Three Art Crimes Stories for the Weekend

July 18, 2020

1. I'm particularly excited for a documentary that will be premiering on Amazon next month called Driven to Abstraction. The film documents the Knoedler scandal--the $80 million forgery scheme that rocked the art world and brought down New York City’s oldest continuously operating gallery. The crime was perpetrated by Glafira Rosales and her boyfriend José Carlos Bergantiños Diaz, who obtained their bogus art from forger Pei-Shen Qian. Qian fled the United States for his native China to avoid extradition and prosecution. Bergantiños also fled the country and is a fugitive living in Spain. 

 

I wrote extensively about the Knoedler scandal in my book The Art of The Con, which can be purchased here or here

 

 

 

.2. There was an unusual art exhibition at the Same Gallery in Tokyo on July 10. Called the Exhibition of Stealable Art, the only people not invited were security personnel. Instead, the exhibitors encouraged visitors to steal any works that appealed to them. 

 

The exhibition was expected to last 10 days. Instead, 200 people showed up and all the art was gone in minutes. 

 

Makes me shudder!

 

3. Two people broke into the Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum in Canada early last Saturday by breaking a lock on a door. When the museum's alarms alerted the museum's director and curator to an intrusion, she checked the CCTV from home and saw what she described as two Indigenous people in their early 20’s, one wearing a long-sleeved Fox jacket and the other wearing a long sleeve Crooks and Castle hoodie.

 

The thieves only took an old cash box with keys to the museum, which means that the institution needs to re-core all of their locks, an effort of some expense. But, fortunately, no pieces from the collection were taken.

 

Judging by the fact that a cash box was the only thing taken, it's safe to assume that this was a common robbery with cash as a target. And it's also very likely that the culprits were acting out of desperation as opposed to a desire for a master key!

 

 

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