The men are facing charges of trying to extort the money from the late duke, his son and the insurers of the work, known as Madonna with the Yarnwinder.
The artwork was found in Glasgow in 2007 — four years after it was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill, in Dumfries and Galloway.
Marshall Ronald, 53, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, of Lancashire, and Callum Jones, 44, of Kilmalcolm, Renfrewshire and David Boyce, 52, of Airdrie, Lanarkshire, were excused attendance during a preliminary hearing today at the High Court in Glasgow.
Judge Lord Kinclaven set a trial for March 1 next year at the High Court in Edinburgh. It is expected that the case may last up to six weeks. There will be another preliminary hearing on November 11. (Armistice Day)
The painting, which has an estimated value of £30 million, has been in the Duke of Buccleuch’s family for two centuries.