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Crimes of the Art

One of the works stolen from the Westfries Museum in 2005 and allegedly being offered for sale by Ukrainian nationalist militias: Hendrik Bogaert, "Peasants (1671–75). (courtesy the Westfries Museum)
One of the works stolen from the Westfries Museum in 2005 and allegedly being offered for sale by Ukrainian nationalist militias: Hendrik Bogaert, “Peasants (1671–75). (courtesy the Westfries Museum)

Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.

Ukrainian Militias Hawk Hot Paintings

crimes-of-the-art-scream-3Officials from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, near Amsterdam, believe 24 Dutch Golden Age paintings that were stolen from the institution in 2005 are being sold on the black market by members of Ukraine’s far-right, ultra-nationalist militia.

Verdict: Those Ukrainian militiamen must not know much about the art market — they’d get more money for fake Murakamis than for tattered Dutch Golden Age paintings.

Soccer-Loving Museum Guard Gets Red Card

crimes-of-the-art-scream-1A guard at the Louvre-Lens — the Parisian mega-museum’s outpost in northern France — was fired and fined €750 (~$817) for writing “Fuck the LOSC” in pen on a wall text placard in the special exhibition d’Or et d’Ivoire. The acronym in the tag refers to the soccer team of nearby Lille, a bitter rival of Lens’s own RC Lens.

Verdict: A juvenile pen tag won’t change the fact that Lille OSC is in the first division of the French soccer league and RC Lens is in the second.

Forging for Love

crimes-of-the-art-scream-3Sheridan Tandy, a collector and former art lecturer at East London University, confessed to forging prints by the British artists Leonard Beaumont and Cyril Power and trying to consign them to Bonhams and Sotheby’s to help pay for his Brazilian lover’s UK visa.

Verdict: So what if his methods were illegal — it’s the thought that counts, right?

Cartographic Cat Burglar’s Loot Returned

The Boston Public Library's recently returned "Geographic Map of New France" (1612) (screenshot by the author via @BPLBoston/Twitter)
The Boston Public Library’s recently returned “Geographic Map of New France” (1612) (image via @BPLBoston/Twitter) (click to enlarge)

crimes-of-the-art-scream-2The so-called “Geographic Map of New France,” which was drawn by Quebec City founder Samuel de Champlain in 1612 and is one of the earliest depictions by a European of what would eventually become Canada, has been returned to the Boston Public Library. It was stolen from the institution by prolific map collector and thief E. Forbes Smiley in 2005 and recently resurfaced in a New York antiques catalogue.

Verdict: This news must make Smiley frowny.

Sapphire Thief Strikes C-Town

crimes-of-the-art-scream-1A man stole several sapphires from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s mineral collection. Luckily the lifted gems are “not thought to be of significant material value,” according to a museum spokesperson.

Verdict: Next time go for the rubies, newbie.

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