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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Marshall Ronald, Against All Odds, Litigates In Person Towards Truth & Justice

Da Vinci accused Marshall Ronald's payout bid proceeds

Marshall Ronald  
Marshall Ronald's bid to sue the Duke of Buccleuch will go to a hearing of evidence

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A judge has rejected a move to dismiss a bid to sue the Duke of Buccleuch for £4.25m over the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting.
Marshall Ronald, 57, is seeking the payout following the recovery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.
He was cleared in 2010 of conspiring to extort money for its return.
Lawyers for the duke described the bid to sue as "an attempt to extort a sum of money" but a judge decided it should go to a hearing of evidence.
Mr Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, was acquitted with others of a conspiracy to extort money for the safe return of the masterpiece at a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2010.

“Start Quote

As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer's case is bound to fail on grounds of illegality or public policy”
Lord Glennie
The valuable artwork had been stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle seven years earlier.
After the court case, Mr Ronald raised an action claiming that he was due payment for the return of the painting which was recovered in 2007.
At first he was suing both the duke and the police but dropped his claim against the police last year.
The duke is contesting his claims and his lawyers moved to dismiss the action.
They say the agreement Mr Ronald is seeking to rely on is "unenforceable as being illegal and contrary to public policy".
However, Lord Glennie said that it was "by no means obvious" that a "to whom it may concern" letter written as part of a police undercover operation was not meant to be taken at face value.
"It is by no means impossible to conceive of a case where, as part of a police operation to recover a painting, a reward is offered to someone who may be in a position to facilitate its recovery, and the reward is paid to that person when the painting is in fact recovered," he said.
"I accept that it is no doubt also possible to conceive of a situation where the offer of a reward is not intended to be genuine, and the letter granting authority to the intermediary to make that offer on behalf of the owner of the painting is indeed intended as a sham."
'True picture' He added that on Mr Ronald's pleadings in the action it was alleged that the agreement was made at a time when he was not in possession of the stolen painting and did not know who had it.
"The best that can be said is that he was in a position in which he had the opportunity, through others, to pay money in the hope of procuring its release," he said.
"If this is the true picture, I can see no basis upon which it can be said that his negotiation of an agreement to be paid a handsome reward for his part in procuring the release of the painting amounts to extortion.
"It might be quite different if he himself had possession of the painting or it was within his control; but that is not what is presently averred either by the pursuer or even by the defender.
"As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer's case is bound to fail on grounds of illegality or public policy."

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Duke could be sued over Drumlanrig da Vinci theft


The Duke of Buccleuch faces a claim over return of the art work to Drumlanrig Castle. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The Duke of Buccleuch faces a claim over return of the art work to Drumlanrig Castle. Picture: Ian Rutherford
A JUDGE has cleared the way for a bid to sue the Duke of ­Buccleuch for £4.25 million over the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting.
Marshall Ronald, 57, is seeking a payout from the UK’s largest private landowner following the recovery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, which was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire, in 2003.
Former solicitor Mr Ronald claims he was commissioned to ensure the painting was handed over.
He was at the offices of a Glasgow law firm along with others – including undercover police officer John Craig, posing as a risk-management expert – in 2007 when the masterpiece was returned after four years. Mr ­Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, was cleared, with others, of a conspiracy to extort money for the safe return of the masterpiece at a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2010.
He claims he was put in touch with undercover officers and on 29 August 2007 he and Mr Craig entered into an agreement which would see the duke pay him £2m to secure the painting. The figure increased to £4.25m a few days later, it is claimed.
Mr Ronald claims that was less than 10 per cent of the value of the painting.
He said he knew the painting was stolen but did not know by whom.
Mr Ronald said he was in contact with intermediaries and agreed to pay them £700,000 to secure the art work’s release. He claims he paid over £500,000.
The duke maintains that undercover officer Mr Craig had no authority to make an agreement on his behalf.
It is also alleged the agreement Mr Ronald seeks to rely on is “unenforceable as being illegal and contrary to public policy”.
Lawyers acting for the duke sought to have the action dismissed at a procedural hearing before Lord Glennie. Andrew Young QC said: “Properly viewed, what the pursuer [Mr Ronald] is averring is an attempt to extort a sum of money.”
Mr Ronald said he had acted in good faith and told the court: “I don’t accept any illegal acts.”
Lord Glennie said he would not dismiss the case.
He said: “It is by no means impossible to conceive of a case where, as part of a police operation to recover a painting, a reward is offered to someone who may be in a position to facilitate its recovery, and the reward is paid to that person when the painting is in fact recovered.”
He added: “The best that can be said is that he was in a position in which he had the opportunity, through others, to pay money in the hope of procuring its release.
“If this is the true picture, I 
can see no basis upon which it can be said negotiation of an agreement to be paid a handsome reward amounts to extortion.
“It might be quite different if he himself had possession of the painting or it was within his control; but that is not what is presently averred.
“As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer’s case is bound to fail.”
Mr Ronald is expected to continue with the case.


 COURT OF SESSION
[2014] CSOH 101
A460/12
OPINION OF LORD GLENNIE
in the cause
MARSHALL NEIL CRAIG RONALD
Pursuer;
against
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
Defender:
________________


 COURT OF SESSION
[2014] CSOH 101
A460/12
OPINION OF LORD GLENNIE
in the cause
MARSHALL NEIL CRAIG RONALD
Pursuer;
against
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
Defender:
________________


 Pursuer: Party
Defender: A Young, QC; Anderson Strathern LLP
19 June 2014
Introduction
[1] On 27 August 2003 a valuable painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, known as “Madonna of the Yarnwinder”, owned by the ninth Duke of Buccleuch, was stolen from his home at Drumlanrig Castle.
[2] A criminal investigation was launched together with attempts by the police, insurers and others to recover the painting. This was known as “Operation Drumlanrig”. The operation involved the use of undercover police officers, including one who posed as a risk management expert under the assumed name “John Craig”. It is alleged by the pursuer that the defender, who became the tenth 2

Duke of Buccleuch on his father’s death early in September 2007, participated to some extent in this operation, by holding one or more telephone conversations with one of the then suspects, by preparing written documentation showing a willingness to pay monies in exchange for the safe return of the painting and, of particular relevance for present purposes, by providing an undated written letter of authority, addressed “To whom it may concern”, confirming that John Craig acted as his agent in the recovery of the painting and expressly authorising John Craig on his behalf to conduct any lawful negotiation or transaction in relation to the matter.
[3] The pursuer avers that on 10 August 2007 he wrote to the loss adjuster offering to facilitate the return of the painting. After contacting the senior investigating officer, the loss adjuster put him in touch with the undercover officers. On 21 August 2007 John Craig contacted the pursuer, stating that he was acting on the defender’s behalf. On 29 August 2007 the pursuer and John Craig entered into an agreement whereby the defender would pay him £2 million to secure the return of the painting. A few days later, this figure was increased to £4.25 million. That is said by the pursuer to be less than 10% of the value of the painting.
[4] The pursuer admits that, at the time of that agreement, he knew that the painting was stolen. He says that it was being held by persons whose identities were not known to him. He was in contact with two intermediaries, RG and JD, who were in contact with those in possession of the painting, and had agreed to pay them £700,000 to enable them to secure the release of the painting to them.
[5] The pursuer avers that, on 3 October 2007, he paid £500,000, being part of that £700,000, to RG. RG handed over that money at a pre-arranged location and later that day was advised of the whereabouts of the painting. That evening RG informed 3

the pursuer that the painting had been safely recovered and that he was proceeding with it to Glasgow. The pursuer notified John Craig, using the phrase: “the Lady is coming home”. On the next day, 4 October 2007, the pursuer attended at the offices of an Edinburgh firm of solicitors where he met, amongst others, John Craig. RG and JD arrived at about 11 am and handed over the painting.
[6] The reward of £4.25 million has not been paid to the pursuer. A number of criminal prosecutions followed the recovery of the painting. In particular, the pursuer was charged with extortion, or attempted extortion. He was indicted in the High Court and the case went to trial. The jury brought in a verdict of not proven and the pursuer was acquitted.
The pursuer’s case
[7] The pursuer sues for the sum of £4.25 million. His case is simple. That was the sum agreed to be paid to him for his part in securing the return of the painting. The agreement was made by John Craig acting on behalf of the defender. John Craig had actual authority from the defender to make that agreement, as evidenced in particular by the “To whom it may concern” letter. Having been instrumental in securing the return of the painting, he is entitled to be paid the agreed sum.
The defender’s case
[8] The defender advances two main lines of defence to the claim. The first is that John Craig had no actual authority to enter into any such agreement on his behalf. The second is that the agreement relied upon by the pursuer in support of his claim is tainted by illegality and/or is contrary to public policy and should not be 4

enforced. I shall explain what is said by the defender in more detail below. But it is to be noted that the defender does not make any case in these proceedings that the pursuer was in any way involved in the theft of the painting or its retention pending its recovery.
Discussion on the Procedure Roll
[9] The case came before me for discussion on the Procedure Roll. The defender insisted on his first plea in law, a general plea to relevancy and specification. He sought dismissal of the action.
[10] The discussion was conducted under reference to the well-known principles set out in Jamieson v Jamieson 1952 SC (HL) 44, to the effect that the pursuer’s case will only be dismissed if the court is satisfied that the action is bound to fail even if he succeeds in proving everything which he offers in his pleadings to prove. However, the defender’s argument was somewhat unusual in that it sought to gain support from averments made in the answers and from the fact that, as he contended, the pursuer’s averments in response were lacking in candour.
[11] I propose to deal separately with the arguments concerning lack of authority and illegality.
Lack of actual authority
[12] The defender’s case in summary is this. The “To whom it may concern” letter was written by the defender on the instructions of the police as part of their undercover operation in order to deceive the pursuer, and possibly others, into believing that John Craig was his agent when in fact he had no actual authority to 5

agree any deal which would bind him. In those circumstances, he says, it is clear that the letter did not in fact clothe John Craig with authority to act on his behalf. He avers that the pursuer knows this to be the case, because it was made clear in the evidence led by the Crown at his trial. This is set out in the answers, and is met by a bald “Not known and not admitted”. That response is lacking in candour and should be disregarded. In consequence, the defender’s averments on this point should be treated as admitted. Furthermore, it is inherently improbable that John Craig, a serving police officer, would undertake a dual role, acting both as a law enforcement officer and also as a private commercial agent for a member of the public. It would require very detailed and specific averments by the pursuer to explain how such an unusual and potentially contradictory arrangement could arise, but the pursuer makes no such averments. In those circumstances it is clear that the pursuer’s case on actual authority must inevitably fail.
[13] I cannot accept this argument, for three main reasons. First, I accept that there have been cases where a lack of candour in the defender’s answers has been held to be a basis for treating those answers as irrelevant and granting decree de plano, and I would accept that the same approach could, if valid, be adopted mutatis mutandis in respect of a lack of candour in the pursuer’s pleadings. But that approach has not generally found favour; and I do not consider that in general it is legitimate to treat a denial or non-admission, however bald, as amounting to an admission. Generally a party is entitled to put the other party to proof of his averments. The problem of dilatory defences, defences designed simply to delay by not admitting what must obviously be known to be true, is well-known. That was the reason why the provisions for summary decree were introduced in Rule of 6

Court 21: see Henderson v 3052775 Nova Scotia Ltd 2006 SC (HL) 85 per Lord Rodger of Earlsferry at para [13]. But the rules for summary decree apply only to the case of a pursuer moving for decree on his claim and that of a defender moving for decree on his counterclaim. They do not apply to a defender seeking dismissal of a claim made against him. There is no “reverse summary decree”. This may be a gap in the rules which ought to be addressed, but that is not for me. In that situation, where the Rules of Court have been altered to provide an answer to the problem caused by a lack of candour in a party’s pleadings, but those rules do not apply to the present case, I do not consider that it would be proper to seek to plug that gap by holding that decree of dismissal is available where a pursuer fails candidly to answer averments made by the defender in his answers.
[14] My second reason for rejecting this argument is straightforward. The defender’s case is based upon evidence which will be called by the defender and which is similar in nature to that called by the Crown in the criminal trial. The pursuer is under no obligation to accept that evidence as true. He is entitled to put the defender to proof. This is not a case where his denial or non-admission is of something within his own knowledge which he knows or must know to be true. Just because he knows that that evidence will be called, and just because he may not have a positive case to advance in answer to it, does not mean that he has to accept it. In the circumstances of the present case it is perfectly proper to answer the defender’s averments relating to the police operation, the circumstances in which the letter came to be written and the alleged intention of those who were party to it with a simple “not known and not admitted”. 7

[15] My third reason for rejecting the defender’s argument on this issue is equally straightforward. It is, to my mind, by no means obvious that the fact, assuming it to be a fact, that the “To whom it may concern” letter was written by the defender on the instructions of the police as part of the police operation to recover the painting necessarily means that it is not to be taken at face value. It is by no means impossible to conceive of a case where, as part of a police operation to recover a painting, a reward is offered to someone who may be in a position to facilitate its recovery, and the reward is paid to that person when the painting is in fact recovered. If, in all such cases, the offer of a reward is to be regarded as a pretence, because made without the authority of those on whose behalf it was purportedly made, then I doubt whether it would often lead to the recovery of a stolen painting. I accept that it is no doubt also possible to conceive of a situation where the offer of a reward is not intended to be genuine, and the letter granting authority to the intermediary to make that offer on behalf of the owner of the painting is indeed intended as a sham. Much will depend upon the precise circumstances and the intentions of the parties as revealed by the evidence. Even if the pursuer were to be taken to have admitted everything in the defender’s pleadings about the offer having been made as part of the police undercover operation, that would not necessarily mean that his case must fail. Although the burden of proof lies on the pursuer to establish that the agreement under which he sues was made with the authority of the defender, the evidential burden of showing that the letter purporting to have given John Craig authority to make that agreement on behalf of the defender is not to be taken at face value lies with the defender. 8

[16] I should add this, in case it may be thought that the existence of the “To whom it may concern” letter gives rise to a case of ostensible authority and therefore makes the arguments about actual authority irrelevant. The pursuer does not in his pleadings advance any case of ostensible authority. So far as the letter is concerned, he only became aware of that at a much later date. So he cannot rely on that letter for any representation made by the defender upon which he relied so as to give rise to a contention that at the time the agreement was made John Craig had ostensible authority to act on behalf of the defender. Whether he could rely upon any other representation made to him by John Craig as giving rise to ostensible authority is not a matter before me, and, as I have said, there are no pleadings raising such a case.
Illegality/ public policy
[17] The defender’s second line of defence is that the agreement upon which the pursuer sues is illegal and contrary to public policy. A number of arguments were advanced.
[18] It was said that it would be contrary to public policy to render a party liable on a contract which was purportedly entered into by him as a ruse on the part of an undercover police officer in order to recover stolen property. I cannot accept that, at this stage at least. Assuming the contract to have been made with the authority of the defender, an issue which will have to be resolved at proof, I can see nothing in the fact that on the defender’s part it was entered into as part of the police undercover operation and as a ruse to recover stolen property which would make enforcement of it contrary to public policy. 9

[19] It was also argued that the pursuer cannot seek to enforce a contract which would result in him receiving many millions of pounds for the return of a stolen painting which was secured from criminal sources for £500,000. I cannot see why not. It is not for this court to determine what a person may be willing to pay, or should be allowed to pay, to recover property which is of a particular monetary or sentimental value. That would be to remake the bargain struck between the parties. How is the court to judge what would be an appropriate reward to the pursuer for his part in the recovery of the painting?
[20] It was also suggested that other adminicles of evidence might be relevant. For example, there are averments that the pursuer did not want the police involved. But I cannot see why this should necessarily make any difference. There may be many reasons, some more respectable than others, why a person seeking to assist in the recovery of stolen painting should think it sensible to involve the police.
[21] In developing his argument on behalf of the defender, Mr Young QC focused on the submission that what the pursuer was seeking to do amounted to extortion. He submitted, under reference to Black v Carmichael 1992 SCCR 709 at 717A-B and 718B-C, that it is the crime of extortion in Scotland if a person seeks to obtain money from the rightful owner of property in order to release or return that property to its rightful owner. He submitted that, on his own averments, the pursuer knew that the painting had been stolen and that the possessors of it had no legal right to retain it. On that basis, he submitted, the pursuer had no legal right to retain or deal with the property, and his actions were no different in law from the unknown persons who only released the stolen painting in return for £500,000. That amounted to extortion. 10

[22] I do not accept this argument. It is, to my mind, a fallacy to equate the position of the pursuer with that of a person who is in possession of the stolen property and refuses to return it except upon payment of a large sum of money. That might well be extortion. But the position as shown on the pursuer’s pleadings is quite different. On his pleadings the agreement was made at a time when he was not in possession of the stolen painting and did not know who was. He had ascertained that certain others, JD and RG, were in a position to contact the people who held the painting and to procure its release to them upon payment of a sum of money. On this account the pursuer neither had the painting in his possession nor had the power to procure its release. The best that can be said is that he was in a position in which he had the opportunity, through others, to pay money in the hope of procuring its release. If this is the true picture, I can see no basis upon which it can be said that his negotiation of an agreement to be paid a handsome reward for his part in procuring the release of the painting amounts to extortion. It might be quite different if he himself had possession of the painting or it was within his control; but that is not what is presently averred either by the pursuer or even by the defender.
[23] One additional point made by the defender was that the pursuer, who was a solicitor at the time, funded the payment to RG by illegally removing monies from various client accounts, as a consequence of which he was struck off. Mr Young QC confirmed to me that he did not seek to rely upon this as a separate ground of illegality making the agreement unenforceable. It was put forward, as I understand it, in conjunction with other matters such as the request that the police should not be involved, essentially to present a picture of dishonest dealing by the pursuer colouring his whole involvement in the matter. I do not consider that it is of any 11

assistance, at least at this stage. The defender makes no averment that the pursuer was involved in the theft or was a party to the withholding of the painting thereafter. If such an allegation were made and proved, that would put a very different gloss on the whole matter.
[24] As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer’s case is bound to fail on grounds of illegality or public policy.
Disposal
[25] For these reasons, I shall allow a proof before answer, leaving the defender’s preliminary plea outstanding. I shall reserve all questions of expenses
Da Vinci Madonna Take-Two

GOLD SWAGGER: Police Swoop at Edinburgh law firm sparks legal fight by Chief Constable for ownership of £1Million ancient gold crown

Top cop goes for gold after top prosecutor dropped case. A POLICE STING culminating in arrests of persons negotiating the sale of a 2,500 year old gold crown at the premises of Edinburgh law firm Balfour & Manson has led to a court fight involving Chief Constable Sir Stephen House of Police Scotland who wants to establish ownership of the ancient relic. The increasingly political case, heard by judge Lord Brailsford comes even though the Lord Advocate dropped any prosecution against the Turkish cafe owner who claims ownership of the gold artefact and is adamant the item is a family heirloom.
Chief Constable House has hired private law firm Morton Fraser to pursue the case at taxpayers expense, in an effort - legal experts say appears to be solely focused on handing back the treasure to the Turkish Government - even though Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland ordered the item returned to Murat Aksukalli after all charges relating to the swoop on the lawyer’s office in 2010 were dropped.
AND. in spite of attempts by vested interests to hinder public access to information of the court case, a Fife based transparency campaigner & amateur historian - Tom Minogue, has identified the wreath as one looted from a Greek tomb by the Earl of Elgin, famous for the Elgin Marbles. Mr Minogue has submitted evidence to the court and has written about it on his website here: The Gold Wreath riddle
The Scottish Sun newspaper published a highly detailed investigation into the affair:
CROWNED OFF: Cops nab Turk selling £1M relic, Legal fight for Golden Treasure : Ancient Trinket was looted from Tomb
EXCLUSIVE By RUSSELL FINDLAY Investigations Editor Scottish Sun 15 June 2014
UNDERCOVER detectives nabbed a Turkish cafe boss as he tried to sell them a 2,500-year-old gold crown — worth a staggering £1million. Murat Aksakalli claimed the stunning ancient relic had been left to him by his grandfather.
But police believe the precious artefact known as the Edinburgh Crown was looted from Turkey and should be returned. They launched a sting operation and Aksakalli was held as he tried to flog the intricate decorative wreath at a lawyers office in Edinburgh.
A source said they could make a movie out of this and call it Indiana Jones and the Edinburgh Crown. "Its an incredible saga involving a Turkish wheeler dealer, an undercover police sting, the chief constable and the Lord Advocate. The crown is now being held at Police Scotland's Edinburgh HQ as a legal battle is fought over its future.
A Turkish government report claims the treasure may have been plundered from a tomb in the ancient city of Milas between 2000 and 2010.
But 50 year old Aksakalli insists he inherited the controversial antiquity from his grandfather Fazil Aksakalli who died in rural Cemisgezek. And he claims he can prove he had the relic before the ancient tomb was raided.
He said: "I kept it tor years and forgot about it" "The police said that I went to Turkey in 2010 and just started digging and found it"
His lawyer Aamer Anwar added "Just because the Turkish Government say anything remotely connected to them belongs to them doesn't mean that's right in our legal system"
Aksakalli decided to sell the beautifully crafted crown when his cash and carry company hit financial problems. And two of his business associates Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey also helped in the attempt to find a buyer. They approached experts at posh auction houses Sotheby's and Bonhams in Edinburgh.
And Aksakalll claims that a police officer friend of his, Lawson Porter also spoke to the National Museum of Scotland about the ancient head decoration on his behalf.
But their activity caught the attention of the now defunct Serious Organised Crime Agency and an undercover cop was deployed in a sting operation. The officer going under the name Ahmed Shakur met Aksakalli it the Hilton and Marriot hotels in Edinburgh and asked to see the crown.
A third meeting was then arranged at the office of bluechip law firm Balfour & Manson in October 2010. Police swooped on the talks in in the city centre and Aksakalli, Sanal and Ozbey were held and the crown taken by detectives.
One source revealed "The official valuation for the purpose of the court action is £225,000 but the true value is thought to be £1million". "It's become known as the Edinburgh Crown because it was found in the capital".
There is no suggestion Balfour-Manson were involved in any wrongdoing. Following the raid Turkish embassy officials met with Detective Superintendent David Gordon and Lindsay Miller, head of the Crown Office 's organised crime division. They claimed the valuable object belonged to their country and demanded its return.
In December 2012, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland decided there would be no criminal proceedings against Aksakalli. But months later he agreed to send the crown to Turkey for seven days to undergo forensic analysis. An expert there concluded that the ornate metal wreath - which his decorated with 50 myrtle leaves and flowers - probably came from a Milas tomb and dated to around 350BC.
But in another twist, an amateur historical claims the golden crown may have been looted from Greece in the 19th century by the Earl of Elgin - famous for taking the sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens now known as the Elgin Marbles. Campaigner Tom Minogue found Elgin had bragged about discovering a golden wreath matching the description of the disputed relic seized in Edinburgh,
He has now joined the legal battle being fought over the crown, claiming it could be the same ancient artefact which was mentioned by Elgin. And he is demanding that the experts in Greece be allowed to examine the antiquity as well - just like the Turkish have already done.
Retired engineering businessman Tom said "There seems to have been a rush to judgement by the Police and the Lord Advocate who determined that a gold wreath was Turkish for no other reason than because the person in possession of it said so and happened to be a UK national of Turkish birth.
"There was no claim of any such gold wreath having been plundered from Turkey other than an unspecified generalisation. "This airy-fairy reasoning by the Turks has caused the Scottish authorities to send the gold wreath to Turkey, during which the Turks were allowed to do anything with it as they wished, without hinderance".
"The question of ownership of the golf wreath should be dealt with in an open, fair and unbiased manner, recognising the fact that Greece, the country that taught the world the meaning of democracy, deserves equal treatment to Turkey in the eyes of the law"
Last night Police Scotland confirmed the crown was still being held while the legal battle over its future continues. A spokesman said: "This item was seized in 2013 during a police operation at business premises in Edinburgh. "It is being held until ownership can be determined by the court"
RIDDLE OF LOST ROYAL WREATH
By Russell Findlay
THE intricate golden artefact dubbed the Edinburgh Crown is thought to date from around 35OBC. It features thin branches wound around a wreath with around 50 deli­cate myrtle leaves and rosettes.
The relic is crafted from 98 to 99.5 per cent pure ancient gold and would have been placed in a tomb in either Greece or Turkey. And experts believe the treasure could be worth up to £1 million.
The Edinburgh Crown is very similar to one unearthed in the Piraeus in Athens by the Earl of Elgin in the 19th century.His discovery was recorded in a book about the aristocrat’s travels in Greece.
Elgin presented to parliament a list of the items that he had removed from the country.But missing from this list in 1811 was the gold wreath. The Earl speculated that the crown may have come from a site known as the tomb of Aspasia.
HISTORY & MYSTERIES 350BC Gold crown is buried in royal tomb in Greece or Turkey.
1816 Lord Elgin sells Greek artefacts to the UK but a gold wreath he discovered is missing. 1982 Aksakalli claims he inherits gold wreath from grandfather. 1989 He moves from Turkey to Scotland and claims he later brings over the treasure. 2000-2010 Looting takes place at archaeological ruins in ancient Milas, Turkey 2004 Campaigner Tom Minogue urges Fife Police to probe items taken from Greece by Elgin, including a gold wreath. 2007 Aksakalli begins exploring attempts to sell the crown. SEPT 2010 He meets potential buyer who is actually an undercover cop. OCT 2010 Aksakalli is arrested. 2011 Scots police and prosecutors meet Turkish officials. 2012 Lord Advocate drops case against Aksakalli. MAR 2013 Crown sent to Turkey for analysis, then returned. MAR 2014 Police go to court to try to legally obtain wreath and hand it to Turkey. APRIL 2014 Minogue lodges legal claim that crown may be the one taken by Elgin.
CHIEF CONSTABLE IN COURT:
Top Cop goes for gold. Redacted documents relating to the civil action raised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland over the gold wreath have now been released by the Scottish Courts.
The Chief Constable’s pleadings in court revealed: “In or around July 2010 Lothian and Borders Police received information that two men were believed to be in possession of a stolen golden wreath of Turkish origin and were attempting to sell it. On 5 October 2010 the first defender, along with Ali Sanal and Hakki Ozbey, was detained at the offices of Balfour & Manson, solicitors, 54-66 Frederick Street, Edinburgh on suspicion of reset. The three suspects were in possession of the fund in medio and were attempting to secure its sale. All three are Turkish nationals.”
“At interview the first defender asserted ownership of the fund in medio. The first defender and said Sanal and Ozbey were released without charge pending further inquiries. A report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The pursuer retained possession of the fund in medio on the instructions of the Procurator Fiscal.”
“On 27 December 2012 the Lord Advocate instructed that no criminal proceedings would be taken against the first defender, or any other person, in respect of the fund in medio due to an insufficiency of evidence. The Lord Advocate instructed that the fund in medio should be returned to its owner.”

20 comments:

Anonymous said...
Does it not strike you as odd that the Law Society of Scotland's own lawyer Balfour & Manson are named as being involved in this?

Strange?
Anonymous said...
Blimey! What is it with Edinburgh.
Their legal shenanigans are truly unique.
Anonymous said...
If the Police are so sure of this crown's origin then why are the Crown Office Civil Recovery Unit not leading the case instead of Morton Fraser.

Police Chief hiring private lawyers to pursue private property after the Crown say it should be returned to owner sets a dangerous precedence.
Anonymous said...
“On 27 December 2012 the Lord Advocate instructed that no criminal proceedings would be taken against the first defender, or any other person, in respect of the fund in medio due to an insufficiency of evidence. The Lord Advocate instructed that the fund in medio should be returned to its owner.”

So why wasnt it returned after this?

Dont like the way this is going anyone else smell something in the background?
Anonymous said...
Watch out for a stray bullet
Anonymous said...
and let that be a lesson to anyone fool enough to do business in the offices of Scottish law firms
Anonymous said...
All the high heid yins including the judges will be trying it on for size
Anonymous said...
Looks like a lot of effort just to go to for an antique so what else is going on we are not being told about?
Anonymous said...
This sounds highly suspicious
Anonymous said...
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8607994.stm has the same ring to it
Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...

and let that be a lesson to anyone fool enough to do business in the offices of Scottish law firms

18 June 2014 17:12

Amen to that!
Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
All the high heid yins including the judges will be trying it on for size

18 June 2014 20:24
ddddddddddddddddddd

Does my bum look big in this?
Anonymous said...
Totally bonkers the crown was sent to Turkey when it should have stayed in Scotland and had tests done here.

There is clearly something going on in the background here.Political double dealing and handshakes between Edinburgh and Turkey.
Anonymous said...
Something very dodgy going on here no wonder they wanted to keep it quiet
Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...

If the Police are so sure of this crown's origin then why are the Crown Office Civil Recovery Unit not leading the case instead of Morton Fraser.

Police Chief hiring private lawyers to pursue private property after the Crown say it should be returned to owner sets a dangerous precedence.

18 June 2014 15:36

Nothing is safe (if its genuinely yours or not) if someone in the justice system has decided they want it off you.

Just ask the sheriff clerk who ended up with a £350,000 4 bedroom house for £70,000 out of a bogus sequestration signed off by his local sheriff.
Anonymous said...
The show me the money brigade, squabbling over the spoils of someone else's property?
Anonymous said...
and compare the way this is going what Lord Glennie said in the davinci payout case today!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-27922530

Da Vinci accused Marshall Ronald's payout bid proceeds

A judge has rejected a move to dismiss a bid to sue the Duke of Buccleuch for £4.25m over the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting.

Marshall Ronald, 57, is seeking the payout following the recovery of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

He was cleared in 2010 of conspiring to extort money for its return.

Lawyers for the duke described the bid to sue as "an attempt to extort a sum of money" but a judge decided it should go to a hearing of evidence.

Mr Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, was acquitted with others of a conspiracy to extort money for the safe return of the masterpiece at a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2010.

The valuable artwork had been stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Castle seven years earlier.

After the court case, Mr Ronald raised an action claiming that he was due payment for the return of the painting which was recovered in 2007.

At first he was suing both the duke and the police but dropped his claim against the police last year.

The duke is contesting his claims and his lawyers moved to dismiss the action.

They say the agreement Mr Ronald is seeking to rely on is "unenforceable as being illegal and contrary to public policy".

However, Lord Glennie said that it was "by no means obvious" that a "to whom it may concern" letter written as part of a police undercover operation was not meant to be taken at face value.

"It is by no means impossible to conceive of a case where, as part of a police operation to recover a painting, a reward is offered to someone who may be in a position to facilitate its recovery, and the reward is paid to that person when the painting is in fact recovered," he said.

"I accept that it is no doubt also possible to conceive of a situation where the offer of a reward is not intended to be genuine, and the letter granting authority to the intermediary to make that offer on behalf of the owner of the painting is indeed intended as a sham."

He added that on Mr Ronald's pleadings in the action it was alleged that the agreement was made at a time when he was not in possession of the stolen painting and did not know who had it.

"The best that can be said is that he was in a position in which he had the opportunity, through others, to pay money in the hope of procuring its release," he said.

"If this is the true picture, I can see no basis upon which it can be said that his negotiation of an agreement to be paid a handsome reward for his part in procuring the release of the painting amounts to extortion.

"It might be quite different if he himself had possession of the painting or it was within his control; but that is not what is presently averred either by the pursuer or even by the defender.

"As matters stand, I do not accept that the pursuer's case is bound to fail on grounds of illegality or public policy."
Anonymous said...
This stinks, and so do Balfour and Manson - a firm to steer clear of believe me, I know.
Diary of Injustice said...
@19 June 2014 12:58

Good point ... and there are a few Sheriff Clerks & higher who fit the terms of your comment ...

Monday, June 02, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, Art Crime In Vogue, Flavour Of The Moment

Can I imagine stealing a great work of art? Yes, I can. But I wouldn't

Art thief Patrick Vialaneix says he became so obsessed with a Rembrandt he had to steal it. I can sympathise

Patrick Vialaneix
'That rare being – a thief who is an art lover' … Patrick Vialaneix, who hid a stolen painting in his bedroom for a decade. Photograph: Collet Guillaume/Sipa/Rex
Art thieves are usually a great disappointment to anyone cherishing romantic fictional ideas of gentleman burglars or fanatical collectors. Most of the best-known art thefts of recent years are connected with gangland. Paintings from Munch's Scream to Rembrandt's Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee were taken not by art-lovers, but career criminals on the look-out for forms of underworld collateral.
Patrick Vialaneix appears to be an exception. This French unemployed technician turned up at a police station earlier this year to confess to the theft of Child with a Soap Bubble, a painting often attributed to Rembrandt, from a museum near Cannes in 1999.
If an interview he gave to Le Monde is to be believed, Vialaneix is that rare being – a thief motivated by the love of art. He says he fell in love with the painting when he saw it at the age of 13 and regularly visited it from then onwards to stand rapt before the genius of Rembrandt. Finally, he worked out how he could use his skills as a security technician to steal it.
Is this plausible? Vialaneix has now been arrested in connection with an attempt to sell the painting, but is it believable that he really was motivated initially by an obsession with this work of art?
Yes, it's believable. I can easily imagine being so obsessed with a painting that you feel compelled to steal it. Not this painting, though: I do not believe it to be an actual Rembrandt. But sure, I might be tempted by a real Rembrandt.
After all, the entire art world rests on its power to seduce and fascinate and obsess people, to make them covet it. Collectors are people who cannot bear to just see art in museums. They need it in their house. They get it (usually) in legal ways, by buying from galleries or at auction. Similarly, curators who work in public museums are driven to get physically close to art, to dedicate their working lives to being in close proximity to it. And writing about art is another way of taking possession of it.
On the other hand … writers share art with their readers. Curators care for it on the public's behalf. Only private collectors come close to the art thief in selfishness, yet even they bequeath works to museums or loan them to exhibitions.
The art thief who loves art is seeking a totally selfish experience, hidden from the world. By taking art out of circulation, making it vanish, you deny everyone else the pleasure you covet. Your relationship with the work of art becomes like that between a kidnapper and a hostage. If this is love, it is of the perverse kind.
Let's be honest. Anyone who adores art can imagine hiding away a secret, stolen masterpiece. But it's a sick daydream. The beauty of art lies in sharing. It is the fact that everyone loves a masterpiece that makes it a masterpiece. To steal art is to destroy the social phenomenon that is beauty.

Shame still hangs over the Sevso hoard

The recent return of seven of the 14 pieces of Roman silver to Hungary from the UK is a positive development in the find’s sad history

Marcus Linell, a senior director of Sotheby’s, with some of the Sevso hoard before its aborted sale in 1990
It is a relief that the sorry story of the misappropriation of the great treasure of late Roman silverware known as the Sevso hoard now seems to be reaching an acceptable conclusion. A tangled tale of greed and irresponsibility by “collectors” in high places who might have known better, seeking a quick and easy profit and showing little respect for the world’s archaeological heritage, it ends where it presumably began, in Hungary.
For it is to Budapest that the key piece, the Hunting Plate, along with six other major pieces of silverware, has now been returned. The Hunting Plate is crucial, for it bears an inscription referring to its owner, Sevso (from whom the treasure takes its name), as well as a reference to Pelso, the Roman name for Lake Balaton in Hungary, near where the treasure was allegedly found. That now appears to have been the case, although the government of Croatia has not yet withdrawn its claim to ownership.

Mysterious discovery

The treasure seems to have been discovered—the circumstances remain murky—in the 1970s. That the late Peter Wilson, formerly the chairman of Sotheby’s, should have started acquiring pieces of the treasure in 1980 seems odd today, since it was not until 1981 that a Lebanese export permit (later found to be forged) was acquired for the first four pieces that were bought. A buyer with a more suspicious mind would have realised that the treasure must have been looted and must have been exported illegally from its country of origin.

Through his lawyer, Peter Mimpriss of Allen and Overy, Wilson was able to interest the Marquess of Northampton in the silver as a proposition for investment, and by 1987, the Marquess of Northampton 1987 Settlement Trust was the sole owner of what by then was a collection of 14 pieces of impressive Roman silverware. The plan for Sotheby’s to sell the silver by auction in Switzerland in 1990 was halted by the seizure of the treasure on a publicity tour to New York, when Lebanon, and then Hungary and Croatia, laid claim to it in the New York State Supreme Court. The court did not find in favour of either Hungary or Croatia, Lebanon having withdrawn its claim, and the treasure was returned to London to the custody of the Marquess of Northampton.

It is important to note that the judge did not rule that the marquess was the legal owner, simply that neither Hungary nor Croatia had demonstrated good title. Not surprisingly, the Marquess of Northampton was disappointed by the sale fiasco of his investment, and (with a new lawyer) sued Mimpriss and Allen and Overy, winning a settlement—reportedly of £24m—in 2000.

In November 2006, the 14 pieces of silver (and the copper container in which they were found) were placed on display at Bonhams auction house for an invited audience. Then the scene went quiet, until the announcement in late March by Victor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, that seven pieces of the treasure had been successfully repatriated (at a cost of €15m) and put on public display.

The vendors, who are €15m better off, did not include the Marquess of Northampton; the silver was instead sold by a trust. Its beneficiaries are the two sons of the late Peter Wilson, who made the initial, ill-fated purchase in 1980. Ludovic de Walden, the current lawyer of the marquess, indicated last week that the marquess is still the owner of the remaining seven pieces.

Loss to archaeology

There are several conclusions to be drawn from this unhappy tale. The first is that much crucial archaeological information must have been

lost at the time of the discovery of the treasure. The circumstances of the find remain unclear, although later investigations in Hungary seem to have identified the place where the silver was found. The archaeological associations could have yielded crucial information, which is now lost forever, about the circumstances of burial.

Whether or not it is true, as has been claimed, that another 40 vessels and 187 spoons were also part of the hoard can probably never now be established.

The second rather shocking outcome is that the treasure, after all its unhappy history, has again been divided, with seven pieces in Budapest and seven apparently still in the possession (although, according to the New York judge, not necessarily the legal ownership) of the seventh Marquess of Northampton. Financial expediency wins again, as Europe’s cultural heritage is treated as a mere investment. It is sad that the integrity of this important assemblage of Roman silverware has again been broken.

Sullied reputations

There are other dismal features. The reputation of the late Peter Wilson, and indeed of Sotheby’s, does not come well out of this unseemly episode. The government of Hungary has had to pay €15m to repatriate what was presumably its own property in the first place. The law firm Allen and Overy was obliged, in 2000, to pay £24m to the marquess, in a settlement that certainly did not enhance its reputation (nor his own). And the unfortunate marquess is probably not in overall profit, after paying substantial legal fees to his succession of lawyers, and is still in possession of seven pieces of silver that are probably now unsaleable.

For Croatia has not yet protested about the recent export from England of the seven pieces to Hungary, undertaken with an export licence from the UK government. If Croatia were to relinquish its claim, Hungary might well be able to reassert its own claim as the sole remaining claimant to the pieces still in the possession of the marquess. Certainly it would now be difficult for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to grant an export licence for these remaining seven pieces if their destination were anywhere other than Hungary.

Still, to look on the bright side, seven of the most important pieces of Roman silverware in the world are now on display in Budapest. There, the Latin motto on the Hunting Plate can still be read:

“Let these, O Sevso, yours for many ages be/Small vessels fit to serve your offspring worthily”.

And it is an ill wind that does nobody any good: the restoration of at least a part of Hungary’s cultural heritage in March did no damage at all to the standing of Prime Minister Orbán, who secured a second term in the election held on 6 April.


A detail of the Hunting Plate



Professional criminal Reginald Soper masterminded raids across Devon as part of prolific gang, court hears

Reginald Soper: Criminal gang carried out 54 raids across Devon.
Criminal gang carried out 54 raids across Devon.

A PROFESSIONAL criminal funded a jetsetting lifestyle by allegedly masterminding burglaries across Devon including South Molton, Winkleigh and Hatherleigh, a court has heard.
Reginald Soper was claiming Jobseekers Allowance and living in a caravan but had been on two holidays to Jamaica, two to Cyprus, and trips to Mexico, Egypt and Majorca in the four years before his arrest.
The alleged thefts cost businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds and even forced one shopkeeper into bankruptcy, a jury has been told.
Soper formed part of a gang which carried out 54 raids on jewelers and small businesses throughout the county.

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The other members were his older brother Percy, who lived at the same caravan site near Taunton, his stepson Daniel Small, and his friend Nicky Christian, who both lived in Plymouth.
The group never left finger prints and hid their loot in remote areas of the countryside to ensure there was no evidence to link them to the raids if they were stopped on their way home.
Their most frequent targets were firms with units on small trading estates and stretched from Plymouth in the West to Beer and Dunster in the East and from Churchstow in the South to Hatherleigh and South Molton in the North.
They often took vehicles in one raid to use in the next and even left a cheeky message on the whiteboard at one office saying ‘Thanks for the car’ with a smiley face.
They caused massive damage, smashing their way through walls or fire exit doors and used tools and even a stolen fork lift to remove safes which were bolted to floors.
They wore masks to hide their faces and used walkie-talkies to communicate with each other and a night vision device was found at Reginald Soper’s caravan.
On at least two occasions they escaped in getaway cars which had no lights on, making them more difficult to identify on town centre CCTV systems.
The total value of the goods stolen is estimated at around £200,000 and included 17 safes, but the damage to building also runs into six figures. The stolen jewellery alone was worth £50,000.
Exeter Crown Court was told how they were arrested after a five month police operation codenamed Churchill in the summer of 2012.
Detectives used CCTV footage, shoe prints, DNA from the handle of tools, number plate recognition, mobile phone evidence and even a hidden camera in a safe to link the men to many of the offences.
They are linked to the rest by the use of vehicles and the similarities in method. In many cases the stolen cars and vans were abandoned or burned near the scenes of the raids.
The crimes ended after Percy Soper was arrested red-handed during a raid on a car showroom in Taunton and identified despite giving his name as Donald Duck.
Reginald Soper, aged 49, and his brother Percy Soper, aged 54, both of the Otterford caravan park at Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset, Daniel Small, aged 23, of Linketty Lane, Plympton, and Nick Christian, aged 23, of Bernice Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, all deny conspiracy to burgle.
Reginald Soper, Small and Christian all deny two counts of conspiracy, including one dealing with the raids on jewelers while Percy Soper only faces one, dealing with the rest of the burglaries.
Mr Donald Tait, prosecuting, told the jury: “This case is about burglaries and there were a lot of them. Our case is that these defendants, and the two Soper brothers in particular, are professional career criminals with no legitimate source of income.
“They specialised in the burglary of commercial premises and Reginald Soper, with the assistance of Small and Christian also burgled antique and jewellery shops.
“They planned these offences in advance, wore disguises to avoid recognition. They were forensically aware and left very little to link them with these offences.
“The Sopers knew the countryside of North Devon like the back of their hands. They used this to stash stolen property in very remote locations so they could come back at a later time for it.
“According to tax records Reginald Soper had no income since at least 2006/7 and has been claiming Jobseekers Allowance. The same applies to his brother.
“Despite Reginald apparently lacking employment and income inquiries with the National Border Targeting Centre to find out if he had even been abroad, and despite having no known income, he visited Jamaica in 2008.
“In September 2008 he also visited Cyprus. In January 2010 the Jamaica experience was repeated and in August 2010 he spent ten days in Cyprus.
“In August 2011 he spent 14 days in Majorca and in May 2012 he had an early spring break in Cancun, Mexico and his passport showed he also visited Egypt at some time.
“The jury may want to ask how he supported all this foreign travel on Jobseekers Allowance. The prosecution say the answer is simple. He is a criminal who burgles premises and steals whatever he can, money and any equipment that can be sold on.”
He said Christian’s last known income was a small amount from Pizza Hut and an employment agency in Plymouth in 2010/11 while Small was also on JSA and employment support allowance.
Mr Tait identified common features of the raids including the way in which some walls were demolished to get in, including one raid at Cullompton Football Club where a hole was smashed through a brick wall with a sledgehammer.
He said these were not victimless crimes and antique dealer Jason Jones had been bankrupted by the £20,000 uninsured loss from the raid on his shop in Budleigh Salterton.
Mr Tait said: “Although these were commercial premises, these crimes are not victimless and many people lost a lot of money as a result of these activities. In one case that meant a business going into bankruptcy.”
He showed CCTV from several of the raids in most of which nobody could be identified, but said footage from a shop in Budleigh Salterton which was cased but not burgled, showed Reginald Soper and Christian.
Another clip, taken from a Spar shop close to the scene of a raid at the Silver Lion Jewellers in Ashburton, Reginald Soper and Small were identifiable.
He also showed a short clip from a camera which police planted in a safe which was found hidden in woodland at Modbury which showed Percy Soper returning to it but moving away when he became suspicious.
None of the defendants made any comment after their arrests.
The trial continues and is expected to last for six to ten weeks.

Trial of men accused of 54 West Country raids stopped

THE trial of a group of men accused of carrying out a five month burglary spree around the West Country has been stopped.
The jury at Exeter Crown Court had only just started hearing the 10-week case when they were discharged for legal reasons which cannot be reported.
The four men from Plymouth and Somerset were accused of taking part in a total of 54 raids on commercial premises across the West Country in which antiques, jewellery, safes, plant and other machinery were stolen.
The alleged offences took place between May and October 2012 and stretched from Plymouth and Churchstow in the South and West to Budleigh Salterton and Beer in the East and Hatherleigh, South Molton and Dunster in the North.
Reginald Soper, 49, and his brother Percy Soper, 54, both of the Otterford caravan park at Culmhead, near Taunton, Somerset, Daniel Small, 23, of Linketty Lane, Plympton, and Nick Christian, 23, of Bernice Terrace, Plymouth, Devon, all deny conspiracy to burgle.
Reginald Soper, Small and Christian all deny two counts of conspiracy, including one dealing with the raids on jewelers while Percy Soper only faces one, dealing with the rest of the burglaries.
The case is to be relisted for a fresh trial in April next year by Judge Phillip Wassall.

Stolen Rupert Bunny painting, Girl in Sunlight, returned after 23 years


The mystery began on an autumn night in April 1991, when a burglar broke into the Blairgowrie home of elderly retiree Albert Watt.
According to the police report, the only item stolen was Mr Watt's cherished Rupert Bunny painting, Girl in Sunlight, which hung above his dining table and is worth about $250,000.
Mr Watt bought the painting - which depicts a woman with a white parasol reading in a Parisian garden - in 1953 and kept it in his South Yarra apartment until his sea change in the late 1970s.
Police never solved the theft, which they described as ''targeted''. Over the years, Mr Watt would blame his cleaner - the only person who regularly admired the painting - while his nephews, James and Michael, assumed it ended up overseas. Mr Watt died in 1993, two years to the day after Girl in Sunlight was taken, with the case unsolved.
As executors of their uncle's will, Michael and James Watt continued the search, offering a substantial reward and even engaging a private investigator, but to no avail.
Eventually, an anonymous phone call ended the mystery. That call came in 2010, when the National Gallery of Victoria held a retrospective of Rupert Bunny's work. Girl in Sunlight was scheduled to go on display.
The tip-off led police to the Malvern East home of Frank Levy - the new owner of the painting - and the discovery that it had apparently been stolen by Mr Watt's closest friend, Peter Rand. Mr Watt and Mr Rand - an eccentric millionaire property investor and rumoured Melbourne brothel owner - were South Yarra friends and neighbours for more than 40 years.
But now, according to court documents, it has been established that Mr Rand was the likely mastermind behind the theft.
Mr Rand kept the painting until his own death in 1997. According to his will, Mr Levy - his lawyer - would receive a ''painting by Rupert Bunny of a woman sitting on the ground''.
The Levys did not know the painting had been stolen, displaying it in their Malvern East home for the next decade.
In February 2008, Mr Levy and his wife decided to have the painting valued. The valuer told them art historian and curator David Thomas was cataloguing Rupert Bunny's work for an exhibition at the NGV and would be interested in seeing the painting. A few weeks later, Mr Thomas decided to include the work in the NGV's retrospective.
In April 2010, the matter was reported to police and a few weeks later a search warrant was executed at Mr Levy's home. But that wasn't the end of the battle for the Watts. Their uncle's painting had been found, but Mr Levy argued that the statute of limitations had expired and the Bunny was now rightfully his.
For the past three years, the case has been before the Supreme Court. Last week Mr Levy finally lost his appeal.
Twenty-three years after Girl in Sunlight disappeared, the painting is once again with Mr Watt's heirs.

Police keeping eye out for stolen WWII medals


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/28/4143316/police-keeping-eye-out-for-stolen.html#storylink=cp
Roy Hopper survived the Normandy invasion and a prisoner of war camp during World War II.
Now, Hopper, 89, faces another challenge: Trying to get back military medals — including a Bronze Star for bravery — that were stolen from his home last month while he was in the hospital.
The Albuquerque Police Department and U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, are leading the effort to help Hopper.
Detectives are watching pawn shops and antique stores for the framed service medals, Albuquerque police spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said Wednesday. Hopper's name is inscribed on the back of the medals, authorities said.
Heinrich, D-New Mexico, told KOB-TV (http://goo.gl/l4B7bG) that his staff is working on getting replacement medals for Hopper.
"I hope ... he can get his original medals back with his name inscribed on the back," Heinrich told the station. "If that's not possible, we're here to make sure he gets replacement medals for every single medal he's earned."
Military services work on request for replacement medal for veterans at no cost, according to the National Archives website. This includes family members with the signed authorization from veterans, the website says.
In 1991, Hopper was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic efforts during World War II. Hopper participated in the Normandy Invasion before being captured by the Germans. He spent nine months in a camp for prisoners of war.
Investigators searched Hopper's home for evidence, but they didn't find any fingerprints, police said. Investigators said they believe the suspect was wearing gloves.
Guns and cash were also missing from Hopper's home. No arrests have been made.
Terri Stewart, co-owner of Stewart's Military Antiques in Mesa, Arizona, said it's difficult to put a price tag on WWII medals like the Bronze Star.
"It all depends on if his name is inscribed on the back and if the medals come with proper documents," Stewart said.
In a separate incident, another World War II veteran was robbed at his home in Carson City, Nevada.
The Secret Witness program is offering a $1,500 reward for the arrest and prosecution of suspects who robbed the 101-year-old veteran during the Memorial Day weekend.
The robbers forced their way into the home of the Air Force veteran around 5 a.m. Sunday looking for a non-existent safe, authorities said. One of the robbers had a gun.
The victim, Jim Sorentino, told KRNV-TV that he lives alone with a caretaker in a gated community. His home was ransacked, and the thieves stole a wristwatch, pocketknife and a wallet with about $30 in it, Sorentino said.

Yichang Thief Decorates House with Over 300 Priceless Antiques Stolen over 3 Years


Yichang Thief Decorates House with Over 300 Priceless Antiques Stolen over 3 Years

The Yichang authorities recently cracked a big case of antique theft. The suspect, Zhu, had apparently been accumulating the collection for over three years. Since 2011 he has been preying on upscale districts of the city. Statues of Buddha, wood and ivory carvings as well as valuable jade carvings were found dotted around his small house. 
Discovered among his collection were priceless treasures from the Zhou and Shang Dynasties (that’s over 3,000 years old), the value of which is literally inestimable, according to Beijing experts.
Zhu has been arrested as is awaiting trial for grand theft.

Court hears of £500,000 art theft from Dowager Countess Bathurst 

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Former housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst, Kim Roberts  
Former housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst, Kim Robert
A FORMER housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst has appeared in court charged with stealing £500,000 of art and antiques.
Kim Roberts, of Lower Church Street, Colyton, Devon, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court this week accused of taking items including a Picasso sketch while she worked at the Dowager's Cirencester and London homes as a housekeeper and personal assistant.
Her defence team told the court that she would be pleading not guilty and had in fact been given the items after working for the Dowager Countess Bathurst, after she had worked for her for less than a month.
She is charged with three charges of theft - two from the Dowager Countess and one from a previous employer.
She will appear back in court on August with a three day trial planned for the start of November.
The Dowager Countess Gloria lives in a farmhouse on her family's Cirencester Park Estate and is the widow of the eighth Earl Bathurst, Henry, who died in 2011 aged 84.
The charges against Ms Roberts include theft at Sapperton between April 30 and May 21 last year of art and antiques to the value of approximately £500,000 belonging to the dowager Countess Bathurst.
She is also charged with stealing antique vases between April 30, 2013, and August 20, 2013, from the Dowager's London home in Kensington and with stealing a £10,000 Volvo XC90 on October 21, 2012. The Volvo was allegedly stolen from Drayton House in Drayton Foliat, Wiltshire, the home of previous employer Emily Olympitis.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the defence had informed him Ms Roberts will plead not guilty to all charges and there will definitely be a trial.
Ms Roberts was released on bail pending the trial.

Masterpiece is
 returned – 22 years after theft

A PAINTING that was stolen from a Dublin gallery more than 20 years ago has finally been returned to its walls after being found by gardai.

Members of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) discovered In the Omnibus, by the French artist Honore Daumier, during a criminal investigation last year.
When it was stolen in 1992, the watercolour and gouache work was insured for at least €250,000.
Sources in the art world have said the small painting could now be worth up to €1m, 
depending on market trends and tastes.
It was put back on display in the Dublin City Council-funded Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square yesterday.
Collector
But while the masterpiece by the French artist, who died in 1879, is hanging in the gallery once more, its future is less certain.
When it was stolen, the painting was owned by Dublin City Council and the insurance company who covered it paid out on the loss.
That means that the painting is now in the ownership of the insurance company, which could sell it to a private collector if it wanted to.
The painting does not seem to have suffered any damage during the years it was missing.
“Our internal audit section are liaising with the insurers, who have changed ownership since the theft occurred, to see if a suitable arrangement acceptable to both parties can be agreed,” said assistant city manager Brendan Kenny.
“We would hope that no matter who owns the masterpiece it might remain in the Hugh Lane for the public to enjoy, having been hidden away from them for more than two decades,” he told
The council said it is not privy to the details of the garda investigation that led to the discovery of the painting, and a spokesperson for An Garda Siochana would not comment on the matter.
“We are just happy that this important work of art has been retrieved in good condition,” said Mr Kenny.
Security at the gallery was upgraded after the painting was stolen in 1992 and again following the construction of a new wing to display more works of art.
In the Omnibus is part of the original collection presented by Hugh Lane to Dublin for the Gallery of Modern Art, which first opened to the public in 1908.
Honore Daumier was a printmaker, caricaturist, painter and sculptor, whose many works offer commentary on social and political life in France in the 19th Century.
He was best known for his caricatures of political figures and satires on the behaviour of his countrymen, although the value of his work as a painter was appreciated after his 
death.

Los Angeles police are searching for a pair of burglars they say broke into Miley Cyrus' San Fernando Valley home and got away with jewellery and a luxury car.

The LAPD says officers from the department's North Hollywood station responded to a report of a burglary Friday at Cyrus' home.

They say a man and a woman scaled a fence and got inside the house and garage while no one was home.

A 2014 Maserati luxury sedan and an unspecified amount of jewelry were taken.

Police asked Sunday that anyone with information about the crime call North Hollywood's burglary detectives.

Last month the 21-year-old pop star obtained a temporary restraining order against an Arizona man who was detained by police while trying to meet her - See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/tabloid/burglary-at-miley-cyrus-house-maserati-stolen/article1-1225233.aspx#sthash.BCcxnrBM.dpuf
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/28/4143316/police-keeping-eye-out-for-stolen.html#storylink
Los Angeles police are searching for a pair of burglars they say broke into Miley Cyrus' San Fernando Valley home and got away with jewellery and a luxury car.

The LAPD says officers from the department's North Hollywood station responded to a report of a burglary Friday at Cyrus' home.

They say a man and a woman scaled a fence and got inside the house and garage while no one was home.

A 2014 Maserati luxury sedan and an unspecified amount of jewelry were taken.

Police asked Sunday that anyone with information about the crime call North Hollywood's burglary detectives.

Last month the 21-year-old pop star obtained a temporary restraining order against an Arizona man who was detained by police while trying to meet her - See more at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/tabloid/burglary-at-miley-cyrus-house-maserati-stolen/article1-1225233.aspx#sthash.BCcxnrBM.dpuf

Dali sculpture snatched from Paris museum

 In the latest stolen art caper in France, a thief made off with a sculpture by surrealist art master Salvador Dali. The only good news here is that stolen works in France do sometimes get back to their rightful owners. 
 Dali sculpture snatched from Paris museum 
The stolen bronze sculpture was a depiction of Dali's famous melting clocks, as seen here in The Persistence of Memory. Photo: Wikicommons
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  • Thieves rob dead woman at French funeral home (12 May 14)                                             Police are searching for two thieves who burst into two exhibition rooms on Saturday showing works from the renowned Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali in Montmartre in Paris’s18th arrondissement. One of the men reportedly tried to steal a sculpture entitled ‘Danse du Temps I’ at the Espace Dali on rue Poulbot. However his attempt was thwarted by a vigilant tourist and he fled empty handed.
    Meanwhile, at a nearby gallery just 100 metres away on place du Tertre, a second man managed to make off with a bronze sculpture depicting Dali’s famous so-called melting clocks, a recurrent symbol in the surrealist’s work, French daily Le Parisien reported.
    Estimated at €22,000, the stolen work was kept behind a display case but was not equipped with an alarm. Both men managed to escape.
    Sadly this isn't the first piece of art to go missing from a French museum or private collection. However, police recently recovered a Rembrandt worth millions that was stolen from a museum in the south of France.
    Also a trickle of the trove of artworks pilfered by the Nazis during World War II have found their way back to their rightful owners. France recently turned over three works that were seized and auctioned off in the 1930s.