Art Crime pp 87-94 | Cite as

The Theft, Recovery and Forensic Investigation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Madonna of the Yarnwinder

  • Martin Kemp


On 27 August 2003, I was sitting under an umbrella on the terrace of the Villa Vignamaggio,1 above Greve in Chianti, a villa once owned by the Gherardini family, and haunted by the shade of a famous daughter known as Mona Lisa, when Thereza Wells, my former research student and co-author, called to report the theft of the Duke of Bucceluch’s treasured Leonardo painting, the Madonna of the Yarnwinder, from Drumlanrig Castle in the Scottish borders. The news is as yet hazy. It seems that some men driving a VW Golf GTI had abruptly removed it, shortly before the rooms were to close to the public that day. They had overpowered the female custodian and threatened her with a knife. I received the call when I was in the process of writing a new book on Leonardo, for Oxford University Press, which involves, of course, a discussion of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.2 A coincidence of the worst kind.


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  1. 2.
    Martin Kemp, Leonardo (Oxford University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Martin Kemp and Pascal Cotte, La Bella Principessa: the Story of a New Masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci (Hodder & Stoughton, 2010).Google Scholar

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© Martin Kemp 2016

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  • Martin Kemp

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