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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, Hatton Garden Diamond Heist, Inside Vault, Artnapping, Degas & Guardi

Hatton Garden heist: First pictures from INSIDE the vault hit in £60m gem raid

Hole in the wall: The gap the raiders crawled through to access the vault
These are the extraordinary scenes inside the ransacked vaults of the safe deposit company targeted in the £60 million Hatton Garden gems heist.
Scotland Yard today released dramatic images of the interior of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit firm after a gang tunnelled into a vault to ransack security boxes.
They include pictures of the holes 45 cm wide and 25 cm high which the gang drilled through the concrete wall of the vault.
The images also show the vault’s floor piled high with 72 ransacked safe deposit boxes after the robbery over the Easter Bank holiday weekend.
Police say the vault was covered in dust and debris and the floor was strewn with discarded safety deposit boxes and numerous power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars.
Heavy duty: the vault door inside the safety deposit firm
Detectives say there was no sign of a forced entry into the building but members of the gang are believed to have been let into the building through a side door in Greville Street .
The thieves disabled the communal lift on the second floor of the communal building and then used the lift shaft to climb down into the basement.
Police earlier issued CCTV showing the gang carrying out the raid
The images show a security shutter outside the lift had been levered up by the gang and bars on a door leading to the vault had also been forced open.
Once inside the vault’s exterior room, the gang used a specialist diamond tipped Hilti drill to tunnel through the 50 cm deep concrete walls next to the giant vault locks.
Flying Squad detectives said today they had not completed a major forensic examination of the scene.
The vault strewn with empty boxes after the gang cleared it out
Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, head of the Flying Squad said : “The hours of forensic work and inquiries have been vital in order to ensure we are able to exploit all investigative opportunities to their fullest extent and assist us in identifying those individuals responsible.
The gang prised up iron bars to get inside
“We appreciate that this situation has been frustrating for those affected by this crime and thank those individuals for their ongoing patience and support.
“Those safety deposit boxes not opened by the thieves during the burglary have been left secured as they were found throughout the examination.
Tool kit: The Hilti DD 350 drill
“Of the 72 boxes opened during the burglary, we have only been unable to make contact with six people who we believe have been a victim of crime. We continue to make efforts to trace them. ”
They used heavy duty cutting gear and a diamond tipped drill to cut their way in
Police say the forensic team has recorded, packaged and recovered about 400 exhibits, including items for DNA profiling, fingerprints and other evidence.
Digital forensic specialists have recovered thousands of hours of CCTV footage and officers are continuing to examine the material.
Another CCTV shot of one of the gang in hard hat and hiz vis vest
Specialist forensic photographers have mapped out the crime scene and utilised digital techniques to record the inside of the premises.
Police said they had made no arrests.
Police released the astonishing images today showing the inside of the vault
The new development came after police released CCTV footage showing the raiders spent two nights drilling through the reinforced concrete wall to get into the vault.
The gang escaped with gems and cash worth an estimated £60million which they stuffed into wheelie bins before loading them on to the back of a Ford Transit van.
The CCTV appeared to show images of six gang members. It is feared the sophisticated gang, whose members we have nicknamed Mr Ginger, Mr Strong, Mr Montana, The Gent, The Tall Man and The Old Man, have already left the country.

Vital evidence was found by a worker based 50 feet away from scene who assumed police already had similar quality images
Detectives missed crucial CCTV footage that shows close details of the Hatton Garden jewel ­raiders – for a WEEK.
Police seized the new “crystal clear” high-definition images only when a ­worker based 50 feet from the crime scene ­stumbled upon them.
The employee dialled the 101 non-emergency number, assuming ­detectives already had similar images – and a team was scrambled to grab the tape.
The Metropolitan Police refused to make the footage public – despite it showing the best view yet of the gang behind the £60million heist.
A veteran trader in the London ­jewellery quarter said: “It is unreal it took this employee to bring these images to the attention of the police. The ­footage could be crucial in collaring the crooks. You would assume the officers had done everything to get CCTV footage.
“People are baffled by this. We are talking about tens of millions of pounds and hard-working people being left out of pocket.”
The footage was found by the worker last Monday – more than a week after a gang entered Hatton Garden Safe Deposit after workers shut up shop on the Thursday ­before Easter.
A store worker said: “The police operation does not inspire confidence, that’s for sure.”
A security firm had contacted the Metropolitan police about an intruder alert shortly after midnight on Good Friday but the call was graded in a way that meant no police response was required.
It was not until Tuesday morning – four days later – that the well-planned raid was discovered.
On Saturday last week, our sister ­paper the Daily Mirror published exclusive footage showing the gang disguised as builders but it is understood the new images seized last week are clearer.
Meanwhile, ­a seven-strong search team emerged ­carrying two large plastic bags as the probe went on .
One was marked “clinical waste” while a second clear bag bearing the initials “MP” was thought to contain possible evidence. Items on show included Costa coffee cups and mineral water and cola bottles, plus packaging from a Clairol Nice & Easy hair dye kit.
It is thought officers were called in for a deep search of the site, including ­checks for evidence behind panels, under ­floorboards and in other hidden areas.
The Sunday People also spotted a safe left near the crime scene. It was unclear why police left it behind.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Metropolitan Police has ­obtained and is examining a substantial amount of CCTV footage in relation to the burglary at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit.
“This footage has come from many different places. We will not discuss the specifics of the CCTV we are examining and will release information in a timely manner for appeal purposes only.
“Police continue to seize CCTV with assistance from members of the public as the investigation progresses.”

Footballers fear for SAUCY secrets that were locked inside Hatton Gardens LTD

SEX tapes and saucy snaps featuring top footballers may have been stolen in the Hatton Gardens heist.
Sources close to several players said the stars are terrified their secrets could fall into the wrong hands.
More than 70 safety deposit boxes were broken into when diamond thieves smashed their way inside a vault in London over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Our source, who is linked to stars at a number of North-West clubs, told us: “It wasn’t just jewellery and ­money, a lot of people used the boxes to store personal things – very ­personal things.
“Some used them to keep items like old mobile phones which may ­contain saucy footage and pictures, as well as other ­confidential documents they wanted to keep private.
“There are a few footballers who are nervous because they had some private effects in the boxes.
“Let’s just say it’s the sort of stuff they don’t want falling into the wrong hands.”

"Artnapping" Robbers Negotiate Ransom with Van Buuren Museum in Belgium

Kees van Dongen, <i>La Penseuse (The Thinker) </i> (1907) <br>  Photo: Musée Van Buuren
Kees van Dongen's La Penseuse (1907) was among the paintings stolen from the museum in 2013
Photo: Musée Van Buuren
In July 2013, robbers nimbly stole 10 paintings and two drawings in the course of two minutes from the Van Buuren Museum, located on the outskirts of Brussels.
Several of the works stolen are said to be of great value, including The Thinker (1907) by Dutch painter Kees van Dongen, estimated at a replacement value of €1.2 million.
Other works stolen included a painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, and James Ensor's Shrimps and Shells (1894). The thieves also nabbed a drawing titled Peasant Woman Pealing Potatoes that, although labelled as a Vincent van Gogh, is believed to be a fake.
Now, two years after the heist, the Van Buuren Museum is negotiating with the thieves to get its art back after paying a ransom, TV Brussels reports.
“It's a choice we have to make between two evils," said art expert Jacques Lust in an interview with TV Brussels. “Not negotiating would mean […] having little chance to see the artworks again one day."
On the other hand, “having contact with the robbers can lead to a solution—if we can come up with the money to pay them," he claimed.
The museum and the police cannot give out details concerning the case. But one thing is certain: Artnapping—the stealing of art for ransom—has reportedly gained popularity in the criminal world.
“It happens more and more," Lust explained. "Not all details make it to the media, of course. If a case is solved there's no mention of the amounts paid, nor of the works having been stolen. But there's been an increase in such cases," he said.

Three face charges over stolen Degas

Three face charges over stolen Degas

Three men will appear before the Limassol Criminal Court on April 27 in connection with a stolen Edgar Degas painting said to be worth millions, police said on Tuesday.
The two Greek Cypriots, aged 47 and 48, and a South African-Cypriot 53, face charges of robbery, conspiracy to commit felony, and burglary, in connection with the theft of the painting from the home of a 70-year-old in Apeshia village on September 29 last year.
The painting, titled ‘Ballerina adjusting her slipper,’ approximately 47 cm by 61 cm in size, and dated late 19th century, is estimated to be worth around €6 million.
Authorities believe that the suspects also stole a safe containing seven gold watches, three pairs of gold opera glasses, and 20 cufflinks, estimated to be worth around €162,000.
The safe and the Degas painting have not been recovered. It was reported at the time that the Degas was not insured.
Initially, there were some concerns that the painting could be a fake, but authorities have secured a statement from an expert confirming its authenticity.
A police source told the Cyprus Mail that investigators have a statement from an appraiser in France verifying that the painting is an original.
The 70-year-old owner had consulted the appraiser in the past.
The source said that suspicion regarding the painting’s authenticity did not matter to them.
“It doesn’t matter if the painting is an original or not. We have suspects in custody and we are taking them to court regardless of whether they stole an original or a copy,” the source said.
The owner, who was in the process of selling his house along with some pieces of his art collection –not including the Degas- said he had inherited the painting from this grandmother who lived in Paris.
On the day of the theft, the owner had been at a scheduled meeting to negotiate the sale of his house and part of his art collection.
Police said a Russian man had shown interest in buying the art collector’s estate along with some of the paintings in his collection and that a viewing had been arranged two weeks before the painting was stolen.
The 53-year-old South African is the person who had initially contacted the owner, ostensibly to mediate for the sale of the house and part of the art collection.
The other two suspects, residents of Larnaca who had been known to police for past cases, were arrested after their mobile phone records indicated they had been in the area at the time of the robbery.
It was also found that one of them had two telephone conversations with the 53-year-old during the robbery. An eyewitness also confirmed that they resembled two individuals approaching the 70-year-old’s house in a car shortly before the robbery.
Witnesses also described the vehicle as one resembling the car owned by one of the two men.

Police release photos of two men wanted for questioning about art thefts at University of Toronto

Two persons of interest in the theft of three pieces of art from the University of Toronto campus earlier this year.
Toronto Police ServiceTwo persons of interest in the theft of three pieces of art from the University of Toronto campus earlier this year.

The strange case of the painting in the private dining room: Trinity College art piece stolen for second time in 21 years

The private dining room at Toronto’s Trinity College is tucked behind the main dining hall and across from the senior common room. It’s a small chamber — intimate even — scene of private meals and cozy events at the exclusive post-secondary school.
Read more …
Toronto Police are seeking two “persons of interest” in a series of art thefts at the University of Toronto.
Three paintings were cut from their frames around campus sometime between Jan. 30 and Feb. 10 in what police described as an art theft spree.
Investigators released photos of two men taken from security camera footage. One is between 45 and 50 years old, last seen wearing a three-quarter length coat with grey hair underneath a snap-back hat. The other is between 27 and 35 years old with short, black hair, according to a Monday news release.
Toronto Police
Toronto Police "Morning at Peggy's Cove" by William E. DeGarthe, which was also stolen in the art theft spree at University of Toronto.
The most peculiar of the three thefts involves a painting of a Venetian church that was taken from a private dining room at Trinity College. Staff there were puzzled because the door to the dining room is usually locked and there was no sign of forced entry. But, as the National Post reported in February, the most puzzling part of the case was the fact that the painting had already been stolen once before, in 1994.
The thief was identified as Martin Swinton, who was convicted of stealing several other works, according to news reports at the time. And the little painting was returned to Trinity College, where it stayed until earlier this year.
Toronto Police
Toronto Police"Credit River" by Yee Bon, which was one of three paintings stolen from Trinity College in an art theft spree.
It is of little monetary value, college archivist Sylvia Lassam told the Post after the second theft of the painting in February. Despite police reports, the piece is not by 18th-century painter Francesco Guardi — which would have put its value in the tens of millions of dollars. It is only in the style of Guardi.
Toronto Police investigators were not available for comment on Monday afternoon.
With files from Richard Warnica, National Post

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, Jewels, Art Crime, Continues Unabated April 2015

Hatton Garden heist: Did gang break into German bank vault two years ago?

Unsolved heist in Berlin in January 2013 in which 300 safety deposit boxes were cleared of £8million of jewellery bears striking similarities with the Easter weekend London raid

Hatton Gardens and Volksbank
Hatton Gardens and Volksbank

Old school crooks who carried out one of the country's biggest heists at Hatton Garden may be responsible for another brazen raid in Germany two years ago.
The unsolved burglary of bank vaults in Berlin in January 2013 has striking similarities with the Easter raid in London's jewellery quarter, the Times as reported.

  Hatton Garden
Late: A police officer emerges from a Hatton Garden safe deposit centre
The gang responsible for breaking into Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd was described by Scotland Yard detectives as “highly audacious”.
They wore construction workers' clothes as cover and struck after the business closed for the Easter break.
After hiding in offices until security left a lift was disabled before they abseiled down the lift shaft into the vault and cut through a metal door.

  Berliner Volksbank
Way in: The entrance to a 45m long tunnel built for a bank robbery into a branch of the Berliner Volksbank in January 2013
 Berliner Volksbank
Unsolved: Berliner Volksbank, safety deposit boxes remain open in the vault of the Steglitz district bank shortly after police investigators finished searching for clues following a robbery
They then drilled bore holes into the reinforced two-metre thick concrete wall and disabled a lift to get into the vault containing 70 safety deposit boxes.
In the 2013 German raid a 45m-long tunnel was dug by those responsible and almost a metre of concrete reinforced wall was drilled through to reach 300 boxes containing jewellery worth more than £8million.
In both crimes, the crooks started work after businesses closed for the weekend, also wearing construction worker disguises, and alarms to security and police that were triggered were ignored for a number of days.

Daily Mirror
  Hatton Garden
Brazen: Another crook at work on the London job
German police got DNA samples of some of the men involved and released video footage and artist’s impressions of the thieves, but never arrested anyone.
 They reportedly suspected a group of eastern Europeans as being behind the heist as wooden boards used to construct a tunnel to the Volksbank came from Poland, while bottles of Polish beer were left behind.In Germany, private security guards were to blame for ignoring an alarm going off in the Volksbank’s vaults two days before the crime was discovered.

Hampstead antiques dealer hit by dramatic £200k vintage watch heist

Simon Drachman at his store. Picture: Nigel Sutton.
Simon Drachman at his store. Picture: Nigel Sutton.
A Hampstead antiques dealer is offering a large cash reward to anyone who can help trace thieves who made off with £200,000 worth of vintage collector’s pocket watches.
More than 120 watches, dating back to the early 1700s, were stolen from the Vintage Watch Store, based in the Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium, in Heath Street, on Saturday around 9.30am.
The store’s owner Simon Drachman, 53, said the heist had all the hallmarks of a “burglary to order” and drew parallels with the Hatton Gardens Safety Deposit robbery earlier this month when burglars made off with £200million worth of jewels by drilling into a basement vault containing safe deposit boxes.
“They came in through the air conditioning system,” said Mr Drachman. “One of them undid the outer casing of the old air conditioning system and forced his way through the disused ventilation shaft to get into the building.
“I think it’s a copycat of the Hatton Gardens heist.”
CCTV footage from the store shows a hooded man crawling along the floor – to avoid triggering infra-red security beams – and then unpicking locks to cabinets containing the vintage watches.
The thief targeted a specific selection of historic pocket watches, leaving behind around 600 watches, including Rolex, Breitling and Omega wrist watches.
“You might call this burglary to order,” said Mr Drachman. “It was a tailored, audited burglary. It has to be when you have very valuable watches like Rolexes and Breitlings left behind.
“He was obviously told what to take. You don’t do that unless you have instructions.”
The theft lasted about eight minutes in total, with the security alarm going off throughout, before the burglar made off in a waiting getaway car.
“It’s not possible to insure that kind of stuff which is why we are offering a substantial reward for any information,” said Mr Drachman.

Ipswich burglar jailed again after travelling nearly 200 miles to commit break-ins

Photo of Peter Sonny Martin O'Halloran in 2007 when he was wanted for burglaries across the country 
  Photo of Peter Sonny Martin O'Halloran in 2007 when he was wanted for burglaries across the country
An Ipswich burglar who was once the target of a nationwide manhunt during a two-year crime spree totalling nearly 50 break-ins has been jailed again.

Peter Sonny Martin O’Halloran, of Bramford Road, Ipswich, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by Chester Crown Court.
The 40-year-old had admitted committing two burglaries in the Macclesfield area in November.
After O’Halloran’s latest sentencing Pc Dale Hawtin, of Macclesfield CID, said: “O’Halloran travelled a couple of hundred miles with the sole intention of committing burglaries in wealthy rural areas.
“Our colleagues in the south east say he is one of their most prolific burglary offenders, so it is pleasing to see he will no longer be a threat to society for several years.”
In 2009 O’Halloran was given an eight-year jail term for dozens of burglaries across southern England, including at least one in Suffolk.
He was believed to have netted property worth up to £750,000 as a result.
The 34-year-old also gave £18,000 from his haul to his Ipswich girlfriend, leaving her a bagful of money and a note professing his love.
O’Halloran was sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court after being caught in Wandsworth following an appeal on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme. It was broadcast during a manhunt by Gloucestershire Constabulary.
O’Halloran pleaded guilty to nine counts of burglary, including one in Dullingham, near Newmarket, and another offence of transferring criminal property.
He also admitted to a further 38 burglaries, including in Hampshire and Surrey, which were taken into consideration when sentencing him. O’Halloran also struck in the Cotswolds, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire.
Among the offences he was questioned about was a burglary in Walsham le-Willows, near Stowmarket, where cash, silverware and other property were stolen on January 3, 2008.
He was also wanted for a break in at the home of a former Jockey Club steward at Kirtling, near Newmarket in which hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of rare antiques and racing memorabilia were taken in November 2006.
By the time of his 2009 arrest, O’Halloran had been wanted for almost two years, both on recall to prison for breach of licence conditions and for questioning in relation to a series of burglaries.
In November 2009 O’Halloran and his accomplice – Philip Goncalves, of Sutton, Surrey - had £47,050 in cash assets seized by the courts as proceeds of crime.

£22,000 of watches and jewellery stolen from Shropshire antiques fair

Watches and jewellery worth £22,000 have been stolen from an antiques fair in Shropshire.
The thieves struck overnight at Oswestry Showground taking four cabinets worth of goods from one seller who had left his products at the showground overnight.
The seller, who did not wish to be named, but described himself as an "antique horologist" said he was "gutted" by the theft.
He said: "I attended the three-day show as a seller and on the Friday night I left everything locked up as usual.
"On my return on the Saturday morning four cabinets had been raided and approximately 80 watches and a cabinet of different jewellery had been taken.
"To be honest I am absolutely gutted and I would appeal for anybody who has been offered anything like this to come forward and call the police."

Is this the world's most valuable bag snatch? Woman claims stolen handbag contained £4m worth of jewellery

The German woman, who has not been named, said she was targeted while travelling in a taxi in Paris yesterday afternoon

Heist: The lady says the jewels were snatched as she was travelling to the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris

An art collector has claimed she was robbed of more than £4 million worth of jewellery during a designer handbag snatch in a notorious motorway tunnel in Paris.
The German woman, who has not been named, was in a taxi which was stuck in traffic shortly after arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport on Wednesday afternoon.
Three thieves are said to have ‘appeared from nowhere’ and smashed a rear window of the car, making off with the bag.
It included numerous valuable items including a single ring worth close to £1m pounds, as well as around 12 other valuable pieces.
Today the victim told police that all of the items, which also included watches, bracelets, and rings were worth well over £4m pounds.
The ‘extremely rich’ German, who is part Taiwanese, was on her way to loan some of the jewels to the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, according sources close to the case.
But, in a mysterious twist, the museum later denied knowing anything about the intended delivery.
Detectives were today trying to work out whether the thieves had inside knowledge, or had simply ‘got lucky’, said an investigating source.
Rather than escaping on a motorbike – which is usual – the thieves in this case ran away on foot, scrambling up a sharp motorway embankment.

  Tourists sitting at the front of Centre George Pompidou in Paris.
Destination: The jewels were on their way to the Museum of Modern Art at the Centre George Pompidou in Paris.
The items are all listed and numbered because of their high value – something which will make them very hard to sell on.
The heist took place in the Landy Tunnel, which is just under a mile long and notorious for smash-and-grabs.
Youths living in local housing estates often follow passengers on mopeds, and then attack the cars they are travelling in.
In February 2010, Christina Chernovetska, the daughter of the then mayor of Kiev, lost some £4m pounds worth of jewels in similar circumstances.
And Saudi Arabian Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd had £200,000 pounds taken, along with diplomatic papers, in a raid on a convoy he was travelling in close to the airport last August.

Gardai renew appeal for help in tracing three stolen paintings

Gardai investigating the theft of three paintings by famous Irish artists from a house in Donard have once again appealed for help from the public.
The world-renowned paintings are by Sir. John Lavery, Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats.
The paintings are "Portrait of a Lady" by Sir John Lavery (around 65cm x 30cm), "Landscape with Cottage" by Paul Henry (around 40cm x 50cm), and "The Fern in the Area" by Jack B.Yeats (around 40cm x 50cm).
The burglary took place on the evening of Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
It wasn't until Thursday, October 23, that the theft came to light when a neighbour of the Donard home realised the house had been broken into.
Gardai believe the paintings were the sole target of the criminals involved as no other items from the house were stolen.
A Garda spokesperson had said: 'the paintings are extremely valuable and would be very well-known, both in Ireland and in worldwide terms. This would make them difficult enough to move on. Any art expert worth their salt would recognise the paintings immediately. We suspect the culprits knew the paintings were located at the house as nothing else was stolen.'
Once gardaí arrived at the house, the scene of the burglary was preserved and a technical examination was completed.

Jewellery thief given 48 hours to leave State or face jail

Jan Grabowski (56) pleads guilty to stealing €20,000 worth of goods from antiques shop

 Jan Grabowski (56) has been given 48 hours to leave the country or face jail after pleading guilty to the theft of €20,000 worth of jewellery from Courtville Antiques in the Powerscourt Centre, Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts.
Jan Grabowski (56) has been given 48 hours to leave the country or face jail after pleading guilty to the theft of €20,000 worth of jewellery from Courtville Antiques in the Powerscourt Centre, Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

A cafe owner who stole almost €20,000 worth of jewellery during a distraction theft from a Dublin antiques shop has been given 48 hours to leave the country or face jail.
Jan Grabowski (56), from Poland, pleaded guilty to stealing one set of diamond and pearl earrings and a brooch from Courtville Antiques in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre.
Det Garda Des Rogers told Judge Michael Walsh at Dublin District Court that Grabowski went into the shop and said he wanted to buy something.
When the shop assistant displayed some items to him, Grabowski distracted her and took the brooch and earrings. He was later arrested on Grafton Street after gardaí viewed CCTV footage. Mr Rogers said that while Grabowski did not have the stolen jewellery on him when he was stopped, he was co-operative and assisted gardaí in retrieving the items. The stolen goods were still in a saleable condition.


The judge said the incident had all the hallmarks of being well-thought out and well-planned. He said he had no doubt Grabowski, “entered [the] shop with sole intention of stealing items from the shop”.
The judge said that gardaí must be complimented for their excellent attention to the case and for bringing prosecution without delay.
The judge imposed a €500 fine and a six-month sentence which he said will be suspended if Grabowski leaves Ireland within two days.
Defence solicitor Phillip Hannon asked the court to note that Grabowski suffered from depression and there had been several bereavements in his family.
Mr Hannon said the 56-year-old father worked in the building trade for most of his life but then tried to establish a cafe, which had folded six months ago.
The defence solicitor said that Grabowski had to repay money he borrowed to set up the cafe but had not been able to find any suitable employment. He had come to Dublin as his son was living here.


Mr Hannon said Grabowski thought the offence “would be the answer to his problems”, and that he is remorseful and plans to return to Poland.
The judge noted that Grabowski had pleaded guilty, which had saved time and costs, and he gave him credit for his admission and co-operation.

Christie’s withdraws over £1.2m in ancient artefacts after Glasgow academic identifies them as stolen

The auction house Christie’s has removed over £1.2 million worth of ancient artefacts after an academic from a Scottish university identified them as being linked to criminal networks in Europe The Scotsman reports.
Dr Christos Tsirogiannis (pictured), a research assistant at the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research warned Christie’s was failing to carry out checks after he found images of the stolen artefacts in archives taken from Italian art dealers convicted of art trafficking offences.
The treasures were meant to be sold at auction in London tomorrow but have been removed after Dr Tsirogiannis informed Interpol as well as Italian authorities.
Christie’s said last night that the auction house will work with Scotland Yardto determine the provenance of the lots.
Dr Tsirogiannis found the lots recorded in the seized archives of Giancomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina and said Christie’s was failing to undertake proper due diligence.
Mr Medici was sentenced in 2004 to ten years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of conspiracy to traffic antiquities.
Mr Becchina, an antiquities dealer from Sicily, was convicted in Rome in 2011 of trafficking in stolen artefacts.
The items date to 540BC and include an Attic black-figured amphora as well as an Estruscan terracotta antefix.
In total, their value is about £100,000.
This is the second time Dr Tsirogiannis has exposed plundered items in Christie’s portfolio. The total value of the eight withdrawn lots is over £1.2 million.
He said: “Christie’s continues to include in its sales antiquities depicted in confiscated archives of convicted art dealers. Sometimes they sell the lots but nearly every time they withdraw them.
“I don’t understand why they can’t do due diligence beforehand. Clearly, it’s not taking place. Christie’s say they don’t have access to these archives which is not true.
“Every auction house, dealer and museum should refer to Italian and Greek authorities, who would check for free before the sales.”
Dr Donna Yates, of Trafficking Culture, added: “Do they contact antiquities trafficking experts before their auctions? No, never.
“Do they make public whatever provenance documents they have for a particular piece? No, never. I can only conclude that they don’t take this particularly seriously.”
A spokesperson for Christie’s said: “We have withdrawn four lots from our upcoming antiquities sale as it was brought to our attention that there is a question mark over their provenance, namely, that they are similar to items recorded in the Medici and Becchina archives.
“We will now work with Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit to discover whether or not there is a basis for concerns expressed over the provenance.”
They added: “Christie’s would never sell anything we know or have reason to believe has been stolen, and we devote considerable time and money to investigating the objects in our care.
“We consult academic, police, civil, national and international lists of stolen works and when we publish our catalogues, we welcome scrutiny to help us ensure our information is correct.
“However, there are a few databases containing relevant information which are not made available to auction houses.  So we are prevented from incorporating a search of these databases into our due diligence, and are only made aware of any concerns after our catalogues are published.
“In this case, although we have no reason to doubt our information, we are happy to conduct further research.
“We call on those with access to the Becchina and Medici archive to make them freely available to auction houses so that we can check them as part of our pre-catalogue due diligence process.”
The spokesperson said the Carabinieri – Italy’s national military police – have not responded in the past but that Christie’s is currently in touch with both the Greek and Italian authorities.
The spokesperson said: “However, to be clear what we are asking is access and full transparency for us but also for the art market as a whole. We would like to see a copy of the Becchina and Medici databases  (and indeed any other official database or record of objects believed to have been stolen or looted) be provided to the ALR and/or added to the Interpol database of stolen cultural works.
“This is a very transparent and effective way of ensuring that the world is on notice of objects which are alleged to have been looted or stolen. It is how all other governments and police organisations register stolen cultural property. We do not understand why this has not been done.”

Christie’s theft – man jailed but no recovery

A career criminal who stole more than £700,000 worth of Fabergé items and sold them to a crack dealer for just £100 has been jailed for 28 months.
None of the stolen items has been recovered.
Richard Tobin, 45, binged on two bottles of vodka before snatching the items from Christie's King Street on December 7 last year.
Tobin took a £125,000 Fabergé jewelled gold clock made in St Petersburg in 1899 and one of the maker's famous flower still lives, a silver gilt and rock crystal study of jasmine blossom.
He also stole an aquamarine necklace and hardstone animal carvings made by the court jewellers of Imperial Russia. Christie's had held a sale of Russian art the previous month.
Tobin had broken into the offices of credit asset managers Muzinich & Co in Mayfair, two nights earlier, taking a rucksack and headphones.
The Glaswegian, of no fixed address, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on April 8. He had admitted two counts of burglary at an earlier hearing, appearing at court via videolink from HMP Wandsworth.
Jack Talbot, for Tobin, said: "He accepts he took the items. It may be that I put before the court that he wasn't aware of the value, but that is an entirely different matter."
In the earlier hearing Judge Owen Davies QC warned Tobin he was facing a long prison sentence. He added: "What has happened to the property will be uppermost in the court's mind - as to whether it has been recovered."

Antiques valued at £10,000 stolen in Hove burglary

Detectives are seeking thieves who broke into a central Hove house and stole 23 valuable items, inlcluding vases, statues and china believed to be worth at least £10,000.
In the early hours of Saturday (28 March) the items were taken whilst the man  was asleep at the address in Pembroke Crescent, Hove.
Detective Constable Jane Kemp of the Brighton Priority Crime Team said; "These are very individual and distinctive items and we are sure anyone who is offered them for sale will realise this.
"We are also making enquiries in the Lewes and Arundel areas where it is felt some of the items may turn up.

List of property;
1) Large heavy Lalique crystal glass statue of Madonna and Child with 'Lalique Crystal' silver label on front and on a heavy black glass base.
2) Large heavy Crystal Lalique 'Sylvie' vase in the form of two doves with stylised asymmetric glass wings and 'Lalique Crystal' silver label on front
3) Clarice Cliff 'Bizarre Ware' Stamford shaped teapot (classic1930s Art Deco shape with curved handle and shape to one side and square shape to the other side) and very bold pink and blue 'splashed' daisy flower decoration on body of the teapot ( rare Delecia pattern and Stamford shape)
4) Clarice Cliff tall 'Bizarre Ware' Bon Jour shape (again classic 1930s Art Deco curved shape) jug with posy of flowers design on the front.
5) Clarice Cliff barrel shaped 'Bizarre Ware' Autumn Crocus mainly orange coloured Jam pot with lid and typical orange crocus design.
6) Identical jam pot to the above. (no photo)
7) Very fine quality Japanese Satsuma Ware 'Moon Vase' (circular shaped like the moon, with handle incorporated into the design) with very fine Satsuma gold enamelling decoration of Japanese gardens and landscapes and with red 'Imperial' impressed Japanese glazed mark on the base.
8) Tall and heavy Art Deco 1930s solid bronze dancing female figure with one foot raised in the air and on a heavy black marble plinth. Signed 'Philip' and 'Reveil' and impressed 'Bronze Garanti Paris Deposee' foundry Mark on base.
9) Large and heavy Art Deco solid bronze bison/buffalo/wildebeest heavily/finely textured statue/figure on 4 legs and heavy black marble base signed 'Milo' and impressed 'Bronze garanti Paris Deposee' foundry Mark on base.
10) Moorcroft Vase, ovoid shape 'Oberon' vase 6.5 inches high with cream, green and black flower 'tube lined' design on body. Signed 'Moorcroft' on bottom.
11) Moorcroft vase, 'Foxglove' design of pink flowers. 10inches tall, balloon shape and signed Moorcroft on bottom.
12) Moorcroft Vase. As above (same Foxglove colour/design) but smaller 8, inches tall and 'trumpet' shaped.
13) Moorcroft 'Mediterranean Figs' double handled vase signed Moorcroft on the bottom.
14) Moorcroft small squarer shaped 'Colours Of Kiribati' vase, with distinctive turquoise abstract pattern design.
15) Moorcroft medium sized and 'balloon' or urn shaped 'Cherries' vase with bold cherries design on the body and signed 'Moorcroft' on the bottom.
16) Tall brass 19th Century Regency urn shaped vase with original glass insert and double square handles on the top, with impressed swirl design on sides.
17) Pair of Royal Doulton 8 inch tall 'Lambeth Ware' balloon shaped vases with 'tube lined' flower motifs in pink and blue and with Royal Doulton impressed Mark on the base.
18) A large Art Nouveau style clear glass vase with gold, red and green 'swirled' design inlaid and 'stained' into the top part of the glass and 'dripping' down into the lower half.
19) Tall Art Nouveau style/shaped Glass claret jug with silver plate - patterned top/lid
20) Clarice Cliff large pink jug with flower decoration with handle and 'Clarice Cliff Newport Pottery' Mark to base.
21) Clarice Cliff salt and pepper pots - blue Chi design
22) R. Lalique 'coquilles' Plate cica 1924
23) Amethyst crystal glass chalice/tazza with gilt and enamel decorated designed by Kanenicky senov glass school and made by Hermann Eiselt (1925).

Durham detectives investigating after haul of antiques stolen from elderly woman's home

Police said the items are of 'huge sentimental value' and want to speak to a man and woman in their mid-20s to 30s seen in the Gilesgate area

Antiques stolen from an elderly woman in Gilesgate, Durham, on March 20
Antiques stolen from an elderly woman in Gilesgate, Durham, on March 20
Detectives are investigating after a haul of antiques were stolen from a Durham woman’s home.
Police said a man and woman in their mid-20s to late-30s entered the house of an elderly woman in Gilesgate on March 20.
The items stolen include a bronze Nepalese lion, a Priscilla Han cold cast bronze horse, a blue glass and sterling silver sugar pot and a red glass, double-ended scent bottle.
Two matching Doulton blue and green vases, one of which is pictured, were removed from the mantelpiece.
They are described as having long slender necks and bear applique medallions on which are Roman emperors’ heads.
All of the items pictured as a collection were stolen, with the exception of the candlesticks.
Police said the items have great sentimental value to the woman.
Billionaire Victim Of Art Crime Gang
A planned strike
  • A band of thieves plundered the villa of a businesswoman

  • Among the many works he had stolen reliefs Dalí

  • The house has a security system that did not work

A luxurious collection of art and painting valued at more than two million euros was stolen last Easter at home in a Madrid illustrious antiquarian who lives in a cottage Fuencarral and owns several businesses of Art in the capital. Thieves valuable paintings and sculptures, among which there are reliefs of Dalí, famous painters and also other parts classified as unique carried. Some of them can be worth more than 300,000 euros.
The Judicial Police has taken over the investigation and suspects behind the theft is a specialized plunder artworks, which then have a tough out in the market because they are unique pieces that automatically and are listed as stolen bases group data. The thieves had planned the coup before and knew how to disable the sophisticated alarm system that was inside, according to the findings.
The owner of the house and his family were absent several days and returned to their home last Holy Thursday. Arriving outside the home they were surprised to see that the garage door was open and damaged.
When entered everything was choppy, empty walls, some empty shelves and central alarm torn and thrown in a bucket in the kitchen.
At first, the victims came to suspect that the thieves might still be in one of the upper rooms and decided to quickly alert the police.
The agents of the police station immediately Fuencarral presented and verified that no thief was already in the house. All rooms were disordered and the living room walls and other main rooms were not the pictures that decorate. In addition, criminals tried unsuccessfully to open a safe in one of the rooms of the house.
Inside the villa there were several runs and sculptures on the floor works, making researchers suspect that the robbers fled precipitately to hear something strange or think that tenants were about to enter the house.


The agents of the Judicial Police of Madrid began the investigation last week. But given the scale of the theft and the characteristics of the works will probably add to inquiries policemen Heritage Brigade, attached to the Central Police Services.
The investigation clearly indicate that the band acted knew exactly where he committed theft and what he wanted. In fact, the thieves despised very expensive electronic and audiovisual material in the house and only the most precious works were carried.
It is believed that the thieves entered the villa first jumping the perimeter fence and then climbed to the first floor to enter the house through a window, which was broken glass and blind.

The booty

The most valuable pieces were those that took first place thieves, according to initial inquiries. They stopped for a second possible trip less expensive. But something went wrong. Hence in the driveway rolls are ground and found him several works, sculptures, tables and figures (some valued at 60,000 euros).
It is also believed that the thieves did not find the remote to open the door and put a car or van in the garden. Thus they opened the door abruptly and forcing one of the stops.
Police have questioned several neighbors and owners of adjoining houses in search of clues that could shed light on the case. It is also believed that due to the size of some work could hire a van to take the pieces.

The alarm did not work

Agents are also investigating how authors theft could disconnect the alarm and the fact that the security center does not receive any notice at the time the signal was cut from the house.
The first appraisal of what was stolen two million euros. But that estimate could stay small because days after the owners have discovered that more works and missing pieces in the house.
The family has been the victim of looting are frightened, for he had never been robbed, even in its art shops.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Stolen Art Watch, Hatton Garden Raid, Top Secret Material Was Target, Documents, DVD's, Pantex Nuclear Pit.

Hatton Garden Raid

Whilst everyone is focused on a traditional Diamond Heist, what if...
Diamonds were not the only target, but more importantly Top Secret Material, documents, photographs, voice recordings, DVD's, and possibly a stolen Pantex Nuclear Pit device.
Intelligence agencies will be scrambling to find out what could have been taken and what potential fallout there could be.

Did the Nuclear Snake Eaters swoop in last week?
All or part of the above could be true, so things are not always as presented.

Lets look at the facts.

Mysterious underground electrical fire in the days leading up to the Hatton Garden raid, knocking out much of the electrical wiring etc.

The thieves scaled down the lift shaft with military precision and then broke through to the vault, military style precision, indicating special forces involvement perhaps?

Once inside, out of 999 safety Deposit boxes available, they ransacked a total of only 72 safety deposit boxes, although five were empty at the time.
A further 11 were due to be "drilled out" due to non-payment of fees, meaning detectives are attempting to contact a total of 56 box holders.

What are the odds of opening five empty boxes out of 999 and also eleven boxes that had unpaid fees?

This indicates the thieves knew exactly what boxes to target and beggars belief that having four days to open the safety deposit boxes, they only managed 72 out of 999.

CCTV of alleged Hatton Garden thieves, linked below, taken over four days which denotes they knew Police would not respond to alarm:

There is whole lot of mis-information being put out to cover the real reasons behind this raid.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, "Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Raid, like fish, smells after three days", in this case, stinks to high heaven.
There is something rotten in the State of Hatton Garden.

An alarm was triggered on the Friday, but Police failed to respond

Scotland Yard have admitted receiving a call from a burglar alarm at the Hatton Garden jewellers raided over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

In an official statement, the Metropolitan Police said they received a call at 00:21am on Friday April 3 from the Southern Monitoring Alarm Company.
This call was recorded and transferred to the police’s computer system, which graded the seriousness of the request for help.
However, the call was given a grade which required no police response.

The Met said it was now investigating why the call was given the grade in the first place, but maintained it was “too early to say” if the heist could have been prevented had the call been graded differently.

Someone, in a position of authority graded this call to prevent a Police response.
Otherwise Lady Luck was certainly on the side of the thieves, time and time again !!

In 2008 police raided three safe deposit box centres in London as part of an investigation into claims that criminal networks were using them to store the proceeds of crime. Inside 3,497 boxes, officers found more than £50m in cash as well as five handguns, cannabis, heroin and crack, gold bars, child abuse images, three paintings by 17th Century Dutch artists, jewellery and fake passports. The owner of the centres was jailed for four and a half years in 2011.

However, if the thieves were traditional Ordinary Decent Criminals, then they might have gotten more than they bargained for, and be in possession of very Top Secret sensitive material, documents relating to wrongdoing by powerful elite figures, radioactive material that could prove fatal to those exposed.

Much, much better than just a traditional Diamond Heist don't you agree?

Sophisticated Fire Points To Govt Security Services Involvement
A major underground fire in Holborn which caused days of disruption could have been deliberately started by burglars who were responsible for the Hatton Garden jewel heist, a former senior police officer has said.

John O’Connor, former head of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad, said the blaze, which sparked a huge power cut in central London last week, could be linked to the robbery over the Easter weekend.
Speaking to LBC today, he said the fire could have been deliberately started in order to create a power outage, leaving the vaults at the Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd easier to access.

Mr O'Connor told LBC he thought last week's fire in Kingsway was part of the plot to raid the business.

He said: "Yeah, I think that probably was deliberate. I've never heard of an outage of electricity like that causing a fire that lasted as long as that. That seems to me too much of a coincidence."
He went on to say that he suspected someone with "inside information" about the layout of the business is likely to have helped the burglars.

He said: "[Police] are also going to be looking for where the inside information came from. If you know how to bypass all of the security devices, you're gonna have to have a detailed layout of the whole of the business. So clearly they got that from somebody on the inside."

He continued: "If I was a betting man, I would say they would arrest a handful of people that were involved in the actual obtaining of the diamonds - I doubt if they'll get the diamonds back."

Doubt the architects of the raid will be arrested because they are Foxes guarding the Hen-House, meaning, Govt Spooks !!

He added he thought between five to eight people were likely to have been involved in the heist.
Mr O'Connor said: "There was a lot of work that went into that. There was a lot of material to be moved. There was a lot of hard work. You need people who are fit."

Have We Been Here Before?

How MI5 raided a bank to get pictures of Princess Margaret

In the heady days of the 1960s and 70s, the Caribbean island of Mustique was the exotic playground where Princess Margaret held court.
It was on its shores that she was famously pictured with her lover Roddy Llewellyn.
And, it seems, it could also have been the scene of an even more intriguing photographic scandal, kept firmly under wraps.
A film purporting to be based on fact will suggest that sexually compromising photographs of the princess taken on the island were at the centre of a bank robbery in 1971.
It will claim that the £500,000 raid on Lloyds Bank in Baker Street, London, was, in fact, aimed at securing the steamy snaps.
The Bank Job, has the photographs being placed in the bank for safe-keeping by Michael X, a well-known criminal originally from the Caribbean.
The £500,000 raid - worth £5million in today's money - made the headlines in September 1971.
It became known as the 'walkie-talkie bank job' because of a fluke tip-off from a member of the public who overheard the robbers talking on a two-way radio.
But then mysteriously a government gagging order, a D notice, was imposed to prevent further coverage.
Four men were jailed in 1973 for the raid and Michael X was hanged for murder in Trinidad in 1975.
The film, written by Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais, will claim it was the non-monetary contents of the safety deposit boxes which spurred the raid.
"What happens in the film is that the raid on Lloyds is set up by MI5," said producer Steven Chasman.
"They knew that a box owned by Michael X with those photographs was inside the bank vaults," he told the Sunday Times.
Figures from the security services are said to have called on minor gangland contacts to initiate the raid, who in turn tipped off criminals who knew the bank would be easy to break into.
The writers of the film claim to have spoken to figures who were directly involved with the robbery, who separately claimed that it was aimed at getting hold of the photographs.
And while the film does not detail what is exactly in the pictures and Princess Margaret is not referred to directly, Mr Chasman said: "We are pretty clear who we are talking about."
Whether there ever were 'incriminating' photographs of the princess is of course open to conjecture.
Margaret adored Mustique, the sub-tropical paradise where she could let her hair down away from prying eyes and cameras.
Her love affair with the island began in 1960 when she was given a plot of land as a wedding present by her former escort Colin Tennant, later Lord Glenconner.
By the time of the raid, her marriage to Lord Snowdon was in its final rocky stages and she retreated to the island with Llewellyn, a landscape gardener 17 years her junior. The wild parties on the island, also home to Margaret's photographer cousin, Lord Lichfield were the stuff of legend.
Story has it that once Llewellyn, Colin Tennant and Nicholas Courtney all stripped naked on the beach to be photographed by Margaret. As for whether she allowed risque pictures to be taken of herself, it is unclear.
Asked whether he thought pictures might have existed, Lord Snowdon said: "I would have thought it unlikely."
He added he had never heard of the bank robbery-MI5 'plot'.
Rumours about Margaret's 'colourful' life have long abounded. She was rumoured to have had affairs with lovers including Peter Sellers and, more improbably, Dusty Springfield.
It has also been suggested she had an affair with late tough-guy actor and gangster John Bindon, boyfriend of baronet's daughter Vicki Hodge, an actress and model.
He was a favourite of the princess and once boasted that he impressed her with his party trick of balancing five half-pint beer mugs on his manhood.
One recent book suggested that they conducted a six-month affair which had the authorities so concerned that MI5 was brought in to keep it under wraps.


John Binden with Princess Margaret
- In 1973, Princess Margaret was introduced to Roddy Llewellyn, who at 26 was 17 years younger. They frequently spent time together on Mustique, where they became quite close. Her marriage to Snowdon came to an end when pictures of her and Roddy were splashed in the tabloids. A formal separation wasn’t announced until 1976, and the couple were divorced in 1978. Snowdon remarried immediately to Lucy Lindsay-Hogg, the television producer he was having an affair with. Her relationship with Roddy ended soon after when he informed her that he was getting married.
But Princess Margaret will also be remembered for a major government scandal that was kept so quiet that all newspaper proprietors received D Notices to ensure nothing was printed. In the heady days of the 1960s and 70s, the Caribbean island of Mustique was the exotic playground where Princess Margaret held court.
It was on its shores that she was famously pictured with her lover Roddy Llewellyn.
And, it seems, it could also have been the scene of an even more intriguing photographic scandal, kept firmly under wraps.

A purported £500,000 raid on Lloyds Bank in Baker Street, London, was, in fact, aimed at securing steamy snaps said to be of Princess Margaret and “her lover.”
Until now the photographs of the ‘lovers’ were thought to be either Llewellyn, John Binden or a host of other names that were regular escorts of the Princess.
The recovery of the photos was an MI6 controlled task and included the active participation of Lord Mountbatten. Inside the safety deposit box in the vaults of Lloyds Bank were letters and photos from a high ranking member of the Royal Family to Princess Margaret.
The £500,000 raid - worth £5million in today's money - made the headlines in September 1971.
It became known as the 'walkie-talkie bank job' because of a fluke tip-off from a member of the public who overheard the robbers talking on a two-way radio.
But then mysteriously a Government gagging order, a D notice, was imposed to prevent further coverage.
Four men were jailed in 1973 for the raid and Michael X was hanged for murder in Trinidad in 1975. He was hanged because he knew too much. Three of these men were named as: Anthony Gavin a photographer from Dalston, Thomas Stephens, a car dealer from Islington and Reginald Tucker, a Company Director from Hackney. Three pleaded guilty and were sentenced to twelve years imprisonment. The fourth man, Benjamin Wolfe, 66, a fancy goods dealer from East Dulwich pleaded not guilty was convicted and incredibly received eight years imprisonment one third less than the three who pleaded guilty. Two other men accused of handling banknotes from the robbery were found not guilty.

The mastermind was never found because he was an MI6 agent.

The raid on Lloyds Bank was set up not by MI5 but MI6 because the Palace feared MI5 contained elements that would use the contents against the Royal Family. The box owned by Michael X with those photographs and letters was inside the bank vaults.

Figures from the security services called on minor gangland contacts to initiate the raid, who in turn tipped off criminals who knew the Bank would be easy to break into.

A radio ham, Robert Rowlands, heard the robbers as he randomly twisted the dial of his set before going to bed one night at his flat in Wimpole Street, central London. Two voices argued about whether some cutting work should stop or go on all night. The men were covertly working on a tunnel which, it turned out, led to the Bank basement.

Excited and alarmed, Rowlands called the local police station in Marylebone and told an Officer the Police should search all the local banks. The Officer simply told him to tape the conversation. The resulting tape, which was transcribed and broadcasted on national radio at the time, gives a rare insight into the minds of a gang in the middle of a major crime.
It would be a far cry later when he was warned by the Police not to give interviews and even threatened with prosecution for operating an unlicensed radio. This was to be kept quiet and so it was.

The letters that dated back to 1948 which Princess Margaret had kept photographs that could have brought down the Royal Family in what would have been a tsunami scandal were recovered and kept by Sir John Rennie the then Director of MI6. He was not happy at keeping the documents and was in favour in December 1972 of disclosing such directly to HM The Queen.

On 15 January 1973, Rennie's son was arrested for an alleged involvement in the importation of large quantities of heroin from Hong Kong. The Director General resigned immediately. The letters and photographs remained highly secret and scandal kept quiet.

Princess Margaret breathed a sigh of relief after Lord Mountbatten had told her that the contents of Malcolm X safety deposit box were in the hands of MI6.
 Not even a Director General of MI6 is exempt from political persuasion. John Rennie died in 1983. He never spoke about the contents of the safety deposit box to anyone other than a field MI6 agent in 1980. "John Rennie was an honest Director General within a morally and ehtically dishonest political regime," said the MI6 agent.

In her later years, she was plagued by constant ill-health. In 1984, she had an operation on her lungs, and in 1998, she suffered a mild stroke. Later that year, the Princess severely scalded her feet in a bathroom accident. The accident severely restricted her mobility, forcing her to use a wheelchair on occasion. Although she eventually quit smoking, the damage to her health was already done. In 2000, and 2001 she suffered another series of strokes.
Princess Margaret passed away on February 9, 2002 at the age of 71, after suffering a massive stroke. Ironically her funeral was held on the 50th anniversary of her father’s funeral. Unlike most Royals, Princess Margaret requested that she be cremated; her ashes placed in the tomb of her parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who only survived a few months after the death of her daughter.
Her good friend Gore Vidal wrote of her, "She was far too intelligent for her station in life." He recalled a conversation he had with the Princess, in which she discussed her public notoriety, saying, "It was inevitable: when there are two sisters and one is the Queen, who must be the source of honor and all that is good, while the other must be the focus of the most creative malice, the evil sister.” 

More here:

Europe's Most Notorious Jewellery Heists

The Pink Panther gang, The Troll, cross-dressing thieves and lasers - Europe's biggest heists have seen £750m in jewels stolen.

The Graff robbers (L-R): Sulomun Beyene, Clinton Mogg, Aman Kassaye and Thomas Thomas
Graff robbers: Solomun Beyene, Clinton Mogg, Aman Kassaye and Thomas Thomas
As detectives hunt those who raided around 70 safety deposit boxes in London - potentially making off with millions of pounds of diamonds - we take a look at some of the most notorious European heists of recent years.
::  Carlton Hotel, Cannes - £88m, July 2013
A lone gunman enters the hotel in the luxury French resort in broad daylight and less than a minute later escapes on foot with a suitcase full of jewels that were on show in the lobby.
The stash included pink and yellow diamonds, emerald and sapphires.
The Carlton Hotel in Cannes on the eve of the 66th Cannes Film Festival in 2013
The Carlton Hotel robber fled on foot after snatching jewels in the lobby
It is one of many robberies blamed on the "Pink Panther" gang, who Interpol say have snatched jewels worth more than £280m since 1999.
The gang is thought to be a loosely-affiliated group of several hundred criminals from the former Yugoslavia.
:: Cannes Film Festival - £2m, May 2013
Thieves make off with a £1.7m necklace during a celebrity party attended by the likes of Sharon Stone and Paris Hilton.
A week earlier, £660,000 of Chopard jewels had also been stolen when a safe was ripped from a hotel wall.
:: Brussels Airport - £30m, February 2013
Dressed as police and armed with machine guns, eight men cut through fences and hold up a plane packed with 120 boxes of uncut diamonds.
Some of the robbers stand in front of the passenger aircraft with their laser sights pointing at the pilots.
Passengers waiting to take off have no idea the robbery is taking place - it lasts barely 10 minutes.
Thirty-three people were arrested in connection with the robbery in May 2013.
Raid suspects
The Graff robbers posed as legitimate customers before drawing their guns
:: Diarsa, Madrid - £19.5m, December 2012
The gang - whose ringleader was known as The Troll - use laser equipment to break into the Spanish store and help themselves to a massive haul of more than 1,700 luxury watches without setting off any alarms.
They later tried to sell the watches on the Chinese black market.
:: Graff jewellers, London - £40m, August 2009
Wearing make-up and suits to pose as legitimate customers, the gang carries out Britain's biggest jewellery raid in just two minutes.
Once inside the Mayfair store they pull guns on unsuspecting staff.
The group's ringleader takes a shop assistant hostage and fires at a security guard as he makes his escape.
Police eventually tracked down the gang of four and they were jailed for up to 23 years.
:: Harry Winston jewellers, Paris - £74m, December 2008
With two of the gang dressed as women and wearing wigs, the exclusive Champs-Elysees store is stripped of rings, necklaces and watches.
People walk past the Harry Winston store in Paris
Loot from Harry Winston's was later found in a Paris drain
The window display and back room storage are both cleaned out as it is raided for the second time in a year.
Several employees are coshed over the head with handguns as robbers refer to them by name.
Millions of pounds of the loot was found in a drain in a Paris suburb in 2011, but most remains missing.
Eight men were finally jailed for the robbery this year.
:: Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam - £76m, February 2005
Thought to be the biggest diamond heist ever, two men in stolen KLM airline uniforms hijack a truck laden with uncut diamonds on the airport tarmac.
The drivers are forced out at gunpoint and made to lie on the ground before the pair speed off.
Antwerp in Belgium is the centre of the world diamond trade
The vehicle was later found abandoned but the diamonds and suspects were long gone - the crime is still unsolved but police suspect an inside job.
:: Antwerp Diamond Centre, Belgium - £70m, February 2003
An Italian group known as the The School of Turin pulls off a diamond robbery said to be four years in the planning and described as the "heist of the century".
The haul was so large the gang could not carry all the stones and left the floor littered with jewels.
No alarms were tripped, despite security including infrared heat detectors, a seismic detector and a lock with more than 100 million combinations.
Guards did not realise until the following day.
A half-eaten sandwich discarded during the getaway provided DNA evidence that led to the group's ringleader - but the diamonds were never recovered.
:: O2, London - £350m, November 2000 - The foiled plot
The gang barge through gates using a JCB digger and let off smoke bombs as they try to smash display cases with sledgehammers and a nail gun.
Millennium Jewels/De Beers
The Millennium Star - target of the failed raid on the O2 in London
Their target - 12 diamonds, including De Beers' flawless 203-carat Millennium Star stone.
It could have been the world's biggest robbery but police were tipped off about the audacious plan and had swapped the jewels with imitations.
Armed police disguised as cleaners helped round up the gang, who were planning to make their getaway on the River Thames on a speedboat.