Swedish royal regalia found in rubbish bags

Police in central Sweden made an unusual discovery on Monday evening when they found two large rubbish bags containing a recently stolen sceptre and crown used in the sixteenth-century funeral of Sweden's King Johan III.

Swedish royal regalia found in rubbish bags

The find was made on highway 555 between Västerås and Hallstahammar, not far from the E18 motorway.

“An anonymous tipster called and said where the loot was, so we just had to go out and get it,” Ann-Charlotte Israelsson of the Västmanland County police told the TT news agency.

The stolen items – a bronze crown and sceptre and a gilded wooden apple – were kept by the grave of Erik XIV, King Johan III’s half-brother, who was buried without regalia in Västerås in 1577.

The theft was discovered on Friday morning by a member of staff at the cathedral, prompting police to issue a nationwide alert in hopes of recovering items considered “invaluable” by cathedral chaplain Johan Sköld.

On Monday, officials from the Västerås Cathedral were overjoyed that the burial regalia had been found.

“They are so happy and relieved that we were able to recover the missing items,” Israelsson said.

The regalia is now in possession of the police, who now plan to see if they can secure any clues that might lead them to whoever carried out the brazen overnight robbery.

“If it had been thieves who had them in their possession, I don’t think they would have wanted to be discovered with the items. But we don’t know if it might have been a thief who got cold feet and called to tip us off about there the items were,” said Israelsson.

The stolen sceptre and crown, which are made of bronze and have silver details, were produced in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. The gilded wooden apple was made in the nineteenth century.

Johan III, the son of King Gustav Vasa, was born in 1537 and died in 1592. King Gustav III arranged for the sceptre and crown, which had been used in King Johan III’s funeral procession, to be moved to Västerås in 1800 and placed by the grave of Erik XIV.

Funeral regalia were traditionally used in royal burials in Sweden to symbolize the deceased royal’s identity and social stature. They were placed inside or on top of the coffin. A second set of golden regalia used in Johan III’s funeral is still kept in Uppsala.

TT/The Local/dl

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Spanish banker gets jail term for trying to smuggle Picasso masterpiece out of Spain on yacht

A Spanish court has sentenced a former top banker to 18 months in jail for trying to smuggle a Picasso painting deemed a national treasure out of the country on a sailing yacht.

Spanish banker gets jail term for trying to smuggle Picasso masterpiece out of Spain on yacht
Head of a Young Woman by Pablo Picasso Photo: AFP

The court also fined ex-Bankinter head Jaime Botín €52.4 million ($58.4 million), according to the Madrid court ruling issued on January 14th which was made public on Thursday.   

It awarded ownership of the work, “Head of a Young Girl”, to the Spanish state.

Botin, 83, is unlikely to go to prison as in Spain first offenders for non-violent crimes are usually spared jail time for sentences of less than two years.   

French customs seized the work, which is estimated to be worth €26 million, in July 2015 on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, halting what they said was an attempt by Botin to export it to Switzerland to sell it.

His lawyers argued at the time that he was sending it for storage in a vault in Geneva but the court found him guilty of “smuggling cultural goods” for removing the painting “from national territory without a permit”.

Botin, whose family are one of the founders of the Santander banking group, had been trying since 2012 to obtain authorisation to export the painting.   

However Spain's culture ministry refused the request because there was “no similar work on Spanish territory” from the same period in Picasso's life.    

In 2015, a top Spanish court sided with the authorities and declared the work of art “unexportable” on the grounds that it was of “cultural interest”.    

Picasso painted it during his pre-Cubist phase in Gosol, Catalonia, in 1906. It was bought by Botin in London in 1977.

Botin's lawyers had argued that the work should not be subjected to an export ban since it was acquired in Britain and was on board a British-flagged vessel when it was seized.

When customs officials boarded the yacht, its captain only presented two documents — one of which was the court ruling ordering that the painting be kept in Spain.

The painting is currently stored at the Reina Sofia modern art museum in Madrid, which houses Picasso's large anti-war masterpiece “Guernica”.

READ MORE: Banking family's Picasso seized on Corsica boat