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Among the recent Treasure finds was this 8th century British or Irish gold arm ring found in Cumbria.

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Rise in Treasure declarations

The number of items deemed to be Treasure found by the UK public has hit a record high, according to new figures from the British Museum. The museum said its report revealed 1311 Treasure finds were made across England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2019.

‘Treasure’ is generally defined as gold and silver objects that are over 300 years old, or groups of coins and prehistoric metalwork. Other important items found are recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) scheme which is also run by the British Museum with the National Museum Wales.

A total of 81,602 finds were recorded with the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) during 2019.

Unless the object is Treasure, finders have no legal obligation to report them, but do so voluntarily. Almost 90% of these archaeological items were discovered by metal detectorists.

Old Masters stolen from college gallery

Three Old Master paintings, including Annibale Carracci’s A Boy Drinking, have been stolen from a museum in Oxford. Thames Valley Police said burglars broke into the Christ Church College gallery at around 11pm on Saturday, March 14. The gallery is closed until further notice.

A Boy Drinking, painted by a precocious Carracci around the age of 20, is a key work that helped usher in the Baroque in Italy. Another version of the picture dated to c.1582-83 was sold by Sotheby’s in 1994 and is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The picture at Christ Church, dated to c.1580, formed part of the original General John Guise (c.1682- 1765) bequest – the 200-plus paintings and almost 2000 drawings given to Christ Church by a former student in 1765. Also stolen was a Van Dyke oil sketch A Soldier on Horseback c.1616 and Salvatore Rosa’s A Rocky Coast, With Soldiers Studying a Plan.

Thames Valley Police has issued a plea for information. Call 101, or make a report online using the reference 43200087031, or anonymously through Crimestoppers.

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Stolen from Christ Church College gallery, Annibale Carracci’s 'A Boy Drinking' c.1580.

Paddle8 files for Chapter 11

The online auction house Paddle8 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York.

A statement from the firm said: “Paddle8 is undertaking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to protect the company and its assets against aggressive legal manoeuvering that would be harmful to our clients and partners.

“Chapter 11 allows us to work cooperatively with our senior creditors. We are not shuttering the business. This decision was made to protect our partners and preserve the business.”

According to press reports last week the company was the subject of a legal action relating to a charity auction.

Council seeks restitution guide

Arts Council England has appointed the Institute of Art and Law to help form new guidance for museums around the thorny issues of restitution and repatriation of cultural objects.

Claims made over ‘looted art’ housed in museum collections, as well as items appearing on the market, have become an increasingly prominent and complex issue for both the public sector and the trade.

However, the most recent guidance available for public bodies in England dates from 2000 and it is this that ACE has decided to update. ACE is now aiming to take some of the initiative itself to “encourage a more proactive and coordinated approach across UK museums”. The new guidance on restitutions will be published in autumn 2020.

Dead Sea Scroll fragments are fake

A collection of fragments believed to be from the Dead Sea Scrolls are modern forgeries according to scientific research.

The investigation was carried out at the request of The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. It had purchased 16 of the fragments, which had surfaced in the market after 2002 but there had been growing concern over their authenticity since the publication of 13 pieces.

The company Art Fraud Insights was hired to recruit and manage an independent advisory team to conduct scientif ic tests, which determined that none of the pieces were authentic.

A statement on the Art Fraud Insights website said that the fragments all exhibit “characteristics that suggest they are deliberate forgeries created in the 20th century to mimic authentic Dead Sea Scroll fragments”.

The Museum of the Bible, built by Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green and opened in 2017, has been a powerful recent buyer in the market for early Christian and Hebrew manuscripts.

Most read

The most viewed stories for week March 12-18 on antiquestradegazette.com

1 Coronavirus: latest changes to auctions and fairs dates

2 First major UK antiques fair to be cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

3 Trio of high-value paintings stolen in raid on Oxford college collection

4 Coronavirus: UK auctioneers keep calm and carry on as many fairs take a hit

5 Christie’s postpones many forthcoming international sales and shuts down offices

In Numbers

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The number of not-paid-for items found by security guards in the bag of a lady as she left The Open Art Fair in Chelsea. Both were rolls of toilet tissue.