Great iPhone art robbery: Paintings worth millions stolen to order by gang directed by video phone
An armed gang stole art worth millions in a daring hi-tech heist, we can reveal.
They used an iPhone-style mobile to film valuable treasures in a retired vicar’s home in Co Armagh – while an art expert on the end of the line told them what to steal.
The two men had attacked and tied up the vicar after forcing their way into his home.
Then they made off with furniture and paintings, including 18th-century works by Venetian artist Canaletto – before smashing up anything they had to leave behind.
The owner, a retired vicar, was beaten, bound and gagged by the armed pair who stole-to-order near-priceless paintings including Canalettos painted in the mid-1700s.
The robbers, who had Irish accents, also took valuable antique furniture and other collectables. Before fleeing they smashed up anything left behind with a hatchet.
The elderly bachelor who has dealt in art and antiques for decades asked the Irish Daily Mirror not to identify him as he is living in fear for his personal safety.
And we have learned the robbers also took his contacts book which is littered with the personal details of wealthy people including members of the
Guinness family and multi-millionaire Edward Haughey.
Many contacts already have been warned by the victim, the PSNI and the gardai to up their security following the robbery on January 3. The extent of the theft is still being catalogued but the value of the property is understood to run into the multi-millions
A source said: “This robbery was well-planned and ruthlessly executed. They had possibly been watching the house for months, watching the major art sales where the victim was well known.
“They waited and then they struck and they have left an old man battered, terrified and ill with worry. He already had a heart problem but now he’s living on his nerves and he has lost all his lovely things.”
The victim is believed to be wealthy in his own right with a house in Chelsea and until the raid, he owned a world-class art collection in his sprawling home.
A source said: “The victim of this attack and robbery is a well-respected and much-loved member of society. He is a deeply religious gentleman who’s liked by everyone who knows him.
“He has given years of dedication to the local people in his position within the church but also as a neighbour and friend. It’s appalling to know what he’s been through and he’s very reticent to talk about it because he’s afraid to draw attention to himself.”
The two men worked with a third party to assist them with the robbery. A source said: “They were on the phone to someone outside the house and from what I understand they used a hi-tech phone to show the third party which pieces were in the house.
“They wanted to know which were most valuable because those are the ones that were stolen. There was a lot taken, an awful lot.
“This was a horrendous experience for the victim and it was carefully planned and executed.”
A police spokesman said: “Our colleagues in An Garda Siochana have been notified and are working with the PSNI on this matter.”
Art Hostage Comments:
South Armagh has historically been governed by the South Armagh Brigade of the Irish Republican Army six families, the Traynors, Hughes, Caraher, Quinn, McArdle and the Murphy families.
At the helm was General Thomas Slab Murphy, who is currently the victim of a rancid, sectarian, vindictive prosecution regarding his tax affairs from the 1990's. Order was kept by these families and traditional criminality was a rarity towards the local population. General Thomas Slab Murphy was one of the leading figures of the Irish Peace process along with others in the five families including Sean Hughes.
An integral part of the peace process was supposed to be an amnesty for the South Armagh Brigade relating to fund raising for the Irish Republican Army during the Struggle relating to fuel smuggling and ciggerette smuggling.
The Sinn Fein leadership bears some responsibility in abandoning the South Armagh Brigade and now South Armagh has become a lawless area once more.
So called Dissident Republicans still have much support in the Borderlands and it may turn out that this raid was carried out by elements related to them.
If indeed this raid turns out to be a replica of the Russbourgh House raid back in the 70's and 80's then the only way to recover the haul would be a deal whereby the rancid sectarian prosecution and persecution of General Thomas Slab Murphy is consigned to the dustbin of history (where it belongs) which in turn could lead to the safe return of the art stolen.
Whilst General Thomas Slab Murphy has had nothing to do with this raid and is not implicated in any way shape or form, he could use his considerable influence to facilitate the safe recovery of the stolen art.
Bobby Storey gets a car, expences and a seat at the top table, General Thomas Slab Murphy gets a rancid sectarian prosecution, truth stranger than fiction.
Upon another note, Martin "The Viper" Foley is still smarting from being duped by authorities for recovering some stolen art taken from Russbourough House and not being paid. He along with other Dublin conventional criminals could be implicated in this raid.
Two similar raids were carried out on properties in Co Armagh two years ago.
Will be interesting to see how this turns out, more to follow................