Men demanded £4.25 for Leonardo Da Vinci work





Five men demanded £4.25 million for the safe return of a Leonardo da Vinci painting, a court has heard.

The Madonna With The Yarnwinder was taken from Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway, in August 2003.

Robert Graham, 56, John Doyle, 59, and Marshall Ronald, 52, all from Lancashire, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow along with Calum Jones, 43, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, and David Boyce, 61, from Airdrie in Lanarkshire.

The men are accused of conspiring to extort or attempting to extort money by demanding the safe return of the masterpiece.

They are also charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Four of the men - Graham and Doyle, who are both from Ormskirk, Jones and Boyce - pleaded not guilty to the offences.

Ronald, of Skelmersdale, made no plea.

It is alleged the offences happened between July 18 and October 4 last year.

The men are accused of contacting a loss adjuster whom they believed to be acting for the insurers of the painting and stated that they could return the artwork within 72 hours.

It is alleged they said the masterpiece would not be returned unless £2 million was deposited in an account at Marshall Solicitors, formerly known as Marshall Gilby Solicitors, and a further £2.25 million was placed in a Swiss Bank account.

Judge Lord Brailsford continued the case until November 10 for a further preliminary hearing.

The picture, which has been valued at over £30 million, belonged to the Duke of Buccleuch, who died last September after a short illness, at the age of 83.

Painted in oils on a small panel, it had been in his family for two centuries and was admired by thousands of visitors to the castle every year.

The picture depicts the Madonna with the infant Jesus holding a cross-shaped yarnwinder and is believed to have been painted between 1500 and 1510.

Its disappearance from the stately home became the UK's biggest art theft.




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