not so large, a Group of Miniature situations is developing.

Closer to home, Art Hostage is still waiting for the next unwarranted visit to harass and annoy.

Lots more to follow as the week progresses..........................

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Peeling Back The Verneer Reveals Festering Deceitful Poison !!


Leonardo da Vinci case and investigation costs revealed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_scotland/10448546.stm

The costs of a Leonardo da Vinci theft investigation and extortion case at the High Court have exceeded £350,000.

The figures were obtained by the BBC via Freedom of Information requests.

Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary has spent nearly £250,000 on its operations since the Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen in 2003.

Prosecution costs of two extortion cases, which did not result in any convictions, have been estimated at a little more than £130,000.

The figure does not include defence costs for the accused during their trial.

The artwork, worth an estimated £40m, was taken from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Estate north of Dumfries in August 2003.

It sparked one of the biggest police operations in the history of Scotland's smallest force.

About £25,000 was used in police and support staff overtime, expenses and investigation costs in the first year of inquiries.

Det Ch Insp Michael Dalgleish said the theft investigation had been a "significant" one.

"When the crime happened it is important to realise what type of crime we were investigating," he said.

"This was a brazen daylight attack at Drumlanrig Castle with two men who entered the premises armed - one with an axe, one with a crowbar - and assaulted a young female member of staff and threatened her with violence.

"They stole a painting that is obviously significant in terms of value and art worldwide.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the people involved in the planning for this crime and the actual execution of it are operating at the very highest level and are involved in organised crime in the UK."

Annual police costs dwindled to a little more than £100 in 2005/06.

However, they rose to about £185,000 between 2007 and 2009 as an undercover investigation began.

'Not unreasonable'

Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said police had been "duty bound" to follow up on information they received that someone had possession of the painting and was seeking money for its return.

"That operation was fairly lengthy and by the very nature of it, it was sophisticated and delicate," he explained.

"It resulted in some costs being incurred but I think if you look at the seven or eight years since the painting was stolen and balance out the costs that Dumfries and Galloway have incurred I don't think it's unreasonable by any means.

"If you were to ask me would I make the same decisions again in terms of that undercover deployment - yes, I would without question."

The investigation resulted in five men being accused of conspiring to extort £4.25m for the painting's safe return at a lengthy trial in the High Court in Edinburgh earlier this year.

The case was found not proven against three individuals with the other two found not guilty.

Charges against three other men accused of a similar extortion conspiracy were dropped shortly afterwards.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it did not routinely record the costs of prosecuting individual cases.

However, it was able to identify a number of areas of expenditure in the case which went to trial.

Case preparation costs, trial preparation, preliminary hearings and the trial itself were estimated to have cost £134,713.

The costs of the second case were "absorbed" within the estimates for the first.

Despite the lack of convictions, Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said that gathering sufficient evidence to take the case to court was something the force was proud of.

"The jury will make the decision that they are charged to do, that is beyond my control," he said.

"For us the result, if you like, was getting the evidence against those individuals to that position where the jury can make a decision."

He added that police remained determined to find whoever took the painting nearly seven years ago.

DA VINCI COURT COSTS

High Court in Edinburgh
  • Case preparation - £70,000
  • Trial preparation - £19,813
  • Preliminary hearings - £3,400
  • Trial costs - £41,500
  • Total - £134,713
DA VINCI POLICE COSTS
* 2003/04 - £26,151.25
* 2004/05 - £5,557.98
* 2005/06 - £124.17
* 2006/07 - £12,884.69
* 2007/08 - £134,497.34
* 2008/09 - £50,694.24
* 2009/10 - £8,219.09
* Total - £238,128.76

Art Hostage Comments:

It would be easy to request the Duke of Buccleuch pay these costs.

However, perhaps this is all part of the PR campaign and adds to the attempt not to pay any reward or fee's for services rendered, other than the huge payout to Mark Dalrymple and of course the huge payment which will be made to John Craig, the Undercover Police Officer from S.O.C.A. when he retires, nudge, nudge, wink wink !!!

So, if the Duke pays this bill, he can appear to regain some credibility and moral high ground, hmmm, we'll see, we'll see indeed.

As Art Hostage has said before, this snide, double dealing does not give confidence to those who have control of the Gardner art, Vermeer in particular.

Long Live The Freedom of Information Act

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”

Chess

Dumfries and Galloway have spent £250,000.00 on its operations since The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen in 2003.

The Prosecution costs have been estimated at a little more that £130,000.00.

These figure do no include the defence costs of the eight accused men five of whom were acquitted by a jury and three of whom the Crown elected not to continue to prosecute in the public interest.

The Crown employed 2 Queens Counsel and three junior counsel supported by the Procurator Fiscal Service at a cost estimated at £134,713

For the defence costs of the eight defendants it would not be unreasonable to multiply the prosecution costs by eight and that takes account of the low rates of pay the Scottish Legal Aid Board allow. Say £135k x 8 to produce defence costs of £1,080,000

The breakdown of the costs reveals that between 2003 and 2006 little more than £100,000.00 was spent and you would have thought that the major police activity would take place in the immediate aftermath of the robbery.

In fact the report indicates that £25,000.00 was spent in the first year which would have involved calling upon the worldwide resources of law enforcement including the FBI and Interpol.

"However the figures rose to about £185,000.00 between 2007 and 2009 as an undercover operation began"

At a glance it is apparent that more money was spent post recovery seeking to secure convictions than pre recovery seeking to discover who committed the robbery. The police clearly took their eyes off the ball because they cannot answer two questions

· Who stole the painting?

· Where did the £350,000 paid to secure control of the painting go?

Lets be absolutely clear about a few matters

The undercover covert operation commenced in June 2004 involving Michael Brown

The Michael Brown lead effectively ended in May 2007

Only two undercover officers were involved.

In evidence DI Gary Coupland stated that as of 10 August 2007 there were only two officers from Dumfries and Galloway actively assigned to the case.

It would be safe to assume that the two undercover officers assigned to the Brown case had been released to undertake other duties.

So far as he recovery of the painting was concerned all activity took place between 14 August 2007 and the date of the recovery on 4 October 2007.

This is less than seven weeks.

On the day of the recovery an astonishing 80 officers were involved.

Apart from the handover of the painting all communication was by telephone, email and fax save for one 45 minute meeting at Euston station on 30 September 2007.

It would be reasonable to assume that the undercover operation ceased on 4 October 2007 so the breakdown of the figure seems to be masking how the resources have actually been deployed.

The accused were not under surveillance apart from the Euston meeting and day of handover so how do the police explain this massive use of resource

Interestingly no reference is made to the costs of SOCA or SEDA or Strathcylde Police all of whom were given credit when the arrests were made

Is the Duke of Buccleuch so powerful that no expense is spared when it comes to protecting his interests?

SOCA and the real people behind the robbery may well have played Dumfries and Galloway Police.

The police acknowledge that: "there is no doubt in my mind that the people involved in the planning for this crime and the actual execution of it are operating at the very highest level and are involved in organised crime in the UK." Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said police had been "duty bound" to follow up on information they received that someone had possession of the painting and was seeking money for its return. "That operation was fairly lengthy and by the very nature of it, it was sophisticated and delicate," he explained.

The whole SOCA operation was based on the premise of a commercial buyback. So it was never a position of someone having possession of the painting seeking money for its return. It was made absolutely clear from the outset that this was a window of opportunity whereby parties could assist in the facilitation of the paintings return on a commercial basis. This was the SOCA plan of which the Duke of Buccleuch played an integral part.

If innocent parties were involved in that, then that could achieve the first objective namely safe recovery of the painting. There after police enquiry may have been able to trace matters back, but there were no guarantees.

"It resulted in some costs being incurred but I think if you look at the seven or eight years since the painting was stolen and balance out the costs that Dumfries and Galloway have incurred I don't think it's unreasonable by any means.”

If you were aware of the SOCA meeting information being withheld from you, then you would be outraged. It seems to be abundantly clear that SOCA and Mark Dalrymple kept Dumfries and Galloway Police in the dark about the Gatwick Airport Hilton meeting thereby affording them plausible deniability.

It is anticipated that the current Independent Police Complaints Commission Investigation against SOCA will establish that Dumfries and Galloway Police were not advised of the Gatwick Airport Hilton meeting in January 2007

"If you were to ask me would I make the same decisions again in terms of that undercover deployment - yes, I would without question."

With due respect to Detective Chief Inspector Dalgleish you have to wonder who has been asking him this very question

With respect Inspector Dalgleish no you would not. You are clearly an officer with integrity and SOCA have placed you into a position that in untenable. You clearly are unaware of the SOCA meeting and thus you have plausible deniability

Despite the lack of convictions, Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said that gathering sufficient evidence to take the case to court was something the force was proud of. "The jury will make the decision that they are charged to do, that is beyond my control," he said.

"For us the result, if you like, was getting the evidence against those individuals to that position where the jury can make a decision."

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”

Chess

A jury can only make a true decision where everyone plays by the rules and had SOCA played by the rules and disclosed the evidence of the meeting at the Gatwick Airport Hilton in January 2007 then the Crown could not have mounted a conspiracy prosecution based on a conspiracy alleged to have commenced in July 2007 which undercover officers joined in.

Lord Carloway in the Court of Appeal stated.

"INSTRUCTIONS TO UNDERCOVER OFFICERS

1. A Police Officer must not act as an 'agent provocateur'. This means they must not

(a) Incite or procure a person, nor through that person anybody else, to commit an offence, or an offence of a more serious character, which that person would not otherwise have committed.

(b) Through pressure, encouragement or inducement invite any person to commit an offence, which that person would never otherwise have been committing. (Weir v Jessop 1991 SCCR 636)

2. However, a Police Officer is entitled to join a conspiracy, which is already in being...

...

4. Police Officers are entitled to use the tool of infiltration of groups or organisations. In such a case it is proper for the undercover officer to show interest in, and enthusiasm for proposals made even though they are unlawful, but, in so doing, they must try to tread the difficult line between showing the necessary interest and enthusiasm to keep their cover (and pursue their investigation) and actually becoming an agent provocateur. Invariably this means you enter a criminal conspiracy or become part of a pre-arranged criminal offence.

...

6. Police Officers must bear in mind that the court will scrutinise carefully the role of the Officer in undercover operations and take into account the circumstances in which evidence was obtained. The principle of fairness will be applied by the court.

7. Police Officers must be conversant with Article 6 (the right to fair trial) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights".

The Trial Judge accepted that from this point, when they first became involved with the accused, the primary objective of the police was the recovery of the painting, rather than to arrest anyone involved in its theft or reset. Any such arrest would be ancillary to the main objective. As soon as they heard of the contact between Mr Ronald and Mr Dalrymple, the police were suspicious of the actings of Mr Ronald and those he purported to represent. The Trial Judge also accepted that the undercover police, who were under the supervision of senior officers, acted in good faith throughout the events which then followed. He accepted too that, but for the use of undercover techniques, it is unlikely that the painting would have been recovered. He regarded the use of such techniques as "both sensible, from an operational point of view, and proportionate"

“In applying the recognised test, the first point of significance is that the crown are alleging that all five accused conspired to extort money from the owners of the painting and that this conspiracy started on 30 July 2007, before any undercover policemen became involved”

The suppression of evidence before the entrapment hearing in front of Lord Mackay renders the proceeding farce. Had the judge heard the evidence of the two SOCA officers and Mark Dalrymple conspiring in January 2007 six months before the accused had even heard of the painting, he could not possible have reached the conclusions he did. SOCA ran roughshod over the instructions to undercover officers and thereby acted without lawful authority. The rules are there for a reason and when the rules are broken then the system fails. SOCA has not only fallen below the professional standards demanded of them by society they have also let down their professional colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway.

As Mark Dalrymple and two SOCA officers gave evidence before him questions may arise as to their motivations before the Court. The Duke of Buccleuch’s evidence was to the effect that he knew nothing of the recovery operation until the day of the recovery.

I wonder how angry Lord Mackay, Lord Reid, Lord Carloway and Lord Menzies would be to discover how they were deceived in respect of the SOCA meeting at Gatwick Airport.

The figures quoted seem conservative and the resources clearly are top heavy in seeking to procure convictions. The Da Vinci case was strategically flawed from the moment the recovery strategy switched from the Brown case. The buy back idea achieved its objective because the painting was recovered. The strategy to build a case against the returners rather than to follow the £350,000 is baffling.

On the 10 August 2007 an open offer was made to repatriate the painting within 72 hours. I took until 4 October 2007 purely to accommodate police requests for their holidays.

This case has exercised some of the finest legal brains in Scotland both on and off the bench. The acquittals have been a vindication of the jury system and highly embarrassing to the Crown and Dumfries and Galloway Police.

So who has played whom in the Da Vinci case?

· The Duke has his painting back, so far at no expense,

· Persons unknown are £350,000 in cash better off. Presumably serious and organised criminals

· SOCA are facing an investigation by the IPCC

· Dumfries and Galloway Police are facing complaints which may end up with the Scottish Police Complaints Commissioner

· Mark Dalrymple is facing an inquiry into his conduct by the Institute of Professional Loss Adjusters

· Hiscox have paid no reward due to police objection

The outcome of the enquiries underway is eagerly awaited and the civil actions may well grace the courts for some time to come

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”

Chess

Update;

So much breaking news

Lord Stewartby Coin Collection in Play

Lord Stewartby's coin collection, remember expenses allowed, then as soon as there is a glimse of the coin collection, Police swoop and recover the Lord Stewartby Coin collection and arrest everyone within a ten mile radius. Remember what happened with the Da Vinci Madonna, John Craig posed as a representative of the Duke of Buccleuch but in reality was an Undercover Police Officer.

Also, do you remember Peter Sonny Martin O'Halloran, the prolific professional art thief ???

Well, he is meant to be in jail serving seven years as I recall. Wonder if he has gone walkabout again ???

Moving over to Canada, a suposedly rare Chinese scroll painting was stolen from a Mall shop and reputed to be worth $200,000, they have CCTV images. Could it be Darryl Vincent, Ray Hobin or even mobile phone provider Aaron Syberg, usual suspects ???

Finally, hope this is not true, but a whisper is Longleat Furniture robbery. Please tell me this is not true, not another Police failure after Art Hostage warned May 2009 Longleat was in the sights of the Art Underworld again and pointed out the security flaw that should have been fixed.

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”

Chess

Sorry for the print size, template playing up

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Firle Place Porcelain Sweden, Hmmmm, who do we know has long standing Swedish connections ??

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