Returning, Recovering and Punishing

Three stories caught my eye this morning:

First, Police in Sao Paulo have recovered a Pablo Picasso print that was stolen back in June (mentioned earlier here). The police have already recovered three other works. Details are thin, but what often takes place in these kinds of recoveries is thieves or their agents will offer to sell a portion of a group of stolen works, holding the remaining works as a kind of collateral against possible arrest.

Second, the FBI in its continuing investigation into the William M.V. Kingsland collection is trying to track down the owners of 300 works. This work, Riders in a Landscape by Henry Aiken (~1840) is included in the collection. You can read more about the rather bizarre Kingsland collection here. If you have any information on the Kingsland collection, you can contact FBI Agent Wynne at 7182867302, or by email at James.Wynne “at”

Finally, in the Mardirosian trial, Federal District Court Judge Mark Wolf dismissed a stolen transportation charge as the NSPA does not in his view apply to a transfer between Switzerland and England. He does still face a charge for possessing or concealing the stolen works though.

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Art Theft and Recovery Blotter

There’s a slew of news about art theft, recovery and sentencing this morning:

First, thieves broke into a museum near Stockholm and stole five works by Andy Warhol (Mickey Mouse, and Superman) and Roy Lichtenstein (Crak, Sweet Dreams, Baby!, and Dagwood).

Second, authorities in Brazil have recovered a Picasso print, The Painter and the Model, which was stolen along with four other works back in June from the Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo, Brazil. Police had the men under surveillance for a planned ATM robbery, and overheard mention of the Picasso.

Third, a Vermont man has been ordered to serve a five-to-20 year prison sentence for stealing bronze sculptures to sell as scrap metal. He and two other men had stolen a number of sculptures from Joel Fisher’s studio while the artist was out of the country.

Finally, Artinfo is reporting that the Art Loss Register has recovered a Mario Carro work stolen from a New York law firm in 1993.

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Picasso Thefts in Sao Paulo

ABC News has some more on the thefts last week of Picasso’s Minotaur, Drinker and Women (1933), pictured here, and The Painter and the Model (1963). Also taken were works by two Brazilian artists, Women at the Window (1926) by Emiliano Augusto Cavalanti de Albuquerque Melo, and Couple (1919) by Lasar Segall. All four works were stolen from the Pinacoteca Museum by 3 men who paid their entrance fee, took the elevator to the second floor, drew their weapons and forced the guards to tell them where the four works were located.

Marcelo Araujo told the Folha De Sao Paulo newspaper that the security was appropriate, “In cases of armed robbery we can’t run the risk of resisting, because there could be unforeseeable consequences for the employees and for the public.” That is probably correct, and there is an inherent tension between keeping galleries an open space for the public versus protecting against armed robbery. Such robberies seem to be taking place with regularity in Sao Paulo though, which may make displaying art to the public more difficult there.

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Recovery in Sao Paulo

The AP is reporting that the two works stolen last month in Brazil have been recovered in Sao Paulo. The recovered works, Portrait of Suzanne Bloch, 1904 by Pablo Picasso and O Lavrador de Cafe, 1939 by Candido Portinari were recovered in a home on the outskirts of Sao Paulo on Tuesday. The works were stolen last month, by thieves using only crowbar and a car jack. Given that, are the assualt rifles, pistols, and bullet-proof jackets worn by guards at yesterday’s press conference necessary?

Julio Neves, the president of the Sao Paulo Museum of Art said the works are “in absolutely perfect condition”, and “[t]he museum is upgrading and improving its security system to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.” There is no word on how the works were recovered, as police are still investigation as “other suspects remain at large and providing details could jeopardize the ongoing investigation.” Given the comments of the city’s chief police inspector Mauricio Lemos Freire, it seems like they are investigating this as a theft-to-order, and are still going after the buyer who ordered the theft.

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Major Theft in Brazil

Thieves have stolen works by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art. The theft was made known early Thursday morning. The stolen Picasso is pictured here, Portrait of Suzanne Bloch, 1904. Early estimates place the monetary value of the stolen works at $100 million USD. However these are major works, the Picasso is from the artist’s blue period. Portinari is a major Brazilian artist. The AP story is here.

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