Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label investigation. Show all posts

August 11, 2014

The Times Magazine: Alexi Mostrous writes about Julian Radcliffe and the Art Loss Register in "The murky world of the art detective"

In Britain's magazine for The Times, Alexi Mostrous discusses the controversy surrounding Art Loss Register's founder Julian Radcliffe and alleged payments to art thieves in "The murky world of the art detective" (August 9, 2014). Mostrous reports that the Art Loss Register 'claims to have returned more than £150 million worth of paintings, artefacts and sculptures to their rightful owners in the 22 years since business began' and has 'more than 400,000 objects currently listed' in its stolen art database:
Were the ALR a business built solely around this database, then Radcliffe would be a useful, if uncontroversial member of the art world, something like a particularly proactive lost property clerk. But Radcliffe is no clerk, and he and his company enjoy a far more glamorous sideline, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year tracking down and recovering stolen art on behalf of insurers and victims of theft. It works like this: Radcliffe’s network of sources around the world tip him off about the locations of stolen paintings. For a substantial fee, they may provide “information” which somehow leads to the stolen artwork landing in Radcliffe’s hands. The ALR man has collected paintings left for him in the boot of a car and by a layby. It’s a system shrouded in mystery but then, Radcliffe claims, it gets results.
According to Mostrous, 'Thanks to a series of internal aides-memoire written by Radcliffe between 2004 to 2012, and leaked to The Times, it is possible to reveal for the first time just how far the ALR is willing to go to recover stolen masterpieces.'

Mostrous' article includes comments from two ARCA associates who previously worked for Scotland Yard: Dick Ellis (an ARCA lecturer) and Charley Hill (an ARCA advisor). You can read the article here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article4167385.ece.

Another article in May 2013 highlighted the work of Dick Ellis: Emma Jacobs writing for The Financial Times "Lessons from an old master" which you can read here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b27c1392-c2cf-11e2-bbbd-00144feab7de.html#axzz3A5egUa3q.

June 17, 2014

ARCA's Sixth Annual Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference to open June 28th with panel highlighting "Recent US and EU Investigations"

The 2014 ARCA Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference will open with:

The Fall of the House of Knoedler: Fakes, Deception and Naiveté
Presenter: James C Moore, Esquire, Arbitrator and mediator of commercial disputes; Formerly, partner and trial lawyer with large New York law firm and president of New York State Bar Association

Hello Dalí: Anatomy of a Modern Day Art Theft Investigation
Presenter: Jordan Arnold, Esquire, K2 Intelligence; Former Assistant District Attorney and Head, Financial Intelligence Unit, New York County District Attorney’s Office

The Gurlitt Case: German and international responses to the legal and ethical questions to ownership rights in looting cases
Presenters: Duncan Chappell, PhD Lawyer and Criminologist, Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and Saskia Hufnagel, PhD Lecturer in Criminal Law; Queen Mary University of London Rechtsanwalt – Fachanwalt Strafrecht, Hufnagel und Partner

The Gurlitt Case: An Inside View From Christopher A. Marinello, Lawyer and Representative for the Heirs of Paul Rosenberg
Presenter: Christopher A. Marinello, Esq Director and Founder, Art Recovery International

August 9, 2013

Report from ARCA in Amelia: More on the Pompeii field class, Napoli, and courses by Valerie Higgins and Dick Ellis

Painting of Amelia
 by A. M. C Knutsson
by Sophia Kisielewska, ARCA Intern

Extremely early on Sunday morning a large proportion of the ARCA class gathered outside the town walls of Amelia to wait for the bus that would take them to Pompeii. 

Other members of the class had taken a train two days earlier to enjoy at the great sights of Naples. High on everyone’s agenda seemed to be the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli; Caravaggio’s spectacular ‘The Seven Acts of Mercy’ at the church of Pio Monte della Misericordia; Napoli Sottoterranea (underground); and above all a pizza from one of the three classic Neapolitan pizzerias: Da Michele, Di Matteo and Sorbillo.

The class caught up with these students at the gates of Pompeii at around 11 a.m. After a much needed cup of coffee, the reunited class entered the site and met up with Crispin Corrado, ARCA’s academic director and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Classical Archaeology at The University of California, Rome Study Center. Dr. Corrado led the students around the site, successfully keeping everyone distracted from the desert heat. She explained how the inhabitants of Pompeii had been living at the time of Mount Vesuvius’s eruption in 79 AD and the history of the site since its discovery in 1748 by Spanish Engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre. Later in the afternoon we visited the villa at Oplontis situated in the heart of the Mafia district, but a beautiful spot regardless. After this we all hopped back on the coach to return to Amelia. It was perhaps both the most beautiful and the most exhausting day yet.

Walking in Pompeii
Monday morning saw the arrival of the first British lecturer of the week, Valerie Higgins, the Associate Professor and Chair of Archaeology and Classics at the American University of Rome. Dr. Higgins teaches courses in Roman archaeology and history; ancient art; archaeological method and theory; funerary archaeology and human remains. Her personal research focuses on the role of archaeology in contemporary society covering aspects such as trafficking of antiquities; contemporary approaches to human remains; heritage in conflict situations; and the role of heritage in contemporary Rome. Her ARCA course, Antiquities and Identity, touched upon many of these topics. The primary focus of Day One was to assess how far the current issues of repatriation and disputed legal ownership are the result of the archaeology practices of the past and how contemporary attitudes to heritage are consequently changing, bringing new challenges to the field. To fully understand this problem, we were required to know a little more about the history of the field and this began with a lecture on the growth of antiquarianism and collecting from the time of Raphael. 

With a limited number of archeology trained students this summer, everyone was captivated by Day Two’s lectures in which Dr. Higgins explained the different archeological methods. A run through of the controversial debates that surround archeology in today’s climate was the heart of discussions during Wednesday’s lectures.

Mark & Laura renew vows at Palazzo Farrattini
Midway through this intense series of lectures, ARCA students and staff joined their classmate Mark and his wife of five years, Laura, at a ceremony to renew their marital vows at sunset in the beautiful garden at Palazzo Farrattini. It was a fantastic event and a welcome opportunity to relax and forget the murky world of art crime.

After lunch on Wednesday, Richard "Dick" Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Squad and current Director of Art Management Group, began the last course of the program, Art Policing and Investigation. Mr. Ellis brings an unparalleled level of expertise and field experience to the ARCA classroom. In his first class, Mr. Ellis directed the non-law enforcement figures in the room through the structure of police services around the world and their differing contributions towards the protection and recovery of stolen art.


The following two mornings, through a series of case studies, often ones that Mr. Ellis was closely involved in, the class learned the common reasons why art is targeted by criminals. We also understood, through such case studies, how large a role the global art market plays in aiding these criminals. The myth that art is stolen by the order of Thomas Crown-figures was immediately dismissed, and any sense of glamour evaporated as we were instantly made aware of the rather more sinister figures that govern the illicit art trade.

January 12, 2013

Smithsonian Channel re-airing "The Da Vinci Detective", a documentary on Maurizo Seracini's decades long search for the artist's lost mural at Florence's town hall

The Smithsonian Channel is re-airing "The Da Vinci Detective", the story of Maurizio Seracini's controversial search for Leonardo Da Vinci's 1505 The Battle of Anghiari mural underneath a Giorgio Vasari fresco at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. (This 2006 documentary is also available on DVD.) Here in Britian's The Guardian, art blogger Jonathan Jones asked last March "Did Vasari save a Da Vinci for us?", describing Vasari's redecoration of Florence's town hall for the Medici family as a coverup to erase its republican past. However, in September, Priscilla Frank for The Huffington Post (one of many journalists that did cover the story) reported that Seracini's search for The Battle of Anghiari has been suspended.  You can read why here.

May 16, 2012

ARCA Founder Noah Charney and ISGM's Security Director Anthony Amore Talk about the largest art theft in US history and the hunt for the paintings 22 years later; NBC's "American Greed" to feature Gardner Museum Heist Tonight

Vermeer's "The Concert"
CNBC's Lindsay Nadrich (with Reuters contributing) writes about the 1990 robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum online "22 Years Later, $300 Million Art Theft Investigation Heats Up."

Last week's search of the Connecticut home of an alleged Mafia member, 75-year-old Robert Gentile, with a ground-penetrating radar device found two guns but no artworks.

Noah Charney, Founder of ARCA, is quoted here.
"Vermeer's "The Concert" is probably the single-most valuable missing artwork today," art crime expert Noah Charney said.
Anthony Amore, author of Stealing Rembrandts and an instructor at the ARCA program in 2009, issued a statement to CNBC:
"While the Museum continues to thrive, the investigation into the 1990 theft remains very active," Anthony Amore, the Gardner's security director, said in a statement, "We will continue to work every day to recover the stolen masterworks.
To hear the full story of the Gardner Museum Heist, watch "American Greed" Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNBC (in the United States).

April 17, 2012

Richard Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad, sets the record straight on recent comments attributed to him on the blog Art Hostage

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

On April 13, 2012, Art Hostage, a blog on art theft, re-printed an article about the recovery of a stolen Cézanne painting in Serbia, then added comments he attributed to Richard Ellis, founder of the Art and Antiquities Squad at The New Scotland Yard, that accused Serbian police of corruption.

The Boy with the Red Waistcoat was one of four paintings stolen from the Foundation E. G. Bührle in Zurich in 2008.  [You may read about it here and here on the ARCA Blog).

The ARCA Blog asked Mr. Ellis about the nature of the comments attributed to him on the Art Hostage blog.  This is Mr. Ellis' reply:
I have had absolutely no contact or conversation with Paul Hendry, aka James Walsh the author of "Art Hostage" since his conviction at Lewes Crown Court in September 2010 for offences of benefit fraud and his subsequent imprisonment.  For some time before his conviction Hendry had taken to making unsubstantiated claims on the Art Hostage blog supported by quotes of his own invention. He has as a result turned what was initially a responsible and informative blog spot, where he would voluntarily edit and correct inaccuracies if requested to do so, in to an unreliable and unbelievable blog supported by lies, made one can only speculate for the benefit of his own ego.
Mr. Ellis explained that Hendry/Walsh was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment and served it in full.

According to Paul "Turbo" Hendry, he 'served three months three weeks in HMP Ford Open Jail; another three months three weeks on electronic tag; then another three months three weeks on probation, reporting to a probation officer once a month, ending August 2011. "The conviction is subject of an ongoing IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) inquiry looking at a cover up by Police," Mr. Hendry wrote in an email. "I pleaded not guilty to the charges/indictments and that is  why I was sent to jail. If I had pleaded guilty I would have been fined. The Police refused to reveal the contents of their files in court under a D-notice, Public Immunity Certificate, which would have vindicted me and proved they authorized the Benefit claim back in the year 2000." [Mr. Hendry's comments are from an email to the ARCA blog dated July 12, 2013].

Mr. Ellis teaches Art Policing and Investigation at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies in Amelia.

March 14, 2012

Joshua Knelman Launching "Hot Art" at The Flag Art Foundation in New York on March 22

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

"Interpol and UNESCO listed art theft as the fourth-largest black market in the world (after drugs, money-laundering, and weapons).  But what did that mean? ... one point was clear: don't look at the Hollywood versions of art theft -- the Myth.  This is a bigger game, with more players, and the legitimate business of art is directly implicated.  A lot of the crimes are hidden in the open.  Stealing art is just the beginning.  Then the art is laundered up into the legitimate market, into private collections, into the world's most renowned museums." -- excerpt from Joshua Knelman's Hot Art

Toronto journalist Joshua Knelman, author of Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detective Through the Secret World of Stolen Art (Tin House Books, 2012), will launch the American Trade Paper version of his  book from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 22 at The Flag Art Foundation in New York.

Knelman’s four year investigation of stolen art began with a local story about a burglary at a gallery in Toronto and ended with an international perspective. His nonfiction book begins in Hollywood in 2008 with the Art Theft Detail of the Los Angeles Police Department in a ride along with Detectives Don Hrycyk and Stephanie Lazarus who are investigating the robbery of an antiques store on La Cienega Boulevard.  Knelman immediately contrasts the meticulous and steady work of the police (he describes Hrycyk working art theft cases "with the patience of a scientist") with the images of glamorous heist movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair (1999).

In the first two chapters ("Hollywood" and "Law and Disorder") he links organized crime with art theft: the Los Angeles District Attorney's office had identified an Armenian gang for the antique-store job on La Cienega. In the second chapter, Knelman describes his coverage for The Walrus, a Canadian magazine, on a burglary at a small art gallery in 2003 and how the thief threatened him, tried to hand over stolen property to him, and then tries to educate him "about how art theft worked as an industry" as a way of distracting Knelman for the thief's own crimes:
He discussed how poor the security systems were at most of the major cultural institutions and of course at mid-sized and smaller galleries.  That made his job easier.  So there was that angle -- art galleries and museums weren't adequately protecting themselves against pros like him. 
Then he veered in another direction. 
"Okay, this is how it works," he said.  "It's like a big shell game.  All the antique and art dealers, they just pass it around from one to another."  He moved his fingers around the table in circles and then looked up.  "Do you understand?" He looked very intense, as if he had just handed me a top-secret piece of information, but I had no idea what he meant.  What did art dealers have to do with stealing art?  But our meeting was over.
Knelman published an article in The Walrus in 2005, "Artful Crimes", about international art theft.

In his book, Hot Art, Knelman meets cultural property attorney Bonnie Czegledi (author of Crimes Against Art: International Art and Cultural Heritage Law (Carswell, 2010) who introduces him to the roles of Interpol; the International Council of Museums; the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) and the Art Loss Register.  Knelman traveled with Czegledi to an International Council of Museums conference in Cairo, at his own expense, getting shaken down by a conference organizer for additional hotel fees above and beyond what he had agreed to pay the hotel manager.  Knelman meets Canadian police officer Alain Lacoursière and speaker Rick St. Hilaire, then a county prosecutor in New Hampshire who lectured on the impact of art theft in the United States and "knew a lot about the impact of art theft on Egypt." He visits the Egyptian Museum in Cairo with St. Hilaire and provides a great history of the collection and Napoleon's visit in the 19th century.

Knelman provides a personal account, both thrilling and dangerous, and admirable.  The book contains primary information for research into the black market of art, including a few chapters with an art thief, Paul Hendry, in England.

The book also provides a detailed profile of Don Hrycyk at the LAPD and the history of the Art Theft Detail, beginning with the work of Detective Bill Martin and includes information about Hryck's investigation of a residential art robbery in Encino in 2008; other cases ("his work was the most detailed example I found of a North American city interacting with the global black market"); a tour of the evidence warehouse which included fake art that had been the subject of a string operation into a Dr. Vilas Likhite; and an anecdote of an attempted theft at an unnamed major museum under renovation in Los Angeles.  In 2008, Knelman also interviewed artist June Wayne, founder of Tamarind Lithography Workshop (now the Tamarind Institute), who had a tapestry stolen in 1975; Leslie Sacks, owner of Leslie Sacks Fine Art in Brentwood, who discusses security measures and two burglaries; and Bob Combs, director of security at The Getty Center.

Both Hrycyk and Czegledi reference art historian Laurie Adams' book, Art Cop, about New York Police Detective Robert Volpe, the first detective in North America to investigate art theft full-time (1971 to 1983) after his role as a undercover narcotics cop in the late 1960s in a famous case memorialized in the film The French Connection about a ring of heroin dealers importing the drug from France.

Knelman also interviewed Giles Waterfield, director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London when a Rembrandt was stolen in 1981; Richard Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Squad; and Robert K. Wittman, the first FBI agent to investigate art theft full-time, when Wittman was six months away from retirement; and Bonnie Magness-Gardiner from the Art Crime Team at the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alain Lacoursière, Montreal police officer investigating art crimes in Quebec, including the unsolved 1972 robbery of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The book features the anonymous blogger Art Hostage (Paul Hendry) that turns out to be Knelman's source on art theft; Jonathan Sazonoff and his website The World's Most Wanted Art; and Ton Cremers and The Museum Security Network (MSN).

Joshua Knelman will also be speaking at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20, at Book Soup in Los Angeles.

April 21, 2011

Quebec law enforcement uncover case of art stolen from Quebec art galleries through the purchase of fraudulent credit cards

Tumulte 1974, Jean-Paul Riopelle, 9,5 x 6,5 po.
Collaboration between the art crime investigative unit of the Sûreté du Québec and the Montreal police has just solved a series of frauds against several art galleries.

On the evening of April 6, 2011, investigators went to a storage area at a home in Quebec, where they seized artworks stolen between July and October of 2010. Works valued at more than $220,000 include artists such as Jean-Paul Riopelle, Sebastien Larouchelle Martin Beaupré, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté and Joan Dumouchel.

According to the investigation, the suspects used credit cards obtained under false identitites to purchase the artworks from galleries around Montreal, Quebec City, and Baie St.-Paul. They managed to convince the merchants to enter into payment installments, paid the first payment by credit card, left with the artwork, and did not pay the remaining installments.

A suspect was arrested on shoplifting at a business in Montreal on Feb. 25. The arrest and subsequent search led to the discovery of a bronze sculpture by artist Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté.

Aissam Freidji, 37, and Margaret Christopoulos, 45, appeared April 7, 2011, at the Montreal courthouse facing charges of fraud and fraudulent use of credit cards. They are accused of using several false identities and may be sought in the United States for similar crimes.

Quebec’s art crime investigation team is composed of officers from the Sûreté du Quebec and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

This information was translated from a press release published by Quebec law enforcement.

April 5, 2011

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - ,,, 1 comment

ARCA 2009 Student: Michelle Edelman on art crime history and provenance research as an investigative tool

Michelle Edelman
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Michelle Edelman attended ARCA’s summer program in art crime studies in Amelia, Italy, in 2009. A native of San Francisco, Michelle currently lives in New York City. She speaks French, Spanish and Italian – useful languages in her studies at Northwestern University in European Studies, at University of Oxford studying English and French literature, and at the Courtauld Institute of Art studying the history of art for her master’s degree. She is currently investigating opportunities to work in the insurance industry specializing in art protection.
ARCA blog: Michelle, what is your favorite period of art and how did you get interested in studying art crime?
Ms. Edelman: My favorite period of art is the 19th century and more specifically Victorian painting, which is what I did my masters in. I've always had a passion for art history and a love of mysteries. Studying art crime seemed like a perfect combination of my two interests. I particularly enjoyed learning about Adam Worth, nicknamed the Napoleon of Crime, who was a 19th century art thief famed for stealing Thomas Gainsborough's "Georgina, the Duchess of Devonshire." Adam Worth was an international thief who had both Scotland Yard and the American Pinkertons hot on his trail. It was a classic cat and mouse game between Adam Worth and William Pinkerton. In the end, William Pinkerton recovered the painting. And to put an even neater bow on the story, Adam Worth's son ended up working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Ben Macintyre's book "The Napoleon of Crime" was one of the many great art crime books I was exposed to while on the ARCA course.
ARCA blog: What did you find most valuable in your ARCA experience?
Ms. Edelman: Getting to meet with and learn from so many experts in the field was invaluable. Art crime study and investigation is a small and tight knit field but is such an important one to promote because the impact of art crime is wide ranging. From Nazi looted art, to forgeries, to excavation robberies, cultural heritage is being endangered, the black market is being fed, and crime in general is prospering. 
It was such a treat to hear firsthand accounts of art crime and its consequences from the founder of Scotland Yard's Art Crime Squad team, Dick Ellis. He was someone I knew I wanted to keep in touch with from the program. And when I settled in to New York, I was thrilled to learn that I could help Dick Ellis on a case he was currently working on. To me, art history is like a detective novel. But here was an opportunity for me to get involved in a real life case. What was at stake was the authenticity of a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. My research took me to the National Archives in DC. There was a label on the back of the work that suggested that it had been purchased by a now closed gallery in New York. I poured through their records to discover no such trace of that particular Basquiat piece having passed through the gallery. However, I contacted the gallery owner who authenticated the proof of sale document from the gallery in NYC to a gallery in Germany, but denied ever having the Basquiat work in his gallery. Something was amiss. In the end, the work in question turned out to be a fake. The art market is a slippery snake and this case highlighted the importance of provenance research. A little research goes a long way.
ARCA blog: You speak Italian and were able to travel through parts of Italy. What stood out to you during your travels?
Ms. Edelman: Well I speak French and Spanish fluently. I was therefore able to pick up a bit of Italian. This did make getting around easier. For anyone interested in art history, the Uffizi in Florence is a must. It was interesting going there after our segment on museum security with Anthony Amore. I started to look around for cameras, light sensors, looking at how the pieces were secured to the wall, and observing the museum guards at work. I've been looking at museums in a different way ever since.
ARCA blog: What has led to your interest in art insurance and what kind of career do you want to pursue?
Ms. Edelman: Working on the Basquiat case lit my fire for provenance research. It is something that is essential and too often easily overlooked. Whatever I end up doing in the field, I know that provenance research is something that I will incorporate fully. I love the idea of research and hands on art crime solving. I seriously thought about joining the FBI, but the idea of wielding a gun just didn't feel like the right fit for me, liberal San Franciscan that I am. And I would never be successful undercover because I'm just about the worst liar there is. Art insurance is still a hands on way of getting involved with solving art crime but from a safer, more behind the scenes stand point.

January 27, 2011

The Journal of Art Crime: Contributor Lauren Cattey on Photomacrography


by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

ARCA Class 2009 graduate Lauren wrote “Revolutionizing Security in the Art World One Photograph at a Time: Photomacrography and its Application to Protecting Cultural Property” for the Fall 2010 issue of The Journal of Art Crime. Ms. Cattey writes in her abstract:
“Photomacrography, high resolution close-up photography, is an important tool within the art world. The goal of photographing works in very close detail is to illustrate clearly the distinguishing features found on every single object. These photographic results can be used not only for analysis of the work of art, but as a protective layer of security. By demonstrating how photomacrography is used within the art world today and discussing how it should be used in the art world tomorrow, this known photographic process transforms itself from a tool for observation, documentation and analysis to a much needed security service to identify and protect cultural property for future generations.”
Ms. Cattey received her Bachelor of Arts from St. Louis University in May 2008 with a major in Criminal Justice, a minor in Psychology and a certificate in Forensic Science. While attending St. Louis University, she interned with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in their Sex Crimes section. As an intern, she set up accounts on MySpace and Facebook for the Sex Crimes section after solving a case using these social networking sites. Later she interned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC in the museum’s Protection Services department where she helped to review, edit, and organize security policies and procedures into a convenient security manual. In 2009, she graduated with honors from ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime and was the Investigative Assistant to the Security Director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

ARCA blog: Welcome to the ARCA blog, Lauren. Your article outlines how photomacrography can be used to document and authenticate artworks. Although conservators and art historians use this method to analyze art, you are proposing that photomacrography be used to protect artwork. Would this be expensive for museums and private collectors?
Ms. Cattey: The most expensive part of investing in photomacrographs for works of art would be the purchasing the photographic equipment (digital SLR camera, macro lens, tripod, computer). However, since most museums have the equipment already, it would be a matter of labor costs.
ARCA blog: You write that photomacrography simply refers to a technique used to photograph a subject at life-size or larger – actually up to forty times its actual size. Is special equipment involved? And how would these images be stored?
Ms. Cattey: Special equipment is needed. As mentioned previously, a digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, macro lens, tripod, wireless shutter release and a computer with plenty of storage space. I would recommend backing up your images on an external hard drive or burning them to CDs for safe keeping.
ARCA blog: In your article, you discuss the work done at the J. Paul Getty Museum, could you elaborate here for our readers?
Ms. Cattey: In the summer of 2007, the J. Paul Getty Museum launched a new feature on their website in conjunction with the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Royal Collection. Developed by a paintings conservator and a paintings curator, Yvonne Szafran and Anne Woollett respectively, “Cranach Magnified” is a project that allows visitors of the site “to compare macroscopic details” of paintings by sixteenth century German Renaissance painter Cranach the Elder. The concept originated upon analysis of the Getty’s own Cranach painting, Faun and his Family with a Slain Lion. Szafran and Woollett observed in the painting’s background, a man running down hill, whose actual size is one-third of a centimeter.

This type of in-depth analysis provides many benefits for the art world and its enthusiasts. The access “Cranach Magnified” creates is unrivaled. Using photomacrography, the Getty Museum produced a new way to interact with works of art. It also allows side-by-side comparison of works that are in separate collections, which is the main objective of “Cranach Magnified.”
ARCA blog: In your article, you discuss a company, Art Access and Research, that uses photomacrography as an alternative security method, using cracks and brushstrokes of a painting as an ‘internal barcode’. You are suggesting that this can prevent a forgery from being passed off as an original. Could this be applied to all paintings?
Ms. Cattey: Yes, but it shouldn’t be limited to just paintings. It can be applied to prints, sketches, sculptures, etc. High resolution imaging captures features of the work of art that do not change, without damaging the original work. By having magnified images of the craquelure pattern, brushstrokes, signature or any unique identifier of that work of art not only deters forgery, but also helps in identification and proof of ownership disputes.
ARCA blog: How do you suggest that the art world begin using photomacrography to its fullest potential?
Ms. Cattey: To start, whether you are a museum, private institution, or private collector, having photographic records as an inventory list is essential. That way, if any misfortune does occur, the photographs will not only prove what you own, but will also help the insurance company, appraiser, restorer or police department do their jobs. It also adds to provenance, encouraging owners to take an interest in keeping track of the history for that work of art and their entire collections.
To seek out this piece, and many others, consider a subscription to the Journal of Art Crime—the first peer-reviewed academic journal covering art and heritage crime. ARCA publishes two volumes annually in the Spring and Fall. Individual, Institutional, electronic and printed versions are all available, with subscriptions as low as 30 Euros. All proceeds go to ARCA's nonprofit research and education initiatives. Please see the publications page for more information.

January 18, 2011

Profile: ARCA Lecturer Richard Ellis speaks about "Art Policing and Investigation:


by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Former Detective Sergeant Richard Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Squad, will be returning to Amelia next summer to teach “Art Policing and Investigation” from August 1 through August 12 at ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies.

Mr. Ellis ran the Art & Antiquities Squad for New Scotland Yard from 1989 until his retirement from the police in 1999. After working for Christie’s fine Art Security Services and Trace recovery services, in 2005 he joined with security and conservation specialists to form the Art Management Group. He is also director of Art Resolve and Art Retrieval International Ltd.

As a specialist art crime investigator both in the police and in the private sector, Mr. Ellis has been involved in many notable recoveries such as ‘The Scream’ stolen from the National Gallery of Norway in 1994, Audobon’s ‘Birds of America’ stolen from the State Library in St. Petersburg, antiquities looted from China and Egypt as well as the recovery of numerous items of art and antiquities stolen from private residences throughout the United Kingdom and abroad including in 2005 silver stolen Stanton Harcourt and in 2006 paintings by Bonnard, Vuillard and Duffy stolen in London.

ARCA blog: Mr. Ellis, how would you describe the scope of your course? And how can students best prepare for your class?
Mr. Ellis: In scope, I have tried to ensure that my course gives the students a clear understanding of the breadth of cultural property crime, the responsibilities of the police/law enforcement nationally and internationally and the legal basis upon which investigations are built. The art market is global and cultural property crime mirrors this in every way, from theft and the disposal of the stolen objects, to fraud and the faking and forging of cultural objects. For a criminal investigation to be successful it is essential that the investigator understands how to project the investigation in to other jurisdictions, how evidence is legally obtained and then presented in courts foreign jurisdiction.
ARCA blog: In your course, you speak about working closely with former smuggler and Dutch art dealer Michel van Rijn. Does he still help the authorities and are you still in contact with him?
Mr. Ellis: I use Michel van Rijn to illustrate not only the importance of "informants" to the criminal investigator, but also the problems that "informants" can create for an investigator and hence the care that must be used when dealing with such individuals. I play an interview that I recorded with Michel in 2004 at the request of the Dutch Government, which was played to an EU conference to illustrate how criminals fabricate provenance and the difficulties that this presents for all those involved in cultural property. I am still in contact with Michel, which provides me with a constant insight in to the darker side of the art market. Michel will of course help the authorities if it is in his interest to do so and this is another reason why I introduce him to the students. Understanding why people become informants is essential to being able to use them and the information that they provide safely and legally and this is another part of the scope of my course. Understanding why people become involved in cultural property crimes, their motives and expectations will assist the investigator in reaching a successful outcome to a case.
ARCA blog: In the past three decades, do you think police agencies are more or less interested in investigating stolen art and antiquities? Do you think there are more resources out there today? What role does the Internet play in investigations today?
Mr. Ellis: The past three decades has been interesting in respect of the response to cultural property crime by the police in many countries. At the start of the 1980's there was little interest in this area of crime with the exception of Italy, who throughout this time have devoted considerable resources to protecting their cultural property and investigating those responsible for the theft of it. In 1984 the art squad at Scotland Yard was actually closed and its 14 detectives were dispersed on to other crime squads. In the USA the FBI had no dedicated team and only in the police departments in New York and Los Angeles was there any recognition that art and antique crime posed a problem. It was largely due to the restructuring of the art market during the 1980's and the rapid increase in prices that this generated that criminals recognised the potential in art crime. The resulting increase in crime forced law enforcement to adjust and review the situation.

By the end of the 1980's I had reformed the art squad at New Scotland Yard, the FBI in New York were handling an increasing number of international requests through one dedicated office and in Los Angeles an art detail was put in place run by a detective Bill Martin who was later appointed to the President's advisory panel on cultural property crime. During the 1990's more countries recognised cultural property crime as a problem and with the end of the cold war and the opening of international borders the trafficking of cultural property crime grew rapidly becoming a major concern.

The introduction of computer systems during this period, which recorded and made accessible information on stolen objects was a major step forward and Interpol has been able to provide a central record of at least the most important stolen cultural property. France, Italy, the USA and a handful of other countries developed their own databases of stolen cultural property supported by dedicated investigators. UNESCO developed a programme of workshops through which it was able to raise awareness of cultural property crime and by utilising the help of specialist police officers such as myself, it delivered a programme designed to assist countries in protecting their cultural heritage.

There followed a number of high profile cases which illustrated how with the cooperation of these dedicated national squads successful prosecutions could be achieved such as the recovery of the Scream and the prosecution of Tokeley Parry and Fred Schultz to name but two of my own cases. However, as we entered the new millennium, other international crimes overtook cultural property crime in importance for law enforcement. Drug trafficking, people trafficking and terrorism now occupy the top three positions and with the global economic crisis financial fraud has also moved above cultural property crime in importance and I fear that we shall see a gradual reduction in the number of specialist officers dedicated to cultural property crimes. This makes the work of ARCA all the more important as the private sector will now be required to handle the many crimes and disputes left untouched by law enforcement and only through some serious academic research to demonstrate the true scale of the problem that cultural property posses will governments and law enforcement agencies be persuaded to direct more of their limited resources to it. The internet offers a fantastic tool for the investigator in terms of information about objects and where they are appearing on the market for sale. It does not however replace the need to actually talk to victims of crime or to interview those in possession of disputed items in order to reach some kind of resolution to a dispute. These are skills that you can only gain by actually doing the job and no amount of internet research will give you those skills.

Finally and in answer to the last part of your first question, "How can students best prepare for your class?" I would suggest that they cover as many art thefts and investigations as they can find in books and on the internet. To keep an open mind on who has committed the crime and not to be influenced by the often ill-informed opinions of the journalists. To read "The Irish Game" by Mathew Hart, which sets out probably the most thoroughly investigated art thefts of a single collection and gives a good insight in to who commits such crimes and how the criminal has arrived at the routes to market available to them for iconic works of art. A topic to be covered in my class.
ARCA blog: Thank you, Mr. Ellis.

The application for the postgraduate program in Art Crime Studies and Cultural Heritage Protection is this Friday on January 21.