Showing posts with label Carabinieri Art Squad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carabinieri Art Squad. Show all posts

July 26, 2017

The world of art policing has lost one of its finest.

"Everyone should realize that a cultural heritage
identifies a people; it is the founding stone that shouldn't be
scattered." --Roberto Conforti
"Nel pomeriggio, in Roma, è venuto a mancare il Sig. Generale Roberto Conforti, già Cte del TPA, un signore vero ed un grandissimo dell'Arma, possa Lui riposare in pace."

Sometimes referred to as the "General of Culture" General B(a) CC Roberto Conforti served as General of Italy's Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, commanding the group from 1991 until September 01, 2002.  Part soldier, part museum curator, sometimes tough guy and genteel art lover, his life was dedicated to the protection of Italy's artistic treasures. 

Respected by all, when he was first tasked to oversee the squad, the Carabinieri TPC corps counted just sixty men, responsible for the formidable task of protecting Italy's 96,500 churches and an untold number of archaeological sites, both known and unknown. The unit's growth to its present size of almost 300 officers is due in no small part to Conforti's development of the world's most famous art crime police force and its investigative prowess.


Conforti was born in Southern Italy in Serre, near Salerno and enlisted in the Carabinieri when he was just nineteen. While famous today for his intensive work in the sector of art crimes, Conforti first spent an extensive period of his career working against some of Italy’s most notorious, dangerous, and impregnable criminals in Sardinia and Naples.   Having cut his teeth on organized crime, he then transferred to Rome in the late 1970s, where he first oversaw an operational unit responsible for terrorism investigations involving the Red Brigades, a militant group responsible for numerous violent incidents, including assassinations, kidnapping and robberies during Italy’s so-called "Years of Lead".

Conforti passed away today at the age of 79.  He is survived by his wife Filomena and his children. As the officers who worked with him throughout his long career can best attest, few individuals have left such an important mark on the art crime fighting world. 

Generale Conforti's funeral will take place on Friday, Jul 28 at 12.00 noon at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola, via del Caravita n. 8/a (Rione Pigna) in Rome, flanking the Carabinieri TPC headquarters he oversaw with dedication for so many years.

Condolences can be mailed to the family at:
Via Prisciano, 67
00136 Roma - RM
Italia

Resterai per sempre nei nostri cuori.

May 15, 2017

Art Held Hostage: Italy's Carabinieri issue its new online bulletin of stolen works of art


Since 1972 Italy's Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale has published a periodic bulletin that has proven to be a valuable tool towards raising awareness and working to combat illicit trafficking and the theft of works of art.

In his opening comments on their 38th edition, released today, Brig. Gen. Fabrizio Parrulli, Carabinieri TPC Commander stated

"We believe that what has been stolen must not be considered as lost forever. On the contrary, we regard it as held hostage by offenders who can and must be defeated by the Italian and the international police force, together with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage Activities and Tourism, the art dealers and all the citizens."

Under the general's guidance and oversight, this year's "Art Held Hostage", was coordinated and developed by Lt. Col. Roberto Colasanti, the Carabinieri TPC Chief of Staff working with Maj. Luigi Spadari, the Carabinieri TPC Data Processing Unit Commander.  Targeted towards those who protect cultural heritage, academics working in the field and the art market itself, the Art Squad's bulletin includes descriptions and images of the main works of art stolen in Italy during the past year which have not yet been recovered.

Objects in the bulletin are sorted in categories, identifying
- the artist or school (such as "attributed to", "workshop of", "copy by", etc.);
- title or subject of the work;
- material and technique;
- size;
- The Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage database reference number.

and where possible, images of whatever quality is available in the objects documentation records.  

This year's bulletin highlights a total of 99 stolen works of art.  It also lists an additional 40 objects that have been recovered during the last year from bulletins 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 35 and 37.   Not a bad recovery rate and one that proves having good documentation increases the probability that a stolen work of art can be located and recovered. 

Fabrizio Rossi
Luogotenente presso Arma dei Carabinieri
Image Credit: UNESCO
Several of the objects listed as recovered in today's bulletin, like the Castellani jewellry collection, stolen in a dramatic theft to order heist from the Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia in Rome and the marble head of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus stolen from Hadrian's Villa, and recovered in the Netherlands, have been covered on this blog.  

Ancient Roman sarcophagus worth $4 million returned to Italy in 2014 after being stolen in 1981.


“Sansone” by Jacopo Tintoretto stolen November 19, 2015 from the
Verona Civic Museum of Castelvecchio with the exhibition curator

Peplophoros Statue Stolen from the Villa Torlonia in Rome in 1983



March 17, 2016

Was the Verona Museum Theft Commissioned? Possibly

By Lynda Albertson

Surprising news continues to come out regarding the Thursday, November 19, 2015 theft from the Verona Civic Museum of Castelvecchio where thieves had made off with seventeen Italian and foreign artworks worth an estimated €10m-€15m including rare pieces by Peter Paul Rubens, Bellini, Pisanello, Mategna, the Venetian artist Tintoretto and his son.

The Italian-Moldovan band, led by twin brothers Francesco and Pasquale Silvestri has been code named Operation Gemini after the two brothers found to be at the heart of the theft's organisation.


During a joint press conference conducted by the Squadra Mobile della Questura scaligera, the Servizio Centrale Operativo (Sco) of Italy's State Police and the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale,  the Public Prosecutor of Verona, Mario Giulio Schinaia stated With these arrests we have partially repaired an offence to the city of Verona, which, however, will only be rectified when the stolen" paintings will be recovered.” 

General Mariano Ignazio Mossa speaking on behalf of the Carabinieri TPC work in breaking the case indicated that his squad had been working in conjunction with local Verona law enforcement from the very beginning, arriving in the city from Rome on the morning after the dramatic theft.  He stated that the law enforcement groups had worked together jointly and continuously from that day forward, without leaving the city throughout the four month investigation. 

With some bitterness in his tone, the general told members of the press that the specialised task force had intentionally elected to work on the developing case silently.  This lips-are-sealed style of law enforcement is something sometimes criticised by the press, who clamour for the release of information from the moment a scandalous museum heist occurs.  

As a rule of thumb, the Carabinieri TPC has long been reticent about releasing much in the way of breaking news information when a major theft investigation is ongoing as the inopportune release of details sometimes serve as an impediment which can then compromise their ongoing investigation. Given the Italian art squad's successful history of recovery, the tactic has served them extremely well. 

General Mossa relayed that sometimes the media mistook the task force’s silence as a lack of attention to the severity of the theft, but in reality the decision preserved the integrity of their investigation and allowed officers to work efficiently to develop the inculpatory evidence necessary to arrest the two Italian brothers as well as Pasquale's Moldovan partner Svetlana Pkachuck.

Pkachuck is considered to be the link to the nine others from the the Republic of Moldova, five of whom were reported to be residing in nearby Brescia where the museum guard's getaway car was reported abandoned.  

Authorities have indicated that the investigation was a laborious one that involved prosecution wire taps into the band's activities and the painstaking review of some 4,000 hours of CCTV footage.   The biggest breakthrough came when the task force identified two Renaults driven by Moldovan members of the group.


Based upon wiretapped conversations authorities believe that three or four of the artworks stolen by the Italian-Moldovan band of thieves were stolen from the museum specifically for one individual. The rest appear to have been grabbed opportunistically, possibly to be sold later, after the commissioned transaction had concluded. 

“We need to wait, its too much of a big mess”  Pasquale Ricciardi Silvestri is said to have said during an intercepted wire tap. 

“They’re afraid, do you understand? We calm things down… what difference is : one month, two months, three months, four months ... what changes? We say nothing and do nothing.  That is fair. ” 

Some have speculated that the masterpieces may have been buried during the initial post-theft phase and then transported to Moldova. We hope to recover works of art abroad. Arresting those responsible is the first step. We are confident we will recover them, said an optimistic General Mossa.

For more details please see the press conference video below with the prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia of Verona, the director of the SCO - the Central Operations Service of the Police - Renato Cortese, General Mossa commander of the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, the commissioner Enzo Mangini and the provincial commander of the carabinieri Peter Oresta.

video

February 16, 2016

Tutta italiana la prima task force a protezione del patrimonio culturale mondiale

Unite for heritage (#Unite4Heritage) 


La prima task force a protezione del patrimonio culturale del mondo, i Caschi Blu della Cultura con i Carabinieri Tpc, nati oggi firmando l'accordo con l'Unesco e presentati a Roma nel complesso delle Terme di Diocleziano. Firmata anche la nascita dell'International Training and Research Center of Economies of Culture and World Heritage, centro di formazione che sarà a Torino, dedicato al nuovo gruppo d'azione.


By:  Giuseppe Grifeo Di Partanna

Originally published in its entirety, with permission from Di Roma here. 

(a fine testo, prima un video sulla nuova task force e poi una galleria immagini sulla distruzione dell'antica e celebre città di Palmyra, demolizione voluta dall'Isis)


"Una nazione è viva quando è viva la sua cultura". Con queste parole scritte in inglese e in antico persiano si è dato il via alla presentazione della prima task force operativa a protezione del patrimonio culturale mondiale, i Caschi Blu della Cultura "Unite for heritage" che vede impegnati per primi al mondo i Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale.

La frase fu scritta per la prima volta nel 2002 su un pezzo di stoffa appeso all'ingresso del Museo Nazionale dell'Afghanistan a Kabul, struttura salvata da saccheggi e distruzione, avviata alla sua ristrutturazione e restauro delle opere d'arte lì custodite.  Un simbolo chiaro come risposta inequivocabile e ferma, è la nascita di questo gruppo che vede i militari dell'Arma appartenenti al suo nucleo specializzato, insieme a esperti del settore, studiosi e professionisti, pronti a operare in tutto il globo.

Ne dà notizia la stampa di tutto il mondo, tanti i giornalisti non solo italiani alla presentazione. Ne scrive l'organizzazione internazionale ARCA (Association for Research into Crimes against Art) in un suo articolo dettagliato. 


Una presentazione, quella avvenuta oggi nell'aula X delle Terme di Diocleziano – Museo Nazionale Romano, che ha visto la presenza di ben quattro titolari di dicasteri, del direttore generale dell'Unesco, del Comandante dell'Arma dei Carainieri, del sindaco di Torino: i ministri Dario Franceschini (Beni e attività culturali e del Turismo), Roberta Pinotti (Difesa), Stefania Giannini (Istruzione, Università e Ricerca), Paolo Gentiloni (Affari esteri e Cooperazione internazionale), la direttrice Unesco Irina Bokova, il generale Tullio Del Sette e il primo cittadino del capoluogo piemontese, Piero Fassino.

«Il patrimonio culturale è di tutti e tutti abbiamo il dovere di proteggerlo e difenderlo - ha detto il ministro Franceschini - La comunità internazionale protegga patrimonio culturale umanità. Siamo il primo Paese che mette a disposizione dell'Unesco una task force completamente dedicata alla difesa del patrimonio culturale mondiale e già operativa. Spero siano molti i paesi a seguire questa strada».

Il tutto fa seguito all'accordo firmato a ottobre 2015 e con l'approvazione di una risoluzione all'Unesco presentata dall'Italia e firmata da altre 53 nazioni.

«Il patrimonio del mondo non è più minacciato nel corso di un conflitto dalle azioni di guerra, come avveniva nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale - ha sottolineato Franceschini - Ora la distruzione viene filmata e usata come propaganda, a simbolo dell'eliminazione di una cultura diversa, per cancellarla. L'importanza dell'atto firmato oggi non è solo simbolica ma ben concreta».

Il generale Tullio Del Sette ha ribadito la lunga storia operativa del nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale del carabinieri, «nato 47 anni fa (ndR: 3 maggio 1969), primo reparto al mondo dedicato a questo tipo di attività operativa».

I carabinieri Tpc sono stati messi a disposizione anche di diverse nazioni che ne hanno avuto bisogno a seguito di situazioni di grandi crisi», momenti che hanno messo in pericolo il loro patrimonio culturale e tanto per fare un solo esempio numerico, questo Nucleo dell'Arma ha recuperato fino a oggi circa 750mila beni culturali fra opere e reperti.

«Questa Task force contrasta la strategia del terrore seguendo un'azione tipicamente italiana che viene della strategia anti-terrorismo - ha sottolineato il ministro Gentiloni che riferendosi all'Isis ha continuato - Va contro quelle azioni che colpiscono luoghi-simbolo per eliminare la cultura di nazioni e, obiettivo ancora più insidioso, per cancellare la diversità e la pluralità che hanno caratterizzato e caratterizzano le civiltà e i popoli o la "pulizia culturale" dell'Isis in Medio Oriente, con le persecuzioni delle minoranze cristiane e yazide».

L'Unite for heritage può contare su circa 30 carabinieri specializzati e altri 30 tra storici dell’arte, studiosi, restauratori dell’Istituto Centrale del Restauro e dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze. Presto anche anche professori universitari che vogliono partecipare all'azione del gruppo. Da qui la scuola di formazione a Torino, anche questa nata oggi con la sigla del sindaco della città, Fassino.

Il capoluogo piemontese ospita già lo Staff College delle Nazioni Unite. Il nuovo centro di formazione dedicato ai Caschi Blu della Cultura si chiamerà Itrech (International Training and Research Center of Economies of Culture and World Heritage), fondato anche dall’Università degli Studi, il Politecnico, l’ILO/OIT, il Consorzio Venaria Reale e il Centro Studi Santagata che è storico collaboratore dell'Unesco. L’Itrech avrà come base il Campus delle Nazioni Unite che oggi dà sede anche al Centro Internazionale di Formazione dell’Organizzazione Internazionale del Lavoro, allo Staff College e all’Unicri, agenzia Onu per la lotta alla criminalità (United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute).

«Siamo testimoni oggi di un dramma a livello mondiale – ha detto Irina Bokova, direttore generale dell'Unesco nonché possibile nuovo segretario generale Onu – la distruzione del patrimonio culturale, il dramma della pulizia culturale delle minoranze etniche e di ciò che le caratterizza. L'entusiasmo nei confronti dell'Italia è grande perché questo Paese si è reso protagonista di questa nuova iniziativa che contrasterà la depredazione e la perdita del patrimonio mondiale, un'Italia che ha già 54 siti patrimonio dell'umanità, grandi ricercatori, studiosi e i carabinieri che tanto ci assistono con la loro opera».

«Avverto oggi un grande senso di responsabilità per l'apertura di un nuovo capitolo per la protezione del patrimonio culturale - ha concluso la Bokova - Stiamo lanciando oggi un grande messaggio. Ecco le nostre risposte contro l'estremismo, risposte che devono essere la ricostruzione di un mausoleo, il restauro degli scritti della sapienza islamica, dalla matematica all'astronomia, la ricostruzione del ponte di Mostar».


Come specificato anche dal ministero, l'Unite For Heritage non agirà sui fronti di guerra perché la gestione dei conflitti non rientra nel campo operativo del gruppo. I Caschi Blu della cultura non saranno schierati, per esempio, a difesa dell'antica città di Palmira difendendola dall’Isis ma, su specifica richiesta dell’Onu, interverranno in momenti di gravi crisi civili, come durante un terremoto, ad esempio quello del Nepal, per porre riparo a emergenze legate al Patrimonio, oppure verificheranno i danni a opere e siti archeologici dopo un conflitto e dopo il ritiro delle truppe coinvolte. Potranno predisporre il trasferimento in luoghi di sicurezza di opere che potrebbero essere in pericolo e, naturalmente, contrastare i depredatori e trafficanti di reperti utilizzando ogni strumento, compreso il vastissimo database dei Carabinieri TPC che sta alla base di un vasto programma Interpol per la protezione del patrimonio culturale.










The UN's Blue Helmets for Culture Initiative Has Been Signed in Rome


During the joint UNESCO - Italy press conference in Rome this morning a new task force has been formalized to create an international training center for the Blue Helmets for Culture (Italian: 'Caschi Blu' della Cultura).  This body of officers will be tasked with the protections of the world's cultural patrimony.   The agreement was signed at the city of Rome's Baths of Diocletian in the presence of the Mayor of Turin, Piero Fassino, Italy's Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, Italy's Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini and the director general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.

 Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova
Image Credit: Giuseppe Grifeo Di Partanna,
Journalist, Il Tempo and www.di-roma.com
Working with a mixed composition of specialized personnel including approximately 30 civilian experts (historians, scholars, restorers of the Central Institute of Restoration in Rome and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence) and 30 officers from Italy's art crime squad, the Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale the training center will be based in Turin and called "ITRECH" (International Training and Research Center of Economies of Culture and World Heritage).  

Earlier this week Bokova stated that “the establishment of a Task Force bringing together cultural heritage experts and the Italian Carabinieri force specialized in the fight against the illicit trafficking in cultural property will enhance our capacity to respond to future emergencies.”

The project will be located at the city of Turin's Campus of the United Nations and will serve to build capacity by assessing cultural heritage risks and quantifying damage.  It will also work to develop action plans as well as towards providing technical supervision and training to local national staff of countries in conflict. 

The Blue Helmets for Culture Unit will also assist in the transfer of movable heritage to safe zones  when and where possible and will work to strengthen the fight against looting and illicit trafficking of antiquities. The overarching goal of the initiative is to protect cultural and religious pluralism within a framework of international action to combat terrorism.

Carabinieri per la Tutela del Patrimonio Culturale Task Force
Image Credit: Giuseppe Grifeo Di Partanna 
Journalist, Il Tempo and www.di-roma.com
The Turin training site, located at Viale dei Maestri del Lavoro 10, in Turin, Italy is already an international training campus for other International and UN groups such as UNICRI - United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, the ITCILO, the Italian training arm of the International Labour Organization (ILO),  and the UNSSC – United Nations System Staff College.

By:  Lynda Albertson, CEO, ARCA

"ITRECH"
(International Training and Research Center of Economies of Culture and World Heritage) 
Italy's Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini
Image Credit: Giuseppe Grifeo Di Partanna 
Journalist, Il Tempo and www.di-roma.com
Celebrating the signing of the Blue Helmets for Culture Accord
Image Credit: Giuseppe Grifeo Di Partanna 
Journalist, Il Tempo and www.di-roma.com

January 21, 2016

Three Stolen Paintings Recovered by the Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale in Ancona

© Copyright ANSA
The Carabinieri TPC (Carabinieri del Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Culturale) in Ancona have recovered three stolen paintings dating from the seventeenth century.  The investigation, started in early 2014 and coordinated by the Public Prosecutors at the Court of Rome and in Perugia involved two paintings stolen in a private home in the province of Siena in 2007 and a third which had been taken from a house in Rome in 1991.  

This is not the first time Ancona's Carabinieri TPC squad has been successful in recovering stolen art. In September 2015 the unit recovered an oil painting from an unknown artist dating from the XVI / XVII century, depicting a 'Madonna with Child'.  This artwork had been stolen sometime in the evening between the 5th and 6th of June 1990 from the Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo where it had been displayed above the alter.  .The painting had turned up in an an antique store in San Benedetto del Tronto. 

Details on the recent paintings recovered and the conditions of the artworks are expected during a forthcoming Carabinieri TPC press conference. 

January 21, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Five Secure Vaults in Switzerland

By Lynda Albertson, ARCA CEO

ARCA’s blog readers have followed the cases of Italian antiquities trafficking for practically as long as there has been an ARCA blog.  Antiquities dealers, suspected of art crimes with names like Giacomo Medici, Robin Symes, Robert Hecht, Christo Michaelides, and Gianfranco Becchina are names you can search on and who each have pages of blog posts dedicated to them.

For those that want to delve further, books like The Medici Conspiracy and Chasing Aphrodite give English language accounts of the cases and investigations surrounding these dealers and for those who read Italian, Fabio Isman’s multi-year investigation I predatori dell’arte perduta explains why Italy has fought so hard to have its stolen antiquities returned home.

But in the background of all this, were the artworks themselves; artwork large and small, artworks looted and sold, and artworks looted and almost sold, had it not been for the quick thinking of investigators who diligently worked, in some cases for years, to put the pieces of this one puzzle together.

Those who have worked on these cases know how hard it is to identify suspect antiquities, especially when snapped on crumpled Polaroids.  Matching smashed pot fragments in photos taken in a darkened basement or the boot of a car with professional-quality photos of finally restored masterpieces on sale in auction catalogs takes a sharp eye.  More than that, it takes a considerable amount of patience, cooperation and collaboration with legal and law enforcement authorities to bring these articles home.

How did these objects get from an unknown archaeological site to a middleman? Who were the individual tombaroli?  Who were the intermediaries who physically transported these objects to dealer warehouses in Switzerland?  Why were museums and art collectors so quick to turn a blind eye to these objects' lack of collection history?  All of these are questions we may never be able to fully answer, but which have been speculated on in minute detail.

What maybe hasn’t been examined, or at least not in such a visually dramatic way is the amount of work behind this laborious investigation.  The work of the Carabinieri TPC, the work of Italy’s state prosecutors and expert consultants, and the work of Italy’s Ministry of Culture.   But instead of trying to tell their story in this blog post, perhaps its best to let photos of what they have recovered speak for themselves.

The imagery you see here comes from one singular organized crime investigation presented  today at the National Roman Museum at The Baths of Diocletian (Museo Nazionale Romano alle Terme di Diocleziano). 

5,361 archaeological objects, each ripped from their context, giving us no known site of origin to tell us about the place where they were taken from.  The objects date from the eighth century BC to the third century AD., all looted, all displayed together in one place.

Each piece represents an artwork stolen from  Campania, Lazio, Calabria, Puglia, Sicily or Sardinia.

One trafficking enterprise.  How many more are there?  
 

 























Note:  The accompanying photographs and video in this blog post represent approximately half of the 5,361 antiquities confiscated in Basel, Switzerland in 2001 as part of Operation Teseo.  Italy’s court reached its final and lasting verdict of confiscation via the Italian Supreme Court in 2013, which was then validated and confirmed by Switzerland.  These objects have been in Italy since 2004 and do not represent a “new” seizure as has been indicated by some journalists not familiar with the cases history.  The antiquities on display during the press conference are objects well known to researchers in the field of Italian antiquities looting and have been held as part of the ongoing investigation in Rome so that researchers and investigators had access to them as part of the investigation and for cataloging purposes.

The collection may gone on temporary display in Italy as a group but will then be disbursed to museums in the regional areas where the objects were likely looted.