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2004's Most Wanted Art

This is a journalistic inquiry by  Saz Productions, Inc. to acquire information for a television  & new media production.  In the process we hope to publicize lost art and offer assistance towards its recovery.  Collectors, journalists, researchers, police, and others with questions or contributions e-mail saz@saztv.com 

* June 2004 -

Recent headlines on this beat include a Picasso taken in Paris,  a moon rock stolen in Malta, a museum murder in Guatemala, and a lost Stradivarius found in LA.

To begin, a known work by Picasso "Nature morte a la Charlotte" was stolen from the conservation studio's of the Pompidou Center. Though last seen on January 12th it was reported as missing this May.  For details and a picture of the stolen painting see INTERPOL
 

Malta was the scene of museum theft.  A moon rock presented to the Maltese government by Richard Nixon was missing from display at the National History Museum.  This is not the first stolen moon rock story.  See the Christian Science Monitor
for an interesting article.

Next, the museum world was saddened by the loss of life associated with a theft from the Colonial History Museum
in Guatemala City.  A guard's throat was slashed as thieves stole two colonial paintings.  For pictures of the missing art see Museum Security Network

Other than that, a burglary in Stockholm, Sweden that netted paintings by Leger "Nature Morte Blue Rouge", Gris "Mandolin on a Table", and Zorn "Fröknarna Josefin och Ida Rudbeck på Edsberg" as well as a Picasso print. 

On a more pleasant note, a recently stolen Stradivarius cello
  was recovered.  It was found next to a dumpster in Southern California.  And finally a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder stolen from a museum in 1994 was recovered in Tblisi, Georgia

* May 2004 -
This past month saw some interesting headlines on the art theft beat.  A Caravaggio recovered in Malta, a Brueghel stolen in Holland, and even a Stradivarius Cello stolen in LA.
For those interested, here's a quick run down of those crimes:

First, a large haul of rare artworks were stolen (and subsequently recovered) on the Mediterranean island of Malta.  Recovered items include paintings attributed to the artists Caravaggio, De Mura, and Piazzetta. For details see the Times of Malta


Next, a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger was stolen from Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands.    A 30,000 Euro reward has been offered for its return.  For details see AXA Art Insurance
.

Next, a rare Stradivarius Cello "General Kyd" 1684, was stolen in Los Angeles.  For those curious about other hot pieces by Antonio Stradivarius see our page devoted to stolen musical instruments
.

On another note, an evening seminar "Art Theft, Stolen Heritage
" will be presented at the Smithsonian on May 24th.  We look forward to attending this event in Washington D.C.  It will give us an occasion to catch up with our good friends from the FBI, INTERPOL, ALR & IFAR.  Our thanks to lecturer Karin Alexis for her work on this program.

* April 2004 -
This past month wasn't too bad on the art theft beat, meaning nothing too big went missing. 
In Sydney Australia, thieves used wire cutters to snatch a George Edwards Peacock oil painting valued at $30,000 (Australian) from the Museum of Sydney
.  However museums across the world did report other kinds of losses.

In India the 1913 Nobel prize
for literature (awarded to poet Rabindranath Tagore) was stolen from a museum in Baruipara.  In the United States (Las Vegas, NV) thieves stole more than $300,000 worth of Elvis Presley's jewelry from the Elvis-A-Rama museum. The haul included "the King's" ruby diamond ring, a high school ring and his diamond pendant and chain.

As to good news, there were two major archaeological seizures in Europe.  Spanish authorities uncovered an illegal archeological museum featuring more than 5,000 priceless artifacts looted from  Phoenician, Iberian, Roman and Islamic sites in the southern region  of Andalusia. One person was arrested. (see notice
in Spanish) 

Next, word comes from Naples that Italian police recovered 750 stolen archaeological objects and charged 17 people with receiving stolen property.  Among ancient Roman items seized were 22 high-quality marble and terracotta artifacts of the 1st and 2nd centuries (see AGI
). 

Other recoveries include two 300,000 year old "priceless" teeth, briefly stolen from the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann Germany, were recovered without incident.  Italian police also recovered a stolen painting by Modigliani "La filette aux bas rouges".

On the diplomatic front Switzerland and the Republic of South Africa returned 62 recovered artifacts to Nigeria.  Honduras and the US signed agreements on cultural property, and the second protocol of the Hague Convention (on the protection of cultural property in wartime) each went into effect this past month.  In short, there were lots of doings involving the protection of cultural property.

* March 2004 -

A few interesting stories crossed our desk this past month.  First, what had been billed as Australia's biggest art theft (a stolen "Cezanne
") has been downgraded to the loss of some forgeries.  Also in Australia a $100,000 (AU) reward has been posted for the safe return of two Rembrandt etchings stolen late last year.

Else where around the world, three paintings including a work by George Inness
were stolen in from the University of Toronto, works by Bernard Buffet were taken in France, and a painting by Grimshaw was stolen in the UK.  Here in the US, two recent Georgia O'Keeffe thefts in Santa Fe have been solved.  They were each taken by the same museum guard (see below).  Also, there may be some breaking news on the infamous Gardner Museum theft.  ABC News' Primetime is promising an interesting new look at this case.

Finally, our belated congratulations go out to FBI agent Robert K. Wittman for winning 2004 Burke award.  The annual award is presented by the (Smithsonian Institution's) national conference on cultural property protection.  Mr. Wittman's success (recovering cultural property) has been outstanding.  It's nice to see such recognition for his many important contributions to the field.

* February 2004 -
It's always good to report quickly solved cases of art theft.  In Toronto five David Le Marchand ivory sculptures stolen (from display at the Art Gallery of Ontario
) were recovered within two weeks.  The ivories and Billionaire owner are doing well.

Next, a painting stolen from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe was recovered soon after its theft.  It was taken by, of all things, an indebted museum guard.  It was the second O'Keefe stolen by from a Santa Fe, New Mexico
museum his year.  And another Santa Fe story, The 1921 oil painting is by Taos Society of Artists founder Joseph  Henry Sharp "Jerry with Apache Bow and Arrows."  was stolen this past month from the Fenn Galleries.

* January 2004 -
Another year on the art theft beat.  We continued to expand and develop our coverage of this important topic with our Stolen Art Directory
.

As to recent doings concerning stolen art, this past December saw the theft of two Rembrandt
etchings near Melbourne Australia, a Georgia O'Keeffe painting stolen from a museum in Santa Fe NM, and even a Playboy piece by Vargas was stolen from a gallery in California.

Also of note this past month, the suspected thieves who hit Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum
(including one nicknamed "the monkey" ) were arrested.  Other victories against culture's thieves include Turkish police seizing a number of antiquities and in Philadelphia it was a million dollar lost & found story for a domestic collector. 

The wider aim of this project is to develop internet & television programming
, on the subject of art theft, art forgery, and great art mysteries.  We venture to this years NAPTE conference Jan 18-20 in Las Vegas to further that goal.  If you represent a network or media company, interested in this project, please feel free to contact us. 

Jonathan Sazonoff
President, SAZ PRODUCTIONS, INC.

PAST UPDATES:
Archive: 2003 UPDATES (Part II) July - December 2003

Archive: 2003 UPDATES (Part I) January - June 2003
Archive: 2002 UPDATES
Archive: 2001 UPDATES
Archive: 2000 UPDATES
Archive: 1999 UPDATES

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