Koo Stark and maid in tug of war over ‘stolen’ picture
PRINCE Andrew’s ex-girlfriend Koo Stark has “strenuously denied” stealing a £40,000 painting from her former partner and claimed it was given to her as a gift.
The US-born actress-turned-photographer is accused of taking the oil painting of a landscape by Dutch master Anthonie Van Borssom from the home of her ex-partner, American financier Warren Walker. She was arrested two days later.
Wearing a blue polka-dot dress, Stark, whose real name is Kathleen, indicated she would be entering a not guilty plea when she answered a summons at West London Magistrates Court yesterday.
Prosecutor Paul Mitchell told the court Stark arrived at Mr Walker’s Notting Hill home with a bunch of flowers on 21 July and told the housekeeper she was taking two pictures.
As the housekeeper went to get a vase, Stark is alleged to have taken a picture off a wall and the pair became involved in a “tug of war” over it.
Stark lost but she then ran up the staircase and took another painting before fleeing the property, it was said.
Outlining the case, Mr Mitchell said: “She attended the house with a female friend and a bunch of flowers. The housekeeper Miss Maria buzzed them into the communal area as she believed it was Mr Walker returning from holiday.
“Miss Stark allegedly said, ‘Get me a vase’. As she was doing so, Miss Stark is alleged to have said, ‘I’m going to take two pictures’.
“The housekeeper protested and said she had not been informed anyone was coming to get a picture. The two ended up grappling with the picture. Maria managed to hold on to it.
“Miss Stark allegedly then ran up the stairs and removed a picture from the wall before leaving. The painting is estimated to be worth £40,000.”
Stark’s lawyer, Edward Henry, told the court his client denied the accusation.
District Judge Paul Clark declined jurisdiction of the case and bailed the 56-year-old to appear before magistrates again on 16 November so her case can be sent to crown court for trial.
Stark dated Prince Andrew after they met on a blind date during his leave from the Royal Navy in the early 1980s.
However, the romance ended when it emerged she had appeared semi-naked in a film called Emily in 1976.
In a statement read by Stark’s solicitor, Jules Azzopardi, she branded the charge she faced as “bogus” and told how she had been subjected to a 12-hour ordeal at a police station.
Mr Azzopardi said: “Miss Stark’s innocence and her reputation will be vindicated during these proceedings. She faces prosecution for allegedly stealing a painting. It is a bogus charge. This was one of several gifts given to her by the chief prosecution witness, given to her before and after the birth of their child.”
He added: “In a 12-hour ordeal following her arrest, detention and interrogation in which she set out her defence, Miss Stark was told by the police that no future action would be taken against her and that this investigation would be discontinued …
“The basis of allegations made against her will be shown for what they are at trial and Miss Stark is confident that the court will acquit her.”
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