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. Continue reading

Italian police recover two stolen Van Gogh paintings

Two paintings by Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh stolen from an Amsterdam museum over a decade ago have been recovered in seaside town in Italy.

‘Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church’ (1884) and ‘View of the Sea at Scheveningen’ (1882) are collectively valued at £77 million. They are examples of Van Gogh’s early work with the Scheveningen piece one of just two Dutch seascapes ever made by the artist. In December 2002, thieves used a ladder to climb to the roof of the Van Gogh Museum and broke in undetected by cameras. Octave ‘The Monkey’ Durham and his accomplice Henk Bieslijn removed the works from the walls of the main exhibition hall in minutes and escaped the scene by sliding down a rope. The notorious heist made the FBI’s list of “top 10” art crimes and baffled experts because security guards had been on patrol at the time of the raid. In 2004 the art thieves were convicted of theft after police discovered their DNA at the scene of the crime but the artworks were never found. Continue reading

Fears for the fate of cultural heritage sites after devastating earthquake

As rescue efforts continue in the wake of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake which struck Italy on Wednesday (24 August) there are fears for the fate of cultural heritage sites and some 3,000 works of art.

Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini has emphasised that the government’s first priority is with saving lives and according to reports, the death toll from the deadly quake stood at 267 this morning (26 August) and families of the deceased are preparing to hold the first funerals. Continue reading