The Madonna of the Yarnwinder- Two UK journalists found not guilty of art theft

Advice & Thought Leadership > The Madonna of the Yarnwinder- Two UK journalists found not guilty of art theft

Now justice has prevailed will Jack Doyle and Robbie Graham receive the reward offered by undercover cop representative of Duke of Buccleuch and endorsed by legal team?

EDINBURGH, 21st April 2010. Today in the High Court of Edinburgh, a jury found two private investigators from Liverpool not guilty of conspiracy to extort money from the Duke of Buccleuch. In October 2007 Jack Doyle and Robbie Graham, returned Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder”, stolen in 2003 and the largest ever UK art theft, to an undercover police operative posing as an agent for the Duke of Buccleuch. They, alongside three solicitors, were subsequently arrested and charged with extortion.

“We are delighted that our peers have vindicated us” said Jack Doyle, “If we had been found guilty of these ridiculous charges no stolen art would ever come back again. What we did was to bring back a culturally significant masterpiece which is something neither the police nor the insurers could do. We brought it back, and have been put through two and a half years of hell since. If we had not recovered the Madonna she could possibly have ended up in Russia never to be seen again.”

“This trial should never have happened.” said Robbie Graham. “At every step of the way in bringing back this priceless painting we checked that what we were doing was legal. If it was dodgy then why did we get solicitors involved, offer to take the painting to a police station and agree to hand it over in the boardroom of a leading law firm? We asked three solicitors, and an undercover policeman posing as the agent of the Duke of Buccleuch, and they all said that it was legal. We were determined to save this painting and to do this good thing for history. We have made history”

In July 2007, Jack Doyle and Robbie Graham became aware of the possibility that the Leonardo Da Vinci painting “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder” dating from the early 1500s and believed to be the same model as “The Mona Lisa” could be returned. They then sought and were given assurances from three solicitors that the painting could be brought back legally, and they were told there was a £2 million pound reward for returning the painting. At all stages they were careful to follow the instructions given to them by the solicitors and the undercover agent John Craig and never at any stage did they put the painting at risk. Subsequent actions by the solicitor acting on their behalf were unknown to them until after the return of the painting, and beyond their control.

“I want to make one thing clear. We never asked for any money whatsoever. “continues Jack Doyle,” We asked “Is this legal? And if so and we return the painting, is there a reward?” We were told that yes it was legal and yes, there was a reward of £2 million pounds for this painting which was offered to us by an undercover policeman (known to us as John Craig) acting as the agent for the Duke of Buccleuch and with the full knowledge of his superiors. We kept our side of the bargain. We now expect John Craig to keep his.”

One thing apparent from this trial, apart from the fact the two continually sought reassurance from solicitors that what they were doing was legal, was that they were to receive public recognition for bringing this masterpiece back to its rightful owner, the Duke of Buccleuch. During the negotiations it was agreed that there would be a press call and a meeting at the Duke’s castle, Drumlanrig, with the painting.

Robbie Graham says “We entered into this legal enterprise in order to publicise our business, StolenStuff Reunited. We thought if we can get a Leonardo Da Vinci painting back what a good advertisement it would have been for us! We would love to go to the castle and meet the Duke, it would be an honour to meet him and to explain our side of the story, now that he knows that our intentions were totally honourable. He can call us any time. We would really value his recognition for the work we have done in returning a major part of his family’s heritage.”


Photography available on request

For comment or media interviews please contact Chaz Brooks

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