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Crime & Litigation



US drops effort to reclaim mummy mask for Egypt

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Written by JIM SALTER, Associated Press   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:15
An Egyptian death mask from the 18th dynasty at the Louvre in Paris. Image by Anonymous - Rama. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France. ST. LOUIS (AP) – A 3,200-year-old mummy mask at the center of a years-long custody fight will stay at the St. Louis Art Museum now that the U.S. government is giving up its fight to reclaim it for Egypt.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said Tuesday that the Department of Justice will take no further legal action to reclaim the funeral mask of Lady Ka-Nefer-Nefer, a noblewoman who died in 1186 B.C.

The mask went missing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo more than 40 years ago. The St. Louis Art Museum said it researched the provenance of the mask and legitimately bought it in 1998.

A federal judge ruled in 2012 that the U.S. government provided no evidence of “theft, smuggling or clandestine importation.” An appeals court panel later agreed.

“We were relying on the lack of any records showing a lawful transfer,” Callahan said. “The court ended up deciding that wasn't enough to lead to an inference of stealing.”

A message seeking comment from Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Museum attorney David Linenbroker applauded the decision, saying: “We believe that it received a full and fair proceeding, and we're glad that it's finally coming to an end.”

The mask is 20 inches (50 centimeters) long, made of painted and gilded plaster-coated linen over wood with inlaid glass eyes. It was excavated from one of the Saqqara pyramids, south of Cairo, in 1952.

U.S. government investigators suspected that the mask was stolen sometime between 1966, when it was shipped to Cairo for an exhibit, and 1973, when the Egyptian Museum discovered it was missing.

The art museum bought the mask in 1998 for $499,000 from a New York art dealer. The museum's research showed that the mask was part of the Kaloterna private collection during the 1960s, before a Croatian collector, Zuzi Jelinek, bought it in Switzerland and later sold it to the dealer, Phoenix Ancient Art of New York, in 1995.

Egyptian officials began trying to get the mask back once they learned of its whereabouts in 2006. Negotiations failed, prompting the legal fight between the U.S. government and the art museum that began in 2011.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-29-14 1842GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
An Egyptian death mask from the 18th dynasty at the Louvre in Paris. Image by Anonymous - Rama. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 09:27
 

Greece’s antiquities protection department arrests one of its own

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 25 July 2014 10:38

'Antinous,' an example of Roman Hellenistic sculpture at the Delphi Archaeological Museum in Greece. Image by Ricardo Andre Frantz. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A police officer from Greece's antiquities protection department has been arrested and accused of being part of a smuggling ring that was trying to sell an ancient marble statue worth an estimated 1 million euros ($1.35 million).

Police said on Thursday that the 49-year-old officer was arrested with eight other suspects, following raids and searches at 11 areas in greater Athens and two others in towns in central and northern Greece.

The almost intact 1,900-year-old Greco-Roman era statue of a male figure measures 65 centimeters (25.5 inches) from head-to-knee, and is being kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Police did not say whether the statue had been stolen or illegally excavated, but added that a "large number" of less valuable ancient artifacts had also been seized.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-24-14 1444GMT




ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

'Antinous,' an example of Roman Hellenistic sculpture at the Delphi Archaeological Museum in Greece. Image by Ricardo Andre Frantz. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. 

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 11:00
 

Hall of Famer Jim Brown sues Lelands over '64 championship ring

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 24 July 2014 15:50
Autographed photo of Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Saco River Auction Co.

NEW YORK (AP) – Hall of Fame football star Jim Brown – running out of time to retrieve his 1964 NFL championship ring – has sued a memorabilia dealer.

The 78-year-old Los Angeles resident filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Manhattan federal court against Lelands.com and Lelands Collectibles Inc.

The lawsuit seeks to halt the sale of the ring in an online auction that ends Friday. It also seeks unspecified damages over broadcast remarks that Lelands' founder, Joshua Evans, made about Brown.

A message left Wednesday with Evans was not immediately returned.

According to the lawsuit, the ring was stolen from Brown's Cleveland home in the late 1960s and the robbery was reported to the police.

The lawsuit also accused Evans of making statements in print and broadcast interviews in recent weeks that implied Brown has diminished mental capacity as a result of taking thousands of hits as a football player. On at least one broadcast, though, Evans could be heard describing Brown as the greatest football player of all time and saying Brown was aware that a family member had sold the ring in the 1990s.

The lawsuit said the ring is priceless to the former Cleveland Browns player. The highest bid was $58,948 Wednesday afternoon.

Brown, who works as a Browns special adviser, rushed for 12,312 yards and scored 106 touchdowns in nine seasons before retiring at the peak of his career in 1965. In 1964, he rushed for 1,446 yards and scored seven touchdowns as the Browns won the championship – the last for any major Cleveland sports franchise.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-23-14 2013GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Autographed photo of Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Saco River Auction Co.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 16:10
 

Judge rules: Students, staff can oppose Corcoran merger

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Written by BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:13
The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. WASHINGTON (AP) – Nine current students, faculty and staff members can argue against the proposed merger of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, one of the nation's oldest museums, and its college with two larger institutions in Washington, a judge ruled Monday.

District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert Okun decided the group has a special interest in the merger, noting the students have paid tens of thousands of dollars in tuition to the Corcoran college, and could possibly be harmed by the deal. They will be allowed to intervene and present arguments on the Corcoran's future in hearings scheduled to begin July 28.

The Corcoran's board is seeking to merge the museum founded in 1869 and its art college with George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art after years of financial shortfalls and daunting renovation needs.

Allowing students and faculty to intervene and oppose the merger was a key decision that will force full arguments over the nonprofit Corcoran's plans. The only other party to the case, the D.C. government, is supporting the merger plan.

In his ruling, Okun noted the students are “challenging a proposal that would alter the very nature of their institution” as their college would become part of the larger George Washington University. Seven students were granted intervener status in the case, along with one current faculty member and one current staff member.

Student government leaders Camila Rondon, Miguel Perez and one of their former professors clasped hands in celebration as Okun read his decision. They called the ruling a victory in an effort to save a school and museum they love.

“We're the ones that basically have been paying the bills for the Corcoran, and we just love this place, and we don't want to see it go down,” said Rondon, who is president of the Corcoran Student Association.

Perez, the student government's vice president, said it's been tough taking on their own school administration in court. But the student plaintiffs are hopeful the merger can be stopped.

“I think as art students, it's something that we do. We fight the man,” he said. “And even though that man is our institution, an institution that we love very much, I think it's difficult but it's not undoable.”

Lawyers for the Corcoran's board argued that even if the merger plans were to be stopped, there would still be dire consequences for students and faculty.

“If the transaction were not to move forward, those same injuries or worse would occur,” said attorney Charles Patrizia.

If the Corcoran is forced to use its dwindling resources to operate its college for another year, he said, the Corcoran would likely have to close its museum and fire curators. There would be no guarantee of the college's future beyond one year, he said.

After the hearing, Patrizia said the ruling was not a setback for the Corcoran but that the judge was trying to understand the case. Based on an expedited schedule for hearings, a decision could still be reached before the next school year, which the Corcoran has said is imperative.

“It's going to provide certainty for students and staff and faculty, and that's important,” Patrizia said.

The judge ruled against allowing a larger group called Save the Corcoran to intervene because the organization as a whole would not be injured by the merger. The group, which includes students, former faculty, donors and staff, has argued the Corcoran has been badly mismanaged and could survive as an independent museum with better fundraising and management.

___

Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat .

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-21-14 1937GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
The Corcoran Gallery and School of Art in Washington, D.C. Image by APK is gonna miss Jeffpw. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:38
 

Museum benefactors raise $80M toward Detroit bankruptcy deal

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Written by COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press   
Friday, 18 July 2014 10:55

Pablo Picasso 'Femme assise' (Melancoly Woman), 1902-03, in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Institute of Arts says it has pledges for about 80 percent of the $100 million it promised toward an effort involving the state of Michigan and major foundations to prevent the sale of art and soften cuts to city retirees during Detroit's bankruptcy.

It announced nearly $27 million in new donations and grants from prominent businesses Wednesday, including $10 million from billionaire Roger Penske and his Penske Corp.

Other donations announced Wednesday include $5 million from Detroit-based utility DTE Energy, and $5 million from Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Meijer Inc., Comerica Bank, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Consumers Energy and the Delta Air Lines Foundation also made pledges.

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in June said they are kicking in $26 million as part of the museum's $100 million pledge toward a “grand bargain” that is a key piece to the city's restructuring plans heading into next month's bankruptcy trial. Other pieces include $195 million from the state to Detroit's two retirement systems and about $366 million from more than a dozen foundations. Over 20 years, the total value would be $816 million.

Home to paintings and sculptures by Van Gogh, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Renoir and other masters, the DIA is one of the nation's top art museums. Much of the art is considered an asset of the city, which purchased many of the pieces years ago during prosperous times.

Syncora, a bond insurer, is among some creditors that believe the sale of art should at least be explored to help pay the city's debts.

“The art ... needs to be considered as an asset to determine the appropriate treatment of creditors,” said James Sprayregen, a partner and head of restructuring for Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, which is representing Syncora in Detroit's bankruptcy. “The way the grand bargain is structured, it doesn't do that.”

Sprayregen says Syncora's bankruptcy claim is approximately $400 million.

An advisory company hired by the DIA and the city has said 60,377 pieces in the museum, collectively, could be worth more than $4.6 billion, but could fetch only about $1.1 billion in a forced liquidation. An earlier appraisal by an auction house placed the value of 2,800 city-owned pieces at between $454 million and $867 million.

“The $800 million-plus that has been contributed, in all likelihood would have been at least as good as if you had tried to liquidate (the art),” Mayor Mike Duggan said after Wednesday's announcement. “The DIA is essential to this city and it will be protected for the long run. But more importantly, we're protecting retiree pensions for a long time.”

With the grand bargain money, nonuniformed retirees would see their pensions cut by 4.5 percent and cost-of-living allowances erased. Some cost-of-living payments for retired police and firefighters would be eliminated.

A majority of approximately 32,000 retirees and city workers needed to vote “yes” on the city's plan of adjustment for restructuring its debt, or the grand bargain money would disappear and steeper pension cuts would be inevitable. Results of that vote are expected to be released next week.

“It is a historic time for our city when such a diverse group of individuals, government, corporations and foundations come together to take this positive step in the process of revitalizing Detroit,” Penske said. “It sets the tone for the work yet to be done. I am optimistic about the future of the city and its citizens.”

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-07-16-14 2350GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

 Pablo Picasso 'Femme assise' (Melancoly Woman), 1902-03, in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 11:08
 
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