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Crime & Litigation



Belgium hunts accomplice in Jewish museum murders

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Written by AFP wire service   
Friday, 23 January 2015 13:07

2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The Belgian authorities are looking for a possible accomplice to Mehdi Nemmouche, who has been charged with killing four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last year, the prosecutor's office said Friday.

The prosecutor's office said “we are looking for this person,” who has not been identified, when asked to confirm a report in La Derniere Heure daily.

Responding to a request from the prosecutor and examining magistrate, Belgian police last week issued an appeal for witnesses so as to identify a man who appeared on a surveillance camera.

The wanted notice for the man was published in the context of a murder investigation.

On the police's website, it appears next to the wanted notice for Nemmouche, who was arrested in the French port city of Marseille as he got off a bus from Brussels on May 30, six days after the museum attack.

The notices for the unidentified man and Nemmouche also carry the same date, May 24, the day of the attack.

"We confirm that there is a link between the two wanted notices and that we are looking for this person. The investigation will determine whether this person is an accomplice or not," the prosecutor's office said.

The 19-second clip from the surveillance camera shows a man with a shaved head walking on a pavement. A backpack slung over a shoulder, he is wearing a striped T-shirt and jeans.

A second man walking with him is entirely blurred out but La Derniere Heure said he was Nemmouche.

During his arrest, French police found a revolver, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition in his luggage.

Nemmouche had returned months before from Syria where he had been fighting with Islamist extremists.

After being extradited to Belgium, Nemmouche was charged with “murder in a terrorist context” after an Israeli couple, a French woman and a Belgian were shot dead at the museum in central Brussels.

Nemmouche has never admitted to being the killer.

The shooting was the first such attack in Brussels in three decades.

On Jan. 15, Belgian police carried out a series of raids to foil what they said was an imminent Islamist plot to kill police officers. Two suspected militants were killed in one of the raids.

Police have so far established no link between the alleged plot and a series of Islamist attacks that killed 17 people in Paris a week earlier.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

 2009 photo of the Jewish Museum of Belgium, in Brussels. Credit: Michael Wal, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and1.0 Generic license.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 13:22
 

Legal battle goes on over ownership of Adam & Eve paintings

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Written by JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press   
Friday, 23 January 2015 11:46
Another Lucas Cranach the Elder rendition of ‘Adam and Eve,’ 1526. oil on panel. Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London LOS ANGELES (AP) – A New York woman who has been fighting for years over ownership of two Renaissance masterpieces seized by the Nazis during World War II won a legal round this week when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a hearing on a California museum's effort to keep her lawsuit from proceeding to trial.

At the center of the fight is Adam and Eve, a pair of life-sized oil paintings by German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. They have hung in Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum for more than 30 years and were appraised at $24 million in 2006.

In court papers dating to 2007, Marei Von Saher says the paintings were seized by the Nazis after her Jewish relatives fled Holland during the Holocaust. The Norton Simon says it legally acquired the works in the 1970s from the descendant of Russian aristocrats who had them wrongly taken by the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

“The Norton Simon Art Foundation remains confident that it holds complete and proper title to Adam and Eve, and will continue to pursue, consistent with its fiduciary duties, all appropriate legal options,” the museum said in a statement Wednesday.

Von Saher's New York attorney, Lawrence Kaye, expressed equal optimism. He noted his client fought successfully with the Dutch government for 10 years to acquire 200 other works taken from her family.

She missed out on Adam and Eve, Kaye said, because the government had already sold those paintings to United States Naval Commander George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff, who said his family lost them to the Soviets before Von Saher's family acquired them.

The case is one of many to emerge in recent years involving precious art looted by the Nazis, although this one involves two masterpieces that took a particularly circuitous route after Cranach painted them around 1530.

The paintings, which originally hung for centuries in a church in the Ukraine, were put up for auction by the Soviet government in 1931, according to court papers. Von Saher's father-in-law, Dutch art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, bought them.

They were among some 800 works seized from his gallery by Nazi official Herman Goring. They were eventually recovered by the Allied Forces group The Monuments Men and handed over to the Netherlands.

Although they were part of what the Soviets called “The Stroganoff Collection” when they auctioned them, Von Saher maintains they were never owned by that family. She sued for their return in 2007.

Federal courts twice dismissed her suits on various grounds, including that they conflicted with U.S. policy leaving it up to the countries the art was turned over to to determine who should have it. Last year, however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the suit involved a dispute “between private parties” and the policy did not apply.

That prompted the Norton Simon to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-21-15 2238GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Another Lucas Cranach the Elder rendition of ‘Adam and Eve,’ 1526. oil on panel. Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London
Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 12:06
 

Painting of Texas A&M mascot missing for 2 decades recovered

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 January 2015 10:15
Texas A&M's official mascot is Reveille, now a purebred collie. The first Reveille, depicted in the missing painting, was a mixed breed dog. A stray, she was adopted by students in 1931. Image by Patrick Boyd. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – A painting of the original Texas A&M University mascot Reveille I missing since the 1990s has been recovered.

A&M officials in College Station on Wednesday afternoon unveiled the artwork of the much-beloved dog.

School authorities on Tuesday announced university police located the painting done in 1943 by College Station artist Marie Haines. Donations helped pay for the artwork commissioned by students and faculty, then presented to the school.

The Reveille I painting disappeared while in storage during renovation of the Military Science Building. The issue was recently revisited in a news story for a Texas A&M former students group.

Corps of Cadets Center curator Lisa Kalmus says she received a tip about someone years ago seeing the painting at a home. University police retrieved the painting last month.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-01-21-15 2335GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Texas A&M's official mascot is Reveille, now a purebred collie. The first Reveille, depicted in the missing painting, was a mixed breed dog. A stray, she was adopted by students in 1931. Image by Patrick Boyd. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 10:29
 

Italy seizes more than 5,000 looted antiquities in record haul

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Written by AFP wire service   
Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:30
A Villanovian double urn. The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy in the seventh century B.C. Image by Sailko. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. ROME (AFP) – The Italian government on Wednesday said police had seized more than 5,000 ancient artifacts in a record 45-million-euro haul after dismantling a Swiss-Italian trafficking ring.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said it was the country's "largest discovery yet" of looted works and consisted of 5,361 pieces, including vases, jewelry, frescoes and bronze statues, all dating from the eighth century B.C. to the third century A.D.

The archaeological treasures came from illegal digs across Italy and "will be returned to where they were found," the minister told reporters.

Police said the items were worth around 45 million euros ($52 million) and were sold across the world with forged certificates of authenticity.

The hoard was discovered as part of an investigation into Italian art dealer Gianfranco Becchina, who owns an art gallery in Switzerland, and his Swiss wife.

The probe, which also involved Swiss police, revealed the existence of a sophisticated smuggling network between the two countries and prompted raids on several warehouses in Basel where hundreds of artifacts were recovered.

Carabinieri general Mariano Mossa, who heads a special Italian police unit specializing in stolen art, said the looted works were sent to Switzerland to be restored before being sold in Germany, Britain, the United States, Japan and Australia using counterfeit provenance papers.

Becchina was detained by Italian police while his wife was arrested by Swiss police.

The Italian authorities have promised to put the artifacts found in the raids on display to the public.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
A Villanovian double urn. The Villanovan culture was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy in the seventh century B.C. Image by Sailko. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:59
 

Boston police make arrest in slaying of artist

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Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:15

BOSTON (AP) - Boston police have made an arrest in connection with the mysterious death of an artist last summer.

Police say 24-year-old Ritcher Baez was arrested Monday in New York City.

Baez is facing a murder charge in connection with the death of 40-year-old Pippin Roe.

Roe's body was found in a wooded area of Boston's Roxbury neighborhood on July 13. Although the body showed no obvious signs of trauma, her death was ruled a homicide.

According to her obituary, Roe had studied in Boston and Amsterdam and graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute. She had recently won an award from the Fitchburg Art Museum.

It's unclear when Baez would return to Massachusetts. It was not known if he has a lawyer.

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Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This information may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:27
 
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