Nova Scotia

Art thief John Mark Tillmann granted full parole

Notorious art thief John Mark Tillmann has been granted full parole, just months after he was denied the privilege.

Parole board calls Tillmann 'work in progress,' orders him away from museums, former neighbours

For decades, John Mark Tillmann stole historical artifacts: pieces of art, books and collectibles from museums, universities, and businesses across the East Coast. He's been granted full parole. (CBC)

Notorious art thief John Mark Tillmann has been granted full parole, just months after he was denied the privilege.

Tillmann was released from the Westmorland Institution in New Brunswick in November of last year. He was serving a prison sentence of nearly eight years for some 40 charges.

Tillman was denied full parole in May after a former partner described him as a "white supremacist, anti-feminist and police hater" who allegedly made threats against her.

While granting him full parole, the Parole Board of Canada still has concerns he could relapse into a life of crime.

'Complex type of offending'

"When considering the type of crime you could commit, the Board views your offending as versatile, including considerable property offending and some violent offending, and considers your current offences as essentially a significant escalation of your criminality, as they represent the culmination of years, if not decades of your complex type of offending, one that is difficult for society to detect," the board wrote in its decision granting Tillman full parole.

The board also noted he has taken courses and programs both in prison and while on day parole that have improved his chances.

"Although these are positive developments, the board believes you nevertheless remain very much a work in progress and your commitment remains vulnerable to your traits of self-aggrandizement and ingrained attitude accepting of crime for gain," the board noted.

Tillmann's criminal record comes goes back more than 30 years. Starting in 1983, he was found guilty of property-related offences, as well as more serious crimes such as assault with an axe, extortion, escaping lawful custody and indecent phone calls.

He pleaded guilty in 2013 to fraud, theft, possession of property obtained by crime, possession of a forged document, obstruction of justice and providing a false statement in a stolen-art spree that spanned the four Atlantic provinces. His haul included rare and valuable books, artifacts and historical documents.

Keep away from libraries

As part of his parole, Tillmann must have no contact with his victims or their families, he must report all intimate relationships and he must give his parole supervisor full access to his financial records.

The board also imposed two special conditions:

  • Because his former neighbours are afraid of him, Tillmann is ordered to stay away from the Miller Lake area where he had a lavish lakefront house stuffed with stolen treasures.
  • At the request of police, Tillmann must also stay away from all museums, archives, libraries and antique dealers.