Monday, January 25, 2010

Moving On - Introducing The AC Anti-Fascist Encyclopedia

Oliver Stone says Adolf Hitler was 'Enabled by Western Bankers'

By Michael Casey (CP)
Google News | 1-25-10

BANGKOK, Thailand — Adolf Hitler was a psychopath and a monster but rose to power thanks to big business leaders and other supporters who appreciated his vow to destroy communism and control workers, Hollywood filmmaker Oliver Stone said Monday.

Stone, who is working on a 10-part documentary on the 20th century titled "The Secret History of the United States," said the German dictator was "enabled by Western bankers" and managed to "seduce" Germany's military industrial complex.

"Hitler is a monster. There is no question. I have no empathy for Hitler at all. He was a crazy psychopath," Stone told reporters in the Thai capital. "But like Frankenstein was a monster, there was a Dr. Frankenstein. He is product of his era."

Stone was in Bangkok to give a lecture to high school students on the role of film in peace-building as part of a visit organized by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation.

He said the aim of his documentary, which two historians are helping him with, was to offer a fuller understanding of the 20th century and how some of those lessons may be relevant to President Barack Obama in 2010.

"What has America become? How can we in America not learn from Germany in the 1930s," the Oscar-winning director asked.

Earlier in the day, Stone told about 300 students that his 1991 movie "JFK," was his most controversial to date and that the United States remains in denial over the possibility that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald could have assassinated John F. Kennedy.

Stone said exploring alternative theories over the JFK assassination remains too sensitive for those in the media or academia who "would be endangering their careers and their position."

"To this day, many key Americans in power are in total denial about this story," Stone said. "They don't even want to know about the possibility that he was killed by someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald. It is a national fairy tale."

"JFK" ridicules the Warren Commission's conclusion that Oswald acted alone and suggests a massive conspiracy.

Stone's film centred on a theory by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison that a CIA-led mutiny killed the president and the plotters walked away unscathed. Garrison's theories went to court in 1967, but Clay Shaw, the alleged "evil genius" behind the assassination, was acquitted.

Stone said Monday he thought it was "a good thing" to revisit the JFK assassination. But he came under fire from the historians and film reviewers who contended Stone had fudged facts, invented characters and elevated speculation to truth to support his burning belief that the killing was a high-level government conspiracy.

"It's an amazing story and I did it," Stone said. "I thought I would be respected for it, and I was lambasted in the establishment press. I was called a myth-maker, a propagandist. I didn't see it coming. I thought the Kennedy murder was safe."

Stone is famous for several other movies, including the Vietnam War films "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Platoon," which won four Oscars, including best picture and best director.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Did Yeats Accept a Prize of Nazi Gold?

Excerpt: WB Yeats and the Glittering Prizes
Irish Times | January 25, 2010

ON JANUARY 1ST this year, Yeats finally went out of copyright, 144 years after his birth. It was a long, carefully managed career, before and after death. A notable high point was the poet winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, generally taken as an acknowledgement of Irish independence, writes WJ MCCORMACK

As early as 1909, Yeats thought he was in with a chance, but the winner turned out to be the Swedish novelist, Selma Lagerlöf. Scandinavians featured prominently among the prize’s early recipients, starting with the Norwegian poet, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, in 1903, and including his compatriot, Knut Hamsun, in 1920.

In addition to the fame the prize brought with it, Yeats also appreciated the Nobel money. According to legend, he interrupted the telephone call notifying him of the honour with the blunt question: “How much?”

If it remained the greatest prize he garnered, the Nobel was not the last. On February 16th 1934, after Hitler had already come to power in Germany, The Irish Times announced that Yeats had been awarded the Goethe-Plakette by the city of Frankfurt-am-Main, together with Hermann Stehr, a “blood-and-soil” novelist. Later in the year, the Nazi-supporting Knut Hamsun was awarded a Goethe-Preis, both prizes originating in liberal civic initiatives in 1927 (the Preis) and 1932 (the Plakette).

Preis winners included poet Stefan George (1927) and theologian Albert Schweitzer (1928), who was thereby enabled to build a house in his Alsatian home village. Another beneficiary was Sigmund Freud (1930), whose papers establish the honorarium at 10,000 marks (George also received 10,000 marks, though he failed to turn up for the ceremony).

While several “regime changes”, national and local, occurred between 1927 and 1934, it is worth noting that, pleased to be honoured in August 1934, Hamsun refused the cash, believing that the new Nazi regime deserved it more than he did. He is said by Mark Deavin to have refused precisely the same sum Freud and George had been given, suggesting a constant amount down the years with regard to the Goethe-Preis.

The Plakette was a lesser thing, instituted mainly to reward administrators and supporters of events commemorating the centenary of Goethe’s death. I have not located any record of payments made to Plakette or Preis recipients. On the one hand, the Nazis were tight with money; on the other, Yeats was scarcely in the same league as Dr Paquet, secretary of the Preis committee. Is it improper to ask on what verifiable documentation we might conclude that Yeats was not a beneficiary of commensurate Nazi (“souls for”) gold, in keeping with the theme of The Countess Cathleen , staged in February 1934 by SS Untersturmbahnführer Bethge? The question bears upon Yeats’s second manoeuvre on the dangerous intersection between flattery and brutality.

The critic and pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky (who championed James Joyce’s work), had been thrown into a concentration camp, where he was most barbarously treated. A rescue campaign was supported by Karl Barth, Augustus John, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf and others. One proposal was to have the prisoner awarded a Nobel Prize, thus obliging the regime to release him for the award ceremonies. Peace prizes were in Norway’s gift, not Sweden’s. Hamsun denounced Ossietzky in the press on November 22nd 1935, and no award was announced at that time, despite a campaign that had been active since January 1934.

Yeats became embroiled in the Ossietzky affair early in 1936, when English novelist Ethel Mannin and German dramatist Ernst Toller approached him in London. Their efforts were clumsy, and the official campaign did not consider Yeats worth approaching, despite its reliance on glittering laureates. Yeats told Mannin in April: “If the Nobel Society did what you want, it would seem to the majority of the German people that the society hated their government for its politics, not because it was inhuman . . .”

Advancing this specious argument for inactivity, he cannot have forgotten the praise heaped on him by the German press in June 1935 for his 70th birthday, nor what he called his “Frankfurt honour”. The Nobel committee finally overcame its misgivings and, in 1936, gave the prisoner his peace prize, retrospectively. He was not allowed to travel, and died two years later, aged 50.

Apart from an insinuating passivity, what or who got Yeats into these distasteful relations with the Third Reich? His biographer and sometime political secretary, Joseph Hone, was strongly drawn towards fascism. Active in Dublin for much of the 1930s, the wily German agent, Helmut Clissmann, befriended associates of Yeats’s, including the MacBrides (Maud and Sean) and the Stuarts (Iseult and Francis). Clissmann claimed to have studied for a doctorate in Irish Studies at Frankfurt University but seems to have spent more time arranging holiday trips to the Reich for pupils at the Dublin High School, Omagh Academy, and no doubt other Irish schools. The German minister in Dublin, Eduard Hempel, received Yeats on several occasions, presenting him with suitable propaganda.

In August 1938, Yeats publicly approved the Nuremberg Laws. So much is undeniable fact, though the motive is less clear (a childish love of giving offence?). Or had he taken the Führer’s shilling four years earlier?
WB Yeats and the Glittering Prizes, by WJ McCormack, will be published by UCD Press in March

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oracle Software and the CIA

Oracle's Connection to the CIA

Most Oracle professionals are surprised to learn that the name "Oracle" originates from the name of a CIA project. This article in Forbes Magazine notes that Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison worked on a CIA project with the code-name "Oracle":

"He [Larry Ellison] dropped out of the University of Chicago in the 1960s, headed to Berkeley, Calif. and by the mid-1970s began working on a database project. Code name: Oracle. Client: the Central Intelligence Agency.

In 1977, Ellison founded the company with Robert Miner and Edward Oates, naming it after the CIA job."


Oracle's coziness with government goes back to its founding / Firm's growth sustained as niche established with federal state agencies | May 20, 2002

... Company co-founders Larry Ellison Robert Miner and Ed Oates worked on Project Oracle at a consulting firm before striking out on their own.

A quarter century later close to a quarter of the company's revenue -- $2. 5 billion a year -- still comes from selling software to federal state and local agencies.

"Oracle wouldn't exist if it weren't for government contracts," said Mike Wilson, author of the book The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison.

Oracle has 1000 sales and consulting workers focused exclusively on government work. And in the wake of Sept. 11 Oracle is counting on the heightened interest in staving off terrorism to boost its government ties even more.

Oracle has been actively pitching software to local governments to create detailed digital maps that could be used to respond to attacks. In March the company formed a partnership to focus on airport security. Ellison even offered to give the federal government software to help create a national ID to thwart terrorists.

In a background paper Oracle boasts that it is "very active in homeland security."

Banc of America Securities analyst Bob Austrian believes the entire high-tech industry could profit from the increased security spending. But he suspects Oracle could do better than most because it already has an unusually large share of government contracts and is in a particularly relevant niche.

"The majority of interest surrounds tracking individuals and information which by its nature is a database-intensive application" he said.

So perhaps it's fitting that Oracle is making headlines because of concerns over the recent $95 million government contract.

Among the allegations are that Oracle persuaded California officials to buy more software than needed misrepresent the costs savings and rush through a no-bid award without considering alternatives. It didn't help that Oracle handed a $25000 check to Gov. Gray Davis' technology adviser just two weeks after the deal was signed.


An excellent database of news stories about Oracle, hosted by Newsrunner, is here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Secrets of Josef Mengele For Sale

By Paul Bedard
US News | January 19, 2010

Few names make one cringe in horror like that of Josef Mengele, the Nazi concentration camp "doctor" who performed gruesome human experiments—especially on twin children—before dodging Allied troops and fleeing to South America in 1945. Yet despite some people's obsession with the medical monster and all that's been written about him, little of Mengele's own work has ever been seen. "Mengele," says Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Autographs, an auctioneer of historical goods, "is very, very rare."

Until now. Panagopulos is featuring two Mengele writings in his next auction. The sale on January 20 and 21 is expected to bring Nazi collectors out of the woodwork to cough up $100,000 for the never-before-seen artifacts.

One is a letter he wrote from Auschwitz to his estranged wife proclaiming his love and plans for "our imaginary reunion." The other is a 180-page "diary" devoted to Mengele's theories on eugenics and population control and his rambling views on women, politics, and the church. Consider: "The real problem," writes Mengele, "is to define when human life is worth living and when it has to be eradicated." The diary is written within the covers of a composition book titled Illustrated Zoology.

Who'd buy these? Surprisingly, Panagopulos says that it's very often Jewish collectors, who use the items to teach history or donate them to museums. The Connecticut auctioneer wouldn't identify the owner of the artifacts, which were seized in Brazil years after Mengele died in 1979.

Perhaps more intriguing is why anybody would sell the secrets of Dr. Death. Says Panagopulos: "As horrendous as he was, Mengele is a historic figure, as are Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot. Anything uncovered that can offer us an insight into their thinking helps complete the historical record and perhaps helps prevent similar crimes in the future."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Motives of Convicted Ex-CIA Agent still a Mystery

The Jakarta Post | 01/18/2010

While police are preparing to deport former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Bob Marshall, who was arrested in January 2008 in Bogor, his motives for entering Indonesia remain a mystery.

The Indonesian police said last week that Marshall, 61, was wanted by the US spy organization for a number of violations and being a renegade agent for a number of years.

However, observers here have alleged that Marshall’s arrest has highlighted intensive CIA operations in Indonesia.

“It’s no secret that many CIA agents operate here. Of course, they have their own mission as Indonesia is an important country for the US,” intelligence expert from the Indonesian Institute of Science, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti said here Sunday.

The police have refused to reveal why the US citizen entered the country, saying only that it had received a request to arrest Marshall from the US government for his alleged involvement in illegal arms trade in several countries, including in his home country.

National Police chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi said Friday the deportation of Bob Marshall was being processed by the National Central Bureau Interpol Indonesia upon request from the US.

Bogor immigration officials arrested Marshall in January 2008 as he was applying for a passport.

Marshall told the officials that he was an Indonesian citizen, but as he could not speak Indonesian, the officials were suspicious, and subsequently found his document to be fake.

He was charged for illegal entry and staying in the country without proper documentation.

The US national was charged under the 1992 Immigration Law for staying in the country illegally and not holding a valid passport, which carries a combined punishment of six years in jail.

Ito said that Marshall had entered Indonesia through Batam in December 2007, along with seven illegal migrants by boat from Johor in Malaysia, and held 40 passports.

The Bogor District Court subsequently gave him a two-year jail term.

Marshall has reportedly been a US fugitive since 1974.

Until 2004, US officials said that he had committed various crimes, including fraud, theft and illegal use of weapons.

In 1978 he managed to flee a prison in the US after being arrested a year earlier.

In 1984, the London police were searching for him over the illegal use of guns and ammunition. He returned to the US in 1992, but was again wanted for faking passports and checks.

From then on, Marshall traveled to a number of countries to avoid arrests using different passports before entering Indonesia in December 2007.

The Bogor Immigration Office said that he arrived in Batam in Riau Islands from Johor, Malaysia together with seven others illegal immigrants after evading the Indonesian police’s patrol.

The CIA’s presence in Indonesia’s politics has long been speculated about, stirred recently by the publication of Tim Weiner’s book The Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, which claims Indonesia’s former vice president Adam Malik was a US spy.

The Pulitzer-winning book also alleged that Adam received US$10,000 from the CIA to overthrow former president Sukarno.

Weiner, a New York Times journalist, quoted former CIA agent Clyde McAvoy in his book as saying, “Adam Malik was a CIA agent in 1964”.

The book, recently published in Indonesian, said Adam used the money to spearhead a movement aimed at cleansing communists following their abortive coup attempt on Sept. 30, 1965.

Many people here immediately blasted the book as a foreign conspiracy to destabilize Indonesia. The Attorney General’s Office is looking at having the book banned.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Stolen Painting, the Murder of Martin Luther King, the FBI .... and Steven Spielberg

" ... IT’S SOMEWHAT IRONIC that a Rockwell has been caught up in such a maelstrom of controversy and conspiracy. The American illustrator is best known for his nostalgic scenes of simpler times ... "

" ... after two suspects connected to the art theft ring were murdered 1978 and another refused to testify, prosecutors dropped the case ... "

By Richard Salit

Norman Rockwell’s stolen 1967 painting, Russian Schoolroom, now valued at $700,000, is the subject of a legal dispute in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

NEWPORT — It has all the makings of a Hollywood film: a powerful movie mogul and his society art dealer inadvertently get tangled up in an art heist, an FBI investigation, a political assassination and a courtroom drama.

Unfortunately for Judy Goffman Cutler, it’s a true story. The FBI recently discovered that in 1989 the Newport art dealer profited from the sale of a Norman Rockwell painting that had been stolen from a gallery in Missouri 16 years earlier. The buyer? Steven Spielberg. Yes, that one.

So why has it taken so long for the FBI to crack the case and how come no one was ever arrested for the theft?

One explanation given is that the suspected art thief enjoyed federal protection because he had vital information about a major U.S. assassination — the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Instead of appearing on the big screen, this drama is being played out on location — in U.S. District Court in Nevada. Jack Solomon, whose gallery lost Rockwell’s Russian Schoolroom to thieves nearly 35 years ago when it was worth $25,000, is suing Spielberg for the return of the painting, now valued at $700,000. Russian Schoolroom is in Los Angeles, where the Academy Award-winning director and producer lives.

Goffman Cutler, meanwhile, is also fighting for the painting. She says that after the FBI announced it was stolen, she offered to extricate Spielberg from the controversy by giving him another Rockwell in exchange for Russian Schoolroom. She is also suing Solomon for $25 million for sullying her reputation and jeopardizing her business relationship with Spielberg. Solomon told the media she should have known the painting was stolen when she sold it to Spielberg.

“The clear implication of the statement made to the press was that Goffman Cutler was trafficking in stolen art and should have known she was doing so,” her lawsuit reads.

ON A RECENT DAY, the gates to a white, chateau-style mansion in Newport slowly swing open. Behind the wrought-iron fencing is Vernon Court, a Beaux Arts adaptation of a French estate, which occupies a full block of Bellevue Avenue, Newport’s famed Gilded Age promenade. The sprawling grounds feature a pool, manicured tiered gardens, and a park created by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City’s Central Park.

This is the home of the National Museum of American Illustration, which Goffman Cutler and her husband, Laurence, founded in 2000 to honor what they call the “Golden Age of Illustration,” art specifically created for reproduction.

The swiveling gates open onto a short gravel driveway, which leads to the museum entrance, framed by tall white columns and a second-story veranda. Through the doorway is the Great Marble Hall, where Laurence Cutler greets a visitor and guides him past one of Rockwell’s most famous World War II works, Miss Liberty, portraying a star-spangled American woman wielding an array of tools in service of her country.

In the library, Cutler takes a seat and reflects on the worldwide publicity the case has generated — from newspapers and magazines that cover Clayton, Mo., where the painting was stolen in 1973, across the Atlantic to England, where both Spielberg and Rockwell are well known. Over the last several months, as a result of the tantalizing details surrounding Russian Schoolroom, it’s been all too common for the Cutlers to receive interview requests from the media. Fielding reporters’ questions comes naturally for the talkative Cutler, the museum’s chairman, and it’s a role that falls to him in between his frequent business trips across the U.S. and abroad.

“Friends have asked about it, art dealers have asked about it, and people in the art world have asked about it. We got lots of e-mail about it from all over the world,” he says. “It got a tremendous amount of attention because you have Spielberg, who is the most famous guy in movies, and you have Norman Rockwell, whose name is synonymous with apple pie and ice cream and baseball. And you have the word ‘theft.’ ”

IT’S SOMEWHAT IRONIC that a Rockwell has been caught up in such a maelstrom of controversy and conspiracy. The American illustrator is best known for his nostalgic scenes of simpler times, hundreds of which appeared on the folksy covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

Russian Schoolroom, painted in 1967, just six years before its theft, was inspired by Rockwell’s visit to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. It depicts students seated at their desks, looking in the direction of a bust of Lenin, except for one student gazing out a window.

Judy Goffman Cutler had an eye for Rockwell and the works of other accomplished American illustrators, such as N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in fine arts, she began collecting the works of American illustrators, which weren’t greatly valued at the time. Soon she had so many works that friends would say her home looked like a museum, her husband says. In 1966, she opened the American Illustrators Gallery in New York City.

“She turned around one day and realized she made that end of the market,” Laurence Cutler says. “She became the art dealer to the stars and celebrities.… She built collections for Malcolm Forbes, George Lucas and Ross Perot and many museums.”

The Newport museum she would later establish with her husband lists Lucas, comedian/actress Whoopi Goldberg, TV celebrity Matt Lauer and editorial cartoonist Paul Szep among its board of directors, as well as the developer of the Carnegie Abbey Club in Portsmouth, Peter de Savary, and the man who has taken over and expanded the development of the town’s western shore, Brian O’Neill.

Spielberg began avidly collecting Rockwells as his movies, including E.T., Back to the Future and the Indiana Jones series, became box office blockbusters, making him a rich man. He also contributed to a new home for the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

Spielberg met the Cutlers through his passion for Rockwell. They enjoyed not only a business relationship, but a friendship, too, Laurence Cutler says. He recalls traveling to California in the early 1990s to see Spielberg and Whoopi Goldberg, the director’s Pacific Palisades neighbor and another collector of American illustration. Cutler and Goffman, whose first marriages had ended, were continuing on to Las Vegas, and Cutler told Spielberg he was considering marrying Goffman there. Spielberg didn’t think it romantic enough.

“I had wanted to do a quick wedding and he talked me out of it,” says Laurence Cutler.

Years later, after marrying, the Cutlers moved to Newport and opened their nonprofit illustration museum. Then, 18 years after selling Spielberg Russian Schoolroom, an agency not known for its artistic appreciation contacted Goffman Cutler: It was the FBI.

EARLY ON THE morning of June 25, 1973, a man broke through the glass front door of Arts International Gallery, in Clayton, Mo., part of the greater St. Louis area, according to a police report. A witness saw the thief emerge with a painting seconds later and jump into a car.

When gallery staff arrived, they quickly realized what was missing: Rockwell’s Russian Schoolroom, an original, 16-by-37-inch oil-on-canvas. With the crime unsolved, Solomon, the gallery’s owner, collected $25,000 in insurance, according to court records.

In 1988, the painting surfaced at an auction in New Orleans. But there was no mention of its checkered past. Goffman bid $70,400 and took Russian Schoolroom back to her American Illustrators Gallery, in New York City. A year later, after advertising the painting for sale for $200,000, she sold it to Spielberg.

It wasn’t until 2004 that agents with the FBI’s Art Crime Team (ACT) learned from a tipster about the 1988 auction and the sale of the painting a year later. The agency posted a description and photograph of the painting on its Web site. Spielberg’s staff saw it and alerted him that the FBI considered his painting stolen and missing.

“Mr. Spielberg’s staff immediately used art market channels to bring the painting’s current location to the FBI’s attention,” the FBI announced in a news release earlier this year that would spark the international media coverage. “Mr. Spielberg purchased the painting in 1989 from a legitimate dealer and did not become aware it was stolen until last week.”

WHAT HAPPENED 34 years ago, however, was apparently a great deal more complicated than a simple smash-and-grab.

The break-in at Arts International joined a rash of similar crimes. A thief or thieves were targeting art owners in the St. Louis area. The thieves snatched silver statues of Charles Lindbergh from the St. Louis Museum of History and returned to strike Arts International again, stealing seven Rockwell lithographs.

The case led the police to focus on “a known police character … who had a reputation for stealing and fencing valuable art and antiques,” according to the FBI. A search warrant executed in 1976 at the St. Louis home of suspect Russell Byers recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in art and other valuables, including the seven Rockwell lithographs, according to police reports. But missing from the loot was Russian Schoolroom.

The police brought charges against Byers. But after two suspects connected to the art theft ring were murdered 1978 and another refused to testify, prosecutors dropped the case, according to the St. Louis Riverfront Times. And curiously, around the same time, Byers had become remarkably useful to powerful federal officials, the alternative newsweekly reported.

The reason? He had been offered $50,000 to kill King, the civil-rights leader.

Byers’ tale intrigued officials in Washington, even 10 years after King’s assassination in 1968. But Byers wouldn’t talk for fear of incriminating himself. So in 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations granted him immunity. In exchange, Byers testified about a meeting he attended that was arranged by a hotel owner who stashed stolen goods for Byers.

Byers’ accomplice introduced him to a lawyer and business associate, John Sutherland, who belonged to the American Independent Party of segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace and who was a leader of the White Citizens Council of St. Louis.

“The three men met in a study that Byers described as decorated with Confederate flags and Civil War memorabilia… ,” reads a report of the House committee, according to the Riverfront Times. “Sutherland was wearing what appeared to Byers to be a Confederate colonel’s hat. After some social conversation, Byers asked Sutherland what he would have to do for the $50,000. Sutherland said he would have to kill, or arrange to have killed, Dr. Martin Luther King. Sutherland told him he belonged to a secret southern organization that had plenty of money.

Byers testified that he declined the offer from the two men. But, according to a New York Times article from 1978, the committee found enough circumstantial evidence to believe that the same bounty offered to Byers in St. Louis could possibly have motivated James Earl Ray, who was a prisoner in a nearby Missouri penitentiary (and whose brother, John Ray, led local efforts to elect Wallace president).

Ray escaped from the prison a year before King’s death and confessed to killing the minister. Despite recanting later, Ray was convicted at trial.

Ten years later, in 1988, a tip about the stolen Rockwell surfaced as the painting was being auctioned off in New Orleans. But an FBI investigation into the matter was stymied when agents were told that the original theft report was missing, according to the Riverfront Times. It wasn’t until last year that the FBI, treating the theft as a cold case, was able to get a copy of the report from the Clayton, Mo., police. Soon the investigation would lead federal agents to Hollywood.

JACK SOLOMON, who owned the now-defunct Arts International gallery and was Rockwell’s dealer until the artist’s death in 1978, wants Russian Schoolroom back. He is suing Spielberg in U.S. District Court in Nevada for the return of the painting and unspecified damages. The FBI, which was initially named in the lawsuit, has been dropped from the case.

Solomon is none too pleased with Goffman Cutler. He doesn’t believe she adequately researched whether Russian Schoolroom might have been stolen, especially since the FBI had reported it to the for-profit Art Loss Register, which maintains a database of purloined artwork.

“She should have known better,” he told the Riverfront Times. “She could have checked that — there’s been a record of this ever since the day it was stolen.”

He also told the newsweekly about his desire to reacquire the painting.

“I’m sure in two calls I could turn it over for X million dollars before the sun goes down,” he said.

Goffman Cutler, who has sold more than 300 Rockwells, defends her handling of the painting. Before acquiring it, according to her lawsuit, she contacted the Norman Rockwell museum, which had just completed a definitive catalog of the artist’s work. The catalog identified Russian Schoolroom’s location as “whereabouts unknown,” unlike other works listed as “stolen.”

She also sold the painting in a highly public manner, according to court papers. She put it in a traveling exhibition, showed it in New York City and featured it in a magazine advertisement. She even sent a notice to a parent gallery of Arts International, in New York, announcing that Russian Schoolroom was for sale.

Her lawsuit cites Solomon’s published remarks, noting that “the clear implication of the statement made to the press was that Goffman was trafficking in stolen art.”

“We are really angry about Solomon, who was sitting on his thumbs for 33 odd years,” says Laurence Cutler.

Goffman Cutler is also suing the Art Loss Register. The business, her lawyer contends, illegally sought to coerce her into settling with Solomon, by threatening to tarnish her reputation and have her investigated by the FBI. Goffman Cutler is seeking damages of $5 million in profits from business she says she stood to do with Spielberg in the future, $10 million for damage to her reputation and $10 million for defamation.

Goffman Cutler wants the court to affirm that her New York City business, The American Illustrators Gallery, has legally acquired the painting from Spielberg.

“We have exchanged one of our paintings, not from our museum collection, a painting of comparable or higher value, approximately the same size, painted in the same year, and both were published in Look magazine. He is very happy with that. And we are very happy to take him out of this circus,” says Laurence Cutler. Since the FBI “doesn’t want [Russian Schoolroom] to cross state lines, Steven is holding it.”

If Goffman Cutler’s private gallery succeeds in acquiring Russian Schoolroom, it will probably be loaned to the National Museum of American Illustration, in Newport, says Laurence Cutler. The painting would travel to China for a temporary exposition at the Shanghai Art Museum, he says, and then it would probably find a home at the Bellevue Avenue museum.

“There is now interest in seeing this painting ‘in the flesh’ so to speak, the world over,” he says.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Auschwitz Sign Theft Suspect Named

KRAKOW, Poland, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Polish authorities say they have issued an arrest warrant for a man they describe as a Swedish neo-Nazi on charges he stole the sign above the Auschwitz gate.

"We have already issued the arrest warrant for the Swedish suspect to be brought to police headquarters in Krakow," Boguslawa Marcinkowska of the Prosecutor's Office in Krakow said Friday.

Five Poles arrested Dec. 21 -- three days after they allegedly stole the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the World War II German Nazi death camp -- said they were paid to steal the sign by a former neo-Nazi in Sweden, Poland Radio reported.

He intended to sell it "for millions" to a collector, allegedly living in Great Britain, Poland Radio said.

Swedish press reports identified the suspect named in the warrant as alleged former neo-Nazi Anders Hogstrom.

"My role was to go get the sign in Poland," he told a Swedish daily newspaper Expressen. "I was the middleman and was supposed to take care of the sale."

Hogstrom, described as a former leader of a 160-member strong neo-Nazi group based in southeast Sweden, told the newspaper the money from the theft would be used to launch a campaign against parliament and Swedish politicians.

The sign was found in northern Poland, cut into three pieces.