Sunday, November 04, 2012

Stolen Art Fall 2012

Stolen Art

Jeffrey Gundlach: Gets Robbed, Gets Thieves, Gets 5 Star Rating
SANTA MONICA:Jeffrey Gundlach, co-founder of the super-hot bond mutual fund company Doubleline Capital, has had an exciting few days:
September 14th – GETS ROBBED
Jeffrey Gundlach returns home from a business trip to find his house was burglarized. Several famous paintings were stolen with a market value of over $20 Million.
September 20th –  OFFERS REWARD
Gundlach offers a reward of $200,000 for any tip leading to the recovery of his art.
September 24th – INCREASES REWARD
Gundlach holds a press conference to announce an additional $1.5 million reward for the return of his favorite paintings and art objects undamaged.
September 26th – COPS RECOVER ART
Police receive a tip that the stolen art is located at an auto-sound shop. Raid is successful with all paintings recovered.
Learn Bonds awards Gundlach’s DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund a five star rating. The fund has yet to be rated by Morningstar or Lipper, despite managing ten of billions of dollars.
more detail’s about the robbery, recovery and 5 star rating . . .
Gundlach’s Love Of Modern Art
Gundlach offered a million dollar reward for the return of this painting undamaged. The key word is “undamaged”. Often times, thieves that successfully rob well-known paintings end up destroying them. Why? Many wealthy buyers don’t want to take the risk of buying a painting in which there is an active large scale investigation, or can be easily identified as stolen when they show their collection. As a result, the thieves often destroy the evidence of the crime when they cannot sell the art to collectors.
Gundlach’s Aggressive Personality Is Part of DoubleLine’s Success
Many people would have let the police handle the matter of catching the criminals. Many people would also be satisfied with receiving the money from insurers for their stolen artwork. Not Jeffrey Gundlach. He publicized the theft. Every major news organization ran photos of the stolen art work, making the paintings impossible to sell. Then he offered a reward “$200,000 – No questions asked for the return of the artwork”, trying to get the thieves to give back the art or their potential buyers to rat them out. When that did not work, he raised the reward. In short, Gundlach took control of the situation and achieved the outcome he desired.
Should you invest in the DoubleLine Total Return Fund?
The rating service of Learn Bonds, LB Fund Ratings, has only granted a five star rating to 5 mutual funds and ETFs.  However, the DoubleLine Total Return Fund is the only five star fund in both the core bond fund and short-duration fund categories. Short duration funds have a major advantage over other bond funds, because they are much less heavily impacted by rising interest rates. Where a 1% rise in interest rates would decrease the value of The Pimco Total Return Fund by 5%, the DoubleLine Total Return Fund would lose only 1%..
Despite having much less interest rate risk. the fund has turned in outstanding returns of 8.27% this year.
Doesn’t Everybody Rate The Fund 5 Stars
No.  In fact, to date Morningstar and Lipper have yet to rate the fund. This is probably because the fund has only been around since April 2010. However, Gundlach has a long-term track record as a very successful mutual fund manager prior to starting the fund.
Joseph Cornell’s Pinturicchio Boy and Medici Princess
The name of Gundlach’s firm is a tribute to the style of his favorite artist Piet Mondrian.  ." Forbes magazine

2. WASHINGTON DC - It’s like stealing history. Art and cultural property crime—which includes theft, fraud, looting, and trafficking across state and international lines—is a looming criminal enterprise with estimated losses running as high as $6 billion annually.

To recover these precious pieces—and to bring these criminals to justice—the FBI has a dedicated Art Crime Team of 14 special agents, supported by three special trial attorneys for prosecutions. And it runs the National Stolen Art File, a computerized index of reported stolen art and cultural properties for the use of law enforcement agencies across the world.

Please note: U.S. persons and organizations requiring access to the National Stolen Art File should contact their closest FBI Field Office; international organizations should contact their closest FBI Legal Attaché Office.
FBI Top Ten Art Crimes
1.Iraqi Looted and Stolen Artifacts
2. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Theft
3. Theft of Caravaggio’s Nativity with San Lorenzo and San Francesco
4. Theft of the Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius
5. The Van Gogh Museum Robbery
6. Theft of Cezanne’s View of Auvers-sur-Oise
7. Theft of the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Murals, Panels 3-A and 3-B
8. Theft from the Museu Chacara do Céu
9. Theft of Van Mieris’ A Cavalier
10. Theft of Renoir Oil Painting

3. BALTIMORE :11:02PM EDT September 27. 2012
 "A purported Renoir painting bought for $7 at a West Virginia flea market two years ago was actually stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art six decades ago, The Washington Post has discovered.
Saturday's eagerly awaited auction of the Impressionist work, Paysage Bords de Seine (Landscape on the Banks of the Seine), has been canceled, and the FBI is investigating. The oil painting was done on a linen napkin, allegedly for Renoir's mistress. Searching the museum's library, the Post found documents showing it had the artwork from 1937 until at least 1949. After being alerted  today, museum officials found paperwork indicating the painting was stolen from the Renoir gallery on Nov. 17, 1951.

The Post explains who found it and what happened next:
The Virginia woman, who wants to remain anonymous, bought the painting in 2010 for $7 in a box with a doll and a plastic cow. She said in an interview that she stashed the box away for nearly two years before her mother suggested it might be a real Renoir. Shortly after the woman brought the painting to the auction house in July, Potomack checked with the London-based Art Loss Register, the world's largest private database of stolen and lost art, and verified that the Renoir wasn't suspicious. Potomack said it also confirmed the piece's authenticity with the Paris-based Bernheim-Jeune gallery, which sold the painting to the May family in 1926 and keeps a registry detailing the
ownership histories behind Renoir pieces.
But neither Bernheim-Jeune nor Potomack could explain what happened to the painting after 1926 or how it came to be sitting in a box of junk at Harpers Ferry Flea Market on Route 340. Until Thursday, the Baltimore Museum of Art, which has an entire wing named after May, said it had no records of the Renoir ever being exhibited there." Washington Post.

4. VANCOUVER:  Although Bill Reid has passed away, he still is a Canadian icon and contemporary artist who's work is valued at the high end in the hundreds of thousands of US dollars. We covered this theft when it happened and now learn that it had an intriguing end.

"Four and a half years ago, police launched an investigation into the brazen, smash-and-grab heist of a dozen “irreplaceable” art pieces from the University of B.C.’s Museum of Anthropology.
 Within months, all the stolen items — mostly gold pieces crafted by legendary Haida artist Bill Reid and described as “national treasures” — were recovered.  Yet, questions lingered. How exactly was the heist pulled off? How did police get the items back? Why was no one charged? Did police, as one media report suggested, pay a career criminal $20,000 for help in the case?  Newly released RCMP and university campus security records obtained by Postmedia News through federal and provincial access-to-information laws, plus court documents, offer a fuller picture of the mysterious theft and its bizarre fallout.
Around opening time on May 24, 2008, museum staff alerted campus security and RCMP that there had been a break-in.  A glass showcase had been smashed and a dozen Bill Reid works of art — valued at about $2 million — were gone.  They included a “one-of-a-kind” gold box with a three-dimensional eagle on top; a gold brooch with a dogfish design; a set of carved ivory, gold and silver cufflinks; and a carved argillite-stone panel pipe.  The thieves had also forced their way into the drawers of a cabinet and made off with two pieces of Mexican jewelry and a set of coins.  According to a campus security report, the thieves broke in at 4:40 a.m. and were out in less than three minutes.  The thieves entered from the back by carefully removing a glass panel, a former campus security officer said in an interview.  Inside, they unleashed a cloud of bear spray, presumably to repel any guards who might try to intervene. Residue settled over the carpets and cabinets. A bear spray canister and a crowbar were found nearby.


For unknown reasons, security cameras stopped recording before the break-in, the campus security report said. The security system had apparently been undergoing upgrades. One guard was working that night. Contrary to media reports that suggested he had been on a smoke break and apparently oblivious to trouble, the guard alerted dispatch when the alarms started wailing, the former security officer said.


Protocol at the time dictated that the guard stay put and that dispatch send another officer to walk through the museum. But the walk-through never happened, the former security officer said.
There had been a lot of false alarms in the past. According to the campus security report, the dispatch centre was aware that an alarm had been triggered, “however this event came in as an ‘Invalid Alarm.’”
 A security consultant hired by the university later concluded in a report that there was a “false sense of security” at the museum and that the incident should be a “call to action.” The museum’s security system subsequently underwent major upgrades. The RCMP major crimes section immediately launched a “full-scale” investigation. There was worry that the stolen pieces might be melted down. Interpol was notified in case the thieves attempted to send the art overseas. The university offered a $50,000 reward for the missing items’ safe return.


Within days, police got an anonymous tip that a local career criminal with a string of convictions for break-and-enters was involved. Police began to follow the man on May 30, according to a report filed by investigators to obtain a search warrant. On June 4, police watched as he made a phone call from a pay phone outside a transit station, the report said. The man, carrying a “full-looking” Adidas bag, dialed three numbers, which police later traced to the university. One was for the museum itself. There was “no legitimate reason” for the man to call the university, police wrote, citing a review of 56 police reports related to the man.  Police speculated that the man wanted to discuss handing over the stolen items for a reward. According to the report, an informant told police he, too, believed the man was connected to the museum heist because he likes to carry out “big” thefts. The informant described the man as “intelligent and calculating.”


Police pursued other leads during this time, including the possibility that the heist was an inside job, according to the report. They ran the names of hundreds of construction workers working on the museum’s expansion. They also looked into a security guard who had been fired and “disgruntled” artists who had worked with Reid.


But on June 8, with concerns growing that the stolen items might be destroyed, police set their sights on their strongest suspect and executed search warrants at two homes — one in Burnaby, the other in New Westminster. Court records show that a man connected to those homes has at least 11 convictions for property crimes.  The searches paid off. Police recovered all but two of the stolen items. In an email to senior RCMP officials, lead investigator Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick praised his team for working “around the clock” for two weeks.  A briefing note June 9 to B.C.’s solicitor general indicated that three men — including the “main suspect” — had been taken into custody.
 At a news conference the next day, Fitzpatrick said the three had been released but stressed the investigation was ongoing.  He played down suggestions that the heist was linked to an international ring and described the alleged culprits as “unsophisticated.”  By August, all the missing items were recovered. The last piece, the argillite pipe, was dropped off anonymously.

With all the items back, police recommended charges to Crown counsel. While prosecutors reviewed the file, the case took a bizarre twist. Citing “police sources,” the CBC reported in January 2009 that RCMP had paid a chronic offender $20,000 for help with the investigation. The alleged tipster made headlines in 2006 when it came to light that he had been forced to pose with Vancouver police officers for a “trophy” photo following his arrest. Several officers came under investigation.
 In a briefing note to senior officials, Fitzpatrick, the RCMP inspector, repudiated the CBC story, saying it had “no basis in fact,” and that the man named in the story had “no involvement” in the case.  He went on to suggest that sources “from another (police) agency” that deals with the man on a regular basis — he didn’t say which one — fed the erroneous information to the CBC.


He confirmed in the briefing note that police had paid someone a “cash reward,” but the amount was “nowhere near” $20,000. The RCMP would not say this week who received the money or how much was paid. Court records show that the man named in the CBC story filed a defamation suit in January 2011. In the claim, the man said he was in jail at the time of the report and that he suffered harassment, physical assaults and death threats. He also suggested Vancouver police contributed to the story. In a court filing, Vancouver police denied any involvement. The CBC denied that it had defamed him and said his “reputation as a criminal was not lowered by any of the publications complained of.” The case is unresolved.


Meanwhile, in September 2010, two years after charges were recommended in the museum heist, Crown counsel notified RCMP there wasn’t enough evidence to lay charges.
The notice came “with little explanation other than there was insufficient evidence,” according to an RCMP briefing note. A Crown spokesman said this week the decision was explained verbally to investigators. Expecting “negative press” from the Crown’s decision, police devised a media strategy.
“The current media strategy is to acknowledge that the RCMP has received a report from Crown counsel and is presently studying the matter,” the briefing note said. But William Elliott, then the RCMP Commissioner, weighed in. “One concern I have is that the proposed strategy leaves the impression the question of charges is unresolved. Why not put the matter to bed?” he said in an email. RCMP officials declined an interview request this week to discuss the case. In a statement, a spokesman said RCMP conducted a “full and extensive” investigation. Postmedia News was unable to reach the main suspect for comment. Court records show that he went on to be charged and convicted in a bunch of unrelated cases, including a theft from a Zellers store and a break-and-enter.
 © Copyright (c) The Province
Stolen Art
PARIS (AP).- The burglars dashed out the back door with seven masterworks, then sped on screeching tires into the night. Now comes the hard part: The thieves have to unload the paintings, instantly recognizable pieces by Picasso, Matisse and Monet worth millions. If the thieves who robbed Rotterdam's Kunsthal exhibition this week don't have a plan, the stolen art could quickly become a burden. Paintings, sculptures and other cultural treasures can be hard to match with a
buyer willing to overlook questionable provenance. Just ask the trafficker who lucklessly tried for 20 years to sell a statue head of Nero's mother stolen from Pompeii before its recovery was announced on Thursday. But, experts say for criminals with connections, it's a low-risk, high-reward job, especially for lesser known pieces. Art theft is the third most lucrative crime in the world, after drugs and illicit arms sales, according to Interpol and the FBI. Films glamorize it, and the punishment for those who are caught is too light to be much of a deterrent. Stolen art disappears into the underworld quickly. Much of it is never found. Paintings have been buried, stashed in storage units, given as gifts to the unwitting, traded for drugs, held for ransom, hung on the walls of criminals, and sold on eBay.
Straight cash transactions appear to be rare — at least for high-profile thefts like the one in Rotterdam. Anyone legitimate enough to demand where a painting came from is going to come across it in news stories and databases of stolen artwork.  "We either see artwork being recovered very quickly after the theft or decades later, very little in-between," said Chris Marinello, executive director of the Art Loss Register, whose job it is to track stolen art after the police trail has run cold.
But it's been 22 years since the theft of $300 million in works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston — the largest single property theft ever. The case is unsolved and none of the 12 paintings has been recovered. "It's easy to steal artwork, and that's why you see it happen, but it's not easy to sell it. You steal a car, you steal a watch, there's a market for that. You steal a Rembrandt, you steal a Picasso . It's too recognizable," said Geoffrey Kelly, the FBI agent leading the Gardner investigation. That means many stolen works end up getting dumped. Five works stolen from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in 2010 may be gone forever. According to one French report, the thieves couldn't quickly resell the works and their fence panicked after a series of arrests, destroying the canvases and throwing away the remains — a Picasso, a Braque, a Modigliani, a Matisse and a Leger. In another case, Marinello said, a British woman whose boarder gave her a painting years before contacted him to determine its worth, only to learn it was stolen. She was innocent, an unwitting victim of someone who couldn't unload his loot. And in Ireland, IRA thieves plundered the art collection of Sir Alfred Beit in the 1970s, demanding ransom and freedom for political prisoners. Their demands weren't met and the works were found in the trunk of a car. Beit's collection was stolen again in 1986. This time, the thief buried 11 paintings while trying to sell them. He eventually traded two for drugs and stashed one behind a couch before the collection was recovered. Then there is "The Scream," one of two Edvard Munch masterpieces stolen from an Oslo museum in 2004 and recovered in 2006. Police have never offered details on the painting's whereabouts for those two years, but by the time they were found, they had sustained water damage and tears. Not a sign of a theft commissioned by a connoisseur. Despite the complications of fencing stolen art, it clearly can be done, especially by thieves with connections. Estimates range from $6 billion to $9 billion in global sales — a sign of both how lucrative the market is and how little known. It's anyone's guess what happened to the Gardner paintings, for example — or whether anyone still alive even knows. The $5 million reward hasn't brought them to light, nor have promises of immunity.
"It's easy to move around, easy to enter the black market," said Anthony Roman, a New York-based security expert. And, he said, even though the returns on the black market are a fraction of what the art could fetch on the open market, "There is still a fortune to be made. The risk of getting caught is very, very low." Prosecutions generally fall under burglary, extortion or — at most — robbery statutes. Sentences are relatively short. "Art theft is not murder, but still the penalties could be enhanced a bit to discourage people," said Marinello. In one infamous case, a compulsive French art thief named Stephane Breitwieser told a court he stole more than 200 works from small museums across Europe, keeping most of them at his home purely for his own enjoyment. He was sentenced to 26 months in prison in 2005 — and then was arrested again in 2011 after investigators said they found 29 works of art at his apartment. Insurance companies absorb most of the losses. In the Rotterdam case, the payout is likely to climb to the tens of millions of dollars — but that causes costs to rise in the future for everyone in the art world, said Coco Soodek, a Chicago lawyer who specializes in the field. And it makes private collectors more reluctant to put their works to go on public display in the future. "The more the art world becomes the target for theft," she said, "the more expensive it is to insure the product." Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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