GARDAI seized hundreds of thousands of euro worth of pieces of stolen art when they searched a house in west Dublin late on Thursday night.Back-Story: http://arthostage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/stolen-art-watch-shannon-goose-loose-in.html
Officers from Pearse Street Garda Station made the "highly significant discovery" at a property in Ongar and are now trying to identify the valuable stolen items.
About 60 pieces of art including paintings, statues and rare books were seized by officers at the home of a notorious criminal who has previous convictions for stealing from stately homes in England.
This criminal is currently in custody awaiting trial in a separate case but the house is occupied by a younger close relative who also has similar criminal convictions.
Sources say gardai estimate that one of the paintings they have recovered is valued at between €50,000 and €70,000.
Last night, gardai had only identified around half a dozen of the pieces of art and they expected that a public appeal will be launched next week in an attempt to trace the owners of the items.
A senior source told the Herald: "There were works of art in every room in that house – it was some sight. The property has a large attic and that was filled with paintings. Some of these are originals while others are less valuable prints.
Of the stolen items that have already been identified, gardai believe that they have been stolen from locations in Dublin and Belfast, some as long ago as 2007.
When officers arrived at the house in Ongar, they made contact with the man who is aged in his 30s and lives there and he agreed to go back to the property and gardai entered it.
This man is known to gardai and like his older relative is a key target of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Arts and Antiques unit.
It is understood that he has experience in the antiques business. His older relative has been an even bigger target for gardai and in 2009 he was jailed for three years after he admitted burgling six stately homes.
He stole paintings, ornamental lions, porcelain vases, figurines, expensive books and an antique walking stick during a four-day crime spree and English police discovered that he even had the addresses of the stately homes keyed into his car's sat-nav.
He also had a walkie-talkie which he used to communicate with his accomplice who fled the scene in a car.
Using CCTV footage, police traced the car and found a sat-nav system which had been pre-programmed for the six stately homes.