Bristol Crown Court
Bristol Crown Court where a trial of those accused of the robbery of the Bulmer cider family's mansion in Somerset is taking place. Image by Rodw from Wikimedia Commons.

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Millions of pounds of art and antiques were stolen from the Somerset home of Esmond Bulmer, a member of the Bulmers cider dynasty, and his wife in 2009.

Now the trial of 11 men accused of involvement in the theft and storage of the artworks is being heard at Bristol Crown Court.

Artworks stolen during the robbery included Sir John Lavery’s After Glow Taplow and George Frederic Watts’ Endymion.

Following the crime in 2009, an advert was placed in ATG by loss adjusters Criterion Adjusters. The following year Dick Ellis, a former Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Squad detective who now runs advisory firm Art Management Group, was hired to help work on the case. He placed an advert in ATG offering a reward and this advert was published again in 2015.

"Whereabouts of the paintings"

During the trial the court heard this week that this advert was placed to “tempt those who had any information about the whereabouts of the paintings and antiques to divulge it”.

The court heard that one of the defendants, Jonathan Rees, contacted Hiscox Insurance with information to claim the reward.

According to a report in The Guardian, the court heard that, in order to raise the amount that was going to be paid as reward, Rees suggested to Hiscox that one of the paintings was about to be sold to a Russian oligarch. Hiscox is reported to have paid £175,000 in response to an offer from Rees that his associates would hand over all the other stolen artwork.

Skinder Ali, 39, of no fixed address, Liam Judge, 42, and Matthew Evans, 41, both of Tuffley, Gloucestershire, deny conspiracy to commit burglary.

Ali, Mark Regan, 46, of no fixed address; Thomas Lynch, 43, of Small Heath, Birmingham; Donald Maliska, 63, of Dartford, Kent; David Price, 53, and Ike Obiamwie, 55, both of London, deny conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

Maliska, Price, Obiamwie and Jonathan Rees, 62, of Weybridge, Surrey, deny conspiracy to defraud.

Nigel Blackburn, 60, of Hockley, Birmingham, and Azhar Mir, 65, of Solihull, deny entering into or becoming concerned in a money-laundering arrangement. Rees denies doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.

The trial continues.