An earlier post of the Limping Messenger of May 6th. 2009 about the armed robbery of the Scheringa Museum in the Netherlands (The museum of lootings and the looting of museums) displayed a picture of one of the two works of art that had been stolen, a Salvador Dali gouache of 1941. I already mentioned I was not sure whether I had found the right picture of that Dali work, and yesterday I did find the correct picture on a special page of the website of the DSB bank – related to the Scheringa Museum – that has only recently be published.
The web page of the bank also reveals that the rare work by Dali has been personally acquired from a Parisian art dealer by Dirk Scheringa, the owner of the DSB bank and gives detailed of the vulnerability of the gouache in its gilded frame. Tips of the whereabouts of the artworks can be communicated to the bank of Scheringa via this web page. One wonders whether The DSB bank and its related web of financial firms in the field of mortgage and insurance has also insured these two artworks and for which amount of money. This last question of mine relates to recent written-questions asked by a member of the dutch parliament Jolande Sap of the Green Left party (GroenLinks) to the minister of Finance Wouter Bos (social democrat party/PvdA). Jolande Sap (an economist who says she has an allergy for injustice) wanted to know whether the mortgage activities of the DSB bank involving frequent over-validation of real estate property and related high commission fees for the bank or its intermediaries leading to subsequently risks for their clients, was not going beyond the existing rules and what it socially acceptable. The answer of the Finance minister was – as to be expected – evading, though between the lines one can read that the controlling bodies of the Dutch government for the financial world (The National Bank and the AFM) will be enhancing their scrutiny on such issues and in some needed cases, will put sanctions on deviating financial institutions. Earlier this year (April 13) a national television critical consumers program Radar had exposed some of the practices of the DSB bank and its (art collecting) director Scheringa, and that is not all. For some reason this bank founded in 1975 and named after his founder Dirk Scheringa, plus the word ‘Beheer’ (meaning: management, control, supervision) keeps coming in a negative way in the news. Last week it became known that a newly appointed director of the bank, a former liberal party (VVD) minister of Defense, Frank de Grave, left his new position within a period of two months, which is a rare phenomenon in the bank world and this has given rise to speculations of him finding some skeletons in the closet, or worse, in the safe.
So, to come back to the Dali gouache and the other stolen artwork (Lempickan’s painting ‘La Muscienne’), have they been insured according to the same alleged DSB principles of validation? A press statement as published in the NRC/Handelsblad said that the value of the works has not been released. The blog arthostage (which claims to be the only that “reveals the truth about art crime investigation”) comes up with at least some price indication of the Tamara de Lempickan painting and states that it was traded at the Impressionist & Modern Art, Part One auction of Sotheby’s in May 2002, for US $ 2,649,500 and, when I do read their somewhat vague blog-post correctly, later acquired for 3 million dollar by Scheringa.
As the value of a house may still has some objective criteria, especially now after the ‘housing bubble’ has been deflated by the ‘financial crisis’ it helped to create, the value of an art work is known to be ‘what a fool wants to pay for it.’ The ‘trading of wind’ is an old Dutch craft (windhandel) and one need not be surprised when a modern form is practiced in the windy quarters of the northern province of Holland where Dirk Scheringa has set up his quarters. Art collections are often used as safety reservoirs for speculative economic activities, as there can be big differences between the acquisition costs and the actual taxation value at a later point in time. Scheringa’s collection is still a modest enterprise encompassing just over one thousand art objects centred around the idea of ‘realism’ in modern art as represented by surrealists and magic realists. The collection is now housed in a former school building in the small village of Spanbroek, but a new accommodation is under construction nearby and scheduled to open in 2010. If it is still a total private collection museum of Dirk Scheringa is difficult to say, several foundations have been created around the collection and the DSB bank and its sub-division DSB Vastgoed (DSB Real Estate) is the development company of the new museum building. Scheringa is known as a weaver of complex organizational tapestries not just in the banking and insurance world, but also as the main financer of a succesful football club in the region, AZ (they won the national professional football competition this year). Dirk Scheringa has many assets to juggle before he will have drifted out of sight …
NB the word ‘blimp’ may not be anymore known today, so here are two possible meanings:
blimp (as in “Colonel Blimp”) n. : (British) any elderly pompous reactionary ultranationalistic person (after the cartoon character created by Sir David Low)
blimp (as in “airship”) n. : a small nonrigid airship used for observation or as a barrage balloon