Convicted criminal’s art collection recovered by police

A painting by Salavador Dalì is one of 14 artworks to have been recovered by Italian police from the collection of a Calabrian businessman tied to one of the country’s most powerful criminal organisations.

Italy’s Carabinieri Art Squad discovered a painting of Christ healing a blind man in an apartment in Reggio Calabria after a search warrant was issued. When cross-checked with its stolen cultural property database the Carabinieri matched the work to a canvas stolen in Randozzo in 2001. A search of another apartment in Messina turned up 13 further works by artists including Salvador Dalì, Giuliana Cappello and Mario Pinizzotto.

Police believe the artworks form part of the collection of convicted criminal Gioacchino Campolo. Nicknamed “King of Videopoker”, Campolo amassed his fortune by running tampered slot machines. The 78 year old was sentenced to 18 years’ house arrest in 2011 for criminal association, extortion and usury jointly with a clan of the ‘Ndràngheta, a criminal organisation centred in Calabria.

With an estimated €320 million in assets, Campolo invested the proceeds of his criminal activities in a collection of artworks and real estate in Paris, Rome and Reggio Calabria. In 2013, the Italian government confiscated 125 of the artworks from his collection. Claimed as state property, the pieces have been on permanent display at the Palace of Culture in Reggio Calabria since May 2016.   

The owner of the properties where the 14 paintings were recovered is thought to be a former employee of Campolo and has been charged with receiving stolen goods.


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