TWO suspects have been arrested in connection with an historic art theft from former neighbours of comedian Billy Connolly.

The paintings, by the respected colourists F C B Cadell and G L Hunter, were stolen from the owners' home at Candacraig Gardens, in Strathdon in 2001.

They were taken from the home of Harry and Elizabeth Young who ran a plant nursery in the walled garden that had at the time belonged to comedian Billy Connolly's Candacraig House.

The two paintings, which were not insured, were believed to have each been worth a six-figure sum, but were returned to the Youngs ten years ago.

The paintings finally surfaced when, in 2006, a team of catalogue checkers working in Delhi for the Art Loss Register spotted the GL Hunter work, Still Life with Tulips and Fruit, in a Sotheby’s sale catalogue. The recovery of the first led to the recovery of the second.

Police said a 66-year-old man and 60-year-old woman were arrested in Bulgaria in relation to the theft.

They were detained by the national police force in the country’s Burgas region last month after Police Scotland was granted a European Arrest Warrant.

Hunter's painting is a still life of tulips in a vase with a fruit bowl and glass of wine on a table with a multi-coloured cloth. It measured around 24ins by 30. Cadell's work is of pink roses in a vase on a black table, and measures around 18ins by 20.

Mr Young, then registrar for births, deaths, and marriages in Strathdon, and his wife lived in the three-bedroom house for 16 years when the paintings were stolen.

Glasgow-born Connolly bought Candacraig House with his wife Pamela Stephenson in 1998 and sold it for nearly £3m in 2014.

Cadell was born in Edinburgh in 1883 and died in 1937. Hunter was born in Rothesay on Bute in 1877, and died in 1931.

Their much sought-after works feature in many of the country's art galleries and have sold for up to pounds 500,000.