Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Daily !!

Leonardo da Vinci raid 'deeply upset' duke

A duke was "deeply upset" by the theft of a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece and the lack of progress in recovering it, his son has told a court.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was said to have played a "very special part" in the life of the late Duke of Buccleuch.

His son, the current duke, said it was a "huge relief" when the artwork was eventually recovered undamaged.

Five men are on trial accused of trying to extort £4.25m for its return. They are not charged with the robbery.

The painting was taken from Drumlanrig Castle, north of Dumfries, in August 2003.

Richard Montagu Douglas Scott, the 10th Duke of Buccleuch, said his family had had to contemplate that the artwork - valued at £20m in 2008 - might have been destroyed.

He was giving evidence on the third day of the trial of five men accused of plotting to extort £4.25m for the safe return of the piece.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that his father, John, died on 4 September 2007, a month before the painting was recovered.

'Emotionally important'

He agreed with prosecutor Simon Di Rollo that his father had been "particularly fond" of the painting.

He said: "It was hugely emotionally important for all of us in the family, but I think for my father in particular, who felt most keenly its loss.

"It was clear to anyone who knew him that he was deeply upset by the loss and by the lack of any progress in recovering the painting."

Before any evidence on Wednesday, the jury was taken to view the painting at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, where it is being exhibited.

Gallery director Christopher Clarke, 57, told the court he was called upon to identify the painting at a police station in October 2007 after its recovery.

The trial also heard from Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of art history at Oxford University, who reckoned there are no more than 20 artworks by Leonardo in existence.

The trial heard that the painting was conservatively valued by Christie's in 2008 at £15m to £20m, and again in 2009 at £30m-£50m before it went on temporary display at the gallery.. John Knight, a Christie's director specialising in old masters, said very few Leonardos had been sold openly. The last, a drawing of a horse and rider, sold for £8m in 2001.


On trial are Marshall Ronald, 53, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, all from Lancashire, Calum Jones, 45, from Renfrewshire, and David Boyce, 63, from Lanarkshire.

They have denied conspiring to extort £4.25m and an alternative charge of attempted extortion.

The offence is alleged to have taken place between July and October 2007.

The trial continues.

No comments: