The silencing of Michel van Rijn

There are people out there who love secrecy.  The manuscript of the gospel of Judas and three other texts were traded around the art world for 20 years, suffering considerable damage in the process.  Dutch art-dealer Michel van Rijn exposed much of this, and indeed many other evil deeds in the art world.  Unsurprisingly those he exposed want his site off-line.

Some years ago his first site was the target of an injunction by James Ferrell of Ferrellgas.  I’ve corresponded with the latter, and found him a pleasant and helpful man.  The injunction seems to suggest that the action was taken mainly because material on van Rijn’s site was compromising a suit by Ferrell against the notorious Bruce Ferrini, the man who did more damage to those four manuscripts than any other single source.

Someone also persuaded Google to remove all reference to his site.  He moved to, which also never appeared in Google. 

I recently noticed that the site had vanished.  It seems that it vanished in October 2006, after death threats to his children.

We are all the poorer for this.  It’s understandable, but why haven’t the police stepped in? I hope that we will see you again, old inkslinger.


61 thoughts on “The silencing of Michel van Rijn

  1. Dearest David,

    So nice to hear ‘your voice’. Never thought it could happen that I would miss the website as well. Time to team up again? 😉 BTW Have you heard the one about Sotheby’s?

    ‘A Princely Collection – Treasures from the Islamic World’

    Quote: The Princely Collection comprises an impressive array of major objects, some without parallel at auction, offering a unique opportunity for private collectors and museums to acquire works of exceptional rarity and importance. Unquote

    Sure and I am the Pope of Rome. Ever heard of the mega rich good doctor, collector-dealer: Dr. Nasser D. Khalili? Who as a Jew got the doubtful title ‘Prince of Islam’ behested on him by Mecca? No?

    Well that’s what the core of the ‘Princely Collection’ at Sotheby’s is all about. Selling the hyped up drags of the Emperor’s new cloth. Chutzpah to the Prince! Sotheby’s coining it in yet again.

    talk to you soon dear David

    un fuerte abrazo


  2. David,

    More regarding the princely collection at Sotheby’s

    As for the ‘Princely’ collection, many of the pieces were published by the Khalili Gallery list in Clifford Street in 1981, however the sotheby’s catalogue contains also other things which were not originally there. Sotheby’s have stated that the collection does not belong to Khalili,but admit the provenance of the Khalili Beg catalogue (HUH) the speculation is that the ‘others’ might belong to Prince Jefrie of Brunei and that he was a backer of the Khalili Nour foundation. Prince Jefrie is said to owe his brother zillions so we might assume that it is a cleverly cloaked instrument to sell part of his holdings. Getting solid facts are difficult as obviously Sotheby’s holds the keys. It is definitely not Oliver Hoare or the other Sotheby’s regulars. It is vintage Khalili foundation and its connection with Sotheby’s.


    [Edited to fix the link. I added “said to be” in a couple of places – RP]

  3. All very interesting stuff – thank you. It’s nice to hear from you, Michel (if it is really you!).

    Because the UK is the venue of choice for the international creep to launch his libel actions, we do need to be careful what we state as fact here. A couple of suggestions:

    DON’T say anything that will get me sued, such as “XYZ is a thief”. Do USE those useful circumlocutions like “might”, “is said to be”, “could be”.

    Remember: always practice safe grammar. 🙂

  4. The following is edited for reasons of libel:

    1) The Omaha Nebraska Cathedral (St. Cecelia)has a load of ‘old’ Spanish Colonial art that is questionable. When contacted the Cathedral and Omaha Diocese about this the door was slammed hard. It was all bought from a certain dealer in Santa Fe, NM known for selling questionable art….When contacted the director of the Omaha Museum (Joslyn Art Museum) whose wife was on the selection committee for the Cathedral he immediately began to spin…He has since left he museum.The ‘art’ still hangs. It was all purchased with public tax deductable contributions.

    This same Santa Fe dealer through his Omaha clerical shill/sock puppet is also responsible for art (don’t know how much – but at least one possible fake)in the new Oakland RC Cathedral. The FBI asked the contacting party who the victim was when a complaint was made. No victim the FBI said. How about the taxpayeers who have to pay more because of the charitable contributions? Duh. When one talks to a stupid and likely crooked donkey learn to bray.

    2) So the game continues – why not when there are drug dealer profits and absolutely no law enforcement.(these same idiots are chasing terrorists? then may god help us all) If only M would make peace (with himself?) and return. He is needed now more than ever…

    3) Is anything sold as ‘old’ in Santa Fe actually old Example: Icons, Jade, Tang Dynastyy Horses, early anything?

    4) One prominent (in his mind) ex-FBI agent, who specialized in art fraud,was very recently shilling and running up huge bills for a central states gallery (quite in the news -just Bing around) that perhaps specialized in cheating vacationers who liked sea cruises. This same biped is now a private specialist in recovering art and helping those defrauded. If one were to ask me..there ought to be a public punch out. Hey most laws are clearly not enforced so just choose to obey all except the ‘punch-out’ laws?

    If only M would make peace (with himself?) and return. He is needed now more than ever…he is needed NOW MORE THAN EVER…But all things run their course. Alas the monkey’s still have the dynamite.

    The opinions expressed above are not my own but were actually encapsulated by Moses when God gave him the Ten Commandments.

  5. What follows is not shocking. It is just what happens when you are a Getty employee. Maybe Marion and Barry Munitz can teach art law to the FBI? Likely Michel will have some comments………..

    October 13 LA Times
    Culture Monster
    All the Arts, All the Time
    « Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

    Charges dismissed against ex-Getty curator Marion True by Italian judge
    October 13, 2010 | 9:47 am
    The groundbreaking criminal trial of former Getty Museum antiquities curator Marion True ended in a bureaucratic whimper Wednesday in Rome when the judged ended the proceedings, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired on the criminal charges that she had conspired to traffic in looted art.

    True was charged by an Italian prosecutor in 2005, marking the first time an American museum official had been criminally charged by a foreign government.

    True’s attorney, Francesco Isolabella, said in an interview after the ruling that his client was innocent.

    True’s co-defendant Giacomo Medici was convicted on related charges and his conviction was twice upheld on appeal. Robert Hecht, another co-defendant, remains on trial as the alleged head of the conspiracy, but the statute of limitations on his charges will expire in July.

    The developments mark an end to a legal saga that has had a profound affect on American museums. True, while a curator at the Getty, aggressively sought out antiquities for the museum, including the renowned statue of Aphrodite, that turned out have dubious origins.

    It began in 1995 when authorities raided Medici’s warehouse and found Polaroid photographs of hundreds of recently looted antiquities. Those objects were traced to museums across the United States, Europe and Asia.

    True had dealings with Medici and his business partner, Robert Hecht. The acquisition of the private collection of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman in 1996 of more than 300 antiquities marked the peak of the Getty’s collecting period, and would later form the core of the Italian prosecutor’s charges.

    Her indictment in 2005 came amid a sweeping Italian investigation into looted antiquities that had been traced to a half-dozen American museums as well as museums in Europe and Asia. Over the five years that her trial spanned, American museums, one by one, forged agreements with Italian authorities, returning more than 100 looted antiquities in exchange for loans and cultural cooperation with the Italian government.

    The Getty has since adopted one of the strictest acquisition policies in the country, refusing to purchase antiquities that did not have a clear ownership history. The association of U.S. art museum directors adopted a similar policy not long after, marking a dramatic change in the collecting practice in America’s leading museums.

    The last acquisition alleged by the prosecution came in 2002 and the statute of limitations expired in July. Prosecutor Pallo Ferri alleged that the conspiracy between Hecht, Medici and True continued until April 2002, the date of a letter between True and Hecht. Under that analysis, the crime expired in July.

    Wednesday’s ruling came in response to a motion by True’s attorneys arguing that the last remaining charge against her, conspiracy to traffic in looted art related to the Fleischman acquisition, had expired in March 2007. The judge said that this marks an end for Marion True in this trial.

    She has since become an outspoken critic of the way museums used to acquire antiquities. In her one interview with the press, True told a reporter for the New Yorker that she was innocent and argued that she had done more to further the Italian cause than any other curator in America.

    –Jason Felch

  6. Marion True was just a (big 😉 vehicle. From the start the prosecutor were not really interested to incarcerate her… same for Robert Hecht who anyway due to his age under Italian law cannot be incarcerated. Medici is a different story, but is very wealthy and extremely good connected. The Italian GOV kept their eyes on the ball during the trial. From the start it was all political, much to the frustration of some dedicated officers of the Carabinieri. They would have loved to put her fat arse behind bars. But there was not only Shelby White-Getty, but also the Metropolitan, Boston, Princeton, Cleveland museum etc. In the end the Italians played their cards well and got more or less what they wanted. Who cares if this woman does time or not. Her reputation is tarnished and finished. She was banged to rights in Italy and Greece, whatever she claims today. Art is forever, Marion who?

    Behind closed doors during the trial in Rome numerous deals were cut in many directions…

    Marion True at this time taking the moral high ground is hilarious and entertaining… did you know that Jeffrey Dahmer was innocent?

    Marion also worked hand in glove with Robin Symes and even sat down in Rome in the shop of the Fiorentini brothers to have lunch with the tombaroli they controlled.

    Dear David, do not tell me you are surprised with the outcome of the trial. You are a big boy and witnessed class justice in the art world on more then one occasion.

    Do you like this one?

    Christie’s is not much better then Sotheby’s (Ear-Dagger) in quoting provenance’s in their Islamic Sale catalogues

    take the 10 million dollar vase-carpet for instance

    I alerted the Financial Times at the time as the carpet was sold a short while before for peanuts ($23000) at a dodgy auction house (George Rehm) in Augsburg

    I wondered why… was it to whitewash? Could it have been looted during WWII?

    Nobody looked into it… they just took my information and printed it in the Financial Times

  7. “Dear David, do not tell me you are surprised with the outcome of the trial.”

    Not a bit Michel…in fact I think I didn’t tell you …I found Jesus…and because of that that I have I discovered how much I love crucifixions. Ritual slaughters too…

  8. Gents, I’m going to have close comments on this thread. I’m afraid that while there are undoubtedly many dodgy characters involved in the art world, this is not the place to expose them. Sorry about that.

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