Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stolen Art Watch, Kunsthal Museum Raiders Jailed As Dublin Monet Vandal Goes On Trial


Romania hands 6-1/2 year jail term to Dutch art theft boss

A Romanian court sentenced the ringleader of a gang that stole paintings from a Dutch museum in one of the world's biggest art heists to six years and eight months in prison on Tuesday.

Radu Dogaru and fellow gang member Eugen Darie, both Romanians, received the same sentence for stealing the masterpieces, including two Monets and a Picasso, in October 2012. The paintings have yet to be found.

The trial will continue on Dec 3. for four other defendants including Dogaru's mother, who is also accused of destroying the art and has exercised her right not to comment.

Dogaru and Darie pleaded guilty earlier this year to stealing the artworks, insured for 18 million euros (15 million pounds), from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum.

Since his July 15 indictment, Dogaru has asked magistrates to move the trial to the Netherlands if authorities wanted him ever disclose the paintings whereabouts.

The decision can be appealed in 10 days. Darie's lawyer Maria Vasii told Reuters by telephone: "We plan to file an appeal. However, it's a correct decision. I expect prosecutors to also appeal today's ruling and ask for harsher punishment."

Security camera footage released at the time of the theft showed a gang entering through a back door and disappearing from the camera's view. Seconds later they reappeared carrying bulky objects and left the building by the same entrance.

The works stolen were Picasso's "Tête d'Arlequin", Matisse's "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune", Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London", Gauguin's "Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte", Meijer De Haan's "Autoportrait" and Lucian Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed".

Romanian experts believe that three out of seven paintings stolen last year from a Dutch museum, a haul that included works by Picasso and Monet, have been destroyed by fire.

They said nails used to fasten the canvases to their wooden frames, recovered from the ashes in Dogaru's house, had been a crucial piece of evidence.

A whole lot of Monet: Damage to famous painting cost €7million to repair

Andrew Shannon is accused of putting his hand through Ireland’s only painting by famous French impressionist Claude Monet

Claude Monet painting
Claude Monet painting
By Jessica Magee
A man caused €7million worth of damage when he knocked a hole through a famous painting, a court has heard.
Andrew Shannon, 48, is accused of putting his hand through Ireland’s only painting by famous French impressionist Claude Monet.
The first day of his trial heard he told two tourists who saw what happened that he felt faint and collapsed on to the oil drawing.
The painting, “Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat”, which hung at the National Gallery of Ireland, dates from 1874 and is valued at about €10 million.
Shannon, from Willans Way in Ongar, Dublin 15, pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage to the painting on June 29, 2012.
The court heard he worked as a French polisher with Foyle Antiques, which has now closed.
Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, told the jury Shannon was captured on CCTV footage entering and leaving the room in the Millennium Unit of the National Gallery, where the painting was hanging.
He said the two eye-witnesses who had been holidaying in Ireland at the time have travelled from New Zealand to give evidence.
In his opening speech, Mr Naidoo said the incident happened at about 11am, and that Gardaí and an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes.
He said Shannon had told a number of people, including the two tourists, that he had fallen or in some way collapsed against the painting.
He said the jury will hear that Shannon’s pulse was taken, he was given oxygen and was described as having a “sweaty forehead”.
However after a short while the medics on the scene decided his condition was not a cause for concern.
Brendan Grehan SC, defending, said Shannon accepts that the damage to the painting was caused by his hand coming into contact with it.
He said his client has a history of heart problems, and was taken to hospital by ambulance after the incident.
Shannon was then driven to a Garda station where he was seen by three different doctors over the course of 12 hours in custody.
He was brought back to hospital a second time the following morning.
The trial continues tomorrow before Judge Desmond Hogan and a jury of seven women and five men. It is expected to last five days.
Andrew Shannon History of Art Crime:

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