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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Stolen Art Watch, Underwood Stroke Thwarts Police, Again !!!


Antiques Charges Dropped !!

Criminal charges against a man accused of being an antiques "Knocker" and duping elderly women have been dropped after he suffered a stroke.
Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood, 64, was taken seriously ill at Brighton Crown Court and the trial was abandoned.

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not continue proceedings against Underwood, of Copenhagen Court, Brighton Marina, who denied concealing criminal property and perjury.

The case is to continue against Anthony Blok, 71, of Fulham, who denies eight charges including perjury and posession of criminal property.

Backstory
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Stolen Art Watch, Simon Muggleton's Revenge, Best Served When Retired !!
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Antiques Rogue Who Deceived Women

An Antiques "Knocker Boy" duped elderly women into selling valuable heirlooms for as little as one hundredth of their true value, a court was told.

Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood appeared on the doorsteps of wealthy widows in Crowbourgh, London and the Isle of Man to persuade them to part with treasured possessions, it is claimed.

His solicitor, Anthony Hershal Blok, is accused of hiding a £300 receipt for a painting Underwood bought worth £30,000 or more on the open market.

Underwood, of Copenhagen Court, Brighton Marina, went to prison in 2006 rather than reveal the fate of the work, entitled "Girls On A Beach" by Sir William Orpen, Brighton Crown Court was told.

He is accused of failing to declare ownership of the work when he filed for bankruptcy in 2002 so it would not be seized to pay his debts.

The court was told that Underwood had been a client of Blok since 1995.

The prosecution claims Blok had files containing the cash proceeds of crime by other clients in his office.

Blok is accused of lying to a court by claiming he did not know the identity of the Orphen painting's owner.

Blok is also accused of failing to pass on information about suspected money laundering by people he represented as a criminal lawyer.

Amanda Pinto QC, prosecuting, said Underwood had tried, since obtaining the painting in 1993, to get it removed from a register of missing and stolen artwork so he could sell it.

She said, "They made concerted efforts to legitimise the painting, which had been obtained in criminal circumstances by Mr Underwood."

Blok, 71, of Gowan Avenue, Fulham, faces charges including two counts of perjury, three counts of failing to disclose evidence of money-laundering, and one count each of transferring criminal property, assisting another to obtain property which was a proceed of crime, and possession of criminal property.

Underwood, 64, of Copenhagen Court, Brighton Marina, is accused of concealing criminal property and perjury.

Underwood has a previous conviction for dishonestly obtaining property from an elderly woman in Chelsea. In that case, retired Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad Detective Simon Muggleton, of Corsica Road Seaford, traced a stolen Porcelain plaque back to 1948, thereby showing Underwood and his accomplice Lee O'Donell were guilty of deception, for which Underwood was jailed.

Both men deny all charges. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Art Hostage comments:

This is a case of sweet revenge for ex-Sussex Police Art and Antiques Squad icon Simon Muggleton, who has had a long personal feud with Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood.


Although Simon Muggleton retired a couple of years ago, he doggedly worked to seek his vengeance on Underwood and Blok and with the current court case it seems his vengeance is complete, guilty verdict or not.

To be continued.....................

Posted by Art Hostage at 11:38 AM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Stolen Art Watch, Brighton Antiques Mafia, Godfather and Lawyer go on Trial !!
The Crown Court

at Lewes

Daily List for Tuesday 6 May 2008 at LAW COURTS, EDWARD STREET, BRIGHTON.

http://www.courtnews1.co.uk/courtlists/current/lewes_T080506.01.htm
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Court 3 - sitting at 10:00 AM


HIS HONOUR JUDGE HAYWARD

For Trial

T20087048 BLOK Anthony H

T20080064 UNDERWOOD Michael D

Intriguing to say the least, I'll keep you posted as and when further news emerges !!
Posted by Art Hostage at 2:13 PM 0 comments Links to this post

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Stolen Art Watch, History Provides Clue to Court Appearence !!


Art dealers jailed for Lowry theft

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/147317.stm

From August 7th 1998

Two art dealers who stole valuable L S Lowry oil paintings from their 94-year-old owner have each been jailed for four years.

Michael Openshaw and Robert Barrett ignored the protests of the pictures' owner Dr Percy Thompson-Hancock as they took the two canvasses - 'Children on a Promenade' and 'Family of Three' - from his living room wall, leaving a £10,400 cash 'payment' behind.

They sent Dr Thompson-Hancock £6,000 in the post a few days later but it still came nowhere near the true values of paintings, the jury at Southwark Crown Court were told.

The distraught doctor and his family desperately tried to retrieve the paintings, unaware that they had been auctioned off by Bonhams for £78,000.

Eight months after the theft, the two appeared - with a price tag of £215,000 - at a Bond Street art gallery where they were spotted by Dr Thompson-Hancock's granddaughter.

'Despicable' act

Neither of the two men showed any reaction as the jury convicted them of two counts of theft. They rejected their claims that they had been victimised by the former doctor's "greedy" relatives after they had realised how much the oils were worth.

Passing sentence, Judge David Elfer QC told them: "What you men did was despicable. It was in fact a determined crusade by you to get from the doctor the best pieces that he had."

He said they had pestered their elderly victim repeatedly to part with the paintings, until finally they decided to take no more notice of his refusal to sell.

The court later heard that Mr Openshaw had only one previous conviction against him, but that Mr Barrett had a list of court appearances dating back 28 years.

They included stealing £9,000-worth of antique furniture from the home of a 90-year-old deaf and bed-ridden man.

Police believe the pair had spent years preying on elderly people across southern England.

Case officer Detective Constable Tim Snuggs said: "This case highlights the danger waiting for the old and frail, who should receive respect but don't, who cannot defend their homes and valuables and who don't know whom to trust."

He said it was difficult to gauge the extent of this sort of crime as victims were often too old and scared to come to court.

The five-day trial heard that Dr Hancock and his wife had built up a small collection of antiques and works of art including the two Lowrys over a number of years.

About five years ago, Robert Barrett and Michael Openshaw called round expressing an interest in some of the items.

They seemed "nice and sociable and appeared genuine" the doctor recalled, and he sold them a number of his pieces.

However, he always made it clear that the paintings, which he intended to leave to his two daughters, were not for sale.

It now seems likely that the two oils will eventually be returned to Dr Thompson-Hancock and his wife.

Fast forward to the Court listings for April 23rd 2008, see below:


http://www.courtnews1.co.uk/courtlists/current/lewes_T080423.02.htm


The Crown Court

at Lewes

Daily List for Wednesday 23 April 2008 at LAW COURTS, EDWARD STREET, BRIGHTON.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Court 3 - sitting at 10:00 AM


HIS HONOUR JUDGE HAYWARD


NOT BEFORE 02:00 PM

For Mention
T20087048 BLOK Anthony H

Re:trial date
T20080064 UNDERWOOD Michael D



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Published: 22 April 2008 at 16:17 MLK/246883
Page No: 10 of 11

Art Hostage comments:

The link between the two cases.

A certain Anthony Hershal Blok was the solicitor, from Sears Blok and co, representing Barrett and Openshaw in the 1998 Lowry case.

Barratt and Openshaw complained about the £30,000 fee charged to them by Sears Blok for which they still got 4 years jail.

Michael David Underwood is a notorious Brighton Antiques Knocker Boy, nicknamed "The Ambassador" who was jailed, along with another Brighton Knocker called Lee O'Donnall for duping an elderly woman out of a porcelain plaque and was jailed for around 2 years.

The appearance together at the Court April 23rd 2008 as defendants leaves me wondering if the Brighton Antiques Mafia Lawyer has been caught up some kind of Art related criminal activity ??

Perhaps someone out there could clarify why these two, Anthony Hershal Blok and Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood are appearing together ??

Heart attack on the way ????

Sounds like a job for Owen Thomas QC

Hope it is not the same Owen Thomas who passed away last April, as Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood got 10 "Not Guilties" on the spin, when represented by Owen Thomas, Ironically, the one time Owen Thomas was not representing Michael "The Ambassador" Underwood he was found guilty, on the plaque charge and recieved 2 years jail.

Heard the other day Michael (Mickey) Underwood bought a Plane...... and for the other leg he bought a Razor !!!

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