A chance encounter at an antiques market began a nightmarish four months for an Israeli tourist, which ended in a courtroom yesterday.
Rosa Krol, 53, a teacher and art collector, thought she had found a bargain in Portobello Road, London, when she bought a bronze statue from a man for £477. She believed the 13in-high sculpture of a Trojan prince was worth six times the amount. She was wrong – the statue was worth £80,000 to its owner, and nothing to her.
When Ms Krol went to sell the 18th-century statue to an antiques dealer, she found it had been stolen a day earlier from Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, the home of the Duke of Marlborough. Staff at Daniel Katz in Jermyn Street called the police and the divorcee found herself under arrest, accused of handling stolen goods.
At Southwark Crown Court, Ms Krol said: "I offered the man all the money I had with me and he agreed. I didn't ask for a receipt, I simply didn't think about a receipt."
She said her arrest had left her in extreme shock. "It never entered my head to ask where it came from," saidMs Krol, who burst into tears when the jury found her not guilty.