Bernini statue in Rome latest Christian heritage to lose a finger

Bernini statue in Rome latest Christian heritage to lose a finger

Church loaned out 400-year-old artwork to a gallery when the damage occurred
La Croix International staff – May 3, 2018
Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Santa Bibiana (1624-26)

Another piece of Rome’s prized Christian heritage has been damaged, with famed Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini suffering his second casualty as one of the marble fingers of his statue of St. Bibiana has been broken off.

St. Bibiana, a church in central Rome, recently loaned the artwork that the baroque master made for it in 1626 to the Galleria Borhese for an exhibition.

It was the first time it had been lent out in nearly 400 years.

“[They] requested the statue for a Bernini exhibition and we couldn’t say no,” Carlo Marisi, one of the church’s priests, was quoted as saying by

The right hand appears to have been damaged while workers were attempting to reattach the statue above the church’s altar sometime after it was returned, although the details remain murky.

The accident comes as a blow because of the especially fine craftsmanship reflected in the statue, with the curator of the exhibition describing the suspended and spread fingers as “a true miracle of technique.”

The broken finger went unnoticed for some time until a visiting art historian spotted it and alerted the authorities.

The discovery comes after another of Bernini’s sculptures — the Elephant and Obelisk in Rome’s Piazza della Minerva — lost a tusk in 2016 at the hands of vandals.

One year earlier, Dutch hooligans filled Benini’s Barcaccia fountain at the bottom of the Spanish Steps with empty beer cans and bottles.

In other incidents, a 600-year-old statue in a Florence gallery had its finger snapped off by an American tourist; a statue in the same city by Pio Fedi called the Rape of Ployxena has also lost a finger; and the Drunk Satyr in Milan lost a leg when a visiting student climbed over it to take selfies.

Thieves stripped almost £5,000 worth of lead from the roof of the Fusilier Museum in Bury

The theft took place hours before a huge celebration was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the regiment

Brazen thieves stripped almost £5,000 worth of lead from the roof of an army museum, just hours before a huge celebration took place to mark the regiment’s 50th anniversary.

Bosses at the Fusilier Museum in Bury are now appealing for the public’s help after the ‘heart-breaking’ daylight theft.

They’ve launched a crowdfunding drive to help repair the damage at the museum, which is run by a charitable trust and is not insured against vandalism.

Staff discovered the theft when they opened up the museum in the town center on Sunday morning. It’s believed the thieves loaded the lead onto a van while police and staff prepared for the parade.

Later that day hundreds of spectators lined the streets of Bury to see veterans and serving soldiers march through the town center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers’ formation.


Museum general manager Helena Briden said everyone involved with the museum was devastated by the theft.

It’s thought the thieves may have posed as workmen and climbed up scaffolding, put up to allow repairs to take place to the museum roof.

Helena said: “It’s absolutely brazen. We think it was done in daylight, either early evening on Saturday or at dawn on Sunday as it would be impossible to strip the lead in the dark.

“Then we think on Sunday morning they’ve loaded the lead into a van while there were policemen and lots of people around getting ready for the parade.

“It’s heart-breaking. There’s no other word for it.

“I came into work really excited on Sunday looking forward to taking part in the festivities. And the parade and the church service was amazing, but the theft did put a bit of a dampener on things.

“But we have got to move on from it now. We have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get on with it.”

The theft took place hours before a huge celebration to mark the regiment’s 50th anniversary

Helena said in recent weeks the museum, with help from businesses, a donation from the Masons and assistance from the regiment, had forked out for repairs to the roof and a new heating system.

It meant staff was now hoping the public would help pay to replace the stolen lead.

“Any donations, no matter how small, would be so, so helpful to the museum,” added Helena.

The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was formed in 1968 by the amalgamation of four Fusilier regiments, including the famous Lancashire Fusiliers, and recruits from across Greater Manchester.

Since the regiment’s formation, the Fusiliers have seen service across the world, including in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Balkans, the Gulf, and Afghanistan.

They’re famous for winning ‘six Victoria Crosses before breakfast’ in the First World War landings in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Two of the VC medals are on display in the museum.

A GMP spokeswoman said inquiries were ongoing.

To make a donation CLICK HERE.

Museum of East Asian Art to reopen after a theft of ‘priceless’ artifacts leads to 16-day closure


Museum of East Asian Art to reopen after a theft of ‘priceless’ artifacts leads to 16-day closure


Sam Petherick – MAY 2,  2018

The Museum of East Asian Art’s 25th anniversary celebrations are back on track after ‘priceless’ artifacts were stolen by masked thieves.

The Bath museum was shut for more than two weeks after the break-in and is now due to reopen on Thursday (May 3).

Police have yet to make an arrest in connection with the heist, which saw ‘beautiful pieces with historical and cultural value’ stolen.

The crime, believed to have been planned, was even more devastating due to it coinciding with the Bennett Street museum’s quarter centenary.

Set of 14 gold belt plaques. Early Ming dynasty (c.1500) or earlier(Image: Museum of East Asian Art)
Jade mandarin ducks with lotus. Qing dynasty, probably 18th century(Image: Museum of East Asian Art)
Jizhou stoneware vase with painted floral and insect design. Southern Song dynasty (12th-13th century)(Image: Museum of East Asian Art)


However, celebrations can now go ahead with the opening of A Quest for Wellness, the first UK exhibition by the artist Zhang Yanzi of Hong Kong-based Galerie Ora-Ora, at the museum in Bennett Street.

Wellness as a theme will tie in with Bath’s origins as a Roman spa town, organizers said: “In this exhibition, the artist explores common frailties and shared humanity, investigating the nature and meaning of wellness in China: its history, and its modern counterpoints from a Chinese perspective.”

Works on display will include:

  • Excess, a silk robe covered in pill capsules which portrays pills as a kind of physical and psychological armor in the modern world
  • Inhalation, a Chinese painting on analgesic plasters that explores the ability of beautiful objects to provide humans psychological comfort
  • and Pure Land, an ink painting of Buddha’s portrait in the ancient Chinese Buddhist mural style that alludes to the concept of well-being from a spiritual angle.

The exhibition opens on Saturday (May 5) and will run until November 12. It invites visitors to be open to various facets of wellness and explore the true meaning of good health.

Co-founder and director of Galerie Ora-Ora Henrietta Tsui-Leung said: “Zhang’s artworks always convey a sense of finesse, refinement, and calmness.

“Her works act as a bridge between Eastern and Western philosophy. They explore pain and remedy in the body, spirit, and mind, and document our quest for remedy and meaning.

“Her artworks respond to the grave frailty of the human condition, with sensitivity, warmth, and beauty.

“We are delighted to be bringing Zhang Yanzi’s art to the UK – her art is truly universal, breaking down borders and boundaries by showing the universal doubts, weaknesses, and joys of being human.”

Following the theft in the early hours of April 17, the museum’s chair of trustees Anne Shepherd said: “We look forward to welcoming visitors once more on May 5 when our new exhibition – A Quest for Wellness opens.”

“Everyone at the museum is so saddened by what has happened as we have lost some beautiful pieces with historical and cultural value. But we are fortunate that only a small proportion of the collection was stolen.”

A spokeswoman for the museum added: “Due to the specific nature of the pieces stolen, it is believed to have been a targeted attack, and the pieces may have been stolen to order.

“The pieces range in monetary value, but their cultural significance is priceless.”

A spokeswoman for the police urged anyone with information to get in touch.

“Police inquiries into the burglary at the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath continue,” the spokeswoman said.

“Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to get in touch with officers through, or by calling 101, quoting reference 5218081649.

“Alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call. You could even qualify for a reward and still remain anonymous.”

‘Irreplaceable’ 17th Century banister destroyed after businessman pulled it from wall of Victoria & Albert museum

The Telegraph

‘Irreplaceable’ 17th Century banister destroyed after businessman pulled it from a wall of Victoria & Albert Museum

2 MAY 2018

Victoria and Albert Museum main entrance CREDIT: VIEW PICTURES/UIG VIA GETTY IMAGES

The relic, worth £1000, was particularly popular with the blind, who use the space to experience the art through touch, Hendon magistrates heard yesterday.

The oak baluster dates from 1670-1680 and was intended to be a handrail with a spiral central section finely carved in the Restoration style.

A Victoria and Albert spokeswoman told The Telegraph it would have been made by turning the wood on a special lathe, and the piece has been a part of the museum’s permanent collection for 112 years.

She said: “However, it has been an important part of the display in the British Gallery as it gives visitors the chance to physically feel the quality of the work done by craftsmen three hundred years ago.

“It was a particularly important part of the visitor experience for our blind guests. We run a programme of events tailored for blind and partially sighted visitors which focus on the touch objects.

“The information sign which accompanied the baluster was also written in braille so that blind visitors could learn more about the piece.”

Despite admitting that it was his handwriting that signed the guestbook to gain access to this area, Said denied it was him who broke the artifact.

He told police: “I’m being arrested for something I didn’t do.” The authorities traced him using his address and signed a message that he left in the V&A guestbook

But after failing to appear for trial, the businessman of Kensington, West London, was convicted of one count of criminal damage and an arrest warrant has now been issued.

Angela O’Dwyer, prosecuting, said: “This item is what’s known as a ‘touching object’ – members of the public are permitted and even encouraged to touch it.

“But he goes much further than that and pulls it off the wall and it breaks into pieces.

Said, who currently lives in an EasyJet hotel, was convicted of assault last year and has also received a suspended jail sentence for making death threats in Croatia.

He even “posed” for the CCTV cameras at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London while looking at objects in a special “touching” area, Hendon Magistrates court was told.

His actions have meant that he faces a ban from the V&A and its affiliated museums once the police locate him for sentencing.

Repairing the damage to the relic, which was particularly popular with both blind and disabled visitors, will require specialists.

District Judge Helen Clarke said: “It’s an irreplaceable item given its age and specialist repair is going to be needed.”

The museum’s spokeswoman added: “The V&A takes the security of our visitors, staff, objects, buildings, information, and reputation extremely seriously.”

It’s been two years since Roger Maris artifacts were stolen from West Acres


It’s been two years since Roger Maris artifacts were stolen from West Acres

FARGO—The search is still on for two artifacts taken from the Roger Maris Museum nearly two years ago.

The items are valued at more than $100,000, but many consider them priceless.

More than half a century ago at Yankee Stadium, a crack was heard around the world.

It’s October 1st, 1961, a time before steroids and enhancement drugs, the North Dakotan would become major league baseball’s first to truly break Babe Ruth’s home run record.

This accomplishment brought the elusive S. Rae Hickok belt to the hands of Roger Maris.

“At that time, it was probably the biggest award given in professional sports,” said Chris Heaton, Museum Manager.

He didn’t want to keep the glory to himself.

This free museum opened in June 1984 at West Acres Mall nearly two years before Roger passed away.

Trophies, artifacts, and memorabilia donated line its shelves.

Decades later on July 26th, 2016 the Hickok belt vanished.

A thief dressed as a security guard broke through these exterior doors smashing a glass panel and taking the jewel-encrusted Hickok belt and his 1960 MVP plate.

The alarm was instantly activated and mall security got here in less than 20 seconds, but they didn’t get here in time to even get a glimpse of the thief.

“It was very upsetting, very disturbing,” said Heaton.

A premeditated planned out heist, police believe the thief was out of state by sunrise.

They teamed up with the FBI to find the suspect thinking this case could be linked to similar heists in 2012.

A New York Times article describes a man dressed as a ninja stealing a different Hickok belt and several gold trophies in the New Jersey area.

To this day no major leads turned up for this major league crime.

“There was a search warrant that was conducted down out of state where we thought maybe an individual might have been connected to it, because of stolen property, however it did not yield any sort of information,” said Jessica Schindeldecker, Fargo Police Department.

They can’t tell us when or where that search took place.

Craig Lisher a Minnesota FBI spokesperson says they’re no longer a part of the case.

Because of the FBI’s absence, Fargo investigators think the thefts on the east coast are not linked.

Since February of 2017, the case is listed as “inactive.”

It left family members scratching their heads later that summer.

Chris Heaton, the museum’s manager didn’t want to leave these spaces empty.

“We had to make a decision on what to do,” said Heaton.

Placeholders for the two awards now sit behind the glass booth next to a description of what happened.

“This theft is now a part of the history of these items,” said Heaton.

Heaton says they’ve amped up their defenses ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

“We have made some changes in security, not just to the museum, but to the shopping center itself,” said Heaton.

He obviously won’t tell us what those changes are.

He can say the memoirs of Maris remain free to the public, hoping the property of Fargo’s favorite son will someday come home.

Kevin Maris says they haven’t heard of any major leads on the investigation.

He says the family hopes the artifacts will be returned someday.

Italy recovers 3 paintings stolen from Bologna-area museums

Italy recovers 3 paintings stolen from Bologna-area museums


ROME — Italy’s art police say they’ve recovered three paintings stolen in recent months from three Bologna-area museums after identifying the thief from surveillance videos.
In a statement Friday, the Carabinieri art squad said investigators were able to zero in on the thief using surveillance videos from the museums and tracked him down when he acted “suspiciously” near another Bologna museum.

They then searched his apartment and found the looted works. Police have filed a formal criminal complaint against him for aggravated theft. The most well-known piece was a 1363 portrait of St. Ambrose attributed to Giusto de’ Menabuoi that was stolen in March from a Bologna museum.

Lost Art: Homer’s Troy and Priam’s Treasure

The Art Newspaper

Lost Art: Homer’s Troy and Priam’s Treasure

NOAH CHARNEY – May 6, 2018


The great city of Troy, made famous by the ancient Greek poet Homer, was assumed to have been a real place much as Biblical stories have long been taken to be true. That the Bible was written in a poetic prose and that The Iliad and The Odyssey were both epic poems—all forms of literature, distinct in style from historical writing—did not dampen the belief that these were grand retellings of real events.

Questioning such “historical facts” due to a lack of empirical evidence began during the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, but truly gained momentum with the rise of “critical history” in the early 19th century, when ancient texts were studied and compared to highlight contradictions and inconsistencies. The likes of Pliny and Strabo recorded stories that they had heard, or about which they had read, not all of which they had personally experienced—and many of which we now know to have been inaccurate or wholly invented. The Hanging Gardens, for example, appear likely to have existed, but not in Babylon, as Josephus and others wrote, but in Nineveh.

The same thing seems to have happened with the city of Troy and the Trojan War. What ancient thinkers assumed to have been a real place, Enlightenment thinkers assumed to be legendary, like the Greek myths. Some early modern writers attempted to assign a known ruin to Troy, with candidates including Alexandria Troas and Pinarbaşi, both in modern-day Turkey—which turned out to be fairly good guesses, as the former is 20 km and the latter only 5m from what would turn out to be the real location. In 1822, the Scottish journalist and geologist Charles Maclaren identified the correct site, called Hisarlik, on the country’s northwest coast in today’s Biga peninsula, which was published in academic journals after surveys were made in 1866 by the English consul and amateur archaeologist Frank Calvert.

Ruins in the Unesco recognised archaeological site of Troy in Turkey

Ruins in the Unesco recognized archaeological site of Troy in Turkey Photo: Umut Özdemir/Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkey

The German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann was convinced by Calvert that this was the right spot, and he received permission to excavate the site from the Turkish government and started in 1878. The find was extraordinary but complicated. There was not one lost city there but several, successive cities, dating from the Bronze age through the Roman period. One of the layers of the ancient city was dubbed by Schliemann as Troy, and the rich findings, many in gold, were dubbed “Priam’s Treasure”, after the king of Troy at the time of the Homeric Greek siege. It seemed like a major coup, and it raised Troy from the realm of mythical history into the empirical zone of history proper. What was once believed to be true, then dismissed as legend, had now yo-yoed back to truth, this time backed by hard evidence.

But that is not the end of the story.

Schliemann’s methods in excavating the various strata of cities have been condemned by modern scholars as having caused irreparable damage to the site, destroying as much or more than it unburied. The Classical scholar Kenneth Harl has even joked that Schliemann did to Troy what the Greeks had failed to do during their siege: level the city walls. It also became unclear which of the many ancient cities found on the site was the Troy. Later archaeologists, with a subtler hand than Schliemann’s, announced that at least nine cities were evident on the site, in a complex layer cake of excavations, which included some 46 sublevels.

Which layer, if any, was Homer’s Troy (if that Troy ever existed?) Archaeological evidence of a battle dating to around 1250BC was found, as well as a defensive ditch that may have surrounded the external walls of the city. This dating could fit with the general consensus on when the siege took place, though this is merely a guess. Scholars don’t even know when Homer lived and wrote his epic works, with theories ranging from the 12th through the 8th centuries BC.

Moreover, the layer of the city referred to as Troy VI (the one destroyed around 1250BC), was most likely destroyed by an earthquake, not a Greek army. Throughout all the excavations, only a single arrowhead was found, and no skeletal remains, making it highly unlikely that a high-body-count war took place there. The likelier candidate is called Troy VIIa, which was the site of a battle, with evidence of extensive fire, on both the stones and skeletons found there, dated to around 1184BC. Made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998, this is as close as one can get to seeing the Troy of legend.

The yo-yo continues, however, with the gold horde known as “Priam’s Treasure”. This included a pair of gold diadems (referred to as the “Jewels of Helen”), 8,750 gold rings and scores of objects in gold, silver, copper, and electrum (a gold, silver and copper mixture). Schliemann smuggled these out of Turkey in his personal effects and—in a move that was considered less-than-professional even then—had his wife photographed wearing much of the jewelry, which is how Ottoman officials learned that the treasures had been carried off. Most of this collection eventually went to the Royal Museums of Berlin, but Schliemann returned some of the items to the Ottomans in exchange for permission to return to Troy to dig further (he had been banned from the site for running off with his findings).

priams_treasure (1)

Schliemann identified a hoard of gold objects he found at the site as “Priam’s Treasure”, including a pair of gold diadems, referred to as the “Jewels of Helen”. He smuggled them out of Turkey and, in an ill-judged publicity stunt, had his wife photographed wearing much of the jewelry. The works were looted again by the Red Army during the Second World War, and are now in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow

Later archaeologists believe that this haul dates to Troy II, and therefore predates by a millennium the layer of the city that was most likely ruled by Priam. Thus the treasure remains great, but it can no longer be assigned to the era of Homeric Troy.

In 1945, during the Second World War, Priam’s Treasure was hidden by German officials underneath the Berlin Zoo, but that did not stop the Red Army from finding it. While the Soviet Union denied having the horde for decades, they were finally identified as part of the collection of Moscow’s Pushkin Museum in September 1993. A protracted plan to return the treasure to Germany—which, it could be argued, should not have had it in the first place, since Schliemann smuggled the objects away from the Ottomans—has been blocked by Russian officials, who consider the looted art as compensation for the vast damage, in goods and lives, wrought by the Nazis.

So, while the hoard can no longer be considered technically lost, Priam’s Treasure remains so, for while this is an impressive find, it was made a good thousand years before Priam walked Troy’s walls. If Priam ever existed. And if Homer’s poem was ever meant to be considered a historical record.

The Greek hero Odysseus slits the throat of a Thracian warrior outside the walls of Troy in this Chalcidian Black-Figure Neck Amphora J. Paul Getty Museum
• Noah Charney is an author and art history professor at the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection. His new book is Museum of Lost Art, published by Phaidon

First-of-Its-Kind Global Arbitration Court for Art Disputes Launching June 2018


First-of-Its-Kind Global Arbitration Court for Art Disputes Launching June 2018

Pryor Cashman – May 07, 2018

On June 7, 2018the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), in conjunction with The Hague-based Authentication in Art (AiA), will launch a new, specialized arbitration and mediation tribunal exclusively dedicated to resolving art law disputes. The “Court of Arbitration for Art” (CAA), as the tribunal will be known, will conduct proceedings around the globe, addressing the full spectrum of art disputes, including authenticity, contract, and chain of title disputes, copyright claims and more.

Conceived and advanced by William Charron, Co-Chair of the Art Law practice at New York-based law firm Pryor Cashman and an Advisory Board member of AiA, the CAA was created to address the difficulty courts and juries often face when confronted with art law cases, where issues of forensic science, provenance research, and connoisseurship are often at issue.

“In cases involving authenticity questions, the market need not – and often does not – accept a court’s finding that a work is, more likely than not, authentic or fake,” Charron explained. “The idea behind the CAA was to ‘flatten the learning curve’ in these – and similar – kinds of cases by having experienced art lawyers be the deciders. Practitioners should be better equipped to understand and more properly weigh the evidence in a manner that the market will accept,” he said.

Charron formed a small working group of fellow lawyers in New York, including Luke Nikas from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP; Megan Noh from art law boutique Cahill Cossu Noh & Robinson LLP; and Judith Prowda from Stropheus Art Law and the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, to develop the CAA and draft what has become the tribunal’s new codified rules (effective as of April 30, 2018).

The primary objective of the group’s work was to arrive at rules that would provide for both market legitimacy and decisional accuracy. “Everything we analyzed came back to the questions of whether this is something the market will likely accept, and whether this is something that best positions the tribunal to render the right results,” Prowda said.

A particularly unique facet of the CAA is that the more traditional model of competing and advocating experts will not always apply. Although the parties will be free to retain their own testifying experts on many issues, in authenticity disputes the tribunal, not the parties, will appoint its own forensic and provenance experts from an internationally recognized pool. “The idea is to give the most comfort possible to the market that authenticity decisions are based on truly neutral expert analysis,” Nikas explained.

Another important aspect of the CAA’s rules is that, while proceedings will be private and confidential, as with traditional ADR, the final arbitration decisions will be published and will identify the art at issue while maintaining the parties’ anonymity. “This was deemed essential to ensure market understanding and acceptance of the results,” Noh said.

The CAA will be implemented under the auspices of NAI. While the arbitrations will be deemed “seated” in The Hague, proceedings can be conducted anywhere in the world and are enforceable under the New York Convention and other international conventions.

The newly-released CAA arbitration rules can be viewed here.