Legal Ethics

3 UK Lawyers Charged in $7.6M Extortion Scheme re $54M Da Vinci Painting

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Three United Kingdom lawyers reportedly are among a group of five men charged with conspiring or attempting to extort $7.6 million for the safe return of a $54 million Leonardo da Vinci painting stolen from a Scottish castle in 2003.

The theft made the FBI’s top 10 list of art crimes and reportedly is the largest ever in the U.K.

“The men are accused of contacting a loss adjuster, whom they believed to be acting for the insurers of the painting, and stating that they could return the artwork within 72 hours. It is alleged they said the masterpiece would not be returned unless 2 million pounds [$3.59 million] was deposited in an account at Marshall Solicitors, formerly known as Marshall Gilby Solicitors, and a further 2.25 million pounds [$4.04 million] placed in a Swiss bank account,” recounts the Independent. This conduct allegedly took place last year.

David Boyce, 61, who is a partner at the U.K. law firm of HBJ Gatelye Wareing, is among those charged with conspiring or attempting to extort money concerning the return of the masterpiece, according to the newspaper and Legal Week. A former partner of the firm, Calum Jones, 43, has been charged, too, and a third lawyer, solicitor Marshall Ronald, 52, also is among the five defendants.

Boyce reportedly plans to resign from the law firm at the end of the month and he and Jones have pleaded not guilty at the High Court in Glasgow. (Ronald apparently has not yet pleaded.)

Related coverage:

Skelmersdale Advertiser: “Da Vinci solicitor in new probe”

FBI Top Ten Art Crimes: “Theft of Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder”

Guardian: “A £30m Da Vinci masterpiece stolen for the price of a £6 ticket to a Scottish castle”

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