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Cruel thieves snatch precious portrait in Highgate

PUBLISHED: 13:33 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:50 07 September 2010

The stolen painting

The stolen painting

Tan Parsons A DISTRAUGHT Highgate woman has made an impassioned plea for the return of a portrait of her late mother which was cruelly stolen from her home. It was only this week that Judy Knox, 50, of Highpoint, realised her beloved painting, stolen befo

Tan Parsons

A DISTRAUGHT Highgate woman has made an impassioned plea for the return of a portrait of her late mother which was cruelly stolen from her home.

It was only this week that Judy Knox, 50, of Highpoint, realised her beloved painting, stolen before Christmas, was gone.

"It's irreplaceable," Ms Knox said. "Mum died 18 years ago and this picture means absolutely everything to me - it's so much a part of the family and a link to the past."

Her mother, Annema Rothenberg, a marriage guidance counsellor, sat for the Australian artist Judy Cassab in London in 1958. At the time, Ms Rothenberg was pregnant with Ms Knox, now a housewife and trustee of the Pavilion Opera Educational Trust, which brings opera performances into state primary schools.

"My parents met Judy Cassab one day and she told mum she would love to paint her," Ms Knox said. "My mother agreed, even though she was terribly shy of having her picture taken.

"It's the only portrait of her that I have and the only one of her in the whole family."

When Ms Knox's father died six years ago the painting stood in prime position in the family dining room and there was much speculation over to whom the painting should pass. But it was decided it should go to Ms Knox because - in a way - she was in the picture too.

When the thieves struck before Christmas, Ms Knox's family had stored much of their furniture in the garage while they had excavation work done under their home.

The thieves took advantage, rummaging through the garage before taking a number of paintings, including the much-loved portrait.

"Mum was an amazing woman," added Ms Knox. "She was a German Jewish refugee and went through some pretty awful things in her life.

"But she came to London and met my father. She was a very private person and had a very strong character.

"As far as I'm concerned I just want the painting back - I don't care about who took it. It has a very small monetary value. I just want it back in the family."

Haringey burglary squad is investigating but have yet to trace any suspects.

A spokeswoman said: "We were called to reports of a burglary at a garage in Highgate on December 19 2008. The garage was secured and we believe entry was gained by removing the lock. A number of paintings were taken."

Anyone with information should call police on 020-8345 0886.

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