Now you see them: the eternal allure of lost art | Art and design | The Guardian Source URL: These early modern artists were rebelling against the pompous art world of the 19th century, where rich and lauded painters would exhibit massive oil paintings at the Paris Salon or the Royal Academy, each developed through an academic series of drawings. Why, these rebels asked, should art be a glossy treasure? Working in ramshackle studios, drinking absinthe, they treated their own genius in a deliberately nonchalant and casual way. In the National Gallery in London, you can see Edouard Manet’s 1867-8 painting The Execution of Maximilian – or at least fragments of it. This pioneer of the avant garde cut off part of the canvas himself; after he died, it was cut up further in order to be sold in pieces. It took his admirer Degas to buy all the fragments he could find and paste them together as best he could. Growing Number Of Tourists Stealing Artifacts In Rome, Italy | Source URL: For those who love admiring ancient artifacts, you may want to visit Rome while they’re still there. According to police, there has been an outbreak of tourists stealing mosaic pieces, marble mile markers, cobblestones and other pieces of the city’s history. Luckily, airport security has been vigilant and is on the lookout for the items. In fact, they’ve been able to return a large amount of artifacts stolen in the last six months. Moreover, they’re finding the majority of the thieves are travelers coming from Britain and northern Europe. These people are not arrested, but instead given a stern warning. Says Police Chief Antonio Del Greco, “I can understand the legend and splendor that is Rome but that does not mean bits of it should be stolen … If they want a souvenir of their visit then they should buy something from a shop.” Sea surrenders pristine Roman sarcophagus – The Art Newspaper Source URL: A Turkish press report describes the sarcophagus discovery Diving school trainer Hakan Gulec came across more than fish and flotsam during a recent trip to the bottom of the ocean near Antalya off the coast of southern Turkey. An object protruding through the sand on the sea bed caught Gulec’s attention, prompting the intrepid explorer to dislodge and photograph the mystery find. Vandalized Banksy piece worth up to $620,000 is whitewashed over – Source URL:,0,4757465.story?track=rss& A Banksy piece in London was vandalized by graffiti crew Team Robbo. ( By Jamie Wetherbe July 6, 2012, 8:10 a.m. A defaced stencil by the elusive street artist known as Banksy — which might have quadrupled in value after being vandalized — has been cleared from a London neighborhood. The artwork of a boy blowing bubbles that spell out the name “TOX,” a prolific tagger jailed last year for his handiwork, appeared last August on a wall along Jeffrey’s Street in the city’s northwest neighborhood of Camden Town. Smugglers lead police to ancient loot | Source URL: POLICE in Karachi have seized dozens more stolen ancient artefacts dating from the Gandhara civilisation. The catch came thanks to leads obtained from those arrested in a similar raid the day before, officials said. The antiquities had been illegally dug from the country’s restive northwest where Pakistan’s army is battling against Islamist militants. The latest raid on a warehouse in the eastern Ibrahim Hyderi neighbourhood unearthed two large boxes stuffed with ancient Gandhara art.


Dalí Painting Stolen From New York City Gallery –

The police are searching for a man who they say entered an art gallery on the Upper East Side on Tuesday, plucked a Salvador Dalí painting from one of its walls, stuffed it in a shopping bag and strolled out without anyone noticing. The man posed as a customer at the Venus Over Manhattan gallery at 980 Madison Avenue, the police said, and fled westbound on East 77th Street.

Light Posting

Please forgive the light posting in the coming weeks. Joni and I are working with Lynda Albertson and the ARCA staff here in Amelia to make preparations for the 10 week postgraduate certificate program. 

Starting next week I will teach a module on art and antiquities law.Teaching here is terrific. This setting, where heritage is often just outside your door.


The Alexander Sarcophagus in Istanbul

Of marbles and men | The Economist
Turkey is looking at its past and ramping up repatriation (politely for now). You know how the Economist will come out on this issue perhaps, but they give it away in the first paragraph by recounting the Ottoman removal from Sidon of the Alexander Sarcophagus. Repatriation targets for Turkey include practically everyone: the Met, the British Museum, “the Louvre, the Pergamon, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, the Davids Samling Museum in Denmark, the Dumbarton Oaks Museum in Washington, DC, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Getty. It has also claimed stolen antiquities that have been seized by police in Frankfurt, Florence, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Scotland.”

Roger Atwood on the new Walters Collection | chasing aphrodite

A couple of weeks ago I took a train to the handsome city of Baltimore and saw the Bourne collection in its new home. It’s a revealing show with some lovely artifacts, including some I don’t remember seeing in Santa Fe. The painted Nasca stirrup bottles (right), masterpieces of design and economy dating from about 500 CE, alone were worth the trip. Yet I came away thinking that, perhaps without realizing it, the organizers have given an object lesson in the dangers of collecting antiquities that have no record of archaeological excavation. What I wrote in Stealing History – that “not a single piece on display” in the Bourne collection “gives a specific provenance, archaeological history or other sign it emerged from any place but a looter’s pit” – remains true but needs some amending.

Crystal Bridges Museum Reviewed |

My answer: Crystal Bridges is damn good. For one, the setting is lovely: 120 acres of Ozark forest set around a creek from which the museum takes it’s name. Two, even though Moshe Safdie’s buildings don’t exactly recede into the background, they are intriguing and work well as a museum.

Supreme Court Denies Cert |
The Supreme Court has refused to hear Odyssey Marine’s Appeal of the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes case.

Archaeologists accuse MoD of allowing Odyssey Marine to ‘plunder’ | theguardian
And more uncomfortable questions for Odyssey, this time with respect to their exploration of the HMS Victory:

The Ministry of Defence is facing a legal battle and parliamentary questions after letting a US company excavate a British 18th-century warship laden with a potentially lucrative cargo. Lord Renfrew is among leading archaeologists condemning a financial deal struck over HMS Victory, considered the world’s mightiest ship when she sank in a storm in the English Channel in 1744. In return for excavating the vessel’s historic remains, which may include gold and silver worth many millions of pounds, Odyssey Marine Exploration is entitled to receive “a percentage of the recovered artefacts’ fair value” or “artefacts in lieu of cash”.

How easy is it to steal art in Britain? | galleristny

The British have a dashed good collection of cultural artifacts in their various museums, but lately the coves have had a hell of a time hanging onto it. On Saturday evening a “nationally significant” medieval jug valued at $1.2 million was stolen from the Stockwood Discovery Centre in Luton. . .

In Egypt Turmoil, Thieves Hunt Pharaonic Treasures | AP

In a country with more than 5,000 years of civilization buried under its sands, illegal digs have long been a problem. With only slight exaggeration, Egyptians like to joke you can dig anywhere and turn up something ancient, even if its just pottery shards or a statuette. But in the security void, the treasure hunting has mushroomed, with 5,697 cases of illegal digs since the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising in early 2011— 100 times more than the previous year, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press from the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police.

Art Crime in Film: Jø Nesbo’s “Headhunter” | ARCA
Catherine discusses how well this Swedish film handles art theft. It does a pretty good job–for a movie. I give the film a thumbs up, but don’t watch this for the art theft. It’s a dark and bloody flick. We chuckled when Sweden’s number 1 detective was also the head of their art theft unit.

Sotheby’s auctions off priceless Peruvian artifact | peruthisweek

A priceless piece of Peru’s cultural heritage was put up for sale last week at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York, where it fetched $212,500. The object in question was a gold Sicán funeral mask, dating from somewhere between 950 and 1250 A.D., with its origins in the Pomac Forest region of Lambayeque. According to Sotheby’s, the mask came from the estate of Jan Mitchell. A 2009 New York Times obituary stats that Mitchell was a wealthy New York restaurateur who donated a large portion of his pre-Columbian gold collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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