Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Frank Was Frank, J Was OK, The Ghost Said "So Stuff Your Fecking Crown, We Irish Won't Lay Down" !!!


I’m not an extortionist, says accused
Lawyer insists he acted on trust throughout talks to ensure return of Leonardo painting
http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1670036?UserKey=

By Hilary Duncanson

Published: 31/03/2010

A solicitor insisted yesterday he did the “right thing” in working to secure the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

Marshall Ronald said he was proud of what he achieved and it was sad that he was facing a trial which had “decimated” his life.

The 53-year-old said he acted on trust throughout the negotiations and fell “hook, line and sinker” for an undercover police operation.

He said the police had been deceptive and played footloose and fancy-free with valuable property.

“The fact is, I’m not an extortionist,” he told the High Court in Edinburgh.

Ronald is one of five men accused of demanding £4.25million for the return of the artwork Madonna of the Yarnwinder. The painting was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, the Dumfriesshire estate of the Duke of Buccleuch, in August 2003.

Ronald has told jurors of an approach made to his law firm in Lancashire by two of his co-accused, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61.

He said the pair had heard there was a chance they could return the Leonardo painting to its owner and wanted advice on whether it could be done lawfully.

The painting was taken into police custody in October 2007 after a swoop on a meeting at a lawyers’ office in Glasgow. Ronald was among those at the meeting.

Ronald was asked if there was anything he would like to say to the court, with the benefit of hindsight.

“I feel what we achieved in getting this painting back is something to be proud of,” he said.

“I think we did the right thing. I think we’re very proud of it and we have done something which would not have been achieved but for the effort that we did. The police couldn’t do it.”

Jurors have heard that a police sting to trace the £20million artwork swung into action after Ronald contacted an expert on recovering missing art.

The court has heard he had communications with undercover officers, believing they were working as agents for the duke.

He said: “As an experienced lawyer, I genuinely believed they were who they said they were. I was taken in hook, line and sinker.”

The lawyer told the trial that he operated on trust in the negotiations surrounding the return of the painting.

Ronald, of Skelmersdale; Graham and Doyle, both of Ormskirk, Lancashire; Calum Jones, 45, a solicitor from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire; and David Boyce, 63, a solicitor from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, deny conspiring to extort £4.25million from the duke and the painting’s insurers. They are not accused of the robbery.

Ronald also told the trial he was threatened by “scary” individuals during a meeting about the painting.

He said he became frightened during the conversation and felt that going to the police would put him in danger.

He said the meeting in a pub had initially involved co-accused Graham and Doyle but that the threats, from men known as “J” and “Frank”, came when his co-accused left.

He told the trial: “They said things to me which actually frightened me.”

The five accused have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to extort £4.25million and an alternative charge of attempted extortion. The offence is alleged to have taken place between July and October 2007.

The trial continues before Lady Dorrian today.

Solicitor denies da Vinci ransom
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8597740.stm

A solicitor accused of plotting to secure a pay-off for returning a stolen painting has denied demanding a ransom.

Marshall Ronald, 53, told the High Court in Edinburgh, it was a commercial deal between "willing parties".

He is one of five men who deny demanding £4.25m for the safe return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder painting was snatched from the Duke of Buccleuch's stately home, Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in 2003.

At the end of three days of questioning, Mr Ronald told the court: "I resent the use of the word conspiracy because it is an alien concept to me."

He added: "We have never sought any ransom at all.

"This is plain and simple. It was a commercial deal between willing parties acting with integrity."

Police raid

The art treasure was seized during a police raid on a Glasgow law office, more than four years after it was stolen.

Mr Ronald, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, was arrested then.

On trial with him are Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, both from Lancashire, Calum Jones, 45, from Renfrewshire and David Boyce, 63, from Lanarkshire.

They are not accused of stealing the painting and deny conspiring to extort £4.25m or attempting to extort the money

The trial continues.

Art Hostage Comments:

Remember Curly bonce Jonathon Powell said back in 2002 at the Labour Party Conference regarding IRA smuggling, emanating from South Armagh

"What harm can a few Uneducated Micks do smuggling a few cigarettes ?"

I'll tell you what, they turned it into a billion dollar portfolio, that's what, and yes the devil finds work for idle hands thus the Brits allowed the Northern Bank job to go ahead, even allowed Bobby Storey to get a political post, perks and car included.

The Brits also turned a blind eye to art theft and the security services/spooks monitored the exchange of monies for the Da Vinci Madonna without stepping in as they wanted to follow the money trail.

MI5/6 don't tell S.O.C.A., S.O.C.A. don't tell Dumfries Police, Dumfries Police don't tell Scottish Drug Police, no-one tells anyone what each agency is up to, therefore each agency was and is working towards their own exclusive agenda.

It wasn't called the "Dirty War" for nothing !!!

The Home fire still burns with patriotic passion at "Home Place" !!!

O'h go on, go on, go on, all together now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5vsUwts5xk&feature=related

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, IRA Link Revealed, Careful, Updated !!!


Leonardo da Vinci operation 'hooked' solicitor

They Haven't Gone Away You Know !!!!!!

Marshal Ronald alluded to an IRA link and was Frank in his revelations, to a point.

Ghost like eyes revealed no soul, a very dangerous man who would even scare Da Vinci Madonna trial Prosecutor Simon DiRollo.

I wondered when he would realise he was played like a fiddle throughout this whole thing, as were the Police, everyone wanted a taste of the Da Vinci Madonna, why, well lets look at the facts.

The boys from the Ra got paid, (meant to be the whole £500,000 but they only got £350,000), still paid is paid. The Duke got the Da Vinci Madonna back, the Insurance company got their money back via Mark Dalrymple, interest accrued on the payout, don't ask !!!

The Police got their bodies, basked in the intoxicating glory of the Da Vinci Madonna recovery, and behind all of this was a shadow playing all sides off but making sure the Da Vinci Madonna was recovered.

Would have been better if there had been arrests but no charges and the only court action was to decide if the reward payment should be made.

Still, that was not in the gift of the Architect, but still, back end payment allowed the Da Vinci Madonna to be recovered and this trial is the unfortunate collateral damage caused by over eager Police looking for a TV reality show and media hype. Now its political, like the Guilford four Birmingham Six, and the Maguire Seven.

Now it's the Da Vinci Madonna Five !!

You see in all cases of recovering stolen art, money has to be paid up-front to get the stolen art released.

The Insurance company cannot be seen to be paying up front so lawyers are used to withdraw money from their client account to cover the up-front payment. This is repaid when the stolen art is recovered and the reward or fee is paid.

In the Turner case Lawyer Edgar Liebrucks paid Stevo V from his client account, then the first Turner was recovered.

There were no arrests because the people actually recovering the first Turner were ex-Police officers Mick Lawrence and Rocky. Mark Dalrymple paid out £600,000. Then the second Turner was recovered 18 months later.

Marshal Ronald, Robbie Graham and Jack Doyle were mentioned in a covert meeting between Mark Dalrymple, two Police officers from the Serious Organised Crime Squad and the Architect of the Da Vinci Madonna recovery in January 2007 at Gatwick airport.

Following that meeting it was agreed by Dalrymple and the Architect, Marshal Ronald was a likely fall guy and would succumb to paying the up-front money from his client account therefore allowing Mark Dalrymple and Hiscox to appear squeaky clean and enabling the release of the Da Vinci Madonna.

Robbie Graham and Jack Doyle were to be allowed to play the same role as Mick Lawrence and Rocky, the two ex-Police officers who recovered the Turners.

However, as it turned out Robbie Graham and Jack Doyle, unlike Mick Lawrence and Rocky, who received £500,000 from Mark Dalrymple on the Turner case, Graham and Doyle did not get the huge payday and find themselves facing trial. Their only crime was to Not be Ex-Police Officers.

Calls across the Irish sea set things in motion and sure as day in July 2007 the Architects plan came together. Tony turned it in as PM around this time.

Shame the negative publicity has driven the Gardner Art in Ireland deeper underground.

The original Architect's plan was to use a successful recovery of the Da Vinci Madonna to give confidence in Ireland that would allow the Gardner art to surface.

Unfortunately, the intoxicating nature of the Da Vinci Madonna made Police rush for a quick media headline that has spooked those with control of the Gardner art.

And all this in the week Gerry Adams is subject of allegations by "Darkie" RIP, from the grave in the Ed Moloney book
http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/there-is-no-antisinn-fein--agenda-in-my-book-says-ed-moloney-14747319.html


Not forgetting the bogus tax allegations against General Thomas Slab Murphy:
http://www.irishcentral.com/news/news_from_ireland/Former-IRA-Chief-to-face-tax-evasion-charges--89322347.html

Come out you Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man !!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9D38J0yH9w&feature=related

Ra, Ra, ooh la la, as they rode off into the Sunset, saddlebags bulging with cash !!!!

Update;
BBC Radio Scotland, go to 1 hour 17 mins, 30 seconds to hear report from Da Vinci Madonna trial, Willie Johnson reporting, The Ghost, IRA Hitman, freaked out Marshal Ronald:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00rp9v7/Newsdrive_30_03_2010/


Breaking news out of South Armagh:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5vsUwts5xk&feature=related

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Perils of Giving Evidence !!!


Cardinal Sin, Redeemable, Cardinal Law, we'll see ????

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/mar/29/leonardo-plot-marshall-ronald-evidence

A solicitor accused of trying to extort £4.25m from one of Britain's wealthiest peers to recover a missing painting has admitted stealing £350,000 from his own clients' account as well as secretly demanding a £2m reward.

Marshall Ronald admitted in court that he committed the "cardinal sin" of taking his clients' money because he "passionately" wanted to return the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci to its rightful owners, the Duke of Buccleuch and his family.

The painting, valued at £30m to £50m, was stolen in broad daylight from Drumlanrig castle, in Dumfries and Galloway, in 2003.

Ronald, a lawyer from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, is one of five men, including two other solicitors, accused of plotting to extort money from the duke with a threat that the masterpiece, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, would be destroyed if he failed to comply.

Ronald is jointly accused with Robert Graham and John Doyle, part-time private detectives from Ormskirk, Lancashire; Calum Jones, a corporate lawyer from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire; and David Boyce of Airdrie, Lanarkshire. They deny all the charges.

Boyce and Doyle ran a website called Stolen Stuff Reunited that claimed to help the owners of stolen property get it back by telling the thieves the property was of great personal value.

Both men were allegedly approached by a mysterious intermediary, known to Ronald only as J, who knew where the Leonardo was.

Ronald, 53, told the high court in Edinburgh that he originally planned to ask the duke to pay £700,000 to buy the painting from J and another associate, whom he called K.

After that was rejected by the duke's representatives, who were in fact undercover detectives, Ronald was able to renegotiate the price with the intermediaries by reducing it to £350,000.

But because the duke refused to pay anything upfront, Ronald had to steal the cash from his clients to pay J and K off, he said.

He agreed with Donald Findlay QC, his advocate, that this was a cardinal sin for a solicitor, which put him in a "parlous position".

Ronald said: "I bitterly regret that." He did it "to keep the deal alive. It wouldn't have happened but for facilitating the payment of that money, which I negotiated to the lowest level I could."

Ronald confirmed in cross-examination that J had given him evidence that the painting was safe and authentic by embedding footage of the Leonardo 15 minutes into a Batman video.

But J had also made clear that if he was not paid he would "stab" the painting or throw it in a river. "He didn't care, to him it was just pure business," Ronald said.

After the intermediaries were paid by Graham and Doyle, the two men brought the painting to the law firm in Glasgow where Boyce and Jones were senior partners, to be handed over to the duke's men on 4 October 2007. Instead, all five men were arrested in a police raid.

Ronald admitted that he tried to broker a private deal with the undercover police officers, who he believed were acting as the duke's personal negotiators.

Ronald, Graham and Doyle had already decided to ask for £2.25m in rewards and fees for the return of the Leonardo. Under the original deal £700,000 would go to the unknown men who were holding the painting, while he, Graham, Doyle, J and K would take £250,000 each.

The lawyers in Glasgow would get £50,000 for their legal advice on making sure the transaction was carried out properly under Scottish law.

But without telling Graham and Doyle, who were his original clients, Ronald secretly demanded an extra £2m from the duke that he admitted he would ask to be put in a private offshore account. "Suddenly I was the one taking all the risks," Ronald said.

He denied that he and his co-defendants were being greedy or publicity-hungry. He said all five of them had become emotionally involved in the case and believed they were acting in the best interests of the duke and the public.

Ronald admitted that he and his clients were very attracted by the "kudos" of being the men who successfully recovered one of the most valuable paintings ever stolen in Britain. It would boost his firm's fame and make the stolen property website famous worldwide.

The trial continues.

I deserved £2m reward, says Leonardo accused

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article7080740.ece

A solicitor hired to help claim a reward for a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece said he demanded an extra £2 million for himself because he was “taking all the risks”, a court was told yesterday.

Marshall Ronald also told the High Court in Edinburgh that he believed he would become famous for his role in handing back the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, the Duke of Buccleuch’s stately home in Dumfriesshire, in 2003.

Giving evidence for the first time yesterday, Mr Ronald, 53, from Ormskirk, in Lancashire, one of five men accused of attempting to extort £4.25 million for the safe return of the painting, said he had initially hoped for a 20 per cent share of any reward money. However, he argued that two undercover officers, whom he believed to be working for the Duke, had changed a plan to “repatriate” the artwork.

After agreeing a reward of £2 million, he told the trial, the men, known to him as John Craig and David Restor, said they would not issue the money until they had seen and examined the painting. Mr Ronald said this was a “nightmare”. As he and his two clients, private investigators John Doyle, 61, and Robert Graham, 57, had been asked to pay £700,000 to a mysterious figure called ‘J’ in order to obtain the painting, they were now responsible for raising the cash upfront, he said.


Donald Findlay, QC, who is representing Mr Ronald, asked him why he did not walk away at that point. The solicitor said he had already produced proof — a DVD of the painting — that showed he had been in contact with those who held it. “The world and his dog could come after me,” he said. When asked by Mr Findlay why he then demanded an extra £2 million for himself, he replied: “Because I was the one who was suddenly taking all the risks.”

Earlier, Mr Ronald recalled how Mr Doyle and Mr Graham introduced him to ‘J’, a man he described as being of Romany appearance. He said he asked ‘J’ for evidence that he knew of the painting’s whereabouts. But at their next meeting he became “concerned” by J’s attitude. “He was just in it for the money and didn’t give a s**t about what happened — it was pure business,” Mr Ronald told the court.

He later argued it was these comments that had prompted him to tell John Craig that there were “volatile individuals” involved.

The trial continues.

Leonardo da Vinci operation 'hooked' solicitor

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8595155.stm

A solicitor has told the Leonardo da Vinci extortion trial how he fell "hook, line and sinker" for an undercover police operation.

Marshall Ronald, 53, said he took two officers, one posing as an art expert and another claiming to represent the stolen work's owner, "at face value".

He claimed the police had been "duplicitous and deceptive".

Mr Ronald and four others deny seeking £4.25m for the safe return of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder painting.

The artwork was stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle in 2003.

None of the men on trial are accused of the robbery.

Mr Ronald told the High Court in Edinburgh he was put in touch with a man he knew by the alias John Craig by a loss adjuster dealing with the theft of the artwork.

He said Mr Craig claimed to represent the duke.

"I trusted him, I trusted him from the outset," Mr Ronald told the court.

"I genuinely believed they were who they said they were.

"I was taken in hook, line and sinker."

The Lancashire lawyer denied making any threats about the fate of the painting.

He said his one regret was "the cardinal sin" of raiding his law firm's client account for £500,000, which he believed would be repaid when he received his reward for returning the painting.

"I dreamed the dream and took the risk," he told the court.

However, he criticised the police operation which had brought himself and his four co-accused to trial.

"The only people who have shown a lack of trust are the police," he said.

"They have been duplicitous and deceptive.

"They played footloose and fancy free with other people's property."

Mr Ronald told the court that the five men on trial had done what police had been unable to do and recovered the duke's painting.

"I think we did the right thing," he said.

"I am very proud of it and what we have achieved. I think it is very sad that we are standing here today."

On trial along with 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 deny conspiring to extort £4.25m and an alternative charge of attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues.

Art Hostage Comments:

The Guardian can be relied upon to get the names wrong.

For the record it was Robbie Graham and Jack Doyle who ran the Stolen Stuff Reunited website, not David Boyce as reported above.

"I deserved £2 million" the Times quotes Marshal Ronald as saying.

Yes, you would have deserved and got £2 million if you were an Ex-Policeman, and you would not be facing this trial.

However, as you are a mere mortal you get zero money and find yourself where you are.

Stolen Art Watch, Pink Panthers Change Tact to Stay Ahead of the Game !!


Armed gang steals hundreds of thousands in Swiss casino raid

An armed gang of about 10 masked men raided a casino in Basel stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Swiss officials.

The prosecutor's office in the Swiss city said that the group, dressed in black, arrived in two cars at the Grand Casino near Basel, shortly after 4am.

One smashed the front door with a sledgehammer, and the others ran inside with machine guns and pistols, according to the statement. The group, who were speaking French, then ordered the guests and employees to the floor, while they emptied registers in the basement and upper floor.

Prosecutors said the group were unable to get into the strong room, despite shooting at the locked door.

"The criminals fired a number of shots, but luckily no one was hit," said the statement.

It said some guests and one security guard were lightly injured from being hit or stepped on, and that Swiss and French police were trying to track down the men.

Swiss police said the men fled the casino quickly, driving away in two silver Audis with French license plates.

A woman who accidentally drove between the two getaway cars and blocked the casino's exit was pulled from her vehicle and beaten, police said. They said it was possible that the men fired a shot at another car during their high-speed escape.

The Grand Casino is located little more than 200 metres from Switzerland's border with France.

Berlin Casino Robbery

All four of the original suspects in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Berlin armed robbery have now been apprehended, ending a more than week-long manhunt that spanned across both different countries and continents. Authorities had already apprehended two of the suspects in the crime, but were still searching for Jihad Chetwie and Mustafa Ucarkus. Over the weekend, both suspects turned themselves into police at the Berlin airport. Ucarkus was apprehended early Saturday afternoon after returning to Berlin from Istanbul and Chetwie was arrested later in the day after stepping off a plane coming in from Beirut.

Police also arrested a fifth suspect in connection with the robbery. The unnamed 28-year old Lebanese man is said by Berlin police to be the mastermind behind the crime and the driver of the getaway car. Though the police have apprehended all five suspects, they have yet to track down the €240,000 taken during the robbery.

Art Hostage Comments:

Modus Vivendi, Arab, Serb, Croat, Turkish, Lebanese, Hisbollah, Underworld co-operation is new Clear and Present Danger.

Berlin, Switzerland, where next ????

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna Trial, Lame Defence Whimper !!!


Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna case is about to shift towards the defence case starting at 12 noon.

All of the submissions to the Judge have been thrown out, surprise surprise.

Even David Boyce has had his attempt at the Reset charge being dropped has been rejected, even though David Boyce did not have any contact with Da Vinci Madonna painting.

More to follow...............

Solicitor sought Leonardo da Vinci 'kudos'

A solicitor facing extortion charges has told a court that "kudos" played a part in his decision to try to help return a stolen masterpiece.

Marshall Ronald, 53, also hoped to get a share of a reward for bringing back the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

The Leonardo da Vinci work was stolen from a Dumfriesshire castle in 2003.

Mr Ronald and four others deny conspiring to extort £4.25m for its safe return in 2007. They are not accused of stealing the painting.

The trial at the High Court in Edinburgh has now entered its fifth week.

'Other promise'

Mr Ronald described an approach to his small law firm in Lancashire by two Merseyside private investigators Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, who are among his co-accused.

The duo had a company called Stolen Stuff Reunited which specialised in returning stolen goods - particularly items of sentimental importance but of little value to thieves.

He said the pair had heard there was a chance they could return the painting to its owner and wanted advice on whether it could be done lawfully.

Defence QC Donald Findlay asked him what he expected to receive for returning the work.

"At that time it was 20% of the overage but the other promise that was relevant to myself, Jack Doyle and Robbie Graham was that there would be a tremendous amount of kudos," said Mr Ronald.

He suggested that returning it would be like the return of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

'Good publicity'

"The kudos would be substantial," he said.

Mr Findlay said it would be "pretty good publicity" for a one-man law firm.

"Yes, there was always the option that later on I could do something with that," Mr Ronald said.

On trial along with Mr Ronald, 53, are Mr Graham and Mr Doyle, all from Lancashire, Calum Jones, 45, from Renfrewshire, and David Boyce, 63, from Lanarkshire.

They deny conspiring to extort £4.25m and an alternative charge of attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Revolving Door of Art Related Crime !! !!!


Paul Klee Painting Stolen in 1989 Recovered by the ALR and American Authorities

March 24, 2010

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK - A painting by Swiss artist Paul Klee that was stolen from a New York gallery in 1989 has been recovered after a Montreal gallery owner became suspicious and turned it over to U.S. authorities.
Robert Landau turned the 1930 painting, Portrait in the Garden, by the neo-impressionist artist over to U.S. authorities after a Florida art dealer tried to sell it to him. It had been stolen from the Marlborough Gallery.

"Once we found out it was stolen, we called Homeland Security in Washington," Landau told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We don't deal in stolen art."

U.S. authorities then handed the painting over to the London-based Art Loss Register, which maintains a 350,000-item database of stolen artworks.
Christopher Marinello, executive director of the Art Loss Register, praised Landau for his actions.

"He was very honorable," Marinello said. "We wish that every dealer were like the Landau Gallery and that they searched before they bought everything."

A spokeswoman for the Marlborough Gallery, Janis Gardner Cecil, said the $100,000 painting is now owned by Marlborough's insurer, Lloyd's of London, which will auction it.

Pat Reilly, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, told the AP that Landau was approached in December 2009 by a man who represented himself as an art dealer at an international art fair in Miami Beach.
The man offered to sell the Klee to Landau, but Landau said he could not evaluate its authenticity on the spot.

The man then sent the painting to Landau in Montreal with the understanding that Landau would buy it if he determined it was authentic.

Instead, Reilly said, Landau discovered the painting had been stolen and turned it over to ICE agents.

Asked if charges were pending against the art dealer who tried to sell the painting, Reilly said only that the investigation is ongoing.
The painting, gouache on paper, shows the figure of a woman surrounded by flowers.

Klee, 1879-1940, was influenced by German Expressionists and by the Cubism of Picasso. He was also part of the Bauhaus school of architecture and design.

By KAREN MATTHEWS (AP)


Associated Press Writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

About the Art Loss Register

The ALR is the world's largest database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles. The ALR was first established in London in 1991 through a partnership between leading auction houses and art trade associations, the insurance industry, and the International Foundation for Art Research. The ALR has been involved in the recovery of over $200m worth of artwork. There are currently over 225,000 items on the database. The ALR is recognized as the leader in art recovery, due diligence, and the resolution of title disputes.



Henry Moore Sculpture Recovered in Toronto

March 25, 2010

TORONTO, Ontario - Days after locating and recovering a $125,000 Paul Klee painting from Landau Fine Art in Montreal, The Art Loss Register has successfully recovered a $80,000 Henry Moore sculpture from the Miriam Shiell Gallery in Toronto. The sculpture had been reported stolen by the James Goodman Gallery in New York in November of 2001.

While it may seem that Canada is becoming a hotbed of stolen art, previously appropriated artwork is recovered all over the world according to Christopher A. Marinello, General Counsel of the London-based Art Loss Register. "This just happens to be a bad...or should I say good week for Canada."

The Art Loss Register located the Moore when the Miriam Shiell Gallery was performing due diligence searches of recently consigned artwork. The Gallery's consignor, when faced with the facts, and the law, voluntarily released his claim to the work which he claimed was inherited from a relative.

"Art theft is a six billion dollar a year industry" says Marinello. Stolen items are registered with the ALR who then check every major auction sale worldwide in an effort to locate the items on their database. In addition, reputable dealers, museums, and collectors will contact the Register prior to making a purchase of fine art.

"You should only buy fine art from a gallery or auction house that searches with The ALR otherwise, you risk losing the item to police seizure or civil legal action that could cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees."

With the assistance of Detective Mark Fishstein of the NYPD Major Case Squad, the Moore sculpture will be returned to the James Goodman Gallery in the next few days.

There are over 100 artworks by Henry Moore on the Art Loss Register's database of lost and stolen artworks, the most famous of which is a 2-ton sculpture stolen from the grounds of a British museum in 2005.

About the Art Loss Register

The ALR is the world's largest database of lost and stolen art, antiques, and collectibles. The ALR was first established in London in 1991 through a partnership between leading auction houses and art trade associations, the insurance industry, and the International Foundation for Art Research. The ALR has been involved in the recovery of over $200m worth of artwork. There are currently over 300,000 items on the database. The ALR is recognized as the leader in art recovery, due diligence, and the resolution of title disputes.

Wedding rings stolen by attackers in Hertfordshire

Thousands of pounds worth of wedding rings have been stolen by attackers in Hertfordshire who hit their victim in the face.

The victim works for a specialist company and 450 gold and diamond rings were taken as he returned to premises in Park Street, St Albans.

He was followed from Hatfield by four men in a blue T registration Toyota Avensis on Thursday, police said.

"He was not seriously hurt but was shaken," Det Sgt Nina Winfield said.

"When the man got out of his car at the junction with Park Street Lane and Gidian Court, one of the offenders hit him in the face and stole his black sports holdall containing the rings.

Wearing bandana

"The attacker was of Eastern European appearance, 5ft 8in (1.72m) tall and aged between 30 and 35.

"We would like to speak to anyone who was in Beaconsfield Road in Hatfield or the Gidian Court area of Park Street and saw anything suspicious," she said.

The other three men are also described as being of "Eastern European appearance", aged between 25 and 30 and were all dressed in jeans and jackets.

One was also wearing a red and yellow bandana.

Det Sgt Winfield said: "Remember if you are offered cheap rings, they could be stolen and we would like to hear from you."

Thieves get away with valuable bronze antiques

ANTIQUES worth £4,000 were stolen from a village store in an early morning smash-and-grab raid.

The two Art Deco bronze statuettes were snatched from a window display at Jeroen Markies, in Forest Row.

Police were on a routine patrol when they heard an alarm sound at the shop, in Newlands Place, at about 4.30am on Friday March 12.

Owner Jeroen Markies said: "The police have been very efficient and very helpful, but I don't hold much hope.

"I think the items were stolen to order. They specifically went for these two items and nothing else. There were eight massive marks on the window where they used granite stones."

The valuable one-of-a-kind items - a dancer and a panther - had been in the window display for only a couple of days before the thieves struck.

Sales assistant Jules Evans said: "It's reinforced glass, so it takes some doing. It was a smash-and-grab and they knew exactly what they were after.

"The bronze is very heavy, so I would imagine it would have been a couple of people."

It is believed the offenders smashed a hole big enough to reach into the shop and steal the two statuettes.

Mr Markies has run the business from Forest Row for nearly 30 years and last had a break-in around 1990.

He added: "It's amazing how they managed to get through that glass.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna Trial, Reverse Sting in The Tail !!!


Da Vinci trial in final stages

THE prosecution completed its evidence in the Madonna of the Yarnwinder trial at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

Jurors were sent home until Monday, while the judge, Lady Dorrian, heard legal submissions on behalf of the five accused.

The £20 million Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece was stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire in 2003.

Marshall Ronald, 53, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, both of Ormskirk, Lancashire, and Glasgow-based solicitors Calum Jones, 45, and David Boyce, 63, deny conspiring to extort £4.25m from the duke and the insurer Hiscox UK for its safe return.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Crown Rests, Well Nearly !!


Detective details Leonardo da Vinci effort

The officer leading a stolen da Vinci investigation has told a trial about undercover efforts to recover it.

The team working on the Madonna of the Yarnwinder case had shrunk to just two until a solicitor claimed he could "repatriate" it, a court has heard.

Det Insp Gary Coupland said he approved an undercover operation as a result of that information.

Five men are accused of trying to extort £4.25m for the painting's safe return. They deny the charges.

Mr Coupland was in charge of the investigation into the 2003 theft of the painting from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire.

He told the High Court in Edinburgh he authorised the undercover operation after solicitor Marshall Ronald contacted a London loss adjuster about the artwork.

One officer was to pretend to be working for the duke and another was to take on the role of an art expert.

Last witness

He told the court how Ronald was tailed as he met a Merseyside private investigator, who said he knew where the painting was, in a pub at London's Euston Station.

He was also being watched as he went to the Glasgow offices of solicitors HBJ Gateley Wareing in October 2007 where it is alleged the painting was to be handed over in exchange for more than £4m.

Mr Coupland was the last witness called by the Crown after 18 days of evidence.

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

They deny conspiring to extort £4.25m and an alternative charge of attempting to extort the money. They are not accused of the robbery.

The trial continues.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Week 4


Solicitor denies being axe-wielding thief of duke's Da Vinci masterpiece

Published Date: 24 March 2010

A SOLICITOR strongly denied that he was an axe-wielding robber who stole a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece from a Scottish stately home.
The High Court in Edinburgh yesterday heard a tape recording of detectives questioning Marshall Ronald, 53, after finding him with the painting.

Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire four years earlier.

Ronald and four others face a charge of trying to extort more than £4 million in return for the painting's safe return to its owner, the Duke of Buccleuch.

None of them is accused of playing a part in the armed robbery in August 2003.

But at the end of a lengthy interview on 4 October 2007, Detective Sergeant Colin Burnie confronted Ronald with an allegation that, along with others, he had attacked a tour guide at Drumlanrig Castle, threatened her with an axe and robbed the duke of his treasured painting.

Ronald, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, replied that he had never been to the castle then, did not know the tour guide and had never heard of the Leonardo da Vinci painting at that time.

"I have never robbed the Duke of Buccleuch," he told police.

Ronald told them he was concerned that, after questioning about his role in the recovery of the painting, he was charged with robbery.

"In short, I absolutely deny any involvement in the robbery and what I have done is everything in my power to safely recover that painting in the best way I know as a professional lawyer," he said.

Ronald was detained in the Glasgow offices of law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing at the end of an undercover police operation.

As part of the operation, arrangements had been made for the painting to be delivered from an unknown location in England to Glasgow so it could be examined and verified as the genuine Leonardo work.

In the interview, Ronald said he had been working on returning the painting for several weeks, following an approach by two clients, Robert Graham and John Doyle, who had said they might be able to assist in "repatriating" it.

He insisted: "I have not been covert in any way at all. I have not done anything wrong. I have done something, I think, quite extraordinary."

Ronald stated that he and the clients had visited Drumlanrig and had come to appreciate just how much Madonna of the Yarnwinder had meant to the ninth Duke of Buccleuch, its owner at the time.

"We did the tour... our motivation was: We are going to make this (the return] happen. Jack (Doyle] is a worrier and several times he may have jeopardised the operation, saying this was a sting and that we were going to get arrested.

"Myself and Robbie (Graham] said we don't care if we get arrested because we are doing the right thing."

He agreed that he stood to make a lot of money from the deal.

He claimed he and the others had been "devastated" not to have managed to return the painting before the Duke of Buccleuch died in September 2007, to be succeeded by his son, the tenth duke.

On trial with Ronald of Highmeadow, Ravenscroft, Upholland, Skelmersdale, are Robert Graham, 57, of Gawhill Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk, Lancashire; John Doyle, 61, of Summerwood Lane, Halsall, Ormskirk, Lancashire; solicitor Calum Jones, 45, of Knockbuckle Road, Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, and solicitor David Boyce, 63, of Clark Street, Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

They deny conspiring to extort £4,250,000 or, alternatively, attempting to extort the money.

A second charge, also denied, alleges that the five accused attempted to defeat the ends of justice by getting one of the undercover officers to sign an agreement that police would not be told about what was happening.

The trial continues.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Give Gerald Daniel Blanchard a Chance !!!



Malcolm X "To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace"
Malcolm X
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/03/ff_masterthief_blanchard/



Joshuah Bearman (joshuah_bearman@hotmail.com ) wrote about rescuing American hostages from Iran in issue 15.05.
-
Art Hostage Comments:

John Lennon said "Give Peace a Chance"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-NRriHlLUk&NR=1

All we are saying, is give Dan a chance, all we are saying is give Dan a chance !!!!

Art Hostage says "Give Gerald Daniel Blanchard a Chance"

Stolen Art Watch, Panthers in the Pink or Noortman Revisited !!!!


Tefaf fair heist lands thieves $1.3m haul

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/tefaf-fair-heist-lands-thieves-13m-haul/story-e6frf7jx-1225843564468

A RING and a diamond necklace worth 860,000 euro ($1.3 million) were stolen at the world's leading antiques fair in the Netherlands yesterday.

"A ring with a big sapphire and a diamond necklace belonging to London jeweller Hancock were stolen,'' a fair spokeswoman confirmed.

The Tefaf fair in the Dutch city of Maastricht opened on March 12 and closed yesterday.

The 11.65-carat ring and the 7.23-carat necklace disappeared between 5pm and 6pm (local time) and police were investigating, Ms Vellenga said.

The 23rd edition of the Tefaf fair drew a crowd of 73,000 visitors this year.

More than 260 art and antiques dealers showed 30,000 paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture, jewellery, china, clothes and manuscripts.

The fair's biggest sale was a 1534 painting by German artist Lukas Cranach, David and Bathsheba, which went for €5.3 million.

Art Hostage Comments:

A trophy crime for the Pink Sapphire, ideal for a Pink Panther.

However, lets not forget the Noortman scenario.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Heading For The Exit on A Sinking Ship !!!


Da Vinci trial told of 'shell-shocked' lawyer

Court hears of day prestigious law firm was raided when police recovered stolen Da Vinci masterpiece

A top lawyer ducked out of a back door - so that he could brief colleagues about why police had raided the firm's offices looking for a painting stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch.

A trial heard on Wednesday that David Boyce, 63, looked "shell-shocked" when he met other partners of HBJ Gateley Wareing soon afterwards.

"As you can imagine, it was not a normal day at the office," said solicitor Maggie Moodie, 43, describing the event to a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Boyce is now on trial - along with two other solicitors and two Merseyside private investigators - accused of demanding more than £4 million for the safe return of a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, then insured for £15m, was snatched from the ancestral home of the Dukes of Buccleuch at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in August 2003. It was found on the boardroom table of the law firm's plush offices in West Regent Street, Glasgow, by a posse of detectives on October 4 2007.

At the time, commercial litigator Ms Moodie was also the HBJ Gateley Wareing partner who dealt with complaints. Boyce was a senior partner. Ms Moodie said she was at her desk in Edinburgh when she received a phone call from the Glasgow office telling her the premises had been raided by 14 police officers and that Calum Jones, another partner, had been arrested, along with clients of the firm.

She was immediately driven through to Glasgow with the law firm's chief executive. As she and other HDJ Gateley Wareing partners talked about what was happening, they were joined by Boyce. "He explained later, in the boardroom, that he had gone out of the back door so he would be available to explain the situation," she told the court.

She continued: "He said something like 'ducked out' or 'dived out' - I am not sure what the word was - but he gave the impression he made a quick exit out of the back door. David Boyce looked shell-shocked."

He told the other lawyers he had introduced what he called "the transaction" to the firm but hadn't had much to do with it, passing the matter on to Calum Jones. "He said Calum Jones had done nothing wrong and they were acting in the repatriation of the painting." Ms Moody also told advocate depute Simon DiRollo, prosecuting, that she was "alarmed" to see a clause in an agreement which Boyce and Jones appeared to have been working on which suggested law enforcement officers would not be told about efforts to return the Leonardo da Vinci painting.

After the police raid, HBJ Gateley Wareing contacted a senior advocate to get counsel's opinion on how they should report the issue to the authorities and also the firm's PR people "to protect as far as we could the firm's good reputation." Ms Moodie said: "We were really fire-fighting at the time. It was a most unusual situation."

The trial has heard that Boyce began as an apprentice with law firm Boyds and worked his way up to become a senior partner and was heavily involved in that Glasgow firm's merger with the English-based HBJ Gateley Wareing. He was well regarded by fellow professionals and clients in his field of commercial property law, said defence QC David Burns.

On trial are solicitor Marshall Ronald, 53, of Skelmersdale; Robert Graham, 57 and John Doyle, 61, both of Lancashire; solicitor Calum Jones, 45, of Renfrewshire, and solicitor David Boyce, 63, of Airdrie. They deny conspiring to extort £4.25m or, alternatively, attempting to extort the money. A second charge, which they also deny, alleges that the five accused attempted to defeat the ends of justice by getting one of the undercover officers to sign an agreement that police would not be told about what was happening.

The trial continues.

Stolen Art Watch, Dutch Art Arrests, Chicken or the Egg !!!



2 arrested in Dutch art heist

Police in the Netherlands have arrested two men in the theft of two paintings, including a Salvador Dali, from a Dutch gallery last year.

The paintings — Adolescence, a 1941 gouache by Dali, and La Musicienne, a 1929 oil painting by Polish-born painter Tamara de Lempicka — were not recovered. A gouache is made with opaque watercolors, mixed with gum.

Masked robbers raided the Scheringa art museum in Spanbroek during daylight hours on May 1, 2009, threatening a guard and a receptionist before escaping with the paintings.

The suspects, aged 29 and 43, were arrested Wednesday in the southern city of Breda, police said.

The museum targeted in the heist closed last year after the DSB bank owned by its patron, Dirk Scheringa, collapsed


Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2010/03/17/dali-art-heist.html#ixzz0iSYkWlrn

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, When in Doubt, Leave it Out, Walk Away, Live to Fight Another Day !!!!


Leonardo da Vinci lawyer foresaw 'history or arrest
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8570573.stm

The Leonardo extortion trial has heard claims one of the accused said he would either make art history or be arrested.

Lawyer Calum Jones, 45, was later led away by detectives who raided the Glasgow offices of HBJ Gateley Wareing.

The 2007 raid also found the Madonna of the Yarnwinder which had been taken from the Dumfriesshire estate of the Duke of Buccleuch four years earlier.

Five men deny conspiring to extort £4.25m for the painting's return. They are not accused of the robbery.

The High Court in Edinburgh was hearing evidence from James Rennie, 45, a specialist in corporate law and a former colleague of Mr Jones.

He described seeing him in the Glasgow law offices.

He said the last time he had seen Mr Jones before learning police were in the building he had been on his own.

Deny charges

"I am either going to make art history or I am going to be arrested," he said.

Mr Rennie said his colleague seemed to address the remark to the world at large.

Questioned by advocate depute Simon Di Rollo, prosecuting, Mr Rennie said he did not know what the remark meant and he had no idea that a stolen painting was to be brought into the offices.

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

They deny conspiring to extort £4.25m and an alternate charge of attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Police Not on Guest List !!!!


Da Vinci trial told of 'no police clause'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8569215.stm

A senior solicitor has told a court he found it "very surprising" a contract over a stolen painting contained a provision police were not to be told.

Malcolm McPherson said he had received a call that the painting had been recovered from a law firm's office and a partner had been arrested.

Calum Jones was held after Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna of the Yarnwinder was found at the office.

He is one of five men who deny seeking £4.25m for the painting's return.

The masterpiece was taken from Drumlanrig Castle in 2003.

Mr McPherson, the senior Scottish partner in HBJ Gateley Wareing, said he was with a client in Edinburgh when he was phoned by lawyer David Boyce on 4 October 2007.

Lawyer arrested

Mr McPherson told the High Court in Edinburgh: "He told me that the picture had been found in the office and that Calum Jones had been arrested."

He said he was informed that police had come to the office and that Mr Jones had been "trying to repatriate the picture".

Mr McPherson said HBJ Gateley Wareing had been involved in the takeover of another law firm, Boyds, where Mr Boyce and Mr Jones worked in August 2007.

Advocate depute Simon di Rollo asked Mr McPherson if he was aware of the "so-called transaction" over the painting during the takeover and he replied: "Never at any time."

'Very surprising'

Mr McPherson said he became aware a document had been prepared concerning the return of the picture with a clause that said "fundamentally nobody would tell the police or any other law enforcement agency".

The prosecutor asked Mr McPherson if he found it surprising as a lawyer that there was a proposition that the police were not to be told. He said: "I think it's very surprising."

In further evidence antiques dealer James Tierney told the court that Marshall Ronald, 53, had acted for him in compensation dealings with Liverpool council and he contacted Mr Ronald to demand when the money was going to be paid.

Mr Tierney said a meeting about the money was eventually set up with Mr Ronald. Mr Tierney told the court: "He said he had used it for this deal he had done with this painting."

Charges denied

On trial along with Mr Jones, 45, from Renfrewshire, and Mr Boyce, 63, from Lanarkshire, are Mr Ronald, 53, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, all from Lancashire.

A further charge alleges that they attempted to defeat the ends of justice by requiring an undercover officer to sign an agreement that police would not be notified.

They are not accused of stealing the painting and deny conspiring to extort £4.25m or attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues.

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Week 3, Waiting For Edgar !!!!


Waiting for Edgar !!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Week 2 Ends !!!


Da Vinci trial hears of loan request

A lawyer asked one of his clients if he could borrow £350,000 to retrieve a stolen painting, a trial has been told.

Roy Radcliffe, 60, told the High Court in Edinburgh that he was promised a 10% profit but he dismissed lawyer Marshall Ronald's proposal as ludicrous.

Mr Ronald, 53, is one of five men accused of demanding £4.25m for the safe return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was taken from Drumlanrig Castle in 2003.

It belonged to the Duke of Buccleuch, who lived at the castle in Dumfriesshire.

Mr Radcliffe told the court that in September 2007, Mr Ronald was conducting litigation on his behalf in a dispute over property.

My mobile rang and he asked me if I wanted to make some money," he said.

"If I could lend him £350,000, I would get a return of £35,000 within a few days."

Asked by advocate depute Simon Di Rollo, prosecuting, about his reaction, Mr Radcliffe told him: "Just surprise really."

He added: "It just seemed a bit ludicrous really."

Mr Ronald called him later that day and again the following day repeating his request and talking about a painting, the court heard.

Mr Radcliffe said: "He just said it was something that had been stolen from Scotland and he could retrieve it for the rightful owner and that was about it.

"I didn't really take a lot of notice."

'Not nicest area'

The trial has heard that the Lancashire-based solicitor went to his bank to arrange a £350,000 cash withdrawal from his law firm's client account, asking for the bundles of banknotes to be delivered to a Liverpool building maintenance firm.

The cash was to get access to the stolen painting, the trial heard.

Security van driver David Gore, 43, based at the G4S Bottle office, told of his worries when he was asked to take the money to premises in Netherley.

"It is not the nicest area round there," he said.

Mr Gore said he was expecting to deliver his consignment to a secure office or cash room, but all he found was a kitchen or a canteen.

He was asked to put the plastic bags of banknotes into the boot of a blue S-type Jaguar parked in the yard.

'Little strange'

The jury were shown a photo of the car with the blue and white wrapped bundles in the open boot and, by the Jaguar stood Robert Graham, 57 - another of the men on trial.

Susan Norton, 51, a director of JC Construction Ltd, said Ronald acted as solicitor for the building firm and she found his request to use their premises "a little strange".

On trial along with Mr Ronald and Mr Graham are John Doyle, 61, all from Lancashire, Calum Jones, 45, from Renfrewshire, and David Boyce, 63, from Lanarkshire.

They are not accused of stealing the painting and deny conspiring to extort £4.25m or attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues on Monday.

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Worm Turns !!


Lawyer Wanted £2 million Da Vinci Deal

A SOLICITOR told an undercover cop he personally wanted £2million for the return of a stolen Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, a trial heard yesterday.

Marshall Ronald, 53, warned the officer not to mention the legal fees to his clients, it was claimed.

Ronald and the policeman, who used the alias John Craig, had already agreed a price of £2million for Madonna of the Yarnwinder to be brought back safely. But Ronald insisted on a secret "side" deal, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

Mr Craig - who was posing as an agent of the Duke of Buccleuch, who owned the painting - said Ronald told him: "Nobody knows about it."

The alleged exchange came four years after the art, insured for £15million, was stolen from the Duke's Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire.

The pair were about to meet Ronald's co-accused Robert Graham at a pub in Euston, North London.

Graham wanted to be convinced that Mr Craig was not "the chief of police", the trial heard.

Mr Craig said bosses told him not to wear a wire for the meet, in case he was searched.

But Graham, who introduced himself as a Liverpool publican with underworld contacts, secretly recorded the encounter.

On the tape, played to the jury, Graham is heard to say: "I am not doing this for the money."

Graham later tells Ronald: "He's convinced me I am 100 per cent safe."

The court also heard Ronald wrote of "heart stopping moments" as he arranged to wire cash between offshore accounts.

His email to HSBC commercial manager Fiona Wilson, 38, came a day before cops seized the painting at Glasgow law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing.

He had told her £2million would be deposited in his client account and she should make up five bundles of cash - but it never arrived, she said.

Ronald, 53, of Upholland, Lancs, Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, both of Ormskirk, Lancs, Calum Jones, 45, of Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, and David Boyce, 63, of Airdrie, deny trying to extort £4.25million for the art's safe return in 2007.

Solicitor in Da Vinci case 'sought £2m'


A solicitor hired to help two private investigators claim a reward for a Leonardo da Vinci painting stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry secretly negotiated an extra £2 million for himself, a court heard yesterday.

Marshall Ronald, 53, also lied to his clients and described them as “idiots” and “a pain in the ass”.

The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire in 2003. Mr Ronald and four others, including his two clients, are on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh for attempting to extort £4.25 million for the painting’s return.

The jury heard details of e-mail and telephone exchanges between Mr Ronald and an undercover officer, using the alias John Craig, who the solicitor thought was working on behalf of the Buccleuch family. The pair had agreed a figure of £2 million for the painting.

Then Mr Ronald asked for another £2 million in legal fees — but insisted that Mr Craig should not mention the figure to the men he was representing.

Mr Craig, questioned by solicitor advocate John Keenan for co-defendant Robert Graham, agreed that Mr Ronald had asked for £2 million and that the solicitor had told him: “That is an agreement on the side. Nobody knows about it except me and you.”

The trial continues.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Scales of Justice !!!


Men accused of extortion over stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece made no demands for money, court told
Mar 11 2010 By Brian Horne

MEN accused of holding a stolen art treasure to ransom made no demands for cash when it was handed over, a trial was told yesterday.

The High Court in Edinburgh watched secretly recorded video footage of a meeting in a Glasgow law office.

An undercover cop, posing as an art expert, confirmed that The Madonna Of The Yarnwinder - stolen four years earlier from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire - was genuine.

The detective, known by his alias of David Restor, then began to pack the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece in a special case.

Police colleague John Craig, pretending to be an agent for the duke, left the room to make a telephone call to him.

But he was really triggering a police raid on the city centre offices of HBJ Gateley Wareing in West Regent Street, Glasgow, the court was told.

Yesterday, Craig, an alias to protect his identity, faced questions from defence QC Donald Findlay about the handover on October 4, 2007.

Mr Findlay pointed out that, although photos were being taken in the room, no one made any attempt to conceal their identity as the world-famous painting passed into the hands of the law.

He said: "Have we heard anybody saying, 'Hang on a minute, lads, what are you doing with the painting?

"We have not had confirmation we have had the money yet. You are not getting the painting until we get the money.'

"Have you heard anything like that?"

Mr Craig, speaking from behind a screen in the courtroom, replied: "Not to my knowledge."

He also confirmed that no attempt had been made to stop him or his colleague taking the picture.

Five men are accused of demanding £4.25million for the safe return of the masterpiece valued at £50million.

English lawyer Marshall Ronald, 53, Liverpudlians Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, and Scottish solicitors Calum Jones, 45, and David Boyce, 63, deny attempting to extort £4.25million from the duke and his late father for the return of the painting.

A second charge alleges that the five accused attempted to defeat the ends of justice by getting one of the undercover officers to sign an agreement that police would not be told about what was happening.

The trial continues.

Da Vinci accused was 'not in it for money'

A trial has heard that a man accused of being part of a conspiracy to extort £4.25m for a stolen painting, said he was not in it for the money or glory.

The High Court in Edinburgh was told that Robert Graham made the comment during a taped conversation with an undercover policeman.

He is one of five men facing charges relating to the Leonardo da Vinci work the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

It was stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's estate in Dumfries in 2003.

The court heard that Mr Graham, a 57-year-old Liverpool publican, met with undercover policeman John Craig at a London pub in 2007, believing him to be an agent of the Duke.

'Cloak and dagger'

The trial was told that Mr Graham was seeking assurances from Mr Craig before he went ahead with a plan to retrieve the stolen painting from unnamed intermediaries.

During their conversation, he told Mr Craig: "I don't feel I'm doing anything illegal or wrong. I can see it bothering me for the rest of my life if I don't do this."

Asked what would happen if police found him with the painting, Mr Craig referred to a contract and he told Mr Graham: "There's no cloak and dagger here, no last-minute surprises."

After the meeting, Mr Graham is heard to say that Mr Craig had convinced him he was "100% safe".

"He's working for the Duke and we're working for them. It's as simple as that," he said.

In court, defence QC Donald Findlay put it to Mr Craig, that he made all the running in talks with another accused, Marshall Ronald.

Painting's theft

Suggesting that the Duke was interested in buying back the painting and did not care if the police were involved or not, Mr Craig said he was only playing an agreed and authorised role.

On trial along with Mr Graham are Marshall Ronald, 53, 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.

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna Trial , Police Fox V Silver Fox !!!!


Da Vinci negotiations held in London pub

A TRIAL yesterday heard first hints about how a stolen art treasure surfaced more than four years after robbers took it from a Dumfriesshire stately home.

The details emerged at the first face- to-face meeting between an undercover detective, a solicitor who was helping negotiate the return of the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece and a Liverpool publican known as The Silver Fox.

The undercover detective, using the alias John Craig, said his boss would not allow him to wear a wire for the meeting in a London pub because of fears that he might be taken into the toilets and strip- searched.

Giving evidence at the High Court in Edinburgh Mr Craig told what he remembered of the meeting with Robert Graham, 57, a man he later described as "a loveable rogue".

Silver-haired Graham, together with solicitor Marshall Ronald, 53, and three other men are accused of demanding more than £4 million for the safe return of the painting.

Graham had come to the pub meeting on September 30, 2007, thinking he was meeting a representative of the Duke of Buccleuch, the painting’s owner. Graham appeared terrified that he might be arrested in connection with the stolen painting and wanted to meet Mr Craig to make sure he was not "the chief of police."

Mr Craig said yesterday that he and Graham swapped "personal details". He added: "He was the owner of a number of pubs in the Merseyside area and his nick-name was The Silver Fox.

"Through his background and ownership of these pubs he learned a lot about what was going on in criminal circles. He found out about this painting and that he could retrieve this painting."

The court heard that Graham also brought to the meetings press clippings of himself and associate John Doyle, 61, about their crime-fighting organisation, Stolen Stuff Reunited.

The internet-based company had returned a stolen sword to "the family of a military man".

It had then gone bust, after Graham, who had also worked as a private investigator, had sunk £30,000 into the venture.

Mr Craig said: "Robert Graham told me everything he was doing he was doing out of a sense of decency."

The court heard that to back his own pretence that he was a former insurance expert now working for the Ministry of Culture in Madrid, Mr Craig had arranged a call to his mobile phone – so that he could speak in Spanish.

After the meeting, the trial heard, phone calls between Ronald and Mr Craig continued in an attempt to arrange the handover of the painting.

The picture Madonna of the Yarnwinder was snatched from the wall of Drumlanrig Castle on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Dumfriesshire estate in August 2004. by raiders posing as tourists who then over-powered a tour guide and produced an axe.

The painting - then insured for fifteen million pounds - was recovered when police stormed a meeting in the Glasgow offices of law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing in October, 2007.

On trial are solicitor Marshall Ronald, 53, of 15A Highmeadow, Ravenscroft, Upholland, Skelmersdale; Robert Graham, 57, of Gawhill Lane, Aughton, and John Doyle, 61, of Halsall, both Lancashire; solicitor Calum Jones, 45, Knockbuckle Road, Kilmacolm, and solicitor David Boyce, 63, of Airdrie.

They deny conspiring to extort £4,250,000 or, alternatively, attempting to extort the money.

A second charge alleges that the five accused attempted to defeat the ends of justice.

Officer tells of stolen da Vinci role

By John Robertson
A LAWYER wanted to discuss other works of art after he had helped in the recovery of a stolen £20 million painting, a court has heard.

Marshall Ronald, 53, a solicitor from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, allegedly had negotiated a personal payment of more than £2 million and another £2m to be shared by him and four associates for returning Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

The deal had been agreed with "John Craig", a man who posed as a representative of the Duke of Buccleuch, from whom the painting had been stolen, but who was an undercover policeman, the High Court in Edinburgh has heard.

Ronald attended a meeting in the offices of Glasgow law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing, when the painting was produced to "John Craig" and a colleague pretending to be an art expert to verify it.

Giving evidence while the public was screened from seeing him, "John Craig" said that, as part of his pretence, he made a phone call to have money released into bank accounts for which Ronald had supplied the details.

He said: "Marshall Ronald wanted a conversation about other artworks, a Van Gogh and a Rembrandt."

A short time later, the police arrived, seized the painting and detained everyone in the room, including the two officers.

The trial continues.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Loveable Lamb, Slaughtered !!!


Leonardo Da Vinci accused was 'loveable rogue'

An undercover policeman has told a court about his first contacts with the men accused of trying to extort £4.25m for the return of a Leonardo artwork.

The officer met Liverpool publican Robert Graham - known as the Silver Fox - in a pub at London's Euston Station.

He described the accused as a "loveable rogue" who claimed he was acting out of a "sense of decency".

Mr Graham and four others deny trying to extort money for the safe return of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

The masterpiece was stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Dumfriesshire estate in 2003.

An undercover officer, known by the alias John Craig, was giving evidence at the High Court in Edinburgh about the first indications the artwork had resurfaced four years later.

He told the trial that Mr Graham had come to a pub meeting in September 2007 thinking he was meeting a representative of the duke.

Mr Craig said he appeared terrified that he might be arrested in connection with the stolen painting and wanted to meet him to make sure he was not "the chief of police".

Mr Craig said that he and Mr Graham swapped "personal details".

"He was the owner of a number of pubs in the Merseyside area and his nickname was the Silver Fox," he said.

"Through his background and ownership of these pubs he learned a lot about what was going on in criminal circles.

"He found out about this painting and that he could retrieve this painting."

The court heard that Mr Graham also brought to the meetings press clippings of himself and associate John Doyle and their crime-fighting organisation, Stolen Stuff Reunited.

Private investigator

The internet-based company had successfully returned a stolen sword to "the family of a military man", which was the story in the newspaper clippings.

The firm went bust after Mr Graham, who had also worked as a private investigator, had sunk £30,000 into the venture.

On trial along with 57-year-old Mr Graham are Marshall Ronald, 53, 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.

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna , Lamb's to the Slaughter !!!


Da Vinci was recovered via 'Stolen Stuff Reunited', court is told

Published Date: 09 March 2010
By John Robertson

A £20 MILLION work of art taken from a castle by "gypsies" resurfaced four years later through a business called Stolen Stuff Reunited, a court has heard.
After the theft, the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece Madonna of the Yarnwinder had been used in a "dodgy" property deal and the people who had accepted it as security wanted to recoup their money, a jury was told yesterday.

They approached private i nvestigators who ran a company which "repatriated" property to its rightful owners. One contact led to another, and eventually the painting was delivered to a lawyer's office in Glasgow after a covert police operation.

Tapes of calls between an undercover officer and a solicitor as they haggled over a price for the return of the painting were played at the High Court in Edinburgh. The officer's opening gambit of £1.5 million was met with a flat response, he told the court.

"There was no excitement or energy in his voice," said the man, known as "John Craig". The lawyer, he added, then demanded £2m for himself and £2m for others.

The trial has heard that Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen in 2003 from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway.

In August 2007, Marshall Ronald, 53, a solicitor, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire, contacted an insurance loss adjuster, saying he acted for clients who could assist in the painting's return. He was put in touch with "John Craig", an undercover officer he believed to be working for the duke.

The officer said Ronald had told him that some years ago he helped set up a company, Stolen Stuff Reunited, for two "Liverpool lads" who also did private investigation work. They had been approached by clients who had said they had the painting.

"It had been stolen by members of the gypsy or travelling community and had not left Glasgow," the witness said, summarising his first telephone call with Ronald.

"It had been used as collateral in a dodgy £700,000 real estate deal that went wrong."

The officer said he had a series of subsequent phone conversations with Ronald, who had spoken of needing £700,000 for the "first parties" and then "overage", a sum to be shared by five others, including himself.

Mention had been made of £1.5m but Ronald's reaction had been flat. He had stated: "I think they are expecting a bit more."

The figure was increased to £2m, and Ronald then had brought up "legal costs" for the first time. He asked for £2m for himself, which was to be kept secret from the others.

"I have given a stern reality check to the intermediaries and persuaded them to accept the sum (£2m) offered in our last discussion," Ronald had written in an e-mail to "John".

Talking of his own expenses, he had added: "I have delved into a frightening world of smoke and mirrors and had to challenge some heavyweight individuals whose motivations are very questionable. I have been dealing with very volatile people.

"The painting is in the possession of an individual who has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect his or her identity."

Ronald and four others deny conspiring to extort £4.25 million from the duke and the insurer, Hiscox UK, for the safe return of the painting.

The trial continues.

Lawyer 'haggled over price' of Da Vinci stolen from Scots stately home, court told

A LAWYER and an undercover cop haggled about the price of returning an art treasure to a Scottish stately home, a court heard yesterday.

Solicitor Marshall Ronald spoke about clients who had a business called Stolen Stuff Reunited.

Phone conversations between Ronald and a man who used the alias John Craig were played to a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna Of The Yarnwinder was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in August 2003.

The painting, then insured for £15million, had been stolen to order as collateral in a "dodgy real estate deal".

Craig gave evidence from behind a screen. In the phone calls, Craig claimed to be someone helping the family to get the painting back.

The artwork was eventually seized by police during a raid on the offices of Glasgow law firm HBJ Gateley Wareing on October 4, 2007.

Ronald, 53, of Upholland, Skelmersdale; Robert Graham, 57, of Ormskirk; and John Doyle, 61, of Ormskirk, all Lancashire; solicitor Calum Jones, 45, of Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, and solicitor David Boyce, 63, of Airdrie, Lanarkshire, deny conspiring to extort £4.25million or, alternatively, attempting to extort the money.

The trial continues.

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.

'Professional fees'

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.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Go, Go, Go !!!!


Jury sees dramatic moment da Vinci recovered

DRAMATIC video footage of detectives gatecrashing a meeting in a law firm's offices and recovering a stolen work of art was shown to a jury yesterday.
Two men detained in the raid had minutes earlier been filmed smiling and shaking hands over the £20 million Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, Madonna of the Yarnwinder, right, which had been missing for four years.

In the surprise and confusion that followed the police moving in, one of the pair was seen to remain in his seat, eating a biscuit and supping from a cup.

The High Court in Edinburgh was told that the raid at the offices of HBJ Gateley Wareing in West Regent Street, Glasgow, on 4 October, 2007, had been the finale of a weeks-long undercover police operation.

That was sparked by a letter from solicitor Marshall Ronald, 53, from Lancashire, to an insurance loss adjuster. He said he was acting for clients who could assist in the "safe repatriation" of the painting stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in 2003.

The loss adjuster contacted the police and officers using the names "John Craig" and "David Restor" posed as the duke's representative and an expert.

The public area of the court was screened off as "David" gave evidence. He said he contacted Ronald by phone. A recording of the call was played to the jury.

Ronald said: "I do feel I can help sort this out and I am genuinely trying to do so. I am anxious to physically get control of this now but I don't want us to fall into the trap of handling stolen goods.

"Do you see the dilemma? I'm trying to do it properly. I'm dealing with rather volatile individuals.

"If they do not care about this, I do. I recognise the value of this classic piece of art. The faster I get it safely back the better, from my point of view."

The officer asked why Ronald did not go to the police, and he replied: "I don't think it would be helpful. I think if I go down that route, the clients will do something very silly."

He added that he was only a sole practitioner who had come across the situation by chance, and he had gone to Scottish solicitors of some standing for credibility.

"David" told the jury a meeting was arranged in Glasgow at which the painting was to be produced for examination. He and "John Craig" arrived by taxi and were met at reception by Calum Jones, 45, a solicitor. As they waited for the lift, Jones told them Ronald had said "the lady was close by".

Jones took the men to a boardroom and left them. "John Craig" made calls on a mobile phone while "David" set up equipment on the table. He placed a digital video camera among the equipment, and it began recording.

Jones returned to the room with Ronald and two other men, Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61. Doyle was carrying a black folio case. The painting was taken from it and "David" examined it. He said he was "absolutely confident" it was the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

Then "John Craig" left the room for a short time. "David" said: "A little time after that, the door opened and police officers entered and introduced themselves as having a warrant. Officers were assigned to everybody in the room. There was a large number of police officers."

Even "David" and "John Craig" were detained, along with Ronald, Jones, Graham and Doyle.

The advocate-depute, Simon Di Rollo, QC, then asked for footage from the video camera to be played to the jury.

Ronald, Graham and Doyle, all from Lancashire; Jones, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire; and David Boyce, 63, a solicitor, from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, deny conspiring to extort £4.25 million from the duke and the insurer, Hiscox UK, for the safe return of the painting.

The trial resumes next week.