Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch

21.11.2004 10:35 (zuletzt bearbeitet: 21.11.2004 15:40)
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#1 Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch
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Artikel aus NYT von gestern.

Das Leitmotiv des Artikels, der Verkauf von geraubten Kunstschätzen, oft von wichtigem nationalem Eigentum, hat auch Eingang in die neuere kubanische Literatur gefunden:

Daína Chaviano beschreibt in "El hambre, la hembra y el hombre" (Deutsch erschienen unter "Havanna Blues) die Geschichte einer Kunsthistorikerin, die zur Jinetera wird, als sie ihren Job im Museum verliert, weil sie gegen den Ausverkauf nationaler Kunstschätze gegenüber ihren Vorgesetzten protestiert hat.


In "Paisaje de Otoño" erzählt Leonardo Padura die Geschichte eines Miami-Kubaners, welcher nach Kuba zurückkehrt, um Kunstegegenstände aufzuspüren, welche sich in seinem Besitz befunden haben.


Die Fanjul-Brüder wiederum, die als Zuckerbarone in Florida bekannt sind, sind in wenig positivem Licht beschrieben etwa in "Strip Tease" des bekannten US-amerikanischen Krimiautors Carl Hiaasen, welcher vor allem (sehr reale) Porträts der Gesellschaft Floridas entwirft. (das Buch wurde von ein Paar Jahren verfilmt mit Demi Moore in der Hauptrolle)
(die Fanjuls sahen sich so gut porträtiert, dass sie sogar dagegen geklagt haben)


Die Fanjuls verdanken ihren Reichtum in den USA den großzügigen Zucker-Subventionen der US-Regierung, welche einen netten Windfall Profit ermöglichen.

The Castro Collection

RESTING on a coffee table in Jose Fanjul's mansion on Jungle Road is an inscribed silver box, a gift from King Juan Carlos of Spain. Another table bears a silver-framed wedding photo of Mr. Fanjul and his bride greeting the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Elsewhere in the house, silver-rimmed photos of Mr. Fanjul and Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush are displayed prominently. An Impressionist work by the Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, "Girl in the Silvery Sea," hangs in a living room corner.

Mr. Fanjul opened a thick album and showed a visitor faded snapshots of cavernous estates that he and his extended family once occupied in and around Havana. Fidel Castro, after seizing the Fanjul family's real estate and sugar holdings in 1960, made one of their ornate residences his own.

Known to his friends as Pepe, Mr. Fanjul, 60, opened another hefty book, a handsome retrospective of Sorolla's works. Many of the paintings belong to a collection once owned by the Fanjuls and are still housed in Havana. He tapped his index finger on the glossy pages, quietly recalling where some of those Sorollas hung in his parents' home. A minor work by Sorolla - "Malaga Port" - that once graced an upstairs hallway is not featured in the book. Mr. Fanjul says he does not know where that painting is now, though he is almost certain that it is no longer in Cuba.

And therein lies a tale.

Six years ago, Mr. Fanjul learned that "Malaga Port" had surfaced in the London offices of Sotheby's, the auction house. He immediately phoned Joseph P. Klock, chairman of Steel, Hector & Davis, a Miami firm that handles his legal affairs. Mr. Klock, a power broker who would later advise Katherine Harris, then the Florida secretary of state, during the controversial presidential vote recount in 2000, had experience in cloak-and-dagger matters. He had a lawyer assemble a team to track down the Sorolla.

Mr. Fanjul and his older brother, Alfonso, who have become two of the United States' leading sugar magnates, then financed a global hunt for the painting. That pursuit, which continues today, offers a rare and unusually detailed road map of the subterranean, hush-hush business of art smuggling, a crime that is carried out at a very untidy intersection of art and commerce.

The long search for the Sorolla has wound through Cuba, Italy, Switzerland, London and New York, taking some unusual turns along the way. As part of their effort to track down "Malaga Port," the Fanjuls' lawyers filed claims with the State Department and the Treasury Department late last summer. They requested that the agencies penalize anyone trafficking in the painting because, they said, doing so violates federal trade sanctions against Cuba.

Last week, the Fanjuls' lawyers asked the State Department to focus specifically on Sotheby's, saying that the company knows who holds "Malaga Port'' and that its refusal to provide the Fanjuls with that information flouted laws against trading with Cuba. If the auction house is found culpable, Sotheby's overseas directors and their spouses could be forbidden entry into the United States. Any of Sotheby's American employees involved with the Sorolla could be subject to fines and jail.

The State Department and the Treasury Department declined to comment. A Sotheby's spokeswoman said that the auction house no longer had the Sorolla, had never sold it and had made every effort to respond to the Fanjuls' queries. She said Sotheby's last communicated with the Fanjuls four years ago but declined to say who brought the painting to Sotheby's, citing client confidentiality obligations.

SOTHEBY'S noted that it tightened its business practices after a series of scandals between 1997 and 2000 that tarnished its reputation, and it said that while it was confident it had not violated any Cuban trade sanctions, it would cooperate with the State Department if necessary.
"Sotheby's takes provenance and compliance issues extremely seriously everywhere in the world we do business, and we take pride in our pioneering efforts in these areas," said Diana Phillips, the spokeswoman for Sotheby's. "We take issues relating to displaced art, including art from Cuba, equally seriously. We are extremely conscious of the U.S. laws regarding trade with Cuba and articles of Cuban origin and long ago implemented policies and procedures to ensure compliance in this area.''

None of this satisfies the Fanjuls, who plan to continue using their formidable resources in the search. Family members are pressing their case at a time when the Bush administration is putting greater diplomatic and economic pressure on Cuba - a development that the Fanjuls applaud - and their action is a warning to any dealers tempted to traffic in other Cuban art whose ownership is in dispute.
"I'm disappointed that we had to find out through a third party that Sotheby's had the painting for a number of years," Pepe Fanjul said. "I'm sure they have their side of the story."

Alfonso Fanjul Jr., the steely, 67-year-old entrepreneur known as Alfy who rebuilt the Fanjuls' Cuban sugar empire in the United States, was more direct. "I have been surprised by the behavior of the art world in general when it comes to paintings that clearly belong to my family," he said. "I had hoped that they would see that it is important that we should be promptly notified when our artwork came into their hands. We would particularly like to know what the auction houses and others know of these paintings."Starting in the 1850's, the Fanjuls' ancestors began buying land and consolidating their control of Cuba's sugar business. By the turn of the century, they were among the country's dominant producers. It was a wildly lucrative business, and one built on the backs of poorly paid, landless farm workers.

Money from sugar built an extravagant mansion that Mr. Fanjul's maternal grandfather, Jose Gomez-Mena, stocked with fine European art, including dozens of Sorollas. In 1936, Mr. Fanjul's father, Alfonso Fanjul Sr., married Mr. Gomez-Mena's daughter, Lillian, uniting two of Cuba's largest sugar fortunes. When Fidel Castro, whose father owned a modest sugar plantation, led the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista's government in 1959, the Fanjul family's holdings became a target. Mr. Castro's government renamed the Gomez-Mena mansion, with all of its furnishings and art intact, the National Museum of Decorative Arts.
Pepe Fanjul recalls boarding a National Airlines flight from Havana, when he was a teenager. He was hustled aboard the plane by a friendly airport bartender and was seated across the aisle from the film star Errol Flynn, who, along with a girlfriend, was also leaving the country. Even while fleeing Cuba after the revolution, Mr. Fanjul was surrounded by a dash of glamour.

For most other Cubans, airline flights and movie stars were well out of reach, a measure of Mr. Fanjul's privileged upbringing. When Pepe, Alfy and their three siblings left Cuba for the United States, they were forced to abandon most of the family's art and its other wealth. The family owned some real estate in Manhattan and had other money invested abroad by their parents, but their exile marked a sharp comedown. "The family was in a state of shock," Pepe Fanjul said. "We knew our parents would live comfortably, but not us. So we were challenged."
Over the next four decades, however, the Fanjuls - under Alfy's initial direction - wove shrewd and risky deal making, some well-greased political connections and a belief in Florida's economic future into a new sugar empire. Their privately held company, Flo-Sun, is now a leading sugar producer in the United States and in the Dominican Republic; the family has also expanded into resorts, hotels and other real estate ventures.

Over the years, Flo-Sun has also been the object of some of the same criticisms that the Fanjuls experienced in Cuba, including accusations of abusing sugar workers and harming the environment. The family has strongly disputed the contentions. Pepe Fanjul, who has lavishly contributed to Republican candidates, and Alfy, who has done the same for Democrats, describe themselves as close brothers who maintain their political differences. Other political analysts attribute their bipartisan fund-raising to a calculated strategy of making sure that all political bases are covered.

Whatever the case, the Fanjul brothers have pursued their financial and political goals with unvarnished determination, and they are bringing that same brio to the hunt for their Sorolla.

When Mr. Sorolla's great-granddaughter casually mentioned to Pepe Fanjul in 1998 that Sotheby's asked her to authenticate "Malaga Port" three years earlier, he was dumbfounded. "I thought she was wrong, confused," he said.

The Fanjuls had already taken all of the steps that art owners can take when they believe that one of their works has gone missing. Art that has been off the market for many years is difficult to value, though some experts said high-quality Sorollas now fetched about $2 million to $3 million at auctions.

The family began keeping an eye on the Cuban collection in the early 1990's.

"So long as the collection remained in the Museum of Decorative Arts, we were willing to wait out the end of the regime," Alfy Fanjul said. "After the fall of the Soviet Union, we became concerned that the collection might be removed from Cuba and sold off for hard currency by the Cuban government."

To forestall that possibility, the Fanjuls in 1993 registered the works, including "Malaga Port," with the Art Loss Register, a British and American service that tracks lost and stolen art. When Art Loss began compiling its database in 1991, it listed 20,000 artworks. Today it lists about 145,000.

"There is no oversight of dealers, and the art market thrives on confidentiality," said David Shillingford, the director of operations at Art Loss. "When we first came along it was clear that we weren't welcome in the art world because we were seen as creating a problem rather than providing a solution. That's changed completely."
Sotheby's itself invested in the register in 1997 as part of an increased effort to track art looted from victims of the Holocaust. Other investors include Christie's, Sotheby's chief rival in the auction business, and a number of insurance companies. Since the early 1990's, the register's database has offered auction houses and dealers a convenient place to assess the provenance of artworks.

The Fanjuls also sent letters to Sotheby's, Christie's and other auction houses in 1993, notifying them that the family believed it was the rightful owner of the Cuban Sorollas. The Fanjuls have ample evidence, including photographs and catalogs, to back up that claim - though asserting ownership of art that has been seized by a government through an act of state, or has simply gone missing for decades, is notoriously difficult to do in court.

"Obviously, if and when the Castro regime falls there's going to be some kind of analog to the Nazi art that was confiscated during World War II," said Dr. Marcus Burke, paintings curator at the Hispanic Society of America in New York. "But it's not a direct analog, because the Nazi art was taken at knife-point whereas Cuba was engaged in a civil war and a new government was established that had a claim to legitimacy."Indeed, other legal efforts to recover Cuban art that the Castro government seized through an act of state have foundered, even as the Fanjuls and others contend that Cuban officials have sold expropriated art overseas for years to line their own pockets. The Fanjuls considered taking legal action in Italy in 1965 and in Spain in the mid-1990's to seize artwork from their Cuban collection that had surfaced in those countries, but lawyers advised them that expropriations by act of state were usually insurmountable.

IN 1995, the Cintas Foundation, a nonprofit group that supports the arts, sued Sotheby's in Spain, contending that years earlier it illegally sold two Cuban Sorollas that the foundation believed that it owned. The Spanish court ruled against Cintas, citing legal technicalities other than act-of-state issues.

Then, in 1998, the Fanjuls learned that "Malaga Port" had been held in Sotheby's London office from 1993 to 1995. In the ensuing years, the Fanjuls and Sotheby's engaged in a tug of war, with Sotheby's asserting that it was helping the family to the fullest extent possible, and the Fanjuls contending that they were being stonewalled.

"We put the Fanjul family's lawyers in touch with the lawyers for the current owner in 1998 so that they could resolve any issue they had with them directly," said Ms. Phillips, the Sotheby's spokeswoman. "This is our standard practice in such cases as, given our fiduciary obligations to our clients, we cannot simply provide their identities to third parties. To our knowledge, however, in the six years that have intervened, they have never initiated any legal action to recover the painting or to learn the identity of the current owner."
But the Fanjuls maintain that the courts, because of act-of-state protections, are not the best avenues for recovering their art from Cuba. Instead, the family is now flexing its political muscles by requesting investigations of possible trade sanction violations by Sotheby's - involving some of the very laws that Congress passed after strong prodding by the Fanjuls and other anti-Castro activists. And the Fanjuls say they think Sotheby's has much more to explain.

"We think they have a lot of information about how the painting got from Cuba to Europe," said Shanker Singham, a lawyer for the Fanjuls. "We also believe that there was likely some form of arrangement for other paintings, and we would like to know about those also. It was by a combination of skill and luck that we tracked this painting, but we know that Sotheby's has a lot of information about other Cuban transactions."

Tracing stolen or smuggled paintings that are winding their way through the art underworld is never easy. Much of the information surrounding such trafficking is clouded by gossip and myth. Dr. Burke and other art analysts say they think that over the years Japanese investors, Arab sheiks and other wealthy aficionados have been the primary buyers of pricey stolen art.

Others disagree. "People like to come up with the idea that there's some reclusive billionaire behind these thefts, but I think that's just Hollywood," said Mr. Shillingford of the Art Loss Register. "More often than not it's organized crime behind the thefts, I think."
But if figuring out who smuggles art is tricky, determining where the art is marketed is less so. That is because there are only a few places with the necessary infrastructure. Experts said that the Sorolla's path from Cuba was, more likely than not, through Europe.
"I wouldn't be shocked if it went out through Italy," said Harold J. Smith, an art investigator who has worked on a number of significant cases. "Italy crosses borders with Switzerland and France and it's easy to move art by truck from there. A lot of stolen art moves out of Italy."

In fact, Mr. Singham, the Fanjuls' lawyer, picked up on the trail of "Malaga Port" after parsing court documents in the Cintas case, and the path took him to Italy.

The documents reviewed by Mr. Singham indicated that a former Sotheby's employee, Alex Apsis, had overseen Cuban and other Latin American artworks for the auction house in the 1990's, and therefore might have had some knowledge of how the Sorollas were being handled.

Mr. Apsis joined the London office of Sotheby's in 1974 and moved to its New York branch in 1992. In the mid-1990's, the former president of Sotheby's, Diana D. Brooks, made him head of the auction house's Impressionist and modern art division. He left Sotheby's in 1999 and is now an independent dealer.

Mr. Apsis is no stranger to controversy. In 2002, during the Manhattan District Attorney's tax fraud investigation of L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco International chief executive, law enforcement officials found evidence that Mr. Apsis may have helped Mr. Kozlowski and another wealthy buyer avoid paying hefty sales taxes on some artworks. While Mr. Kozlowski is now contesting tax fraud and other charges in court, Mr. Apsis has not been charged with wrongdoing.

Mr. Singham got his next lead from a book about Sotheby's by Peter Watson, a British journalist who has also written recently about the Fanjul dispute for The Times of London. His book briefly mentioned Mr. Apsis, saying Bruno Scaioli, an art dealer in Alessandria, Italy, used Mr. Apsis's London address to ship art. In 2000, the Fanjuls' lawyers hired a private investigator who visited Mr. Scaioli in Italy - where the investigator found "Malaga Port."

According to the Fanjuls' investigator, Mr. Scaioli said that he sold art through Sotheby's, that he had obtained "Malaga Port" from a Cuban museum more than a decade earlier, that the painting was "in some way connected with Sotheby's" as late as 1998, and that he routinely shipped artwork to London through a free-trade zone in Switzerland to avoid British import taxes.

Mr. Scaioli could not be reached for comment, and his London lawyer did not return requests for comment. Mr. Apsis, in a brief telephone interview last week, said that he knows Mr. Scaioli. "But I don't want to go into all that," he said.

"I know nothing about this whole Fanjul thing," he added. "That happened after I left the Impressionist department at Sotheby's."
Since finding "Malaga Port" in Italy, the Fanjuls have monitored the painting's whereabouts, but they say they are not entirely sure it remains in Mr. Scaioli's possession. They continue to consider legal options to secure the painting, while pressing their work with their interests in Congress and at the White House. With Cuba now higher on the Bush administration's agenda, they said, they believe the time is ripe for the State Department and the Treasury Department to investigate the matter.

THE Fanjuls have enlisted the help of an old friend: Ms. Harris, the former Florida secretary of state, who is now a congresswoman. She recently wrote to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, asking him about the status of the Fanjuls' claim that Sotheby's and others have violated trade sanctions against Cuba by dealing in the Sorolla.
A State Department official responded to Ms. Harris about 10 days ago, saying that the agency was investigating the claim and was "committed to aggressively pursuing" cases involving "foreign nationals trafficking in confiscated property."

For his part, Pepe Fanjul says that he has been trying to reclaim his family's artwork since 1959 and that he wishes he had "45 more years" to pursue that goal. But he also says he does not think he will have to wait that long.

"I think that the Cuban government or whoever fronts for Castro and his henchmen are using this Sorolla to test the market," he said. "I'm not fighting this because it's the most valuable Sorolla we have. It's about property rights and my family's heritage."
Pausing for a moment, he offered another thought: "When I see those things being sold, I feel outraged."


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21.11.2004 14:37 (zuletzt bearbeitet: 21.11.2004 14:50)
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#2 RE:Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch
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... und hier der Leitartikel der New York Times über Amerikas Zucker"unternehmer", die Fanjuls

America's Sugar Daddies

November 29, 2003
America's Sugar Daddies

Sugar growers in this country, long protected from global
competition, have had a great run at the expense of just
about everyone else - refineries, candy manufacturers,
other food companies, individual consumers and farmers in
the developing world. But now the nation's sugar program,
which guarantees a domestic price for raw sugar that can be
as much as three times the world price, needs to be
terminated. It has become far too costly to America's
global economic and strategic interests.

The less defensible a federal policy is on its merits, the
greater the likelihood that it generates (or originates
from) a great deal of cash in Washington, in the form of
campaign contributions. Sugar is a sweet case in point. The
Fanjul brothers, Florida's Cuban-American reigning sugar
barons who preside over Palm Beach's yacht-owning society,
were alone responsible for generating nearly $1 million in
soft-money donations during the 2000 election cycle.
Alfonso Fanjul, the chief executive of the
family-controlled Flo-Sun company, served as Bill Clinton's
Florida co-chairman in 1992 - and even merited a mention in
the impeachment-scandal Starr report, when Monica Lewinsky
testified that the president received a call from him
during one of their trysts. Meanwhile, brother Pepe is
equally energetic in backing Republicans, so all bases are

The Fanjuls harvest 180,000 acres in South Florida that
send polluted water into the Everglades. (A crucial part of
their business over the years has been to lobby not just
against liberalization of the sugar trade, but against
plans to have the sugar industry pay its fair share of the
ambitious $8 billion Everglades restoration project.) The
Fanjuls had been Cuba's leading sugar family for decades
before Fidel Castro's takeover. Crossing the Straits of
Florida, they bought land in the vicinity of Lake
Okeechobee, which feeds the Everglades, and imported
platoons of poorly paid Caribbean migrant workers. Their
business was aided by the embargo on Cuban sugar. The crop
is protected from other competition by an intricate system
of import quotas that dates back to 1981.

The government does not pay sugar producers income supports
as it does many other kinds of farmers. Instead, it
guarantees growers like the Fanjuls an inflated price by
restricting supply. Only about 15 percent of American sugar
is imported under the quota rules, and while the world
price is about 7 cents a pound, American businesses that
need sugar to make their products must pay close to 21
cents. Preserving this spread between domestic and world
sugar prices costs consumers an estimated $2 billion a
year, and nets the Fanjuls - who have been called the first
family of corporate welfare - tens of millions annually.
The sugar exporters who are able to sell to the United
States also benefit from those astronomical prices. The
Dominican Republic is the largest quota holder, and one of
the big plantation owners there is - surprise - the Fanjul

The sugar situation hurts American businesses and
consumers, but its worst impact is on the poor countries
that try to compete in the global agricultural markets.
Their farmers might never be able to compete with corn or
wheat farmers in the United States, even if the playing
field were leveled. But they can grow cotton and sugar at
lower prices than we can, no matter how advanced our
technology. Our poorer trading partners bitterly resent the
way this country feels entitled to suspend market-driven
rules whenever it appears they will place American
producers at a disadvantage.

In fairness, the United States is not alone in distorting
the sugar trade, and the European Union's massively
subsidized exports of beet sugar make it the biggest
culprit. The American sugar lobby uses that fact as a
shield, arguing that the crop not be included in any
regional trade deals until distortions are addressed by all
countries at the World Trade Organization. But quotas are
set between trading partners, not on a global level. Right
now the United States is negotiating the creation of a
hemispheric free trade area that would benefit many United
States industries, including other agricultural sectors. It
is ridiculous for the sugar lobby to argue - as it does
vociferously - that sugar should not be included in the
agreement even though it is one of the few products that
some Latin American republics can hope to ship to the
American market.

So far the Bush administration has rightly rejected the
sugar lobby's push to keep the commodity off the table. The
danger, however, is that American trade negotiators might
still prove far too deferential to sugar industries when
hammering out the trade deals' specifics. For instance, any
move to phase in elimination of sugar quotas over a period
longer than a decade (as was done in the North American
Free Trade Agreement) would undermine any promise a trade
deal might hold for poor farmers in Latin America. The
strength of the protectionist sugar lobby in Washington -
which unites Southeastern cane growers and Midwestern beet
farmers - was apparent in the success of Senator Mary
Landrieu of Louisiana last year in bashing Nafta's modest
sugar provision during her re-election bid.

If the sugar trade were liberalized, world prices would
start creeping up and domestic prices would fall, which
would benefit both the developing world and the American
economy. The industry itself cites "alarming" studies that
if the United States imported an additional two million
metric tons - roughly the amount Central America exports -
domestic prices would be cut in half. But that is no
argument for opposing trade liberalization. That is an
argument for the handful of individuals who control the
sugar business in this country to start thinking about a
new line of work, and be grateful for the long run they

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


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21.11.2004 18:23 (zuletzt bearbeitet: 21.11.2004 18:23)
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#3 RE:Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch
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Das gleiche Thema aus dem Wall Street Journal

Castro's Art Theft Puts Sotheby's on the Spot

October 29, 2004; Page A15

Any art thief worth his salt knows that pinching a painting is less than half the job. Success comes only when the item is unloaded to a collector and the cash is safely in hand.

This is the tale of a painting by Spanish impressionist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923). "A View of Malaga" belonged to a private collector in Havana. Part one of the story is the heist: Fidel Castro "appropriated" the work in 1961.

As for part two, it is alleged that the Cuban dictator sold it some years ago to an Italian who arranged for Sotheby's to put it on the auction block. Now, the pre-heist owner, the Cuban-American Fanjul Family Trust, wants restitution, or at least satisfaction. It has asked the State Department to investigate whether Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act, which authorizes the visa revocation of parties knowingly trafficking in stolen Cuban property, should apply.

Civilized society widely recognizes that Nazi loot is stolen property and ought to be returned to its rightful owner or family heirs. Indeed just two days ago, the FBI reportedly seized a painting from a Chicago art collector that authorities believe belongs to the heir of a Holocaust survivor living in California.

It is no great leap of logic to extend this principle to art expropriated by other tyrannies and passed in the shadows to collectors in exchange for dollars. In a just world, the collector would be regarded as an accessory to a despot who plunders his own country.

Yet Europe broadly applies the Act of State Doctrine -- which says that if a foreign power is recognized, then its domestic policies are not to be challenged in the courts, even if there seems to be a moral imperative to do so. That's why the Fanjul family has turned to Helms-Burton's Title IV as a way to put the art world on notice that this is stolen property and not fair game for dealers.

The painting in question was acquired in the 1930s or 1940s by Jose Gomez-Mena, who left his estate to his daughter Lilian Gomez-Mena (Mrs. Alfonso Fanjul). According to the trust's lawyers -- the Miami firm of Steel, Hector and Davis -- after the Castro regime issued an "expropriating decree, the Sorolla was taken to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana."

The Fanjuls, having decamped to the U.S. to escape Castro's repression, tried to keep track of their property over the decades. In the mid-1980s the collection showed up in a Cuban traveling exhibition in Europe. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the family became concerned that Castro, desperate for foreign exchange, might try to sell the collection. In April 1993 the Fanjul family says it sent letters to a number of international art auction houses, including Sotheby's, to notify them of their ownership claim. In October 1993 the family put the paintings on the Art Loss Register. The London-based ALR's purpose is to make sure that stolen art does not turn up on the international art market.

Yet in April 1995, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, the great-granddaughter of the artist, received a request from Sotheby's to authenticate "A View of Malaga." The letter dated April 20, 1995, says that the auction house wished to include the painting in a June sale. Ms. Pons-Sorolla felt sure that the painting had come from Cuba and she alerted the Fanjul family.

A break in the case came when Shanker Singham, of Steel, Hector and Davis in Miami, plowing through related court documents, realized that there was a possible connection between a Sotheby's employee in charge of the European impressionist division and an Italian art dealer called Bruno Scaioli who specialized in collecting in Latin America.

The British art journalist Peter Watson made the same link in his 1997 book "Sotheby's: The Inside Story." According to Mr. Watson, in a piece titled "Castro Stole My Art" in last week's Times of London Sunday Magazine, "From documents leaked to me, it appeared that Scaioli . . . once had an arrangement to find art for the auction house in South America."

Mr. Singham hired art loss investigator Simon Hornby, who, posing as a broker for an interested collector, went to Italy to meet with Mr. Scaioli. The undercover work was slow and nerve-wracking. But on a second visit to Mr. Scaioli's apartment in July 2000, the sleuth says that he was shown a Sorolla. He asked if it was the "View of Harbor," another name for the painting in question. He was told it was.

In the same Times piece, Mr. Watson reports that during that meeting, "Scaioli had with him the catalogue of the Spanish exhibitions, where it said that the painting had once been in the Gomez-Mena collection. He confirmed that it had been authenticated by Blanca Pons-Sorolla, and said he had bought it from the Cuban authorities about eight years before."

Sotheby's says that it "put the Fanjul's lawyers in touch with the lawyers for the current owner in 1998." Mr. Singham says that is true and that the lawyer told him that Sotheby's held the painting "to his client's order between 1993 and 1995."

Sotheby's further points out that it "never did offer Port of Malaga at auction." It says that after almost a decade it "cannot reconstruct precisely what occurred. However, even if Sotheby's did consider including the painting at an auction in 1995, this is a very public process, together with the distribution of our catalogues to the Art Loss Register, and the Fanjuls would have had every opportunity to pursue whatever legal claim to the painting they believed they had."

The trouble with the court route in Europe, Mr. Singham reiterates, is the Act of State Doctrine. Previous efforts to recover the Gomez-Mena Collection have been discouraged by legal counsel because it is expected that the act would be applied. That's why he believes that Helms-Burton's Title IV is the best weapon to use against the alleged perpetrators. After all, a dictator's contempt for property rights ought to have consequences.

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21.11.2004 18:41
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#4 RE:Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch
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... und noch eine Räuberpistole aus der Rubrik: wie komme ich günstig an Kunstgegenstände und verkaufe sie meistbringend, um meinen maroden Staatshaushalt zu sanieren:

Castro'$ Deep Love for Cuban Art

Since 1959 thousands of works of art of the Cuban patrimony, many of
them from private residences of Cuban families that had fled the
country, were disposed of by prominent members of the Castroist lite.
Most were taken to large warehouses in Avenida del Puerto and later sold
abroad, mostly in Canada and Europe, for a considerable profit, through
Cubartimpex, a foreign trade enterprise.

The disappearance of Cuban national art began discreetly, in the form of
"loans" of works of art from museums to decorate Castro's Palace of the
Revolution and other places frequented by the nomenclature. That way,
invaluable archeological pieces from the collections of the Montan
Archeological Museum at the University of Havana were taken on loans and
disappeared forever. Similarly, many pieces from the Napoleonic Museum,
the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museo Bacard and many others have
been disappearing.

Proof of the systematic stealing of Cuban works of art by the Castro
government are, for example, Roberto Borlegui's November 1996 Cuban art
sale in Dallas, as well as a sale of 350 paintings in September 1994. In
the same fashion, in November of 1989 Christie's held an auction of
Cuban works of art in London. The previous year, Sothebys London held an
auction in London in which a multimillion-dollar sale of paintings by
Joaqu n Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), a part of the Oscar Cintas
collection, took place. Cintas, a patron of the arts, had left a legacy
of artistic works by Cuban and foreign masters in the care and custody
of the Museum of Havana. Ansorena, a Spanish gallery in Madrid, hosted a
sale paid for by the Cuban government and held by a Swiss art dealer.
Between 1960 and 1970, approximately 30 million dollars in books, most
from private libraries, but also from the Cuban National Library and
similar institutions, were sold to western Europeans through East
Berlin. There were also sales to dealers in Buenos Aires, Mexico City,
Madrid and Barcelona. In Toronto and Montreal many auctions of Cuban
rare books have taken place.

Advertisements have been placed in art magazines describing lots as
being furniture, paintings and jewelry from the palaces of Havana and
other Cuban cities. One documented example of this type of sale in
Canada is from Montreal's Frazer Brothers Auctioneers in 1969.
In May 1994 in Milan, Italy, at the Casa Delle Aste, Milan's Instituto
Italiano Realizze sold, at auction, 700 lots that were described as
decorations and objects from diplomatic residences in Havana. The
"diplomatic residences" were, in reality, the private homes of Cuban
families whose properties had been stolen by Castro. The total sale of
138 paintings alone was estimated at more than $8 million. Notice of the
auction by the Italian press indicated that the items had received
approval for export from the Cuban Ministry of Culture on March 12,

In mid-1996, Cuba's National Museum of Art (Museo de Bellas Artes) was
closed indefinitely, allegedly because of "building repairs." But
Jes s Rosado Arredondo, head of registry, inventory and conservation
at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana until November 1996, has
confirmed that the closing of the museum was part of an operation
ordered by Castro in June 1996 and carried out by officers and personnel
of the security forces of the Ministry of the Interior. During the
operation code-named "Operaci n Canasta," 50,000 paintings, sculptures
and other works of art valued at $500,000,000 were removed and hidden in
three buildings controlled by the security forces. Mr. Rosado presented
lists and proof of many works that vanished while he held his position
at the museum. In the summer of 1997 Cuban National Heritage, an
organization of the Cuban exile community monitoring the illegal sale of
stolen Cuban works of art, issued a press release regarding these most
recent attempts to dispose of the richest art collection of the Cuban
nation. As it is customary, however, the American liberal press has
ignored their plea.

The loss of important government documents stolen from Cuban archives
has not been any less. Thousands of documents from the National Archives
and the National Library have been systematically sold to dealers
worldwide. The stamps and seals of these institutions are easily
identifiable on books and documents, clearly indicating their place of
origin.The most valuable rare books, illustrated with maps and
engravings have disappeared from archives and libraries. In 1993 two
copies of the Libro de los ingenios, illustrated by Laplante,
mysteriously disappeared from the Palacio del Junco in the Matanzas
Museum. Similar works, such as a rare edition of Miahle engravings, have
disappeared from library of the Sociedad Econ mica de Amigos del Pais.
It is believed that the precious books have been sold abroad to engross
the Comandante's reserves.

Granted, before Fidel Castro Cuba knew of many corrupt politicians who
stole the government's money. But, bad as it was, corruption in
pre-Castro's Cuba pales in comparison with the way the Castroist Mafia
have been systematically stealing everything that is not nailed to the
ground and even some things that were nailed to the ground of the
one-day prosperous Caribbean island. By any standard, Castro and his
cronies have redefined the terms graft and corruption in Latin America.
The American Left still keeps mumbling about the marvels of free
education and health, the absence of discrimination, prostitution,
gambling, government corruption, and unemployment, in a Cuba where all
capitalist vices have returned with a vengeance.

But, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence of his corruption, the
Left keeps praising Castro as the greatest example of honesty and
unselfishness. The hypocrisy of the Left, Liberation Theologists
included, proves that actually they have nothing against the
exploitation of the poor by the rich and powerful, but, as in the case
of Castro's Cuba, they just want to change the rich and powerful who
exploit the poor.


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22.11.2004 08:26 (zuletzt bearbeitet: 22.11.2004 08:28)
#5 RE:Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch

@ vilmaris:

Du lehnst die Granma, die junge Welt und Neues Deutschland als einseitige, voreingenommene Publikationen ab. Dem stimme ich prinzipiell zu. Auf der anderen Seite scheinst Du aber fast ausschließlich Artikel der New York Times, der Washington Post und des Miami Heralds hier einzustellen, alles US-amerikanische Printmedien. Es ist doch eher fraglich, ob gerade diese Zeitungen eine objektive Einschätzung der Thematik leisten können.


 Beitrag melden
22.11.2004 10:09
avatar  yo soy
#6 RE:Die Castro-Sammlung: Kunstraub auf kubanisch
spitzen Mitglied

tag auch,

... ich bin der meinung, dass alle journalistischen spektren eine gute quintessenz ergeben - aber das wäre eh das normale, oder!
...oder halten die leute das motto hoch: bild - dir deine meinung! (wobei bild austauschbar ist)


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