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Thursday 19 October 2017

Art worth €50k must be handed over, court rules

Andrew Shannon failed to prove ownership of paintings
Andrew Shannon failed to prove ownership of paintings

Paintings worth up to €50,000 that were seized from a Dublin art collector's home must be handed back to the original owners or be given to the State, a court has ruled.

The paintings and antiques were discovered at the home of Andrew Shannon by gardai conducting a criminal investigation.

Detectives had held them since 2014, suspecting that many of the works at Mr Shannon's home had been stolen from hotels, stately homes and other locations.

Owners were found for some of the pieces, but some paintings were unclaimed, despite a nationwide appeal.

Mr Shannon was not charged with any criminal offence.

However, Judge John Coughlan ruled that he had not proved ownership of the paintings and ordered their return or forfeiture.

Mr Shannon, of Willan's Way, Ongar, had contested most of the garda applications, insisting that either he or his brother had bought the works, which had lined the walls of his apartment.

At Dublin District Court he also disputed valuations put forward by gardai and vowed to appeal against the court's findings.

Valuable

The most valuable painting was Holywood Harbour by Brian Ballard, estimated to be worth €15,000. Others were works by Thomas Rose Miles, Kenneth Webb, William Ashford and G Barrett.

Holywood Harbour and another two paintings had gone missing from the Culloden Hotel near Belfast, while another had disappeared from a stately home in England.

An antique book collection worth €3,500 went missing from Maynooth University, where it had been kept for 200 years.

Det Sgt Eugene McCarthy said he had visited Mr Shannon's home three times in the course of investigations.

Mr Shannon told the court he did not know how the books came into his possession.

He said his brother, Gerard, had lived with him for a short time and his nephew, Noel, was still living with him.

They both "bought stuff at markets", he said. It was poss-ible they bought some of the items.

Receipts for other works were produced by Mr Shannon's lawyer, but these were rejected by the court as proving his ownership.

He did not contest some of the garda applications. Further similar cases were adjourned.

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