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Saturday 18 November 2017

Man questioned over Monet attack

Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

A west Dublin man in his 40s is expected to appear in court this week in connection with the criminal damage of the National Gallery's only Claude Monet painting, which is insured for €7m.

Gardai from Pearse Street station were questioning the 46-year-old yesterday evening in relation to the incident, in which, it is understood, a man was seen lunging at the painting, attempting to wrest it from the wall and then punching a hole in it.

The man has previously been questioned by police in relation to other incidents at galleries and stately homes in England.

He was arrested in Castle Howard in Yorkshire in 2009 in connection with an incident in which he was said to have been caught after taking two watercolours and placing them in a laptop bag.

He was described in court as unemployed and illiterate and was questioned about incidents in six stately homes in which antiques and paintings were stolen.

A court subsequently heard he was also carrying a walkie talkie at Castle Howard and was in communication with an unnamed accomplice.

Examination of a sat nav in a car led police to believe he had visited six stately homes across Britain in the three days before his arrest.

He pleaded guilty to six counts of burglary and was jailed for three years.

The court heard the man had suffered ill health since being involved in a car accident.

After the incident on Friday morning at the gallery's Millennium Wing, the man was taken briefly to St James's Hospital where he was later arrested and taken to Pearse Street station.

He is being questioned about the criminal damage of the painting under Criminal Justice legislation.

The 1874 work, 'Argenteuil Basin With A Single Sailboat', was bequeathed to the gallery in 1924 and is the only Monet among the gallery's collection of modern European masters.

The Gallery director Sean Rainbird described it as a "shocking and very regrettable incident".

Sunday Independent

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