For Italy's Art Police, An Ongoing Fight Against Pillage Of Priceless Works


For Italy's Art Police, An Ongoing Fight Against Pillage Of Priceless Works
  1. For Italy's Art Police, An Ongoing Fight Against Pillage Of Priceless Works
    nprberlin.de
    Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum. And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground. But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions. Italy's Carabinieri for Protection of Italy's Cultural H…
    Europe

Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum.

And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground.

But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions.

Italy's Carabinieri for Protection of Italy's Cultural Heritage recently sponsored an exhibit at Rome's Palazzo Barberini museum, showcasing some of its biggest successes.

A fifth grade class of a Roman elementary school came to see some 200 artworks that were stolen and then recovered.

Lt. Sebastiano Antoci, a 20-year veteran of the elite squad, told the kids how its investigations work.

"We tail suspects or use wiretaps so we can listen to the bad guys' phone calls or we check their bank accounts. And when we're out in the field," he said, "we look like everyone else, we don't wear uniforms."

The fifth-graders listened attentively to the art detective as he pointed to two medieval frescoes.

"We recovered the lamb in Switzerland," he said, "and the Christ in the United States. They're back together again for the first time since they were stolen" — in 1978 from a small church in Guidonia, a town south of Rome.

In 1969, Italy created the world's first specialized police force to combat art crime. It now numbers 280 investigators who also safeguard artworks in regions struck by floods and earthquakes. The unit also combats antiquities trafficking fueled by conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

At the Rome exhibit, Antoci showed the schoolchildren a marble sculpture that depicts a man and his two sons. It originates from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra — which recently came under ISIS control.

Adding to his knowledge of art history the excitement of a detective tale, Antoci tells the kids the story of the sculpture, which was tracked down as part of an investigation into financial irregularities and dates back some 2,000 years. "It's a funerary sculpture," he tells them. "The terrorists smuggled it out of Syria and put it on the illicit antiques market. We tracked it down to an Italian businessman in Piedmont, who bought it just it a few months ago."

Gen. Fabrizio Parulli, the commander of this unique police force, explains what's needed to become a good art sleuth. "First of all, you need to be a good investigator," he says.

Speaking in his Rome office — located in a Baroque square that looks like an opera stage set — Parulli says his agents start as police officers and then get specialized training in art history, archaeology, restoration and recognizing counterfeit works.

But the heart of the investigative work is done elsewhere, in a large barracks in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood.

Sitting at a computer, Lt. Francesco Ficarella demonstrates the jewel in the crown of the cultural heritage protection squad — a database known as Leonardo, containing names and photos of close to 6 million registered artworks, mostly from Italy. Of those, 1.2 million are listed as stolen, missing, illegally excavated or smuggled.

Leonardo, he says, "is a crucial instrument not only for our national police forces but also for those abroad — it's the biggest artworks database in the world," he says.

The squad's recovery record is high. In 2014, it managed to recover 137,000 works with…

  1. Cyprus security talks to conclude this month, says source

    Ekathimerini.com - Greece
    01.15 / 16:30 ekathimerini.com
    A working group due to convene on January 18 to hammer out security arrangements for a post-settlement Cyprus will meet for two to three days only, followed by another round of high-level talks, a source close to the Turkish Cypriot side said on…
  2. Yildirim says Turkish guarantees cannot be abandoned (Updated: adds Akinci comments)

    Cyprus-mail.com - Ciprus
    01.15 / 16:28 cyprus-mail.com
    Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday that Turkey’s guarantees on Cyprus could not be abandoned, CNA reported. “Our conditions and our red lines are clear,” he was quoted as saying. “Turkey’s security on Cyprus cannot be abandoned or removed.” However, he added, a federal Cyprus state should satisfy the needs of the two […] The post Yildirim says Turkish guarantees cannot be abandoned (Updated: adds Akinci comments) appeared first…
  3. Dozens Of Diplomats Gather In Paris For Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.15 / 16:12 nprberlin.de
    Foreign Ministers and other diplomats from some 70 different countries have descended on Paris, with the intent to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The summit, which opened Sunday without leaders from either side of the conflict, is expected to urge the establishment of a Palestinian state. "We are here to reiterate strongly that the two-state solution is the only one possible," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in his opening remarks to top envoys at…
  4. Nine Turkish colonels arrested in the north for Gulen links

    Cyprus-mail.com - Ciprus
    01.15 / 15:27 cyprus-mail.com
    Nine Turkish army colonels were detained Sunday in the north as part of ongoing operations by Ankara against US-based Erdogan critic Fetullah Gulen, Turkey’s Andadolou news agency said, according to military sources. The colonels were then deported by two military helicopters to Ankara, Turkish military officials, who asked not to be named due to restrictions […] The post Nine Turkish colonels arrested in the north for Gulen links appeared first on Cyprus…
  5. Greece strives to absorb EU's migration funds

    Ekathimerini.com - Greece
    01.15 / 14:47 ekathimerini.com
    Greece is struggling to make use of EU money for migrants and refugees after having absorbed just a fraction of the 509 million euros in funding for up to…
  6. End of 'wet foot, dry foot' means Cubans can join ranks of the undocumented

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.15 / 13:09 nprberlin.de
    There's a popular saying in Spanish — O todos en la cama, o todos en el suelo. It conveys a selfless commitment to equal treatment, and translates roughly like this: Either we all get the bed, or we all get the floor. Among many immigrants in the U.S., there's been a feeling that when it comes to the spoils of U.S. immigration policy, the government has given Cubans the bed all to themselves, while it has relegated others – Mexicans, Haitians, Central Americans — to the floor. This is becau…
  7. Cyprus security talks to conclude this month -source

    Cyprus-mail.com - Ciprus
    01.15 / 12:04 cyprus-mail.com
    By Michele Kambas A working group due to convene on Jan. 18 to hammer out security arrangements for a post-settlement Cyprus will meet for two to three days only, followed by another round of high-level talks, a source close to the Turkish Cypriot side said on Sunday. Talks in Geneva last week failed to produce […] The post Cyprus security talks to conclude this month -source appeared first on Cyprus…
  8. What we know about Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who wrote the controversial Trump dossier

    LATimes-Europe
    01.15 / 11:15 latimes.com
    He’s a former British spy, a man used to operating in the shadows. Now, however, he is dramatically, and uncomfortably, in the spotlight. Christopher Steele, whom some confidants describe as a real-life Agent 007, has been identified in news reports as the author of a controversial dossier su…
  9. Family who fled hit-and-run trial to finally face justice

    Cyprus-mail.com - Ciprus
    01.15 / 11:03 cyprus-mail.com
    By Andria Kades With the arrest in Greece of Efi Irodotou, Cyprus’ most wanted woman, six years after a warrant was issued against her for the death of Emilios Ioannou, the courts can no longer avoid confronting the allegations of nepotism and corruption that have accompanied the case from the start. Irodotou’s parents were also […] The post Family who fled hit-and-run trial to finally face justice appeared first on Cyprus Mai…
  10. Bird Flu: 63 Locations of Infections in Bulgaria

    Novinite.com - Bulgaria
    01.15 / 09:02 novinite.com
    The number of locations where bird flu cases have been registered has risen to 63, officials say. As many as 430 000 birds have been infected, most of them having been culled already, according to outgoing Agriculture Minister Desislava Taneva. Most of the locations, based in 9 regions in the country, are in the area of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second-largest city. Currently, the resources set aside to deal with the issue amount to BGN 1 M, but are expected to increase to BGN 5-6 M as…
  11. Talks halted by Greek minister’s attitude

    Cyprus-mail.com - Ciprus
    01.15 / 03:37 cyprus-mail.com
    The Conference on Cyprus ended the day it started – at least in terms of level of representation – due to the actions and words of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, the Cyprus Mail has learnt. According to information corroborated by various sources, Kotzias “insulted”, “lectured” and “annoyed” a number of participants at the Conference, […] The post Talks halted by Greek minister’s attitude appeared first on Cyprus Mail…
  12. DOJ Releases Chicago Police Department Report, Updates On Philadelphia

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.15 / 02:55 nprberlin.de
    Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: There is big news this week from the U.S. Justice Department about several major police departments, news that could have reverberations around the country. Federal civil rights lawyers reached an agreement to overhaul the police force in Baltimore. You remember that the death of a young man in police custody there set off days of protests that occasionally turned violent. The very next day, top DOJ officials released a scathing…
  13. World cup skiing cancelled in Switzerland because of too much snow

    Lenews.ch - Switzerland
    01.14 / 21:55 lenews.ch
    According to race organisers, the FIS Alpine World Cup men’s Lauberhorn downhill race was cancelled today. The men’s race was to take place in Wengen in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland. In Wengen, nearly half a metre of snow covered the men’s course and there was no window to prepare the surface, as snow continued throughout the day. The men’s […
  14. Jennifer Holliday Won't Be Performing At Trump Inauguration Event After All

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.14 / 21:47 nprberlin.de
    Just one day after Jennifer Holliday told the media she planned to sing at a welcome concert for President-elect Donald Trump, the Tony Award-winning singer says she has reconsidered. Holliday will not be performing at the inauguration-related event. She announced the turnabout in a letter provided to The Wrap . She wrote, in part: "Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal…
  15. Greek Banks’ NPEs Ease Slightly in Q3 2016

    Greekreporter.com - Greece
    01.14 / 19:32 greekreporter.com
    Non-performing exposures by Greek banks eased slightly in the third quarter of 2016, but banks continue facing significant difficulties in the management of NPEs, the Bank of Greece said in a report released. The central bank, in a report on the Greek Financial System in the third quarter of 2016, said that the value of…
  16. Tsakalotos, Stathakis Meet with Bank Managers Over ADMIE Sale

    Greekreporter.com - Greece
    01.14 / 18:51 greekreporter.com
    The actions needed to ensure the timely conclusion of the privatisation of the country’s power grid operator ADMIE were discussed in a meeting between Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Environment and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, along with the management of Greece’s four biggest lenders, the finance ministry said. According to the ministry, specific actions were agreed on which, [&#…
  17. Watch Live: SpaceX Attempts A High-Stakes Launch, Months After Explosion

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.14 / 17:42 nprberlin.de
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTmbSur4fcs Just months after a launch pad explosion thwarted its last attempt, SpaceX is trying again to launch an unmanned rocket into orbit. The launch, which is set to unfold Saturday at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, marks a crucial — and expensive — test for the private space company in the aftermath of its recent, very visible misfire . SpaceX is live-streaming the launch, which is scheduled to begin at 12:54 p.m. ET. You can watch it here or p…
  18. Zhou Youguang, Architect Of A Bridge Between Languages, Dies At 111

    Nprberlin.de - Germany
    01.14 / 16:41 nprberlin.de
    Zhou Youguang, the inventor of a system to convert Chinese characters into words with the Roman alphabet, died Saturday at the age of 111. Since his system was introduced nearly six decades ago, few innovations have done more to boost literacy rates in China and bridge the divide between the country and the West. Pinyin, which was adopted by China in 1958, gave readers unfamiliar with Chinese characters a crucial tool to understand how to pronounce them. Without such a system, they do not…
  19. Lesvos mayor grants prize money to two fishermen who saved hundreds at sea

    Ekathimerini.com - Greece
    01.14 / 15:49 ekathimerini.com
    Authorities on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos have announced that the money from the 2016 Olof Palme prize awarded to its mayor will be used to help two heroic fishermen whose boats sank under the weight of last week’s heavy…
  20. Opening Remarks on Cyprus Showed There’s Hope for a Solution – UN Special Adviser

    Greekreporter.com - Greece
    01.14 / 15:08 greekreporter.com
    The opening remarks made in Geneva on Cyprus talks showed there’s hope that this dispute can be resolved, but difficult issues remain, UN’s Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide said on Friday during a press conference in Geneva. Eide noted that Thursday’s remarks “conveyed a strong message of hope that this long-standing dispute can [……