Man Charged After Painting Slashed At UK National Gallery

Keith Gregory is said to have slashed Thomas Gainsborough’s The Morning Walk, causing more than £10,000 damage.

The 63-year-old self-proclaimed millionaire faced court yesterday, charged with criminal damage to the 232-year-old painting.

Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot adjourned the case until Thursday and remanded him in custody.

Gregory said at Westminster magistrates court: “My father was a very important freemason by the name of Jimmy Gregory.’’

He refused to accept the solicitor representing him, adding: “I asked for a private one.

I asked for a rabbi as well.”

When asked if he could pay for a private one, Gregory replied: “There’s plenty of money in my account. I have £1,050,000.

“I have just bought another house outside London for £485,000. I paid cash on all these.”

Gregory is thought to be the same man who tried to buy ­Portsmouth football club in 2011, claiming he was a millionaire clothing salesman.

The deal never went through.

Three years ago he offered to give away his £1million North London home to a “worthy applicant”.

The Sun has also established he went missing four months ago from Kettering, Northants, where he lives with his wife Linda.

Witnesses have described the terrifying moment a ‘screwdriver-wielding vandal’ barged into one of the world’s most famous galleries and allegedly began hacking at a £10million painting.

Eyewitness Shashikanth told The he had been admiring the painting when Gregory allegedly started to vandalise it with a screwdriver.

He claimed panicked families fled in fear as Gregory yelled: “I will blast the whole gallery”, before grabbed by a security guard at the gallery.

The 63-year-old man has since been remanded in custody after appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a black jacket.

Recalling the ordeal, Shashikanth said: “A few people with kids were in a panic and started running.”

He added that the man had even spoken to him directly, bizarrely shouting at him: “Take my picture, it will be worth a million.”

But the art-lover, from Berkshire, declined.

He said he had been horrified to see the painting damaged, saying he had spent three hours at the gallery on Saturday.

He said: “I was deeply hurt by that incident, I love paintings so that when someone harms it, it’s horrible”, saying he hoped the quick police action would dissuade others from trying to damage artworks.

The East Wing of the National Gallery had to be evacuated and was closed for two hours after the incident on Saturday, while the masterpiece was removed.

The painting, also known as Mr & Mrs Hallett, is in the background in Skyfall as Daniel Craig as 007 meets new Q (Ben Whishaw).

It features squire William Hallett and Elizabeth Stephen, both 21, shortly before their marriage.

Gainsborough art expert Hugh Belsey told The Sun: “It is one of his most iconic and symbolic works — easily worth at least £10million.”

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