Gang-style art theft: Caravaggio recovered from criminal group

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Ukrainian and German police recovered a Caravaggio that had been stolen from a museum in Odessa in 2008. “The Taking of Christ” was found in the hands of a criminal group that deals with high value theft. Such reports reinforce our knowledge that organized criminal activity is involved with art crime. Authorities must aggressively uncover the relationships between criminal networks and art crime in order to combat this large, global problem that funds other crimes. Today's recovery by police is welcome news.

The Shell Game

Monday, June 28, 2010
The recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act forces the State of Ohio to re-address our uninsured. Of particular interest is our population of high risk uninsured. These individuals are very unhealthy and have not been insured for over six months. The previous options available to our high-risk pool were both mediocre and expensive. Still, many of our unhealthiest accepted the available state mandated option. Today we are talking about those who did not.

According to the report published in the Plain Dealer this past Saturday, the federal government has allocated $152,000,000 to help cover these Ohioans until the new rules kick in, about four years from now. Medical Mutual of Ohio, a local not-for-profit, won the contract to manage the policies.

This is not free insurance. The individuals will be required to pay some yet to be determined premium. What does one hundred fifty-two million get you? The State’s best guess is 5,000 insureds. Based on my knowledge of the current premiums and benefits available to these individuals, that number might be a touch optimistic.

In a post dated June 29, 2009, The Real World, I noted that Governor Strickland’s budget included a premium reduction for the open enrollment policies available to Ohio’s unhealthiest citizens under age 65. The cost for this would be borne by Ohioans who pay for their own health coverage. We would, according to the State’s actuary, pay 5.5% more to help our neighbors acquire insurance. My clients can attest to their rising premiums.

The one hundred fifty-two million dollars is part of a total five billion dollar four year program. Let’s pretend that 5,000 is a real number. For our purposes, let’s pretend that all of these numbers are real, the federal government really has five billion dollars, and we really get our hundred fifty million. 5,000 beneficiaries would get only $30,400 towards their coverage. This is only $7,600 per year, a little over $600 per month. Is that even close to the actual cost of insuring these individuals?

The current Medical Mutual of Ohio premium for the Ohio Standard policy for a 60 year old male in Cuyahoga County is $1,403.08 per month after the recent rate reduction. We already know that that is not sufficient to pay claims. Will our soon to be insured make up the $800 per month difference? And, will the new federally designed policy be as awful as our current contract or will it be more generous and costly?

This, of course, does not even begin to address the fact that there are far more than 5,000 Ohioans who are both very unhealthy and in need of a different way to pay for their health care.

There was a time, not so long ago, that we were told that one of the main reasons we had to go to war was because of the way the Taliban treated the women of Afghanistan. We have been told that the purpose of health care reform was to cover the uninsured. The selectivity of our focus and actions make both arguments seem specious. Our government is perfectly happy to ignore the abuses of cooperative tyrants who provide us with cheap oil. And we have yet to show any real interest in devising, and FUNDING, a program to truly cover our unhealthiest and uninsured.

What we have is a shell game. More and more costs are being shifted to those of us with private insurance. All the while the federal government attempts to block insurers from raising rates to cover the true costs. Books must balance, at least in business.

My predictions of a few months ago still stand.

DAVE

www.bogartcunix.com

FBI Art Program Presentation in NYC

Monday, June 21, 2010
Theft, Fraud, and Forgery: Cultural Property Crime in the U.S. and the FBI Art Theft Program

When: Thursday, July 22nd, 2010, 2:00 - 5:00 pm
Where: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, New York 10019

Description:
Art crime is a multi-billion dollar endeavor that affects collectors, dealers, galleries, museums and artists world-wide. The FBI has investigated these crimes for many years, and five years ago established the Art Crime Team to develop a cadre of Special Agents trained specifically in art crime investigations. Although spectacular thefts from major museums capture the headlines, most art thefts in the U.S. are residential burglaries and art fraud is even more rampant. This talk will cover federal jurisdiction, elements of the U.S. criminal statutes, international treaties and conventions, as well as case studies of recent investigations. Basic strategies for protection of collections will also be covered.

Lecturer:
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner
Bonnie Magness-Gardiner is Manager of the Art Theft Program at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Art Theft Program was established after the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2004. Dr. Magness-Gardiner coordinates the work of 13 special agents assigned to various geographic regions, and manages the National Stolen Art File. She received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Arizona. After teaching archaeology for five years, she entered government service as program manager for the Archaeology Program at the National Endowment for the Humanities then became a program manager for the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. For eight years she was the Senior Cultural Property Analyst for the Department of State, implementing the 1970 UNESCO Convention against illicit traffic in cultural property. She also served as the program manager for cultural heritage restoration projects in Iraq. She has been with the FBI since 2005.

Registration Fees:

VLA Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $200
Non-Member Attorney or Arts Professional: $250

Attendees must register before July 20th and be on the security list to attend. Seating is limited to 30 people. (There is an additional $25 fee if you register after July 15th.)

*3.0 CLE credits, 1 Professional Practice, 1 Skills and 1 Ethics (Approved for Non-Transitional and Transitional Attorneys)


To register and for more information, please see this registration form, or register via phone at 212.319.2787 x1. For more information please contact VLA's Kathleen Mallaney at 212.319.2787 x12, or via e-mail at kmallaney@vlany.org.

This event is organized and sponsored by Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

A Knight In Shining Armor

Monday, June 14, 2010
Dr. Ballard made the cover. The current issue of Cleveland Scene featured a story about Robert Ballard, M.D. It appears that Dr. Ballard, age 69, was recently fired. This was not the first time he was fired or defunded, just the most recent and, in his mind, most surprising. Scene depicts him as a good doctor, a caring physician, a practitioner committed to Wellness. He just wants a salary. Is that so awful? Forty-three years since his graduation from a Cleveland medical school and he still hasn’t grasped how and why he gets paid. In essence, he is the poster grandparent for single payer health care.

I bring up Dr. Ballard because of Scene’s cover. There, in four color, is the unemployed doctor dressed in a lab coat walking his dog. I have developed a real appreciation for lab coats.

You can’t be a real doctor, or even a real fake doctor, or even a good stage prop without a lab coat.

I was in China for nine days this past April. My tour took me to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. I was at the Great Wall (amazing pictures), a Ming Tomb, and the Buddhist Temple LingYin. Other cultural/shopping destinations included a jade factory, a silk factory, and a Cloisonné factory. You get the idea. We also stopped in the offices of the purveyors of Traditional Chinese Medicine.



The doctor explained the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine and we were each given the opportunity for a free exam. No blood tests. No sample jars or paper cups. The doctor diagnosed each person, one at a time, by simply taking the patient’s pulse. Then he prescribed the appropriate herbs each inevitably needed.

The doctor took my pulse and asked about my blood pressure medication. “None”, I replied. He was baffled. Me? I was totally relaxed and trying hard not to laugh. I love a good sales pitch. No blood tests. No tests at all. Why was he wearing a lab coat? Our doctor was in costume for his American audience.

My fascination with lab coats can be traced to the recent health care debate. My local Congresswoman, Marcia Fudge, was hoping that her vote was going to be news. It wasn’t. Our Congressional Representatives, even those in safe districts, need to make the six o’clock news now and then, if only for their egos and fundraising. The “White Coat Doctors”, Doctors Organized for Health Care Solutions, were ready to play their part. This is the group that instructs its members to keep their lab coats in their cars and to be ready at a moment’s notice. Their job is to show up at the press conference, coats on, and to nod approvingly. It took tens of thousands of dollars of education for these people to be stage props. But if you call them, they will ride in, like knights in shining armor.

DAVE

www.bogartcunix.com

Art Law class in NYC

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Thinking of starting a For-Profit Arts Business? Don't miss this class tomorrow!

Space is still available.

Forming Your For-Profit Arts Business

When: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 4 - 6 p.m.
Where: VLA, 1 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022 (Auditorium)

(There is an additional $10 late fee if you register day of the class. Please fax your registration form in by 2:00 PM on Thursday.)

This class provides valuable information about starting an arts-related business. Covered issues also include: For vs. Non-Profit incorporation, fiscal sponsorship, selecting and protecting business names; the legal and tax characteristics of LLCs an publication requirements, partnerships, and type C and S corporations; choice of jurisdiction; financing your business; employees and independent contracts; and insurance.

This class will be taught by Elena M. Paul, Esq., VLA's Executive Director.

To register and for more information, please see this registration form.
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Since 1969, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts has been the leading provider of pro bono legal services, mediation services, educational programs and publications, and advocacy to the arts community in New York. The first arts-related legal aid organization, VLA is the model for similar organizations around the world. For more information about Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, please see www.vlany.org.