Friday, 25 December 2015

Stolen Paintings: Dutch Silent Embarrassed Foot Shuffling

Veronika Melkozerova
The Dutch story about who has the paintings which mysteriously disappeared from a provincial museum a decade ago is falling apart.  I was drawing attention to the gaping holes in the story from the beginning - for which I was blocked from reading and discussion of Mr Brand's updates where the "investigator" tried to fudge over the discrepancies. Now the whole edifice is being called into question (Veronika Melkozerova, 'Revisiting case of stolen Dutch art work'  Kyiv Post  Dec. 24, 2015):
The picture of what’s going on with stolen Dutch artwork allegedly found in Ukraine just gets cloudier and cloudier. On Dec. 7, the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, the Netherlands accused a Defense Ministry battalion that formerly was the OUN volunteer unit, top officials of the nationalist Svoboda Party and former Security Service chief Ukraine Valentyn Nalyvaychenko of blackmail. [...] The Dutch said all their accusations were based on the results of a private investigation by Dutch art detective Arthur Brand, who was hired by the museum to track down the works. But after 20 days of investigation led by Ukrainian and Dutch law enforcement agencies, the museum changed its position and stopped commenting publicly. Geerdink is no longer linking Tyahnybok and Nalyvaychenko to the case [...]  now Brand doesn’t even talk to the press anymore [...] The SBU [Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny PMB] has denied Brand’s latest claims, and the investigation continues.
"At least", Melkozerova observes, "the Dutch prevented their sale so far on the black market, their stated goal for holding the attention-grabbing Dec. 7 news release". I have very grave reservations about the ethicality of such a mud-slinging stunt in desperation, it remains to be seen if any sale has been prevented, the the mud-slingers were out to damage the reputation of Ukraine, quite clearly with no intention of issuing any kind of retraction. These "investigators" should take into account that this sort of thing potentially has wide repercussions well beyond their narrow parochial interests. The publication of these accusations in such a way is simply crude political blackmail and something museums should not be involved in. Scandalous behaviour.

Previous texts on this blog:

Tinfoil Hats ON (Dutch Painting Affair)
Ukraine "Stolen Dutch Paintings" Story Changed Again

UPDATE 26th December 2015
The tabloid newspaper Telegraaf  Oleh Tyhanybok has already been questioned by the Kiev police about the accusations that he was involved in the fencing of 24 stolen Dutch paintings. It reports that his phone had been tapped. It seems the Dutch authorities love phone-tapping, it is pretty endemic over there (here, here, here and here), and it seems they're happy to see such intrusive behaviour spread to east-central Europe too.

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