Tag Archives: FBI Art Crime Team

Obras de arte falsas co-comisariadas por el FBI

En Hyperallergic nos explicaron por allá en el 2013 de una exposición bastante curiosa que añadió más leña al fuego sobre los debates sobre las falsificaciones…
Y es que en este caso se exhibieron obras de arte falsas interceptadas por el FBI…

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In what might be the first-ever exhibition of artworks co-curated by an intelligence agency, a show has been mounted at Fordham University’s Center Gallery to showcase some of the finer specimens of forged art seized by the FBI’s Art Crimes team. Caveat Emptor, as the show is titled, was timed to coincide with the intelligence community’s biannual ICCS conference on cybersecurity — and the confab will be using the gallery space resplendent with forgeries as its central registration room.

How might one go about putting together a show of forgeries owned by the FBI? The show’s co-curator, Daniel Small, recently told Hyperallergic about the extended process. “The [FBI] gave me a much longer list of stuff that could be cleared, then I whittled it down to a group of 25. And then once I got into town [New York City] I went to the facility, I pulled some other stuff out, saw what they [the FBI] accepted, then brought it to Fordham and whittled it down to the 13 artists in the show.”

The collected works are intentionally uneven, but they share a common characteristic: “All of them forensically tested out, some are convincing, some are amazing, and some are terrible,” Small said. The identical Chagall “La Nappe Mauve” paintings, for instance, were the work of the prolific forger Ely Sakhai, who went to great lengths to procure period frames and canvases for his forgeries. Small added that the full provenance of some of the forgeries remains unknown to him, though the FBI plans on making the case files available to him, and he will in turn present this information as the show continues.

Taken together, the works in the show have the effect of forming a cartoonish canon, like the national museum of a very small country whose bureaucrats are Sotheby’s catalogue completists. Juxtaposed with the theatrics of power — the agencies represented at the conference include the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA —  Caveat Emptor, with its mercantilistic title recalling the whole affair’s intersection with the art market — has all the makings of an intriguing spectacle.

The tension isn’t lost on Small, who by working closely with a veteran Special Agent in the Bureau’s Art Crimes team was able to gain an unusually nuanced view of the Bureau’s attitudes toward art and art forgery. “From their position it’s all a very logistical thing … But the show isn’t just some tongue-in-cheek joke making fun of the FBI, at least how I think of it, but there are a lot of idiosyncrasies in the system.”

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Artículo de Mostafa Heddaya

Protecting Cultural Heritage from Art Theft – O cómo, según el FBI, la venta de arte robado sirve para financiar otros crímenes organizados, como los relacionados con las drogas y el terrorismo

When someone thinks of art crime, a Hollywood image is conjured, one of black-clad cat burglars and thieves in top hats and white gloves. But, the truth behind art crime, one misunderstood by the general public and professionals alike, is far more sinister and intriguing. Art crime has its share of cinematic thefts and larger-than-life characters, but it also is the realm of international organized crime syndicates, the involvement of which results in art crime funding all manner of other serious offenses, including those pertaining to the drug trade and terrorism. Art crime has shifted from a relatively innocuous, ideological crime into a major international plague.

Over the last 50 years, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has ranked art crime behind only drugs and arms in terms of highest-grossing criminal trades.1 There are hundreds of thousands of art crimes reported per year, but, despite this fact, the general public only hears about the handful of big-name museum heists that make international headlines. In Italy alone there are 20,000 to 30,000 thefts reported annually, and many more go unreported.2 In fact, even though reported art crime ranks third in the list of criminal trades, many more such incidents go unreported worldwide, rather than coming to the attention of authorities, making its true scale much broader and more difficult to estimate.

Fundamentalist terrorist groups rely on looted antiquities as a major funding source. Mohammed Atta tried to sell looted antiquities in 1999 as a funding source for the 9/11 attacks.3 In regions, such as Afghanistan, local farmers dig up treasure troves beneath the soil and sell them to local criminal or government organizations for a tiny fraction of their actual value. The antiquities then are smuggled abroad, given a false provenance, and sold, often on an open market to unsuspecting museums and collectors who never would imagine that their purchase might indirectly fund the Taliban.4 One of the most important ways to get the general public and governments alike to take art crime as seriously as it warrants is to highlight the ways in which this seemingly innocuous category of crime not only depletes and damages the world’s art and its understanding of it but also fuels the arms trade, drug trafficking, and terrorist activity.5

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