Category: Archive

Art thieves hit again hit Russborough House

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Two of the five masterpieces taken this time, including one by Rubens, had been stolen in another raid in 1986.
They are valued at up to euro 50 million, though experts have said they are priceless.
Gardai were alerted Sunday at 6 a.m. when an alarm was sounded from Russborough, the stately home of the late South African diamond millionaire Sir Alfred Beit.
Police found a window smashed at the rear of the house. A stolen jeep found abandoned a short distance away is believed to have been reversed up steps to ram the window.
Beit, a former British MP and parliamentary private secretary at the Colonial Office, donated the collection to the nation. He was later made an honorary citizen, the highest accolade the State can bestow.
The five paintings taken were Rubens’s “Portrait of Dominican Monk” and “Venus Supplicating Jupiter,” Wilem Van Dervelde’s “The Calm Sea,” Adrien Van Ostade’s “The Adoration of the Shepherd” and Jacob Van Ruisdael’s “The Corn Field.”
Two of the paintings were previously stolen in 1986. “The Portrait of a Dominican Monk” and “The Corn Field” were both recovered in 1993.
The latest break-in came just two days after gardai had recovered two other Beit paintings taken in a previous robbery.
Gainsborough’s “Madame Baccelli” and Bernardo Bellotto’s “View of Florence,” both stolen last year, are currently being examined for possible damage in the National Gallery.
The first raid on the collection in 1975 involved a republican gang. All 19 paintings taken were later recovered.
A 1986 raid is accepted as being the work of a gang led by the notorious Dublin gangster Martin “The General” Cahill. He was never charged in connection with the robbery before he was shot dead near his Ranelagh home in Dublin in 1994. His assassin was believed to have been an IRA gunman.
Last year a gang ram-raided the front door of Russborough with a jeep and made off with two paintings.
Over the years stolen Beit paintings have turned up in Britain, Belgium, Turkey and Ireland.

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