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Leonardo da Vinci

Jury clears Britons of Da Vinci theft extortion

Three lawyers and two private detectives are now off the hook

After two days of deliberation, a Scottish jury cleared five Britons of an elaborate plot to extort £4.25m for the return of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Madonna of the Yarnwinder. The painting, dating from around 1501-10 and worth an estimated £30m-£50m, was stolen nearly seven years ago during a brazen daytime raid of Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire—the ancestral home of the Dukes of Buccleuch. It was recovered in 2007 in a police raid of a Glasgow law office. The defendants—three lawyers and two private detectives—were not accused of the work’s theft but of acting as middlemen and demanding a hefty finder’s fee for the safe return of the work. The painting is currently on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland.