In order to prevent a gun battle, and the potential loss of life, the gangs who have high value stolen art in their possession,or their control.
(You know who you are, and so does Law enforcement, Gardai, FBI, Scotland Yard Art Squad!!)
Da Vinci stolen from Scotland,£30-50 million
Paintings, including Vermeer stolen from Gardner Museum Boston, St Patrick's day 1990 £300 million
Cezanne stolen from Oxford 2000 £4-6 million
White Duck stolen from Norfolk 1994??
Harry Hyams stolen art collection £40 million
Waddesten Manor Rothschild gold boxes.£100million
Henry Moore bronze £3.5 million
Many other stolen high value artworks.
Any attempt to hand back any of these high value art works for any, I repeat any, reward money will result in either arrests, or at the very least not a single dime, penny, euro will be paid.
My advice to you Handlers of High Value Stolen Art is to either hand the artworks back for free, or wrap them up and wait until their is a change of heart and law that will allow these artworks to be handed back in an honest way, without the set up's being planned as we speak.
My warning is because if a set up is carried through there will be a shoot out that could result in innocent people being caught in the crossfire.
"No reward money will ever be paid for stolen high value artworks and anyone who says otherwise is lying."
Stolen £5m Titian found in carrier bag after seven-year hunt
Friday August 23, 2002
The seven-year hunt for a stolen Titian masterpiece worth more than £5m has ended with the discovery of the painting, safe inside a plastic carrier bag.
The work, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, by the 16th century Venetian master, was taken from the first floor state drawing room of Lord Bath's Longleat estate in Wiltshire in January 1995.
Yesterday it emerged that the painting, which has lost its frame but is otherwise intact, had been discovered in the Greater London area in a plastic shopping bag after a search led by the leading art detective and former Scotland Yard officer Charles Hill, who is now security adviser to the Historic Houses Association.
A £100,000 reward was offered for information leading to its safe return following the theft. But details of what has happened with the reward and the recovery itself have not been revealed until now for what are described as operational reasons. Two years after the theft it was reported that Longleat received a ransom demand for the painting.
Painted on a wooden panel 2ft wide, the picture is one of Titian's most famous and depicts the Virgin Mary cradling Jesus as an infant with Joseph looking on.
It was bought by the 4th Marquis of Bath at auction from Christie's in 1878.
Speaking yesterday, Longleat's general manager Tim Moore said he was delighted the work had been found intact. "It has been a long and difficult process but we are all extremely pleased that the painting is finally safe," he said.
"Mr Hill is the leading expert in his field and he has remained confident throughout that the picture would eventually turn up.
"He was appointed to recover the painting, he has succeeded and we are extremely grateful for all his hard work."
The painting will undergo conservation work before being returned to its country home, but it is not thought to be badly damaged.
Lord Bath, who is in France, was said to be delighted at the news of the painting's safe recovery. He said: "I will wait until I have been able to see it with my own eyes before I get too excited or make any further comments."
What Charlie Hill actually did was to go to the Marquis directly and obtain £15,000 cash as deposit.
This was given to David Dudon, who passed it on.
The Titian was then returned, via coach stop, then the other £85,000 was escrowed to Dudon.
Law Enforcement was so upset at Charlie Hill the Metropolitan Police commissioner David Verness issued a fatwa against Charlie Hill and he was told that if he ever tried to recover stolen art in this way again he would be arrested.
Charlie Hill has been dropped by AXA and all the other art loss firms because he would not be party to set ups.
As you will read below Charlie tried to recover the Gold boxes in the same way as the Titian but failed because law enforcement threatened to metaphorically, "Fuck him in the ass" if he did, if you will excuse the vernacular.
The lord, the lag and the stolen antiques
Rich man Lord Rothschild joins thief in attempt to recover family treasures
Saturday August 28, 2004
It is a tale of the lord, the lag and the search for the lost antiques. In an unlikely alliance, one of the world's richest and most privileged men has joined forces with a notorious thief, a man who graduated from approved school to commit his life to plundering the treasures of the wealthy.
More than a year on from an audacious smash and grab raid on his family home at Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury, Lord Jacob Rothschild, a member of one of the most influential dynasties in modern Europe, has accepted the services of a well known criminal in a final attempt to recover the tens of millions of pounds worth of his heritage which was stolen in the burglary.
For the Old Etonian philanthropist, whose family influence stretches from merchant banking to the upmarket Baron de Rothschild wines, it is a last resort, an effort to succeed where the police and private investigators have failed and track down one of the world's rarest collections of 18th-century miniature gold boxes.
For Alan "Jimmy" Johnson, the product of a north Wales children's home whose roots trace back to Irish Gypsy travelling stock, it is a chance to clear his name.
When five masked men smashed a 4x4 vehicle into the walls of Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust-run stately home, and made off with the antiques in just four minutes last summer, the burglary made headlines across the world. Although there are similar collections at the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Waddesdon collection was considered the rarest, and a devastated Lord Rothschild offered a reward of £50,000 for its return.
Detectives blamed one man for the burglary; Jimmy Johnson, a 51-year-old Traveller, "antiques expert" and criminal. Johnson is known to police across the country. He has been arrested for everything from murder, to armed robbery and stealing caravans and admits he has targeted country homes for antiques.
But this time there was one problem with the police theory - Johnson was in prison at the time of the burglary, something he told detectives when they interviewed him several times in jail.
As police continued their hunt for the antiques the Johnson family were mentioned in a House of Lords debate on rural crime, Jimmy Johnson's name was passed to Lord Rothschild as the man responsible for his burglary and 200 police officers raided the family's caravan encampment in the Cotswolds.
"I sat in my cell and thought, 'How do you say this is nothing to do with me?'" Johnson told the Guardian.
"It seemed to me that certain villains were using my name to take the dairy [blame] off themselves. (Apprently, the gang responsible were a rival Irish Gang from the West of Ireland, Limerick??)
"I decided that I had to fight back. I have never informed on anyone in my life, never grassed anyone up, but the only thing I could do was find out who actually did this, get the stuff and give it back to Lord Rothschild."
On his release from prison eight weeks ago, Johnson turned up at Waddesdon Manor asking to see Lord Rothschild.
"He was covered in gold chains and tattoos and still had his probation tag on, he caused quite a stir I can tell you," a Waddesdon source said.
Despite his incongruous presence in the genteel surroundings, Lord Rothschild's aides offered him tea in bone china cups and over several meetings listened as he protested his innocence and promised to find their antiques.
"What he offered was to get our property back, 100% legitimately with the knowledge of the police," said the source.
"He told us he has been wrongly accused and he wanted to make sure that we were helped. At first we were very wary, but he is an extremely charming human being. He is well read and yes, cultured, and really he is probably our last hope."
Armed with a letter showing that what he was doing was with the full knowledge of Lord Rothschild and senior Thames Valley police officers, Johnson's search led him to the back streets of Catford, the stalls of Bermondsey market in south-east London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Yorkshire and Alicante in Spain. A dealer in India was also offered some gold boxes as well as certain Russian Mafia figures in Spain.
Scotland Yard pulled the plug and slapped down Thames Valley Police, threatening to arrest anyone recovering the gold boxes.
Along the way he was accused of being a grass but rationalised his breaching of the criminal code. "People like Lord Rothschild and every judge in the country were thinking that I am some sort of Don Corleone," he said. "I thought I would rather have villains as enemies."
This suposed code between criminals is a myth, the only "Stand up" guys who never trade info with law enforcement go to jail for a long time.
Johnson now believes he is within days of returning the boxes to Lord Rothschild and is likely to receive a substantial reward if he does so.
Charlie Hill, one of the leading private investigators into stolen art who is working with him and Waddesdon Manor, said there might be disquiet within some at the National Trust at paying money to the likes of Jimmy Johnson.
But he said: "There is a big difference between a reward and a ransom. It is reasonable for him to be paid a reward to cover his outlay, he is not the thief and he is not the handler. And without a doubt he is the best hope we have."
Exploits of a family business
Descendants of Albert Johnson, an Irish Gypsy and Muriel Slender, the Johnson clan numbers around 60, most of whom live in caravans in the Cotswolds.
At their head is Jimmy Johnson, father of five and grandfather of seven. His exploits include a rooftop demonstration at Horfield prison and an 18-hour protest at the top of a 10-metre tree during a severe gale to complain about his wrongful conviction for stealing a caravan. He was cleared at the court of appeal a year later. Recently released after serving four years for burglary, he lives in a caravan outside Reading with his wife, Sharon.
Ricky Johnson, Jimmy's brother, was jailed for conning pensioners out of £160,000 by persuading them to pay for work carried out by his building company.
When convicted he blamed Jesus. "I hope these people (pensioners) can find it in their hearts to understand that Christ works in mysterious ways and I follow his guiding voice."
When Judge Gabriel Hutton retired from the bench at Gloucester crown court, the Johnson's watched from the gallery as barristers paid tribute. At the end Ricky stood up to add: "May I say, from this side m'Lord, thank you for fairness."
Lord Rothschild, Jimmy Johnson and Charlie Hill were told by Law enforcement that if they recovered any high value stolen art such as the Gold boxes from Rothschild without arrests, no money would be paid and both would face arrest and charges brought against both Hill and Johnson., and even charges against Lord Rothschild for paying a reward.
August 28, 2003
Leonardo stolen in Scottish raid
What a year for brazen thefts of major masterpieces! Quite aside from archaeological artefacts, there's been Cellini's saltcellar, and now Leonardo's Madonna of the Yarnwinder. Here are some links: Telegraph, BBC, Independent, along with further Google News listings.
And in case you've forgotten, it's Leonardo, not "Da Vinci".
UPDATE: Looks like the thieves were caught on video. Here are some pictures.
THE Sunday Times offers a progress report:
Martin Kemp, professor of art history at Oxford University, yesterday confirmed that following recent x-ray research, he believed [the] Madonna with the Yarnwinder was a “prime original” .
His authentication of the work elevates its status and consequently its price [read: "value" -- D.]. Many had believed the painting was started by da Vinci [sic] but completed by one of his students.
Insurers believe the painting, which could now sell on the open market for between £80m and £150m, was stolen from the Duke’s Dumfriesshire home, Drumlanrig Castle, by an Irish gang who had no idea of its true value. They say the gang may have planned the theft to upstage rivals responsible for the theft of art worth £50m from Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, in June.
The “Johnson Gang”, who are originally from Co Longford, are also thought to have stolen Titian’s Rest on the Flight to Egypt from the Marquis of Bath’s Longleat home in 1995. The £5m painting was recovered after a £100,000 reward was paid last year.
“We believe it is a gang of Irish gypsies from Limerick area, who are known to us,” said a source close to the insurance company. Charles Hill, a fine art detective and the former head of Scotland Yard’s fine art unit, said the Madonna theft had the characteristics of a gang of travellers that have been known to police and investigators for some time. “Their style is quite unmistakeable,” said Hill. “They have adopted the style of the Johnson Gang and are quite daring. They have progressed from DSS fraud to car crime and now to this. They do it because it is so easy. It earns them notoriety and is a trophy crime.”
Irish gang jailed in UK for £1.5m social security fraud
By MELVYN HOWE and MARTINA DEVLIN
A GANG of Irish fraudsters who turned welfare benefit crime into a career, swindling around £1.5m, were jailed in London yesterday for a massive social security scam.
The Limerick men including a father and three sons used dozens of bogus identities and spent most days visiting post offices across the city pocketing their haul in one of Britain's biggest benefit frauds.
Jobseekers' allowances, Income Support and sickness, housing and invalidity benefits were all targeted in what the judge branded an ``extensive, well organised, professional fraud that struck at the heart of the welfare system''.
It took investigators an intensive 10-month surveillance operation to track down the team.
Some of the gang used so many different names they needed ``crib sheets'' to remind themselves who they were supposed to be on a given day, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
Ringleader Thomas Augustine Sheehy (61), imprisoned for four years after being described as a ``principal'', frequently returned to Ireland to spend his ill-gotten gains before going back to Britain for more booty. Altogether he pocketed stg£48,996.
After he and his sons plus the other gang members were arrested in simultaneous raids across east London last June, investigators noticed more than 100 claims ``suddenly stopped''.
Passing sentence, Judge Nicholas Coleman said: ``You saw the welfare system, realised how simple it was to defraud it and decided to live high on the hog of the dishonestly-obtained benefits. I am told that this is the largest investigation undertaken by the DSS.
``In your own individual ways you were professional fraudsmen. To a greater or lesser extent you were engaged in the full-time occupation of making fraudulent claims.''
The six, together with another man not before the court, variously pleaded guilty to 73 charges of false accounting involving stg£115,000. But investigators believed total losses could amount to stg£1.2m.
Sheehy senior's three sons Denis (26) who lived with his father in Romford Road, Manor Park, east London; Kevin (28) of Withenshaw Road, Dagenham; and Thomas Christopher (35) of Bigland Street, Whitechapel, who also admitted one count of money laundering were each jailed for three years.
Thomas Whelan (30) of Sherwood Gardens, Isle of Dogs, received three years for the false accounting offences, with 18 months to run consecutively for possessing a handgun and three rounds of ammunition.
Thomas Patterson (29) of Goresbrook Road, Dagenham was imprisoned for two years. James Mulqueen (22) of Barking Road, Plaistow who skipped bail after admitting two charges of false accounting involving stg£194 of bogus claims was jailed for a year in his absence.
There are reports of up to £1 million reward offered for the Da Vinci, Mark Dalrymple, who has never stated exactly how much reward, is the loss adjuster on the Da Vinci case, unfortunetly the reward is uncollectable for me.
I was offered the Da Vinci if I put my marker on it for £100,000, then handed it back for the reward, in the same fashion as Charlie Hill recovered the Titian.
I declined, as I intend to stay within the law, however bad those laws are.
Mark Dalrymple told me not to bother as Law enforcement would not sanction any payment of reward monies without arrests and convictions, even then the likelyhood is law enforcement would not sanction a reward payment at all!
When a reward is offered there are the "Subject to" conditions, which concern condition of returned work of art and value, the primary condition is a so-called "COMFORT LETTER" from the police, stating that the person claiming the reward may be paid by the insurers/losers with the express consent of law enforcement. In order for anyone claiming a reward to get a "Comfort Letter" from police they first have to be registered as an "Informant", or "Human Source", as they are now called.
Rules on Registered Informants/Human Sources
Those who wish to destroy their lives and become informants are treated in the following manner.
First the potential Informant/Human Source meets two police officers from the "Source Unit" they only identify themselves by a psydenum such as Dick, or Bill, this prevents any fall back when the Informant gets "Hung out to Dry" The Informant never knows the real identity of his Handling officers.
Second, Police officers always make the following statement to potential Informants:
"You (the Informant) give us everything, we, (Police) give you nothing"
Third, and most importantly, when information is given to the Police by the Informant, they must tell the Police who gave them that information.
The police then duly go to that source and try and recruit that source, negating the previous informant, hence "Hung out to dry".
The Police Officers then bulldoze their way through informants getting information along the way leaving a trail of shattered lives for those who become sewer rats, Informants.
The current life expectencey for an informant is one year, the police will argue that the brief use of informants prevents corruption of its officers.
However, the amount of good quality intelligence recieved by law enforcement has been reduced by 90% in the last two years.
Losing £100,000 wouldn't hurt as much as being arrested for handing back the Da Vinci in good faith!
So, from the horses mouth, the reward for the Da Vinci, is ,uncollectable Fact!!!!
The 2002 Proceeds of Crime act in Britain has put paid to any hand backs.
Even if someone followed instructions from Law Enforcement and set up those with the Da Vinci, then Law Enforcement arrested those handling the Da Vinci, the informant would not be paid very much and would be "Hung out to Dry" by Law Enforcement once Da Vinci is recovered.
Law Enforcement in Britain is the same as the U.S. dishonest, duplicitous, and disingenuous.
Whether in America, Ireland, Europe, those of us trying to honourably facilitate the return of stolen high value art have all come to the conclusion that we will either get Fucked, Arrested, or Both by Law Enforcement in the present climate.
Until there is a real change of heart, art lovers will be held Art Hostage by the criminals, but especially by Law Enforcement.