Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Journal of Art Crime Publishes Article on Québec Art Crime Squad

Quebec's Art Crime Squad
The Journal of Art Crime (Spring 2011) published an article on Québec's Art Crime Squad. The ARCA blog ran the Q&A with the team in April here.

Jean-François Talbot recently emailed me to thank the ARCA Blog for recent coverage on art reported stolen (see the post here) and to inform me that the team is now being led by Sargent Alain Dumouchel.

Photo (left to right): Jean-François Talbot, Alain Gaulin, Alain Dumouchel, and Sylvie Dubuc.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ArtInfo's Benjamin Genocchio raves about the expanded MMFA

Benjamin Genocchio for ArtInfo has done a flattering and intelligent critique of the new wing of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  The photo above is from the ArtInfo website; the building on the left is the one that was robbed in 1972.  One of the questions about Canada's largest art theft could be how it affected the museum in Montreal? Well, after closing for three years to renovate, and moving from a fairly Anglophile base some 150 years ago to a bilingual institution provides inexpensive access to Canadian and European art -- it's doing just fine, merci beaucoup!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Montreal Gazette Has Photos of New Wing of Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

The glass is Tiffany, the building of the new wing of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is gorgeous and will hold musical events.  Montreal Gazette published photos online in April.  The official opening is scheduled for October 15.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Blue Bird Cafe fire 39 years later

Blogger, journalist and Montreal historian Kristian Gravenor has written an excellent post on "Coolopolis" about the fire at the nightclub two days before the theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. When I was doing research on Canada's largest art theft, I had the impression that news of the 37 deaths from the arson fire had eclipsed the museum theft. When I was visiting friends in NDG, they remembered the nightclub fire but not the museum theft. Then of course a few days later 11 Israeli athletes were murdered in Munich at the Olympics which dominated the headlines internationally and was memorialized in subsequent books and movies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Alain Lacoursière Featured in Joshua Knelman's article in Globe & Mail: Art Theft Linked to Organized Crime

In Joshua Knelman's article in the Globe and Mail, Police cracking down on a hotbead of hot art in Quebec, Alain Lacoursière cites a link between stolen art and organized crime. Hell's Angels held "caches" of stolen art and a forged Cézanne that was headed for an auction house for a money laundering scheme.

Joshua Knelman is author of the book Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art, published this month by Douglas & McIntyre. I have ordered it through and look forward to reading it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Associated Press: "Greek police recover stolen Rubens painting"

The Associated Press has reported the slimmest of details that police in Athens have recovered a Rubens painting likely taken by three masked robbers from the Fine Arts Museum in Ghent in 2001. The painting may be "The Hunt for the Caledonian Wild Boar". Two people were arrested in association with this painting, but in a second raid six more were arrested and a mix of antiquities recovered. Officially, the police are not being specific.  It appears to be some kind of 'organized' crime network.

The painting was allegedly worth less than the second painting grabbed and lost during the heist, according to a 2001 article in the Independent ("Bungling art thieves let masterpiece slip").

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Journal of Art Crime publishes "The Skylight Caper", the story of Canada's largest art theft, in the Spring 2011 issue

The Journal of Art Crime, ARCA's peer-reviewed academic journal on the interdisciplinary study of art crime, has published "The Skylight Caper", the story of Canada's largest art theft. You may read more about it here on the ARCA blog.

Friday, June 10, 2011

CBC Reports Lost Statue of General Wolfe Turns Up At Ottawa Hotel

According to this CBC story, thieves get old, or people who know an object has been stolen, get old and return the stolen object due to a conscious. You may read the story here. Three men entered the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1972, stole 18 paintings, returned one, and disappeared. Three men kept a secret? As the old joke goes, are two of them dead?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chris 'Zeke' Hand of Montreal Interviewed Alain Lacoursière Last Fall

Chris 'Zeke' Hand's interview last fall with Alain Lacoursière can be found here.  He titles it "Alain Lacoursière is kick-ass and/or wicked cool I have quite decided yet".  I can attest having interviewed the former art cop that he is both!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Gardner Heist Inspired Renewed Coverage of the MMFA Theft

In 2009, journalist Ulrich Boser published The Gardner Heist, The True Story of the World's Largest Unsolved Art Theft, of the 1990 theft of a dozen paintings in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In his 11th chapter titled "Program for An Artistic Soiree II", Boser writes about the MMFA theft:
After a Rembrandt, a Delacroix, and a Gainsborough were stolen from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, a group of criminals tried to ransom the paintings back. The gang wanted $250,000 and returned one of the works, a Brueghel, to prove that they had access to the loot. But when the day of the buyback arrived, one of the thieves saw a police car and called off the deal. The paintings have never been seen by the public again.
I emailed Ulrich Boser and asked him if he had any more information but he did not, although he was interested in the subject. After poking around the subject for a few months, I emailed him again because I couldn't find anything substantive on the theft. He emailed me a link to an article written by Bill Bantey on the 35th anniversary of the MMFA theft. Mr. Bantey had been a journalist on politics and crime for decades in Montreal and he had also, coincidentally, been the director of public relations for the MMFA at the time of the theft. Mr. Bantey later told me that he was also the highest ranking museum official that Labor Day weekend and the first museum administrator to be called by the security guard after the robbery.

Q&A with Quebec's first art crime investigative team

The police file of the 1972 theft of the MMFA is with Quebec's art crime investigation team. I interviewed them through Sergeant Alain Dumouchel via email and published the response on ARCA's art crime blog.

Alain Lacoursière's Main Suspect in the 1972 Theft of the MMFA Emails Him a Link to a Mercedes-Benz Commercial Video that Shows a Stolen Painting in a Bank Vault in Hong Kong

In April 2011, in one of our quarterly emails, Alain Lacoursière, as he updated me on the extension of his Canadian television show, said that his favorite suspect in the MMFA theft had sent him a link to a Mercedes-Benz video on YouTube about bank robbers recovering a stolen painting. You may read about it here and here on ARCA's art crime blog.

Journalist Sylvain Larocque Devotes Sixth Chapter in Biography of Alain Lacoursière to the 1972 Theft at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

I published a two-part series on the sixth chapter of Alain Lacoursière's biography by Sylvain Larocque which discusses the 1972 theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. You may read about it here and here.

Presented Paper on the 1972 Theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at ARCA's International Art Crime Conference in Amelia in 2010

Last summer I presented my paper on the unsolved 1972 theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts at ARCA's second annual international art crime conference in Amelia, Italy. You can read more about that conference on the ARCA blog here. In June, ARCA's Journal of Art Crime will publish my article on Canada's largest art theft.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"The Skylight Caper": Introduction to the Unsolved 1972 Theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

This blog examines Canada’s largest art theft, the 1972 unsolved theft of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, comparing published information to interviews with two principals involved with the museum and the investigation. It explores the ideas proposed in the last four decades as to who may have committed the theft and the alleged whereabouts of 17 missing paintings, including paintings by Rembrandt, Corot, Rubens, and Courbet and 39 pieces of jewelry and silver. The eight-part article describes the history of museum thefts in Canada, how the crime was committed, and some characteristics that may have made this museum and these paintings a target for crime.