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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 17:29 GMT
Nazi chalice 'could fetch 1m'
Chalice
The chalice has Hermann Goering's name inscribed on it
A Nazi chalice thought to have belonged to Hermann Goering may be auctioned for more than 1m after a series of legal battles.

The 12-inch silver artefact which commemorates Germany's 1936 invasion of the Rhineland, was at the centre of a blackmail case two years ago.

Owner Derek Smith was sentenced to nine months, later reduced to six weeks on appeal, for kidnapping a former friend's dog.

He took the dog after she refused to return the chalice which he gave her in payment for an alleged 40,000 debt.

The chalice is inscribed "In memory of the great time 7.3.36" and is believed to have been made for air force chief Goering.

It came from a former British soldier who found it in the ruins of Goering's home at the end of the World War II.

If you had told me I was due to be dealing with a case involving Hermann Goering, a Nazi chalice and a dog, I would have regarded it as a joke
Recorder Ben Nolan QC

The chalice has been kept in a vault by Northumbria Police since Smith's conviction in 2002.

When Smith, 52, of Tuscan Road, Thorney Close, Sunderland, was released from prison he vowed to regain possession of the chalice.

During earlier court proceedings to determine ownership, it emerged Smith had been made bankrupt in 1982.

He claimed to have had the chalice in his possession since the late 1970s.

The Official Receiver entered the legal dispute, and Smith accepted its claim to part of the proceeds from the sale of the chalice.

German claim

Newcastle County Court heard on Monday that Smith's victim had dropped out of the legal dispute when she realised there was an earlier claim to the chalice from the Official Receiver.

Recorder Ben Nolan QC described the case as "bizarre".

He said: "If you had told me this morning I was due to be dealing with a case involving Hermann Goering, a Nazi chalice and a dog, I would have regarded it as a joke."

Joseph O'Brien, for Northumbria Police, said the force had contacted the German authorities who told them the German state did not want to pursue a claim for the chalice.

The Recorder ruled that the chalice would be sold, and after 4,166 court costs are deducted, Smith would receive any surplus.

Outside court Smith said he had been in contact with a Syrian businessman who was interested in buying the chalice.

He added that a San Diego auction house had put a value of about $2m on the artefact which could be auctioned within 10 weeks.




SEE ALSO:
Nazi chalice kidnap man freed
05 Jul 02  |  England
Man jailed for Nazi chalice kidnap
15 Mar 02  |  England
Dog kidnapped over Nazi chalice
12 Feb 02  |  England


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