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When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it. Frederic Bastiat
The real criminals in society are those who have stolen the wealth of the world from the people. Angela Davis
In the UK one of the most well-known cases was that of Barlow Clowes. Between October 1983 and May 1988 about 11,000, mainly elderly, small investors entrusted their money to Barlow Clowes International, the vast majority of whom were persuaded to do so by misrepresentation that their funds would be securely invested in gilts (government bonds). In fact, very little, if any, of that money was invested in gilts. Investors’ moneys were stolen and used to buy houses, farms, yachts, cars, antique furniture, a vineyard and shares in private and public companies. In 1992, after a trial lasting 112 days Peter Clowes got 10 years in prison. This case is still relevant in that it was only in 2011 (7 February 2011) that the case was finally declared closed when HM Treasury announced it had finally recovered £125 million of the £150 million defrauded from investors. John Lea, A Brief Introduction to Corporate Crime
Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer. William Shakespeare, III Henry VI V vi 11
Sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king ... Do not thou when thou art king hang a thief. William Shakespeare, Henry IV II i 57-61
Why, Hal, ’tis my vocation, Hal; ’tis no sin for a man to labour in his vacation. ibid. I ii 116
A plague upon’t when thieves cannot be true one to another. ibid. II ii 27-28, Sir John to Prince Harry
If I take from another’s pocket to put into mine, for it is plain pocketing up of wrongs. I must leave them, and seek some better service. Their villainy goes against my stomach, and therefore I must cast it up. William Shakespeare, Henry V III ii, Boy
The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief,
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief. William Shakespeare, Othello I iii
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed. ibid. III iii @160
He that is robbed, not wanting what is stol’n,
Let him not know’t and he’s not robbed at all. ibid. III iii 347-348, Othello
Rich preys make true men thieves. William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis
All property is theft. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
War – organised war – is not a human instinct. It is a highly planed and cooperative form of theft. Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man 2/13: The Harvest of the Seasons, BBC 1973
War, theft, is not a permanent state that can be maintained. ibid.
You’d think that things that are stolen – if everybody’s agreed they were taken under terrible circumstances – should be able to get them back wherever they are. But no. The justice you get depends on an accident of geography. Webert, St Catherine’s House
Just what is it about art theft that we can’t resist? Alastair Sooke, The Worlds’ Most Expensive Paintings, BBC 2013
Boston, Massachusetts, St Patrick’s Day 1990 ... The greatest art theft in history ... 13 works of art, many crudely cut from their frames. ibid.
Italian police estimate that half a million works of art have been stolen in Italy over the last four decades. ibid.
Historically, the largest art thefts have been carried out not by individuals but by armies. ibid.
In December 1913 a man arrived with a trunk in Florence after a sixteen-hour train journey from Paris. He checked into a run-down hotel, and the next day he was visited by two of Italy’s greatest experts in art. The man had something to give them: the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The Mona Lisa had been taken from the Louvre two years earlier in one of the coolest and most brazen art robberies ever. Art of the Heist s2e3: The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa, 2007
It had simply just vanished ... A humble Italian carpenter had outwitted the whole of the French art establishment ... It was more than twenty-four hours before anyone even realised the Mona Lisa was missing. ibid.
Luck and police incompetence favoured [Vincenzo] Peruggia. ibid.
Two names came up, names familiar in the world of art and letters. One was a poet. The other a young Spanish artist who was already showing promise: Pablo Picasso. ibid.
Peruggia treated the Mona Lisa with respect. ibid.
He told the court his motive for the theft was national pride. ibid.
For a long time he had slept with the Mona Lisa by his bed. ibid.
Its fascination has always been her expression: the Mona Lisa smile. ibid.
The Louvre was shut indefinitely. But still had to face the public outcry. ibid.
The authorities clung to the faint hope that the theft was a publicity stunt. There were plenty of other theories. ibid.
A thumbprint from the thief. Finger-printing was a relatively new science. ibid.
The Hermitage in St Petersburg vies with The Louvre in Paris as the world’s greatest museum. In August 2006 its director made an announcement: more than 200 items worth about $5 million were missing from its vaults. It was a huge scandal. Art of the Heist s2e4: The Russian Conspiracy
The Winter Palace became a museum – the Hermitage. It contains the collections seized from the Tsars and the Russian aristocracy. ibid.
Only 5% of the museum’s contents is ever on show at one time. ibid.
226 items were missing from the store-room of Russian precious metals and jewellery, and the curator of the department [Larisa Zavadskaya] had died at her desk nine months before. ibid.
The Hermitage director was convinced his enemies were plotting his downfall. ibid.
They discovered still more objects missing. ibid.
In 1987 a 1,500-year-old archaeological site in the Peruvian desert was looted almost to extinction. The site is called La Mina because it is the burial place of the Lord of La Mina, the ruler of an ancient sect known as Moche. Its looting was possibly the worst desecration of a Peruvian archaeological site since the arrival of the Spanish five hundred years ago. Art of the Heist s2e7: Trail of the Moche Gold
They took priceless objects: ceramic figures and bowls; most valuable of all was a superb gold headdress. It shows the face of a sea-god. ibid.
Mocha rulers were buried in state, the mummified body surrounded by a store of artefacts. At the centre the ruler’s golden headdress. ibid.
Visitors to The Louvre were undeterred: for some time afterwards they queued up to contemplate the blank space where the Mona Lisa had once hung. The theft made headline news around the world. A massive police hunt was launched, and among those suspects brought in for questioning was a radical young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso. Alan Yentob, Leonardo III: The Secret Life of the Mona Lisa, BBC 2003
The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the Earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die in extremist agony than that one soul, I will not say will be lost but commit one venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth or should steal one farthing without excuse. Cardinal Newman, Apologia