The controversial £9,000 portrait of former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir (now Lord) Ian Blair, has disappeared from its place in the “rogues’ gallery” of former Commissioners on the fifth floor of New Scotland Yard.

Have the Met’s finest been scrambled to recover it?

No sign, so far.

There is not even any dangling bits of Crime Scene tape and only two lonely looking picture hooks adorn the customary place of honour of the disappearing picture.

Asking around, I only heard three theories to explain the disappearance.

The first is that the picture had been removed on the orders of Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, in a modern-day equivalent of the air-brushing from pictures of those who fell from grace during Stalin’s purges.

The second is that the painting had been hung without glass in front of it and the suggestion is that it is felt that to avoid any flying-coffee-cup incidents the painting should be re-framed and re-hung with appropriate protection. 

And the final one – most intriguingly – is that the painting needs some re-touching.  In the original painting Ian Blair is pictured next to an ornate engraved glass bowl.  I am told that the only words visible on the bowl are:

could have done better

and it is thought that a more suitable message for posterity is needed.

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