Art Crimes in Australia (in progress)

Avant in Procession by Vincent Jean-Baptiste Chevillard was the first painting  to be stolen in Australia; the small painting was taken in 1885 but fortunately it is still in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia. I am still working on my book on art crimes.

Avant in Procession by Vincent Jean-Baptiste Chevillard
(image courtesy of the Art Gallery of South Australia)

At first the book was just going to be about Melbourne’s art crimes but I have since expanded it to cover art crimes in Australia. I did’t want to buy into the old interstate rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney and I had already written about several art crimes that involved interstate and international elements. There are also several interstate true crime stories that were too tempting for me not to write about including the fake Pollock exhibition that toured Australia. Then I got a scoop about Picasso’s La belle Hollandaise taken from the Queensland Art Gallery and I’ll leave that as a teaser.  

So as part of my seemly endless research for this book, please contact me if you can help with any of the following.

Can anyone suggest any politically motivated crimes involving art outside of Melbourne, apart from the decapitation of statues (see my post about Australia’s most controversial sculptures).

Any interesting crimes involving graffiti that are not from Melbourne, aside from Buga-up.

Any art crime in Tasmania, as it is one state or territory where I haven’t heard of even a stolen painting.

Any of the relatives of Constantin Celli, an artist who trained in Florence, who was residing in Paddington in 1906 when he was exploited by some crooked antique dealers, because I’d like to find out what happened to him later in his life.

The current owners of a miniature, ‘Wings, Ancient and Modern,’ depicting a boy, with birds flying around him and aeroplanes in the sky by the English painter, Dora Webb because it would be fascinating to know where it has ended up.

A serving or former police officer in Australia who has investigated any art theft, art forgery or the vandalism of art and wants to discuss the crime.

For more information about my investigation of art crimes see my previous blog post about my art and crime book.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

4 responses to “Art Crimes in Australia (in progress)

  • Lisa Hill

    The Weeping Woman ‘kidnapping’ was said to be political…
    I’ll pass on this to a Tassie friend of mine who will be interested.

  • Mark Holsworth (@melb_art_critic)

    It was political, there are often political components to art crimes. Thanks for passing it on to your friend in Tasmania as I need more local Tassie knowledge.

  • artandarchitecturemainly

    I was writing about art crimes and wondered if there were any connections between art crimes in Australia and those in Europe. My favourites were
    Shaun Greenhalgh, a talented British art faker and
    Great American art faker but not for profit: Mark Landis.

  • Mark Holsworth (@melb_art_critic)

    I’ve found a couple of European connections; a Renoir stolen in Melbourne that was recovered by the Dutch police, so some stolen art is for the export market. Most of the art fakes are for the Australian market because fakers are aiming at a known target, local collectors. However, the art forger Elmyr de Hory was reportedly hiding out in Australia in the 1964.

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