Showing posts with label Kunsthal Rotterdam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kunsthal Rotterdam. Show all posts

July 17, 2014

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Paying for The Heist

Picasso's 1971 Harlequin
by Liza Weber, ARCA '14 Student

Lawyers of convicted art thieves of the Kunsthal Rotterdam Heist appeal court’s ruling on grounds that the “responsibility for the theft rested solely with the museum”.

Rapsinews reported that the defense for Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop are appealing the Romanian courts ruling of €18.1 million to be paid to the paintings’ insurers, since the museum had not taken “proper security measures”. The thieves’ lawyers consider “no night guards on the premises” and security “monitored offsite by a private company” as supposedly improper measures.

Dick Drent, Corporate Security Manager for the Van Gogh Museum, contends “to have guards on site is a risk” however. Recalling the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist, where thieves posing as Boston police officers duped the guard on duty, Drent explicated that security personnel “can be used for blackmail, or even taken hostage”.

When I questioned Drent whether the lawyers appeal is as though a last reserve to get their ‘crooks off the hook’, he responded: “It is very easy to lay the problem on the other party—the security was not ok, the paintings were not originals—but we are still dealing with a theft…if the paintings are not real, why were they stolen?”

And why did the thieves go to such tale-spinning lengths to account for their disappearance? The seven still missing paintings suffered an “ignominious” fate; smuggled to Romania in pillowcases, the story goes that the mother of the alleged heist ringleader, Olga, claimed she to have buried the artworks in Caracliu’s village cemetery only to unearth them so as to cook them in her oven, as if “burning a pair of slippers,” art critic Pavel Susara told the Guardian.

It’s a twisted tale with possible substance, however. In July 2013, the director of Romania's National History Museum, Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, told the Associated Press that fragments of paint, painting primer, canvas, and copper nails—some of which pre-dated the 20th century—were recovered from Olga’s oven by museum forensic specialists.

When I related the story of the paintings’ destruction to Drent, he intercepted, “no, I don’t believe that story”. He rather predicts, as is the case for the “two missing Van Gogh paintings of the 2002 robbery,” that they will “resurface in due time”. 

But resurfacing where we might question? Identifiable artworks, once stolen, are near impossible to sell on the open market at anything like their auction value. Making an example of Van Gogh’s 1889 Sunflowers “estimated at unthinkable millions,” Drent rhetorically questioned: “Since it will never be on the market, why do we ever try to affix a price?”

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is priceless. As is Picasso’s 1971 Harlequin Head and Monet’s 1901 Waterloo Bridge, to name but two of the masterpieces stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2012 whilst temporarily on display. Which is not to say that nobody is responsible for reimbursement of the damage done to the paintings…

Rather, where the thieves’ lawyers appeal is for Dick Drent but “a diversion,” and subsequently “a non-issue,” Radu Dogaru, mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop will surely pay the price.

Ms. Weber is a freelance journalist.

July 15, 2014

Kunsthal Rotterdam: Romanian court instructs convicted art thieves to repay insurers $26 million for paintings

Lucian Freud's "Woman with
Eyes Closed" (2002)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

The AFP reported in "Art thieves ordered to pay millions over missing Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Freud masterpieces" that the four convicted thieves who robbed the Kunsthal Rotterdam in October 2012 must pay 18 million euros ($26 million) to the paintings' insurers (unnamed):
Seven paintings that were temporarily on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam were stolen in 2012 in a raid that lasted only three minutes, in what the Dutch media called "the theft of the century". A court in the Romanian capital ordered the heist's mastermind, Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop to reimburse the paintings' insurers. Prosecutors put the total value of the haul at over 18 million euros, while art experts at the time of the heist had claimed the paintings were worth up to 100 million euros. Olga Dogaru had previously told investigators that she burned the paintings in her stove in the village of Carcaliu in eastern Romania in a bid to protect her son when he could not sell them. She later retracted the statement, but a separate investigation is under way to determine if the masterpieces did end up in ashes.
In September 2013, Andrew Higgins for The New York Times reported that the Triton Foundation received $24 million from the underwriter (Lloyd's of London) that insured the stolen paintings in exchange for relinquishing title to the artworks.

Paul Gaugin, "La Fiancée"
Here's a look at the paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation.

The Kunsthal Rotterdam reopened Feb. 1, 2014 after an extensive renovation.

Art theft 'ringleader' convicted in November 2013 and given 6 1/2 year prison sentence; ringleader claims inside help. Three defendants pled guilty in October 2013.

Earlier, in August 2013, a defendants' lawyer claimed that five paintings could be returned if the trial was moved from Romania to The Netherlands.

In July 2013 Andrew Higgins for The New York Times wrote about Facebook's role during the sting operation and how the content from the social media site was used to identify suspects involved in the art theft. The New Yorker blogs that mother of suspect burned paintings. Said mother denies destruction of art; Budapest trial announced; and journalists try to figure out if paintings were actually incinerated.

January 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - , No comments

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: The Kunsthal Rotterdam Reopens Feb. 1 after renovation to improve sustainability

The Kunsthal Rotterdam reopens this Sunday, February 1, after a renovation to improve its sustainability.

Adrian Procop, age 21, a Romanian accused of stealing seven paintings from the gallery in October 2012, was arrested in Britain at the Eurotunnel Folkstone outbound terminal on December 6.

Procop is alleged to be one of the two people who actually carried out the heist (DutchNews.nl, December 6, "Final Rotterdam art heist suspect arrested in Manchester"):
Two of the other suspects were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison by a Bucharest court last month. The 29-year-old Radu Dogaru and 25-year-old Eugen D were found guilty of the theft and of membership in a criminal organisation. Dogaru took part in the robbery in October last year. Eugen D was responsible for transporting the stolen paintings to Romania. The case against three other defendants is continuing.
The paintings have not been recovered amidst rumors that they have been destroyed.

December 17, 2013

Noah Charney in "Lessons from the History of Art Crime" writes on “Art-Burning Mother & Art Loss Register Issues” in the Fall 2013 issue of The Journal of Art Crime

In his column Lessons from the History of Art Crime in the tenth issue of The Journal of Art Crime, Noah Charney writes on “Art-Burning Mother & Art Loss Register Issues”:
An arrest was made this summer of a Romanian thief who seems to have been behind the heist of artworks, including paintings by Matisse, from the Kunsthal Museum in the Netherlands about a year ago. The arrest would have made small headlines, but for the fact that the mother of the thief claims to have burned at least one of the stolen paintings after her son’s arrest, in an attempt to destroy evidence and help him avoid prison. Unfortunately, the mother’s statement is believable, as she described accurately the way an oil painting on canvas would have burned in her oven (“like tissues”), and charred fragments of canvas with paint on them, that could match the stolen Matisse, were found just where she said they would be.
This is not the first time that a foolish and ignorant mother has made a son’s art theft crime far worse by destroying the stolen art. The mother of Swiss waiter and art kleptomaniac Stephane Breitweiser, who stole over one-hundred paintings and kept every one, never attempting to sell them but rather adding to a compulsive private art collection, destroyed a number of the stolen works when her son was arrested. She threw some in a canal, and shoved others down her garbage disposal. When her son heard this, he tried to kill himself, so distraught was he at the grotesque stupidity of destroying art—art that he loved and cherished, albeit stole. 
There are almost no known cases in the history of art theft of thieves knowingly destroying stolen art, even when it seemed clear that they did not know how to profit from it. In the majority of known cases, thieves in such a situation have simply abandoned the stolen art, rather than destroy it—for destroying benefits no one, hurts everyone, and turns a kidnapping into a murder. This was the case for the 2004 Munch Museum theft—when thieves failed to find a buyer, and failed to secure a ransom for the stolen Munch paintings, including a version of The Scream, they simply abandoned the works in a parked car on a farm outside of Oslo. Art is sometimes damaged or destroyed inadvertently—the best information to date on the stolen Caravaggio Palermo Nativity, taken from the church of San Lorenzo in Palermo by members of Cosa Nostra in 1969 (the theft of which prompted the foundation of the world’s first art police unit, the Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, in Italy), is that the Caravaggio was irrevocably damaged in an earthquake and subsequently fed to pigs, to destroy the evidence. But such stories are rare indeed, thank goodness.
Noah Charney holds Masters degrees in art history from The Courtauld Institute and University of Cambridge, and a PhD from University of Ljubljana. He is Adjunct Professor of Art History at the American University of Rome, a Visiting Lecturer for Brown University abroad programs, and is the founder of ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art, a non-profit research group on issues of art crimes. Charney is the author of numerous academic and popular articles, including a regular column in ArtInfo called “The Secret History of Art” and a weekly interview series in The Daily Beast called “How I Write.” His first novel, The Art Thief (Atria 2007), is currently translated into seventeen languages and is a best seller in five countries. He is the editor of an academic essay collection entitled Art & Crime: Exploring the Dark Side of the Art World (Praeger 2009) and the Museum Time series of guides to museums in Spain (Planeta 2010). His is author of a critically acclaimed work of non-fiction, Stealing the Mystic Lamb: the True History of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece (PublicAffairs 2011), which is a best seller in two countries. His latest book is The Thefts of the Mona Lisa: On Stealing the World’s Most Famous Painting (ARCA Publications 2011). Upcoming books include The Book of Forgery (Phaidon 2014), The Invention of Art (Norton 2015), and an as yet untitled edited collection of essays on art crime (Palgrave 2014).

Design for this issue and all issues of The Journal of Art Crime is the work of Urška CharneyHere's a link to ARCA's website on The Journal of Art Crime (includes Table of Contents for previous issues).

November 27, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Reuters' "Romania hands 6-1/2 year jail term to Dutch art theft boss

Reuters: Eugen Darie (center) and Radu Dogaru (right)
Radu Marinas reports for Reuters in "Romania hands 6-1/2 year jail term to Dutch art theft boss":
A Romanian court sentenced the ringleader of a gang that stole paintings from a Dutch museum in one of the world's biggest art heists to six years and eight months in prison on Tuesday. Radu Dogaru and fellow gang member Eugen Darie, both Romanians, received the same sentence for stealing the masterpieces, including two Monets and a Picasso, in October 2012. The paintings have yet to be found. The trial will continue on Dec 3. for four other defendants including Dogaru's mother, who is also accused of destroying the art and has exercised her right not to comment. Dogaru and Darie pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the artworks, insured for 18 million euros ($24.4 million), from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum.

October 22, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Three defendants plead guilty. Radu Dogaru criticizes museum's security

Radu Dogaru, Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie, pled guilty today in a Bucharest courtroom for their part in the October 16, 2012 theft of seven paintings (Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Picasso's Tete d'Arlequin, Gauguin's Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, Matisse's La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, De Haan's Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed) belonging to the Triton Foundation and on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam.

In his deposition to prosecutors, primary suspect Radu Dogaru contradicted his mother's earlier confession to burning the paintings telling the court that his mother made these statements under pressure from long interrogation by the Romanian police.

Criticisms of security

Dogaru went on to add disparaging comments about the perceived level of security at the Rotterdam museum saying "At first I thought the paintings were fake, because it was so easy to get inside."   He went on to contrast the security at the Kunsthal with that of the Louvre adding "where they have real security".  In pleading guilty Dogaru told the court he gained entry to the museum by opening the door with a screwdriver, adding he could even have entered without any tools. 

In an even more brassy twist of events, Dogaru's attorney, Cătălin Dancu, stated that they are considering hiring Dutch lawyers to introduce an action in court citing negligent security at the Kunsthal as the mitigating circumstance that led to her client's role in the late night thefts.   In addition to blaming the gallery for her client's sticky fingers, Dancu spoke with reporters during a break from the court proceedings and stated that Dogaru had inside help in the heist.  

When asked by the judge whether he had inside help, Dogaru refused to reveal the alleged unnamed accomplice's identity.

Sources:
http://www.reporterntv.ro/flux/radu-dogaru-eugen-darie-si-alexandru-bitu-au-recunoscut-faptele-de-care-sunt-acuzati-in-dosarul-furtului-de-tablouri

http://nos.nl/artikel/565440-verdachten-kunstroof-dagen-rdam.html

August 13, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Defense Lawyer claims five of the seven paintings can be returned if trial is moved from Romania to The Netherlands (Trial in Bucharest Suspended until September 10)

Lucian Freud, Woman with Eyes Closed, 2002
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

The good news is that the alleged thieves have offered to exchange paintings stolen from Kunsthal Rotterdam if their courtroom is moved from Romania to The Netherlands; the bad news is that they are reputedly only offering to produce five of the seven paintings. Despairing news is that Romanian art experts announced yesterday that they found paint pigments only manufactured prior to World War II from the ashes of a stove that a mother of one of the alleged thieves confessed to use to destroy the evidence (paintings) against her son.

We last ran a post about this celebrated theft with the article in The New York Times by Andrew Higgins ("A Trail of Masterpieces and A Web of Lies, Leading to Anguish") in which the reporter described the "stove" as one "used to heat water for the bathroom and the sauna" and described it as "barely a foot wide and far too small to contain what would have been a bulky bundle of canvas and wood". Previous ARCA blog posts described the seven paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation.

Picasso's Head of a Harlequin, 1971
On August 8, an article in [Daily]Mail Online ("Despair etched on art expert's face as he confirms fragments of artwork found in oven ashes were those of stolen paintings by old masters" by Mark Duell and Steve Nolan) showed the "sadness" of Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, manager of Romania's National History Museum and Gheorghe Niculescu, head of a team of investigative experts, at a news conference in Bucharest. Oberlander-Tarnoveanu reportedly said that 'a probe found traces of 'very old' yellow arsenic, which painters said has not been in common use since Second World War because of its toxicity.'

These are the dates of the stolen paintings: Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed, 2002; Paul Gauguin's Woman Before a Window, 'The Fiancée', 1888; Henri Matisse's Reading Woman in White and Yellow, 1919; Jacob Meyer De Haan's Self-Portrait against Japonist Background, 1889-1891; Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London, 1901; Monet's Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1901; and Pablo Picasso's Head of a Harlequin, 1971. Only two of the paintings (Freud, Picasso) were painted after World War II.

DutchNews.nl reported August 8 in "Police 'fail to notice' art theft, allowing Kunsthal thieves to escape" that "AD" (A Dutch Media agency) reported police blunders facilitated the getaway of the thieves -- based on 'legal documents and an interview with a lawyer for the defendants': 'The paper says police, alerted by the alarm, carried out an inspection but failed to realise the museum had actually been broken into because the thieves had closed the door behind them.' Other claims include gaps on the walls viewed as changes in the exhibition and a police officer waving to one of the suspects after the robbery. Here in an interview Dutch security expert Ton Cremers cited negligence at Kunsthal Rotterdam.

Finally, on the first day of the trial of the jailed suspects in Romania, Anna Holigan reports in a video from The Hague on BBC News ("Dutch art theft suspects offer paintings for deal") that Romanian art experts fear three to four of the paintings may have been destroyed.  However, BBC reports:
Forensic experts have so far refused to say definitively whether or not the burnt remains were from stolen paintings.... The trial of Radu Dogaru and his five alleged accomplices -- one of whom is still on the run -- was opened and adjourned by the Romanian court until 10 September.... One of the lawyers said their clients had offered to return five of the paintings, with no mention of the remaining two. Another lawyer, Maria Varsii, said: It is more likely the paintings are intact. My client says they can be handed over to the Dutch authorities. In exchange, they want to go on trial in the Netherlands.... The Rotterdam paintings came to light some months [after the October 16 theft] later when Mariana Dragu, an art expert at Romania's National Art Museum, was asked by a friend to examine some artworks he was planning to buy. She said she called the prosecutor's office when she realised she was looking at the stolen originals. A few months later, three Romanian men were arrested on suspicion of involvement, including Radu Dogaru. It was following her son's arrest that Mrs. Dogaru allegedly burned the artworks at her home in the village of Carcaliu, in the Danube Delta region of eastern Romania.


July 28, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Theft: Facebook played a part in Romanian sting operation to identify art thieves

Andrew Higgins reporting July 26 for The New York Times from Carcaliu, Romania in "A Trail of Masterpieces and a Web of Lies Leading to Anguish", describes one of the admitted thieves as using the internet in a failed attempt to dispose of seven paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012.

Mr. Higgins claims that Radu Dogardu used Facebook to tell alleged accomplice Mihai Alexander Bitu that he would agree to sell the stolen artworks to a local wine producer for 400,000 euro (US $531,000). However, the supposed buyer of the stolen paintings was cooperating with a Romanian prosecutor, Raluca Botea, in an "elaborate sting operation", according to Higgins who indicated that he'd seen 'a record of the exchange' on the social networking site.
Just a few hours later, however, the operation fell apart when Mr. Dogaru received a warning that the police were tapping his cellphone. Today, six months on, the fate of the paintings is still unknown, as law enforcement authorities in Romania and the Netherlands, as well as art lovers around the world, struggle to penetrate the fog of claims and counterclaims about what happened to the masterpieces, from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam.
Have they been burned, as Mr. Dogaru's mother, Olga, has at times claimed? Or perhaps spirited away by a tall mystery man in a fancy black car, as she has asserted at other times? Or could they, as many in the desolate village of Carcaliu believe, simply be hidden somewhere in this rural corner of Romania?
Mr. Higgins points out that the prosecutor, Mrs. Botea, has found 'contradictory lies' in what the Dogaru mother-and-son have told her office. This article looks at the village, the personal history of the suspect, and quotes 'an official indictment' that claims that the morning after the theft of the Kunsthal Rotterdam that Dogaru took five of the stolen paintings to Brussels to sell them to a mobster known as "George the Thief" then carried them back to Rotterdam after the sale failed.
Mr. Dogaru appears to have hidden the works initially in his family home but later moved at least some of them in a suitcase to the house of his mother’s sister, Marfa Marcu. Mrs. Marcu, in an interview, said she had never opened the suitcase. She says she last saw it when her sister took it away, along with a shovel, soon after Mr. Dogaru’s arrest. 
Mrs. Dogaru has told prosecutors that, with the help of her son’s girlfriend, she buried the case in the yard of an abandoned house. After a few days, they dug it up, wrapped the paintings in plastic and buried them in a nearby cemetery. 
The trail then goes cold. In an interview with prosecutors on Feb. 27, Mrs. Dogaru said that sometime in January, this time acting alone, she dug up the paintings and, desperate to destroy the evidence of her son’s theft, brought them home and burned them all — in a stove used to heat water for the bathroom and a sauna. 
How she managed to do this is not clear. The stove in which Mrs. Dogaru claimed to have shoved all the artworks is barely a foot wide and seems far too small to contain what would have been a bulky bundle of canvas and wood. 
In a written statement on Feb. 28, Mrs. Dogaru retracted the incineration story and said she had, in fact, handed the paintings to a Russian-speaking man, about 40, who arrived at her house in a black car. She explained that her son, whom she visited in prison to get instructions, had told her to expect such a visitor and to give him the paintings.

July 25, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: The New Yorker blogs on Claim that Mother of Suspect Burned Stolen Paintings from the Triton Foundation

Now on blog of The New Yorker writer Betsy Morais has weighed in today with "How to Catch an Art Thief When the Evidence Has Been Torched" by quoting a chemist on the type of "screening process" likely to be used to analyzed the charred remains of what may turn out to be the seven paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation while on display at the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012.
Upon arrival at a crime scene, if investigators were to find nothing more than black ash, analyzing any of it would be impossible. “But fortunately, that’s never really the case,” Tague said. “If things are charred, then you can typically identify which artist would have generated the art.” 
It’s a delicate process. The eye can only see something as small as seventy-five microns, or about the width of a strand of hair. “You’re looking for particles much smaller than that,” Tague said. “So it’s tedious, really tedious. And you don’t want to disturb a crime scene. So it could take weeks or months just to recover the particles.” Even just two or three microns of dust could be the key to identifying the signature of Picasso.
Ms. Morais reported that the director of Romania's Natural History Museum, Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, 'told me by email that they also found "fragments of paintings with imprints of the canvas".'

July 23, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam: Mother of Suspected Art Thief Denies Destroying Paintings to Judges in Budapest Court

The mother of a suspected art thief denied in court that she destroyed paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam last October, according to Andrew Higgins reporting from Bucharest, Romania, in The New York Times on July 22 ("Romanian Denies Burning Art"):
Olga Dogaru, the Romanian woman who told investigators that she had incinerated seven works of art by Matisse, Picasso and other modern masters in an effort to protect her son, denied in court on Monday that she had burned the works. 
Standing alongside her son, Radu, 29, who has admitted stealing the paintings in October from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Mrs. Dogaru, 50, told a panel of three judges that her earlier account of destroyed the works in a stove at her house in the tiny village of Carcaliu was untrue. "I did not burn them," she said in a soft voice.
Here's a link to a description of the stolen paintings. Here's a link to last week's reports on the ongoing police investigation into the ashes found in Mrs. Dogaru's stove.

And here's a link to an "exclusive" article published in Reuters by Radu Marinas, "Romanian expert believes three artworks from Dutch heist destroyed":
"We gathered overwhelming evidence that three (of the seven) paintings were destroyed by fire," said Gheorghe Niculescu, head of the team from Romania's National Research Investigation Center in Physics and Chemistry, which has been examining ashes found in the police investigation. 
However, he could not say which of the seven paintings had been destroyed and did not explain how he was certain that the remains originated from works stolen from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum last October, rather than other paintings.
Marinas reported:
Until Niculescu spoke to Reuters on Monday, none of the experts involved in examining the ashes had given a firm view on whether any of the paintings had been destroyed.
Niculescu said he was now sufficiently confident that three had been destroyed that his department, a unit of the culture ministry, would be submitting a detailed report to prosecutors this week.
NAILS IN THE ASHES
He said nails used to fasten the canvases to their wooden frames, recovered from the ashes in Dogaru's house, had been a crucial piece of evidence. "Their shape, the way in which they were manually manufactured and the metals they were made of, lead us to our conclusions," he said.
"We used X-ray fluorescence, X-Ray diffraction techniques, electronic and optical microscopy. I also got the best opinion of the national arts museum expert and there's no doubt here."
"Also Prussian Blue, a paint pigment discovered around 1715 and used on a large scale by painters from around 1750 ... which we found in very small traces of canvas, supports the case," Niculescu told Reuters.
 

July 17, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Six People to be tried in Budapest for stealing 18 million Euros of art; DIOCT denies making any conclusions about the destruction of the stolen paintings

On Monday, July 15, Romanian authorities under the umbrella of "DICOT" will be prosecuting six people in a court in Bucharest for the theft of seven paintings from the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012, according to Mediafax.ro.

DIOCT is the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism, within the Public Ministry/Romanian Police, with 280 prosecutors and another 200 administrators and 40 specialists to combat and prevent organized crime. According to a statement issued on July 17 by DIOCT related to the Kunsthal Rotterdam theft indicates (based upon a Google translation from Romanian to English) that the DIOCT is not confirming or approving any conclusions regarding the stolen paintings (alluding to the question of whether or not the paintings have been destroyed).

The DIOCT's press release dated July 15, 2013 (loosely translated by Google from Romanian into English) announces the indictment of defendants Radu Dogaru; Adrian Procop (în lipså); Eugen Darie;  Alexandru Mihai Bitu; Olga Dogaru; and Petre Condrat (still at large). The prosecutor claims to have evidence that the defendants acted as a criminal group to steal seven works of art stolen from the Kunstal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012, worth an estimated 18 million Euros. One of the defendants (Bitu) is accused of trying to sell the artworks stolen by three of the defendants (Dogaru, Darie and Procop). Condrat is accused of knowingly handling two of the stolen artworks. Defendant Olga Dogaru (mother of one of the suspects) is accused of transporting and concealing the stolen art. The trial will be held in Bucharest.

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Journalists weigh in on reports of stove ashes evidence that suspects' mother destroyed stolen paintings when a buyer could not be found

Was this painting destroyed in Romania?
Alison Mutler for the Associated Press reported on July 16th in "Romania: Museum checks if paintings burned" that Romania's Natural History Museum is examining the ashes found in the stove of Olga Dogaru, the mother of Radu, one of the three suspects charged with stealing seven paintings from the Triton Foundation while on display at the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16, 2012.
Dogaru told investigators she was scared for her son after he was arrested in January and buried the art in an abandoned house and then in a cemetery in the village of Caracliu. She said she later dug them up and burned them in February after police began searching the village for the stolen works.
Ms. Mutler quotes prosecutor spokesman Gabriela Chiru as saying that it will take months to confirm Olga Dogaru's story.

In late May, the Agency France-Presse reported that Romanian prosecutors suspected that the paintings had been destroyed. Here's a link to that ARCA blog post and others about the art heist.

The Washington Post published an article ("Ash from the stove of woman who claims she burned stolen artworks contains canvas, paint") from the wire service the Associated Press claiming that the results from analyzing the ashes in the stove will be presented to the prosecutors next week:
A Romanian museum official said Wednesday that ash from the oven of a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-dollar paintings -- including a Matisse, a Picasso and a Monet -- contains paint, canvas and nails.
The finding is evidence that Olga Dogaru may have been telling the truth when she claimed to have burned the paintings ... Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, director of Romania's National History Museum, told The Associated Press that museum forensic specialists had found "small fragments or painting primer, the remains of canvas, the remains of paint" and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century.

"We discovered a series of substances which are specific to paintings and pictures," he said, including lead, zinc and azurite.
He refused to say definitively that the ashes were those of seven paintings stolen from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery last year, because he said it was not his postion to do so. He said justice officials would make that decision. 
He did venture, however, that if the remains were those of the paintings, it was a "crime against humanity to destroy universal art." 
"I can't believe in 2013 that we come across such acts," he said. 
Oberlander-Tarnoveanu said forensic specialists at the museum have been analyzing ashes from Dogaru's stove since March, and will hand their results to prosecutors next week.
In The Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos speculates that the mother of one of the thieves burned the stolen paintings because the thieves could not find any buyers for the artworks:
According to Romania-Insider, an English-language news site, the suspects stashed the paintings at Olga's house because they were having trouble finding buyers. And citing a local report from Romania, the NL Times is reporting that experts have confirmed that the ashes are the burned remains of Monet and Picasso work. It should be noted, however, that the AP story conflicts with that local report, saying that the main prosecutor and officials said it could take months for the results to be confirmed.

April 15, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam: Art Gallery Robbed Last October to Close for Six Months to go "green"

The Kunsthal Rotterdam robbed last October will close from June to October 2013 for planned reconstruction works, according to the email send out yesterday.
During these months, overdue maintenance will be realised, the main entrance relocated, technical installations renewed, and the sustainability of the entire building shall be improved. The reconstruction works are jointly initiated by the Kunsthal, de municipality of Rotterdam – owner of the building – and architecture firm OMA. The board of the Kunsthal as well as the Mayor and Executive Board of Rotterdam have given their consent for the reconstruction works. 
Seen the scope of the renovation, it has been decided to extend the management of the Kunsthal with a business director, Bas den Hollander. 
The Kunsthal will be closed for visitors during its five months reconstruction works. Therefore, Friends of the Kunsthal and members of the Kunsthal Business Club are compensated and will receive a forthcoming letter with additional information.
Behind the scenes, the Kunsthal-team will continue to work on an exciting exhibition programme.

As from November 2013, we will be happy to welcome you in a beautiful renovated and sustainable building.

March 24, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Heist: Looking at the Paintings Stolen from the Triton Foundation (Provenance Information Added)

Lucian Freud, Woman with Eyes Closed
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

The seven paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16 remain missing. On January 21, Romanian police arrested three men in connection with the gallery heist. March 4, Dutch police arrested a Romanian woman believed to be an accomplice. On March 13, a German man who arrested for blackmail after an alleged attempt to sell the Triton stolen paintings back to the foundation. The mother of one of the defendants arrested for the theft has claimed that she destroyed two of the paintings.

Last December Yale University published Avant-Gardes 1870 to the Present: The Collection of the Triton Foundation which offers more information on the stolen paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation. This catalogue is written by Sjraar van Heugten, former head of collections at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and an independent art historian. Here the catalogue's information on the stolen paintings:

Lucian Freud: Woman with Eyes Closed (2002), oil on canvas, 30.5 x 25.4 cm. Provenance: Triton Foundation, acquired from the artists, 2002.


Paul Gauguin, La Fiancée 
Paul Gauguin, Woman Before a Window, 'The Fiancée, 1888, an oil on canvas. annotated in the lower right in red paint (damaged) La Fiancée; signed and dated lower right beneath annotation in black paint P Go 88, 33.8 x 41 cm. Provenance: Private collection, England; Kunsthandel (art dealer) Franz Buffa, Amsterdam; collection Allan and Nancy Miller, Solebury, Pennsylvania, 1949; auction Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 17 June 1960, no. 87 (unsold); auction Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1962, no. 75 (unsold); auction Christie's, Tokyo, 27 May 1969, no. 302; collection Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne, circa 1981; auction Drouot-Montaigne, Paris, 3 April 1990, no. 58; Triton Foundation, 1997.


Matisse's Reading Woman
Matisse's Reading Woman in White and Yellow, 1919 was painted in the South of France in the suburb of Cimiez. The 31 x 33 cm work is "oil on canvas mounted on board" and "signed lower left Henri Matisse". Comment: Certificate of authenticity by Wanda de Guébriant, 12 Mar. 1996. Provenance: Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, acquired from the artists on 23 June 1919, no. 21624; Bernheim-Jeune Frères, acquired on 20 May 1931; collection Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune, 1931; Bignou Gallery, New York; private collection, New York, 1947; collection Dr. Peter Nathan, Zurich, 1953; collection Emil G. Bührle, Zurich, acquired from the above on 8 December 1953; Foundation Emil G. Bührle Collection, since 1960; Triton Foundation, 1999.

Jacob Meyer De Haan, Self-Portrait

Jacob Meyer De Haan (Amsterdam 1852 - Amsterdam 1895), Self-Portrait against Japonist Background, circa 1889-1891, oil on canvas, 32.4 x 24.5 cm. Provenance: Collection Marie Henry, Le Pouldu; collection Ida Cochennec, daughter of the artists and Marie Henry; auction Cochennec Collection, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 24 June 1959, no. 77; Marlborough Fine Art Ltd, London; collection Mr. and Mrs Arthur G. Altschul, New York, acquired in July 1961; Triton Foundation, 2002 (on long-term loan to the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2002-2004).

Sideways view of Monet's Waterloo Bridge
Claude Monet: Waterloo Bridge, London (1901), pastel on brown laid paper, signed lower right Claude Monet, 30.5 x 48.0 cm. Provenance: Collection Werner Herold, Switzerland, circa 1917; private collection, USA, 1970; Triton Foundation, 1998.

Another sideway's view: Monet's
Charing Cross Bridge, London
Claude Monet's Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1901, pastel on brown gray laid paper, annotated and signed lower right à J. Massé/au jeune chasseur/d'Afrique Claude Monet, 31.0 x 48.5 cm. Provenance: Collection J. Massè, gift from the artist; auction Hôtel des Ventes, Enghien-Les-Bains, 24 Nov. 1985, no. 39; auction Hôtel des Ventes, Enghien-Les-Bains, 18 Mar. 1989, no. 6; private collection, Triton Foundation, 1998.

Picasso's Head of a Harlequin
Painted the year before the artist's death, Picasso's Head of a Harlequin (1971) is in "pen and brush in black ink, colored pencil and pastel on thick brown wove paper" (38 x 29 cm) and is "signed and dated in the lower right Picasso/12.1./71. Provenance: Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris; private collection, Europe; Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, New York; private collection, USA; Finartis Kunsthandels AG, Zug; private collection, USA, 2004; Triton Foundation, 2009.

March 16, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam art heist: German prosecutor arrests middle-man for blackmail after attempt is allegedly made to sell back stolen paintings to Dutch owner Triton Foundation

Harlequin Head by Pablo Picasso
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13, German prosecutors arrested a 46-year-old German man for attempting to sell seven of the paintings stolen from the the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16 back to their Dutch owner, the Triton Foundation [David Rising and Toby Sterling reporting from Berlin and Amsterdam, respectively, for the Associated Press ("Police name man claiming to sell back Picasso, Monet in $100 million heist"].
Three Romanian men suspected of carrying out the heist were arrested Jan. 22 in Bucharest and remain in custody there. A 19-year-old Romanian woman was arrested in Rotterdam on March 4 on suspicion of assisting the thieves.
Police believe the works were brought shortly after the theft to a home in Rotterdam where the young woman was staying and removed from their frames.
The suspect has contacted two lawyers in Cologne to negotiate the return of the paintings back to the owner and has been arrested for blackmail.

DutchNews.nl reports in "Romanians implicated in Kunsthal art heist to face trial at home" that the three men arrested for the theft will not be extradited to The Netherlands.
None of the works have been recovered and the mother of one of the defendants told a local Romanian broadcaster she had destroyed two to help her son [DutchNews.nl].
The suspects would prefer to avoid prison and Romania and have claimed that the paintings will never be seen again if their trial is not held in the Netherlands: "They have made this very clear," their lawyer said.

Here's another view of the  value of the stolen paintings.

March 5, 2013

Dutch Police Arrest 19-year-old Romanian woman in connection with the Rotterdam Kunsthal Art Heist

Matisse painting stolen from Kunsthal Rotterdam
Monday March 4 Dutch police arrested a 19-year-old Romanian woman, the girlfriend of one of the suspected thieves responsible for robbing the Rotterdam's Kunsthal on October 16. 

In January, Romanian police arrested three men in Bucharest suspected of stealing seven paintings attributed to brand name artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Lucian Freud, and Paul Gauguin.

According to Reuter's Thomas Escritt reporting from Amsterdam yesterday, Dutch police's review of the art gallery's surveillance tapes of led authorities to two Romanian men, age 25 and 28, based upon 'their behavior and the frequency of their visits'. Escritt wrote:
Police believe the unnamed woman, the girlfriend of the 28-year-old, was living in the flat where the canvases were stored until they had been removed from their frames and transported to Romania.

January 25, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Speculation Abounds Regarding Recovery of Looted Paintings

When Romanian police arrested three men in Bucharest Tuesday, Rotterdam police confirmed that none of the paintings by Picasso, Freud, Matisse or Gauguin stolen on October 16 had been found yet rumors in the media and declarations by Interpol fuel recovery speculations.

According to an Associated Press article published yesterday by The Huffington Post, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has declared that he is confident that the paintings will be recovered.

Romanian-Insider.com ran the headline "Stolen Matisse painting offered to Romanian businessman".

But then Rotterdam police announced no paintings have been recovered.

January 22, 2013

Organized crime unit of Romanian police arrest three men for Kunsthal Rotterdam theft; no paintings found

Romanian police arrest three men suspected of robbing
Kunsthal Rotterdam last October.
Today DutchNews.nl in its post "Three arrested for Kunsthal art theft in Romania, say local media"cited Nos Television as the source of the information.

The photo to the left is from the online Romanian news service Adevarul.

On the Dutch television channel, Nos cites a Rotterdam police twitter for the information that none of the paintings stolen from a temporary exhibit on October 16 were recovered.  Nos cites Romania's antena3.ro for information that the suspects have been arrested and will be held for 30 days in police custody while the investigation proceeds.  According to the report out of Romania, the police on the case specialize in combatting Organized Crime and Terrorism.

Martijn van der Starre and Irina Savu for Bloomberg News quote police spokesman Roland Ekkers that none of the stolen paintings by Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Gauguin or Lucian Freud were found.  A Bucharest court issued the arrest warrant.
Kunsthal Rotterdam

According to Robin Van Daalen for The Wall Street Journal online (Three Arrested Over Dutch Art Theft), a Romanian police spokeswoman said 'that officers had "carried out multiple activities" at the request of organized-crime prosecutors and that the operations were continuing'.

BBC News covered the theft under Rotterdam Dutch art thefts lead to Romanian arrests.

You can read previous ARCA blog posts about this theft here regarding the theft; the press conference; expert opinions; questions the day after the theft; available information about the owner of the paintings, the Triton Foundation; discussion with former Scotland Yard art detective Charley Hill; discussion with security consultant Ton Cremers; case progress reported by Rotterdam-Rijnmond police; speculation that flipper method opened back door; AP's press conference video (excerpt); Dutch news reporting theft (video); theft shown on surveillance video; the question of fire alarmed doors; former FBI agent Virginia Curry on fire and safety; "overvaluation" of stolen paintings; private art investigator Arthur Brand on last year's rhino theft adjacent to Kunsthal and Irish organized thieves; and Brand on messenger bag used in theft.


January 15, 2013

Norwegian police suspect Irish Travellers of Stealing Chinese Artifacts from the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen last week

Maeve Sheehan, a contributing writer for Irish Independent, reports in Irish Traveller gang linked to audacious Norway art heist that Norwegian police "suspect the same gang of Irish Travellers who have already been linked by Europol to a string of robberies, money laundering, and counterfeit goods" in last week's theft of Chinese artifacts from the West Norway Museum of Decorative Arts in Bergen.

Last October, former Scotland Yard art detective Charley Hill spoke of the similarity between "the Irish Traveller raids on art in the 1980s through 2010" and the break-in at the Kunsthal Rotterdam.  Private art investigator Arthur Brand offered his suspicions earlier on this blog regarding the Kunsthal Rotterdam and a theft a year earlier of rhino horns from the Natural History Museum across from the Kunsthal.


November 13, 2012

Kunsthal Rotterdam Theft: Messenger bags may have allowed thieves to flee on foot or by bike

Painting by Gauguin stolen from Kunsthal Rotterdam

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Here’s a link to an article by Robbert Blokland and Jolande van der Graaf published today in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraf regarding progress on the investigation of the theft at the Kunsthal Rotterdam last month.

Here Arthur Brand, private art investigator, provided an analysis of the article along with his own commentary:
A retired Dutch police office (Dick Gosewehr) is claiming that the police are doing something wrong in their investigation of the Kunsthal Rotterdam heist if they are looking for a getaway car.  If you look carefully at the surveillance video of the theft, you can see that the bags that the the thieves are wearing are what messenger boys use in cities for delivery packages on bicycles.
The police have been desperately searching for an escape car, but these are bags used for when people are carrying something on their back while walking or on the bicycle.  His theory is that they never used a car.
 
If you go to the map showing the Kunsthal Rotterdam in the museum park, you can see it’s difficult to approach the gallery or park a car on a busy street during a robbery.  It would be less conspicuous to travel by bike or to walk because the police would have a hard time finding you.  They might have stashed the paintings somewhere near the museum and maybe 1-2-3 days later when the heat was down, they could have come back to collect the paintings.  It would explain messenger bags and no escape car.
 
The retired police officer says that the CCTV cameras focus on cars and street traffic but wouldn’t necessarily follow someone walking into the bushes.
 
Martin Cahill was known to have buried stolen paintings – and sometimes he could not find them later.
 
Half of Martin’s gang is still in The Netherlands and the Rathkeal Rovers who are still operating have been linked in the past to very big art thefts.  One of them is now in an American jail for tricking an antiques dealer.  The Rathkeal Rovers see each other every November and December when they return to their town to celebrate the holidays so they all know each other.  Irish Travelers, the Cahill gang, and the Rathkeal Rovers all know each other and deal in drugs and steal art.  The Cahill group were not originally Irish Travellers but came from the poorest level of society.
 
George Mitchell and some of the other people took their expertise with them to the Netherlands.  Kunsthall is a temporary art collection.  If they took a look back last year and saw that the paintings were visible through the glass walls then all they had to do was wait for a big exhibition and strike after it opened.  It’s not 100% but rumors go that way and it’s just too obvious.  If police ignore this link, then they are doing a bad job.