herald

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Vandal who punched €9m Monet to be extradited on art theft charge

Andrew Shannon damaging the Monet in the National Gallery in 2012
Andrew Shannon damaging the Monet in the National Gallery in 2012

A criminal who was previously jailed for damaging a €9m Monet painting at the National Gallery is due to be extradited from England today to face fresh charges here.

Andrew Shannon (53) has been serving a short sentence in England for burglary.

It can now be revealed that gardai are travelling to London today to escort him back to Dublin after a European arrest warrant was issued against him.

The warrant relates to the theft of a painting at a hotel in Co Cork, which was discovered by Pearse Street gardai when they raided his home in Ongar, west Dublin, in April 2014 and seized around 60 artworks.

Investigations have established that Shannon was allegedly staying at the hotel when the painting was stolen.

Shannon has 35 previous criminal convictions in Ireland for offences including theft and burglary, as well as convictions for similar offences in the UK.

His latest conviction here dates from June 2016, when he was jailed for six months after he was caught with 57 stolen antique books, including an extremely rare King James Bible, worth a total of €6,500.

Dublin Circuit Court heard that the 57 stolen books had originated in the library of Carton House in Kildare, the historical seat of the FitzGerald family.

However, Shannon's most notable criminal conviction was when he received four-and-a-half years in jail for damaging the Claude Monet painting Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat (1874) at the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare Street, Dublin, on June 29, 2012.

Shannon was captured on CCTV moving forward in the direction of the painting with his arm raised and striking the artwork, causing a substantial tear.

The State's case was that the damage was premeditated and deliberate.

Shannon, however, contended that he had fallen accidentally after suffering a coronary episode.

Eyewitnesses from New Zealand said they saw Shannon punch the painting and expert evidence established the force of the blow.

Shannon, who has previous convictions for stealing from stately homes in England as well as for handling stolen property involving maps dating from 1651 with a value of €6,000, is not connected to organised crime gangs here.

However, he has been a major target for gardai for years.

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