A PRICELESS antique table – said to be of “worldwide importance” to fine art and furniture experts – has been returned to Newby Hall four years after it was stolen.
Police raids found the 1775 Chippendale table in a horde of stolen antiques in lock-ups at two homes in South and West Yorkshire on Thursday, September 22.
Newby Hall’s owner Richard Compton announced the table’s safe return “with great joy”.
“The return of the table restores the integrity of the furniture collection here at Newby,” he said.
“As a family we are relieved and happy that our piece is back in its rightful place.
“When a piece like this is stolen from a house that is open to the public the real loss is a public one, as it has been seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors and thankfully will be once again.”
The table was taken in June 2007. It is thought a gang of thieves had been targeting stately homes in the area after posing as members of the public visiting to locate particular pieces.
Mr Compton said: “Privately-owned collections need to open to the public to ensure income is forthcoming for their upkeep. That process brings a high level of risk and resulted in the theft of the table back in 2007.
“The collection here at Newby is one of international importance and has been the subject of many academic studies and featured in numerous papers and books on fine furniture and art.
“It is so well-documented that the contents are unsaleable on the open market.”
The police raids uncovered £5million worth of antiques, including an embellished bracket clock made by Daniel Delander of London in around 1710 – thought to have been stolen from Sion Hill Hall, in Northallerton, in February 2009.
Det Supt Steve Waite, head of Regional Intelligence in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic case and a great result for both the officers involved and the stately homes that have been affected by these thefts. We are so pleased and proud to have recovered these high value antiques which have been described as true pieces of British heritage.”
A 68-year-old man from Tankersley in South Yorkshire and a 44-year-old man from Middleton in Leeds have been arrested by police and are being questioned in connection with the thefts.