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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
No new clues in da Vinci probe
Madonna with the Yarnwinder - from Drumlanrig Castle website
The work was painted between 1500 and 1510
Police are no nearer to catching the thieves who stole a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece worth up to 50m from a Scottish castle a year ago.

The Madonna and the Yarnwinder was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire on 27 August 2003.

Detectives searching for the picture have drawn a blank despite the offer of a reward and an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme.

Drumlanrig Castle is the home of the Duke of Buccleuch.

Two of the raiders posed as tourists and a female staff member was overpowered before the gang escaped.

It is feared that, having stolen the da Vinci, the gang now does not know what to do with it.

Members of the family, whose isolated estate in Thornhill covers an area the size of 120,000 football pitches say they are disappointed.

It could have been locked away but His Grace felt he should show it to the people so they could enjoy it themselves
Charles Lister
Castle manager
Detective Chief Inspector Peter McAdam, who is leading the hunt for the gang, said: "I'd be a liar if I didn't say I wasn't frustrated on occasions in respect of some of the length of time it's taken to get various different inquiries done.

"However, that goes with the territory in an inquiry that's as big and as complex as this one."

Castle manager Charles Lister explained that the Buccleuch family saw themselves as "custodians" of the artwork, which is thought to have been finished by the Italian painter in 1501.

'Family treasure'

"The family do obviously try to remain optimistic about the return of the painting. So, we're looking forward to it coming back as soon as possible," he said.

"It would be a tragedy if anything happened to it. Not only is it a treasure to the family themselves, but obviously to the thousands of people who have come and seen it in the past.

"The family likes to display these things to the public. It could have been locked away but His Grace felt he should show it to the people so they could enjoy it themselves."

Drumlanrig Castle
The room from which the painting was taken
He said: "We obviously looked at security. I think every single historic house in the country did after the sad theft, but I don't think isolation was necessarily good or bad in that way.

Measures, including closed circuit television, have been stepped up since the raid.

The gang fled in a white Volkswagen Golf car after snatching the work. The car was later found abandoned about two-and-a-half miles from the castle.

It is suspected that the thieves then used a black BMW car to escape to Mitchellslacks in Ae forest, near Dumfries.

The work depicts the Madonna with the infant Jesus holding a cross-shaped yarnwinder and is said to symbolise the crucifixion of Jesus.

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