A truly bizarre tale:
Artist Todd White seemingly had it all. With a multi-million-dollar art brand, collectors and clients ranging from Sylvester Stallone to Coca-Cola, and a burgeoning reputation in art-mad Britain, his days as lead character designer of SpongeBob SquarePants were but a distant memory. But, as David Kushner reports, when his confidante and gallerist Peggy Howell reported a burglary of his paintings at the hand of ninjas, things took a turn for the even stranger.
The man who stole a drawing by the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí on Tuesday wore only the most basic of disguises: that of an everyday gallery visitor, walking past the Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst works on display. And he brought only the most basic of tools for his heist: a black shopping bag. When he left the new Venus Over Manhattan gallery on Madison Avenue and escaped into a sunny afternoon, no one — not the security guard standing watch in the gallery, not the guard in the building’s lobby — realized that a thief was making his getaway. The loss of the drawing, “Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio,” valued at $150,000, was a blow to the gallery, near East 77th Street, which has been open for only a month. Its high-society origins and high-concept exhibition have attracted much attention. Its owner is Adam Lindemann, a wealthy art collector and writer whose wife runs another gallery.
And of course the painting was recovered after it was mailed back to the US from Greece.
“The artifacts, individually, are not very valuable monetarily, but historically they have tremendous value,” White said. But treasure hunters aren’t easy to deter. To keep the looters away from the real treasures, White had to come up with an elaborate ruse. White created a phony archaeological dig on a distant part of his property near Orange Lake, complete with orange markers, wooden grids and strings methodically placed to give the illusion that important work was taking place there.
An account of ARCA’s annual conference by Rebecca Junkemeier with SPI:
Here at SPI, we want to provide local communities with the entrepreneurial opportunities to create sustainable income from their cultural heritage; income that is dependent on the preservation of the site. SPI left Amelia with the conviction that focus on the local is imperative to success, and that, now more than ever, the development of local economies is instrumental in saving the world’s cultural heritage for future generations to study and enjoy.
An extraordinary memoir is to reveal how a gifted artist managed to forge his way to riches by conning high-profile auctioneers, dealers and collectors over four decades. The book, Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger, will be published next month and tells the story of Ken Perenyi, an American who lived in London for 30 years. The revelations within it are likely to spark embarrassment on both sides of the Atlantic.
The United States on Wednesday returned stolen art works worth millions of dollars to Italy, including two 2,300-year-old ceramic vases, a Roman sculpture and a Renaissance painting. The seven works, which Italian police said were illegally smuggled into the United States by organized crime groups specializing in stolen art, will now be returned to their owners and museums. “The recovery of these works of art was thanks to professional cooperation between law enforcement in Italy and the United States,” said Italian Culture Minister Lorenzo Ornaghi. “The recovery of art is an important chapter in our history of cooperation,” he told a news conference at the U.S. embassy.