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Stolen £1m Stanley Spencer painting finally returned to owners

The owners of a stolen £1million Stanley Spencer artwork which was found under a drug dealer’s bed have finally been reunited with the painting.

Cookham from Englefield was stolen from the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham in a midnight raid in 2012, while it was on loan there.

At the time of the theft, joint owner Sue Elsden waived the anonymity the gallery grants private donors to appeal for its safe return.

The owners, who were devastated by the loss of the painting due to its sentimental value, were compensated through the Government Indemnity Scheme, an alternative form of insurance for high-value rented paintings.

The painting was found under the bed of Harry Fisher, along with three kilograms of cocaine and 15,000 ecstasy tablets in a drugs raid on his Kingston-Upon-Thames home last year.

Fisher was jailed for eight years and eight months in October.

The painting was returned to the owners last month.

Arts Minister Michael Ellis said: “Spencer is one our most renowned painters and a true great of the 20th century.

“It is wonderful that this story has had a happy ending and the painting has been returned to its rightful owners.”

In the last 10 years of the Government Indemnity Scheme only 12 claims for damage and loss have been made.

This incident is the first case of an item covered by the scheme which has been stolen and successfully returned.

On return of the painting, the owners repaid the amount they received in a settlement, minus the cost of repairs and deprecation.

Detective Constable Sophie Hayes of the Metropolitan Police’s Art and Antiques Unit said: “The Art and Antiques Unit was delighted to assist with the recovery and return of this important painting.

“The fact that the painting was stolen five years before it was recovered did not hinder a prosecution for handling stolen goods, demonstrating the Met will pursue these matters wherever possible, no matter how much time has elapsed.”

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