Archive for December 21st, 2010

Sixteen stolen paintings returned for Christmas

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

The Carabinieri art squad recovered 16 paintings stolen over a period of decades in the house of a Roman designer. The designer has been charged with receiving stolen goods. His collection is enormous. Police found 180 paintings from a variety of periods reportedly purchased in markets and fairs over the past 30 years.

Authorities were tipped off to the collection by a would-be buyer. Unlike the accused, this collector, who was hoping to buy a 15th c. painting of the Sienese school, checked with the Carabinieri art squad to ensure the piece was legitimately owned by the seller. The squad looked into the collection and found one piece listed in their stolen art database: Suicide of Cleopatra, a painting by German renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, best known for his woodcuts. The Dürer had been stolen from the Palazzo Piccolomini museum in Pienza, outside of Siena, on May 28, 1972.

That discovery set off an in-depth investigation of the rest of the collection. They found another 15 paintings that had been stolen in 10 thefts from churches, museums, and private homes in Rome and central Italy. The estimated total value of the 16 recovered pieces is approximately €1 million ($1.3 million).

Police discovered the thefts in September but only announced their recovery last Friday. The paintings will be returned to their rightful owners in time for Christmas.

Art expert Vittorio Sgarbi examines 'Suicide of Cleopatra' by Albrecht Durer

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