Monday, June 19, 2006

Chicago: Art Crime Capital?

You Can’t Make this Up

This image is from this site. It has a great story about a French art cleptomanic.

There is now a suspect in custody in connection with the recent theft of artworks from Francine Turk Gallerie. God, fame is a bitch. After her work appeared in the movie The Break-Up, 10 of Turks works were stolen from her gallery. I’m pretty sure it is an art world faux pas to run a gallery that only shows your work and is named after you. And the European-style of “gallerie,” is actually spelled “galerie.” At any rate, the pilfered pieces are valued at $35,000. And so when her intern, Michael Gutweiler was taken into custody his bail was set at $50,000. You know, since it was such a serious, violent and brutal crime. Unfortunately the missing artworks have yet to be recovered and are most likely in the big art warehouse in the sky along with the stolen Scream and Madonna by Edward Munch. Not the Henry Moore sculptures though, those have been melted down and sold as raw metal.

The Tribune article goes on to reveal Gutweiler’s past, ostensibly because it explains his decent into the deep dark world of art theft. It is a little sensationalistic since it talks about the death of his mother in a car accident when he was 15. It even pulls quotes from an article at the time where Gutweiler said it ruined his life. The implication then, of course, is that this is what led him down a path towards crime. Really, though, the true indicator is that he is a student at Columbia College. Everyone knows what troublemakers those kids are.

The story is all over the local media, TV segments even sported his mugshot this morning. Do you think anyone would care this much if Turk’s art hadn’t appeared in a movie? Probably not. Not to devalue the loss of having one’s artwork stolen. It is a really awful thing to go through. But it is reported on CBS’ website by entertainment newsman Bill Zwecker in his blog Zwecker’s People. We learn Jennifer Anniston purchased a Turk during the filming and that in one seen Judy Davis appears to be making a drawing, which is really by Turk.

We also want to point out that artwork by other Chicago artists Wesley Kimler and Gary Weidner is also in the film. Their pieces have not been stolen, so they must not be newsworthy.

More Art Crimes

Via FOX Chicago’s website (but don’t worry, it’s an AP story and it’s not FOX News)
    (06.16.06-AP) — A suburban Chicago woman who co-owns a downtown art gallery has been sentenced to three years' probation for owning a headdress made from the feathers of protected birds. 

Claudia Ashleigh-Morgan of Oak Brook was also fined $12,000 Thursday and must perform 600 hours of community service. 

She pleaded guilty in April to owning the headdress and lying to federal agents. 

She and partner Glen Joffe own Primitive Art Works, a gallery in Chicago's River North neighborhood. 

He's also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in August. 

The pair first came to the attention of agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003 after they appeared in a newspaper article with items that looked as if they had been made from endangered species.
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t pose in front of illegal artworks under any circumstance.


graham said...

Although it's been done plenty of times, it is not considered an artworld faux pas to open a gallery under your own name and then fill it with your own work. It's just considered vulgar and pathetic.

And that kid might have done it because of psychological scars accrued from the death of his mom and being a Columbia student; but I suspect the incentive mostly came from his being an unpaid intern.

Anonymous said...

So she decided on a different spelling of gallery...nobody has a problem with your spelling of scene (seen?).