Two paintings by the French artists Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard, stolen in London over 40 years ago, have been recovered in Italy, the culture ministry said Wednesday.
The works, thought to be worth millions of euros, were recovered by Italy's heritage police, who are expected to reveal details of the works and their recovery at a press conference later Wednesday.
The two paintings appear to be those stolen from a Regent’s Park home on June 6, 1970. They are Gauguin's "Still Life of Apples and Grapes" and Bonnard's "Les Deux Sauteuils".
According to a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald on June 8, 1970, the paintings were taken in an elaborate ruse when three men, one posing as a policemen and the others as burglar alarm engineers, gained access to the North London home.
They apparently duped the housekeeper by telling her that they were checking the alarm system. They then took the paintings from their frames whilst she was making them a cup of tea.
Fighting global art trafficking
At the press conference scheduled for later Wednesday, Italy’s police division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage will also unveil an application for mobile telephones and tablets which will "allow citizens to actively collaborate in the search for stolen works of art" by sending in photographs of suspect artworks, it said.
Mariano Mossa, who heads up the heritage police, said in January that "the turnover generated by the illegal sale of works of art comes fourth on a world level behind the sale of weapons, drugs and financial products".
Italy has the largest data bank on stolen art in the world, with details on some 5.7 million object.
Date created : 2014-04-02