June 30, 2005


US millionaire linked to looted relics: A top US businessman and an international network of smugglers and academics are making millions of dollars through their illegal dealings in looted Middle Eastern artefacts, according to a leading stolen antiquities activist. (David Hebditch and Lawrence Smallman, 26.06.2005, Indy Media)

Former self-confessed smuggler and police informant Michel Van Rijn told Aljazeera.net that multi-millionaire James Ferrell, the CEO of America's second largest propane gas company Ferrellgas, is running a London-based business that deals in smuggled relics.

Van Rijn says Ferrell established his network on 29 January 2000 with Hungarian-born antiquities dealer William Veres and academic Henry Kim of Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum.

After just eight months of dealing, a copy of Ferrell's own profit calcuations - provided to Aljazeera.net by Veres - show that the Texan-born tycoon had made a 400% profit on his initial $2.5m investment.

Neither Ferrell nor executive members of his staff have replied to repeated requests by telephone and e-mail for comment.

And even though Van Rijn invited the FBI to investigate evidence he supplied in 2003, the agency declined to investigate allegations of crimes that had not been committed in the US.

Mr. Brand has assured us that this is the big one, the scandal that will take down the Administration, because James Ferrell is a millionaire and one of the "most powerful" men in the country and John Negroponte has been protecting him despite a Hezbollah connection.

In a related story, Spy Czar Gains Clout: Bush gives intelligence chief Negroponte more control over U.S. agents at home and abroad by adopting a panel's recommendations. (Mark Mazzetti, Richard B. Schmitt and Warren Vieth, June 30, 2005, LA Times)

President Bush on Wednesday handed Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte broad authority over America's disparate and often-competing spy agencies, bringing U.S. domestic and foreign intelligence operations more closely under White House control.

Bush ordered the changes three months after a presidential commission issued a withering indictment of the intelligence failures that preceded the Iraq war. The commission said that a poorly coordinated intelligence community in the U.S. was producing work that was becoming "increasingly irrelevant."

The president adopted nearly all of the panel's 74 recommendations and took other steps toward completing the first overhaul of the U.S. intelligence apparatus since World War II.

In one of the most significant moves, Bush ordered the consolidation of the FBI's counterterrorism, intelligence and espionage operations into one National Security Service. The new office will be part of the FBI, but Negroponte will have authority over its budget and priorities — a move intended to reduce barriers between domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering.

Wednesday's changes further defined the post of director of national intelligence. The job was the centerpiece of an intelligence bill adopted by Congress in December, and Bush chose Negroponte for the post in February.

Serving as the president's principal intelligence advisor, Negroponte holds a new job that oversees all 15 intelligence agencies scattered throughout the government, putting him in a position to quickly communicate White House wishes to a wide network of spies.

Any more fallout from that scandal and Mr. Negroponte may replace Dick Cheney.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 30, 2005 9:05 AM

Does anyone outside of the D.C. city limits think that these reorganizations will make us safer? Shuffling boxes on an org chart and replacing dotted lines with solid lines is the product of a bureaucratic mindset and has little to do with the real world. Adding another layer to a poorly made cake does not make it tastier.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 30, 2005 9:24 AM

Being a 'millionaire' makes him one of the most powerful men in America? Being a mere millionaire in America of 2005 doesn't even get you into a decent country club or gated community. LOL!

Our intelligence services would run a lot better if we closed the CIA, used the DIA for national and international espionage issues and reserved the FBI for more mundane criminal justice matters like tax evasion and counterfeiting.

Posted by: bart at June 30, 2005 9:31 AM

First the NY Times is telling Democrats to appeal to Hank Hill and next thing you know they're attacking propane dealers.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 30, 2005 9:35 AM

According to Opensecrets.org, Ferrell gives shockingly little to politicians for a powerful millionaire. In fact, if I were one of his shareholders, I'd think his failure to donate is a little irresponsible.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 30, 2005 9:46 AM

WOW...this has to be highly credible and damaging coming from Aljezeera.net! Better get the ICC and UN investigative bodies on the job.

And can someone help clear this up for me: is Mr. van Rijn a former smuggler or formerly self-confessed?

(thanks for this important link Orrin and Arthur)

Posted by: Mark at June 30, 2005 10:02 AM

Van Rijn is a ratfink. A self-serving little rat fink liar.

I say this as someone whose wife worked for many years in the antiquities trade and knows all the players.

Here's a link to Van Rijn's website. Judge for yourself.

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 10:42 AM

Consider the source here.

Posted by: Ben Lange at June 30, 2005 10:45 AM

By the way, that was me that posted the the link to Van Rijn's website.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 30, 2005 10:47 AM

"established his network on 29 January 2000 ... After just eight months of dealing"

Wrong Time frame dudes. The invasion was in April of 2003. The famous "looting" of the Iraq Museum supposedly occured on Thurs 2003-04-10 and Friday 2003-04-11 and was fantasized by John Burns in the NYTimes on Sunday 2003-04-13.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 30, 2005 12:03 PM

The writer of the article on Aljazeera is David Hebditch, a price-winning BBC journalist. The reason why Aljazeera published it, is because USA-media are protecting a friend of Negroponte.

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 12:32 PM

H.D. Miller,

You are calling somebody a rat here. Gee, I too know all the players in the antiquities world.
Your wife must have dirty hands too as have all those people.

Anyway, Ferrell did illegal things for which you and I would go to prison. He can continue.

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 12:38 PM


You have to be laughing by the time you've typed: "The writer of the article on Aljazeer..."

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 12:58 PM

because USA-media are protecting a friend of Negroponte.

Yeah, this is exactly what Europeans believe about "USA-media."

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 12:59 PM

You'll notice that the e-mail address of the above person "Art" is atu@planet.nl

If you look at Van Rijn's website, you'll notice that "Arthur Brand", who uses this same email addresses, is one of Michel Van Rijn's regular correspondents, one who writes in a voice that sounds suspiciously like that of Michel Van Rijn.

I repeat my statement, Michel Van Rijn is a notorious criminal, liar, and rat fink.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 30, 2005 1:05 PM

Though I am an European, I hate Europe and support Bush, so no misunderstandings about that.

Ferrellgas is one of America's largest companies. Their CEO is dealing in Baalbek with people like Yaghi. In antiquities-circles it is well known that Yaghi can be contacted through the Hezbollah-press office. It's also not a big secret that Ferrell and Negroponte are longtime close friends dating back to the eighties.
Buying looted artefacts in the Middle-East by an American CEO is walking the highwire.
Come on guys, are we talking the land of free speech here or are we covering things up, with sarcasm about CEO's and Aljazeera?
The writer of the article is a very respected journalist.

Posted by: art at June 30, 2005 1:10 PM


As your wife knows Michel, I know Michel too. May be I even know your wife...;-)

Anyway, I know ALL the key-players in the antiquities world, so no surprise about that. May be I am so sure about this story because I might know Veres and Yaghi and all the others in person...Who'll tell?

It's not about Michel. It is about Ferrell and looting.

Posted by: art at June 30, 2005 1:14 PM

Btw H.D.Miller, as you being an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, you talk pretty rude. If you teach history, you might show some more concern about billionaires (Ferrell is a billionaire btw)destroying historical evidence by bying looted artefacts. Or was you too close with your wife''s business when she was in the trade?

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 1:21 PM

Btw H.D.Miller, as you being an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, you talk pretty rude. If you teach history, you might show some more concern about billionaires (Ferrell is a billionaire btw)destroying historical evidence by buying looted artefacts. Or were you too close with your wife''s business when she was in the trade?

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 1:21 PM

"H.D.Miller, as you being an Assistant Professor of History at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, you talk pretty rude."

Indeed. Pogue mahone, rat fink.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 30, 2005 1:31 PM

H.D.Miller, if you start quoting, what about this quote:

"Or were you too close with your wife's business when she was in the trade?"

Michel indeed is a man with a past. But as you know quite well (ask your wife) most intelligence-agencies work(ed) together with him. Scotland Yard, FBI, Mossad, CRI(Netherlands) and so on.

But let's focus Mr. History: we are talking looted history here, by an American CEO in a very conflictuous region. This is bad news. How long will it take before Ferrellgas shareholders will be alarmed?

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 1:39 PM

If he's a billionaire, it has nothing to do with Farrellgas. He owns, directly and indirectly, about 375,000 shares, which are now trading at about $20.00 per share.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 30, 2005 1:57 PM

Here you can read the correspondence of Ferrell.
At the bottom of the page you can go to the next. Pay attention to mail number 7, as it shows you how these fotunate people become richer.


Posted by: art at June 30, 2005 2:07 PM

"Michel indeed is a man with a past."

A very recent past, seeing as he was arrested in Switzerland in January on charges of blackmail.

"But as you know quite well (ask your wife) most intelligence-agencies work(ed) together with him. Scotland Yard, FBI, Mossad, CRI(Netherlands) and so on."

You forgot the the SAVAK, MI6, MI7, the CIA, Delta Force, the United Federation of Planets, and various unnamed space aliens.

Look, rat fink, if you want to swan around pretending you're not Michel Van Rijn, that's cool, but just don't ask us to buy much of anything that that liar Michel van Rijn is selling.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 30, 2005 2:21 PM

H.D. Miller,

The case in Switzerland was dismissed. Now the case is turned against the people who filled the complaint.It is said that the arrest was initiated by ....Ferrell...

By the way, I am NOT Michel. You are seeing ghosts. That we write similar is because we are both Dutch, from the same neighbourhood.

The article was written by an awardwinning BBC journalist. Btw, what does rat fink mean?

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 2:30 PM

When has anyone in the West ever been alarmed about taking Third World art?

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 2:31 PM

Well oj,

Problem is that you and I would not get away with this. For crimes like this people are sentenced to years in prison. But then again, in the west you get away with it if you are rich enough.
Recently two looters have been hanged in Iran, poor peasants.They were at the bottom of the line. At the end are people like Ferrell.
They don't give a hoot. That's fine with me, but if Ferrell is allowed to earn money by this and get away with it, why are other people ending in prison?

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 2:45 PM

because they're not Westerners. Great art is too important to be left with the natives.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 2:54 PM

Ferrell should give it all back just after the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece from the British Museum. LOL!

Posted by: bart at June 30, 2005 2:57 PM

Gee oj,

You suck. You must be a racist.
Anyway,I was talking about western people who end here in jail for doing the same thing.
You and I would go to jail, Ferrell walks away.
It seems that that is fine with you. Our western worls is supposed to be a place with equal rights for everybody. No way.

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 2:57 PM

When I said above, "consider the source", I meant that nothing on IndyMedia can be believed.

Posted by: Ben Lange at June 30, 2005 3:02 PM

Michael Van Rijn finally has a scoop worth paying attention to, and because he's such a foul mouthed, egotistical, lying braggart, the story keeps getting second billing. Rather telling, isn't it, michael?

Posted by: magog at June 30, 2005 3:27 PM

The link Orrin gave you is that to Indymedia.
Here is the original link to Aljazeera with pictures.

Click on my name and it will bring you there

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 4:41 PM

Recently the biggest player on the Art-market, Sheik Saud, who bought for his nephew the Sheik of Qatar, was arrested because of fraud.
Michel exposed him. You can say whatever you want, but we are talking big stories here.
Saud spend millions of $ on the Artmarket but got involved with the same group of people as Ferrell. The Sheik of Qatar got his nephew arrested.
What a world are we living in????
Sometimes countries like Qatar are more straight than we are. It is just ridiculous.

Posted by: art at June 30, 2005 4:49 PM


I'm not going to jail--I don't trade in art and antiques. But from what I read of it--with all apologies to H.D.--it's litt;le more than a criminal enterprise. What isn't fake is stolen.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 4:51 PM


Is there by chance a link between your Cornell College and Cornell University?. I do think so.
That explains a lot as Cornell University has been exposed by Michel van Rijn for accepting clay-tablets, looted and smuggled.
You must be a friend of Prof. David Owen.

For interested readers, click on my name below for a link.

Posted by: Art at June 30, 2005 5:09 PM


The conspiracy grows...it's all to cover for the Ivy League, which is why Bush isn't interested.

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 5:15 PM


It doesn't matter who is interested. Egual justice for everyone. That's the problem with our western society. We say: "well what can we do?"
It's apathy that will finish our culture.
We wouldn't get away with this, neither should he. I thought that blogs were there to tell the truth other media don't tell. Or at least try to point their attention on certain stories.
But I see another example of the apathy of our culture, simple as that.

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 7:06 PM

not apathy. cynicism

and what gets my cynicism flowing are "repentant" hoodlums now posing as white knights, all the while making all of this far more about them themselves than the supposed topic.

Why does Michael van Dick have to make so much noise in his purported rage against Holicost victims, tax avoidance victims, Spanish Colonial victims, Iraqi antiquities victims, etc?

Michael wants attention more than justice- if it weren't so he'd work harder, catch more crooks, and keep his bilge to himself.

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 7:28 PM

Complaints about apathy...from a criminal! That's rich.

why do you think all this cynicism/apathy exists?

Posted by: at June 30, 2005 7:30 PM

Who cares?

Posted by: oj at June 30, 2005 8:48 PM

Good lord, the number of anonymous and pseudonymous people commenting on this post has skyrocketed. This must be a new Brothers Judd record.

Sorry, "Not Michel", there's no connection between Cornell College and Cornell University. They weren't even named for the same person.

In the final analysis I have to mostly agree with "Magog". Maybe Michel van Rijn (who has certainly, most definitely, not been participating anonymously in this comment thread) has stumbled onto something here.

But given his notorious reputation as a liar, a con-artist, and a whack-job, who would ever be so stupid as to pay attention to him? (Other than Aljezeera, that is,)

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 30, 2005 8:50 PM

I wrote the comment about apathy. I am not Michel. Michel wrote one post to this blog but it was deleted.

Anyway, it's all about apathy. I am attacked here instead of Ferrell. Blame the messenger, as always.

Though I am a big fan of the USA, let me criticise you a bit: if this news would come out about an important Dutch CEO, Dutch journalists would have been digging into the story already. The USA seem to be a society divided in normal people and untouchable people.

It's all so sad. A history professor like H.D. Miller defending a destroyer of historical evidence like Ferrell.
About Cornell : why is Cornell College comparing itself to Cornell University on their website? Do you know Prof. David Owen or not, Miller? Can you answer us please?

You are making this a story about Michel. I repeat: the article was written by awardwinning BBC-journalist David Hebditch.

Sheik Saud is in prison in Qatar, Ferrell walks free. It's a sad world. I should use my energy to get this news out to the US-media instead of losing my time with some of you guys. The cynism of some of you is exactly showing why the Great USA will lose from CHINA and INDIA. You start to look like us Europeans who are lost already.

Posted by: Art at July 1, 2005 5:36 AM


Perhaps the difference is that Ferrell would be an important figure in your country but is nobody here.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 7:58 AM


You are mistaken. As said, Ferrell runs a huge business and he is one of the closest friends of John Negroponte.Apart from that, his actions are causing problems between states as some unique treasures have been looted. Imagine that the Declaration of Independence would have been looted by some Arabs.
This story is far bigger than you are seeing it, far bigger.

Posted by: Art at July 1, 2005 8:49 AM


It might be huge there--it's insignificant here, as is he. John Negroponte is in so much trouble he just consolidated his power over U.S. intelligence.

If Arabs ran the world they could loot our treasures. They don't. We do. Their treasures should be displayed for our amusement.

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 12:01 PM


If you keep pretending that Cornell College in Iowa has something to do with Cornell University in New York, you are going to find it quite difficult to make people take you seriously.

I see you know as much about China as you do about the United States.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at July 1, 2005 1:01 PM

OJ: Just because the Arabs are squatting on ground that they overran some years ago does not mean that things buried under said ground are "theirs" in any meaningful sense.

The stuff that is buried in abandoned cities of the Middle East was the property of its last owner, who died many long centuries ago and abandoned that property. At this point it is abandoned property and owned by the first person who reduces it to his possession.

Statutes claiming those things on behalf of the State are themselves mere thievery.

As for the organized "professions" of "historians" and "archaeologists." I say: pfhwaah! Rubbish, its not theirs unless they dig it up or buy it from someone who has. Their self-styled expertise (mostly in marxism and other pseudo sciences and superstitions) gives them the right to stop whinging, but not a claim over anyone's property.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 1, 2005 1:08 PM

You guys are unbelievable.
Ferrell is making some extra millions with his illegal dealings. Some small legitimate dealers are fined or will lose their jobs because rules are tightened thanks to unscrupulous people like Ferrell. Some hardworking Americans will be the victims and the rich dude gets away.

My continent Europe sucks, but America is lost too. So much cynism and apathy I see among people like you. The American spirit of justice for all etc. etc. has vanished.

This probably will be my last post here. It's time to move on. You guys, rest in apathy and keep on criticising the world without interfere.

See ya.

Posted by: Art at July 1, 2005 2:02 PM

Legitimate dealers?

Posted by: oj at July 1, 2005 2:25 PM

art, don't let history hit you in the butt on the way out.

Posted by: cjm at July 1, 2005 11:38 PM

I stumbled on this a bit late but the way this H.D.Miller struts around this website you'd think he was an American army in Iraq or Vietnam or somewhere.Michel van Rijn has got a track record of exposing crime in the artworld years in advance of the press,where he has frequently been plagiarized without acknowledgement. What's his past got to do with it?The websites display emails and recorded conversations,which incontravertibly substantiate his stories.Just because H.B.Miller's wife once spent a summer vacation working in a thriftshop in New Jersey,doesn't mean she knows any of the serious players or the background in the antiqities game.
Mr.Miller likes to use heavy duty American slang on his Dutch correspondants,who are struggling with the English language.As an American assistant professor he thinks he has the ammunition to outgun the natives,So, let me just say on their behalf to him,pogue mahone to you too,ratfink.

Posted by: David Lodge at July 5, 2005 7:23 AM
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