Paintings on loan to ministry go missing

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More than 200 paintings have gone missing from Ministry of Defence buildings, the Government confirmed yesterday.

The paintings were all lent to the ministry in Whitehall, central London, and related buildings around the country and overseas by the Government Art Collection (GAC), which has supplied government buildings for nearly a century. It currently owns 15,000 works.

A major cataloguing exercise by the GAC has discovered that 206 paintings lent to the MoD over the last 50 years are unaccounted for. Officials say that some were in military and admiralty buildings as well as in Whitehall and have either been stolen or transferred to other buildings without proper records being made.

Military and MoD officials have been asked to check the works of art in their offices against a list of missing items.

A spokesman at the Department of National Heritage, which oversees the GAC, said yesterday that none of the missing paintings had disappeared from ministers' own rooms, and no other government departments had suffered comparable losses.