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Displaying items by tag: stolen artworks

Two unique Andy Warhol prints depicting the Cologne Cathedral and former German soccer player Toni Schumacher, as well as an Otto Piene artwork worth a combined €100,000 ($108,000) were stolen in Nürnberg, Germany from a vehicle belonging to Galerie Hafenrichter.

Claudia Eidner, a representative for the gallery told artnet News in a telephone interview that director Jens Hafenrichter loaded the artworks unto the vehicle on Tuesday evening.

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Postwar public art in England is “disappearing before our eyes”, whether through wilful destruction, accidental loss, theft or sale, a heritage body has said.

Historic England is launching a campaign to raise awareness of how much art is being lost, whether metal sculptures being stolen and sold for scrap or architectural friezes being deliberately ripped down by developers.

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Masterpieces by artists including Tintoretto and Peter Paul Rubens have been stolen fr om the Museo Civico di Castelvecchio, Verona, according to reports in the Italian media. The theft reportedly took place on Thursday evening (19 November). Three armed men entered the museum after it had shut, disabled the security system and immobilised a guard, before grabbing the 17 paintings worth in total around €10m-€15m.

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It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to fight the return of artwork stolen from Jews during the Holocaust, even museum academics who have an interest in keeping the works in their collections. Not only does there seem to be a moral imperative to right these nearly century-old wrongs. On the face of it, such battles are simply bad public relations.

Yet the past decade has seen a series of high-profile, protracted restitution battles across the U.S. and Europe. The case of the so-called Gurlitt hoard, wherein more than 1,200 pieces of (mostly) stolen art was discovered in a Munich apartment in 2012, has yet to be fully resolved.

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Monday, 07 January 2013 12:22

Stolen Matisse Painting Recovered in England

A painting worth $1 million by the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was recovered in Essex, England. Stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm in 1987, the location of Le Jardin (1920) has remained a mystery for more than twenty years.

The discovery occurred when British art dealer Charles Roberts of Charles Fine Art was offered the Matisse painting by a Polish collector. Roberts ran a search on the Art Loss Register (ALR) database, a hub for information regarding stolen artworks, and found Le Jardin listed. Christopher A. Marinello, executive director and general counsel of the ALR, facilitated the painting’s recovery and it is currently being held in the organization’s office before being returned to Sweden in the coming weeks.

Le Jardin was the only artwork stolen during the 1987 burglary when thieves broke through the museum’s front entrance with a sledgehammer and unscrewed it from the wall. The burglars escaped just minutes before private guards arrived to investigate the scene. Following the robbery, the thieves made several attempts to sell the painting back to the museum for an exorbitant sum. Museum officials resisted, knowing that the Matisse painting was too well known to sell on the open market and that it would resurface eventually.

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Despite a reputation for reaching for their revolvers at the merest mention of culture, the Nazis were among the most ruthless, avaricious and methodical art collectors ever to cast a greedy eye and thieving hand over other people's property.

"Use every means of transport to get all works of art out of Florence … [save] works of art from English and Americans," ran one of Heinrich Himmler's orders. "In fine get anything away that you can get hold of. Heil Hitler."

That appetite for the most beautiful and precious works of European art saw thousands of pieces stolen from their owners between 1933 and 1945 and entire collections raided, scattered and lost.

The quest to recover them and, where possible, return them to their rightful places has been under way for almost seven decades.

Now, thanks to a deal between some of the world's leading archives and museums, an online catalogue of documents has been created to help families, historians and researchers track down the missing artworks.

Under an agreement signed on Thursday by organisations including Britain's National Archives, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, the US National Archives and Records Administration (Nara) and Germany's Bundesarchiv, the records will be available through a single web portal.

The records include files documenting the systematic expropriation of Jewish property, Adolf Hitler's plans to establish a Führermuseum crammed with looted art in his Austrian hometown of Linz and the interrogation of art dealers.

The British documents, which cover the years 1939 to 1961, also lay out the efforts made to identify the stolen works and reunite them with their owners.

Among them is a report from a British art expert and RAF intelligence officer who was dispatched to Switzerland in 1945. The paper may have faded to yellow, but Douglas Cooper's exasperation with the Swiss authorities remains fresh to this day.

"Until I arrived here five weeks ago, practically nothing had been done," he writes. "And still no steps have been taken by the Swiss government to put the looted pictures in security. This means that it is still possible for any of the present holders to dispose of them."

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