Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Breaking News !!!!!!

Painting plot accused 'wanted to negotiate recovery'

Published Date: 02 March 2010

A solicitor from Lancashire accused of being part of a £4.25 million extortion plot said he wanted to negotiate a reward for clients who could help with the recovery of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci artwork, a court heard.

Marshall Ronald from Skelmersdale wrote that he was part of a team that could negotiate the "safe and speedy" return of the precious artwork through "informal mediation".

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the letter, sent in an email in August 2007, was composed around 10 days after he and two other solicitors discussed the legality of trying to secure a reward for the return of the stolen Madonna of the Yarnwinder.

The court heard suggestions from Mr Ronald's defence counsel that there was nothing covert, secret or underhand about the letter.

The details emerged on the second day of the trial of five men accused of plotting in 2007 to extort £4.25 million for the safe return of the painting.

The masterpiece was stolen four years earlier, in August 2003, from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire.

In the dock are: Marshall Ronald, 53, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire; Robert Graham, 57, of Ormskirk, Lancashire, and John Doyle, 61, also of Ormskirk.

Also on trial are two Scottish solicitors, Calum Jones, 45, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire; and David Boyce, 63, from Airdrie in Lanarkshire. They deny the charges against them. They are not accused of the robbery.

The court was played a tape recording of a meeting said to have involved the five accused at the Glasgow offices of Boyds solicitors on July 30 2007.

Jurors heard how Mr Ronald said an "approach" had been made about the painting and that there was a conversation about the legality of trying to secure a reward for the return of the artwork. He wrote that the clients could bring about the safe delivery of the painting within 72 hours and he sought a "without prejudice" meeting with the loss adjuster.

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