Monday, May 01, 2017

Stolen Art Watch, Global Art Crime May 2017

Cambridge Fitzwilliam stolen jade 'lost for generations', expert says

Efforts to trace £57m-worth of Chinese artefacts stolen from a Cambridge University museum five years ago have proved fruitless, police said.
Thieves broke into the Fitzwilliam Museum on 13 April 2012 and escaped with 18 mainly jade items but since then there has been no trace of them.
Despite the passage of time, the museum remains hopeful of their return.
But an art expert believes the objects have been sold into China and could take generations to resurface.
A number of people were jailed for their roles in the Fitzwilliam robbery and other raids on museums and an auction house across the UK.
While items including a rhino head and Chinese artefacts were retrieved and returned, none of those from the Cambridge museum was ever found.
"Artwork is either recovered very quickly, or the thieves realise what they've got is radioactive, and it goes underground for a generation or more," Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, said.
With the Fitzwilliam artefacts registered on a number of art databases including Interpol and Artive, any dealer exercising due diligence would realise the items are stolen "and that's how they might be located", he said.
Because the theft was so widely publicised, Mr Marinello believes the Fitzwilliam jade has "gone underground", most likely traded among criminals, perhaps for drugs or weapons.
While Cambridgeshire Police have confirmed the case is still open, the force is not looking for anyone else in connection with the theft.
The Fitzwilliam remains hopeful its jade will be found and returned, a spokeswoman said.
However, lawyer Mr Marinello, who specialises in recovering stolen artwork for museums, churches, insurance companies and private clients, thinks the museum could be waiting some time.
"I believe the Fitzwilliam jade has made its way to the top market for it in the world - and that's China," he said.
"I think they're in Chinese collections and until someone perhaps dies and the next generation decides to sell, I don't think we'll see them for quite a while."

£10,000 painting by J M Barclay stolen from home near East Linton

The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, which has been stolen
The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, which has been stolen
A PAINTING valued at about £10,000 has been stolen from an East Lothian home.
Police are appealing for witnesses following a housebreaking at an address near Kippielaw Farm, off Braeheads Loan, near East Linton.
The incident occurred between 5pm on Saturday, April 15, and 2.45pm on Monday, April 24.
Entry was forced to the property and several paintings, including a high-value oil painting, were taken.
The work, entitled 'The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane', by J M Barclay, dates from 1842 and is a 33” x 22” oil on canvas, valued in the region of £10,000.
Four of the other paintings taken were a black and gold Asian style design.
Local police are continuing with their enquiries and are asking anyone with information that may assist to come forward.
Community Inspector Andrew Hill from Haddington Police Station said: "Based upon the specific nature of the property taken it is likely that this is a targeted theft. A vehicle would have been involved.
"The paintings stolen are all originals and very distinctive.
"Crimes such as this are fortunately rare; however, apart from the financial loss to the owner, they also involve a loss of history and heritage.

The Edmonton man who inspired 'Yoga Hoser' arrested for possession of a $1.2-million ancient statue

For a while, it felt like destiny, a string of events so unlikely it could only have been fated. But Simon Metke doesn’t think that way any more.
Instead, for Mr. Metke, it now seems more like a cosmic joke that brought the Edmonton man and an ancient soldier together, thrusting him into a world of Canadian art theft, criminal justice, drug charges, flamboyantly bad Hollywood filmmaking, an army of deadly Canadian Nazi sausages and the creation of the term “yoga hoser.”
“Even though it was such a stressful thing, I still appreciate the beauty of the absurdity of it,” Mr. Metke says. “It’s so easy to try and make it meaningful because of how intense it all is, but it’s so abstract at the same time. People are just like, ‘Yeah, your life is crazy.’”
The story began in 2011, when a friend in Montreal told Mr. Metke about a man who was selling a stone sculpture of a soldier, claiming it was some kind of antiquity. Mr. Metke, who was deeply interested in ancient cultures and heading to Montreal for a visit, seemed a likely buyer.
But when Mr. Metke saw the piece in his friend’s apartment, he was skeptical. It looked to him more like a high-end replica, like a mantle decoration that could be bought at a home store in a suburban strip mall. Still, he appreciated the workmanship and, though the price was high – $1,400 – his friend stood to make a commission on the sale.
Appearing as it did just ahead of the year 2012 (the final year of the Mayan calendar) and in the midst of Mr. Metke’s own intense spiritual journey, well, he thought it was meant to be.
He googled, “Is there a Mesopotamian artifact missing?” but found nothing. So he bought the sculpture, packed it with his clothes and – after his suitcase was briefly lost by an airline – unwittingly brought a 2,500-year-old Persian artifact back to his condo in Edmonton.
At first, Mr. Metke kept it in a meditation area in his living room. But he eventually moved it onto a bedroom bookshelf, where the bas-relief sculpture that once lined the hall in Persepolis sat among an array of Star Wars figurines, stuffed animals and crystals, no more meaningful or special than his other mementos and icons. He thought about taking it on Antiques Roadshow to see if it was worth anything, but never did.
Unbeknownst to Mr. Metke, the sculpture had been stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts a couple of months before he bought it, although the theft was not initially made public. It was valued at $1.2-million, and there was a hefty reward available for its return.
On Jan. 22, 2014, police officers working with the RCMP’s Integrated Art Crime Investigation Team showed up at his door.
“The sun’s coming in through the window, the bougainvillea flowers are glowing, the crystals are making rainbows,” he says, mimicking what he said when interviewed following his arrest for the theft of the sculpture and some drug-related charges.
Mr. Metke’s case – and that colourful quote – caught the attention of Kevin Smith, the American film director behind movies such as Clerks, Mallrats and Dogma, who joked about the story on his podcast. When co-host Scott Mosier mimicked an RCMP officer at the door of Mr. Metke’s apartment saying, “Open up, yoga hoser,” the term took hold.
On April 20 that year – 420, the day that potheads annually celebrate the cannabis culture – Mr. Smith announced he was working on a script for a movie called Yoga Hosers. The plot was not actually Mr. Metke’s story – it’s about two teenaged girls from Winnipeg who save the country from Canadian Nazi sausages – but the film included a flaky yoga teacher character named Yogi Bayer, clearly styled to resemble Mr. Metke.
The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2016, with a cast that included Johnny Depp and Natasha Lyonne. Justin Long, who played Yogi Bayer, tried to contact Mr. Metke before it shot to help develop the character.
“He eventually called me, months after I shot my scenes,” Mr. Long said, speaking on the carpet at Sundance.
The movie was broadly panned, with one review describing it as “close to unwatchable” and “a corny Canuck joke, told for 88 surreally unfunny minutes.”
The situation has, at times, felt surreal and unfunny for Mr. Metke, too.
But after more than three years, the case was finally resolved in an Edmonton courtroom this week. Mr. Metke pleaded guilty to one count of possession of stolen property. Two drug-related charges were stayed.
An agreed statement of facts acknowledged Mr. Metke didn’t know the artifact was stolen but that he “could have gone further” to determine where it came from. The case was described variously by the Crown and defence as “very unique,” “very, very unique” and “extraordinary.”
The judge granted Mr. Metke a conditional discharge with a period of probation and community service. Dozens of friends who showed up in court for Mr. Metke broke out in cheers, and some wiped away tears. Mr. Metke hugged the prosecutor.
With the threat of jail and the possibility of a criminal record behind him, Mr. Metke says he plans to get back into projects he had been working on, including shooting documentary footage of ancient landscapes and further developing a vertical garden system he created. He’s refining a theory about life he calls “The Entropy of Irony,” and is trying to find positive things in his strange experience.
He says he started to watch Yoga Hosers once, and may try again one day.
The ancient soldier, meanwhile, is back at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Court heard it returned from its journey in “pristine condition,” carried back by an archeology professor who travelled to Edmonton to retrieve it.
There’s an orange stuffed octopus on the shelf where the artifact used to be. Mr. Metke knows exactly where it came from.

Lindauer paintings stolen in Auckland art heist 'radioactive'

Lindauer paintings stolen in Auckland art heist 'radioactive'

A leading expert in recovering stolen and missing art said media coverage of the recent smash and grab style theft of two high-profile paintings had left them worthless to thieves.
Chris Marinello from Art Recovery International in Italy said the two Gottfried Lindauer paintings snatched from International Art Centre in Parnell, Auckland, were now "radioactive" and no one would buy them.
Marinello, an expert who had seen more than $500 million of art recovered, said last weekend's ram-raid theft of the two paintings was amateur and opportunistic.

Art recovery expert Christopher Marinello has negotiated the recovery of more than $500m of stolen art - including this Matisse. Photo / supplied
Art recovery expert Christopher Marinello has negotiated the recovery of more than $500m of stolen art - including this Matisse. Photo / supplied
"This was not an elegant robbery. It was totally unsophisticated by people who thought they would be able to sell the paintings quickly," he said.
"The level of interest and the publicity in the theft means these paintings are now radioactive - no one in their right mind will touch them."
Marinello is based at Art Recovery International's office in Venice but the company also works out of the UK and United States.
He has helped recover more than $500m of stolen and looted artwork and helped in the recovery of art taken by Nazis in World War II.
Just last year Marinello negotiated the return of a priceless 16th-century carving stolen decades earlier from a historic church in London.
A film crew were working with Marinello as he worked through locating seven high-profile stolen works.
Marinello urged New Zealand authorities to register the Lindauer theft and details of the artworks on the register.
He oversaw the development of the database which is considered the most technologically advanced system in the identification of stolen art.

CCTV footage of the get-away car used in the theft of two Gottfried Lindaeur paintings. Photo / supplied.
CCTV footage of the get-away car used in the theft of two Gottfried Lindaeur paintings. Photo / supplied.
The paintings stolen in the Parnell ram-raid were both by Gottfried Lindauer in 1884 and were known as Chieftainess Ngatai - Raure and Chief Ngatai - Raure. They were about to be auctioned, and were estimated to be worth $1m together.
Czech-born Lindauer trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and migrated to New Zealand in 1874.
He became one of the most prolific and best-known painters of Maori subjects along with Charles Frederick Goldie.
Marinello said there was a possibility a ransom could be demanded for the paintings' return or they could be used to access drugs or weapons or as leverage in a "get out of jail free card".
He said the theft of the well-known paintings was unlikely to be an ordered grab.
If that was the case more care would have been taken, he said.
"We are not talking about stolen to order because of the way the smash and grab was done.
"My thought is it is common thugs looking to make quick cash."

The International Art Centre in Parnell was robbed in a ram-raid and two Lindauer paintings were stolen. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The International Art Centre in Parnell was robbed in a ram-raid and two Lindauer paintings were stolen. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Marinello said paintings in a window attracted smash and grab theft.
"It's the sparkle in the window - they take what they can and they are off."
He said the paintings could be recovered soon - or could take as long as a decade.
Most works were recovered, because it was harder to sell stolen art than it was to take it in the first place, he said.
"There is a bit of a black-market of course but they are offered for only about 5 per cent of their value."
Marinello said there was a market for the Lindauers overseas because they were attractive works of art and that was why the register was so important.
If the pieces were recovered Marinello said their value would depend on damage done.
The high-profile theft of James Tissot's painting Still on Top saw it plummet in value.

The work was stolen from Auckland Art Gallery in one of New Zealand's most high-profile art heists. Ricardo Sannd, also known as Ricardo Romanov, walked into Auckland Art Gallery with a gun and cut the famous work from its frame in 1998.
The painting was found under Romanov's bed a week later but was so badly damaged tiny pieces of it were found on the gallery floor for weeks.
Although it will never be sold the painting went from an estimated $8m to an insured $2m.
Marinello said some works increased in value because the theft contributed to the story.
"There was a Picasso that was stolen and the theft increased the value because it added to the colour of the work's story.
"That is not usually the case though."
Many works were rolled up, treated badly and stored in conditions vastly different to the temperature controlled environments of museums and galleries.
"They are stored under beds, hidden away because they are that hard to sell," he said.
"I had a $6m painting handed to me in a garbage bag out the window of a Mercedes."
New Zealand art expert Penelope Jackson echoed Marinello's thoughts and concerns on the Lindauers' theft.

New Zealand art expert Penelope Jackson. Photo / supplied.
New Zealand art expert Penelope Jackson. Photo / supplied.
She said there was a lot of speculation as to motive but said until the culprits were caught it was largely an unknown.
"We just have to hope they are recovered unscathed because at 130 years old these two pieces are very vulnerable."
Jackson said talk that the gallery should not have had art in the window was a shame.
"It would be a sad thing if we got to the stage where galleries can't display art because there is a risk of theft.
"It's hard to entice people into an auction with blank walls."
Police put alerts on New Zealand boarders after the theft and Interpol was notified. Police continue to investigate.


Most art stolen within New Zealand has been recovered.
The most famous piece still "at large" is Psyche - a 1902 work by British artist Solomon Joseph Solomon.
In her book art thieves, fakers & fraudsters - the New Zealand author Penelope Jackson outlines the mystery of the 1942 theft.
Theories include an inside job and a phoney burglary to cover up damage done by a cleaner.
Hopes were raised in 1982 when a man came forward and said he had seen the life-size reclining nude painting in a Napier house.
It ended up being a similar painting by a Christchurch art student.
Later in the year the gallery received a Polaroid of what was thought to be Psyche.
The photo was later revealed to be a hoax with the clever confession:
Dear Sir,
Psyches sleep, Psyches awake
Some are real, some are fake
Masterpieces are seldom met,
Touch this one, the paint is still wet.
Other recovered high-profile pieces include the 1997 theft of Colin McCahon's Urewera mural stolen from a Department of Conservation visitor centre by Tuhoe activist Te Kaha. The work was returned 15 months later after negotiations.
In 1998 the $8m James Tissot oil painting - Still on Top - was stolen by career criminal Ricardo Sannd, also known as Ricardo Romanov.
Armed with a gun Sannd stole the painting, worth $8m, from Auckland Art Gallery. It was later found hidden under his bed.
Sannd was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison for the crime.
In 2005 the statue Pania of the Reef was stolen from the Napier foreshore. The motive was never known but Pania was discovered a month later and recovered by police. She was restored, then replaced.


The Mystery of the $2.5 Million Rare Book Heist

In January, three thieves drilled through the skylight of a building near Heathrow Airport and rappelled 40 feet to the floor, bypassing the security alarms, and making off with around $2.5 million-worth of rare books.
There is a special place saved in the pantheon of art thieves for those who commit their crimes while displaying almost supernatural feats of athletic prowess.
Thieves who climb up walls, through windows, or prowl around raising nary an alarm get nicknames like “Spideman” and “Ghost.” They have even inspired their own sub-genre of thrillers—think Catherine Zeta Jones’s Cirque de Soleil-worthy contortions to steal a valuable mask in Entrapment.
But it’s Tom Cruise’s vault heist in Mission: Impossible that is the most apt model when it comes to a recent theft of 160 antique books from a warehouse in London.
Late in the night on Jan. 29, three still-unknown thieves drilled through the skylight of a building near Heathrow Airport and rappelled 40 feet to the floor, bypassing the security alarms.
They went straight to six specific crates that contained three dealers’ worth of books that were en route to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Oakland.
Over the course of several hours, they unloaded the books they wanted into duffel bags, belayed their loot to the roof, and took off in a waiting van. The haul totaled nearly $2.5 million.
“Behind these books there is a lot of work because we have to search to try to find out where the books are—auction houses, collectors, colleagues—and there’s big research behind these books,” Alessandro Meda Riquier, one of the affected dealers, tells Sky News. “They are not only taking money away from me but also a big part of my job.”
Riquier was the owner of several of the most noteworthy tomes that were taken in the heist. The most expensive book was a second edition of Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres from 1566 in which the astronomer introduced his revolutionary theory that the sun—not the Earth—is the center of the universe.
That book alone is worth over $250,000. Among the rest of the trove are several rare editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy and a smattering of Galileos, Newtons, and da Vincis, among other titles from the luminaries of the early sciences.
All in all, it is the quantity of books stolen rather than the individual titles that make this heist so significant.
“The books were there for only a short time in that warehouse, and this is a very exotic commodity so this is not something that the average person thinks that they can sell,” Jeremy Norman, a rare book dealer with a specialty in the early sciences, tells The Daily Beast. “I think it’s a real mystery. You really wonder how they knew the stuff was there, and the timing of it, and how they were shipped off, and what the real motivation was.”
Several theories have been offered as to why the thieves went after this quarry. One suggests that this may have been a “made to order” theft, one in which a buyer specifically commissioned the thieves to take these titles.
Similar to fine art, stolen antique books are very difficult to sell on the legitimate market—and thereby net the title’s full value. When a rare book crime becomes known, organizations like the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) quickly take action to alert their members to the volumes that were stolen so dealers can be on the lookout for anyone trying to offload a tainted treasure.
“If you’re a seller, you’re not going to want to touch something that might remotely be even possibly stolen because you’re going to lose a lot of face with your customer,” Susan Benne, executive director of the ABAA, tells The Daily Beast. She points out that the rare book market deals in a lot of repeat transactions, books that change hands multiple times.
The difficulty of sorting out a stolen book after it has made its way through a few owners ensures that most booksellers are painstakingly principled when it comes to provenance. 
“It’s a real hassle to have to go back through the process of dealing with insurance companies, with law enforcement,” Benne says, noting that “above and beyond wanting to do the right thing anyway” dealing with stolen material in the end isn’t worth it for dealers.
While a wealthy collector with a gleam in his eye could have commissioned the theft, the more likely scenario is that it was a crime of opportunity. In this theory, a gang of nefarious local elements had help from someone inside the warehouse’s operation who tipped them off to the presence of the expensive cargo and the exact details of the books’ schedule and location.
The shipment was only being stored for a few days, so the opportunity to take the books, not to mention the ability to quickly pick the correct crates out of a room full of other goods that were left untouched, most likely required some help. As Norman says, “to coordinate such a thing, this is like in a movie, how would you know?”
But if this is what happened, the three felons are most likely sitting somewhere scratching their heads right now trying to figure out how to get rid of their ill-begotten library. 
“Maybe it was tempting to professional thieves who didn’t understand that this isn’t going to be something that you can fence like jewelry,” Norman says. “I can tell you it’s not going to affect the prices of books, and it’s going to be really hard for these books to be converted to cash if that’s what they want to do.” 
Another member of the community, Chris Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International, offered The Guardian a more dire warning for what might happen if these thieves find it difficult to cash out.
“The books might then be broken up,” he says. “Some of the illuminated manuscripts and engravings contained therein might be traded in the art market, where many buyers don’t know they were cut out of rare books. It becomes a lot more difficult to trace.”
The antique book community is no stranger to crime, but the London heist broke the previous mold. It’s not uncommon for rare bookstore owners to catch someone slipping a book into their pocket—Norman says he dealt with this occasionally at the store he owned for 30 years. And institutions like libraries that have a permanent collection of treasures are not immune to thefts, whether from outsider thieves or by employees or visiting scholars who are looking to make a few extra bucks on the side. 
“I mean the thefts that have been really disruptive and sort of shocking in our world, a lot of them more recently have come from libraries,” Benne says. 
As a comparison to the London theft, Norman mentions the 1969 attempt on the Gutenberg Bible at the Widener Library at Harvard.
The amateur thief lowered himself by rope into the room where the Bible was displayed, packed the two volumes up in his backpack, and attempted to scale back up to the roof. Unfortunately, he miscalculated how heavy the tomes actually were—over 60 pounds when carried together—and he fell to the ground. Needless to say, the crime was thwarted.
But incompetence isn’t the only thing that separates the 1969 attempted theft from the 160 books successful stolen in January. 
“The books in the Harvard Library were there for years. Everybody knew about them, they weren’t going anywhere, you could target it. That [theft] was daring and it flopped,” Norman says. “[The London theft] took real skill… that’s got to be professionals. So now we’re up against professional thieves, and we could have more trouble than we used to have in the past.”

Hertford artist Alan Davie's window cleaner jailed for stealing paintings worth £500,000

Daniel Pressland leaving court

Daniel Pressland leaving court
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A window cleaner who stole £500,000 worth of paintings from renowned Hertford painter Alan Davie after his death has been jailed for four years.
Daniel Pressland, 42, was aware of the value of Mr Davie's paintings and knew of weaknesses in the security at his home.
He pounced when the Scottish artist died aged 93 in 2014, carrying out a series of burglaries before being caught in the act with three paintings in his van.
READ MORE: World-famous artist's window cleaner accused of stealing art worth £500,000
He claimed he wanted to use the paintings, worth £90,000, as ramps to get his motorcross bike into his van.
Passing sentence at St Albans Crown Court yesterday (April 5), Judge John Plumstead described him as a "vulture".
He said: "You happened on an opportunity to get rich quick by stealing from someone who you had been worked for for years.
"You were like a vulture on a carcass and just helping yourself. You acted disgracefully."

Alan Davie in his Hertford workshopPressland had worked for Mr Davie, whose work had been displayed at the Tate Modern, since 2002, cleaning windows and doing odd jobs.
The judge said Pressland had committed the burglaries not realising the art gallery that acted on behalf of Mr Davie had a complete record of everything he had painted or drawn in his lifetime and would know what was missing.
During his trial, the jury heard that in all he took 31 paintings from the artist's home at Gamels Studio in Rush Green.
Sarah Morris, prosecuting, said the works totaled half a million pounds in value, but that £243,500 worth of art remained unrecovered.
READ MORE: Items that inspired Alan Davie go on auction
The last of Pressland's break-ins took place during the day on April 2, 2015, almost a year after the death of Mr Davie.
Neighbours of the painter, who had been admired by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and David Hockney, were concerned to see Pressland at the house and putting large canvases into the back of a van.
Police were alerted and were quickly on the scene and caught the window cleaner as he was driving away.
The jury was told that during an interview with the police Pressland told them he kept his ladders in the painter's garage and, having gone there to collect them, saw the three works of art which he assumed had been "put out there for the rubbish".

Some of Alan Davie's paintingsBut yesterday (April 5) before passing sentence Judge Plumstead said it was quite possible Pressland had committed more break-ins at the home of Mr Davie using his knowledge of the faulty upstairs window to gain entry.
Pressland, of Outward Common, Billericay, was found guilty of burgling the home of the artist between April and August of 2014, when 11 paintings were stolen.
Fellow defendant Gavin Challis, 42, from Nazeing, was acquitted of possessing criminal property.
He said he had taken Pressland at face value when he had offered him two paintings for £5,000 and had no reason to believe he was buying criminal property. The Davie works found hanging in his home were worth £26,000.
Mr Davie was born in Grangemouth, Scotland and went to the Edinburgh College of Art in the late 1930s.

See the Most Expensive Townhouse Ever Sold in New York City

A Depression-era mansion on Manhattan's Upper East Side sold yesterday for a record $79.5 million, according to public records, making it by far the most ever paid for a New York City townhouse.
That distinction used to belong to another Upper East Side property, the Harkness Mansion, when it sold in 2006 for $53 million.
David Wildenstein, scion of his family's art fortune, reportedly sold the 41-foot-wide, 25,000 square foot limestone-clad mansion to a Chinese hedge fund, according to the New York Post. The Beaux Arts-style building, which has three stories and 20-foot high ceilings, housed the Wildenstein art gallery for almost a century.
The property, though, is not without its share of controversy.
Billionaire Len Blavatnik sued for millions last year after he believed Wildenstein reneged on a verbal agreement to sell his firm the townhouse for $79 million, according to Bloomberg.
Blavatnik made the bid after the government of Qatar, which was in talks to buy the property in 2014, balked at the last minute. The home was then put back on the market for $100 billion.
News reports have accused the Wildenstein family fortune of being buoyed by an alleged history of dealing in Nazi-stolen art.
David's father Guy Wildenstein was recently cleared of charges that he attempted to launder money to avoid a French tax bill.

Taxidermy burglar sentenced after recovery of van full of stuffed animals

A member of a gang which stole taxidermy from a well-known dealer a year ago, has been sentenced
All the items stolen, included two full African lion mounts, two infant zebras, a troop of baboons and a king penguin, were recovered.
Jason Robert Hopwood, 47, of Drummond Road, Romford, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to his part in the burglary and fraudulent use of a registration plate, was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Kingston Crown Court on April 4. He was also ordered to work 200 hours' community service.
The court heard how at around 19.30 on March 1, 2016, a burglary took place at the warehouse of London Taxidermy at the Wimbledon Stadium Business Centre.
An angle grinder was used to remove the padlocks and the doors forced open. CCTV footage suggests the van left the scene around 20 minutes later.

Valued at £100,000

Dealer Alexis Turner told ATG he had lost a significant portion of his stock following the raid. However, many of the 27 stolen items with a value of close to £100,000 were immediately identifiable.
Press coverage of the unusual nature of the crime aided in the recovery.
DC Stuart Goss, from Wandsworth CID, said: "I would also like to thank the media, as I am sure reporting of our appeal forced the criminals to abandon the stolen goods. Cataloguing and exhibiting the stolen items was a truly unique and memorable experience”.
Acting on information three weeks after the incident, Essex Police found an abandoned van in the Stapleford Abbots area in Essex. False plates were believed to have been attached and inside were all of the stolen goods. Turner told ATG he received all of the items back within a month after forensic testing and his insurance company had paid out on loss of income.
Hopwood, identified as the owner of the van, is the only member of the gang to be prosecuted in relation to the theft. He was arrested on September 29 and charged on November 10.

Photos of Guercino painting, rolled up like a rug by thieves, reveal extent of damage

The work was taken from an Italian church in 2014 and recently recovered in Casablanca
Photos of Guercino painting, rolled up like a rug by thieves, reveal extent of damage
The altarpiece before (left) and after the theft
The first photographs of the Guercino painting stolen from an Italian church in 2014, which was recently recovered in Casablanca, show the extent of damage to the work. Reports in the Italian and Moroccan press suggest that the 17th-century depiction of the Virgin Mary and two saints has lost around a third of its surface paint. The majority of losses appear to be on the lower part of the canvas. But any restoration work will have to wait until the picture returns to Italy. Italian and North African authorities are currently finalising the details.

The painting, entitled Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker (1639), was tracked to a suburb of Casablanca. It was recovered in February after the thieves tried to sell the picture for ten million dirham (around £800,000). According to the Italian newspaper Modena Today, one of the men arrested in connection with the theft told the police that the painting had been stored rolled up like a carpet, which likely contributed to its current condition.

The altarpiece was stolen from the Church of San Vincenzo in Modena in 2014. At the time of the theft, the art critic Vittorio Sgarbi described the picture as a monumental work that could be worth between €5m and €6m.

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