Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dublin Vermeer "Lady Writing a Letter With Her Maid"Targeted By Viper, for Fourth Time

An Artful Dodge
In Ireland, one splendid art collection keeps getting robbed. But the colorful crooks aren't just in it for the money

It was just past six on the cold morning of Sept. 29 when the dark green Mitsubishi Pajero off-roader pulled up at the back of Russborough House, a Palladian mansion outside the town of Blessington in County Wicklow, Ireland. At least three men wearing balaclavas and hooded sweatshirts affixed a plank to the back of the vehicle to turn it into a makeshift battering ram, then ran it in reverse up some steps and into one of the great windows of the 250-year-old house, shattering the glass and the shutters behind. Eleven paintings were hanging on the walls of the saloon inside, but the gang settled for five, including two by Rubens — Portrait of a Dominican Monk and Venus Supplicating Jupiter. Caught on video-surveillance cameras, the job was done in just 50 seconds, and the thieves made their getaway at speed, driving across three fields before hitting the open road.

There was no need to hurry. Russborough House's sole security guard was in another wing of the house — and anyway, he is in his seventies and would never have been a match for the thieves. The nearest police station, 4 km away in Blessington, is closed at night. And the district patrol car on duty was based in Baltinglass, 26 km away. By the time the police arrived the gang was long gone.

As if all of that wasn't embarrassing enough, this was the fourth time in 28 years that Ireland's best-known private art collection had been robbed. It belongs to the Beit family, which inherited 150 paintings — along with other objets d'art, antique furnishings and books — from Otto Beit, co-founder of the De Beers diamond-mining company. Deirdre Rowsome, administrator of Russborough House, claims the building has "a very sophisticated, up-to-date security system, but the house is in a rural area and it is open to the public. If a gang is really determined to rob the house, it is very difficult to deal with them." Security was being reviewed at the time of the robbery.

What's especially intriguing about the last two heists is that the thieves never intended to fence the artworks for money. The paintings were meant to serve as bargaining chips; senior police sources say that the gang hoped to trade them for lesser charges when caught on other criminal operations.

The thieves were following a tradition going back to the very first heist at Russborough House, in 1974. That caper, pulled off by a Provisional i.r.a. gang, was led by Rose Dugdale, an English millionaire's daughter turned republican rebel. The gang did want some money — over $200,000, according to the ransom note — but its real objective was to trade the paintings for the release of Dolours and Marion Price, sisters who were jailed for life on explosives charges and were on hunger strike in London's Brixton jail. The Dugdale gang took 19 paintings, including a Goya, a Vermeer and a Gainsborough. But their caper quickly came unstuck. Five paintings were found two weeks later in a wardrobe in a house in County Cork which Dugdale had rented. The rest were found rolled up in the boot of a Morris Minor which she had borrowed from her landlord. Dugdale, who was sentenced to 11 years in jail, now works in Dublin with a support group for former prisoners. She refuses to discuss the robbery, which made her a household name in Ireland.

If Rose Dugdale seemed a character out of a B-movie, the next gangster to target Russborough House actually inspired two feature films about his life and crimes. Dublin crime boss Martin Cahill — a.k.a. the General — had the posthumous privilege of being portrayed by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey in the thinly fictionalized Ordinary Decent Criminal, released in 2000. (Two years earlier, Brendan Gleeson played the title role in The General.) The real-life Cahill was Ireland's most colorful crook. Fat and balding, he had a passion for pigeons, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and two Dublin sisters by whom he fathered nine children.

Cahill's gang arrived in Russborough House one night in May 1986; they cut a small pane of glass out of a French window, and entered the house to set off the alarm. They then retreated and hid in the bushes, until the gardaí — as Ireland's policemen are known — had come and gone, believing it was a false alarm. An hour later the thieves went back inside and took 18 paintings from the walls.

Like Dugdale's, Cahill's Russborough House caper may have had more than a commercial motive. Retired detective Gerry O'Carroll, who was in the police unit that carried out surveillance on the General, believes Cahill wanted to embarrass the Irish government. "He hated the State because of what happened to him as a child in [reform] school," O'Carroll says. "He had been beaten like an animal, and abused. Carrying out a 'spectacular' was his revenge." But the heist proved to be Cahill's undoing. He hooked up with the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force to get rid of the paintings — and that made him an I.R.A. target. He was killed in 1994, the victim of the last official i.r.a. assassination before the Good Friday peace treaty. All but two of the paintings Cahill stole were recovered.

The next man to loot Russborough House is believed by senior police sources to have been Martin Foley — known as the Viper, and one of Cahill's most loyal lieutenants. In a June 2001 raid, his gang took two paintings: Bellotto's View of Florence and Gainsborough's Madame Baccelli. It was the third time these paintings had been lifted. The gardaí believe the Viper, who is still at large, masterminded the theft for insurance purposes — to trade the art for his freedom. Former officers say such negotiations are not uncommon. "Deals are done all the time, let's be honest about it," says O'Carroll. "The Beit paintings are stolen for bargaining chips. [The thieves] know that they can't offload them, but when they are caught with drugs, or are facing charges on armed robbery, they can use the paintings for bartering. It's an Irish form of plea bargaining." In September the police recovered the paintings from a house in South Dublin. A portrait by Rubens, stolen in Cahill's raid, had turned up in a house in North Dublin a month earlier. The gardaí would not officially say if these finds were the result of tipoffs during plea bargaining.

The September robbery remains something of a mystery. Some gardaí believe the deal struck for the return of the last paintings soured and the Viper's gang hit Russborough House again in revenge. A second theory is that another gang was responsible, and the police are now investigating a number of criminals who could have been behind the raid.

Last Monday, a 45-year-old Dublin woman, Rose Quinn, appeared at a district court on charges of handling two paintings, worth €2.6 million, taken in the third Russborough robbery. Quinn had been arrested after leaving another courthouse where her son Ian was sentenced to 10 years in jail for his role in an attempted bank robbery. Outside the courthouse, Quinn swore her innocence. "I've done nothing wrong," she said. "I give you my word." But it may be that the Russborough House saga is about to take another bizarre turn.

Art Hostage comments:
Martin "The Viper" Foley offered these paintings back to Irish Authorities, and he showed good faith by facilitating their return.

However, the deal negotiated between Irish Police and Foley soured because Irish Police acted in a dishonest manner, thereby provoking Foley to order the last raid on Russborough House.

Rose Quinn was cleared of any indictments and the Mexican stand-off continues.

Vermeer, Viper, Venom !!

Martin Foley does have plans, if provoked by Irish Police, to set up a robbery of the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, and the target is, yes you've guessed it, Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid"

This (Beit)Vermeer hangs in its new home, The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, in a place that would make it easy to steal, during a distraction, and the thief will make good his getaway by motor cycle across Dublin before Irish Police have time to react.

Then we will have the situation whereby Two first-rate Vermeer's are being held by the Underworld.

To those who may doubt the plausibility of the current plan to recover the stolen Vermeer from Boston, take note of this historical use of high value stolen art as a bargaining counter.

If there are delays in the recovery of the Stolen Vermeer from Boston, via a confession box, it is because authorities are dragging their feet, hoping that the delay will allow the Vermeer to surface without benefits, post recovery.

As soon as the go-ahead is given to General Thomas Slab Murphy that his tax demand will be written off, Vermeer's "The Concert" will appear.

I realise this will leave a bad taste in the mouth for some people, and quite rightly so, society does not want to encourage further high value, high profile art thefts.

However, The Gardner case is unique for many reasons.

, the statute of limitations has run out so there will not be any charges bought against those who were the original thieves.

, and as a matter of public record, the Boston D.A. Office has agreed to immunity in this case.

Third, this deal requires no money to be paid by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to those who stole or have handled the Gardner art.

The Gardner Art Heist was committed by guys trying to use the art to have one of their INLA friends released from Jail, not forgetting Patrick Nee. When the FBI would not agree to this the original thieves sold the Gardner art to Joseph Murray for $300,000. Joseph Murray also tried in vain to use the Gardner art as a bargaining counter but was unable to reach a deal, the FBI was intending to sting Joseph Murray.

After Joseph Murray was shot to death by his wife the Gardner art was split up and some made its way to Ireland's West coast, Spiddal, Galway and Fanore, West Clare, Whitey Bulger was also at these locations, posing as a retired Doctor.

Because of the publicity surrounding the Gardner case certain Irish Republican godfathers were convinced by ***** to take control of the Gardner art and use the Gardner art as a bargaining counter for political purposes.

The sectarian prosecution of General Thomas Slab Murphy has proved an opportunity to allow the Stolen Vermeer from Boston to surface, via a confession box, (Symbolism of Absolution)

Martin "The Viper" Foley "Making Mischief"

What Next, A Job Guarding
The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin ??

Part-time force gets first taste of mean streets

GARDA (Irish Police) reservists took to the streets of our major cities for the first time last night - for on-the-job training.

The part-timers went out on patrol with their full-time colleagues to familiarise themselves with their districts.

A total of 37 reservists will be on the streets from this week as part of 'phase 4' of their training programme.

A dozen each have been assigned to Pearse Street and Store Street stations in Dublin while seven are being deployed at Anglesea Street in Cork, four at Mill Street in Galway and one in Sligo.

The 37 are due to graduate as fully fledged reservists from the Garda College in Templemore in the middle of next month.

Interviews are currently under way for the next batch of reservists, who are due to be assigned to stations in Dublin, Kerry, Limerick and Clare, and training will begin in January.

More than 7,000 applications for a reserve post have been received so far, ranging from bank officials to retired public servants such as prison officers and teachers.

Even notorious criminal Martin 'The Viper' Foley expressed an interest but his application was quickly rejected.

The reservists, who joined their stations yesterday evening, were immediately introduced to the staff on duty and then taken out in patrol cars.

The Garda Representative Association, which led the opposition to the concept of a reserve force, is currently balloting its members on whether it should accept the terms of a national pay deal, which includes a commitment to the reserve as part of a modernisation agenda.

The result of the ballot will be known before the end of the month but it is expected that the rank and file gardai will vote in favour.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors last week accepted the pay terms by an overwhelming majority. Acceptance allows the two associations to include co-operation with the reserve force in their submissions on benchmarking.

Government negotiators had warned the gardai they would not qualify for their increases under the national pay deal, Towards 2016, unless they agreed to work with the reservists.

Initially, a GRA delegation walked out of talks on the pay deal and then advised its members not to accept the pay rise.

But internal discussions since then have resulted in a change of tactic as the gardai realised they must accept the reservists or risk breaking the law, while still opposing the concept.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Michael McDowell yesterday told the gardai that the reserve force did not pose a threat to them but offered a huge bonus if they embraced the idea that there were people out there in the community who wanted to help.

"Right across Ireland we have turned back the tide on cynicism and despair and through the efforts of volunteers this can be done," he added.

In Cork yesterday, the first reservist, a former high ranking prison officer, arrived for duty at Anglesea Street station at 2pm and he will be joined by six

reserve colleagues later in the week.

Tom Brady

Art Hostage comments:

Hmmm, knowing what we do about the Irish Underworld, we can expect a larger number of criminals to apply.

Although most will be rooted out, as with the naughty Viper, who did this as a piss take, I am certain there will be a great number of relatives or associates of current criminals who slip through the net.

The long term outcome of this new Reserve Police Force will be the systematic infiltration of law enforcement on major operations.

I am certain there will be numerous cases in the future regarding corrupt reserve Police officers colluding with criminals.

This blatant attempt at "Policing on the cheap" will backfire spectacularly.

Dublin's gang war in the media
by Patrick Kennelly

Media reports on crime gangs are notoriously unreliable. This is because the two traditional sources for such stories – members of the criminal community and the police force – are themselves unreliable, for both have reasons to use the media to promote agendas. With that "health warning" we report here on what the media have said about the recent gangland wars. By Patrick Kennelly

"Viper"/Gavin/Thompson Gang: Dublin

Martin "Viper" Foley: Linked with both gangs but mentioned as a sympathiser towards the Gavin/Thompson gang (Sunday World, Ireland on Sunday, Sunday Independent).

However, Star Sunday claims he has influence over both gangs yet does not claim allegiance to either side due to fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

"Fat" Freddie Thompson (24): According to the Sunday World, "Fat" Freddie is the leader of the gang who shot dead Noel Roche in Clontarf on Tuesday, 15 November. Thompson was once part of the same gang as Brian Rattigan (leader of the rivals in the ongoing feud). Garda sources say he is their prime suspect in at least a dozen shooting incidents across the city.

Declan Gavin (20): First victim of the feud and one-time leader of the gang. Escaped raid in Holiday Inn drugs seizure that initiated allegations that he was an informant (Sunday Independent). Stabbed to death in Crumlin, 2001.

Darren Geoghegan (26): Suspected murderer of Rattigan gang-member John Roche in March of this year. Shot dead on 13 November by IRA hit men supposedly hired by Rattigan's gang (Sunday World)

Gavin Byrne( 30): Shot dead with Geoghegan in the same car that was parked in Firhouse.

Rattigan Gang:

Brian Rattigan (25): Leader of Rattigan gang although currently serving six (ten, according to Sunday World) year prison sentence for various crimes including drugs and gun charges. Was also charged with the murder of Declan Gavin. Controls his gang via mobile phones and messengers. Narrowly escaped a murder attempt (suspected to have been carried out by the Thompson/Gavin gang) although had spleen removed and lost a kidney three years ago (Sunday World).

Joseph Rattigan (18) : Brother of Brian. Shot dead in July, 2002 (Ireland on Sunday, Sunday World).

John Roche (24) : Major drug dealer wanted by gardaí for attempted murder (Ireland on Sunday). Shot dead in Kilmainham, the murderer is suspected to have been Darren Geoghegan (Ireland on Sunday, Sunday World).

Noel Roche (27): Chief enforcer of Rattigan's gang who was shot dead in Clontarf on 15 November as part of revenge for the double murder of Darren Geoghegan and Gavin Byrne (Ireland on Sunday).

Eddie Rice (32): Escaped a murder attempt when in the same car as Noel Roche the night he was killed. Turned himself in but was released without giving any evidence to gardaí.

1998: Feud begins. Declan Gavin, then an 18 year old who was already involved with petty crime and was making his mark on drug-trafficking, had his bike burned and his family car covered in paint by Derek Lodge. Suddenly two seperate gang factions emerged, one led by Declan Gavin, another led by Joseph Rattigan, who was 16 years old at the time (Sunday Independent). Both gangs began to deal cocaine and their main associate was Martin "Viper" Foley and there was relatively no animosity between them (Sunday World).

3 March, 2000: The event that led to the complete breakdown between the two factions: the Sunday Independent reported that Gavin and one gang member locked themselves into a room at the Holiday Inn hotel on Pearse street in order to "cut" cocaine (breaking down cocaine into powder and then mixed with glucose in order to distribute more to dealers). Gardaí heard of this deal and completed a successful raid on the premises, finding only a 17 year old in the room. Gavin soon emerged on the corridor and was promptly arrested. This led to allegations that Gavin was an informant for the gardaí (he had escaped conviction on a previously successful raid).

25 August, 2001: Declan Gavin is murdered (stabbed) outside a restaurant on Crumlin Road.

17 March, 2002: Brian Rattigan is critically injured when shot a number of times in his home. He loses a kidney and his spleen as a result of the attack. A woman in the house allegedly saw "Fat" Freddie Thompson commit the attack but later denies this to gardaí (Sunday World).

16 July, 2002: 18 year old Joseph Rattigan shot dead by the Gavin/Thompson faction (Sunday World) around the same time his brother Brian was being released from hospital.

May, 2002: An associate of Brian Rattigan, Colm Smith is shot through the cheek and tongue after he answers the door at 3.30 am. Smith survived the attack but refused to talk to gardaí (Sunday World).

2002: "Fat" Freddie Thompson is jailed and serves a sentence for road traffic offences (after being charged with those offences and giving gardaí a false name, aiding the escape of another man from lawful custody), according to the Sunday World.

25 January, 2004: Paul Warren shot dead in Grey's Pub by two men of the Rattigan faction. Subsequently, Brian Rattigan is jailed for a total of ten years for drugs, firearms and violence offences. He is currently serving a four-year stretch for being in possession of €40,000 worth of heroin. Last year, he received another six years for aiming a loaded shotgun at a Garda during a chase. He continues to control his gang from inside Portlaoise prison with the aid of mobile phones and messengers (Sunday World).

9 March, 2005: John Roche, one of Rattigan's men and a major drug dealer, is shot dead outside his apartment in Kilmainham, reportedly by Darren Geoghegan (Ireland on Sunday).

13 November, 2005: Darren Geoghegan and Gavin Byrne, leading members of the Thompson/Gavin faction are murdered by suspected hit-men reportedly hired by Rattigan's gang (Ireland on Sunday).

15 November, 2005: Seen by many as a revenge attack (Sunday World, Sunday Independent), Noel Roche (older brother of John Roche), Brian Rattigan's "chief enforcer" (Ireland on Sunday) is shot dead in Clontarf. His fellow gang member, Eddie Rice, escapes but refuses to tell the Gardaí anything about the killers.

To be continued..................


Anonymous said...

What was the idea of you writing the same load of bo***x thats in the paper every day? The media have got every detail about that fued wrong beginning with the fact it started long before the drugs seizure in 2000

Anonymous said...

There's no point in writing details of this fued when obviously you have no idea what your talking about.The papers write what they want regardless of what they know the people that know are the families left to deal with the aftermath of it.

Anonymous said...

u idiots dont know shit i no alot more than u idiots a couple of my close pals went down in this fuckin war and believe me theres alot more to come mark my words

Anonymous said...

gimme the f**kin hammer

Anonymous said...

the papers are full of shite and so is the person who wrote this!! they should look at there own lives instead...