Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dutch treat: loaning out millions of Euros in art works with option to steal

 Wikipedia defines "lost art works" as:

"Original pieces of art that credible sources indicate once existed but that cannot be accounted for in Museums or private collections or are known to have been destroyed or neglected through ignorance and lack of connoisseurship."

Self-portrait, (1976), Karel Appel

How many times have we loaned out a book or CD to someone and somehow it simply never finds its way home?

When I worked in Tripoli, Libya for three years (1977 - 80) as senior attorney for Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OxyLibya), one of the cultural shocks was watching vital files and documents walk out of our legal/translation office: missing, usually gone forever.

If this happened in my Minnesota law practice, I would have suffered severe hypertension or worse.

We used to joke In Tripoli (after awhile the malaise and fatalism of doing business in Libya sinks in) that these files simply "went away."

I'll never forget when Oxylibya's senior VP of drilling told other senior management because of a survey error, he drilled a $3 million hole in the the wrong place.

No pasa nada.

There's more where that came from, seemed to be the attitude.

More malaise, more negligence.

But how un-Dutch to treat millions of Euros worth of the government's rich art collections as used books or CDs on loan.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide last week reported that 3,000 valuable paintings and other objects of art loaned to ministries and local councils to spruce up their walls, culturally enrich their workers, have walked out the door,

Gone away, not likely to find their way home.

"Interior with Child," Isaac van Ostade

The vanished works include paintings by 17th C. artists Isaac van Ostade and Pieter Molyn.

As well, paintings by the Paris-based Cobra (avant-garde movement): Karel Appel, Constant, Corneille, Asger Jorn, Christian Dotremont and Joseph Noiret, who signed a manifesto in 1948, "La Cause Etait Etendue" (the case was settled), seeking color and form without constraint.

Former minister of culture Ronald Plasterk in March 2007 said only 200 of the disappeared works have been recovered.

If they had been ripped off the walls by thieves and promptly reported stolen, most would likely be back with the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (The Dutch agency entrusted to protect and conserve national cultural treasures.).

Pastoral scene (1624) Pieter Molyn

Dutch authorities said they have not recovered any of the walk-away art works in the last three years, which also include Ming Dynasty vases, sculptures and antique furniture.

This faux agency should plead guilty to gross negligence in its connoisseurship, in its cultural stewardship.

How many heads have been axed? Likely none.

If anyone knows any more about this cultural tragedy, please e-mail me at:

The same cultural do-gooders in the Netherlands said they hold little hope of recovering most of the lost cultural loot.

This follows the same pattern of most stolen works of art: If not recovered within hours, days or a few months, the odds are you will never see them again for decades, if ever.

It must be reassuring to Dutch citizens that its arts aparatchiks are tightening rules on their borrow-with-option-to-steal, intra-governmental enrichment program.
"New Babylon" (1959), Constant
Rock on and practice peace and love.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." By Jimmy Hendrix, paraphrasing William Gladstone (1809 - 1898), who said: 

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace."

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM).

ArtTraveler video: Take a 58-second look at a flash fiesta, part of Spanish Carnival that engaged our village children last week, a slice of Andalusian rural, mountain life.

If you would like a walking holiday in our mountains or a week-long workshop in mosaics or sculpture, see: and


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