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Displaying items by tag: Thieves

The thieves allegedly behind one of the most brazen art thefts in American history, perpetrated 25 years ago on Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, have been revealed as two members of a local organized crime syndicate. The controversial right-wing website Breitbart News first reported their names Sunday as George Reissfelder, then 49, and Lenny DiMuzio, then 42, citing sources within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Breitbart story appears to follow-up on a segment produced by WCVB TV of Boston, which states that the FBI has known the suspects’ names for some time, but has not released them publicly.

Both suspects died within a year of their purported March 18, 1990 break-in at the museum, frustrating investigators who have searched in vain for the 13 works since — including drawings and paintings by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas, and others, worth some $500 million today.

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The crown of the Siamese King offered in 1861 to Napoleon III in the Château de Fontainebleau was stolen in the early hours of Sunday morning, 1 March, along with around 15 other precious artifacts from eastern Asia.

The burglary took place before 6am at the palace 60 kilometers south of Paris. “The thieves were very determined. They knew what they were doing and exactly what they wanted,” the château's president Jean-François Hébert told "The Art Newspaper." The thieves smashed the glass of the display cabinets with chairs and other objects from the Asian collection and, in a crude attempt to cover their tracks, used a fire extinguisher to spread carbonic snow over the site.

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Thieves have breached stringent security at Christie's London flagship headquarters to pull off a heist valued at up to a million pounds. The stolen items, thought to be mostly jewelery and small antiques, included works by the Russian jewelers Fabergé.

Police have been investigating the theft for two weeks and even though they have CCTV footage, have failed to identify any of the suspects, who may be of an Eastern European background.

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An Italian pensioner who unknowingly bought a stolen Gauguin for a pittance has been allowed to keep it after it was valued at $50 million.

The man, who has requested anonymity out of fear the painting could attract thieves, acquired the work along with another piece at an art sale in Turin in 1975.

The auctioneers told him they were worthless "rubbish," but they were in fact an 1889 Gauguin entitled "Fruits on a Table" or "Still Life with a Small Dog," and a work by Pierre Bonnard entitled "Woman with Two Armchairs," now thought to be worth $850,000.

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Police in Madrid are searching for about 70 paintings worth an estimated €600,000 (£475,000) after three men walked out of an art gallery with the works as the sun rose last Thursday.

The thieves are thought to have spent two to three hours carrying the paintings out of the Puerta de Alcalá art gallery and propping them against nearby trees before loading them into a van.

The men are believed to have entered by punching a hole in the wall of a neighboring bar, said Pedro Márquez of the gallery, noting that the bar had been closed for about a year.

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A pair of American tourists were pinched by Italian police when Fiumicino airport authorities in Rome discovered a stolen Pompeii relic in their luggage, reports the Local. The remarkably ill-advised crime rivals our favorite Italian art news story of the year, “Italian Student Smashes Sculpture While Taking Selfie” in its general stupidity.

The massive artifact, which was removed from a building at the historic site, weighed more than 65 pounds, but that wasn’t about to stop the thieves from smuggling it on board an aircraft and back to the States.

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Tuesday, 06 May 2014 13:40

Thieves Steal Outdoor Sculptures in Dallas

Thievery of fine art is nothing new. One of the more infamous heists involved the 1990 theft of The Concert, a masterpiece by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, taken from a Boston museum. The most spectacular heist of a painting may still be Leonardo da Vinci’s The Mona Lisa, seized from the Louvre in 1911 and then returned two years later.

Dallas sculptor Michael Christopher Matson knows all about those stories. He just never thought it would happen to him. It did.

Matson, 42, has worked as an artist “my entire adult life.” He reveled in the fact that, last June, he was asked to showcase his trio of large sculptures outside in a show called “Steel and Light” at one of Dallas’ premier venues, Kirk Hopper Fine Art. The rust-colored pieces stood proudly 7, 8 and 9 feet tall, made for the outdoors.

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Thursday, 20 March 2014 14:40

Thieves Steal Ancient Fresco from Pompeii

Last week, it was discovered that part of a fresco was missing from the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. It is believed that thieves broke into a closed-off section of the UNESCO World Heritage site and chiseled off a portion of the fresco bearing a depiction of the Greek goddess Artemis.

Police have launched an investigation into the disappearance of the eight-inch wide fragment. They will be reviewing surveillance footage from the perimeter of the site in hopes of identifying the thieves, but there are no security cameras within the ruins.

Professor Umberto Pappalardo, an archaeological expert at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples, told AFP he believes petty criminals were behind the theft, rather than art thieves aiming to sell the fragment on the international market. Pappalardo added, “Selling a stolen fresco from a site as well documented as Pompeii would be a very, very tall order. There would certainly not be any market for it in Italy.”    

In January, a fragment of fresco was taken from another part of Pompeii and sent to the curator’s office in an anonymous package. Pompeii, one of Italy's main tourist attractions, has become a symbol for decades of mismanagement of the country's cultural sites. Italy's new Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, has promised to increase maintenance work at Pompeii. 

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On Wednesday, February 19, three individuals attacked two auctioneers and two assistants with tear gas outside the famous auction house, Hôtel Drouot, in Paris. The assailants made off with a briefcase holding jewels worth at least €300,000. The robbers were picked up by their getaway driver and were unsuccessfully pursued by the police.

Hôtel Drouot, which specializes in fine art, antiques, and antiquities, has been criticized in the past for security issues. In 2010, the auction house’s union of art handlers was charged with the theft and receipt of stolen goods. An investigation was conducted after the scandal and France’s Minister of Justice, Michele Alliot-Marie, commissioned a report that chided Drouot for its “opaque structure” and “minimal governance.”

After the recent incident, Drouot released a public statement stressing their commitment to anti-theft measures.

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Thursday, 17 October 2013 18:17

Henry Moore Sculpture Stolen from Scottish Park

A bronze sculpture by the British artist Henry Moore was stolen from a park in Scotland last week. Standing Figure (1950), which measures over 7 feet tall, was one of four Moore pieces in the Glenkiln Sculpture Park, which includes works by Auguste Rodin and Jacob Epstein.

This not the first time that a large, sculptural work by Moore has been targeted by thieves. Last year, two men were arrested for stealing a sculpture from the estate of the Henry Moore Foundation in England and in 2005 Moore’s monumental Reclining Figure was stolen from the grounds. Police believe that the sculpture, which weighed over two tons, could have been melted down and sold for scrap metal.

Moore amassed considerable wealth after gaining recognition for his large-scale, semi-abstract works and fulfilled numerous significant commissions. Despite his affluence, Moore lived frugally and put most of his fortune towards endowing the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts.

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