NEWS

Friday, September 30, 2011

RECENT ART THEFTS IN NORTH AMERICA

Recent art thefts in North America

A recent spate of high profile thefts suggests that art crime is increasing. The FBI estimates that international art crime, which includes fakes, forgeries and thefts, is now worth more than $6bn annually. All information was accurate at the time of publication.
© The Art Newspaper








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A thief stole $400,000 worth of historic gold pieces from New Jersey’s Sterling Hill Mining Museum in the middle of the day on 27 July. An axe was used to break through the Plexiglass that encased the 20-piece collection. The museum’s co-founder, Richard Hauck, is offering a $25,000 reward for the safe return of the collection.


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A $100,000 poster by Brooklyn-based street artist KAWS, Untitled (Calvin Klein), 1999, was stolen from New York’s Marc Ecko gallery on 11 August. The moustachioed suspect, wearing a hoodie and sunglasses, looked directly into the security camera in the building’s elevator. He has not yet been caught.


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A quill pen-and-ink drawing believed to be by Rembrandt, The Judgment, 1655, was stolen from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, California, on 13 August. Valued at $250,000, the work was recovered two days later in a rather unlikely place—St Nicholas Episcopal Church in Encino, 19 miles away. Police say the church’s pastor was not involved in the theft and are still searching for the suspect.


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On 28 July, US presidential historian Barry Landau was indicted on federal charges along with his assistant for stealing and selling historical documents. Landau and Jason Savedoff were charged on 9 July for stealing dozens of historical documents from museums in Maryland and New York including 60 documents worth $6m that were taken from the Maryland Historical Society library. Both face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and ten years for the theft if found guilty.


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Eleven paintings valued at $400,000 were stolen from the Canadian Fine Arts Store in Toronto on 10 July. Video footage reveals multiple assailants snatching works by artists including Alfred Casson and Frederick Varley. There are currently no suspects.


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Three thieves tried to steal a $1m sculpture by Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle on 1 August from its location outside the late artist’s home where it has safely been installed for more than 40 years. The trio took the 1,000lb work, La Défaite, 1963, as far as the nearby woods where they tried to bury it. “These guys were imbeciles. They were certainly not professionals,” said Riopelle expert and Montreal-based dealer Simon Blais.


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A former breeder of and dealer in big cats (lions and tigers) was placed under house arrest in Florida for trying to steal ancient samurai swords worth $2m. The swords, dated from around 1200 AD, had been previously taken from a museum in Saigon during the Vietnam War. The thief, Ray Thunderhawk, pleaded guilty and is now serving two years under house arrest followed by eight years of probation.




http://www.theartnewspaper.com/media/gallery/Recent-art-thefts-in-North-America/24422

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