Vermeer's The Concert

Vermeer's The Concert

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Arrest and Indictment Awaits Proof of Life, Let Alone Recovery !!!

The Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor brought charges against four men at the local court. Stake in art theft the Bankhaus Lampe in July 2008. The crooks captured artworks worth a million.

Works of art worth one million euros disappeared in July 2008 from the Bankhaus Lampe in Düsseldorf. Now four men are accused. Whether they will help in understanding, remains to be seen.

The public prosecutor's Office confirmed that she has raised two charges at the District Court. In one of three men are charged with: two lawyers, 54 and 61 years, will have offered help recover the pictures commissioned a 46-jährigen Bank.
EUR 300 000 would have to pay the Bank for the works of art to almost 9000 euro Anwaltsgebühr. Attempted extortion or instigating and favouring is called the public prosecutor's Office. The accused should have been meaning to help the people who commit to make their prey money.
Images against money
The second indictment accuses those stolen or stolen. He should be involved in the theft or otherwise - possibly through a third - party access to the valuable images have had, because he should have shown pictures of them.

His lawyer Torsten Timm is but sure that these charges can not be proven: "I have at the District Court the request, not only allow the charges." It deems the accusations against his colleagues also groundless: "doing this to help bring the pictures to the owner is not punishable."
Images against money - yet another defendant had offered. But when the 43-jährigen the Prosecutor is safe only bluffing, never had the images. He is accused of fraud. His process would have on 8. July begin to. But because the Defender has applied for further investigation, it was postponed. There's a new date yet.

Art Hostage Comments:

You see this is what happens when proof of life is given and then not followed up upon. Authorities then try to pressure the lawyers by arresting them and charging them as seen in the Da Vinci Madonna case.

Just like the Da Vinci Madonna case, these Lawyers will walk, but unlike the Da Vinci Madonna case, the stolen art has not been recovered.

So, forget about proof of life in the Gardner case, how about Proof of reward and full immunity.

Anyone stepping forward with information about the Gardner case at this time leaves themselves open to arrest, Grand Jury, abuse and without proof of reward, no reward.
Lawyers won't go near the Gardner case at this time because they know what lies beneath.

Just to add again, Art Hostage requires not one dime, repeat, not a single dime, of the alleged Gardner Museum reward offer of $5 million for the return of all, all the stolen Gardner Paintings, in good condition as well as the many other hidden conditions.

Still, we await the time when Proof of Reward and Proof of full immunity in the Gardner case can be offered publicly, so the Gardner art can finally go home.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, Robert Wittman, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants !!!

Retired FBI special agent Robert K. Wittman led the agency’s Art Crime Team and is the author of “Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures’’ (Crown).

Q. You spent two years trying to locate the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Will that crime ever be solved and the artwork returned?

A. I think the paintings will be recovered. However, in many cases we never find out who the thieves were. Several Norman Rockwell paintings were stolen in Minneapolis and recovered in Rio de Janeiro, for example, and I still don’t know who stole them. The important thing always is to get the paintings back.

Q. Best guess where the Gardner Museum paintings are?

A. The south of France or Spain.

Q. Many potential culprits have surfaced over the years, including Whitey Bulger. Ever come close to crossing paths with Whitey?

A. No. There’s a lot of folklore surrounding this case that I never gave much credence to, either.

Q. If artwork this valuable is so hard to sell, why do thieves keep stealing it?

A. How many big art thefts have there been in the US recently? Not many. Fraud cases and forgeries, yes. But it’s a different story in Europe, where other legal systems come into play.

Q. Also less security?

A. To some degree, but that still begs the question: Why steal this stuff? To make money, of course, which is why I say the real art to art theft is not the stealing, it’s the selling. These guys are usually good crooks but terrible businessmen. Especially in Europe, though, thieves also use stolen artwork as bargaining chips.

Q. As in, I’ll trade you this missing Picasso for a lighter sentence in a drug case?

A. Exactly. In the US, we can’t negotiate like that.

Q. As an undercover agent, what’s the hairiest situation you found yourself in?

A. My biggest moments of terror were when I thought the bad guys had figured things out and we weren’t going to get the artwork back. Personal danger? That’s something cops and agents accept every day. I worried more that I’d said something wrong and lost a shot at closing the deal.

Q. You had a hand in recovering over $225 million in stolen art and antiquities. Proudest moment?

A. Recovering the Rembrandt self-portrait stolen from the Swedish National Museum — it was valued at $36 million — was great, because we’d just formed the Art Crime Team and that case gave us a big push. It’s not always about the money, though. I recovered a Civil War banner carried into battle by one of the country’s first African-American regiments. At least five soldiers died carrying it, which makes its historical value priceless.

Q. With your book out, you’ve become pretty recognizable. So, no more undercover work?

A. I don’t do that anymore, no, which has actually been a big relief. But I do help others do it.

Interview was condensed and edited.

Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at

Art Hostage Comments:

Despite the negative spin by some within the FBI and other Govt Agencies, Robert Wittman has secured a special place in the hearts of the American People.

His story is one of true grit, selfless determination and reflected in an honest, humble manner.

There are so many negative things about the FBI and other Govt agencies Robert Wittman could have said, been justified in saying, and most of us lesser mortals would have said.

However, integrity intact, Robert Wittman walked the fine line and has established himself as Standing on the shoulders of Giants.

In the not too distant future it will be revealed just how "straight as a gun barrel" Robert Wittman was in his career, via a court case concerning the recovery of two world famous stolen paintings.

Then we will never "Forget Paris"

More to follow.............................

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Art Heist, FBI "Good" Soldier Geoff Kelly Unplugged !!

First Person: Geoffrey Kelly

On March 18 1990 I was visiting New York’s Museum of Natural History when I overheard someone say that thieves at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston had just got away with the biggest art heist in history – half a billion dollars worth. I’d recently graduated from film school at Boston University, yet I’d never heard of the museum. I worked in the television industry and could never have predicted that eventually I’d spend eight years leading the FBI’s hunt to recover the artwork.

The heist was pulled off by two men who posed as police officers, tied up the museum guards with duct tape, and spent 81 minutes stealing 13 works of art. There are only 36 Vermeers in existence, and the one they stole, “The Concert”, is the only one that’s not accounted for. Their haul also included a Manet and three Rembrandts, one of which, “Storm on the Sea of Galilee”, was his only known seascape.

Although I went into television, I’d always wanted to be an FBI agent. I became a transit cop in New York and then joined the FBI. Eight years ago, I was on the organisation’s Violent Crime Squad, which is the squad that was working on the heist investigation, and the case was assigned to me. I had no experience working in this area, so there was a lot of on-the-job training with the FBI’s art crime team. We spoke to curators, restorers, specialists from auction houses and other art theft investigators. That doesn’t mean to say that we’re all art experts, but it helps us understand how the art black market works, and now I’m the FBI’s art theft co-ordinator. As for my own taste in art, maybe I’m biased from this case, but I’ve always liked the Dutch Masters.

After eight years, it would be difficult for me to not have my own theories on who stole the art. But one of the hardest things about being the lead investigator on a case of this magnitude is that while I have my own ideas, I have to be open-minded. I have to investigate all theories, and leads come in all the time. Sometimes the leads are obscure or ambiguous, where somebody calls up and says this guy they know looks like one of the subjects in the sketches. Then there are the ones where people have psychic visions. Once somebody said they had devised a scientific instrument that they believed could locate the paintings. In 2005, we had a tip that some of the artwork was in Paris so we went over and ran everything down to the ground. We got back in touch with Paris after the art heist there in May at the Museum of Modern Art, when $123m worth of art was stolen, but there didn’t seem to be any connections.

According to Isabella Stewart Gardner’s will, nothing can be added or removed from the collection, so the empty frames are still on the museum walls. The museum is offering a $5m reward, and the US Attorney’s office is willing to offer immunity in return for the paintings. I’m very optimistic that the artwork will come back – it’s just a question of when. In 1978, a Rembrandt was stolen from San Francisco’s de Young Museum and it was recovered 20 years later. People steal artwork and then sit on it, thinking that it’s going to stop being so hot. Unfortunately for the Boston thieves, they carried out the largest art heist in the world, so those paintings are always going to be hot.

Art Hostage Comments:

Comments to follow..............

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Christ's True Cross Boston, Art Hostage Had To Keep Quiet !!

Relic of cross stolen from cathedral

Archdiocese prays for its recover

A janitor at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross entered the church’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel early one recent morning and made a startling discovery: A thief had pried open a panel covering a small glass case and stolen a small piece of wood venerated by Catholics as a fragment of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

The relic, one of the oldest and most treasured possessions of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has not been seen since, and now on the wall in the dim chapel hangs a cross with its base pried open and an empty cavity where the relic once rested.

“We are deeply troubled that this sacred relic was stolen, and we pray for those responsible,’’ the Rev. Kevin J. O’Leary, rector of the cathedral, said yesterday. “We ask the faithful of the Archdiocese of Boston to join the cathedral’s parishioners in praying every day for its return.’’

The relic disappeared sometime between 10 a.m. on June 30 and 8 a.m. on July 1, according to a police report. The theft was re ported Sunday by The Lady in the Pew, a blog written by Kelly Thatcher, who describes herself as “a Roman Catholic lady who loves being a Roman Catholic lady.’’ The theft was confirmed to the Globe yesterday by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Lieutenant Detective Michael Conley said police believe that the relic was stolen by someone who visited the chapel during the day because there were no signs of forced entry. The relic, he said, was last seen by a church official at 10 a.m. June 30. Nothing else was missing from the chapel, he said.

“Somebody knew what it was,’’ he said.

He said investigators are scouring eBay to see if the relic might turn up. Last night, a Globe search of eBay found a dozen items under a search for “true cross relic,’’ with price tags ranging from $105.49 to $3,800.

The relic arrived in Boston in the late 18th century, a gift to a French missionary priest, the Rev. Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus, who later became the first bishop of Boston.

The relic was given to Cheverus by Abbe Claude de la Poterie, the first pastor of the cathedral, who was also a French priest, as well as a onetime chaplain in the French Navy.

De la Poterie celebrated the first public Mass in Boston on Nov. 2, 1788.

The relic is one of many around the world that are said to be parts of the “True Cross.’’ Churches have professed to have relics of the cross since the fourth century; the authenticity is often disputed, but the relics are nonetheless significant objects of prayer for many Catholics.

“The relic of the True Cross is an important sacramental that helps Christians contemplate the crucified Savior and the great suffering He endured for the salvation of the world,’’ said archdiocesan spokesman Terrence C. Donilon.

Boston’s first Catholic church, completed on Franklin Street in 1803, was named the Church of the Holy Cross.

The church was designated a cathedral in 1808, when the Diocese of Boston was established; the current cathedral, on Washington Street in the South End, was completed in 1875.

The north transept window at the cathedral depicts the legendary discovery of the cross by Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine. In the scene, a dead woman is restored to life after the cross is laid upon her.

The south transept window depicts another story associated with the cross: return of the relic to Jerusalem by a Byzantine emperor after it was stolen by the Persian army in the seventh century.

On a day-to-day basis, people visiting the chapel often stop to pray before the relic, said the Rev. Jonathan Gaspar, an aide to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley. Yesterday at midday, a lone man stood in the chapel, praying.

“What they’re doing many a time is they are uniting their own suffering, their own darkness, to the suffering of Christ, in the hope that through Christ’s power and mediation, they will have light and experience the glory, even in this life, of the resurrection,’’ Gaspar said.

On Good Friday, the cross that holds the relic is brought into the cathedral, and people are invited to come forward and venerate the cross by genuflecting and kneeling in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus, Gaspar said.

“When a bishop comes forward to venerate the cross on Good Friday, the Ceremonial of Bishops [the book of liturgical instruction for bishops] suggests that he come to venerate without the zucchetto [the bishop’s skull cap] and without shoes,’’ Gaspar said.

“He comes forward to venerate the cross as the Emperor Heraclius did, barefoot and bareheaded.’’

Art Hostage Comments:

Bad vibes, bad vibes, this is all bad vibes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Gardner Heist, Paris Heist, I Don't Like Mondays !!!!

Art Hostage has some news, well of a sort, can't give it all away just yet.

First of all it's "Brace Yourself" time again.

Excuse the French, no pun intended, "The Shit is about to hit the fan, big time"

All will become apparent in due course but there is a Cat and Mouse game going on here with certain parties waiting for Art Hostage to reveal too much, then they can use that excuse to harass Art Hostage again.

I will not play, well just a little then, he he !!!

Art Hostage has been called upon to give his advice on the current efforts being made in relation to the Gardner art and the Paris Heist.

First of all, Art Hostage wants not a dime, not a single cent of the $5 million reward offered in the Gardner case, which makes life a whole lot easier.

The Paris Heist is different, BRB are right in the middle of their active stuff, mustn't go into too much detail today, shh.

There is a Power Play going on in France at this time and two camps have emerged.

First camp are French political and they want to deal, release certain criminals early and drop charges against others and give lesser jail time in exchange for the Paris paintings to be returned.

This camp are supported by those who want the Gardner art to be included into the package and voices from America are getting louder. Still, the French connection to the Gardner art is a proxy and other entities need to agree. This may sound a little confusing, or Irish, because it is !!!

A little thing Robert Wittman left out of his book is Whitey Bulger's stay in France.

When the FBI proof read Bob's book they were more interested to see if Bob made any reference to Whitey Bulger, which was, and still is the main concern for the FBI.

The Nightmare scenario is about to become a reality regarding the Gardner case and the hidden secret is about to be revealed. All this time Law Enforcement and others have managed to suppress the Whitey Bulger secrets.

Funny how the Napoleon finial, given as a gift, presents appreciation, "you know who" loved it and cherished it. So, funny enough, the finial stolen from the Gardner Museum will prove to be the hardest thing to recover, funny old world !!!!

However, on the other side in the French battle to recover the Paris art and Gardner art, are Law Enforcement, BRB and others who want to be allowed to investigate as normal and try to sting the Paris art back and make further arrests, and also try to recover the Gardner art in that vain as well.

It is getting territorial and nasty, with both sides running to Politicians for support.

President Nickolas Sarkozy is on the deal-making side, not least as his ex-wife, Cecilia's stolen jewellery is on the menu to be recovered and that will give him less domestic grief.

The French Crime Minister wants no part of a hand back deal and is on the side of Law Enforcement and the BRB.

Hope to have good news soon, that is on the recovery side.

Art Hostage will take his lead from the French President, do the deal, or as Robert Wittman always said: "It's a done deal"

Next, yes, anyone giving information about the whereabouts of the Gardner Art will be required to testify to a Grand Jury about exactly what they know and how they came by the information that led to the recovery of the Gardner art. Yes also to the fact any taking of the Fifth Amendment is null and void before the Grand Jury and they will be expected to testify against those who may have been handling the Gardner art.

The current negotiations have been relayed to Art Hostage via Underworld contacts, "Top of the morning" and "Bonjour" and Art Hostage has been truthful throughout.

The link of course is idealistic Republican aspirations and cigarette smuggling.

The revolving door of art theft is going on as before with the Bob Wittman recoveries of the two Picasso's and the group involving Bernard Ternus coming back, and the Picasso, Matisse and Gardner art outstanding.

In the UK, things are not so large, a Group of Miniature situations is developing.

Closer to home, Art Hostage is still waiting for the next unwarranted visit to harass and annoy.

Lots more to follow as the week progresses..........................

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Da Vinci Madonna, Peeling Back The Verneer Reveals Festering Deceitful Poison !!

Leonardo da Vinci case and investigation costs revealed

The costs of a Leonardo da Vinci theft investigation and extortion case at the High Court have exceeded £350,000.

The figures were obtained by the BBC via Freedom of Information requests.

Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary has spent nearly £250,000 on its operations since the Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen in 2003.

Prosecution costs of two extortion cases, which did not result in any convictions, have been estimated at a little more than £130,000.

The figure does not include defence costs for the accused during their trial.

The artwork, worth an estimated £40m, was taken from the Duke of Buccleuch's Drumlanrig Estate north of Dumfries in August 2003.

It sparked one of the biggest police operations in the history of Scotland's smallest force.

About £25,000 was used in police and support staff overtime, expenses and investigation costs in the first year of inquiries.

Det Ch Insp Michael Dalgleish said the theft investigation had been a "significant" one.

"When the crime happened it is important to realise what type of crime we were investigating," he said.

"This was a brazen daylight attack at Drumlanrig Castle with two men who entered the premises armed - one with an axe, one with a crowbar - and assaulted a young female member of staff and threatened her with violence.

"They stole a painting that is obviously significant in terms of value and art worldwide.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the people involved in the planning for this crime and the actual execution of it are operating at the very highest level and are involved in organised crime in the UK."

Annual police costs dwindled to a little more than £100 in 2005/06.

However, they rose to about £185,000 between 2007 and 2009 as an undercover investigation began.

'Not unreasonable'

Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said police had been "duty bound" to follow up on information they received that someone had possession of the painting and was seeking money for its return.

"That operation was fairly lengthy and by the very nature of it, it was sophisticated and delicate," he explained.

"It resulted in some costs being incurred but I think if you look at the seven or eight years since the painting was stolen and balance out the costs that Dumfries and Galloway have incurred I don't think it's unreasonable by any means.

"If you were to ask me would I make the same decisions again in terms of that undercover deployment - yes, I would without question."

The investigation resulted in five men being accused of conspiring to extort £4.25m for the painting's safe return at a lengthy trial in the High Court in Edinburgh earlier this year.

The case was found not proven against three individuals with the other two found not guilty.

Charges against three other men accused of a similar extortion conspiracy were dropped shortly afterwards.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it did not routinely record the costs of prosecuting individual cases.

However, it was able to identify a number of areas of expenditure in the case which went to trial.

Case preparation costs, trial preparation, preliminary hearings and the trial itself were estimated to have cost £134,713.

The costs of the second case were "absorbed" within the estimates for the first.

Despite the lack of convictions, Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said that gathering sufficient evidence to take the case to court was something the force was proud of.

"The jury will make the decision that they are charged to do, that is beyond my control," he said.

"For us the result, if you like, was getting the evidence against those individuals to that position where the jury can make a decision."

He added that police remained determined to find whoever took the painting nearly seven years ago.


High Court in Edinburgh
  • Case preparation - £70,000
  • Trial preparation - £19,813
  • Preliminary hearings - £3,400
  • Trial costs - £41,500
  • Total - £134,713
* 2003/04 - £26,151.25
* 2004/05 - £5,557.98
* 2005/06 - £124.17
* 2006/07 - £12,884.69
* 2007/08 - £134,497.34
* 2008/09 - £50,694.24
* 2009/10 - £8,219.09
* Total - £238,128.76

Art Hostage Comments:

It would be easy to request the Duke of Buccleuch pay these costs.

However, perhaps this is all part of the PR campaign and adds to the attempt not to pay any reward or fee's for services rendered, other than the huge payout to Mark Dalrymple and of course the huge payment which will be made to John Craig, the Undercover Police Officer from S.O.C.A. when he retires, nudge, nudge, wink wink !!!

So, if the Duke pays this bill, he can appear to regain some credibility and moral high ground, hmmm, we'll see, we'll see indeed.

As Art Hostage has said before, this snide, double dealing does not give confidence to those who have control of the Gardner art, Vermeer in particular.

Long Live The Freedom of Information Act

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”


Dumfries and Galloway have spent £250,000.00 on its operations since The Madonna of the Yarnwinder was stolen in 2003.

The Prosecution costs have been estimated at a little more that £130,000.00.

These figure do no include the defence costs of the eight accused men five of whom were acquitted by a jury and three of whom the Crown elected not to continue to prosecute in the public interest.

The Crown employed 2 Queens Counsel and three junior counsel supported by the Procurator Fiscal Service at a cost estimated at £134,713

For the defence costs of the eight defendants it would not be unreasonable to multiply the prosecution costs by eight and that takes account of the low rates of pay the Scottish Legal Aid Board allow. Say £135k x 8 to produce defence costs of £1,080,000

The breakdown of the costs reveals that between 2003 and 2006 little more than £100,000.00 was spent and you would have thought that the major police activity would take place in the immediate aftermath of the robbery.

In fact the report indicates that £25,000.00 was spent in the first year which would have involved calling upon the worldwide resources of law enforcement including the FBI and Interpol.

"However the figures rose to about £185,000.00 between 2007 and 2009 as an undercover operation began"

At a glance it is apparent that more money was spent post recovery seeking to secure convictions than pre recovery seeking to discover who committed the robbery. The police clearly took their eyes off the ball because they cannot answer two questions

· Who stole the painting?

· Where did the £350,000 paid to secure control of the painting go?

Lets be absolutely clear about a few matters

The undercover covert operation commenced in June 2004 involving Michael Brown

The Michael Brown lead effectively ended in May 2007

Only two undercover officers were involved.

In evidence DI Gary Coupland stated that as of 10 August 2007 there were only two officers from Dumfries and Galloway actively assigned to the case.

It would be safe to assume that the two undercover officers assigned to the Brown case had been released to undertake other duties.

So far as he recovery of the painting was concerned all activity took place between 14 August 2007 and the date of the recovery on 4 October 2007.

This is less than seven weeks.

On the day of the recovery an astonishing 80 officers were involved.

Apart from the handover of the painting all communication was by telephone, email and fax save for one 45 minute meeting at Euston station on 30 September 2007.

It would be reasonable to assume that the undercover operation ceased on 4 October 2007 so the breakdown of the figure seems to be masking how the resources have actually been deployed.

The accused were not under surveillance apart from the Euston meeting and day of handover so how do the police explain this massive use of resource

Interestingly no reference is made to the costs of SOCA or SEDA or Strathcylde Police all of whom were given credit when the arrests were made

Is the Duke of Buccleuch so powerful that no expense is spared when it comes to protecting his interests?

SOCA and the real people behind the robbery may well have played Dumfries and Galloway Police.

The police acknowledge that: "there is no doubt in my mind that the people involved in the planning for this crime and the actual execution of it are operating at the very highest level and are involved in organised crime in the UK." Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said police had been "duty bound" to follow up on information they received that someone had possession of the painting and was seeking money for its return. "That operation was fairly lengthy and by the very nature of it, it was sophisticated and delicate," he explained.

The whole SOCA operation was based on the premise of a commercial buyback. So it was never a position of someone having possession of the painting seeking money for its return. It was made absolutely clear from the outset that this was a window of opportunity whereby parties could assist in the facilitation of the paintings return on a commercial basis. This was the SOCA plan of which the Duke of Buccleuch played an integral part.

If innocent parties were involved in that, then that could achieve the first objective namely safe recovery of the painting. There after police enquiry may have been able to trace matters back, but there were no guarantees.

"It resulted in some costs being incurred but I think if you look at the seven or eight years since the painting was stolen and balance out the costs that Dumfries and Galloway have incurred I don't think it's unreasonable by any means.”

If you were aware of the SOCA meeting information being withheld from you, then you would be outraged. It seems to be abundantly clear that SOCA and Mark Dalrymple kept Dumfries and Galloway Police in the dark about the Gatwick Airport Hilton meeting thereby affording them plausible deniability.

It is anticipated that the current Independent Police Complaints Commission Investigation against SOCA will establish that Dumfries and Galloway Police were not advised of the Gatwick Airport Hilton meeting in January 2007

"If you were to ask me would I make the same decisions again in terms of that undercover deployment - yes, I would without question."

With due respect to Detective Chief Inspector Dalgleish you have to wonder who has been asking him this very question

With respect Inspector Dalgleish no you would not. You are clearly an officer with integrity and SOCA have placed you into a position that in untenable. You clearly are unaware of the SOCA meeting and thus you have plausible deniability

Despite the lack of convictions, Det Ch Insp Dalgleish said that gathering sufficient evidence to take the case to court was something the force was proud of. "The jury will make the decision that they are charged to do, that is beyond my control," he said.

"For us the result, if you like, was getting the evidence against those individuals to that position where the jury can make a decision."

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”


A jury can only make a true decision where everyone plays by the rules and had SOCA played by the rules and disclosed the evidence of the meeting at the Gatwick Airport Hilton in January 2007 then the Crown could not have mounted a conspiracy prosecution based on a conspiracy alleged to have commenced in July 2007 which undercover officers joined in.

Lord Carloway in the Court of Appeal stated.


1. A Police Officer must not act as an 'agent provocateur'. This means they must not

(a) Incite or procure a person, nor through that person anybody else, to commit an offence, or an offence of a more serious character, which that person would not otherwise have committed.

(b) Through pressure, encouragement or inducement invite any person to commit an offence, which that person would never otherwise have been committing. (Weir v Jessop 1991 SCCR 636)

2. However, a Police Officer is entitled to join a conspiracy, which is already in being...


4. Police Officers are entitled to use the tool of infiltration of groups or organisations. In such a case it is proper for the undercover officer to show interest in, and enthusiasm for proposals made even though they are unlawful, but, in so doing, they must try to tread the difficult line between showing the necessary interest and enthusiasm to keep their cover (and pursue their investigation) and actually becoming an agent provocateur. Invariably this means you enter a criminal conspiracy or become part of a pre-arranged criminal offence.


6. Police Officers must bear in mind that the court will scrutinise carefully the role of the Officer in undercover operations and take into account the circumstances in which evidence was obtained. The principle of fairness will be applied by the court.

7. Police Officers must be conversant with Article 6 (the right to fair trial) and Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights".

The Trial Judge accepted that from this point, when they first became involved with the accused, the primary objective of the police was the recovery of the painting, rather than to arrest anyone involved in its theft or reset. Any such arrest would be ancillary to the main objective. As soon as they heard of the contact between Mr Ronald and Mr Dalrymple, the police were suspicious of the actings of Mr Ronald and those he purported to represent. The Trial Judge also accepted that the undercover police, who were under the supervision of senior officers, acted in good faith throughout the events which then followed. He accepted too that, but for the use of undercover techniques, it is unlikely that the painting would have been recovered. He regarded the use of such techniques as "both sensible, from an operational point of view, and proportionate"

“In applying the recognised test, the first point of significance is that the crown are alleging that all five accused conspired to extort money from the owners of the painting and that this conspiracy started on 30 July 2007, before any undercover policemen became involved”

The suppression of evidence before the entrapment hearing in front of Lord Mackay renders the proceeding farce. Had the judge heard the evidence of the two SOCA officers and Mark Dalrymple conspiring in January 2007 six months before the accused had even heard of the painting, he could not possible have reached the conclusions he did. SOCA ran roughshod over the instructions to undercover officers and thereby acted without lawful authority. The rules are there for a reason and when the rules are broken then the system fails. SOCA has not only fallen below the professional standards demanded of them by society they have also let down their professional colleagues in Dumfries and Galloway.

As Mark Dalrymple and two SOCA officers gave evidence before him questions may arise as to their motivations before the Court. The Duke of Buccleuch’s evidence was to the effect that he knew nothing of the recovery operation until the day of the recovery.

I wonder how angry Lord Mackay, Lord Reid, Lord Carloway and Lord Menzies would be to discover how they were deceived in respect of the SOCA meeting at Gatwick Airport.

The figures quoted seem conservative and the resources clearly are top heavy in seeking to procure convictions. The Da Vinci case was strategically flawed from the moment the recovery strategy switched from the Brown case. The buy back idea achieved its objective because the painting was recovered. The strategy to build a case against the returners rather than to follow the £350,000 is baffling.

On the 10 August 2007 an open offer was made to repatriate the painting within 72 hours. I took until 4 October 2007 purely to accommodate police requests for their holidays.

This case has exercised some of the finest legal brains in Scotland both on and off the bench. The acquittals have been a vindication of the jury system and highly embarrassing to the Crown and Dumfries and Galloway Police.

So who has played whom in the Da Vinci case?

· The Duke has his painting back, so far at no expense,

· Persons unknown are £350,000 in cash better off. Presumably serious and organised criminals

· SOCA are facing an investigation by the IPCC

· Dumfries and Galloway Police are facing complaints which may end up with the Scottish Police Complaints Commissioner

· Mark Dalrymple is facing an inquiry into his conduct by the Institute of Professional Loss Adjusters

· Hiscox have paid no reward due to police objection

The outcome of the enquiries underway is eagerly awaited and the civil actions may well grace the courts for some time to come

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”



So much breaking news

Lord Stewartby Coin Collection in Play

Lord Stewartby's coin collection, remember expenses allowed, then as soon as there is a glimse of the coin collection, Police swoop and recover the Lord Stewartby Coin collection and arrest everyone within a ten mile radius. Remember what happened with the Da Vinci Madonna, John Craig posed as a representative of the Duke of Buccleuch but in reality was an Undercover Police Officer.

Also, do you remember Peter Sonny Martin O'Halloran, the prolific professional art thief ???

Well, he is meant to be in jail serving seven years as I recall. Wonder if he has gone walkabout again ???

Moving over to Canada, a suposedly rare Chinese scroll painting was stolen from a Mall shop and reputed to be worth $200,000, they have CCTV images. Could it be Darryl Vincent, Ray Hobin or even mobile phone provider Aaron Syberg, usual suspects ???

Finally, hope this is not true, but a whisper is Longleat Furniture robbery. Please tell me this is not true, not another Police failure after Art Hostage warned May 2009 Longleat was in the sights of the Art Underworld again and pointed out the security flaw that should have been fixed.

“Everybody’s playing the game but nobody’s rules are the same”


Sorry for the print size, template playing up


Firle Place Porcelain Sweden, Hmmmm, who do we know has long standing Swedish connections ??