Thursday, March 04, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Dalrymple Day, Update !!!!

Undercover police's Leonardo da Vinci ruse outlined

A trial has heard about a ruse which put undercover police on the trail of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting.

An expert on recovering stolen art has been giving evidence in the case of five men accused of holding the masterpiece to ransom for £4.25m.

Loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple told a court how a plan swung into operation after he received a "deceptive" letter.

All five men deny attempting to extort money for the safe return of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

The High Court in Edinburgh was told about a note from a law firm in the north of England seeking to negotiate a reward for its clients in helping to "repatriate" the painting.

It was e-mailed to Mr Dalrymple four years after the artwork was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle on the Duke of Buccleuch's Dumfriesshire estate.

His reaction was to telephone Det Insp Gary Coupland, who was then leading the hunt for the robbers.

"I think the police felt it was more likely to enable them to progress their investigation if the insurers and myself were to be neatly taken out of the equation," said Mr Dalrymple.

He said the plan was that an undercover officer, using the pseudonym John Craig, would make contact with solicitor Marshall Ronald, one of the men now on trial.

"We had already agreed if there were any future or further inquiry there would be a ruse," he added.

The story was to be that Mr Dalrymple had fallen out with Mr Craig. Mr Craig had quit his job but might still get involved.

"If he (Ronald) wanted to pursue the matter he should contact Mr Craig directly, who was acting for the Duke of Buccleuch," he said.

Mr Dalrymple admitted he was "perplexed" that solicitors should think there was a legal way to repatriate the painting.

He said the practice was for a reward to be offered for the safe return of such a treasure but only after police had approved the deal to ensure that no money was being paid to criminals.

Comparable thefts

He said no figure was ever put on how much might be paid for the Madonna of the Yardwinder but revealed in court it would be of the order of £50,000 to £100,000.

Mr Dalrymple said that during his years as a loss adjuster there had been only half a dozen art thefts comparable to the Drumlanrig Castle robbery.

He had been involved in securing the return of Turner works stolen from an art gallery in Frankfurt, Germany and a Titian taken from the Marquis of Bath.

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 are not accused of the robbery.

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.

From The TimesMarch 4, 2010
Leonardo detectives set up ‘sting’ after tip off from insurance adviser
Scotland Staff

(PA)The Leonardo da Vinci painting, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in 2003Detectives investigating the theft of a Leonardo da Vinci painting from the Duke of Buccleuch set up a “sting” operation, after being contacted by a senior insurance adviser.
Chartered loss adjuster Mark Dalrymple, told police he had received a letter seeking to negotiate a reward for the safe return of the stolen artwork, the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, a court was told today. Mr Dalrymple, told the High Court in Edinburgh that he had found the letter “deceptive” and decided to contact the police.
The “strictly private and confidential” letter, said to have come from one of the accused, Marshall Ronald, stated that he, Mr Ronald, was part of a team that could negotiate the “safe and speedy” return of the artwork through “informal mediation”.
Mr Dalrymple told the court that Mr Ronald said, in a subsequent phone conversation, that he felt things were “too complicated” for him to go to the police.
Jurors have heard how the painting was stolen by raiders from Drumlanrig Castle, the Dumfries-shire estate of the Buccleuch family, in August 2003.
Five men are on trial in Edinburgh, where they deny trying to extort £4.25 million for the painting’s return in 2007. They are not charged with the robbery.
In the dock are Marshall Ronald, 53, a solicitor from Skelmersdale, Lancashire; Robert Graham, 57, of Ormskirk, Lancashire and John Doyle, 61, also of Ormskirk. Also on trial are two Scottish solicitors, Calum Jones, 45, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire; and David Boyce, 63, from Airdrie in Lanarkshire.
The fourth day of the trial heard how Mr Dalrymple, the proprietor of loss adjusters Tyler & Company in London, worked in conjunction with the painting’s insurers, Hiscox, after the robbery.
The court heard that he received a letter, sent by e-mail in August 2007, said to be from Mr Ronald.
In it, he stated that he was acting for clients and said: “We make it plain from the outset that we do not act for the thieves and have no knowledge as to the identity of the original thieves.”
It added: “Our concern is to negotiate the safe repatriation of the painting and negotiate the reward/finder’s fee on behalf of our clients.”
Mr Dalrymple, 57, told the nine women and six men of the jury that he found the letter had a “deceptive” flavour.
He said: “It did not seem to me to be a letter inviting amicable discussion. It seemed to be negotiating with regard to an item stolen.
“Well, we don’t negotiate. It’s stolen and, therefore, it should simply be given back to the owner. It was well-known, famous enough for that to occur.”
Mr Dalrymple contacted police and an undercover operation was mounted, the court was told.
The witness said he spoke to Mr Ronald on the phone shortly after receiving the letter.
He said he asked Mr Ronald why he did not go straight to police to recover the painting to them.
“The answer was that Mr Ronald felt it was too complicated to do,” said Mr Dalrymple.
The witness said he got the sense that those involved “felt there was a legal way to repatriate it”.
The case continues.

The Leonardo da Vinci extortion trial has been played a taped phone call between one of the accused and a man he believed to be an art restorer.

Lancashire-based lawyer Marshall Ronald said he thought he could get back the stolen Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

However, he added that he was dealing with "volatile people, who could do something "very silly".


Anonymous said...

Published: Today
AN expert on missing art told a jury yesterday how he helped trigger the police sting to trace a stolen £15million Da Vinci masterpiece.
Witness Mark Dalrymple, 57 - a top loss adjuster - described how the covert plan swung into action when he received a "deceptive" letter from a law firm in July 2007.

The court heard the note offered to negotiate a reward for helping 'repatriate' the Madonna of the Yardwinder on behalf of 'clients'.

But Mr Dalrymple said: "There was nothing to negotiate. They had no rights, neither did their clients nor their clients' clients."

Instead, the High Court in Edinburgh heard he phoned Detective Inspector Gary Coupland, who was leading the hunt for the robbers.

Mr Dalrymple had joined the hunt for the Da Vinci hours after armed raiders snatched it from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle, in Dumfries-shire, in 2003. Yesterday, he was giving evidence against five men - including Marshall Ronald - accused of holding the art to ransom for £4.25million.

Mr Dalrymple told how he replied to Ronald, the solicitor who'd signed the emailed 'reward' letter. The plan was for Mr Dalrymple to put him in touch with an undercover cop - known as John Craig.

He said: "We had agreed there would be a ruse."

Defence lawyer Maurice Smyth said Mr Craig was represented "untruthfully" as the Duke's representative. Mr Dalrymple replied: "Yes."

In the dock are Ronald, 53, of Upholland, Lancashire, Calum Jones, 45, of Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, David Boyce, 63, of Airdrie, and Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, both of Ormskirk, Lancashire.

They deny conspiring to extort £4.25million in 2007. The trial continues.

Anonymous said...

Dalrymple said:

A figure of 10 per cent was often reported by the media in such cases, but paying £2m would have been irresponsible and reckless.

The sum was £50,000 to £100,000, which would have been payable after recovery of the painting and with the approval of the police. No-one involved in any criminality could receive a reward for returning the stolen item.