Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Forget Thomas Crown, Bill Reid Thieves are Cultural Assassins !!

The thieves who broke into a B.C. museum last week and walked off with $2 million in gold artworks wore gas masks and used bear spray, CBC News has learned.

The brazen burglary at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia took place Friday night while the lone security guard was out having a cigarette, museum director Anthony Shelton said.

The take included 12 artistic treasures fashioned in gold by the late Haida artist Bill Reid.

Four hours before the theft occurred, Shelton said, several key surveillance cameras went offline without explanation.

"The security cameras seem to have been working," Shelton said, "and this is just a couple of them. But it seems that they hadn't been recording."

An electronic alarm alerting campus security, responsible for patrols at the museum, was tripped when the cameras stopped recording, but it appears nothing was done about the problem, Shelton said.

There was only one guard at the museum Friday night, and about the same time he left for his smoke break, the thieves moved in wearing gas masks, Shelton said. The burglars then doused the interior of the museum with a powerful bear repellent.

Electronic recordings confirm both audible and silent alarms were functioning at the time, Shelton said. The bear spray would have immobilized anyone who tried to stop the thieves, but it seems no one did.

The guard did not report a problem and the theft was not discovered until the shift change for security guards at 9 a.m. Saturday, Shelton told CBC News.

Shelton said the heist was well organized: three Mexican Zapotec Indian gold-coloured necklaces, which were found despite being hidden in drawers, were the first items taken.

Next came the glass case containing Reid's gold pieces. A dozen items were scooped up, including the famous Golden Box.

The appraised value of all the items is about $2 million, though experts say Reid's pieces are virtually priceless.

Shelton told CBC News he believes the well-organized and professional thieves cased the museum before the break-in. He said he wasn’t sure whether they were only looking for gold, as almost all the gold pieces on display were taken, or whether they were filling a specific order from an international art collector.

Shelton acknowledged police have been questioning staff, but he denied there is any evidence to suggest the burglary was an inside job.

Interpol called into the investigation
Shelton said the museum has been circulating photographs of the stolen work to art magazines and journals, in addition to offering a $50,000 reward. Interpol, the world's largest police agency, has also been called into the investigation.

Reid is considered one of Canada's most important 20th-century artists. Four of his works can be seen on the Canadian $20 bill.

The Victoria-born artisan was trained as a goldsmith and worked in sculpture, carvings and jewelry — all reflecting traditional Northwest Coast native culture. Reid's father was Scottish-German and his mother was Haida.

In his 20s, Reid began a career as a radio announcer and eventually ended up at the CBC in Toronto in 1948, where he discovered his jewelry-making skills while taking a college course.

In 1951, upon returning to Vancouver, Reid explored and expanded his jewelry-making business while continuing to work for the CBC. It was the start of an acclaimed career as a world-renowned artist. He died in 1998.

Art Hostage comments:

Memo to thieves: "Cultural Assassins"

Do yourselves a favour and contact Toronto Lawyer Michael Morse, or Dennis Morris, the lawyer who recovered the Thompson Ivories, they will be able to organise the safe return of the Bill Reid items before this whole thing gets out of hand.

Gas Masks and Bear spray, OK professional approach, therefore, make sure the Bill Reid icons are cared for well.

The world and his wife are looking for these Bill Reid Icons and the best thing is they be placed in the safe hands of a lawyer, Morse or Morris, even during negotiations, that way other thieves will not be able to steal them off the original thieves.

As much as the Canadian people are outraged by this theft, the Canadian people can be counted on to forgive the thieves if the Bill Reid icons are quickly returned un-damaged.

To be continued............................

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Michael Morse can Crack the Code, Get Bill Reid Icons returned !!

Theft of Bill Reid art not random, curator says

The curator of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia says the theft on Saturday of a dozen pieces of art by Haida artist Bill Reid was not random.

Bill McLennan says the thieves knew what they wanted and they brought in the equipment needed to break into the high security cases that held the works of art.

He says his worst fear is that whoever took the pieces could melt them down for the gold.

Police refuse to say how the thieves got into the building, or if there is any video surveillance, but they say descriptions of the stolen items are being circulated to police agencies around the world through Interpol.

In addition to the Bill Reid pieces -- which are being called "priceless'' -- several Mexican gold necklaces were also stolen.

On Monday, Canadian Press reported that UBC and the Museum are jointly offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the works, which have a total value of about $2 million.

Reid's widow, Martine, is said to be distressed by the theft and hopes a reward is offered to get the works of art back.

Reid is considered to be one of Canada's most important artists of the 20th century.

He was trained as a goldsmith and worked in sculpture, carvings, jewelry and painting. His work reflected traditional Northwest Coast native art.

Reid died in 1998.
Art Hostage comments:

Sorry for the delay in posting about this theft but I have been consulting contacts in Canada.

First of all the way to recover the stolen Bill Reid artworks is a method used last year to recover the iconic set of medals stolen in New Zealand, see link:

However distasteful the services of an underworld lawyer is crucial.

Now the man for this job in Canada is Michael Morse who I posted a story about see link:

All the names are provided in the story above so get to it !!!

If authorities play their cards right the Bill Reid items can be back home sooner rather than later.

more later....................

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Simon Muggleton's Revenge, Best Served When Retired !!

Antiques Rogue Who Deceived Women

An Antiques "Knocker Boy" duped elderly women into selling valuable heirlooms for as little as one hundredth of their true value, a court was told.

Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood appeared on the doorsteps of wealthy widows in Crowbourgh, London and the Isle of Man to persuade them to part with treasured possessions, it is claimed.

His solicitor, Anthony Hershal Blok, is accused of hiding a £300 receipt for a painting Underwood bought worth £30,000 or more on the open market.

Underwood, of Copenhagen Court, Brighton Marina, went to prison in 2006 rather than reveal the fate of the work, entitled "Girls On A Beach" by Sir William Orpen, Brighton Crown Court was told.

He is accused of failing to declare ownership of the work when he filed for bankruptcy in 2002 so it would not be seized to pay his debts.

The court was told that Underwood had been a client of Blok since 1995.

The prosecution claims Blok had files containing the cash proceeds of crime by other clients in his office.

Blok is accused of lying to a court by claiming he did not know the identity of the Orphen painting's owner.

Blok is also accused of failing to pass on information about suspected money laundering by people he represented as a criminal lawyer.

Amanda Pinto QC, prosecuting, said Underwood had tried, since obtaining the painting in 1993, to get it removed from a register of missing and stolen artwork so he could sell it.

She said, "They made concerted efforts to legitimise the painting, which had been obtained in criminal circumstances by Mr Underwood."

Blok, 71, of Gowan Avenue, Fulham, faces charges including two counts of perjury, three counts of failing to disclose evidence of money-laundering, and one count each of transferring criminal property, assisting another to obtain property which was a proceed of crime, and possession of criminal property.

Underwood, 64, of Copenhagen Court, Brighton Marina, is accused of concealing criminal property and perjury.

Underwood has a previous conviction for dishonestly obtaining property from an elderly woman in Chelsea. In that case, retired Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad Detective Simon Muggleton, of Corsica Road Seaford, traced a stolen Porcelain plaque back to 1948, thereby showing Underwood and his accomplice Lee O'Donell were guilty of deception, for which Underwood was jailed.

Both men deny all charges. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Art Hostage comments:

This is a case of sweet revenge for ex-Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad icon Simon Muggleton, who has had a long personal feud with Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood.

Although Simon Muggleton retired a couple of years ago, he doggedly worked to seek his vengeance on Underwood and Blok and with the current court case it seems his vengeance is complete, guilty verdict or not.

To be continued.....................

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Antiques Mafia, Godfather and Lawyer go on Trial !!

The Crown Court

at Lewes

Daily List for Tuesday 6 May 2008 at LAW COURTS, EDWARD STREET, BRIGHTON.

Court 3 - sitting at 10:00 AM


For Trial

T20087048 BLOK Anthony H

T20080064 UNDERWOOD Michael D

Art Hostage comments:

Intriguing to say the least, I'll keep you posted as and when further news emerges !!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Rapley's Angel's to the Rescue, Banksy forger in the Frame !!

Art Hostage has learnt that whilst we have many outstanding high value stolen antiques still to be located, not least the majority of Harry Hyams stolen antiques, as well as the Rothschild gold box collection, Lowry's from Manchester, the list is endless. Why, the Brighton Antiques Mafia attack on Hastings Museum as seen in the post below should grab the attention.

Considering this what does Scotland Yards Art and Antiques Squad do ?

Send two glamour officers, dubbed "Vernon Rapley's Angels" in pursuit of a Man called Lee Parker for copying Banksy prints and selling them as originals.

Nice to see they are getting their priorities right !!!

The emergence of glamour officers being seconded to Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Squad leads Vernon Rapley to declare

"I'm emerging from Michelle !!!"

Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Antiques Mafia Strike Back !!

£50,000 worth of antiques stolen from Hastings Museum

Burglars have raided Hastings Museum snatching 33 antiques worth a total of £50,000.
The artefact's - mostly made of silver, glass and ceramic - date as far back as the 17th century and include a lacquered gold elephant tusk vase from Japan.

The thieves gained entry to the building in Bohemia Road between 5pm on Wednesday and 8am the following morning.

The museum was closed yesterday while police collected evidence and doors were expected to open to the public within a couple of days.
Security has been stepped at the premises since the break-in and CCTV tapes are being reviewed by police.

Borough council spokesman Kevin Boorman said: "A lot of care was taken to choose items of value and we think they will be sold on. If any antique dealers are offered anything they suspect is stolen, they should contact police.

"It's very sad that visitors to the town's museum will not be able to see these items which are of international repute and part of Hastings' heritage."

Art Hostage comments:

The sheer desirability of art and antiques theft means Police can only offer a "Hitting corks in a barrel" approach.

These items have already been offered for sale according to an anonymous source.
For every action, there is a reaction !!