Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"WTC Art Plunder Eyed," by Philip Messing,

May 11, 2002, New York Post, "WTC Art Plunder Eyed,"  by Philip Messing,  [Reposted at

http://www.museum-security.org/02/060.html  ]

May 11, 2002 -- A portion of Rodin's "The Three Shades" (right) was found in the trade center rubble (above). One of his artworks - part of a collection at Cantor Fitzgerald - may have been stolen at the landfill. City Department of Investigation probers are pondering the possible theft of a statue by French sculptor Auguste Rodin from the rubble of the World Trade Center, The Post has learned. Securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald's offices high in the World Trade Center's south tower housed hundreds of works by Rodin - who's probably best known for "The Thinker." In recent days, DOI investigators have been showing workers at the Fresh Kills Landfill a photograph of a Rodin statue that was part of the Cantor Fitzgerald collection, sources familiar with the probe said. The agency hopes to determine if the statue somehow survived the terror attacks - only to be pilfered from the landfill by a city worker.

"As far as we are concerned, the collection is a total loss," said Christiane Fisher, a spokeswoman for Axa, the French-based company that insured the Rodins.

Carol Strickland, a spokeswoman for DOI, offered a terse "no comment" when asked about the probe, as did Julie Horn, a spokeswoman for Cantor Fitzgerald.

But a Cantor source confirmed DOI did show Fresh Kills workers a photo of the Rodin sculpture to determine if it had been removed from the trade center rubble. "Your information is good," said the source.

 B. Gerald Cantor, one of Cantor Fitzgerald's founders, amassed one of the world's largest Rodin collections. The charitable foundation set up in his name says Cantor and his wife donated many of the works to museums and galleries around the world.

About $5 million worth of Rodin art remained in the company's headquarters on Sept. 11, said Axa's Fisher. A number of NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau detectives have been recruited into the Department of Investigation's probe, said a senior-level police official. "This is all very recent," said the source.

"From what I understand, they're not looking at any of our guys - they are looking at the possibility that it was a firefighter who took it." But a Fire Department spokesman said the department was unaware of the investigation. The senior police source cautioned it's possible someone took the Rodin statue from the dump without knowing its value. For months, investigators at Fresh Kills have been sifting the World Trade Center rubble, which is considered evidence of a crime.

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