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Art Theft

A masterlist of the works stolen from Brigham Young University was published in the late 1980's, but this recently has been digitized, a result of hopes buoyed by the return of the J. Alden Weir still life painting, once in the hands of the Thyssen Collection in Spain (Read Silver Chalice with Roses). Aided by the modern miracle of the search engine, three to five of these paintings have shown up at auction and one in a museum.

A Childe Hassam painting complete with Brigham Young University provenance via the Weir family to whom the work was inscribed, passed through a Shannon’s Auction sale in October of 2004. Also noted was a large Ernest Blumenshein painting in a Sotheby’s Arcade sale in April 1995, and a John Frederic Kensett painting that sold at Christies in 1989.

THE BINGHAM 1Childe Hassam (1859-1935), Brittany Lighthouse

All of these works, plus a few more that may have gone through other sales, perhaps reinforce the notion that the Art Loss Register for years, has functioned as window dressing for the auction houses?

A week ago a NY Times article made the Art Loss Register look like able bounty hunters (Click here to read), but it overlooks a conflict of interest in the auction houses owning a piece of a registry meant to vet title. This would be like Goldman Sachs owning Standard and Poors or another rating agency.

Someday, their list will become transparent with the release of this data occurring to help a museum so shamefully treated in the past. Better days are coming, and in an era of digital transparency, those who dare not ride the Google train, will get run over by it.

THE BINGHAM 2Click through To The Masterlist

THE BINGHAM 3Click through To The Masterlist

Click through here to the Masterlist

Editor's note: This article first published 26/09/2013

About the Author

Robert Alexander Boyle

Robert Alexander Boyle

 Alexander Boyle is a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, CT where he majored in History. Prior to graduation he co-authored the seminal book Acid Rain in 1983. Alex has worked for the Metropo...