Monday, March 08, 2010
Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Week Two !!!!
Da Vinci artwork return 'starting figure' heard
The Leonardo da Vinci extortion trial has heard one of the accused say that the starting figure for the Madonna of the Yarnwinder's return was £700,000.
Marshall Ronald told a man he believed represented the Duke of Buccleuch that five people wanted a 20% share of any additional payment to bring it back.
Mr Ronald is one of five men accused of conspiring to extort £4.25m for the safe return of the painting.
All of them deny the charges they face at the High Court in Edinburgh.
The court was played a taped phone call between Mr Ronald and a man calling himself John Craig.
He was an undercover police officer pretending to be working directly for the Duke of Buccleuch.
The painting was taken in a raid on the duke's Dumfriesshire estate in 2003.
Mr Ronald said he had been told the artwork had been stolen by gypsies and at some point was put up as security for a £700,000 loan for a real estate deal which collapsed.
He said it would cost that amount to get possession of the painting and five people were to split between them any money paid out on top of that.
There would also be "professional fees".
Mr Ronald - who is a lawyer in Lancashire - said he was working with two Scottish solicitors, David Boyce and Calum Jones, because he "wanted to do things properly, with integrity".
Mr Craig told him that the duke was interested in what he called a "buyback" and he would be advising the family to "go for this".
On trial along with 53-year-old Mr Ronald are 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.
They are not accused of the painting's theft.
The trial continues.