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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Da Vinci theft castle reopens
The room where the painting hung
An empty case remains where the painting once hung
A Scottish castle has reopened to the public amid tightened security following the theft of a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

The painting, Madonna with the Yarnwinder, was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway on Wednesday by two men posing as tourists.

Officials at the castle, which is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, reported the usual numbers of visitors after it opened its doors again on Sunday.

Police officers have a presence at the castle, but a spokesman for the family refused to discuss the new security arrangements.

Old Woman Reading by Rembrandt was the only painting removed from public display as a security measure.

There is a real determination in our family and all those who work at the castle to ensure the public can enjoy its attractions again as quickly as possible
Duke of Buccleuch
The castle was only opening for one day as it prepared to close for the winter a week earlier than normal.

However, the grounds and gardens will remain open to the public until the end of September.

The stolen da Vinci painting is thought to be worth about 30m.

Insurers have offered a reward for information leading to the return of the painting, which is considered the most important art work stolen in the UK for decades.

Police have issued an e-fit and CCTV footage of the suspects, who escaped with the painting after overpowering a female member of staff at the castle.

'Real determination'

An e-fit of the man who bought the getaway car has also been issued.

The 80-year-old Duke said the family had been "deeply saddened and shocked" by the theft.

But he stressed: "There is a real determination in our family and all those who work at the castle to ensure the public can enjoy its attractions again as quickly as possible.

"Our tradition of opening to the public will continue.

The Earl of Dalkeith
The Earl of Dalkeith: "A glimmer of hope"
"We do not intend to allow the theft of a painting - albeit much loved and admired by us all - to stop it."

The Duke, who is one of Britain's richest landowners, also said that the theft showed the need for greater support from politicians.

"For many owners the cost of providing access to these properties and their attractions is very high, with them facing security and employment costs," he said.

"Seldom does the revenue generated by visitors cover these costs, particularly in rural areas.

"It is also essential that our politicians at all levels recognise the role historic houses fulfil."

However, his son - the Earl of Dalkeith - stressed that the family was not seeking public money to maintain security at the castle.

Inspector Phil Stewart
There was a police presence at the castle
He said the castle's guides had been "shaken" by the raid.

"There is a sense of hurt, that having welcomed people as they always do with smiles and warmth as guests, this brutal act should have been their reward," he said.

And the Earl believed there was a "glimmer of hope" that the painting would be found.

"Although we are obviously extremely gloomy at the moment, we are determined to do what we can in encouraging those who can recover the painting to do so.

"Deep down I believe that it may be a matter of time but one day she will be back at Drumlanrig," he said.


SEE ALSO:
Da Vinci thieves caught on film
29 Aug 03  |  Scotland
What happens to stolen art?
29 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
'Reward' for painting's return
28 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Divisions over da Vinci work
28 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Da Vinci painting stolen
27 Aug 03  |  Scotland


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