Heist of the Goya National Gallery in the movie El Duque.

Kempton Bunton was a retired taxi driver who in 1961 stole the famous “Portrait of the Duke of Wellington” by Francisco de Goya, which was displayed at the National Gallery. He kept it in his possession for four years and requested a reward of 140,000 euros to create a fund to finance the television license of the retired and the most disadvantaged. On June 3, ‘The Duke’ will tell the story of the British exhibition’s only robbery.



The August 21, 1961 The National Gallery London suffered the first and only robbery in its history:A picture of the Duke of Wellingtonfrom Francis Goya. The theft of the painting had such repercussions that it appeared in the movie Agent 007 vs. Dr. NoJames Bond found the missing painting in his enemy’s cave. However, the real story was far more improbable than the fictional one, so Roger Mitchell He did not miss the opportunity to be told on the big screen. “The Duke” It will be released later June 3 It will tell the story of the theft (and back in 1965) of the famous painting of a retired taxi driver, Kempton Bunton.

A picture of the Duke of Wellington It was Bought in 1961 for £140,000 £ (this painting currently costs around €2 million) to be displayed in the Museum of London. The painting of the British aristocrat was considered to be of great value to art lovers in the country and has already passed through several private hands. The last person who wanted to get the piece was Charles WrightsmanOil tycoon. Being American, the British put all the meat on the grill to be able to get hold of the plate and keep it in the country.

to Kempton Bunton, a 57-year-old retired taxi driver, the money invested in the board seemed nonsense, as these sums could be used for causes more relevant to British society. Anger causes Ponton to devise a way to achieve his end: Stealing the painting and claiming in return the £140,000 it cost. Why? to create A fund that will help retirees and people without resources pay for a basic necessity for taxi drivers: television.

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BBC and TV watching tax, trigger

Bunton thinks so Television was a loneliness cure for retirees and veterans, His grandson admitted to the BBC at that time. “He felt it should be available to anyone who needed it and that was part of it Campaign to request free TV licenses for pensionerscontinued.

Frame from the movie “The Duke”.

BBC at that time Financed through tax Citizens paid it (and that still applies). Four pounds per month For some it could not mean much, but for other citizens, it was a great cost. Ponton sympathized with them, and although he admitted he could afford to pay, he refused to pay it. That was the reason He was arrested up to five times for not paying fees To watch TV. And also the reason why it was stolen.

The truth is that Bunton was well versed in the entertainment that television provided. they Health problems (particularly obesity and diabetes, caused in part by sedentary work) means that The former taxi driver stayed home with the TV as a loyal companion. And besides, television did not always need a license to watch it.

From 1936 to 1939, people had to pay a license to listen to radio, but not to watch television.provided as a supplementary service. However, since 1946, the situation has changed and the two services have been separated, at a cost of one pound per year for each user who wants to watch their favorite shows.

Stealing Goya from the National Gallery

With the idea in mind, Bunton only needed a plan to carry out his “campaign”. And it happened on the day when he went to see the famous painting in which he invested a lot of money. The Museum curator Had a seemingly harmless conversation with the taxi driver, in which he confessed Advantages of new technologies in alarmswho reduced his work, but also told him System weakness: Every morning he was closing for an hour to clean the case.

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He also told the police when he turned himself in four years after the theft, Bunton had gone to the museum the day before at the last minute to open one of the men’s bathroom windowswhich had access to some stairs. So the next morning He crept through it, took the plate and went with it to his home in Newcastle.

Portrait of the Duke of Wellington, by Francisco de Goya.

Bunton had been in possession of Goya for four years, wrapped in newspaper. He’d move it strategically so that his wife wouldn’t find out about the theft, and in the meantime, Send messages to Scotland Yard and the main media From the country for painting fee. Quantity, 140 thousand pounds, must be donated to create the aforementioned aid fund to finance television for retirees. But since I didn’t get results, It ended up attracting millionaires and art lovers To give them the painting for that amount.

Return, trial and the real culprit

Nearly four years after the theft, in July 1965, Ponton surrendered. Posted to daily mirror From Birmingham, a parcel receipt from Mr. Bloxham. An editor went to the safe at New Street Station where the shipment was said to be and found the painting that had been missing for four years. Inspite of that has no framewas intact.

Six weeks later, the West End Police Department was receiving Ponton who confessed to the theft With a story that, while not quite appropriate, was credible to the police given the nature of his criminal record. It was not entirely plausible that a tall, overweight man with little mobility might have carried out the robbery, but it was deemed to be true and the trial began. He was charged with five felonies.But the lawyer Jeremy Hutchinson (Which, despite having some confession, didn’t accuse him of being defensive), I only managed to get him to go He was sentenced to onefor which he was imprisoned for three months: frame theftwhich was lost during the burglary.

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Then Bunton considered a kind of TV Robin Hood and his theft, according to his lawyer’s defense, was nothing more than “Strict Care” of a painting that was funded with public funds And that the ransom he demanded in return was not intended to enrich him.

In this way, Bunton paid for his only crime, and British criminal law changed his definition of theft (since after the painting was returned, it was not considered theft by law) and four years later, in 1969, it was discovered in A real author. His son was John, who was 20 years old at the time, and using the stairs to the men’s bathroom, slipped through the window into the museum. “I climbed up the wall, still holding the painting in one hand. I put the painting in the back of the car and drove to Grafton Street. I put the painting under my bed there,” he confessed to the police.

According to the real thief, He did this out of his father’s desire to fund his “campaign” and out of fear that he would do it to himself. Failing to do so, Kempton confessed and thus saved his son from prison.

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