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Monday, December 21, 2015
FBI New York Art Crime Team Has Record Number Of Art And Cultural Items Returned In Second Half Of 2015, Seeks Public Assistance Locating Other Stolen Items
The U.S. Justice's Interpol Washington office offers the below report:
A Chilean tapestry, the Bark Washington painting, and the Ames Stradivarius violin were returned to their rightful owners following the investigative work and partnerships of the FBI’s New York Art Crime Team. The team is composed of Special Agents Meridith Savona and Christopher McKeogh, whose primary investigative work includes recovering art and cultural property and bringing those responsible for the theft, fraud, looting and trafficking to justice.
The Chilean tapestry known as The Ambassadors of Rome Offering the Throne to Numa Pompilio was returned in September 2015 to the owner’s attorney. The tapestry had been stolen from the owner’s residence in Santiago, Chile, in November 2006, and the theft was reported to INTERPOL Washington. The tapestry was recovered when it was placed for auction in New York in 2014. INTERPOL Washington requested the assistance of the FBI’s New York Art Crime Team on behalf of the Santiago Police to take custody of the tapestry. The case remains open with the Santiago Police. There were no charges filed against the parties attempting to auction the tapestry.
The Bark Washington painting was returned to the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, New York, by the FBI’s New York Art Crime Team in September. The painting, along with the Jennie French Potter painting and two whale busks, were stolen in March 2001. The return of the Bark Washington painting was made possible by an individual who bought the painting at an antique shop in East Marion, New York in 2001 for a few hundred dollars. The individual researched the painting on the FBI’s Stolen Art Database (https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/vc_majorthefts/arttheft/national-stolen-art-file) and discovered it was stolen. He then contacted the FBI, generously agreeing to return it to the rightful owner. The thief was never, and the case remains open.
A 1734 Stradivarius violin, the Ames Stradivarius, was returned in August to the heirs of deceased violinist Roman Totenberg. The violin was stolen from Mr. Totenberg in 1980, along with two antique bows, following a concert in the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was recovered by the FBI’s New York Art Crime Team in June 2015. The bows are still missing, and the FBI case remains open.
The FBI reminds the public to come forward with any information they may have about the missing items. Tips may be submitted to the FBI’s Art Crime Team at (212) 384-1000 or on our webpage (https://tips.fbi.gov/). Tipsters may remain anonymous. Art and cultural item buyers are recommended to review the FBI’s Stolen Art Database prior to a purchase to avoid civil forfeiture of stolen items.
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, drug crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. He is an online columnist and contributing editor to The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International and a regular contributor to the Washington Times. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and other print and online publications. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian employee and then became a freelance writer. You can read Paul Davis' Crime Beat columns, crime fiction and magazine and newspaper pieces on this website. You can also read his full bio by clicking on the above photo.