There can’t be many people who deliberately reveal clues and evidence that might link a much loved and respected member of their family with a crime! But in this case I am tempted to make an exception even if I do not condone theft. The whole caper leaves me powerless to stifle a chuckle!
The Duke’s theft is so famous and so bizarre that I can’t help feeling a sense of pride if he was involved. Besides, my late uncle, passed away in 1985, so he is now way beyond the reach of the law. That’s if the law is even faintly interested: the case was closed over fifty years ago, despite John Bunton (Kempton’s son) trying to put his name in the frame.
But there’s still my uncle’s reputation to consider. And in my very humble opinion, if he was involved in this caper, then bringing this information to the public eye can only increase his reputation! Perhaps more so in Scotland than England!
So bearing all of that in mind, the purpose of this book is perhaps rather strange and quite the reverse of what one would expect. Its purpose is to identify and evaluate the clues – not cover them up – that might link my uncle to the theft of the Duke’s portrait way back in 1961. A theft that still has unanswered questions to this day. For example, who really stole the picture and was there an inside man acting as an accomplice? Plus, a third – and completely outrageous question – that we shall come to a little later on.
Central to this is my uncle’s manuscript of a book called ‘The Toilet of Venus’ which was given to me over thirty years ago when he passed away in 1985. I did of course, know about the theft of the Duke’s portrait and that my uncle had worked at the National Gallery as an attendant. Although, I didn’t know he had left the Gallery just before the picture went missing, but beyond that not much else.
Around the mid-1990s I started to do more research about the Duke’s theft. The internet in those days was just starting to become useful, if very slow, and of course nothing like what it is today with vast amounts of information about virtually any subject being freely available on demand.
The National Gallery archives were a very useful source of information about the Duke’s theft. I started to wonder if my uncle had in fact been involved in the theft in some way or other. The more I researched the more I began to wonder.
My uncle’s book is largely about copying the Duke’s portrait and its theft. Was he just trying to piggy-back off the story or was there something else going on?
Included as evidence is a sample from his book, ‘The Toilet Of Venus’. The book is a caper about the theft and copying of the Duke’s portrait from the National Gallery in London.