STOLEN BONSAI: re-post from pacific bonsai museum instagram

Coppersdad

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Here is the official media release on the theft. PLEASE feel free to repost on other forums and all club web sites:

Media Release
DATE: February 9, 2020
CONTACT: Kathy McCabe, Executive Director, 253-353-7356 or 206.409.0429, kathy@pacificbonsaimuseum.org

FEDERAL WAY, WA—On Sunday, February 9, 2020, at approximately 7:00 am, two bonsai, estimated to
be worth thousands of dollars, were stolen from the public display at Pacific Bonsai Museum in Federal
Way, Washington. One of the missing trees, a Japanese Black Pine was grown from seed in a tin can by Japanese
American Jizaburo Furuzawa while he was incarcerated during World War II. The other bonsai, a Silverberry,
was an exquisite example of the species. It has been in training as a bonsai since 1946 and was created by a woman
bonsai artist, Kiyoko Hatanaka: a pioneer in her time.

“This is a tremendous loss, not only to our collection but there is a strong likelihood that the trees
will perish. These trees have been cared for every day for more than 70 years, and if that daily care doesn’t
continue the trees will die. These historic, living works of art are the result of the care provided by multiple
generations.” Aarin Packard, Curator, Pacific Bonsai Museum.

The Pacific Bonsai Museum, located in Woodbridge Corporate Park (formerly the Weyerhaeuser Company Campus)
in Federal Way, WA, is one of the top bonsai collections in the world. Established by the Weyerhaeuser Company in
1989, the Museum is now a nonprofit organization connecting people to nature through the living art of bonsai.

The stolen bonsai were part of the collection on display to the public. The theft took place inside the secure exhibit
area. The loss will be greatest for the tens of thousands of fans and supporters in our community, as well as visitors
from around the world, who come to the museum to learn about the stories of these venerable trees.

The Japanese Black Pine was to be the centerpiece of the Museum’s special exhibition opening May 9, 2020, World War Bonsai: Remembrance & Resilience, tracing the cultural practice of bonsai in location and time—in Japan and in the United States, from the pre-war WWII period, through wartime, amid incarceration, and at peace.

It’s not too late for these bonsai to be returned, no questions asked, so we can make sure these trees will be around
for another 70 years.

Information leading to the recovery of these valuable bonsai should be forwarded to kathy@pacificbonsaimuseum.org
 

Woocash

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I still cant get my head around the thought of non bonsai people stealing them, so I have hope they are at least being cared for. Is there no CCTV or anything on site?
 

BunjaeKorea

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I still cant get my head around the thought of non bonsai people stealing them, so I have hope they are at least being cared for. Is there no CCTV or anything on site?
The problem is that bonsai people wouldn't steal them.......this has likely been done by an idiot that knows they are valuable and therefore stole them. The stolen trees are likely to be recognized immediately by anyone with enough money to pay for them.
 

GailC

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I still cant get my head around the thought of non bonsai people stealing them, so I have hope they are at least being cared for. Is there no CCTV or anything on site?
There is a video of two men taking the trees but like so many other cctv, its grainy and hard to see.
 

rockm

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The problem is that bonsai people wouldn't steal them.......this has likely been done by an idiot that knows they are valuable and therefore stole them. The stolen trees are likely to be recognized immediately by anyone with enough money to pay for them.
"Bonsai" people DO steal bonsai. High end bonsai theft has, unfortunately become a "thing" in Asia. There have been several thefts in Japan of old, developed trees. Speculation is that they're driven by Chinese buyers who are paying a lot of money for them. Don't know if that's the case here, but stealing from a museum is pretty ballsy and risky if there isn't a decent payoff. On the other hand, small time thieves with drug habits will take anything that's not nailed down.
 

Hartinez

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I guess they had another tree taken a few years ago, which was recovered, but found heavily pruned and out of its pot?!?!
I could see some newbie bonsai artist who got super lit up on meth and was like, gotta go prune a tree!
That tree survived so maybe these will...
 

BunjaeKorea

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"Bonsai" people DO steal bonsai. High end bonsai theft has, unfortunately become a "thing" in Asia. There have been several thefts in Japan of old, developed trees. Speculation is that they're driven by Chinese buyers who are paying a lot of money for them. Don't know if that's the case here, but stealing from a museum is pretty ballsy and risky if there isn't a decent payoff. On the other hand, small time thieves with drug habits will take anything that's not nailed down.
Ah yes...you are correct...but what I meant was that it is likely to raise alarm bells with local professionals. Thefts have happened in Korea too also for the purpose of selling to Chinese however these are generally organized crime syndicates that know the value of specific trees as opposed to looking at a tree and knowing its value.
 

Woocash

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There is a video of two men taking the trees but like so many other cctv, its grainy and hard to see.
It’s a damn shame. If I go to the trouble of installing CCTV, I’d make sure it was good enough to serve it’s purpose. Especially in a place with such valuable assets. Still, hindsight and all that...

The problem is that bonsai people wouldn't steal them.......this has likely been done by an idiot that knows they are valuable and therefore stole them. The stolen trees are likely to be recognized immediately by anyone with enough money to pay for them.
Yea, I’m not naive enough to expect it not to be thieves in it for the cash, I just hope they are sensible enough to realise that these things need water and light, crackheads or not.
 

JudyB

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Shocking actually. I had assumed that security was very tight on big collections like this one. Hope they get them back.
 

rockm

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Security costs money. This is a privately-funded museum. They typically survive on admission money. Heavy security, guards, sensor pads, cameras, lighting, fencing all come with costs. Some higher than others. I don't know if the Pacific Collection has a support organization like the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum does--the National Bonsai Foundation and the National Arb. That helps, but if someone REALLY wants something, none of that is going to help. Just look at the theft of "real" art from galleries these days.

Cold comfort thieves have also hit the museum here in D.C. on occasion over the years. Thing is, since it's affiliated with a federal agency and holds federally-owned diplomatic gifts, the FBI could have a way "in" to help with thefts there.
 
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Coppersdad

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Saw an interview on television tonight with Aaron Packard, the PBM curator. I can tell you all, he's really broken up about the theft.
I was looking at my trees today and recalling certain memories. Like many of you, I consider some of my trees as my "babies". Good, bad and ugly, certain trees bring back memories of certain teachers, friends, collecting trips and even prayers over a tree just not doing well. I can't imagine weight of the feeling of responsibility at the loss of these irreplaceable works of art. My thoughts are with Aaron and the entire PBM staff as they wait.
 

Woocash

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Very sad. I reckon they’re in a private collection already. They targeted two trees which aren’t even the nicest ones available, although a couple of the lighter ones I suppose, but they wore matching regalia and don’t seem to be average joes, but thieves for hire. That’s my guess. They had a buyer already because who wants to steal then hold on to things like this?
 

BunjaeKorea

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Very sad. I reckon they’re in a private collection already. They targeted two trees which aren’t even the nicest ones available, although a couple of the lighter ones I suppose, but they wore matching regalia and don’t seem to be average joes, but thieves for hire. That’s my guess. They had a buyer already because who wants to steal then hold on to things like this?
Such a travesty. They have stolen from everyone
 
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