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  • January 31, 2024 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from TCU 360

    The pre-Columbian antiquities housed in a glass case in Scharbauer Hall don’t just tell stories from ancient times, they also have a pretty good tale from 2001.  Known as the Moorehead collection in honor of the couple who donated them, the pieces were the center of a heist from TCU and a lawsuit regarding their value.  At the time of the theft, the Andean artifacts were housed in the Mary Couts Burnett Library after Donald and Shelley Moorehead donated them in 1997. Even before the theft, there were questions about the collection’s value. This led to an investigation of tax fraud and an appraiser filed suit. When two professors went to look at the collection, they found empty boxes and shards of broken pottery when they entered the basement area where they were stored. “It should definitely be noted that over 400 individuals had access to the room such as student workers, faculty, maintenance, staff and instructional personnel,” said Ph.D. student, Michael Fung. He and other students in Dr. Alex Hidalgo’s graduate seminar, “Collecting the Mesoamerican Past,” have been studying the heist. They recently discussed their findings with the Center for Texas Studies and the Friends of the Fort Worth Library

    After breaking news to the media, the public was incentivized to return the stolen artifacts. A tip from Houston led to the recovery of 10 pieces and a private investigator helped recover an additional 66.  The suspect David Earl Word was arrested in connection with the theft. Word worked as a temporary painter at the library between 1998 and 2000.  Many other institutions have fallen victim to the tax fraud artifacts scheme as Texas is a popular import for art theft. “Pre-Columbian antiquities are much more present in Texas life than one would imagine, and Texas has a long history of serving as a transit station or destination for illicit antiquities,” Hidalgo said.

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  • January 31, 2024 7:52 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from NYTimes

    A fire in Abkhazia, a Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia, destroyed thousands of paintings early Sunday morning, devastating a collection that locals had cherished as a national treasure — albeit of a country only recognized as such by Russia and some of its allies, including Syria and Venezuela. Almost 4,000 paintings belonging to the National Gallery of Abkhazia were destroyed when a fire swept through an exhibition hall in central Sukhumi, the region’s capital, Abkhazia’s acting culture minister said in a statement. The minister, Dinara Smyr, said that those included 300 works by Aleksandr Chachba-Sharvashidze, a celebrated Abkhazian artist and stage designer, who worked with renowned artists and theaters in Russia and France. “This is an irreparable loss for Abkhazia’s national culture,” she said. The National Gallery is more of a storage space than a museum, however.

    Residents rushed to the scene on Sunday to rescue paintings, but only 200 artworks were removed from the burning building. Photos from the scene, released by Apsnypress, a local news agency, showed people carrying framed canvases, some charred and burned. Local law enforcement officials said they were investigating all possible causes, including arson. The director of the gallery, Suram Sakaniya, blamed a short circuit for the fire, according to the news agency.

    Abkhazia, a mountainous region on the Black Sea with a population of about 245,000, is internationally recognized as part of Georgia. Since the late 1980s, its status has been disputed, and the dying Soviet Union stirred up tensions between the ethnic Abkhaz and Georgian people who both populated the area at the time. In 1994, after a bloody war of secession against Georgian forces, Abkhazia enacted a constitution declaring itself a sovereign state. This was followed by decades of crisis, underfunding and neglect. Many of the region’s resorts, once famed throughout the Soviet Union, have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair. Local authorities promised to build a dedicated building for the gallery, so the art could be displayed on a regular basis, but it never materialized. The National Gallery had to store its entire collection crammed together in a few rooms at the top of the exhibition hall used by the local union of artists. The fire destroyed the building’s roof and the entire floor where the works were stored. In 2008, after a five-day war with Georgia, Russia recognized Abkhazia as an independent state. Moscow established a full-fledged military base in the region and has been holding sway over Abkhazia’s politics and finances. Georgia considers Abkhazia to be under Russian occupation.

    In 2016, speaking about the gallery’s state in an interview with a local news website, Mr. Sakaniya, the director, characterized his institution’s premises as “not suited for storing paintings, nor exhibiting them in any way.” In a statement on Monday, President Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia blamed the fire in Abkhazia on “the neglect of cultural identity both by the de facto leadership and the Russian occupants.” The fire was “a tragedy for us all,” Ms. Zourabichvili said in a statement on X. Established in 1963 as part of a regional state museum, the National Gallery of Abkhazia collects works by local and Russian artists. Russia’s Culture Minister, Olga Lyubimova, promised to send Russian specialists to help restore the surviving paintings. But Mr. Sakaniya, the gallery director, told Apsnypress that the damage would hit hard at Abkhazia’s sense of itself. “It is impossible to assess the damage done to the Abkhaz culture,” he said. “I walk around, and I cry.”

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  • January 31, 2024 7:43 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from National Crime Agency

    Storage facilities are often used to store high value artworks and other cultural objects, due to the special conditions required to prevent damage, or for security reasons. Such facilities provide a discreet and secure storage service to art collectors, but also represent money laundering and terrorist financing vulnerabilities.Some other entities offer storage services in addition to their main business purpose, which may include logistics, packing, transport, removals, installations, gallery displays, restorations, valuations, auction representations and sales, and online/physical retail sales.Such services may be manipulated by criminals in order to facilitate illicit activity. Criminals may recruit professional enablers working in these fields to assist them in obfuscating and conducting criminal activity through wilful blindness and/or active participation. Illicit activity may be hidden amongst legitimate activity, making it harder to detect.

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  • January 31, 2024 7:33 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from BBC News

    The 16th Century painting by Leonardo da Vinci is one of the world's most famous artworks and is held at the Louvre in central Paris. The Louvre said the work was behind protective glass and was not damaged. Video shows two female protesters wearing T-shirts that read "food counterattack" throwing the liquid. They then stand in front of the painting, saying: "What is more important? Art or the right to healthy and sustainable food? "Your agricultural system is sick. Our farmers are dying at work," they add. Museum security are then seen putting black screens in front of them before the room is evacuated. A group called Riposte Alimentaire (Food Counterattack) claimed responsibility for the stunt. In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, it said the protest was part of efforts to integrate "food into the general social security system". It said that the current model for food "stigmatises the most precarious and does not respect our fundamental right to food". The group called for a food card worth €150 (£128) to be given to citizens each month to be used on food. The Louvre said that members of Riposte Alimentaire, which it described as an environmental movement, sprayed pumpkin soup on the painting at around 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT), and that there was no damage. It said the Salle des Etats, where the work is displayed, was evacuated, and reopened to visitors at 11:30 after cleaning was carried out. "The museum will lodge a complaint," it added. Rachida Dati, France's Minister for Culture, said "no cause" could justify the Mona Lisa being targeted. "Like our heritage [the painting] belongs to future generations," she said on X. The French capital has seen protests by farmers in recent days, calling for an end to rising fuel costs and for regulations to be simplified - on Friday they blocked key roads in and out of Paris. The Mona Lisa has been behind safety glass since the early 1950s, when it was damaged by a visitor who poured acid on it. In 2019, the museum said it had installed a more transparent form of bulletproof glass to protect it.

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  • January 31, 2024 7:10 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from Allied Universal

    The Allied Universal® 2024 Intelligence Outlook is an essential resource for any business operating locally or globally. This comprehensive report provides a thorough analysis of geopolitical risks across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. By highlighting key issues and their potential impact on physical security, political stability, and economic security, the report helps businesses make informed decisions and mitigate potential risks.
    Whether you're a multinational corporation or a small business with local, regional, or global operations, the Allied Universal® 2024 Intelligence Outlook Report is an invaluable tool for navigating complex geopolitical challenges and ensuring the safety and success of your business.

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  • January 17, 2024 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from EMR-ISAC

    Adversaries can deliberately confuse or even “poison” artificial intelligence (AI) systems to make them malfunction — and there’s no foolproof defense that their developers can employ. Computer scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their collaborators identify these and other vulnerabilities of AI and machine learning (ML) in a new publication.

    Their work, titled Adversarial Machine Learning: A Taxonomy and Terminology of Attacks and Mitigations (NIST.AI.100-2), is part of NIST’s broader effort to support the development of trustworthy AI, and it can help put NIST’s AI Risk Management Framework into practice.

    The publication, a collaboration among government, academia and industry, is intended to help AI developers and users get a handle on the types of attacks they might expect along with approaches to mitigate them — with the understanding that there is no silver bullet.

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  • January 17, 2024 7:49 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from ArtNet News

    An man was arrested after he was caught on the roof of a gallery in the Arizona city of Scottsdale, foiling his attempt to steal around $250,000 worth of art on January 7. Harpreet Singh, 32, was charged with two counts of criminal trespass and burglary and one count of theft for his attempted heist at American Fine Art, Inc., Maricopa County Jail records show. Artnet News reached out to the gallery and the Scottsdale Police Department but did not hear back by press time. Officers responded to a 911 call of a burglary in progress from the gallery’s alarm company around 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, Arizona Family reported. An employee had also noticed several pieces of artwork missing from the walls and heard someone talking in the office above the gallery. When police arrived, they found a BMW sedan with California license plates back into an alley near an emergency access ladder leading to the roof and surrounded the building. Singh was arrested before he could make his escape. Zach Friedman, a local business owner, called the attempted heist “pretty unbelievable” with “people running across roofs like it’s Mission Impossible” in his remarks to Arizona Family. According to KTAR, police recovered a small drill, a glass breaking tool and a flashlight. Singh was reportedly arrested without incident and the artworks he allegedly attempted to steal were found scattered on the roof and that of adjacent buildings. 

    The pieces stolen reportedly included works by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The $250,000 estimate reported by local news was based on initial reports and Arizona Family later added that the value may be much higher, in the millions of dollars. Police also recovered a Nevada driver's license and passports in Singh’s car. He has previously been convicted of felony charges in California, KTAR reported, and was on pre-trial release for an alleged burglary there at the time of the heist. Investigators are reportedly looking for signs of a larger art theft operation, Arizona Family reported. “Perhaps there was a buyer already in line for the pieces of art that were stolen,” Jim Egelston, a former FBI agent, told Arizona Family. “It would be very difficult to pawn items of priceless art that are very unique. It would be hard to sell those online.”

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  • January 17, 2024 7:44 AM | Anonymous

    Webinar: Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Resources for Artists and Art and Cultural Institutions

    January 23, 2024

    2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will co-host a webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to promote collaboration between emergency management professionals, artists, art and cultural institutions in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. 

    The webinar will feature presentations from the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Responsethe Craft Emergency Relief Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts and FEMA. Attendees will learn about government and non-government resources available to help prepare for and respond to disasters.   

    For further questions, please contact 

    Please Register Here

  • January 17, 2024 7:33 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from US Dept of State

    The U.S. Department of State’s Cultural Heritage Center leads the United States cultural heritage diplomacy efforts through grants and exchanges that protect and preserve culture worldwide. Disrupting trafficking is an important part of these efforts. Last autumn we brought together in London global leaders in technology, law enforcement, and cultural heritage digital collections for the first-ever International Workshop on Technology Solutions to Disrupt Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property. The goal was to further explore key strategies and tactics using emerging technologies to combat trafficking in art, antiquities, and other cultural objects. In particular, the international cohort of experts explored the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to aid law enforcement, inform museum acquisition policies, and support academic research. Cultural property takes many forms, and a variety of laws control its movement. Customs officers and investigators rely on tools to quickly and accurately identify cultural objects – especially ones uncovered through illegal excavations or not yet inventoried. Cultural property trafficking is a serious transnational crime requiring collaboration with global partners. It is linked to terrorist financing, transnational organized groups, money laundering, smuggling, and counterfeiting.

    Cultural property trafficking deprives communities of their history and identity, erodes the legal art market, and harms our public institutions. We organized the workshop on behalf of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee, a federal inter-agency group that works together to protect and preserve international cultural property at risk from political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters. The workshop’s 60 participants included law enforcement and cultural representatives from INTERPOL, Europol, and the governments of Brazil, France, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.  We also hosted technology firms Google Arts & Culture, Art Recognition, Artrendex LLC, Fraunhofer Institute SIT, and Truepic. We were also honored to include personnel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and scholars from the American Center of Research, the UK’s Archaeology Data Service, Open Context, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center. The U.S. government was represented by the Department of State, Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Army.

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  • January 17, 2024 7:25 AM | Anonymous

    Reposted from BBC

    Two British brothers have admitted raiding a museum in Switzerland and making off with iconic Chinese Ming dynasty era artefacts worth millions in order to "clear a debt", a court heard. Prosecutors said the Museum of Far Eastern Art in Geneva was burgled in June 2019 by a gang of three who used tools to break through the front door. They fought extradition from the UK, but it was approved by the Home Secretary in 2022. Patrick Monney, the president of the court, rejected a last-minute application for the trial to be heard in private. He added that the court was aware of the facts of the case from reports by the Swiss Prosecutors Office and Geneva Police and explained the purpose of the hearing was to "ask additional questions".

    The court heard that the two brothers travelled to Hong Kong shortly after the raid to sell one of the stolen items to an auction house for £80,000. The 34-year-old to confirmed he went to "film the museum" and "took part in the burglary". He also admitted giving his passport to the auction house in Hong Kong. "I was in debt," he told the court. "I was paid to be a front man to clear a debt. In the [CCTV] video I am the third person [going into the museum] with no crowbar and no sledgehammer." Throughout the hearing, the brothers insisted they didn't want to name the third person involved. Stewart Ahearne, 45, told the court he has five children and worked as a tradesman in England. He also admitted to using his name to hire the Renault Captur car, used in the heist, from Avis at Geneva Airport. He told the court he "took full responsibility" for his actions but denied being involved in any pre-planning of the heist in Geneva. "I went into the museum. I stole some stuff. Any organization, anything to do with the artwork I didn't know nothing," he said. He added that he was "used as a pawn like in a game of chess" during the heist: "I was asked to come to Switzerland to do some driving. The story, the scenario changed with the third person. He is not someone you can say no to. He is not a very nice person. My role was I was used. "I got a phone call telling me my brother was in debt and that I was needed to bring back some stuff. Alarm bells started ringing. My instinct as an older brother was to protect my brother."

    The court heard the three came to Geneva in February 2019. Louis Ahearne said this was for "tourist" purposes, but Stewart Ahearne said he "put two and two together" after the burglary. "It was so the third person could do some scouting," he added. He broke down when answering questions about his life in Champ-Dollon prison, saying he spends his time in a cell by himself for 23 hours a day.  Two 14th Century vases and a bowl were taken in the heist. Stewart and Louis Ahearne admitted their involvement at a court in Geneva. The pair, from south-east London, appeared before a panel of three judges at the Palais de Justice in Geneva on Monday facing charges of theft, trespass and damage to property.

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