RAID ON THE RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE

According to the Press Statement of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundes Kriminal Amt) of Thursday, 13 June 2013, art dealers, galleries, warehouses, auction houses and residences of private collectors across Germany were raided on Wednesday, 12 June, and works of art with any resemblance to the Russian Avant-Garde were confiscated. InCoRM was able to speak to two collectors. They said that they had no prior knowledge of a police investigation or the impending raid, that their homes were searched and that works and documents were seized. Several police arrived at one of the collectors at 2 am in the morning and were told to go away; they came back at 9 am and were in both residences for about 12 hours. Asking when their property would be returned, police told them that they did not know because it would be sent to laboratories in Germany, commissioned by the BKA, to conduct scientific analyses on them. This was despite producing proof of scientific analyses that had been carried out on their collections, some of which date from the 1990s, and done by renowned and highly experienced laboratories. In fact, where two or more laboratories had analysed works, the findings confirmed each other.

The collectors stated that on entering their homes the police told them outright that their paintings were fakes and claimed that scientists had falsified their findings. Other paintings were seized indiscriminately and, as it turns out, without official authorisation.

Now, in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 14 June 2013, there seems to be an implicit admission of the excesses and abuses of these raids. There it is reported that the State Prosecutor in Wiesbaden, Frau Maria Kluge, ordered these actions on the basis of “allegations” (no mention has been made of “proofs”) and  that a speaker for the BKA admits that they don’t know whether the paintings requisitioned are fakes or not. So has a ring of art forgers been broken, as they claimed, or the code of civil liberties?

And on what authority could the incriminations be levelled at the ordinary citizen in their own homes concerning their property about which the police knew nothing, the works guilty before proven innocent? Where is due process of the law?

Admin.   18 June 2013 .

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