An Armenian museum sued the lawyer for Dr. Jack Kevorkian's estate, claiming he donated his artworks to the museum, not to a niece who claims them. The disputed works include 17 paintings, "writings, some musical compositions, a sweater and a hat."
The Armenian Library and Museum of America, of Watertown, Mass., sued attorney Mayer Morganroth in Middlesex County Court.
Kevorkian, who died in June, became famous for his work in assisted suicide. He was prosecuted unsuccessfully four times, and his medical license was suspended, before he was convicted of second-degree homicide in 1999, in a case in which he dismissed his attorneys and represented himself. He served 8 years of a 10-to-25-year sentence and was paroled in 2007, on the condition he stop assisting in suicides.
Kevorkian also was a jazz musician and painter.
The Armenian Museum claims that in 1999 it approached Kevorkian's curator, the Ariana Gallery in Royal Oak, Mich., to discuss mounting an exhibit of Kevorkian's art.
They agreed on the transfer of 17 Kevorkian paintings and other artwork, including "writings, some musical compositions, a sweater and a hat," according to the complaint.
The museum says the exhibit received considerable attention.
Because Kevorkian was in prison by the time the exhibition appeared, he asked that his sister, Flora Holzheimer, attend the opening on his behalf. During the reception, "Ms. Holzheimer announced that Dr. Kevorkian had instructed her to inform plaintiff that the art work was a gift to plaintiff from Dr. Kevorkian," the museum says in its complaint.
The announcement was made before a substantial audience, and was reported by a local newspaper.
In 2008, after Kevorkian was released from prison, the showed his work again, this time with assistance from the doctor, who explained the meanings of his paintings.
"During the intermission, Dr. Kevorkian stated that he was very pleased that he had donated his entire collection to the plaintiff," the museum says. Again, the donation was reported by a local newspaper.
"In reliance upon this gift, plaintiff maintained and continued to maintain the art work as part of its permanent collection during the twelve years that have since elapsed," the museum says.
But after Kevorkian died on June 3 this year, attorney Morganroth informed the museum that in a will written 17 days before his death, Kevorkian, who never married, had left his entire estate to his niece, Ava Janus.
Morganroth told the museum that the paintings in its possession are scheduled to be auctioned on Oct. 27.
The museum refused to relinquish the paintings, and in an Oct. 4 email, Morganroth accused it of "theft of the estate's property," according to the complaint.
The museum seeks declaratory judgment that it owns the art. The museum is represented by Harold Potter with Holland & Knight, in Boston.
Andy Warhol's Some Like It Hot Shoe
An auction of property owned by the late actor Tony Curtis has angered his children, who say they were not consulted over the sale.
Among the items sold on Saturday was the star's jacket from Some Like It Hot, which raised $48,000
A signed print by Andy Warhol fetched $53,125
The items were sold by Curtis's sixth and last wife, Jill. His daughter Allegra said: "This is not what my dad would have wanted".
The sale, at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California, made more than $800,000
It included work by several famous artists, including Warhol, Balthus, Picasso and Chagall, alongside Curtis's own paintings.
Movie memorabilia on sale included the star's Hollywood Walk Of Fame plaque and a dining table he bought from Marlene Dietrich.
Other lots ranged from a Faberge gold and sapphire cigarette case to a rosewood flute given to Curtis by Frank Sinatra.
His children said the artefacts belonged "in a museum".
"Jill Curtis is the only beneficiary of this auction. She did not consult us," Allegra Curtis, daughter of Tony's second wife, actress Christine Kaufmann, told The Hollywood Reporter.
"Jill's even selling off credit cards and driver licenses. She's also selling my dad's letters to Cary Grant, Jerry Lewis, Picasso... it's the dissemination of the estate of Tony Curtis. He deserves better." Darren Julien, who ran the auction, disagreed.
"Tony came to many of our auctions with Jill and said he wanted Julien's to handle his auction after he died," he said.
"I know this is exactly what he wanted."
Curtis was one of Hollywood's most fondly remembered stars when he died last September, aged 85.
He made more than 120 movies, including Some Like It Hot, and Spartacus.
In my recent blogs entitled, Rembrandt Drawing Stolen From Ritz Carlton and Stolen Rembrandt Ends Up In Church, I reported on a drawing entitled,The Judgment, allegedly by Rembrandt circa 1630 valued at $250,000, which was stolen from an art exhibition at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey in August 2011. It was found abandoned and undamaged at a local church two-days after the theft, and the Los Angeles thieves got away.
Subsequently, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department took possession of the picture and has refused to release the drawing to the Linearis Institute, the entity that was exhibiting the work, because the institute has offered no bill of sale or other documentary evidence proving its ownership. The institute has also declined to reveal the name of the seller to law enforcement authorities. In the art world, where questions about who owns what and how they got it arise frequently, the Rembrandt mystery has evoked a great deal of curiosity.
Furthermore, art appraisers and other experts have indicated that they cannot find The Judgment listed in any catalog or database chronicling the works of Rembrandt, who created hundreds of paintings, drawings and etchings before his death in 1669. So is the Linearis Institute acknowledging that it bought a work by one of the world's best known artists, theoretically worth over a quarter of a million dollars, without any proof he really drew it ? If Linearis can't work out a compromise that will allow the drawing's return, will they take the Sheriff's Department to court?
Stay tuned to my blog as this art intrique continues to unravel....
Greek police recovered a 17th century painting by Flemish master Pieter Paul Rubens stolen from a museum in Belgium a decade ago, authorities said on Thursday, September 1, 2011. The artwork, dating from 1618 and stolen in 2001, was a particularly important painting snatched from the Fine Arts Museum in Ghent by three masked robbers.
The Greek ministry and police said a second raid also conducted Thursday led to the arrest of six Greeks in conjunction with stolen antiquities: three prehistoric bronze items, a metal seal and a manuscript with Arabic script.
Follow my blog for further updates on these and other stolen pieces of art and antiques at : www.carolineashleigh.com
This 17th century sketch by Rembrandt ("The Judgement") was stolen from a hotel in Marina del Rey, Calif. and was found approximately 20 miles away.
MARINA DEL REY, California — It was a low-tech caper involving a distraction, an accomplice or two and a small sketch.
Authorities said early Tuesday they had recovered the Dutch master, Rembrandt’s, 17th century sketch at a San Fernando Valley church, about 20 miles from the luxury hotel lobby where it was snatched over the weekend from a private art display while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece.
Detectives got a tip from an anonymous caller on Monday evening that the sketch was in the suburban Encino church. A curator confirmed the artwork's authenticity on Tuesday, Aug. 16th. At a news conference held at dawn Tuesday, authorities said nobody had been arrested.
The Rembrandt drawing, swiped Saturday night, was valued at $250,000 and was being exhibited as part of a private display in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the upscale seaside community of Marina del Rey.
The theft as well-executed, but not executed well enough to get away with.
The sketch, called "The Judgement," was completed around 1655 and is signed on the back by Rembrandt von Rijn. He is widely regarded as one of the finest painters in European art history and his worldwide name recognition has made his work a common target for thieves.
"Rembrandt is a name that criminals know or should know," said Chris Marinello, executive director of the London-based Art Loss Register, an international database of stolen artworks. "When they come across one, they see dollar signs."
Marinello said the theft was likely a crime of opportunity and not an operation carried at the command of a mysterious underworld mastermind with a private art collection, as is often depicted in movies.
"Hollywood would love us to believe there are paintings being ordered stolen," he said. "We have yet to find that."
Artworks tend to surface either very quickly after they are stolen or else disappear into the underworld where they are traded between criminals at a fraction of their value for drugs and other illicit materials, Marinello said.
The stolen sketch was drawn with a quill pen and depicts what appears to be a court scene with a man prostrating himself before a judge.
Marinello said the artist thieves most commonly target is Picasso because of the volume of the Spanish painter's work and his name recognition.
In July, a thief walked into a San Francisco gallery and snatched a Picasso sketch valued at more than $200,000. The arrest of the suspect ultimately led police to a trove of other stolen artworks in a New Jersey apartment.
In 1990, two criminals posing as police officers robbed the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during the St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston. Marinello said the works, which included Rembrandt's only seascape, had a combined worth of as much as $500,000. Those paintings are still missing.
MARINA DEL REY, CA. -- An unknown art thief made off with a Rembrandt drawing entitled, The Judgement, valued at $250,000, from an art exhibit at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Ray, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said Sunday.
The drawing disappeared sometime between 10:20 and 10:35 p.m. Saturday, said the Sheriff's spokesman. Investigators believe the thief orchestrated a well-planned heist to get the Rembrandt out of the building while a curator was distracted.
"Our detectives are reviewing the hotel security video for information identifying those involved," the spokesman said. "The hotel has top quality security. We believe this was a well-thought out and well-planned theft." The Ritz-Carlton has some of the best hotel security in the nation," he commented. "We're confident that our leads, and the surveillance video will help us solve this." If you have any information, please contact LAPD, ASAP
Read the PDF Version Cover Story in Women 2 Women
Caroline Ashleigh, Appraiser and Auctioneer, Author and HGTV & Antiques Roadshow expert appraiser, talks about her passion, living in the Sweet Spot in her profession, and building her business into one of the premier art appraisal and auction companies in the country.
Excerpts from the article:
"When you find your true vocation in life, you find your sweet spot. Step into that rhythm and enthusiasm flows, and gives you a higher sense of purpose in that which you do"
"Each of us has unique skills to share and we are happiest and most energized when we share them"
Portrait of a Man, attributed to Scottish painter Sir Henry Raeburn
In 2009, socialite Joanne King Herring learned from the Art Loss Register, a company that operates an international database of stolen and missing works of art that a New York man had tried to sell the portrait, pictured above, at Sotheby's auction house.
Herring had a Christie's auction catalog and receipt showing she bought the painting in 1980 — along with a 1986 police report filed when it and several other paintings disappeared from a framing shop. The consignor, Geoffrey Rice, said he had bought the painting in 1984 or 1985 at Hart Galleries, a now-defunct Houston auction house, but produced no evidence to support his claim.
Because Rice refused to cede ownership of the painting, Sotheby's, which had pulled it from a planned auction, couldn't release it to Herring without a civil court order. So her attorney filed suit in January 2010 to get one.
The case remained in legal limbo until the Jan. 3 court date. Herring was about to leave for the courthouse when she got a call saying Rice had agreed to return the painting. Now that the case has been resolved in her favor, Herring hopes its sale will raise maximum dollars for her plan to simultaneously provide Afghan villages with clean water, sustainable food sources, basic health care, modern schools and jobs. She sees that approach as the only way to achieve lasting peace in the war-ravaged country.
In the meantime, Herring hopes stories like hers show art thieves that, "There's no 'finders, keepers' in the art world."
Watch Stephen Colbert interview art crime investigator, friend and colleague, Robert Wittman, who goes undercover to recover stolen paintings around the world and explains the challenge of museum security.
To get my perspective on art crime investigation, check out:
Antique Trader Magazine: Caroline Ashleigh's Blog
Read the full article in Antique Trader Magazine August 24th edition.
A century after Machu Picchu's rediscovery, ancient Mayan and Moche sites are being ransacked for tourist baubles
Everyday invaluable antiquities are looted all over the world and then sold on the black market, robbing us of our cultural heritage. There is a 7.8 billion dollar industry in stolen and looted antiquities which represents a rape of history in the loss of archeological content, destruction of monuments and destruction of artifacts.
The trade in illicit antiquities thrives in secrecy. Sadly, black market trade in antiquities destroys our most precious, non-renewable resource - the intact evidence of our undiscovered past. Each looted artifact, whether dug-up from the American Southwest, from a Mesopotamian temple site, or from a burial site in China, Afghanistan, or Peru, is like a page torn from a book. Each missing page represents a permanent hole in our understanding of our collective history.
This global problem calls for global answers. First, we must raise public awareness. To learn more about what is being accomplished through lectures and educational programs to raise public awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage worldwide, please contact us at 248.792.2929 Would harsher sentences deter looting and the black market trade? Vote now at: