Wednesday, May 26, 2010
FBI Icon Robert K. Wittman, Number One, Warren T. Bamford, a Real Number Two !!!!
It is with great pleasure and a personal sense of pride that Art Hostage can report the FBI Icon Robert Wittman has been vindicated in his criticism of Warren T Bamford micro managing him during a real chance to recover some of the Gardner Art.
Warren T Bamford is to retire and has been forced to take a job with a Public Sewage Utility Company.
Warren, you mess with an American Icon you end up with a "Shit" job !!!!
No doubt the internal investigation into the conduct of Warren T Bamford with regards the Robert Wittman Gardner art recovery attempt will be revealed at some stage.
Those of us who are on the inside track know how small the global underworld in stolen art is and some of us know just how close Bob Wittman came to recovering some of the stolen Gardner art from the Corsican Mafia.
Details of this will be revealed in Robert Wittmans new book, which will be a deserved blockbuster, see link to buy a cherished copy:
Now Warren, if you apologise to Robert Wittman publicly, Bob will not only accept it, but will humbly spring to your defence.
Warren, you should have thought about the fights you pick and remember Washington is a fickle place.
FBI Icon Robert Wittman has a special place in the hearts of the American people and this endearing quality has proven to be your downfall.
That said, Art Hostage is prepared to give you a pass and allow you to retire gracefully.
here is the Warren Bamford Retirement article:
Head Of FBI's Boston Office To Retire Next Month
DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) ― Warren Bamford, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, is retiring from the FBI after 24 years and going to work for a private utility, the FBI said Wednesday.
Bamford will leave June 18 and begin a job at National Grid, said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI.
Bamford, 51, is a Lowell native who led the FBI's Los Angeles counterterrorism division before returning to Massachusetts in 2007 to run the Boston FBI office.
Earlier in his FBI career, he worked as a sniper, hostage rescuer, anti-terrorism specialist and gang task force leader.
Marcinkiewicz said there's no word yet on who will succeed Bamford as head of the Boston office.
Bamford declined a request for an interview.
While on the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, Bamford was sent as a sniper to both the Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho in 1992 and the government siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Bamford said he did not fire his weapon in either case.
"If you break my career down into stages, much of it was spent in violent crime and gang investigations, and those are things I'm really concerned about," he said during a 2007 interview with The Associated Press.
Bamford was an officer in the Marine Corps for six years before joining the FBI in 1986.
He has worked for the FBI offices in Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Conn.; and Baltimore, where he worked on violent crime and gang cases.
Marcinkiewicz said she did not have details on Bamford's job with National Grid. A spokesperson for the utility had no immediate comment.
When Bamford took the job as chief of the Boston office, he listed the search for fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger as one of his priorities. Bulger, who is wanted in connection with 19 murders, is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list with a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.
During Bamford's tenure, the agency circulated wanted posters in various parts of the world and took out a full-page ad in the Plastic Surgery News, featuring photos of Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who had multiple cosmetic procedures before she allegedly went on the lam with Bulger in 1995.
Bulger has not been found.
Art Hostage Comments:
"I love the smell of Napalm in the morning"
"If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted Aristocracy and Elitist Dogma in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it. I am ready for the fight. The fight against falsehood and those who peddle it. My fight begins today. Thank you and good afternoon."
S.O.C.A Serious Organised Crime Agency
Are they our Masters or our Servants?
In January 2007 two S.O.C.A. Police Officers met with Mark Dalrymple and Art Hostage at the Gatwick Airport Hilton Hotel for cwoffee to brainstorm how to recover the Madonna of the Yarnwinder painting stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch. At the time S.O.C.A. were selecting which cases they wished to undertake as part of their caseload. Mark Dalrymple was anxious for obvious reasons to have SOCA on board.
At the meeting the "Art Hostage" plan was agreed which was to entail three members of the public who had no knowledge of the operation. The three people identified by Mark Dalrymple (via Art Hostage) were Robert Graham, John Doyle from Stolen Stuff Reunited (Internet website) and Solicitor Marshall Ronald.
Six months later the whole plan moved up a gear leading to the covert police operation involving Mark Dalrymple David Restor and John Craig. The painting was recovered in October 2007, with Robert Graham, John Doyle and Marshall Ronald plus a Scottish solicitor being charged with conspiracy to rob.
Let me take a snapshot as of 5 October 2007 and pose a few basic questions.
1 Did S.O.C.A. disclose the evidence of the meeting at Gatwick Airport Hilton Hotel in January 2007 to Dumfries and Galloway Police?
2 Was the Procurator Fiscal aware of this meeting?
3 If S.O.C.A. did disclose the evidence of the meeting upon what legal basis could a charge of conspiracy to rob be formulated?
4 If S.O.C.A. did not reveal the evidence of the Gatwick Airport Hilton Hotel meeting should their actions not be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission?
The very fact that S.O.C.A. attended a meeting where innocent members of the public were targeted unbeknown to them to become involved in a paintings recovery, when it was known to S.O.C.A. that the painting may have been in the hands of professional criminals or even terrorists, is a serious violation of Article 8 ECHR, the right to respect for private family life.
S.O.C.A. are our servants not our Masters and they are accountable to the courts when they step out of line
No law enforcement officers are authorised to behave in this manner against members of the public, or are they is the question.
The Duke Acknowledges John Craig
So What Happens Now?
“The loss adjuster, Mark Dalrymple, now became a key figure, and the duke began to learn something of the complexity of the art underworld. There is nothing illegal about seeking a reward for the return of a stolen painting. But dealing in stolen goods is a criminal activity. The distinction is critical.”
These words are carefully chosen by The Times and indeed deceptive in the context of the Da Vinci case. The whole premise of the Crown case was that John Craig was the lawfully appointed agent of the owner and that the owner wished to proceed by way of a buyback of the painting as part of a commercial transaction. The insurers had already offered a reward and that approach had been unsuccessful and it is important to understand the distinction
What occurred in the Da Vinci case was a matter of contract law not criminal law. In fact to be a little more precise it is the law of agency as should be readily apparent from the Duke when he announced in the Times on Saturday. “So I think it was incredible that John Craig had the capacity to convince people in the way that he did that he was the intermediary for us.”
I am sure the Duke understands that a master is liable for the acts of his servants so has the penny finally dropped!!!
It is accepted and agreed that the SOCA officer John Craig did an excellent job but he must have found it a breath of fresh air to deal with a solicitor focused on returning the painting as fast as he could. In this murky world he found someone who took him at his word.
“Things went cold for some time after that. But John Craig was able to convince the people he was talking to that he had this special link with the family.”
There was no convincing by John Craig he was presented as the Dukes agent by Mark Dalrymple through David Restor, it was all part an parcel of the plan conceived at Gatwick Airport Hilton in January 2007
Three weeks before receiving word that the painting might have been recovered, the duke’s father had died. He had known, before his death, that the picture was safe, but not that it had been found. He was never to see it again.
The Duke knew the picture was safe because he was in direct contact with Mike Brown
The Duke has perhaps been a little reticent about his involvement but if he or his advisers want to plant spoiler stories in the media perhaps he should reveal
1 How he created letters designed to convince about the buyback
2 How he facilitated in a private bank in Charlotte Square Edinburgh for Mike Brown to view £4.2m in a private vault.
3 He might also care to explain his meeting with DI Coupland(Senior Investigating Police Officer) the weekend before the recovery in October 2007
4 How his solicitors Anderson Stathern were disclosed by John Craig as the Dukes solicitors in the commercial transaction
There are some who would say that the Duke of Buccleuch should abandon his moral high ground and behave with a little dignity.
His family’s most precious asset has been recovered and the men involved have suffered greatly to achieve that aim. It is now time to quietly put this matter to bed and enjoy the painting by acknowledging the agreements your agents negotiated to secure its return
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Breaking News on the Frans Van Mieris Cavalier stolen from the New South Wales Gallery Sydney Australia in 2007.
It is in play and here is a reminder of the backstory:
Monday, May 24, 2010
Charles Vincent Sabba Interview 22 May 2010
Art Hostage- In your painting Michel the Merry Drinker, Michel is so clear it brings the Merry Drinker up to date and allows us to see through the stereotype of a dirty, un-kept drinker.
To me this shows drinking can be merry, even though excessive, it shows life can go on even if heavy drinking is a major part. Why have you painted this depiction of Michel Van Rijn as the Merry Drinker of Frans Hals?
CS- Michel has an interesting face and a strong character. He is one of those larger than life personalities that attempt to force an acknowledgement of their presence and abilities on the world. Many people hate him and some love him, but whether or not you approve of him or his style of operating, an honest person would have to admit Michel, and the life he has lived, is very interesting. Sometimes one crosses paths with a person who believes they are pre-destined for greatness. I wanted to capture this self-confidence in his face and eyes. Yes, as you have said, he does not appear in the picture to be an incoherent, slobbering drinker, but an alert, clear minded human being who is confident of his abilities and possesses self-assuredness that he is destined for greatness. He appears to be cloaked in the dignity of man (as I like to paint all of my subjects), albeit one who indulges in all of the available fruits and joys that life has to offer.
I see an old school adventurer in Michel Van Rijn. Prior to, and in, the early 20th century, we had many freebooters who were steeped in Nietzschean thought, created their own value systems and did not believe that man’s justice could touch or judge them. I’m talking about men like the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, the writer and cultural minister Andre Malreaux and the artist Amedeo Modigliani, to name three of my favorites. Again, whether or not you like them as people or approve of their work is not the point. The point is that they created amazing works and attempted feats of action and daring that you just don’t see as frequently in the world today. Also, they constantly attempted to reinvent themselves making something stronger and more powerful on top of what went before. Michel for sometime had a Machiavellian approach to life and I see in his biography a mirror of Rudiger Safranski’s ideal of Nietzsche’s Ubermensche, that being a combination of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance that was prominent in the Italian Renaissance princes.
I have not always approved of how Michel has treated some of the people he has had issues with in the past, but I respect his abilities, such as his profound knowledge of art and antiquities, his survival skills and some of the amazing feats and stunts he has pulled off. One feat of his I am particularly fond of is the faking of an artifact and getting it included into a major auction house catalogue, only to inform them on the day of the auction that they were duped. The auction had to pull the piece and admit it was a fake. This was Michel’s way of saying that sometimes even our art world’s largest institutions may be corrupted, as he implied that their experts must have known the piece was a fraud, but included it in the catalogue anyway just to make the sale. That stunt showed an inclination of artistic brilliance.
AH- What attracts you to Frans Hals?
CS- I’ve always been very passionate about the Italian old masters and spent a lot of time looking at their works and reading their art histories. I neglected my Dutch studies until I was enchanted by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Heist magic spell that has been cast on so many of us in the investigative world. I fell in love with Rembrandt’s works of genius and eventually discovered that Frans Hals was an outstanding portrait artist. Hals just resonates with me. One good thing about being an art lover in New York is that our museums own quite a number of Dutch works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals.
AH- The Gardner Gossips blog was created to promote the huge canvas Gardner Gossips, what is the back-story to this project?
CS- This painting is 8 feet tall and 6 feet 8 inches wide. There are two versions of 32 different faces all talking to each other. Paul “Turbo” Hendry commissioned this piece for his son last March. He told me he thought it would be appropriate if an artist painted most of the main suspects and characters who have been involved in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist investigation. Turbo mused that over the last twenty years many suspects, investigators, reporters, writers, curators, documentary film directors and art experts have had much to say about the heist, who they thought pulled it off, and where they thought the paintings are, but to date no one really has a clue. Many books have been written, but they are books without an ending. Thousands of articles have been written that have started out with “On March 19, 1990, at 01.24 hrs, two thieves dressed as cops…. .” There has been a lot of talk and many leads in the investigation, but not a trace of the $500 million in art.
I start the picture with Isabella Stewart Gardner, she is talking to Rembrandt and it appears she is telling him his works are about to get nicked off of the walls. He turns to the person next to him and tells him. This continues through all 32 subjects and ends with the last person turning back to Isabella. Every character we chose for this canvas is bigger then life. Very interesting people with very handsome and beautiful, strong features. One cannot find an American in history much more interesting then the eccentric art-loving Isabella. There are the reporters Mashberg, Kurjian, Jill Rackmill and Brian Ross; suspects like William Youngworth and Myles Connor, who were once close friends and then ended up bitter enemies; Gangsters like Whitey Bulger and the FBI agent Connolly who was in Bulger’s pocket. Don’t forget the politico Bulger who grew up with his brother Whitey and agent Connolly in the Southie projects. There are many very intricate and intriguing stories behind all of the people and their relationships to each other on this canvas that transforms it into a Herculean epic poem in oil paint.
My friend William P. Youngworth III visited my studio and posed for portraits. He is the first person who is depicted on the canvas to see it in person the second was Oliver Hendry when he visited last March. Billy Youngworth is an amazing person and again, he epitomizes what I am saying about the wide array of characters, one more interesting then the other that has been a part of the Gardner heist tragedy. Billy was really beat up by everyone since he emerged as a suspect. He was attacked and double crossed by the Feds and law enforcement, he was thoroughly abused by the press, especially Tom Mashberg who attempted to “smoke him out,” and he was even targeted by some criminal groups, one of which planned to kidnap his son to force him to reveal info about the whereabouts of the stolen masterpieces. In spite of all of these trials and hardships he remained strong. He proved to be quite resilient, A real survivor. Billy never changed or backed away from his claim to be able to help facilitate the return of those art works. Everyone thought he would break or make mistakes, but he was very stoic and toughed out the hardships. Now, years later he owns and runs an extremely successful antiques business. More importantly he has proven to be a loyal husband and a loving father. His kids have turned out great. He has now turned his back on the Gardner caper and confidently states that both the museum and the authorities blew their only chance to recover the works. He boldly states that the works won’t resurface for at least another hundred years. I have painted Billy onto the Gardner canvas as he appeared back in the 1990s, and I am currently painting two portraits of him as he appears now. He has been a great supporter of me as an artist and has visited both my old Manhattan studio and my current New Jersey studio in the Rahway Arts District of Rahway, New Jersey many times.
AH- What are you trying to achieve by depicting figures from the art crime world and where do you see the convergence sometimes referred to as the grey area?
CS- First and foremost my ardent desire is to conduct “visual investigations” in the art theft world. I, as a trained police observer and visual artist, wish to document this realm in the same spirit that the war artists documented the people and action of WWII. This is my niche; this subject is what I, as an artist who is employed as a law enforcement officer, was naturally attracted to and fascinated by.
Second in importance is getting to know interesting people in the art world. I want to approach these portrait subjects, not as a police officer, but as an artist. I want to establish myself as a neutral observer. My intention is not to lock these people up, or get them charged for crimes they may have had committed, my intention is only to paint the involved men in women in all their human dignity. I want to know everyone in the art crimes arena. I want to forge true friendships with people I can trust, but I am also content in developing instrumental friendships and mere acquaintances as well. I will let the person’s words, actions and sincerity decide what group they are slotted into in my mind. I like to know very interesting people in the art scene and art theft investigators, art thieves, antiquities smugglers, forgers, and stolen art fences have proven to be very, very fascinating to talk to. Many reporters and investigators often insist there aren’t lady or gentlemen thieves who are aesthetes who appreciate the beauty in that in which they steal. Also, many of the masters and doctorates in the art world underestimate the level of art history knowledge an investigator or police officer can attain. To the art snobs that are out there, and unfortunately there are some, both groups are just knuckle draggers and thugs with mediocre or no level of sophistication. I can tell you that amongst both art theft investigators and art world criminals, I have found some very intellectual people who have a sound grasp of art history and art theory and have a feel for what is going on in the contemporary scene as well. Granted, the conversation is usually dominated by, or at least flows back into, business as usual, that being the investigations, art crimes, market place values, and war stories. But don’t underestimate criminals and never underestimate the police. A good investigator can attain important knowledge swiftly when he gets on a case and there are many lady and gentlemen gumshoes out there prone to aesthetic thought. I remember when I first met Scotland Yard’s Vernon Rapley I was impressed that he would spend his lunch breaks visiting the National Gallery. I think veteran investigators like Col. Musella, Gen. Conforti, Dick Ellis, Charlie Hill, and Bob Wittman can hold their own in conversations with the best in the curatorial field. As far as criminals go, if they are art lovers and they get locked up, they have the advantage of time to devour art history and theory books and magazines in the prison library or in their cell, and time is a commodity many of us don’t have. When I studied at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, one of the teachers, Monroe Denton, insisted we read the NY Times daily, all the art magazines in existence, all the important works by various critics, and many, many important art theory books. I have tried to keep this impossible discipline up the best I can, but there is so much to read and learn and so little time to accomplish this. Convicts have nothing but time on their hands and some are very well read.
Before I became a police officer I worked as a correctional officer for four and a half years. I worked a full year in a federal maximum security witness protection unit and I met a convict there who was involved in the art world. I told this protected “pentito” that Michelangelo Buonarroti was a hero artist of mine and he turned me onto De Tolnay’s writings. He couldn’t believe I had not read DeTolnay. He also turned me onto the Irving Stone novel Agony and Ecstacy which I ended up loving. So you see, knowledge and influence can come from the least expected places and I like to absorb from all interesting people I meet. I study them, pick their brains, then suck knowledge from them and make it my own. That is one way I constantly reinvent myself and build on what was there before.
Third and not least, I hope to build enough trust in the criminal circles that they get comfortable enough to tell me important info that may be helpful in stolen art recoveries. Hopefully, after word gets out that I can be trusted and am not out to hurt anyone or get them locked up, I will be asked to act as a middleman in recoveries between both law enforcement/institutions and the thieves. There is a sort of hairdresser effect when someone is painting your portrait. Everyone opens up to the hairdresser and barber. They end up being the all knowing in a neighborhood. The same goes for a portrait artist. People get comfortable and open up.
AH- What draws you towards the law enforcement and underworld figures that operate within the art crime arena?
CS- In the art crime arena, as in all areas of the art world, you can meet both boring art snobs as well as exciting, interesting people. The murky seas of the world of art crimes is very small and the people who navigate its waters often cross paths and know each other, or at least know of each other. I, as a navigator in this perpetual odyssey of human creation, want to be known as the explorer who actually charted those waters visually.
You could never find more interesting people, or stronger intellects, as you find in the art crimes arena. The art theft investigators you find there, such as Vernon Rapley, Ian Lawson, Michelle Roycroft, Dick Ellis, Col. Musella, Robert Wittman, to name a few are the most upstanding and dedicated law enforcement personnel I have ever met. To me, they are the defenders of culture and their level of excellence and dedication to recovering the world’s patrimony should never be underrated.
As far as criminal operators go, many are common thugs, some are crafty thieves that a Dickensesque Fagin would delight in breaking bread with, and a small number are actually accepted as geniuses who possess artistic brilliance, much like the poet Villon is accepted as, yes a criminal, but also an important poet.
Myles Connor is a fascinating example to discuss. Other police officers feel I should hate him because of his criminal past, not to mention that he once shot a cop. As an artist, I can’t help but see the strong visual in his face from various points of his life. I’ve painted him with his beard twice and he posed for me last year clean shaven while holding one of his 16th century Samurai swords from his collection. This is an outstanding portrait of Myles. I had lunch with him in Blackstone, Massachusetts last year, right after his book came out, and I really enjoyed hearing the episodes from the book first hand. For me life and literature, and life and art, often are a seamless unity. I don’t believe in judging people’s ethics or morals, I only judge levels of artistic skills and knowledge of art and aesthetics. Are you a Bourgeois Philistine, or are you an artist or aesthete. As far as ethics and morals are concerned, who is actually fit to judge these things? I am a cop. I arrest people. I’m not a judge. A judge sits on the bench and gets paid more then me. So I can strike up a friendship and break bread with any man or woman who shows me respect and offers a handshake in friendship.
When Myles was arrested for the art thefts at the Woolworth Estate and faced a long sentence with a habitual offender tag, a Rembrandt “fell off of the wall” at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Myles helped facilitate the return of the painting and received a reduced sentence. This was a perfect example of the mix of ruthless warrior pride and artistic brilliance I previously discussed. It was a brilliant move and in itself can be viewed as a conceptual art piece worthy of Maurizio Cattalan’s approval. As you may recall, Maurizio Catalan once burglarized the Galerie Bloom in Amsterdam and stole all of the gallery’s contents- the artworks, fax machines, filing cabinets-everything. He packed up the gallery’s property in boxes and transported them to Galerie de Appel where he exhibited them the next day under the title Another Fucking Readymade. This “theft” was a statement about displacement; one gallery was transported completely to another. The police were soon summoned. The owners of Galerie Bloom soon calmed down and made a deal to not press the issue if Maurizio would do a show in their gallery on a future date, so he did not get arrested and got another art show out of it. Brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong, I think art theft and art crimes involving the world’s cultural property are serious crimes against humanity, just as detrimental to humankind as genocide, human trafficking and slavery. But in both Myles and Maurizio’s cases works and items were stolen with the intention to return them and in both cases they were indeed returned with the actors’ desired results. Si guarda al fine, or the ends justify the means in an artistic sense. We as a society sometimes need to laugh at things. One of the reasons Andre Malraux had the big rift with the Surrealists was because he thought they took themselves too seriously. Malraux always said we shouldn’t take things too seriously and I agree- a little bohemian fumisme and blague is needed in life. And to avoid any criticisms or nasty phone calls, I do want to make it clear that I do not condone of the theft of the BMFA’s Rembrandt, nor do I find humor in it. As far as I remember, and this story was told to me by a participant in that crime, a guard was almost shot in this crime. There were guns present in the get away vehicle, so this was far from funny and a very serious crime. My point again is the artistic brilliance of the plot. This was a very creative chess move that got Myle’s a reduced sentence. I’m not one to judge morals or ethics, just ability and artistic creativity. Machiavelli and Cesare Borgia would have approved of the action as long as it went as planned. When the Pazzis killed Giuliano De’ Medici but failed to kill Lorenzo, the Florentine populace, who supported the Medici, still thought the plan was ingenious. The Pazzi were dubbed idiots not because they attempted to seize political power but because they failed. Their crime was not the murder of a Medici in the middle of the Eucharistic celebration, the crime was that they planned something that ultimately failed and led to their demise. I respect action and ability
AH- What is your favourite color?
CS- I love the entire color spectrum and for me they must be taken in by the retina in combinations to have a true psychological or emotional effect. I will use the colors of the heroic revolutions of the West as an example: red, white and blue (U.S.A. and France- rights of man); red, white and green (Italian Unification/ Young Italy); green, white and orange (Irish Independence); black, red, purple ( I Carbonari); to name a few, but not all, of the colors and flags I love.
AH- What is your favorite curse word, both in English and Italian?
CS- I don’t like to curse in English, because cursing in English sounds too vulgar and raunchy. Cursing in Italian can be very poetic and expressive. I say Non me ne frego un cazzo a lot. It was a favorite statement of one of my favorite poets, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and it exemplifies a stress free attitude towards life that I have accepted.
AH- Have you ever painted whilst drunk?
CS- Of course but it is very rare. When I work I am totally involved in my subject matter and do not need mind altering stimulus. I like to drink wine with my meals. My favorite is Barbera. I really love Sandro Chia’s wine as well. Sandro Chia founded his Castello Romitorio in 1984 and his wine is superb. I have become close friends with one of his U.S. distributors here in the U.S. I met this wine distributor at Sandro Chia’s last art exhibition at the Charles Cowels Gallery in Chelsea. I also met Sandro’s son Filippo who helps run Castello Romitorio.
Other then moderate drinking of wine with dinner, I only drink heavy when I’m out with my artist friends in Manhattan or Brooklyn. We like to party and absinthe, the real stuff, not the American version, is our favorite.
AH- Dean Martin portrayed himself as a drunk on stage, however, the truth was he only drank apple juice and the playing drunk was part of the act, do you think alcohol helps or hinders creating art?
CS- Unfortunately the art world has become quite conservative and it is frowned upon for an artist to attend exhibitions or art lectures intoxicated. In the 1980s and 1970s people were wild and had fun, but today one has to keep a professional bearing. I, however, like to remind myself of Henri Muger’s words of wisdom that art is more of a faith then a profession. Modigliani always painted while he was very drunk, but I would think any form of intoxication would usually hinder a creative flow.
AH- If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would that be?
CS- Is that a romantic dinner date? I would definitely ask out Susan Valadon. Or any of the following sexy, intelligent ladies: Josephine baker, Lee Miller, Berthe Morisot. Oh yea, how about Lucrezia Borgia. I bet Lucrezia would be a hot date.
AH- What is your relationship with Oliver Samuel Hendry?
CS- Oliver is an amazing young man. I have no doubt that he will soon be known internationally as the new brilliant young British art collector on the scene. Oliver already has many of my works in his huge art collection. He has bought my entire past raisonne, or at least what I had left on hand, he has the 8’ by 6’ 8” Gardner Gossips and has paid in full in advance, he also commissioned and paid in full a 8’ by 10’ painting of the U.S. Presidents, and he is in the process of buying 32 portraits, all 24” x 28”, of various people involved in the art crimes arena.
The first time I met Oliver was last September when I stayed with him and his pop at their beach front home on the English Channel. Then he stayed with me for nine days here in the States when he came over to attend my art exhibition at the Y Gallery New York in the Bowery. We are going to spend time in Italy this July and August and I will visit them again in England next spring, when I am going to do an Ireland, England, Amsterdam sweep again in an attempt to get more art crimes subjects to pose for me. All in all, the Hendry’s are getting close like family.
My advice is to keep your eye on this kid, because he is going to be bigger then Charles Saatchi, or at least will be on a first name basis with Saatchi and attending his cocktail parties.
AH- What is your relationship with Turbo Paul Hendry?
CS- I first heard of Paul “Turbo” Hendry when I attended the Art & Antiques Crimes course in 2004. This was a class held by the Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Unit at Scotland Yard. I then saw him in the Gardner Heist documentary Stolen. A brighton film company interviewed me and Billy Youngworth for a documentary called the Art of the Heist. Turbo and Dick Ellis were also in this and I was already curious about him. Then Ulrich Boser interviewed me for his Harper Collin’s book Gardner Heist. My self and Youngworth were in one chapter and Turbo was in another. So, long story short, I asked Ulrich to get me in contact with Turbo. As I said before, I like to know all the zany, interesting people in the art world and Turbo looked like a fun guy to know. Once we made contact, I turned him onto Skype and we would sit and talk about art and art theft cases for hours. We have really become best of friends. He is an amazing guy and much like Youngworth, was someone with a criminal past who completely turned his life around. He went on to further his education late in life and achieved his Masters Degree. He can talk fast and intelligently without missing a beat or losing his train of thought. I think this is an amazing skill. Also, he is very intuitive, almost psychic, in a way that he can sense what someone is feeling or thinking. These skills were acquired back in his “knocker” days and he has continued to perfect them.
AH- What would you like God to say to you when you finally meet?
CS- A lot of my outlook on art has been influenced over the years by the thoughts and beliefs of Michelangelo Buonarotti. In fact, he was such a heroic figure in my life that I named one of my daughters Michelangela in his honor. Michelangelo believed that an artist, instead of a mere imitator of nature, was a second creator, or a lesser creator under God’s guiding light. The artist as quasi-deity, whose mission on earth is to create. Nature is a weak reflection of reality, but God shared a small amount of his creative force with the artists and it is they who recreate the true reality of the world of ideas. When I am finally confronted by God the absolute artist, the creative force of the universe, I hope he will look at me and say that I was a good artist and that I fulfilled my mission on earth and left behind a significant body of work.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
‘Losing our da Vinci was like dealing with a kidnap’
The theft of the Madonna of the Yardwinder from Drumlanrig Castle was the biggest single art theft in Britain since the war. The Duke of Buccleuch tells The Times how it feels to be held to ransom
It was just a phone call. But for Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch, it was one of the most important he had ever made. At the end of the line was a man who claimed to have information that could lead to the recovery of his family’s Leonardo, The Madonna of the Yarnwinder. “It was almost like dealing with a kidnap,” said the duke. “And that is why the whole process was so shadowy. There is a grey area between when a reward becomes in effect a ransom.”
The call was critical because the man — the duke knew him only as “Mr Brown” — had offered evidence in the shape of a photograph next to a dated newspaper that the picture was safe and that he knew where it was. Mr Brown had to be convinced that he was dealing directly with the duke, and that his intermediary was genuine.
The duke, however, knew something that Mr Brown didn’t. The “intermediary”, using the alias John Craig, was an undercover detective, part of a sting operation set up to catch the thieves. It was vital that his cover should not be blown.
“It was,” admits the duke, “a very stressful conversation ... I tried to convey how deeply anxious the family were to recover the picture and how we wanted Mr Craig to act for us in doing so. You can imagine how very nervous I was. I don’t think we talked money but I sort of implied we would do whatever was necessary.”
When he put down the phone he was trembling. Contact had been made. Now it was a question of waiting.
Whenever a big art theft takes place, word spreads in the criminal underworld. The thieves rarely turn out to be working for a mythical billionaire. Mostly it is theft carried out to order, with an eye to the huge rewards on offer. This one was no exception.
Richard, then the Earl of Dalkeith, heir to the Buccleuch title held by his elderly father, first learnt that the family Leonardo had been stolen when he was out on a hillside on his Dumfriesshire estate on August 27, 2003. It was 11.30 in the morning.
“I heard the voice of a young man who was desperately struggling up the hill from a car parked below. When he got to me and recovered his breath he said: ‘The Leonardo’s been stolen.’ All I remember is simply not believing it. And then the next thought was ... well, it will be recovered.”
Two thieves, one wielding an axe, had walked into the room where the Leonardo hung, threatened a female staff member, then torn the picture from its protective casing, setting off the castle alarms, which alerted the local police. But by the time they got to the castle, the thieves had disappeared, driven away on a maze of small country roads in a getaway car.
Richard’s father, living nearby, could not bring himself to come to the castle. “He was horrified,” said the duke. “I think he felt there was nothing he could do and I don’t think he could have borne the rawness of seeing that empty frame.
“It was very hard for him. He did love that picture and the sense of it having been part of the family history for so long. It was bought in 1756 in Paris by our forebears, and since it was probably painted around 1507, it’s been with us longer than it’s been anywhere else.”
Among the first people on the scene were the insurers. The Leonardo, worth anything up to £30 million on the open market, had been valued for insurance purposes at £15 million. But with 75 per cent of its value exempted for tax purposes, the decision had been taken to insure it for just under £4 million, which was paid out by Hiscox, the insurance company, right away.
The loss adjuster, Mark Dalrymple, now became a key figure, and the duke began to learn something of the complexity of the art underworld. There is nothing illegal about seeking a reward for the return of a stolen painting. But dealing in stolen goods is a criminal activity. The distinction is critical.
At an early stage, the decision was taken to mount a sting operation, with the detective, “John Craig”, playing the role as agent for the duke and his insurers. “He was a courageous man,” says the duke. “The people at the top of the tree were pretty nasty pieces of work, as the court was told. ‘You don’t mess with them’ was one quote I heard, I don’t know if that’s for effect or not but I think that is the case. Whether it’s drugs, guns or stolen Leonardos, these people deal in a currency of goods and they are completely ruthless. So I think it was incredible that John Craig had the capacity to convince people in the way that he did that he was the intermediary for us.”
There were many false alarms along the way. “One learnt to moderate ones sense of anticipation and excitement,” he says. Then came the crucial telephone call with the mysterious Mr Brown. It seemed a significant breakthrough. But it was followed by a silence that lasted for months.
Then something happened which almost spelled disaster. Mr Dalrymple, the loss adjuster, appeared in a television programme about art thefts. In the course of it, he talked about how to set up a sting operation. “Not surprisingly that caused a bit of concern,” says the duke. “Things went cold for some time after that. But John Craig was able to convince the people he was talking to that he had this special link with the family.”
Then, four years after the theft, came the call that the family had been waiting for. The duke was in London and had switched his mobile phone off. When he emerged from a meeting, he saw there were seven calls waiting for him. They were all from the police. They told him the picture had been recovered and he was needed at Dumfries police station to identify it. He flew north that night. Next day he walked into a storeroom to find the Madonna, propped up in a box on a table.
What was his main emotion? “I suppose, to be honest, it was relief. Relief that it had not been damaged. The joy of the recovery and the emotion of seeing it again, that was one thing. But the relief to see that it was all right, with just one tiny bit of crumbling in the top lefthand corner.”
But there was sadness, too. Three weeks before receiving word that the painting might have been recovered, the duke’s father had died. He had known, before his death, that the picture was safe, but not that it had been found. He was never to see it again.
Next year, however, the Leonardo will finally be returned to Drumlanrig. The duke is preparing a special room for it, so that it can be seen as it was meant to be, with clear but gentle lighting in the devotional setting he believes is appropriate. The Madonna is finally coming home.
Art Hostage Comments;
There are two sides to this story, and lets not forget the jury did not regard John Craig or Mark Dalrymple as believable witnesses, hence the Not Proven and Not Gulity verdicts.
This is a concerted effort on behalf of the Aristocracy to avoid paying the lower working classes payment of a reward for recovering the Da Vinci Madonna.
The cleared Da Vinci Madonna defendants are expected to tip their hats in respect of their Masters and eat humble pie,
"move along nothing more to see here" attitude.
However, upon a more sobering note, what about Art Hostage, who's plan was used to recover the Da Vinci Madonna, Art Hostage played by all the Police and Insurers rules, Art Hostage followed the Police and Insurers rules, Art Hostage provided the tools, did Art Hostage get his fee paid, no, not yet, although that tsunami is yet to hit.
You see Art Hostage met with two Police Officers from S.O.C.A. and Mark Dalrymple at the Gatwick Airport Hilton Hotel in January 2007 to sell the Art Hostage plan that recovered the Da Vinci Madonna in October 2007.
A Tale of Two separate claims for payment, the first by the cleared Da Vinci Madonna defendants, the second by Art Hostage who followed the Police and Insurers rules, which Police and Insurers are trying to use against the Da Vinci Madonna cleared defendants.
They cannot have it both ways.
Friday, May 14, 2010
The FBI hopes that during her 15 years on the run with fugitive gangster James “Whitey’’ Bulger, Catherine Greig might have felt the need for a little makeover.
The bureau took out a full-page ad in the April-May edition of Plastic Surgery News, a newsletter circulated to more than 6,000 plastic surgeons worldwide, with photos of Greig, Bulger’s girlfriend, asking, “Have you treated this woman?’’
Greig, a dental hygienist whose 59th birthday fell in April, has had several plastic surgery procedures. According to the FBI, she had breast implants, a face lift, liposuction, and eyelid surgery before she went on the run with Bulger. It’s possible, the bureau believes, that she sought a touch-up while on the lam.
“This is one of many techniques that we are employing currently to locate Mr. Bulger and Miss Greig,’’ said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Boston office. “This is an ongoing investigation.’’
The ad, which features photos of Greig before and after her surgery, asks anyone who may recognize her to call the FBI at 617-742-5533.
“We’re always happy to help,’’ said Mike Stokes, managing editor of Plastic Surgery News, a publication of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He said the FBI probably placed the ad because the newsletter has international reach. Its subscribers include plastic surgeons in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
Allure magazine first reported the news about the ad, with the headline: “Nip/Tuck Meets America’s Most Wanted.’’
Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment in Boston and is wanted in 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s. The fugitive, whose 80th birthday was in September, has been a fixture on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, and the bureau is offering a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.
“I bet that’s got some people going through their old files,’’ Stokes said.
Greig, who was raised in South Boston, had been living in Quincy before she fled. She is wanted for harboring a federal fugitive.
The last confirmed sighting of Bulger was in London in 2002, according to the FBI.
The ad says Greig had breast implants in 1982 and provides the product and lot number of them. It also says that Greig has a ragweed allergy and a sensitivity to Valium, diazepam, and erythromycin.
Dr. Phil Haeck, a Seattle plastic surgeon and president-elect of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said there is a fairly good likelihood that Greig’s implants have been removed or replaced.
He said Greig had first-generation implants, which could leak and stimulate hardening of a scar around the implant.
“If they haven’t broken and haven’t stimulated scar tissue, you’re lucky and should have them removed,’’ Haeck said.
But even if Greig underwent surgery while on the run, the FBI faces a daunting task in trying to determine where.
“It’s so easy to go overseas and have plastic surgery,’’ said Haeck, adding that it has become increasingly common for Americans to travel abroad for cheaper surgeries, and that anyone with an Internet connection can make arrangements.
Still, Haeck called the placement of the ad “a fascinating attempt,’’ which could bring the tip that leads to the capture of Bulger and Greig.
If Greig was a fan of surgery, Bulger clearly was not. A former Bulger associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Bulger “had a phobia of doctors’’ and was unlikely to subject Greig or himself to medical procedures that would leave a trail of hospital records.
After Bulger fled, investigators seized a leather binder of personal papers he left, including a handwritten account of the lingering effects he suffered from participating in a CIA-sponsored experiment with LSD when he was serving time for bank robbery at an Atlanta federal prison in the 1950s.
“It’s 3 a.m. and years later I’m still effected [sic] by LSD in that I fear sleep,’’ Bulger wrote. “The horrible nightmares that I fight to escape by waking. The taste of adrenaline, gasping for breath often I’m woken by a scream and find it’s me screaming.’’
Writing of his distrust of doctors, Bulger wrote, “I have been sick and injured many times these years, but treated myself with over-the-counter medicine.’
The FBI is still searching for James "Whitey" Bulger, 80, some 15 years after he became a fugitive to avoid a federal racketeering indictment in 1995. The bureau is getting desperate creative as the search drags on and on and on continues. The latest: Allure reported that the FBI bought a full-page ad in the current edition of Plastic Surgery News designed to track down Bulger by exploiting companion Catherine Greig's affinity for plastic surgery. The ad features photos of Greig, 59, and asks "Have you treated this woman?" The FBI said Greig has had breast implants, a face lift, a nose job, liposuction, and eyelid surgery before she fled with Bulger. The Globe quoted an apparently straight-faced Mike Stokes, the managing editor of Plastic Surgery News, as saying "We're always happy to help." As Bostonist said, the FBI is getting creative. We suggest trying the National Funeral Directors Association newsletter, too. Tips on Bulger or Greig can be directed to email@example.com gov or 617-742-5533. [Globe]
Art Hostage Comments:
Amazing what plastic surgery can achieve.
Notice how different Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig (above) look.
Whitey Bulger went for the slick Authoritarian look whilst Catherine Greig settled for a Hispanic makeover !!!