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Tag: art

FBI Tracks down a 19th Century Painting Stolen by the Nazis During WWII

“Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina,” via U.S. Attorney’s Office.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI tracked down an Ivan the Terrible painting that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II and returned the massive artwork to the Embassy of Ukraine.

The 19th century oil painting, titled “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina,” was looted from the Dnepropetrovsk Art Museum in Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1941. More than 75 years later, the FBI’s Art Crime Team was tipped off that the Mikhail N. Panin painting was being prepared for auction.

The 64-square-foot painting was preserved and “admired” for decades in the Connecticut home of Gabby and David Tracy, who had no idea the artwork had been stolen, according to the FBI. In 1987, the couple came into possession of the painting when they bought the home in which artwork had been hung.

“The FBI is proud to work with our partners to mark this important art repatriation and return the painting to the Ukrainian Embassy. The FBI works to return stolen art and other property to preserve the history and culture of countries around the world,” Timothy M. Dunham, special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, said in a news release. “Returning art to the proper owners is important and meaningful work made possible by our talented special agents and analysts.”

FBI’s Art Crime Team Gains Respect After Solving High-Profile Cases

Red “Wizard of OZ” slippers stolen from a museum.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Terrorism. Bank robberies. Government corruption.

They are among the key responsibilities of the FBI.

But the bureau has been gaining more attention for investigating crimes involving art.

Launched in 2005, the FBI’s 22-person Art Crime Team has grabbed headlines in the past few years for solving high-profile cases and recovering valuable pieces of art.

Just last year, the team of agents recovered a pair of “ruby slippers” worn by Judy Garland in “Wizard of Oz,” artwork looted by Nazis and a Marc Chagall painting stolen from an elderly couple’s Manhattan home nearly three decades ago.

“People just think what we’re doing is cool,” Supervisory Special Agent Tim Carpenter, who now runs the unit from the FBI’s Washington headquarters, told Reuters.

“I think we’ve changed a lot of perceptions, even within the organization,” he said. “So now my phone rings off the hook weekly for folks wanting to be on the team.”
Since its creation 14 years ago, the team has tracked down nearly 15,000 pieces of art valued at $800 million. More than 90 people have been convicted of art-related crimes during that period.

FBI Recovers Norman Rockwell Painting Stole 40+ Years Ago

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

The stolen Norman Rockwell painting.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 40 years after someone stole a Norman Rockwell painting from a family home in New Jersey, the artwork is back in the owners’ possession thanks to the FBI.

The painting of a chubby boy resting against a tree was a pized possession of the Grant family. Robert Grant paid just $50 or $100 for the painting, the New York Times reports. 

On Friday, one of Robert Grant’s sons, John, picked up the painting from an FBI agent at federal building in Philadelphia.

“It’s unbelievable,” Grant said. “The dream came true, and my dad would be so happy.”

On the 40th anniversary of the painting’s theft, the FBI issued a press release about the stolen painting, generating fresh attention.

It worked. An anonymous antique dealer turned over the painting. The dealer is not believed to be a suspect.

Other Stories of Interest

American University Removes Controversial Statue of Man Convicted of Killing FBI Agents

Leonard Peltier FBI wanted poster.

Leonard Peltier FBI wanted poster.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

American University is removing a controversial statue of a Native American activist who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977.

The decision to remove the statue of Leonard Peltier came after the president of the FBI agents association urged the university to take down the work of art because it was offensive.

Many Native Americans believe Peltier was wrongly convicted and sentenced to two life terms.

The university released the following statement:

“American University strongly supports the mission of museums to present thought provoking art to inform and educate. Within the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, we have hosted numerous exhibits of political and sometimes controversial art.

The decision to host the Peltier statue required a more thorough assessment of the implications of placing the piece in a prominent, public space outside the museum. With the benefit of a fuller review, we have made a decision to remove the piece from this location.

The subject matter and placement of the piece improperly suggested that American University has assumed an advocacy position of clemency for Mr. Peltier, when no such institutional position has been taken. Further, the nature and location of the piece called into question our ability to honor our responsibilities to ensure the security of the art and the safety of our community.

The AU Museum has offered to work with the artist to find an alternative organization that would be willing to exhibit the art. We affirm our commitment to the AU Museum and will ensure that its mission is fully supported in the Katzen Arts Center.”

FBI Returns Charles Darwin Letter to Museum After Theft in 1970s

Stolen Charles Darwin letter is returned to the Smithsonian.

Stolen Charles Darwin letter is returned to the Smithsonian.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A handwritten letter by Charles Darwin was stolen from the Smithsonian Institution Archives about four decades ago, frustrating investigators and historians.

Then earlier this year, the FBI received a tip about the whereabouts of the letter written by the British naturalist and geologist known of his theory of evolution.

The artifact was return ed to the Smithsonian on May 26,

“Thanks to a tip from a member of the public, we were able to return this artifact to the care of the Smithsonian Archives,” Paul Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in a statement. “It’s a privilege to return a piece of the history of science and exploration in the United States to the American people.”

Anne Van Camp, director of the Smithsonian Archives, said she’s relieved.

“This is an important event, as this type of crime is not easily detected, and it demonstrates how seriously the FBI regards our cultural heritage,” Van Camp said.

FBI Won’t Give Up on Norman Rockwell Painting Stolen 40 Years Ago

The Norman Rockwell painting was featured in the

The Norman Rockwell painting was featured in the Saturday Evening Post.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is not giving up on finding a Norman Rockwell painting that was stolen from a Cherry Hill, N.J. home 40 years ago.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that FBI is issuing a new appeal to find the “Taking a Break” painting, which depicts a weary farmboy.

The oil painting was featured on the cover of a 1919 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

The painting was among several items stolen from the home of Robert and Teresa Grant on June 30, 1976.

FBI Has Recovered At Least 2,650 Missing Pieces of Art And Artifacts Since 2004

This Charles Darwin letter was stole in the 1970s and was recently recovered.

This Charles Darwin letter was stole in the 1970s and was recently recovered.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has found at least 2,650 missing art pieces or historical artifacts since 2004, according to a review by News4 Washington. 

The bureau’s Art Crime Team, a specialized unit to combat art fraud and theft, recovered the pieces.

Agents recently found a stolen historic letter authored by Charles Darwin in 1870s. The letter was stolen from the Smithsonian Archives in Washington D.C. in the 1970s. It was recovered on May 26.

“It is an important part of our heritage,” FBI Special Agent Marc Hess said. “It may not be worth a lot monetarily, but it’s worth a lot to scholars.”

Other cases involve artifacts, paintings and other valuable works of art and history.

The FBI says art theft and fraud is on the rise.

FBI Searches Home of Aging Gangster for Evidence of Unsolved Boston Art Heist

Theft at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum  in 1990.

Theft at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is searching the backyard of an aging mobster in Connecticut for evidence of art that was stolen two decades ago from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

ABC News reports that this is the third time the FBI has searched in and around the ranch house, owned by Robert “Bobby the Cook” Gentile, who is serving 2.5 years in prison for drug and gun charges.

Gentile’s attorney said his client is surprised the FBI is back at the ranch.

“He laughed and he couldn’t believe they were, that they were at his house again, and he said, this is a quote, ‘They ain’t gonna find nuttin,’” attorney Rome McGuigan said.

During the 1990 heist, 13 paintings were stolen.