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Entries in Spain (3)

Sunday
Dec092012

Stolen Spanish Tapestry From 16th Century Found in Houston

ice.gov(NEW YORK) -- A 16th century tapestry, stolen from the Spanish government in 1979, has been found by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Stolen from a cathedral located in Roda de Isabena, Spain, the tapestry depicts the Virgin Mary holding her infant son, Jesus, and Saint Vincent of Saragossa. The painting was among a collection declared national monuments in 1924 by royal decree.

It wasn’t until 2010 that the tapestry resurfaced for sale at the Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair in Brussels, Belgium, after having traveled from Spain to Milan. From Brussels, the painting was sold at auction for $369,000 to a business in Houston, Texas.

At that point, The Spanish Civil Guard’s Heritage Protection Group called upon the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents to help seize the historic piece of artwork, according to Richard Halverson, assistant special agent in charge at HSI in Houston.

“HSI understands the cultural and historical significance of protecting a country’s treasures,” said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston, in a press release. “Our special agents are at the forefront of the effort to identify and return these important items to their lawful owners in the same way we would want our global partners to return America’s artifacts in the event they were ever stolen.”

The tapestry was reclaimed by the HSI local initiative in Houston called “Hidden Relic,” but Halverson says tracking down the “illicit trafficking of cultural property is part of what HSI does as a whole.”

Asked whether the small boutique in Houston will be refunded the money it paid for the tapestry, Halverson replied, “I don’t know, that’s between them and the auction house.”

Halverson says HSI does not know how this artifact was brought into the United States or whether the gallery smuggled it in.

“They may have declared it not knowing it had been stolen,” he said.

It order to try to deter the smuggling of stolen cultural properties in and out of America, Halverson said HSI agents are conducting “outreach programs with local galleries and encouraging them to report anything they might find suspicious about a piece of art.”

As of now, the 16th century tapestry is being held in Houston, “under lock and key,” says Halverson. HSI will work with the Spanish government to ensure the artifact’s safe return home to its native country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar082011

Body of US College Student Missing in Spain Found

ABC News(MADRID) -- The body of Austin Bice, a U.S. exchange student who went missing late last month in Spain, was found in a river in Madrid Tuesday, according to Spanish police.

The 22-year-old's body was discovered in the Manzanares River, close to the nightclub where he was last seen on Feb. 26.  No signs of foul play were seen on the body.  The cause of Bice's death is still not known.

Bice, an international business major at San Diego State University, went to Madrid in mid-January to spend the semester studying at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

He posted on his blog that he planned to attend a concert the night he disappeared.  Friends say that Bice left them outside of the nightclub that was hosting the concert to walk to his host family's home.

Initial reports said that Bice was denied entrance into the club because he was too drunk.  Friends and family have strongly denied that claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar072011

Search Intensifies for College Student Missing in Spain

ABC News(MADRID) -- The family of missing college student Austin Bice is vowing to stay in Spain until the student, missing for more than a week in Madrid, is found.

"We just need to keep going and have all of those people look for him so we can get him home," Pam Bice, the mother of Austin Bice, said.

Larry Bice, the father of Austin Bice, has joined friends and Spanish investigators in the search effort, dotting Madrid with thousands of pictures of the college senior.

The family is even bringing in agents from Halo, a California company that specializes in search and rescue operations that often involve kidnappings.  Authorities said, however, that there are no indications that Bice has been kidnapped.  The Halo agents are expected to arrive in Spain Monday.

The 22-year-old student's cell phone signal is still active, but his voicemail is full and there's been no activity on his credit cards.

Austin Bice's closest friends say that they are sure there is something or someone preventing the college senior from contacting his family.

"This is completely out of character for him...and he always would let someone know where he's going, especially in a foreign country," Bice's friend Connor Fabiano said.

Bice, an international business major at San Diego State University, went to Madrid in mid-January to spend the semester studying there.  He was last seen outside of a fast food restaurant on Feb. 26, a 20-minute walk from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid where he was studying.

Bice, a fluent Spanish speaker, posted on his blog that he planned to attend a concert the night he disappeared.  Friends say that Bice left them outside of the nightclub that was hosting the concert to walk to his host family's home.  Initial reports said that Bice was denied entrance into the club because he was too drunk.  Friends and family have strongly denied that claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio