Monday, November 30, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Walnut Treasure Haul Not Cracked up To Much !!!

He's no 'Thomas Crown'; Thief sentenced to 15 years for stealing truckload of antiques

WEST PALM BEACH - — WEST PALM BEACH — When William Sanders, 51, ripped off an unmarked trailer from a Hampton Inn parking lot in 2007, he was high on cocaine likely looking for a quick something to pawn.

What Sanders unwittingly stole though, was what detectives estimated as a million-dollar trove of English antiques, some dating back to the 15th century: burl walnut furniture; tortoise shell tea boxes; ivory and mother-of-pearl business card holders — the stuff of Rockefellers filched for cocaine rock.

"Judge, this is not the Thomas Crown affair ... for all he knew it had yard equipment in it," argued Sanders' defense attorney, Evelyn Ziegler, at Sanders' sentencing today.

Sanders asked he be sentenced to five years in prison following his guilty plea to grand theft over $100,000.

A prosecutor asked that Sanders, a 12-time convicted felon, be sentenced to the maximum: 30 years in prison.

She argued that for months Sanders did not come forward admitting the theft, meanwhile, pieces like a burl walnut dresser valued at $57,000 floated in a canal where Sanders had dumped them.

"I didn't even know what this stuff was," Sanders told Circuit Judge John Kastrenakes. "I had no clue the value that it had."

Kastrenakes asked Sanders how much cash for crack did he get in the end?

"$600 or $700, he answered.

The theft of the trailer from the Hampton Inn set Palm Beach County Sheriff's detectives Jim Brown and Walt Robinson in motion. The FBI had to be called in on the five-month investigation, because things like the tortoise shell items were specially licensed and monitored by federal endangered species laws.

Initially, the detectives said they thought it may well be a Thomas Crown-like affair, a targeted, high-end robbery.

Rather, they ended up tracking down ivory and mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell-inlaid items at a flea market, a barbershop and canals way in western Palm Beach County.

"Although they have to have a certain value, some of them are priceless," Det. Brown told the judge Monday. "It's a shame to find them floating in canal water for months with no chance of salvage."

Antiques dealers Andrew and Kelly Vogel had brought the merchandise to sell at an area show. The Vogels parked their unmarked trailer in front of the Hampton Inn's security cameras for extra protection — and awoke to find it gone.

Detectives Brown and Robinson would help the Vogels recover a good number of the items — $388,000 worth, says Brown.

But not without help from Sanders himself.

Months later, after the detectives tracked him down, Sanders confessed and took them on a tour of the places he had dumped the antiques. Sanders was remorseful and cooperative, argued his defense attorney Ziegler, and for that he deserved a break.

But would the judge agree?

The likelihood of the Vogels recovering money from Sanders was "minuscule" the judge said, and Sanders did deserve the max.

But remorse and confessing guilt and helping recoup some of Vogel's losses must be worth something.

So, 15 years in prison for Sanders, the judge ruled.

Vogel was not present at today's sentencing. He was in Kentucky, on his way to another antiques show.

Contacted by phone, he said all told he is left stunned why Sanders — a convicted felon, imprisoned at least six times before — was out, allowed to commit another crime. Sanders' criminal history includes a capital sexual battery upon a child.

"How many is too many? At one point does someone like this be taken off the street for good?" Vogel said. "It's a revolving door where criminals appear over and over again.

"And the revolving door remains open."
Art Hostage Comments:
More suitable Robert ???

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panther, Political Pawn, Poor Man, You Decide !!!!

Alleged Pink Panthers thief denies guilt at start of Montenegro trial


A newspaper says a suspected member of the Pink Panthers group of jewel thieves has pleaded not guilty at the start of his trial in Montenegro.

Vladimir Lekic was arrested in June on an Interpol warrant. He is charged with taking part in a robbery in Frankfurt in December 2003, when watches worth about C1 million ($1.31 million) were stolen from a jewelry store.

The Saturday edition of the Vijesti daily quotes Lekic as telling the judges that "I did not steal anything." He reportedly said Friday that he was only passing through Germany at the time of the robbery.

The Pink Panthers are believed to be mainly from the Balkans. They are suspected of jewel thefts worth more than $150 million (C114.41 million) in Europe, Asia and the Persian Gulf.

Art Hostage Comments:

The Montenegrin government agreed earlier this year to put this man on trial as part of deal to gain entry to the EU.

As a result, Germany agreed to sponsor Montenegro in its application to join the EU.

There has been hundreds of millions invested in Montenegro already by the private sector and EU membership will bring further hundreds of millions in loans and EU investment.

Those who have already invested heavily in Montenegro have a vested interest in seeing Montenegro join the EU and if that means throwing a few pawns to the Wolves then so be it.

This show trial is mere window dressing to appease the EU, via Germany and one suspects Vladimir Lekic will be quietly released once the objective has been achieved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panther's Return, Chaumet, Cluster Alert !!!

Armed gang rob famed Paris jewellers
The pair raided the Chaumet store on Place Vendome, the French capital's most glamorous shopping address.

Armed and masked raiders barged into the former jewellers of Napoleon and Queen Victoria in Paris on Friday and forced staff to hand over precious stones worth hundreds of thousands of euros.

The pair raided the Chaumet store on Place Vendome, the French capital's most glamorous shopping address, after stealing an employee's handbag containing a security card to open a service door, investigators said.

Once inside, they brandished guns and demanded that employees empty safes in the two century-old establishment, known as a supplier of jewels and precious stones to top fashion designers and the royal houses of Europe.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the robbery as "extremely audacious", unusual in its execution and apparently well planned by a gang well informed about the store's layout and security system.

A Chaumet manager confirmed the theft and said it would take some time to estimate the total value of the stones taken from the storage area as a full inventory would have to be taken.

In recent years France has seen several high-profile robberies in luxury jewellery stores, many of them thought to be carried out by a gang of thieves from the former Yugoslavia known as the "Pink Panthers".

The last hold-up in Place Vendome was in May of this year, when Chaumet's near neighbour Chopard lost 15 million euros worth of stock to armed robbers.

Art Hostage Comments:

The Pink Panthers have returned, well nearly !!!

Cluster alert, ****** and ********as well as *************** are being targeted as I write.

Three more big hits before the end of the year !!!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Stolen Art Watch, Yeats Back on Show !!!

Stolen Yeats painting is back in the spotlight

A FAMOUS painting whose location remained a mystery for 17 years after it was stolen in an audacious art heist was yesterday unveiled to the public.

It is the first time in almost four decades that the painting, a Jack Yeats work from 1915, 'Bachelor's Walk, In Memory', was placed on public display.

And, there will be an added frisson of excitement for visitors to the National Gallery of Ireland as they learn its dramatic history.

In 1990, the painting was one of five works of art valued at IR£1m -- two by Yeats and three attributed to the Flemish painter Van Dyck -- that were stolen from Dunsany Castle in Co Meath.

The late Lady Sheila Dunsany, a renowned art collector who died in 1999, was in the house at the time when the paintings were stolen from three reception rooms.

Those present in the house heard nothing as the raiders gained entry by forcing the bars of a window on the ground floor. It was reported that there was no alarm system in operation at the time.

Delighted National Gallery of Ireland director Raymond Keaveney explained that the last time the painting was seen in public was in 1971 when it adorned the gallery's centenary exhibition of Yeats' works.


It then vanished in 1990 before it was finally recovered in London in 2007 after it was spotted in a promotional publication for Sotheby's auction house. The other paintings also resurfaced in the 1990s.

Mr Keaveney yesterday said they were delighted to accept the important painting on loan, adding the identity of the current owner would remain a private matter.

"It is extraordinary how paintings that are stolen find their way back," he said.

The painting depicts an incident in 1914, when British soldiers opened fire killing four civilians as they returned from having halted a large party of Irish Volunteers transporting a supply of arms landed at Howth.

Yeats is believed to have visited the scene the following day where he witnessed a woman leaving flowers and immediately drew a sketch.

- Louise Hogan

Irish Independent

Art Hostage Comments:

Whoever decided to enter this stolen painting into a Sotheby's sale should go back to Stolen Art School 101.

To think this could have slipped through is naive to say the least.