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Parmalat fraudster's secret art collection found by police
Italian police found Saturday masterpieces worth several million euros in three houses belonging to Calisto Tanzi (pictured), the former boss of Parmalat, the Italian firm that collapsed in 2003. The collection included pieces by Gauguin and Picasso.
AFP - Italian police on Saturday seized a multi-million dollar art stash belonging to the fraudulent founder of Parmalat which was hidden before the dairy group's spectacular 2003 collapse, the ANSA news agency reported.
Police unearthed the paintings and drawings by 19th and 20th century artists such as Degas, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Picasso which had been hidden in cellars and attics at three addresses in and around the northern city of Parma.
The properties' residents said they were unaware the art was in their homes.
Police are looking for Stefano Strini, son-in-law of Parmalat's founder Calisto Tanzi, and another unidentified person for having hidden the art.
Strini had previously said the art disappeared before Parmalat went bankrupt.
Police made the discoveries after listening in on phone conversations discussing selling some of the 'disappeared' art, reportedly to Russian billionaires.
The phone taps revealed that one of the paintings, Monet's "Cliff Walk at Pourville", was about to be sold for 10 million euros (15 million dollars).
Parmalat founder Tanzi was sentenced in December 2008 to 10 years in prison over a 14-billion-euro fraud scandal in 2003 that led to Europe's largest corporate bankruptcy to date.
The 70-year-old turned a modest pasteurised milk company into a leading food manufacturer and symbol of Italy's post-World War II prosperity before its collapse.