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Tuesday, 12 February, 2002, 16:23 GMT
Dog kidnapped over Nazi chalice
Derek Smith owed his victim 30,000
Derek Smith owed his victim 30,000
A man admitted holding a dog ransom in an attempt to reclaim a chalice valued at 2m.

Experts believe the silver vessel may have once belonged to World War II Nazi leader Hermann Goering.

Derek Smith, from Sunderland, had given the foot-high chalice to a woman to cover a 30,000 debt he owed her.

However he did not realise the artefact's true value and captured the victim's beloved pet in an attempt to get it back.

The chalice once belonged to Hermann Goering
The chalice once belonged to Hermann Goering
Smith, 51, said he had come into possession of the treasure after it was taken from the ruins of the Gestapo and brought back to the UK by a relative of a close friend.

After Smith pleaded guilty to blackmail at Newcastle Crown Court, Detective Sergeant Chris Sybenga said he was pleased the victim was spared the ordeal of having to give evidence.

He said outside the court: "There was never any suggestion that he physically asked for the chalice back - he had given her the chalice because of the debt he owed her.

Secret location

"He took the dog obviously to persuade her and that is the essence of the blackmail.

"We recovered the dog safe and well. When he came for the exchange, the police swooped."

Northumbria Police now have the chalice in a secret and secure location.

Smith will be sentenced on March 15 at Newcastle Crown Court and was granted conditional bail.

The chalice bears an inscription saying "In memory of the great time 7.3.36" - believed to have been made for Goering to mark the German invasion of the Rhineland in 1936.

Ownership wrangle

Mr Sybenga said many auctioneers were reluctant to handle the sale of the object because of the fear of offending Jewish investors.

Further legal action is expected to decide the future of the chalice.

Mr Sybenga added: "There's certainly going to be some form of civil proceedings to decide the ownership of the chalice.

"There could be a number of people claiming entitlement to it if it is authenticated, the German government or even relatives of Hermann Goering."


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

21 Nov 00 | Europe
Yahoo hits back at Nazi ruling
11 Aug 00 | UK
Selling a dark past
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