Three men hunted over theft of £3million Henry Moore statue from Stewartry estate
The Ford Transit, described as an “unusual shade of blue”, was spotted twice in the vicinity of Henry Moore’s “Standing Figure” at Glenkiln reservoir.
It was first seen a week before the theft and witnesses have told police three men, with the van at the time, were studying the statue.
The Transit was also seen in the area on Friday, around the time of the theft.
Yesterday the man leading the hunt for the sculpture, Detective Inspector Colin Burnie, revealed one of the men seen with the van had ginger, shaven hair and was wearing a red or orange waterproof jacket.
The trio, all in their 20s or 30s, had a collie dog with them.
DI Burnie said: “We are delighted with the response from the public so far in this investigation, which has helped us immensely. We now require further help to identify this blue van and occupants and would again ask the public to call us if they have any information which may help us.”
The world renowned “King and Queen” is one of the others alongside pieces by Auguste Rodin and Jacob Epstein which complete the set the late Sir William Keswick put together between 1951 and 1976.
Some of the remaining statues have now been removed for safekeeping.
DI Burnie added: “The sculpture is one of six on public display and as well as the monetary worth, it has great emotional and sentimental value to the family.
“We feel for Sir Henry Keswick who has continued to display the sculptures outdoors for all to see, despite them previously being damaged, and to now have one stolen is sickening.”
Director of The Henry Moore Foundation, Richard Calvocoressi, said: “The Henry Moore Foundation is deeply saddened by the theft of the Henry Moore bronze, ‘Standing Figure’ from the Glenkiln Estate.
“We profoundly sympathise with the owners of this important sculpture, which was purchased directly from Moore by Sir William Keswick and sited on his estate, a spectacular setting which pleased Moore immensely.”
The statue was valued at around £3million in 2008.
Police are keeping an open mind whether it was stolen for its scrap metal value or in a “fairly daring raid” due to its value as a work of art.
The sculpture park is a popular visitor attraction and tourism bosses are hoping the theft won’t put people off visiting the area.
Paula McDonald, regional director of VisitScotland, said: “We are extremely disappointed at what has happened to the ‘Standing Figure’ and we hope that it is safely recovered and returned to its rightful place.
“While the hopefully temporary absence of the sculptures is a great shame, we would expect visitors to continue to enjoy the region’s array of beautiful landscapes and attractions.”
Christopher Marinello Art Loss Register Director Sets Up Rival Firm
Christopher Marinello Art Loss Register Director Sets Up Rival FirmThe ALR, the world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, antiques and collectables is about to have some competition. Christopher Marinello the Director General Counsel for the company is leaving to set up his own rival firm, after seven years service. been a lawyer since 1986, specialising in resolving art related title disputes. Marinello who is also a lawyer said in a recent interview, "The Art Loss Register and I have been a good fit for the last seven years".
Conceptually, there are two aspects to the business. First, by encouraging both the registration of all items of valuable possessions on the database and also the expansion of checking searches, the ALR acts as a significant deterrent on the theft of art. Criminals are now well aware of the risk, which they face in trying to sell on stolen pieces of art.
Second, by operating a due diligence service to sellers of art and also being the worldwide focus for any suspicion of illegitimate ownership, the ALR operates a recovery service to return works of art to their rightful owners. In recent years, the service has been extended to negotiate compensation to the victims of art theft and a legitimising of current ownership.
The ALR’s pre-eminence in the field of stolen art has allowed the business to be instrumental in the recovery of over £160m ($320m, €230m) worth of stolen items.
In a recent letter Marinello stated; "I am pleased to announce that after 7 years as General Counsel for the Art LossRegister, I have left the company to form Art Recovery International, a London based partnership that specialises in recovering stolen, missing, and looted works of art. I have assembled a small team of legal experts and other professionals who offer discreet and bespoke services to collectors, dealers, insurers, museums and artists.
While our primary focus is on art recovery and resolving complex title disputes, we also provide due diligence services and provenance research. We will be active in education on art crime and cultural heritage preservation and plan on instituting a pro bono service for artists, eligible claimants, and non-profit institutions.
We are also working with a number of developers to build what will be the most comprehensive central database of stolen and looted artwork, title disputes, fakes and forgeries, and works that may be subject to financial security interests. Utilising the most advanced technology available, the database will be run ethically, responsibly and with respect for the rule of law.
This is the ground floor of a very exciting business. I am open-minded to ideas and policies and recognize that all of you have either years of experience or youthful brilliance to impart. I welcome and appreciate both and thank you in advance for your support".
The religious paintings by the renowned artist the late Fr Jack Hanlon had been hanging proudly in the Ennis Road church for over 50 years.
But on Wednesday last - some 20 minutes after Fr Tom Ryan left the church - a thief with a newspaper covering his face entered the church and cut the five paintings out of their frames with a stanley knife.
Chief Superintendent Dave Sheahan said they are appealing for the public’s assistance in this case, and will be circulating images of the stolen works to alert the public and any potential buyers.
“People are very shocked, as indeed am I,” said Fr William Walsh.
“It’s a dreadful and very unfortunate thing to happen. We had 100 people at mass on Thursday morning and people were very distressed and annoyed. At first some people thought the paintings had been removed for restoration,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Measuring about three feet long by five feet wide, the works were valued at €5,000 each when they were assessed by a local evaluator in 2010.
However, it’s understood they could be worth considerably more, as one work by Dublin born Fr Hanlon, who died in 1968, recently sold for as much as six times that figure in the United States.
His work was recently featured in an exhibition in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin, which went on to tour the country.
The paintings depict St Patrick, St Brigid, St Oliver Plunkett, Jesus in the carpenter’s shop with the Holy Family, and Pope Pius IX.
“People are very upset by this, especially our older parishioners who remember when the paintings were first mounted in the church,” said Fr Ryan.
“It’s hard to know what they could do with them. It’s a big shock.”
The theft is believed to have occurred at about 12.50pm.
The paintings were specifically painted for the church by Fr Hanlon after it opened in 1950.
The famous art collector John Hunt introduced the artist to Monsignor Michael Moloney, a parish priest who later became Diocesan secretary to successive bishops of Limerick, and who had a great interest in history and the arts. Hunt encouraged a number of artists at the time to contribute to the decoration of the church, and also loaned items from his own collection to the church for its opening.
Art dealers have been informed of the theft.