Artworks worth millions mysteriously vanish from British embassies worldwide

December 26th, 2008 - 3:13 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 26 (ANI): Artworks worth millions of pounds belonging to British embassies and other official buildings around the world have gone missing.

According to the latest audit, at least 50 paintings from the Government Art Collection are unaccounted for.

None of the art works was insured. Some are known to have been stolen but more than half the total simply vanished.

Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, has called on the Culture Minister Andy Burnham, to tighten security.

When the whole country is desperately trying to raise money to keep Titians Diana and Actaeon painting, it is outrageous that the Government cant even look after the paintings we do have, Times Online quoted him, as saying.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport needs to get it together on a problem that has been going on for too long, he added.

The Government Art Collection, which has more than 13,500 works stretching from the 16th century to the present day and includes some of the worlds greatest artists, gets an annual funding of 500,000 pounds.

Out of that money, about half is spent buying and commissioning art to send to foreign missions to show the vibrancy and variety of British artistic life and heritage.

The collection has never been valued but is likely to be worth more than 100 million pounds.

In 1988, its value was estimated by its curator at more than 30 million pounds. Since then, the collection has expanded and art prices rocketed.

Among the missing paintings are Beach Scene, by Abraham van Beyeren, considered one of the worlds finest still life painters, and Capri Sunrise, Frederic, Lord Leighton, president of the Royal Academy from 1878 to 1896.

Also presumed stolen are works by the 18th-century landscape painter Julius Caesar Ibbetson and Frances Hodgkins and Carel Weight, two leading lights of the British Modern movement, who taught David Hockney and Sir Peter Blake. (ANI)

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