October 4, 2012

"Rembrandt" painting seized by Croydon police four months ago declared a fake (Scotland Yard confirmed to Croydon Advertiser)

Reporter Gareth Davies, in an exclusive article, reported the arrest of a businessman 'in possesion of what is believed to be a stolen Rembrandt painting' in June (This Croydon Today, UK, 'Stolen Rembrandt' painting seized in Croydon police raid, June 22, 2012):
The oil on canvas, believed to be worth more than £2 million, was recovered during a special police operation in Croydon High Street on Monday last week. A man in his sixties was arrested and taken to Croydon Police Station. Scotland Yard said the arrest was part of an ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act investigation by officers from the Met's specialist crime directorate. Detectives refused to comment on whether a painting by Dutch master Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was among the items seized during the operation. But a source told the Advertiser: "The way the officers were handling the painting and keeping it safe, they clearly believed it was a Rembrandt." It is understood the painting has been sent away to experts to be authenticated. The arrested businessman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, lives in Surrey.
Tom Gardner for the Daily Mail asked: "Has 'stolen Rembrandt worth £2million' been found in CROYDON? Businessman arrested after police raid as art experts try to verify painting" (June 22, 2012):
Police were seen treating the potentially precious object with extreme caution as they removed the work from the building in south London following the raid on Monday June 11. Now experts have been called in to examine the work of art to establish if the work recovered, really is a Rembrandt masterpiece. Scotland Yard, who are being tight-lipped about which one of the 205 currently missing works by the Dutch master, also arrested a businessman in his sixties. Detectives from the Metropolitan Police's specialist crime directorate made the discovery during a long-running investigation aimed at recovering assets from criminals.
Gardner interviewed Dick Ellis, an ARCA Trustee and lecturer:
Security expert Richard Ellis, who has worked with the Met Police's specialist Art and Antiques squad, said: 'If this is a genuine Rembrandt oil painting, I think £2million would be a massive undervaluation. 
'If you were to put one before an auction today it would fetch between £30million and £50million. 
Mr Ellis, who last year was part of the team which recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso stolen from a Swiss exhibition in 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia, added: 'To sell a real Rembrandt on the open market would be really, really difficult. 
'Any buyer undertaking their due diligence would look at the catalogues of Rembrandts and it wouldn't take them very long to see it was stolen.' 
'Stealing to order is fiction. They may get stolen and used as a form of currency or as collateral. 
'The media would publish the valuation at the time of the theft and the criminal would work on the basis that it would be worth to them anywhere between three and ten per cent, because that's what it can get passed across on the black market. 
'It acts as a sort of international currency.'
In October, less than four months after the initial report, "GarethD2011" reported for the "Croydon Advertiser" that the "Rembrandt masterpiece seized in Croydon was a fake" (October 4, 2012):
A REMBRANDT masterpiece seized in Croydon was a fake, the Advertiser can reveal. Businessman Shaun Stopford-Claremont, 62, was arrested in possession of the painting during a special police operation in Croydon High Street in June. The painting was then sent to top art experts to be authenticated. If a genuine work of the Dutch master it could have been worth as much as £50 million. But this week Scotland Yard confirmed to the Advertiser the painting is a forgery. Mr Stopford-Claremont, of Redhill, Surrey, has since been re-bailed until December 11. His arrest was part of an ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act investigation by officers from the Met's specialist crime directorate. Police would not initially confirm the painting was among a number of items seized.

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